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Archive for September, 2010

The Enterprise Conundrum-Adapt, Adopt or Do Nothing?

Recently I had the pleasure to do 2 things that I enjoyed tremendously: One, I got to participate in a podcast with Geoff Livingston and Toby Bloomberg on Social Media and the Enterprise and Two, I got to speak to a bunch of relative neophytes with regards to Social Media. What struck me about this group, was how little they knew and how little really had an impact on their day to day jobs. Social media either did not figure into their day to day activities or was restricted so much-what was the point?

What struck me about Toby and Geoff? Just how smart they are and how they both see the big picture of social here. Now back to the other group.

For them, social media activities consisted of basically going on to Facebook and either doing a status update or reading others. Social media from a channel usage standpoint within their organizations had nothing really to do with marketing activities, recruiting and vetting of candidates in HR, addressing the needs of customers or monitoring the activities of competitors.

Social Media within the walls of their companies was viewed as something “we know about” but we don’t know enough about to figure out how it can positively affect our company, let alone how it can be used in a positive way on an individual basis to move the dial for our company.”

This dove tailed nicely into my podcast with Toby and Geoff.

Where does the Enterprise start?

Does your organization adapt by just becoming social? Or does the enterprise merely adopt certain social media practices into certain elements or departments within the company?

Am I splitting hairs here? Is this just semantics? Or are adaption and adoption just so large and time consuming that it’s just easier to say-“No social media in the organization, do your Facebooking at home!” Is there a win for stakeholders who do not necessarily move the needle?

Is that flawed myopic thinking on the part of the enterprise? Or reality?

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The Ambient Conversations of Twitter

Last week I wrote about the diminishing return of relationships on Twitter. The gist being that what we call our network on Twitter is very loosely constructed and defined. This week, I want to focus on the ambient nature of most conversations in Twitter.

Here’s a quick short definition of ambient: “of or relating to the immediate surroundings”.

The New York Times referenced this “nature” on Twitter  by another name- “Ambient Awareness”, essentially saying that Twitter promotes — the feeling of incessant online contact…Yes and No. This feeling of connectedness via conversation does abound but it is almost one way for every one. You see here’s the thinking. I tweet, you read. Right? But, you only read if you are are currently staring at your screen right then. Sure you can peel back the time line to a certain extent-but the point is this:

There are conversations and then there is the rest of what is happening on Twitter.

The rest of what is happening is the self promotion or the marketing of one’s self or company. I know there’s more but talk to enough sage users of Twitter and that is what they will tell you. From a conversational standpoint, how many of those (conversations) are really happening? And to what depth and extent?

A lot of you are still big believers in the conversational benefits of what Twitter can do for a business and I am too for that matter, but the ability to rise above the noise takes a deft touch, a solid working knowledge of Twitter tools and applications, and an ability to understand how they are best utilized.

Without that foundation,  you’ll just swim in a sea of ambient awareness.

From Interruptions to Interactions-The Irony

Greg Verdino of Powered, wrote a book called microMarketing. I was asked and honored to review chapter 5. Before I give you my 2 cents on that chapter I have to tell you, it was probably one of the easiest reads on social media marketing that I’ve read in a while. If you swim in the waters of social media, you will know or be familiar with the numerous stories that Greg tells in his book. Though I knew all of these stories, it was great to read Greg’s insight and “take” on how little things mean more in the large vast wasteland of content hungry consumers and creators.

This is significant in that I just wrote yesterday about I think that Twitter as a network is declining, but as a placeholder for media consumption it has exploded. Greg’s book highlites the little in a big world and how THAT can be effective in getting your message heard or your product launched or service sold.

Now chapter 5. Find out about Henry Posner A fascinating story on how someone can be a late adopter but still utilize the nuances of social media marketing with an intense desire to connect with their customers and succeed. To quote Greg:

By applying the principle of surprise and delight to selected online interactions, businesses have the opportunity to generate goodwill and stimulate positive online word of mouth both online and off.

What does this mean? Here’s your bullet points of  what your online social interactions should consist of. These, for the most part are industry agnostic. They can apply to any business.

  • Establish a credible voice-Be an authority
  • Lend a helping hand- Don’t expect something in return
  • Kiss your customers on the cheek-Delight them.
  • Offer Thanks
  • Put a human face on the business

What you need to know-Quoting Greg again(It’s easy to do)

Doing the right small things to shift from interruptions to interactions lays the groundwork for making a related-and no less disruptive-shift from marketing in an artificially constructed (and artificially constricted) prime time to engaging consumers in real time.

The irony you ask? Small might be the new black.

Twitter Isn’t Really a Network Anymore…

In the early days or say the first year or so of Twitter’s life it really was a way to get to to know people. The motives were pure. Twitter provided a way to get to know people. You could build a network.  Conversations were abundant. As the number of people exponentially grew, the number of “real” conversations exponentially decreased. Sure people still talked to each other but the conversations changed.

Why?

Because the perception and usage of Twitter changed without anyone really doing anything internally to change it. First the perception changed by the notion that the more followers you had, the more relevant or important you were. So when perception changed conversations were altered. It became a race to add people and not talk to them. The network or the notion of a network was altered.

