Tagged: socialmedia

Can a Social Media Strategy Benefit a B2B Business?

originally posted on Concept Hub

One of the most asked questions that I hear regarding social media is…

Can a Social Media Strategy Benefit a B2B Business?

First, I would like to point out that at this very moment you are reading a blog post by a business that sells to other businesses.

When I launched this blog my goal was not to communicate to other social media consultants but to communicate directly with my prospective clients, the ones who were not yet blogging and even the ones who were not quite sure what a blog was.

The goal of this blog is to educate my audience about this emerging industry. As a result, we have been able to establish ourselves as experts in this industry and gain the confidence of the business community.

Through a simple social media strategy a business can;

  • Be seen as a leader.
  • Stand apart from the competition.
  • Build their brand image.

One of the most recognized advantages of participating in social media platforms is that such participation increases the organization’s organic SEO. But a good social media strategy should see beyond the SEO.

Beyond SEO

Google, the gods of search, and the various other search engines work diligently every day to make search better for the end users. This includes beating those who try to “trick” the system and ensuring that each individual’s search results are relevant to their needs.

There are a number of initiatives happening right now that will forever change the game of search including personalized searchuniversal search and social bookmarking tools such as Stumbleupon or Del.icio.us.

In a nutshell, what this means is that when I search for a product or service and you search for the exact same product or service, our search results will differ depending on our past search behavior as well as who we are connected to within our various social networks.

So the question is not whether or not your page is ranked highly in a search result, but the question is what will a person find in the links that are ranked highly?

Conversations about products and services, as well as the workplace, are happening every day. That dialog is not a marketing message or a press release, but authentic dialog coming from past and present customers and those authentic conversations equal trust. If the dialog is positive, and the trust is high, the conversion rate to a sell is even higher. If the dialog is negative, you may never even have realized you just lost a sell.

By participating in online communities a business is able to;

  • Create demand for their product or service indirectly.
  • Get honest feedback directly from their customers.
  • Protect their reputation by directly responding to issues or inaccurate comments.
  • Excel in customer service for all the world to see.

More than that, if the online communities are not talking about you, check to see if they are discussing your competitors or the overall industry you are in. This way you can;

  • Keep tabs on the competition.
  • Stay up to date on emerging trends.
  • Challenge outdated assumptions.

Jump In…The Water’s Fine

Even though social media has become mainstream, and it seems everyone is talking about it, many organizations still fear what might result if they open up the floodgates of an open dialog.

What if someone decides that a corporate blog is an open invitation to complain?

What if a company post turns out to be inaccurate or insults someone and it is pointed out for all the world to see?

What if there is a typo?

 

Last year Wired Magazine wrote about the advantages of being “naked online.” It turns out telling the world that you are human, you make mistakes, you have feelings, insecurities, and doubts can be a good thing!

When I launched my first blog, which was my personal blog, I had many friends express concern that I was “putting it all out there.” However, I have twice as many followers on my personal blog than my corporate blog, and those who follow me there have often been the best supporters I could ever hope for. It turns out we all have something in common. We are all human and we have similar fears, insecurities, hopes, and dreams, doubts, and yep…we all make mistakes. It also turns out we feel more connected to those who show that we have such things in common, and I suspect we tend to develop a newfound trust for each other as well.

But what can you do if someone else shows your warts?

  • Take responsibility for your mistakes.
  • Show that you have learned from each mistake.
  • Maintain a positive attitude.

Keep in mind that an open dialog can show the world what values your organization stands for, and if those values are strong and clear, they become a mountain that can withstand any little storm.

The Ultimate Myth – It is NOT about reaching the Millennials

The final thing about social media that I would like to address is the myth that organizations need to embrace these new trends and technologies to reach the Millenials (the younger generation, aka the echo boomers).

Yes, they grew up with this technology. Yes, they speak “lol, brb, btw, cob” and so forth. But not only are they not as savvy with the trends and technologies as you might think, they most likely do not know the business value of such tools and trends.

I work with a lot of interns and the bulk of the time spent initially is teaching them about RSS, Tags, and social bookmarking tools.

Keep in mind, these tools were developed by Generation X as a means to connect and collaborate, as a means to do business far and wide. Although the generation that is coming in the workforce today are very net savvy, they are not necessarily prepared to teach you what you need to know about social media.

