Posts Tagged 'social business'

Business Myopia-The Need To Realign Hope And Reality With Your Social Business

A lot of companies are going to transition to becoming a social business and fail horribly at it. It’s not entirely their fault. You might be sitting there and asking why not. Look no further than their website. It starts there. Here’s a real world example. 3 days ago I was on the phone with a prospective client, before I got on the phone I did a little research. First I wanted to look at their source code. I wanted to see what they thought of themselves. Regardless of who built the site, the meta tags that lie underneath can tell you a lot about what a company thinks they are, of how they view themselves.

I know, in the grand scheme of things meta tags don’t matter, but ahhhh, they do. It let’s people like me get a quick understanding of whether a client or company gets the rudimentary element of knowing who they are and how they want to be perceived online. you know why? Metas matter but not in the sense that we were all told or taught years ago. Metas matter because they drive the creation of content, the creation of bios, and the creation of hyperlinks from Tumblr and Twitter to YouTube and Pinterest. Metas are your descriptors of you and your company.

If you can’t tell me who you are with hyperlinks, geo specific hyperlinks,160 characters in a Twitter bio,25 characters for an adwords title, and or 70 characters for ad text, then how are you going to do it for your customers? The point being that search will continue to love social but before you even get to the point of cranking valuable content about you and your business. You have to have your act together structurally, internally and digitally.

Go look at all of your digital touch points and see if they pass the smell test. Are you painting the right picture of how search views all of your current content. Understand that part of being a social business is that, regardless of whatever social channel your choose-the digital content that you will create, has to align perfectly with what you do offline and what you currently have online.

When customers or prospects do a search, the results that they get back tell more of a story about you and your business then you may be aware of, and sadly the results may contain content that you had no control of. By the time you see it, or become aware of it-it’s too late, it’s been indexed and it’s virtually impervious to reputation management fixes.

Don’t wait for that to happen, go check your digital house and see if it’s in order. Align reality with perception and make sure that as a social business you understand that you are now searchable and accountable for content everywhere, starting with something as simple as your source code. Metas might not matter in search, but in reality, they can tell us what you think your business is.

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The Biggest Challenge in Becoming a Social Business

Why do you think some organizations struggle with becoming a social business or a social brand?

Simple as this. Relationships. They are critical to external organizationl success both at the lowest levels and the highest levels. Just as internal relationships are important in maneuvering through the maze of most Fortune 500′s and getting things done, in the digital world, especially in social media, your networks and the relationships that you have within and without, can make or break any social-digital intiative that you have going.

Whether its with coworkers, colleagues or customers-relationships, the creation of and the fostering of them will actually determine your organizational, departmental and personal success in social and digital.

At it’s core- it goes back to silos. You need to recognize them and maybe… embrace them. Silos don’t work but they still do exist. Why do they exist? Traditional business structures. Command and control.  Politics. The way things have always been. Silos are the reason why sometimes social takes awhile to permeate large organizations. Picture salmon swimming upstream. It takes a while for them to get there because they are going against the current. In social, we’re all salmon. We’re headed in the right direction, it’s just tough sledding right now. Social is a struggle.

So why do organizations struggle with rolling out social? Unless it’s a top down edict from the C-suite, whoever the internal champions of social are, they will find that beyond having a compelling case, a strategy, a plan and tactics, what really will determine them going forward will be one of 2 things: 1) Their internal allies and their internal relationships with other departmental heads or 2) A catastrophic, game changing, reputation damaging event that happens via social.

Org.’s struggle because the advocates of social  find that swimming with the current is much easier than trying to get internal buy-in, getting someone to change course, change direction, and think differently and do it differently just based on a notion or based on the mere fact that everyone may be doing it.

Social is still new. Hard to even say that anymore but it’s true, it’s still new. It requires you to step out of a comfort zone. It requires you to go beyond the insulation of heads down work. It demands that you look up. Social is busting down the notion that just doing good work can be sufficient and can be the determinant of success. But creating a sea change in an organization and becoming a social business is going to require a marriage of the old school and the new school. It’s hard and it requires the forging of relationships.

That doesn’t mean that NOT becoming a social business is the death knell, it just means that eventually if you don’t adapt-you will be the fish swimming downstream when all the others are going in the opposite direction. Have you ever tried getting someone to take the road less traveled?

