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 Confluence of Social and Search

When defining the next big think, I am never surprised how much mobile, search and social continue to loom on the horizon. In fact, if you look at what’s happening in Japan it would boggle your mind.

Three-quarters of Japanese social network users access the sites only from their mobile phones.

Couple that with Google buying AdMob for $750 million and you can easily see where this is all heading.  But as the barriers to search and social and mobile continue to be broken down, I cannot help to think that the following is not true to some degree…

The Ideal Skillset for a New Hire for an Agency

I made a comment earlier to someone that it is really hard to find someone or people that have depth and breadth across the board. In fact this exact discussion took place at Social South late in the Summer by a pretty smart group of folks worth following on Twitter. The group included  Scott Schablow, Tom Martin, Jason FallsDavid Griner, Beth Harte and myself.

The question or challenges continues to present themselves to me and that is, trying to find someone with a blend of skill sets that can take on the challenges that this new marketing and communications world has presented us with.

What types of skills are needed? Here’s a quick list that I threw together, I know I’m missing some obvious ones, if so let me know.

  1. Understand the nuances of customer service and why the customer matters
  2. The ability to understand technology’s big picture as well as the small stuff
  3. PR skills-“the how tos”, “the whys”; and “the what fors”
  4. Soft listening skills
  5. The ability to write a blog post with tags, links and proper attributes
  6. Know how to comment on a blog and why
  7. Know how to post a blog post and where
  8. SEO skills-How to write for SEO
  9. How to write PR releases with SEO in mind
  10. An understanding of social media
  11. A deeper understanding of social media
  12. How to use Twitter and what the purpose of twitter is
  13. How to write an email-I know it sounds simple but…
  14. How to create an email blast and send it properly
  15. How to write a proposal
  16. How to monitor a brand across multiple channels
  17. An understanding of basic HTML. CSS would be nice
  18. The ability to use Photoshop to some degree
  19. The ability to use a MAC or a PC well.
  20. The ability to present in front of a group-speaking skills, remember them?
  21. The ability to create a PowerPoint presentation
  22. An understanding of UI-know what sucks and why
  23. The ability to manage your time effectively
  24. Know how to prioritize
  25. Know what web tools can make your job better and make us better
  26. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion,it matters
  27. The ability to share and be selfless, it’s important
  28. The ability to learn quickly and absorb it
  29. The understanding that everything that you create digitally, now is this close to being consumed publicly.
  30. The ability to change direction on the fly

Though it would be nice to find the person that had half of the skills mentioned above or perhaps knowledge or understanding of 3/4 of them, I know that might be asking too much. If I can get someone who knew a few of them, that’s a start.

Does this seem like I’m asking too much of college graduates? I don’t think so. This is a new world where having expertise or a degree in one discipline just won’t cut it anymore. Our industry requires that you have knowledge in lots of areas. It almost demands it. The good news is that a lot of graduates and individuals are already armed with these skills. The bad news is, it might be changing tomorrow.

10 social sites to start your year off with

2010 is going to be an interesting year for all of us. With that being said, what year isn’t right? Well anyway, I wanted to start the first week of the new year with some things you might have missed that are worth sharing. These are sites, posts and links that will make you smarter at what you do and better at it too.

1) A September 2009 MarketingProfs survey of B2B and B2C marketers found that the marketing tactics most often used on social sites are not necessarily the best ones. Odd, but the net and social media does create somewhat of a Flash mob “follow” mentality. Find out more about what’s working for  social media marketers in this great E-marketer piece.

2) As my side Twitter project Hashtagsocialmedia.com continues to build momentum, someone asked if there were a way to follow everyone who had participated in the Tweetchat. In less than 10 minutes the answer came back with Blastfollow.

3) Jay Baer is a smart dude, but we’re smarter because of him and that’s a good thing. Not only does his blog, Convince and Convert bring value to those who read it, but he also stumbles across things that he shares with his readers that make him better and us as well. One of those things is TwitSweeper– a way to clean up and clean out the spammers that are in your Twitter account. You have to pay for it, but the cost is not obscene.

4) Staying on the Twitter theme a bit longer, I came across Refollow and thought that the features were interesting. I haven’t tried it yet but it looks to be a way to tighten up your Twitter presence and the relationships you have crafted.

5) Tamar Weinberg is a star. Look no further than her latest book, The New Community Rules-Marketing on the Social Web. However she recently cranked out a blog post titled, The Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2009 in which if you did nothing for the next 3 days and read all of the posts that she has compiled, it would make up for the last 362 days had you not read anything. BTW she mentions one of my posts. 🙂

6) Obviously my  #socialmedia Tweetchat is not the only Tweetchat out there. Surprisingly, to my knowledge, there are not that many. But how do you find them? What are the topics? When do they occur? Well, the beauty of the social web is that someone has decided to create just that type of source. A Google doc that lists all of the known Twitter chats.

