Ken Madrigal: Q&A Session

Q&A Session: Ken Madrigal

Ken Madrigal Q&A Session is happening on September 4th, 2019 at 10:00 AM PST (1:00 PM EST)

For Verizon, Ken Madrigal leads customer experience strategy for social engagement, chat, digital communities, and operationalizing AI (bot) programs. He was also the business lead responsible for the selection and implementation of one social engagement platform standard for Verizon company-wide. Prior to joining Verizon, Ken spent over 11 years in consulting assisting top-tier brands in biotech, technology, financial services, and entertainment to enable mobile, social, and omnichannel marketing programs at enterprise scale. He regularly develops content and speaks at multiple events about social – digital experience and its impact on businesses.

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Ken Madrigal

Digital and Social Strategy Lead @ Verizon

Hi Ken! Thanks for being here! Would love to hear how Verizon manages the change that the new insights from your group often demand. It’s often so scary for organizations to change, even as much as they crave insight.

We always take insights as an opportunity for the customer. In other threads, I talk about my goal as a marketer and a digital professional is to create a cult of fans….you do that with insights as well, internally you can talk about negative experiences and challenging insights as the way to flip a customer bad interaction to a super positive one…..turn frustration to fandom…then let social be the amplifier.

What are a few strategies you would use to generate leads?

So lead gen in social is really about activating the networks around a decision-maker…whether that is B2B or B2C.  I’ll B2B cause it is easier….think about finding a decision-maker then analyzing their network of connected folk around them.  Create content that engages the network, then you have a position and opportunity to talk that decision about what folks in their company are really concerned with.  also, rarely does a decision-maker make a choice in a vacuum. So, influencing the folk around them and being able to leverage that as a discussion point is a very powerful tool.

How do you handle the influx of people trolling your ads on social media? I see comments on paid ads that could be considered negative towards your brand. What’s your policy for handling them?

Actually, we look at negative comments and customer issues as an opportunity.  You have a captured audience and there’s nothing like the high you get flipping that customers frustration and turning them into a fan and amplifying your brand.

How much do you emphasize B2C vs B2B in your social promotion efforts?

Actually both.  You have to think about how you leverage the halo around people’s networks to create perception, brand position, or calls to action.

In your experience, what’s the most common mistake that talented teams make?

The most common mistake is forgetting social’s power and purpose….it is to take experience .. good or bad and share it with your network and create engagement.  often market forget the engagement and just use it as a place to push ads

Would like to know how important is research-led insights for changing user experiences?

Insights are key but think real insights, not data. I will tell you that the niche is where social really has value. Think of how many trending topics happen with hashtag holidays….when you that happen you can leverage those moments as insights for other campaigns.

What are your thoughts about dealing with direct competitors in your marketing? Call them out by name or focus on your benefits over them?

Lital – that has a lot to do with who you are as a brand.  if you like the controversy like how a Wendy’s or Burger King challenges another competitor. I think from a social standpoint that often is a short term or limited approach, going after frustrated customers randomly because of a bad interaction works both ways and looks like small market tactics in the public domain. I’m more in the camp of taking great existing customer experiences and amplifying them above the detractors and the competitors. There is a saying in social … you can make a 1000 sound like 10000 and 10000 sound like 1M….do that with the good things that happen and it will be more fulfilling and longer-lasting as a memory.

Does your team use collaborative platforms for daily deliveries?

Yes…we have several systems to build stories, arrange them to tell a narrative, and launch them in a specific time frame. Of course, we also leverage a digital marketing agency to assist.

What’s your process for dealing with an angry customer online?

I had similar questions. I have a philosophy that customer issues on social are the opportunity, especially in the industry I operate in. I have a saying that our approach is about flipping frustration to fandom. If I could change my business card it would be to a cult leader.  I want to build fans from solving their problems. and if I get a high profile influencer in the mix then I make fixing that person’s problem into an amplification moment.

Verizon is a very controversial company, especially in the net neutrality debate. How do you (or your staff) handle negative and critical comments regarding these? Also, do you ever accumulate and send them upstream?

So-net neutrality is a topic that goes beyond just our brand. There are several other mechanisms not just social to handle those topics. But where we think about how to manage those comments, first with our social voice of the customer team we aggregate and get to the root of the topic. Then we see if it is really specific to our brand or the industry in general. We need to separate that from how our existing customer use this channel versus others just trying to deliver an opinion…hope that helps your thinking.

How do you handle social media for Hispanics in the US?

Yes, we actually have a full multicultural team.  Our system routes Hispanic conversations to that team. We know the Hispanic culture is diverse so we want to respond to account for that diversity.

What tools or processes do you use to assess what terms/trends and keywords to focus on when engaging users over time?

I cannot speak to a specific platform or software, but what I can tell you is that we are using artificial intelligence to segment trends, context, responses, and topics so we can organize all the unstructured data into true insights for decision making.

How do you navigate silos (systems & processes) that all rely on the same data set(s)? How do you build an appropriate level of data governance into your engagement initiatives?

I am the strategy guy, but I have on my staff a Ph.D. data scientist. Actually, we have a very large data lake and data warehouse that allows us to look at both structured and unstructured data to garner insights. I leave it up to my data analytics team to manage how to create correlation and relation to the data. Hope that helps.