Recently I had the opportunity to work with 4 interns on an online street team project. One intern who will be graduating in the near future was telling me how surprised she was that people were so willing to connect and build relationships online.  Through the internship, she was able to learn to network both online and offline.

She wrote to me;

“This internship was fantastic. I really broke out of my shell during the duration of this internship. It has pushed me to become less introverted and more extroverted by such activities as conducting interviews and interacting with people online.  I learned quickly that this internship requires a good deal of independent work. I created five online profiles and groups through various social networking sites. I believe it has helped me become more online savvy then I once was.”

The skills needed by tomorrow’s workforce are not very different from past generations. They will need to know how to network, communicate value, take personal responsibility and persuade. The difference is that it will be happening in many different environments, both online and offline.

Are you prepared to show them the ropes?

Business or Personal (the line get’s fuzzy)

originally posted on Concept Hub

What is Web 2.0?

“Web 2.0 is not about the technology – it is about embracing creativity.”

“Kids have been taught through technology that there are no limits.”

“It’s about intelligence having fun!”

“Ideas that liberate their company.”

“There still isn’t a computer that can come up with ideas.”

“Expanding self interest to include the other people in your life.

“You can not have a strategy until you understand your core sentiment”

“From ethos, culture, and values you get the energy for strategy and tactics.
– A strategy that comes out of your soul.”

“75% of people are depressed when they go to work – how does web 2.0 help?”

These were quotes that I jotted down as I listened to Joey Reiman, Thinker & CEO – and founder of BrightHouse, the world’s first ideation corporation.

Joey and his partner Elizabeth Clubb presented this past month for the Technology Association of GA Enterprise 2.0 Society.

I was surprised that the last quote was not so surprising. “75% of people are depressed when they go to work”

So how does Web 2.0 help? Joey and Elizabeth discussed their work with Hearst Corp. to create a web 2.0 environment where people have choices of what they read, how they read it, and when they read it. They also introduced their concept for Creative Island; among many other things, it is a world where you can virtually have dinner with 5 people from history.

My imagination started running. I would invite Leonardo Da Vinci, Jesus Christ, Joan of Arc, Queen Elizabeth I, and Merlin.

Then, at the meeting, the latest typical question came up. When will we have time to have dinner with these people? We have work to do, real business dinners to attend, kids to get to soccer practice, whitepapers to read. Even if we want to have dinner with our 5 favorite people in history, when will we have time and the mental energy to do so? When we have free time do we want to add to the world wide web, or do we want to lean back and consume some mindless media?

Well, more and more stats show mindless media is losing the battle. 67% of teenagers are creating content online and 68% of American Adults are online with an ever-growing number of social networks that are geared toward baby boomers. It seems instead of mindless consumption of someone else’s creativity, people want to connect and create, and they are finding their connections and ability to share their creations online.

So how do these connections, this digital liberty, solve the problems of workplace depression?

First, the technology frees information. The knowledge and ideas that have been locked up in the minds of all the employees who work their jobs every day, constantly observing what works and what doesn’t and how things can be done better, can now be set free in online forums to be explored, expanded on and implemented.

Second, through personal expression, people can create bonds with their team and their customers that are reminiscent to the days when the employees of the corner stores were your neighbors and the people you worked with became your extended family. This can be accomplished even when your suppliers, customers, and teamwork a world away.

Finally, everyone is empowered to be on the front lines ensuring that the organization stays on the competitive edge in their offerings, positioning, and service.

Web 2.0, when implemented in the workplace, frees information, gives personality to corporate communications, unites the team, and reconnects the organization with its core sentiment.

From that core sentiment, you get a workplace full of creative, energized and dedicated employees who are willing to give their organization their all.

How Did You Score?

originally posted on Concept Hub

This week we will review our Social Media Quiz that we posted last week.

The quiz was developed for a few reasons.

  • It raises awareness of some of the major opportunities and threats of social media that organizations need to consider.
  • It allows everyone to get a benchmark of where they stand in the world of online conversations and a peer to peer marketplace.
  • It gives us a series of goals to strive for to improve our client’s position this world of online conversations and a peer to peer marketplace.

