Archive for the ‘Archive 2009’ category

What We Know About the Social Enterprise for 2010

December 17th, 2009

As we wind down 2009, I have had a few moments to think about where we are going with this whole enterprise social media, online communities, social marketing, etc. So, here are my “true-isms” for 2010:

1. Marketing via Social Media is becoming mainstream. Most of it is ad hoc  and mediocre, but there are some notable exceptions and that list is growing. Finding less people saying “why” and more people saying “how”.

2. Innovators are starting to change the rules. When you see a market disruption, the early indicators are the ability to gain market share at low cost by disrupting the status quo. Doesn’t mean that twitter is your end all strategy, but you are finding companies that are leveraging multiple web 2.0, social, community applications to streamline the way they do business; either gaining new customers or efficiencies in servicing the ones that they have.

3. Customer Experience is becoming transparent – if your service sux or is barely mediocre, you need to be concerned. Social media is optimized better that static websites. This means the ANGRY blogger who writes a scathing review of their poor customer experience will get ranked higher than all of the money you just spent on broadcasting to the market.

4. Social Marketing is a “downhill” spend versus some alternative marketing channels that are “uphill” – Means that you get the snowball effect from a $1 spent in social marketing because you get the target audience, influencers, and search benefits. Alternatively, if you are having to spend dollars at trade shows, etc. you have to spend to counter the social marketing of your competitors, it is to a limited audience, and it is gone once you spend it.

5. Social Marketing doesn’t work if you apply a traditional marketing approach to the social networks. You cannot just message and broadcast your advertising or PR messaging on social networks and expect people to engage. The analogy is word-of-mouth marketing in the offline world. Do you hire a street team and then have them drive up and down the block with speakers blanketing the neighborhood with a speech? You laugh at the analogy, but that is exactly what many “interactive” major brands are doing online.

6. Social Media, Marketing, etc will extend from the public networks into the enterprise. We are having conversations with partners and CIOs around business intelligence, lead generation and tracking, customer experience management, enterprise application integration into internal communities, information architecture, employee engagement, organizational productivity gains, integration of external and internal communities, contact center integration, supply chain enabled applications, business process integration, corporate governance and compliance, MBOs, cross-functional alignment, ROI, etc.

7. Social Media is following the same path into the organization that the original “website” did… in the process became web applications, processes, ecommerce, etc. The original web solved a problem for people in aggregating and distributing information. Social Media solves the opposite problem in that it helps people with context and filtering.

8. The “Social Enterprise” is growing up. The last three years have seen pockets of cottage industry level “consultants”… but, everyone claimed to be a social media consultant. Saw the same thing in mid-90′s as everyone was a web consultant, but the difference by the end of the decade was that the real consultants figured out how to map back to business strategy and tie the web to business objectives, ROI, and core business issues. The real consultants figured out that they needed standardized, repeatable methodologies that were scalable across the enterprise (and enterprises) and transferable to their clients. The applications they developed focused on “big” problems and the size required sophistication and strategic understanding. 2010 will be the breakout year for many consulting organizations as they move from tactical point applications to enterprise solutions.

9. Organizations that have embraced the new collaborative economy and all of the challenges and opportunities in 2010 will face hurdles in converting to the social enterprise, but the smart ones will understand that the risks are too high. Smaller companies, non market leaders are looking for an edge or opening to exploit and grab market share or enter new markets. In a down economy, you have to leverage what you have better. The larger companies that cannot adjust can find that market share is a trailing indicator of performance (how we did) versus social media which is a leading indicator (what people think).

10. From 1989 to 1999, 62 of the top 100 companies on the Fortune 100 list changed. 62 came off and 62 new ones entered the list. If you think about it, 62 of the top, most respected market leaders got caught from behind and eclipsed in one decade with the selective use of a new technology and widespread business process reengineering. 62 of those CEOs and other executives probably said, “web?”, not going to affect our business. I wonder how many of them retired early…. I wonder how many of the top companies and executives will still be on the list in 2020…

When Marketing Goes Too Far

December 4th, 2009

I had coffee yesterday with John Caslione discussing his new book that he wrote with Philip Kotler called Chaotics: The Business of Managing and Marketing in The Age of Turbulence. As we were discussing the “New Normality” (www.chaoticstrategies.com), I was explaining how we did social marketing and how word-of-mouth marketing isn’t new, but word-of-mouth marketing is relatively new to the web. He stopped me and told me that I needed a better description for the new marketing model. It got me thinking so I looked on the web to see how people are describing this:

  • Social Media Marketing
  • Social Marketing
  • Relationship Marketing
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Social Network Marketing
  • Evangelist Marketing

I woke up this morning with the “right” description. It isn’t Word-of-Mouth marketing over the web, it is “Net Word Marketing”. We help companies spread the “word” over the web and social media…

Thinking that I was on to something, I decided to try it out on my wife to see her reaction. “Honey, I decided that we do Net Word Marketing, what do you think?”