 

The secret sauce of social is selfishness-and that’s not a bad thing

Excuse me while I say the following: If  it wasn’t for social media, you wouldn’t be anywhere near where you are right now in your career. To put it more succinctly, social media has made a lot of you. Yes I know that’s like saying if it wasn’t for the internet Bill Gates wouldn’t be anything but another coder, but let me back up. You see, for a lot of us, and notice I said us, social media added that missing layer. That missing dimension, that lens  into our personal, private and public lives.

Social is the accelerant.

In a way, using social is very much like wining and dining to get what we need.  For some, utilizing social media to “court” others and market ourselves, is the same as drug reps taking doctors on ski trips to “earn” their business.  Or going out on a date where we both talk about ourselves. It’s an interview. It’s the handshake and the introduction. Social is the empty seat next to you on an airplane that soon will be occupied by someone you can talk to for 3 hours. Or not. The potential is there should you choose to engage. The seat is the tool or the platform for discussion..

People have been using each other for centuries. In social media, the same holds true. People are using each other because they’re seeing that our social selves  can be so easily intertwined into our ability to create, and curate; and yet it’s also dependent on consumption, its dependent on sharing, dependent on broadcasting the message, the message that is you and me. Some of you may or may not know this but we are feeding off of each other. We’re sitting across from each other on that plane and we both have the same opportunity to talk to each other and take it to another level.

Without those elements, you are nothing but a product of what we were prior to the boom of the internet- a product of the 80′s and early 90′s. You are static. Social has added flash to your being. It’s added substance to who you are or… who you want to be, should you so choose.

It starts with Linkedin

Think about this.  Linkedin is and became one of the initial gateways into people’s lives; and for a lot of people, who were never into that “social thing”, and who are still not that social, Linkedin is their gateway into social media.  In fact, if we go by the 90-9-1 model, Linkedin might be as social as some people will ever get! But at the end of the day, is Linkedin a social network? Perhaps. It has elements of social. But what Linkedin really is, is it’s our vetting tool. It’s  our way to learn more about others, and have others learn more about us. But really it may have evolved with Linkedin, but it started with blogging.

Bloggers were considered outlaws

Social has a quid pro quo nature to it. In fact, today’s social elements were born out of the early days of blogging which were veiled in a sensibility of  “us versus them”  camaraderie. Essentially it boiled down to a  “if you show me yours I’ll show you mine” mentality of reading, commenting, and sharing each others blogs. It was almost the manual defacto way that you grew your readership. But it also allowed us to show each other and others our many layers in ways in which we never were able to before.

Blogs allowed us and allow us to say whatever we wanted when we wanted, and we used each other, and then we used someone else, and they used us too-and we let them, if it grew our readers. It’s how blogging works.  Funny but in the non-blogging world, we indirectly and directly use each other every day by associating ourselves with new people and entities that we think can help us get where we want to go. It’s not sacrilege to say this but people use each other all the time; but it might be sacrilege to say this though…Using each other is the nature of social media.

We call it social media but it could easily be called useful media.

Social has added that dimension of vetting the who, search added the dimension of vetting the what. Yet we still have to work, we still have to pay our bills, and eat, drive, sleep and do that daily mundane life stuff; because the  human element still weaves its way through all of that offline stuff. The new difference is, social media is adding that dynamic layer of personal utility. It’s adding the layer of creating who we are, so that someone might see who we are. Social is selfish. It helps us. It connects us. And that’s not a bad thing, it’s more just the reality of where we are going.

Social Media Specialists Are No Longer Needed

If you’ve been in this business for any length of time, then its time to take your collective aggregate knowledge of social media and add it to the overall mix of what you know and do. We’re at least five years in and I want you to quit being a social media specialist, because you aren’t one any longer. Simply put, and I’ve written about this at various points in the past, we’re all becoming social media generalists.

I used to be  an SEO specialist until  what I did just became a small  part of the daily mix of things that I did for our clients. There was also a time where I used to do nothing but manage PPC campaigns until it just became part of each clients overall web marketing strategy.

We all did something before social media

We all could mildly claim that we are or were bloggers at one point in time, except that it’s now merely part of what we do for our clients and respective companies. Same with video/vlogging, same with social media optimization, same with email marketing, same with creating websites, designing logos, writing copy, and creating tag lines; at one point in time it was unique and special but now-it’s just a sum total part of the collective us. We’re pulling from our collective experiences now. It’s natural and expected.