A perfect score would suggest that an organization:

  • Is outscoring their competition
  • Reputation is protected by their online fans
  • Has established word of mouth marketing channels
  • Has a high penetration of dialog within their target market
  • Has a message that is above the noise level
  • Are invited into online communities – Barriers are knocked down

To accomplish such an endeavor, an organization’s internal communications would need to be able to rapidly respond to the market intelligence and sentiment coming from the external communities. This means knocking down silo-ed walls internally and creating a collaborative environment within the organization.

So, how did you score? Let’s review the questions.

Questions 1-3 are based on how you scored compared to the competition.

Question 1 asked – How much discussion is happening online about your industry?

If you answered “I don’t know” you lost points. If you answered “no discussion at all” you received a 0 for lack of effort. Beyond that, your score was based on the volume of conversation. Obviously the more volume the more opportunity. However, even if the volume is low there is still opportunity to be the premiere online voice within your industry.

Question 2 asked – When researching information about clients, prospects or competitors how much time do you spend reviewing blogs or forums?

Again, the more time you spend the better your score. This is because you are putting a significant amount of effort understanding your market as opposed to  looking at elaborate marketing copy and there is a significant amount of valuable information online to sort through

Question 3 asked – When reading a blog or forum about your industry how often have you found your competitors contributing to the conversation?

Here, the more your competitors are contributing to the conversation, the lower your score. It means they are creating a loyal customer base, gathering market intelligence, and creating a significant barrier to entry for you.

Questions 4-6 is focused on protecting your online reputation.

Question 4 asked – How concerned are you about what others will say about your company in an online community?

This question is weighted as a bell curve. The best answer is somewhat concerned. Anything less suggests an organization has their head in the sand, anything more is paranoia that could paralyze an organization.

Question 5 asked – What best describes your organization’s policies and guidelines for responding to negative comments about the organization on forums and blogs?

This question has two answers that are tied for the high score;

d. Contact the person who made the post in an attempt to resolve the issue

e. Publicly respond to the comment on the site

The other options have the potential for devastating backlash.

Question 6 asked – What is your organization currently doing to monitor online conversations?

The score to this question is a sliding scale with the best answer being;

e. We monitor as well as stay active in online communities, and are often alerted to relevant conversations by people in our network

Questions 7-9 is focused on the opportunities for online viral marketing.

Question 7 asked – Choose each answer that describes how your organization encourages referral business online?

The more choices selected the better. However, each answer has its own score. Although we recognize the value of an email marketing campaign, such a campaign does not have the reach as a thriving online social network that retains the loyalty of existing customers and acts as a magnet for new customers.

Question 8 asked – How much does your organization review relevant online conversations prior to creating and launching a marketing campaign?

The scores for these answers are also on a sliding scale. The more you know about your customers the better your marketing campaign will resonate with them, even if the said campaign is not even online.

Question 9 asked – How does your organization distribute content throughout the web (select as many as applicable)

Answers A and B receive a 0. Beyond that, each answer scores equally. Why? Because each choice is only as effective as the strategy behind it. Meaning an email campaign with the right message aimed at the right audience will be much more powerful than irrelevant Link Exchanges.

Questions 10-12 is focused on gathering market intelligence.

Question 10 asked – How relevant are online communities to your organization?

Here is the reality. Online communities are very relevant to your organization whether your organization chooses to acknowledge online communities or not. Someone somewhere online is talking about your organization, and it could be your employees innocently collaborating with others on a project which could potentially sabotage the organization’s intellectual property.

But if there are no online conversations about your organization, check to see if there are conversations about the competition. Do your competitors have an upper hand in online viral marketing opportunities?

Question 11 asked – How many influential bloggers relevant to your industry has your organization developed relationships with?

The more the better. These are the people who have their ear to the ground and will provide cutting-edge information to those in their close circles.

Question 12 asked – How many relevant online social networks is your organization strategically positioned in?

Again, the more the better. The key word here is “strategically.” Social Networking sites are not about “shelf space” as in having a profile waiting to be discovered. It is about…well…the other key word in the question “Networking.” This is equivalent to sending your team to the right association meetings and conferences.

Questions 13-15 are focused on rising above the noise level.

Question 13 asked – How valuable is your message to your audience when positioned within an online community?

Obviously, the more valuable the more your message will rise to the top.

Question 14 asked – What percentage of your company is participating within online communities on their own?