Verizon is almost an invisible Meta-Tool through which many other tools are enabled in people’s lives. How does Verizon work to integrate that value into its users?

Well, you have to think about how it powers your experience for other things in your lives.  we partner to create that value…without us, your Samsung TV is just a box, your phone is just plastic, we think more about what you are trying to accomplish…whether that’s gaming, entertainment, business, or sports…we think about partnerships and a network that enables those activities.

How do you manage visibility for both the B2C and B2B side of the business? Do you have separate plans and personas to go after this?

From a social standpoint, B2B and B2C exist in the same ecosystem. However, we do treat them differently, especially since the sales cycle, cost of acquisition, and cost of loyalty experiences are so different.

What advice would you give someone new to the digital marketing space, and what drives you to continue working?

I am all about innovating experiences. How can we take something with friction for the customer and make it easy? Digital was designed to deliver complicated choices in a simple way. If you can use social digital to make things less cumbersome for customers, you will be more successful than 80 percent of most out there that just create noise.

As the first place customers go to complain these days, what is your process for handling validly angry people via social media, and how much of it tends to get resolved?  Does your team even handle that, or is that a different arm? What tools do you use to manage social communication, especially since there are multiple people in the accounts all the time? 

Wow … that’s a lot. I mentioned before…complaints are looked at as opportunities. I have a philosophy that says ” focus on flipping frustration to fandom.” In social we actually have a pretty awesome success rate. I think it is because we tend to be a last line of defense, people have tried the call center or chat prior to airing out their issue on social. We often consider solving the problem as table stakes, the bigger challenge is doing it in such a way you flip perception enough that someone loves it enough to share it.

In which part of its digital strategy does Verizon use crowdsourcing and open innovation?

Several mechanisms are out there for crowdsourcing, one key element is how we use communities and forums for both the wireless and FiOS sides of the business to help customers with choices, problems and optimizing our products to enhance their experiences.

What are the steps you go through to create a social media campaign strategy? And what metrics do you focus on to determine the success of the campaign?

Well…this could be a really long answer…i’ll try to sum it up, by thinking about first creating engagement around the objective you are looking to accomplish. You should always start with the social voice of the customer to just understand what conversations are out there. Then take a look at how you want to be part of those topics or influence them….remember you will never have control over a topic, brands are just actors with probably less pull than an authentic influencer….when you think about metrics..I want to say think more innovatively about activations….get the networks around the topics or the decision-maker engaging with the content or point of view. Do not go directly to think that will drive a call to action or choice.

What would happen if Verizon stopped all its marketing campaigns for two weeks?

Digital marketing really works like a search in my mind. You need to have an organic and program approach or you tend to lose your priority standing and top of mindedness. You would not go away … you would lose your momentum and would have to play catch up to build it back with all the digital algorithms…hope that helps.

Do you treat high profile users (influencers) differently on social media given the potential of their reach? If so, how?

Sort of…..these days you have to think of influencers as both the macro and micro kind….I think all gen z and Millenials are influencers in their network. You should think about your influencer strategy based on what you need to accomplish and the effort and time frame you need it to happen. For instance, do you want to spend making custom content for a micro-influencer vs someone with 1M followers…you might if the conversion rate for the micro-influencer is a high likelihood…so you have to think about those aspects on how you approach someone…..also do you think engaging with an influencer is more about risk mitigation or is it an opportunity….. hope that starts your mental wheels spinning.

What skills should I have if I wish to get hired into a position like yours?

Social is a discipline….to start out think about the whole general digital experience…. I’ve done my time building websites, doing email campaigns, doing direct customer digital care, digital ads, and developing experiences…plus understanding agile development, and UX /CX design.  From a social standpoint, you need to really know all the different social channels and platforms what they bring to the table, but you should also pick one or two that you have very strong domain knowledge….lastly, like I said social is a discipline…you also need to learn how to post content in a consistent way to have that experience and realize how difficult it really is….hope that helped.

What has helped you the most in building your career?

Passion and grit….really enjoying what I do…..picking the people you work for – yes it is your choice….lastly, never wanting to be comfortable, push to try something new, disrupt yourself and always be open-minded and diverse in who you interact with and what you learn.

How did you get into social/the position you’re in now? What do you see as the greatest opportunity for advancing those in social career paths?

It is a bit of passion, specialty, luck, and working/choosing great leaders to work for….  so to get into social you have to really know all the other digital disciplines, web, search, email, ads, marketing, community, care…I spent time and look for roles to give me a full understanding of the ecosystem.. I’ve had a passion for social and I think some of the success I’ve had…is because I can talk to my colleagues about their disciplines and how social is a key part of those experiences. 

What are the big trends you see happening in the social/marketing world that make you excited and what trends give you cause for concern?

I believe in personalization and rebuilding equity with customers to allow them to share their connections from a life standpoint to a product or service…I know that long-winded, but in today’s market, they throw around the work trust too much… I think the crowdsource and customer engagement is driving so many choices….what’s crazy is that artificial intelligence is enabling that higher performance and personalization, but it is also where I have some of the greatest concerns…it personalizes things but it also is a catalyst for privacy and personal intrusion or high-risk experiences….brands need to really have ethics on how they use it.

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