By now social should be a small part of what you do, but not all of what you do- At least for some of you. In fact, and I know a lot of you who fall into this category, there was a time where you owned social media and no one else could touch you. You were oracles of the social media soundbite.  Not anymore, social media knowledge bearers and practitioners are multiplying like rabbits and they know the game just as well as you do except…

You still have an advantage...

When I first got started in social it was for reputation management purposes and even then it wasn’t as much about the conversation as it was about understanding social media and its relationship to search… or I should say a blogs relationship to search (Facebook and Twitter weren’t even part of the conversation yet) Back then, a lot of you SEO’ers were merely concerned or wondering how to hyperlink signatures with keywords-I know that’s what I did, but then I evolved and so did you. Case in point.  I can bet all of you who have had a blog longer than a year can now spot a noob to the blog scene. How? When you get comment spam from people who insist on hyperlinking their generic, lame, weak, comment to a no-follow keyword based signature, you know… and you ask “Did they really just do that”? You’ve evolved.

Let’s digress

Things are changing. skill sets are changing- for example, if you are a PR practitioner, when did it become imperative that you understood how to not only write for your client, but also how to write for search? Or where the title of the promo piece was as important as the content contained within? Or better yet, when was it asked of PR practitioners that they had to understand the value of making connections with people in social networks? or starting blogger outreach campaigns? The PR person of today has many skills across multiple disciplines. They have to have them to survive.

Things change, people learn and skills evolve.

For Marcom people adding social to the mix is just another in the long list of things that are now just part of the job description. Yes we all still have to deal with the pretenders in the space, the snake oil salesman if you will, but for a lot of us, social is just part of the mix now. There was a time where I hated hearing the comment, “Yea but there is no ROI in social”; Now? I love to hear that comment so that I can fire both barrels of justification back at them. I’ve evolved and so have you. Marcom people need to know social, marketing, writing, PR, email marketing, advertising and design. Do they have to have deep knowledge? No, but give me breadth if I can’t have depth.

The next act

You see for a lot of you, your baseline level of knowledge in social now sets you up for what’s next. For those of you with an agency background, social is now just a part of what one does when creating a campaign. In some cases it’s the cornerstone, in others, it augments. Same with design. It’s a given that sites will have social components now-The hard part used to be finding people who could carry out the idealistic social initiatives aligned with the campaign, not any more. The troops are waiting for their marching orders.

Now social media failure isn’t so much based on the unknown or the person with a lack of knowledge, as much as it is based on a weak strategy, poor management, the wrong KPI’s or bad tactics. For a lot of you, you are the ones that will lead the charge into the new era of well rounded, seasoned generalists with skill sets that cover, tech, social, marketing, pr, and web. That’s the person I want and that’s the person that brands need.

Value Drivers in Social Media

Sometimes I’m not so sure I always know what that means. Value drivers.  It’s sort of a corporate speak type of thing to essentially describe the capabilities of your company isn’t it? But really the dumbed down version of value drivers is a  term to describe the competitive advantage(s) of your company.

But what if we say you are a “social company”? What are the value drivers of your social company? What should they be?

  • You are social, you are participatory and you are producing content? (That’s a given right?)
  • You engage frequently? (Assumed)
  • It permeates your organization? (Imperative)
  • Business is derived from your social activities?
  • You are measuring your activities?

Does your organization think like this? Does anyone think like that when it comes to social business? When we all start to think like this, then we get to move beyond the the “bright new shiny thing” stage of social.

The Problem with the Social Web

Competition is a good thing. Burger King is across the street from McDonalds. Chipotle sits a few hundred yards from Moe’s, Sprint and AT&T offer virtually the same thing. At the end of the day it’s about choice and personal preference that decide whether we go for the hamburger or the hamburger, the buritto or the buritto, or the phone or the phone. Sure we might get a recommendation or suggestion from someone, or we might be motivated by some type of incentive-but ultimately, you make the choice to choose…

Two years ago my friend Jason Breed and I created Hashtag Socialmedia- a tweetchat that revolved around talking about the business of social media. We patterned the chat around the rise of tweetchats that had distinct hashtags associated with them-our model came from Sarah Evans and her #journchat, which at the time was virtually the only tweetchat out there.

Her idea became our idea. But with additional bells and whistles and a different topic. The same but different. What drove both were the variety and types of people that participated. Was it a form of “Me-too”-ism? Maybe. But we weren’t competing for the same eyeballs and ears, so it didn’t matter. We took the basic concept of a tweetchat and made it our own.