“I don’t know” is a very bad and scary answer. However, again, the more employees that you do know about the better. These are people with real relationships in real networks. This is like asking how many of your employees have a social life and might be able to uncover sales opportunities, market knowledge, or recruit talent for the organization through their social connections.

Question 15 asked – What percentage of your company is participating in online communities on behalf of your organization?

Again, “I don’t know” bad and scary answer. Again the more people representing your company online the better.

Let me rephrase it this way. How many logo shirts and hats have you distributed to your team to wear when they are out and about? How many employees have direct access to your customers or vendors or partners? If you are encouraging your team to represent you offline, why would you not encourage them to represent you online?

Questions 16-18 address the barriers to entry into online communities.

Question 16 asked –  How comfortable does your organization feel about commenting on relevant blogs?

The more comfortable the better. A good social media strategy starts with the right organizational culture.

Question 17 asked – How receptive do you feel your online communities, relevant to your industry, are to advertising or marketing messages?

The least receptive a community is to a marketing or advertising message the more challenging it will be to conduct business within.

Question 18 asked – In what ways has your organization enhanced accessibility to the online community? (select as many as applicable)

Like many of the other questions, the more ways your organization has enhanced access to the online community the better. However, again the choices that are implemented have to make strategic business communication sense and be user-friendly.

A social media strategy is much like a business plan. Rarely can the strategy be “build it and they will come.” An organization has to understand the market, the needs their contribution will satisfy, and the competitive landscape.

Social Media Quiz

originally posted on Concept Hub

Today’s blog post seems to be motivated by what one would find in a Cosmo-type magazine.

What is your social media score?

More importantly, do you and your peers agree on the importance of social media?

Now that social media has become mainstream, more and more people are aware that it affects and will continue to have a greater effect on business communications and processes.

However, that awareness seems to be divided between the haves (those who are aware of the implications of social media)  and the have-nots (those who are not aware or are in denial) and then, of course, most people fall somewhere in the middle.

Are you and your peers on the same page? Here is your “Cosmo” test to share amongst your team. Next week I will share with you how your answers scored.

1. How much discussion is happening in your industry online?

a. I don’t know
b. No discussion at all
c. A little discussion
d. Some discussion
e. Quite a bit of discussion
f. A lot of discussion

2. When researching information about clients, prospects, or competitors, how much time do you spend reviewing blogs or forums?

a. I never look at online blogs or forums
b. <10% of the time

c. 10% – 30% of the time

d. 30% – 50% of the time

e. 50% – 70% of the time

f. > 70% of the time

3. When reading a blog or forum about your industry, how often have you found your competitors contributing to the conversation?

a. Never read online blogs or forums
b. <10% of the time

c. 10% – 30% of the time

d. 30% – 50% of the time

e. 50% – 70% of the time

f. > 70% of the time

4. How concerned are you about what others will say about your company in an online community?

a. Not at all concerned
b.  A little concerned
c. Somewhat concerned
d. Quite a bit concerned
e.Very concerned

5.  What best describes your organization’s policies and guidelines for responding to negative comments about the organization on forums and blogs?

a. Ignore it
b. Contact a lawyer
c. Contact the site administrator and ask to remove the comment
d. Contact the person who made the post in an attempt to resolve the issue
e. Publicly respond to the comment on the site
f.Other: ___________________________

6. What is your organization currently doing to monitor online conversations?

a. Nothing
b. Our PR agency handles that function
c. We use Google Alerts or other search engines, or blog monitoring tools
d. We monitor as well as join relevant online communities
e. We monitor as well as stay active in online communities, and are often alerted of relevant conversations by people in our network
f. Other: ___________________________

7. Choose each answer that describes how your organization encourages referral business online?

a. Email campaigns that can be “forwarded to a friend”
b. Encourage customers to write reviews online
c. Produces content such as videos or podcasts that can be distributed throughout the web
d. Developed branded widgets that adds value to an online community
e. Created a thriving online social network for their customers
f. Other: ___________________________

8. How much does your organization review relevant online conversations prior to creating and launching a marketing campaign?

a. I don’t know
b. No review of online conversation
c. A little review of online conversation
d. Some review of online conversation
e. Quite a bit of review of online conversation
f. Very extensive review of online conversation

9. How does your organization distribute content throughout the web (select as many as applicable)

a. Not applicable
b. We don’t distribute content online
c. Email and SEO
d. Press Releases
e. Link exchanges
f. Throughout Social Networks
g. Other: ___________________________