Well, as I caught her as she was helping one of our sons get ready for school; so I think that she didn’t hear me very well… “NERD Marketing, I already knew that…”

Needless to say, I am still working on the better description of what we do…

A Tale of 2 Marketing Programs: Social Media Versus Search Engines

November 24th, 2009

Social media is going to take budget dollars away from search engine marketing. Already is in many major brands. Simple economics are driving this transition.

If a major ecommerce player is spending 50% of their budget on search engine marketing, website optimization, and link optimization programs, but is losing the war to bloggers in organic search. Why would the ecommerce player continue to spend massive amounts of money on advertising when they can focus on blogger outreach (ethical, not paid) for far less money. Better yet, fix their customer experience and get customers to evangelize on their behalf. this slide says it all….

Click Picture to Expand

Additionally, as we analyze the various social media monitoring and metrics tools, the challenge is pretty evident. Search engines work off of structured data. I can run an advanced search and build filters for my search results. The challenge with social search is that the taxonomy isn’t defined. How you talk about a problem can be completely different than I talk about it. Potential buyers may not even recognize that the problem they are discussing on social media is even in the market. How do you build an automated tracking of taxonomy around unstructured data?

Effective lead generation program within social marketing require human knowledge of your solutions and also the ability to follow discussion threads to identify contextual relavence. Over time, you should be able to fine tune the algorithms for your social monitoring programs to become 80% accurate, but the most successful programs are leveraging human knowledge to make social marketing engagement programs to become discoverable, impactful, and actionable.

Otherwise, you get the the large number of costly “unqualified” leads that flood into websites similar to the search engine marketing programs. These programs either make it up in volume or work the “long tail” of key words to reach better qualified buyers. Social marketing can get you to the “long tail” faster as most buyers start with questions in the long tail when they do not know what they are looking for and leverage the expertise of others to become more specific as they learn what they don’t know.

2010: The Perfect Social Marketing Storm

November 24th, 2009

So, if you believe 2010 is the year of the return, forget the “u” shaped recovery, etc. We are talking the “V” shaped RETURN.” The tsunami of pent of demand, the rise of social marketing as a recognized marketing channel, and the competitive pressures to outperform the market to validate your company’s supreme dominance will be firece. No problem, finding budget for marketing will be the least of your problems. Having to justify social marketing doesn’t seem as daunting when you have budget and sales are coming in… “Cool, where do I sign-up?” If not sure about 2010 being the roaring recovery, read further….

We know that social marketing is becoming mainstream. I think in 2o1o it will become table-stakes. If you don’t have a facebook page, twitter account, and linkedin profiles; you are so 2009…. In reality, we are seeing major brands begin to increase their budgets for social marketing by a factor of 20% – 30% of budgets. One major CPC brand is dictating that a percentage of product innovation come from ideas from their community. Increasingly, we are not having conversations about “Why should I do it?”, but “How do I use it for competitive advantage?”

We know that most companies have stabilized the bleeding even though they had a mediocre year. Sales are off from their height, profitability is down, budgets are constrained, probably a layoffs/backfill hires not made/new positions not budgeted. Entering into another year of a multi-year recession means most organizations now expect that you will figure out how to do more with less and will not accept “the economy” as justification for underperforming results. The expectation is that you will figure out how to outperform the market.

However, the real question is not whether the economy will recover with pent up demand in 2010, but what if it doesn’t? What if the recovery is a real dud? Will the corporate boards be simpathetic to another year of mediocre performance? Will CEOs be calm with back-to-back mediocre years? The average tenure of CEOs. CMOs, and other senior executives is what? Will anyone accept the excuse that it “the economy”? Will the pressure ratchet up even more?

What if the market fundamentally is shifting towards social media and away from advertising and even search engine marketing?,What if I don’t shift our sales, markmarketing and customer management to reflect the market? What if the market slightly improves but we don’t improve with it? What if our competitors find a way to add a lot of new customers and revenue and we don’t?

The best estimate is that it takes 3 to 6 months to establish a baseline measurement program for social marketing. That means that I need to build a program and execute within the first half of 2010 to give me time to see if it will work. That means 2010 is ALREADY HALF OVER in terms of impact.