In the larger picture of the social web though-there is Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube and blogs. Those are your so called starting points in social and then everything else sorta falls into lockstep behind them. I’m generalizing blogs, but if you insist, I could go with WordPress, Typepad and Blogger.

The point is this.  Right now we are stuck in the Me too phase of social. I see things being created that are offshoots of the basic premise of connecting, sharing and communicating-but nothing that is transformational. Nothing that is altering the way people do business.

If anything, I still see the adoption of social media taking longer than I expected.

Consider the following statements:

“We have a blog, come read it and find out cool stuff about our company”

“Come join our community and learn more about us”

“We have a Twitter account, follow us we may say something insightful”

“Come see our Facebook page and fan/like us”

“View our Youtube videos and share them”

“Download out mobile app and receive valuable benefits”

“Register for our email newsletter and print coupons”

See what I mean? We’re all drinking from the same well. Doing what we’ve been told works.  We’re all in the same bathtub and the toys in the tub are the same one’s that were there last week, last month and last year. Any new additions to the tub will be the same “type” of bath toys that are currently available, but nothing really new that may spur me to take two baths in the same week!. I know, what a ridiculous analogy-but my point being that I’m afraid that we’re stuck right now and it might be awhile before we become “unstuck”.

Recently I read where, First it was AOL, then it was Microsoft, then it was Google and now it’s Facebook. I’d say that was pretty safe. But look how different each was from the previous NBT.

It’s safe to easily sit here and say that Facebook is “it” right now, but also with the aspect of Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube  being variants of a solid basic notion that Facebook understood early on which is this:

All of those above mentioned platforms all have a solid foundation of “ease of  sharing, creating, connecting and communicating” at their core. There is no mystery about that. Sure, we’re exploring different ways that those can be exploited-but nothing really different. It’s “Here’s what you do, here’s how they work, the rest is up to you”- Now go do it.

The mystery is in what’s next. We obsess on it. But I will say this- We don’t need another Facebook. We don’t need another Facebook competitor either. We just need a better experience-but right now I don’t know what it looks like or where it’s going to come from.

Neither do you.

What’s Your Approach?

 

 

The “Other” Missing Link Between Brands and Consumers-The Foot Soldier

As I was glancing at my other machine, I saw this post tweeted by Tom Cummings from Dachis Group-Social Media Middlemen: The Missing link between brands and Consumers. If you get a chance to read it, do it, because Tom brings up a really good point and it’s this: If you are truly a social company or business, then that “socialness” needs to extend all the way down to your frontline, people facing, employees.

I’ve said for quite some time that in order to really be social, you have got to start from within, as soon as you have a firm base of knowledge that all of your employees can stand on, then you, as an organization, can do some really exciting things externally.

Why?

Wouldn’t it be great if your employees not only knew what Twitter was, but also knew what a Twitter discount code was so that they could also explain the benefits of following your organization on Twitter to anyone who walked into the business?

Thus the need to find those conduits between the brand and the consumers who use your brand. The “Middlemen” as Tom puts it. But maybe they’re not as much middlemen as they are foot soldiers? They may or may not do the heavy lifting as much as say a “middleman” but they are the “face” of your company. I think of middlemen being a little bit higher up the food chain.

I can’t tell you how many times I encountered frontline employees who knew nothing about a brands online or offline initiatives. Some might not even be able to tell you what the web address is of the company!

Employees in some cases, find out about web initiatives, much less online social efforts, when a customer asks them about it for the first time. At which point they go and ask someone else about it. You don’t have to fully indoctrinate your employees into the world of social media, they just need to know enough to help customers and clients. The more they know however, the better off you organization will be in the long run.

So, the question is this…Is everyone in your company on the same page when it comes to what your company’s social media presence is? Can they easily explain and or direct someone to become social with your company?

This weeks #Social Media Tweetchat Topic: Socializing My Business – What Comes After the Chit-Chat?

chitchatcafeEveryone’s talking about integrating social media into our everyday business.  Whether you have a small local business or are a global enterprise, everyone is interested in the best way to incorporate social media practices in some way to solve their business challenges.  As with any disruptive technology there are no shortages of short-sighted integration strategies. Initially we all focus around the new shiny toys/technology then we focus on the people side and the individuals who are using the shiny new toys are how great they are for it.  Eventually we need to evolve, to discover the best ways to integrate into our management and business practices.