10. How relevant are online communities to your organization?

a. I don’t know
b. Not relevant at all
c. A little relevant
d. Somewhat relevant
e. Quite a bit relevant
f. Very relevant

11. How many influential bloggers relevant to your industry has your organization developed relationships with?

a. Not applicable
b. I don’t know
c. 0
d. 1 – 5
e. 6 – 15
f. 16 – 25
g. <25

12. How many relevant online social networks is your organization strategically positioned in?

a. Not applicable
b. I don’t know
c. 0
d. 1 – 5
e. 6 – 15
f. 16 – 25
g. <25

13. How valuable is your message to your audience when positioned within an on-line community?

a. Not applicable
b. I don’t know
c. Not valuable at all
d. A little valuable
e. Somewhat valuable
f. Quite valuable
g. Very valuable

14. What percentage of your company is participating within online communities on their own?

a. I do not know
b. 0%
c. 1% – 25%
d. 26% – 50%
e. 51-75%
f. More than 75%

15. What percentage of your company is participating in online communities on behalf of your organization?

a. I do not know
b. 0%
c. 1% – 25%
d. 26% – 50%
e. 51-75%
f. More than 75%

16. How comfortable does your organization feel about commenting on relevant blogs?

a. Not applicable
b. I don’t know
c. Not comfortable
d. A little comfortable
e. Somewhat comfortable
f. Quite comfortable
g. Very comfortable

17. How receptive do you feel your on-line communities, relevant to your industry, are to advertising or marketing messages?

a. Not applicable
b. I don’t know
c. Not receptive
d. A little receptive
e. Somewhat receptive
f. Quite receptive
g. Very receptive

18. In what ways has your organization enhanced accessibility to the online community? (select as many as applicable)

a. Not applicable
b. I don’t know
c. RSS on our webpage or press room
d. Chat availability
e. Corporate blogs or forums
f. Branded on-line community
g. Other: ___________________________

Taking it to the Streets

originally posted on Concept Hub

You have a new product, new campaign, a new image and you need to get it in front of your audience, what can you do?
Take it to the streets!

We have all experienced a team passing out promotional items at concerts, sporting events, and parks.

But what if you are trying to promote and build an online community? What can you do?

Take it to the online streets.

One of the biggest challenges I have faced when building an online community is getting people to participate. There are a number of reasons why.

  1. There are still many more people consuming user generated content than producing it. So although you might be able to drive traffic to the site, there has to be a reason for them to contribute and they have to be the type of people who are willing to participate.
  2. The people who are willing to participate in online communities are already involved in online conversations elsewhere.

Online communities are about building relationships around common topics of interest. In order to build an online community, you have to find people who would be interested in your community, then you need to develop a relationship with them so that they would want to “hang out at your place.”

I call this effort an Online Street Team. We are working with Brand Atlanta on developing relationships with people who have a passion for sports, restaurants, attractions, concerts, and nightlife in Atlanta to build a community on the ATL Insider. We find these groups hanging out on Flickr, Myspace, Facebook, Bebo, Orkut, Twitter, Second Life, Kaneva, and so forth. We listen, we learn, and we engage in conversations.

However, even an Online Street Team needs some promotional items to distribute to the community.

Brand Atlanta has developed an interactive game, “How Do You ATL” which not only allows participants to develop their personalized image of Atlanta, but as you play the game, it gives you personalized recommendations of what to do in Atlanta – and of course there is a grand prize give away.

But we all know that the best relationships are developed in person. We need to get out and shake hands with people, look them in the eye.Those offline relationships can then be extended online.

Last Thursday night Brand Atlanta and NetParty hosted a networking event at the Tongue & Groove in Buckhead. Our street team was there interviewing the guests in order to highlight their interests on the forum. Atlanta’s favorite citizen journalists, Amani Channel and Grayson Daughters helped guide the interviews as well as create their own video. We met many great people with great stories about how they ATL and look forward to continuing those relationships online. The next day we upload photos of the event and a YouTube video.

Yeah, I know, I have a pretty cool job!

Is the intrusion of social media into the workplace inevitable?

originally posted on Concept Hub

This past week I had the opportunity to present a 2-hour workshop and keynote dinner presentation to the Human Resource Association of Broward County.