7) Ike Pigott, one of the truly razor sharp folks out there in the social space, turned me onto this. YOURLS is a small set of PHP scripts that will allow you to run your own URL shortening service (a la TinyURL). You can make it private or public, you can pick custom keyword URLs, and it comes with its own API. How cool would it be to have Ma.rc as my own Bitly?

8. Face it, analytics for most of us, are very important. You might want to read this: 10 signs you don’t understand web analytics.

9) Want a really good list of people’s blogs to read and or follow? Check out this list of 30 bloggers to watch in 2010

10) Lastly I wanted to share with you something that we need more of this year in social media. I share with you this…

altruistic

Lets go with more of the first set and less of the motives that are not entirely altruistic in 2010!

This weeks #socialmedia tweetchat topic: Engagement Through Customer Service: Your Contact Center & Social Media

Callcenter We hear so much chatter that companies have to be participating in social media.  The chatter then leads into who should do it….and Voila! A single person is assigned to it.  That person is usually born of the marketing or public relations (PR) team and the goal is rather simple: 1. Listen and 2. chat it up in an effort to create customer relationships.  Customer Relationships! are you kidding me?!?!  Who in marketing or PR has ever had to directly sell or service a customer (let me help you – not many)?  So why don’t we ever hear about social media from the people who are responsible for managing direct customer experiences on a daily basis?  That’s right, the customer service teams, talk about resources!  Customer support, service, tech support usually have dozens if not thousands of company representatives waiting for you to call.  Ahh, therein lies the issue.  Customer service is typically reactive and most likely engineered to react via the telephone.

It is interesting to consider though.  Customer service is probably the one department with the most experience in developing customer relationships across your entire organization.  Every executive understands the numbers associated with keeping a customer versus the cost of acquiring one, yet Service rarely has a seat at the executive table.  Executives all proclaim that Job #1 within their companies is to over-deliver on quality and service and yet none really have any idea on what the Experience is in buying from their company.  The experience is what social media is all about.  Every experience a customer has with your organization plays a part in developing not only that customer’s relationship with your company, but the relationship of that customer’s network too.  Developing customer relationships are about managing a series of defining moments with customers (ie: pleasant to talk to, was I treated with respect, was my inquiry answered timely, did rep answer or fulfill my question). Contact centers are traditionally very strong with telephone support so incorporating online social media into contact centers is certainly a challenge. There may be nothing more important however to developing a truly social enterprise than incorporating the contact centers in a meaningful way.

The challenges abound.  Systems are all centered on a phone switch, representatives trained to be reactive and solve problems, integration into core infrastructure including ERP, CRM, even accounting and not-to-mention many contact centers are wholly or partially outsourced.  With that last part it now becomes an entire corporate ecosystem that has to change instead of a couple of people in a department.  The payoff though is equally impressive for any company who can transform their client relationships with customer service being at the core.  Consider a blog regarding a comparison of cameras debating which to get.  If your camera company was the only one to contact that person and offer a promotion or simply a closer look through a video demo, your chances of the sale are good, however your chances of developing a relationship through a positive defining moment are great especially when exposed to that person’s network.  Consider a tweet for someone in a strange town looking for some comfort food.  If you are the only restaraunt who responds and delivers on that experience, youhave created a tremendous asset in that customer’s network however large or small it may be.

As social media has enabled citizens access to limitless information regarding your product and your company, it has also created a new class of customers.  These customers have access to insights, reviews and most of all – random thoughts regarding their most recent defining moment with your company.  The rules are changing and contact centers must change with them.  Social media is propagating a new class of defining moments for companies to deal with.  Those moments are no longer siloed to a channel of communication (ie. phone, email, letters).  They permeate all channels and the customer expectations are re-set to near real-time for answers and for attention by your customers.

Companies at the front of this revolution to infuse social media into their service channels will most likely be leaders in their respective industries.  Our moderator this week is no exception.  Shashi Bellamkonda directs social media across Network Solutions, the de-facto leader in all things needed for businesses to manage a web presence.  Shashi is one of the few social media all-stars that actually is recognized in the industry for what he does as much as by what he says.  Shashi will lead us in this discussion coming with first-hand experience in how major corporations actually handle social media inside their service units.  The topic and questions follow:

Topic: Engagement Through Customer Service: Your Contact Center and Social Media

Q1: When should customer service engage with consumers using social media?

Q2: How can contact centers scale to meet the demands of social media?

Q3: How can you determine if Customer Service is being effective with social media?

As always, the chat will be Tuesday (01/05/10) at noon EST.  You are invited to join the discussion or at least follow along by tracking the hashtag #sm41 and be sure to include it in all your tweets.  Another way to follow along is to use our LIVE page as well.  We look forward to a tremendous discussion!