Over the last couple of years, we have seen many attempts at defining the RIGHT approach.  First, it was Forrester with the POST methodology where the People, Objectives, Strategy then Technology were the core focus.  This approach turned everyone into strategists, albeit for the betterment of campaigns.  Campaigns are how agencies are oriented, client teams organized by geography then charged with the next big idea to WOW consumers.  Therefore, this is how many large companies who outsource their creative and marketing duties with agencies started “trying out” social media, through a number of well-thought out , one off campaigns.  The problem with the campaign approach is that everyone figured out that if social media is about developing relationships then a series of unique campaigns could not possibly deliver on the expectations that social media marketing promises.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Dachis Group recently rolled out their methodology around Social Business Design.  This approach says that the only way to compete in the future is re-organize the entire enterprise from the ground up with a framework to be a social business by design.  There is some good thought here around culture, business process and technology however no company wants to be the first one to scrap decades of legacy to “try” a new way to build a company.  Even if the management agrees to it, the shareholders will demand proven solutions.

So where does that leave companies?  Right now it depends on their leaders.  If you break out small businesses, it comes down to the type of leader that runs the company.  Some individuals “get” Twitter or other tools and will figure out how to make them work best to solve their unique business challenges.  Other small business leaders still need to be convinced this new “fad” will last before they invest any of their time into it.  For each respective small business competing in a local market, it will come down to whomever continues to build better relationships with their consumers whether online or off.  If customers feel a connection, they will patronize that local company whether they follow them on Twitter or not.  It’s still that simple.  Want proof?  Look at how many small businesses still do not have a true website…and they have made it this far.  Focus on a great product and over-the-top service and people will continue to purchase from you and spread the good word.

For larger business competing in multiple markets or globally, social business will play a larger part of their business success.  The speed by which information travels socially is simply overwhelming, good or bad.  Consumers have a new expectation for engagement, service and transacting.  Companies who succeed will be the ones who are able to embrace this new consumer, employee, partner or shareholder and manage appropriately to those expectations.  Note of caution: Simply communicating quickly does not equate to a new, successful social business.  So what else is there?

Social business transformation is happening from many fronts and is yet to be perfected.  But one thing is for certain, you do need to understand more than just technology and culture to truly apply social to your business.  While every business is different from it’s management, employees, culture, focus, expectations, etc your consumers are still the same as your competitors.  The big question then is how to win.  In my opinion, those who consider the underpinnings of prior corporate revolutions will be better suited to transcend into this new age than those who continue to stay shallow in their thoughts.  Consider such areas of practice such as:

  • Psychology: Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs which refers to 5 basic needs including: physiological, safety, social, self-esteem and self actualization
  • Sociology: which is often referred to as the Social Science, is the study of human societies.
  • Network Sciences: LikeMetcalfe’s Law - which conspires that networks (of faxes, phones, computers, people, or anything else) dramatically increase in value with each additional node or user

These sciences have influenced business revolutions including the information, management and globalization business revolutions that have helped shape the pace by which we operate today.  The question is how the new Social revolution will re-shape traditional business practices today and in the future.  Less discussed movements like social production, cognitive outliers, the wisdom of crowds and distributed transparency will certainly help shape this business revolution and the companies who embrace these learnings will emerge as leaders in the future.  The only way to get your businesses out front will be to look beyond the shallow dialogue like openness, authenticity, transparency and building relationships that is prevalent today and start understanding how the sciences will continue to influence business and consumer expectations.

Social, Managerial and Organizational Dimensions will all have an impact on both intra-organizational and inter-organizational aspects in social business integration.  To take us through this week’s conversation will be a true change agent in her own right, Kristi Colvin.  Kristi has a tremendous amount of experience leading corporate integration of disruptive technologies.  She will lead us through a series of questions to help challenge us to think deeper in managing our organizations through this monumental, customer led sea-change that is upon us.  The topic and questions follow:

Topic: Socializing My Business – What Comes After the Chit-Chat?

Q1: Why do we even need to integrate social into our businesses?

Q2: How should you begin to socialize your business and what should you expect?

Q3: What does social business integration look like for employees & the company?

This week’s chat will take place Tuesday 1/15 at 12 noon EST as usual.  To follow the discussion, use #sm42 from any popular Twitter app (like tweetchat, Tweetdeck,Seesmic) or from our LIVE page.


The Deets

Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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