In both presentations, I referred to the post of a couple of weeks ago where I highlighted how Social Media became a speeding bullet.

But social media is rapidly becoming more dominant in our lives for more reasons than ease of use, low barrier to entry and grassroots marketing efforts. From a Human Resource perspective, social media is rapidly intruding their workplace because of the rapid shift in demographics at the workplace.

The Echo Boom generation is an expansive term for children born between roughly 1980 and 1995.

In 1989 the number of live births exceeded four million for the first time since 1964, and the Echo Boom peaked in 1990 (33 years after the peak of the Baby Boom) with 4.16 million live births, the greatest number since 1962.

Children of this generation are called Echo Boomers, a reference to the fact that the generation falls between about 30 and 36 years after the Baby Boomer generation, and thus many Echo Boomers are the children of Baby Boomers.
-Source Wikipedia

About.com and many other media sources are exploring the shifts that are happening in the workforce because of the baby boomers who will begin to retire by 2010.

Somewhere in the middle of the baby boomers and the echo boomers is my generation, Gen X. Although we did not grow up connected, we entered the workforce at the height of the Internet boom. We were and are the major contributors to the online shift.

The Echo Boomers is the generation that will be filling in the gaps in the workforce left by the retiring baby boomers. Who is the generation? They are the ones who grew up connected. They have been sharing their lives online most of their lives. They have not known time and geographic boundaries in the way generations past have felt the restrictions of such boundaries. Their ideas of Privacy is more of an interesting idea or a fuzzy concept for them compared to the privacy expected from past generations.

This generation is entering the workforce with different ideas of etiquette, social norms, and communication styles. They want to share their personal lives and they expect others to care about their personal lives.

However, this shift in who we are as a human race and how we interact with fellow humans all over the world is only accelerating.

Consider the acceleration of change of the past century;

Assembly Line 1901

Television 1930

Personal Computer 1981

Cell Phone 1983 (yeah – it was huge)

In the past year, Facebook grew from 10.8 million to 19.5 million. MySpace grew from 9.3 million to 58.8 million and LinkedIn grew from 3.2 million to 4.9 million!

More than that, it is important to look at our very young and see what they are growing up with. Not only are they going to be hyper-connected from birth with mom and dad blogging every moment and posting family photos on Flickr, they are also growing up with mixed reality/virtual environments such as WebKinz and Nicktropolis.

As much as Human Resource professionals have to keep up with already, the intrusion of social media has added even more challenges to their workday;

  • The company’s reputation is now in the hands of LinkedIn, Blogs, Forums and Social Networks.
  • Intellectual Property can be severely compromised with a click of a button.
  • Globalization and the Long Tail has created a new competitive landscape.
  • Multi-Cultural Sensitivities
  • Multi-Generational Sensitivities.

But at the same time social media has provided several opportunities:

  • The creation of a Visual Social Graph – Who does your Janitor Know?
  • Tapping Into the Hidden Talent in Your Organization – Retain Talent by ensuring that they are in the right roles!
  • Keep up with the marketplace – Know what your consumers know.
  • Provide exceptional customer service.
  • Increase your brand awareness.

Human Resource professionals are definitely in key positions to be able to lead organizations through these changes by;

1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency!
Know What is Going on in the Market Place
How is it Affecting Your Organization?
How is it Affecting Your Competitors?

2. Get Leaders from Other Departments Involved!
Social Media Affects Every Department

3. Developing a Vision
Focus on the Opportunities
Don’t Lose Site of the Business Purposes

4. Creating a Community of Advocates
Who is already involved in online social networking?
Train the Trainers

5. Maintaining Constant and Open Communication Channels
Address Fears and Concerns Openly
Maintain Internal Resource and Knowledge Blogs and Wikis

6. Highlighting Short-Term Wins
Notify everyone when you identified good candidates or solved a problem online.

7. Don’t Lose Momentum
Create a futurist Committee

8. Most importantly – Lead the Cultural Change!

Just like all the other changes in history-social media is more than a new way of doing things, it is a new way of being!

Will You Be a “Best in Class” Company?

originally posted on Concept Hub

More and more I am reading reports that are making the connection that what has been happening on the World Wide Web is and will continue to impact more than how organizations communicate with their audience. It will impact how organizations do business.