We are not talking about setting up a twitter account and adding followers. I am talking about getting legitimate lead generation, customer retention, brand reputation, product development feedback, and team productivity using these tools. Someone tells you that you need a branded twitter account, ask “Why?” If you don’t hear a crisp answer related to a strategic initiative, then you should realize your return is probably equated to the time and cost you invested to set it up… Free Twitter Account Does Not Equal to a Gazillian Free Leads…

Here are the Major Questions that you need to ask to determine if you need to invest in a social Marketing Strategy…

We can’t hit the marketing performance numbers? Not Necessarily. Your competitors may be slower to adopt than you.

Can we get predictable and measurable results out of just doing tactical social media participation like having a twitter account and a facebook page? I don’t know, can you? How is it working for you now? Getting the results that you want? Seeing the strategic impact on revenues or customers?

Can we build a social marketing strategy on our own? Sure, always a factor of core competencies, time, resources, and money. Give anyone enough time and money and resources and they usually build a plan.

Can my team execute a social marketing program effectively? Are they doing it now? We find with a little coaching, a clear plan, and training that organizations are able to drive execution to meet their business objectives.

Can you tell me if you can tell me the 2010 social media forecast for my market? No, we would have to do a Social Market Audit to get a better idea. We can tell you …

  • If the market is adopting social media
  • How big your company’s footprint
  • How effective is your marketing messaging
  • How well are you doing against your competitors
  • How you can compete over social marketing better
  • Provide you with strategic marketing plan for executing and integrating social marketing

We find that our best partners in this are the folks who are already toe-dipping into social media. They have seen what works and what doesn’t. They recognize a sophisticated program will lead to better, more predictable results.

Self-serving? You betcha…. but also true.

Social Media Policy and Your 15 minutes of Fame

November 23rd, 2009

Andy Warhol said that in the future everyone would be famous for 15 minutes.  For one Atlanta area teacher, that fame – or rather, infamy – comes in the form of pictures posted on her Facebook page.  Over the summer this particular teacher took a trip to Europe where she was included in snapshots with friends at dinner and over drinks.  Seems simple enough, except that she posted the pictures on her Facebook page, where a parent got wind of the posting and complained.

What is a teacher to do?  What is any employee to do?

Typically teachers are held to pretty high standards of behavior, detailed in county level morals clauses and statewide professional standards.  So why all the fuss and confusion?  In this case, there seems to be a lack of clear and thoughtful social media policies at the county level.  In fact, the Atlanta area system where this incident occurred isn’t schedule to consider developing or implementing social media guidelines until December.

Unfortunately, this is not surprising.  A recent MarketingSherpa survey revealed that only 33% of large businesses and organizations have implemented a Social Media Policy.  The other 67% either don’t recognize the need, or are still in the development process.

Why are so many companies dragging their feet?  There are a couple of reasons:

Fad – Too many corporations still think that social media interactions are a fad.  Why would any no nonsense, well regarded brand embrace a medium built on chit chat and status updates?  These entities think of social media as time wasters and discourage usage.  The reality is that the medium is here to stay.  Whether it’s called Facebook tomorrow, people will still be interacting in the social media space.  Smart companies will embrace this and develop guidelines for employee usage.  Really smart companies will incorporate social media activities into their own communications structure, championing information exchange among employees and potential customers and harnessing the power of that influence.

Fear –  Leadership at many larger companies and organizations came of age at a time when  brand communications where one way – outward facing.  Large brands told customers what they wanted them to know, orchestrated how and when those messages would be presented, and called it a day.  Now that communications model is crashing to the ground and many C-suite executives don’t know what to do.   Comments and messages on social media platforms are submitted for public consumption.  And when those mentions are negative or even false, many organizations don’t know what to do to handle them.  Creation of social media policy builds a framework and a context within which companies can begin to handle these sentiments.  Courageous companies will listen to the chatter and will thoughtfully consider how and when to react, turning negative comments into customer service opportunities

Frustration – Some large companies have gotten in front of the wave and are already “active” in the social media space.  They may have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, but they don’t do anything with it.  Just this week, AdAge reported that 76% of Branded Twitter accounts lie dormant.  Lack of policies, strategy and intention have hamstring many early adopters and their attempts at successful utilization of social media within their organizations and in the online community.  But a structured approach to social media, beginning with social media guidelines for internal communications and external outreach, will reduce corporate frustration.  Companies that seek to develop methods of internal communication empowered by social media can groom and grow their own corporate cheerleaders and industry evangelists, and shape organizational perception.

It has been said many times that perception in reality.  No matter what our intent, it is the perception of its receipt that is remembered.  Perhaps the teacher at the center of this latest Facebook incident did not intend for others to see or respond to her posted pictures in the way that they did.  But the reality is that, regardless of her motivations, someone complained.  She might have been helped by clear and thoughtful social media policies from her employer.  Definitely, the employer would have firmer footing to engage the teacher if there had been.

It seems here Facebook pictures are feeling more like a mug shot than anything else.