Not only are consumers now explicitly expressing their wants and needs, but they are finding very niche channels to get those needs met. The inside information that used to be passed over the fence is now being broadcast to entire networks.

Competition for attention has always been fierce, but now it seems that companies are competing with more than just those directly in their industry, they are competing with their consumers.

Several organizations have already started looking for response strategies. At the basic level they have established a monitoring system to seek out conversations that might have devastating consequences on their reputation. Many have launched campaigns to build communities around their products or services or to engage in conversations within other communities. However will that be enough to maintain a competitive edge?

Sure consumers appreciate that companies are “listening” and engaging them in conversations – but they will want more. They will want to be served! They will want to be treated as individuals! and if they do not get their way, their voice will be heard!

Social media is changing more than strategies within the Marketing and PR departments – it is changing R&D, Product Development, Customers Service, Sales and so forth. The result is that the “Best In Class” companies will have to adjust their internal organizational structures to be able to respond to the market at a compatible pace.

Aberdeen Group released a report highlighting Benchmarks for the Best In Class. In their Competitive Maturity Assessment within the Executive Summary they show;

65% of the Best in Class companies have a formalized process in place for monitoring consumer generated content

52% of Best in Class have dedicated personnel, such as a director of digital communications or director of social media monitoring

42% of Best in Class companies have a formalized process for detecting potential threats to the brand (i.e. early warning system)

More importantly the report states that to achieve Best in Class performance, companies must:

Secure buy-in at the C suite level because, more than technology, social media monitoring and analysis involves business processes and organizational changes, including the hiring of dedicated personnel.

What return would a company get from all this effort? Well it depends on what they do with all the information they are able to gather. As stated later in the report;

social media monitoring and analysis can generate actionable insights that result in smarter business decisions across multiple parts of the organization.

Social Media will affect every aspect of an organization – therefore every department of an organization needs to be involved in the organization’s social media strategy.

Are you prepared to be a Best in Class company?

Comments

 

Hi Sherry,

Great post summarizing the impact social media is having not only on the PR department but on the organization in general. Also, as a sponsor of the Aberdeen report you mention it’s great to see that you got some insights from it. Listening is definitely the place to start for any organization. In fact it’s because I listen to the social media monitoring space with our Radian6 solution that I found your blog.

Looking forward to other posts in the space.

Cheers.

David Alston
Radian6

Oh! The Places You’ll Go

originally posted on Concept Hub

What is the one thing that we all hear when it comes to how to persuade, how to sell, how to negotiate and so forth?

The importance of listening.

The most knowledgeable, passionate, and articulate person in the world can fail in communicating their message if they don’t know the values, emotions, and motives of their audience.

In the world of business, we build companies that solve problems. We increase efficiency, reduce costs, increase sales, and so forth. We take our products and/or services to the market with a fairly good knowledge of the value it will serve to the organizations we want to sell to.

In our sales and marketing efforts, we try to guide our prospective clients to recognize that there is a problem. We make sure that we are on top of mind when they are ready to search for a solution. We attempt to position ourselves to be the best choice when a prospective client is evaluating their options. If all goes well we win a client.

But do we really know why we won that client?
The thing about sales in the world of Business to Business is that sometimes we forget that we are really in a world where we are still selling Person to Person. Our new client most likely did not select the product or service based on a logical algorithm but more likely the decision was based on things such as trust, likeability, the influence of peers, current standing within their organization, personal goals, and so forth.

Just imagine how powerful our messaging can be if we could tap into the personalities, values, culture, and motives of the people we want to sell to.

We can! Simply by listening to what our clients and prospects have to say.

If we could sit back and watch how people interact with their peers, give them a platform to talk about themselves and what they care about, and let them develop a few of their own ideas of how to solve their problems, we can learn how to best serve people who make the purchasing decisions, as opposed to the organization that could benefit from the purchase.

Although social media enables organizations to broadcast their message through video, podcasts, blogs and so forth, it can also be a platform to simply listen and learn what others have to say. In fact, there is a lot being said online right now, some of it may be relevant to you.

Are you there? Are you listening?

It’s opener there in the wide open air

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy and footsy as you
and when things start to happen
don’t worry don’t stew
just go right along
You’ll start happening to

Oh the places you’ll go!

-Dr. Seuss

When was the Last Time You Reviewed Your Internet Strategy?

originally posted on Concept Hub

I am guessing you have a website and that is good.  I am guessing you worked diligently on what the colors should be, the layout, and content that expressed your offerings, solutions, and passions.

Being a smart business person you realized that you have to have some sort of marketing campaign to drive people to your site, so you optimized the site to rank high in search engines. You probably even extended your Internet Marketing strategy to include effective email campaigns.

Have you added multimedia?

Video is huge lately. It seems to be everywhere. Online video strategy alone can require lots of brainstorming, research, writing, storyboarding, scrapping, and starting over again. What kind of video will resonate best with your audience? A talking head? A high energy, high impact professional production? Or something that was caught with a camcorder or webcam?

How should your video be distributed? Email? Website? Within an Interactive Player? Through Social Networks such as BlipTV, YouTube, Revver, Google, MySpace, etc?

What about Podcasting? That seems simple enough. It’s a hot trend and there are lots of benefits. So, again, what is your story that will resonate with your audience? How long should it be? What do you want them to get from the podcast? How should it be distributed? Can it be integrated into other marketing efforts?

What is your strategy to go where your audience is? Are you active in forums? Blogs? Social Networks?

Are your competitors? Are your customers?

Have you read through any relevant review sites recently?

What is everyone saying out there anyway? Are they talking about you? Your industry? The problems that you have solutions for?

Are your employees talking about their jobs? Are they answering questions about the company?

When was the last time you checked Wikipedia or for that matter added your expertise to Wikipedia? When one of the almost 40% of Americans go to Wikipedia to get the information they think is credible, are they finding you there?

Are you getting up to speed on the growing trends of Widgets, Mashups, Mobile Marketing or Virtual Worlds?

Wait! Let’s get back to your website. Have you considered;

Dynamic Navigation

Personalization

Cross-Linking

Distributable Content

The Ability to Integrate other Communities onto the Sites

Actually, should you develop your own community as opposed to a website?

The World Wide Web has become a very complex place to do business. It is the Global Interconnected  Marketplace where we all go to either network, research, or make transactions.

It is time to ask yourself, is your Internet Strategy Creating Your Competitive Edge?

Evolving Job Responsibilities

originally posted on Concept Hub

I am working on an organizational chart for the near-term growth of this company. “My mission” of which I chose to accept, is to put together a chart of not just job titles or responsibilities but also how each person in the role will perform their duties as well as succession plans.

This led me to think about one of the most asked questions I hear when I am initially “pitching” social media to a potential client, “how many people do we need to hire for this?”

My standard answer at this time is no more than what is currently on staff. The key to participating in this evolving world of online communities is not about having “social media experts” on staff or on call – it is about having your current team adapt to the changes occurring in the way we communicate.

About a year ago I was saying something a little different. I was looking at Web 2.0 as a reinvention of the web. I had the discussion with a teammate at the time that Web 2.0 would evolve in the same way the web did. When organizations initially realized they needed a web presence they hired someone to throw up a page. Then they realized they wanted to make changes to the site or use it for more enhanced communication efforts, so they hired a webmaster. The web became so cluttered with banner ads and email marketing and SEO and security issues that organizations now have entire teams in-house as well as hired agencies. We thought we were seeing the same kind of reinvention in communications with Web 2.0.

I no longer believe that is the case. Unlike the initial mass adoption of online communications, this is not a reinvention of the web but more of an evolution of the web. So your PR team is still your PR team, but they learn how to interact with the public both directly and indirectly. Marketing teams learn how to tap into the what is important to their audience and directly impact the messages that are being spread in a peer to peer network, customer service is handled less on the phone or via email and more within online communities.

The biggest change I am seeing in this evolving way of communicating is the speed that knowledge and ideas get transferred which has a direct influence on opinions and purchasing decisions. Each person within an organization has to be trained and prepared to adapt to the new speed of information. I would suggest starting ….um now.

However, perhaps the one new job title that an organization would need to add to their team is that of a demolition specialist. Someone who can tear down the walls that have traditionally separated departments internally as well as separated companies from their buyers. Departments need to have direct access to each other and just in time knowledge of what is going on in their world to ensure that each person is on the “same page” when communicating in the open and transparent world of the Internet. This change must occur to enable organizations to adapt and respond to the market at the same accelerating speed in which the market is moving.