Second, the usage changed from  a vehicle or platform for dialogue, to a vehicle or a platform to talk at people. Call it the great migration of marketing to Twitter. Relationships were not as important as a RT of a link. A funny thing also occurred along the way as well. The early adopters also fell into this trend as well. In fact if you ask the developers of Twitter, they themselves will tell you that Twitter is a media consumption platform. We all use it to push content.

That’s too bad.

Though the people that I follow on Twitter is not that large a group (About 850) I would like to think that I know 100 of them pretty well and could call them, have a cup of coffee with them, or sit down to dinner with them. Could you say the same?

Awaken the Sleeping Giant that is Your Customer

I am going to make some pretty broad based assumptions.

Everyone of you has a website that you are directly or indirectly involved in.

Either it’s your own personal site, or it’s your company’s. If it’s the company website, you probably have some type of responsibility or influence over it’s content. Assuming I know the audience that read this blog, chances are you have some type of input into your company website.. If that is true, then you have to ask yourself a very simple question.

Are you giving your first time visitors a reason to stay or a reason to come back?

This question delves into a deeper set of questions that if you cannot answer with a resounding yes, then you are flat out leaving money on the table. Those questions are:

  • What do you want your customer/first time visitor to do on your site?
  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • What is the call to action?
  • How do you interact with them?
  • and lastly Is it mobile ready or friendly?

Your new customers or visitors are like sleeping giants. You need to awaken that sleeping giant who, with the right kind of online experience on your site, can be turned into a brand advocate or brand champion. Go look at your website right now-Is it really meeting the needs of the audience that it’s intended for? What are you waiting for?

How to Alienate an Influencer with Horrible Customer Service.

First, I am not making this up and second, I very rarely complain openly on a social platform about another company underperforming in the customer service area. But I am so angry, that I have to get this out before it subsides, because I think it’s important for management to know when they can do better.

Today my wife and I decided to try some place new for lunch. So it was, that we chose Salad Creations in Naples, Florida.

Now this story has nothing to do with crossed signals. misleading signage, or poor service on the front end-this is all about what happened at the middle and the end of eating. I ordered a Chinese chicken salad-It looked good in the picture and I was starving and anxious to see how it might taste, given that this was my first time. First impression? The salad could have been a little crispier but trust me, I understand, they’re a restaurant focusing on salads.

About mid-way through my salad, I ate a piece of chicken that did not taste right. An alarm of sorts went off in my head but given that there was an ample amount of dressing on it, I forged on.

A few bites later, I had another bad piece of chicken. It just did not taste right. You know what I’m talking about. After I swallowed it, I sat there for a bit and immediately got up and went to the bathroom because I thought I was going to be sick.

So I come back from the bathroom, sit down, and  tell my wife, and am now waiting for the right moment to talk to “the manager”.  I wanted to be discreet and just wanted to let him know that I thought the chicken did not taste “right”. I wasn’t looking for a handout or a new meal and frankly, I wasn’t even sure I could even eat another thing at that point anyway!

So I finally get a chance to tell the manager, at which point he and another employee grab a toothpick each, stick it into some of the chicken*, eat it and look up and say, “No, the chicken tates fine” and go back to what they were previously doing. Really? Did you just blow me off? (*Note: Initially I thought they had stuck a thermometer into the chicken, but my wife told me they stuck toothpicks in the chicken and tasted it themselves…)

So they were essentially saying, “No, you’re wrong, we’re right and that’s that!” Thank you very much Buh-bye? Next!

Which caught me and my wife completely off guard. But then he compounds things. He starts muttering how he eats chicken every day and it’s fine, and some other various, under-his-breath, inaudible things directed at me- He’s obviously perturbed at my complaint. It was almost as if he was calling me out and saying I was full of it.

I’m thinking he can’t possibly be doing this.  I interrupt his rant and say, “Wait a minute, I eat chicken all the time too, and it just did not taste right.”  I’m thinking it was supposed to be and meant to be a constructive comment- but don’t mutter under your breath how I’m wrong and crazy and you’re right. You can’t be serious.

At which point I asked him out loud.

Who is the customer?

He says, “You are, and then says, “All of you people are the same, wanting something for free…”

Did he just say that? Are you kidding me? Did he honestly just say that? I didn’t want a thing. I’m trying to turn this into a teaching lesson.

I asked him again. Who is the customer? I think I was hoping that somehow I could convey telepathically to him about how I write and talk about customer service all the time, and that somewhere, maybe, just maybe,  a light would come on and he would come to his senses and say…

“OMG, You’re right! You are the customer, I’m so sorry, what can we do to make it right?”

Sadly things deteriorated quickly and all he kept saying was that you people are all the same. Was I just stereotyped? I was wearing baggy jeans…Ironically, I thought that Salad Creations had potential, but what my man, the completely irrational manager failed to realize was this:

I am now the latter and not the former…Maybe he just had a bad day, maybe not, but either way, don’t take it out on me.

So what are the lessons here?

  1. The customer will always be right.
  2. The customer can be your brand champion or your arch enemy, it’s your choice.
  3. The customer has a voice it never had before, and it’s getting more powerful.
  4. The customer has the tools to make or break a company
  5. A bad customer experience can go viral

3 questions:

1) I wonder what the response will be?

2) Will they respond at all? and

3) If you were them, how would you handle the situation now?

The Four Semi-Truths of Social Media

First some quick definitions:

The definition of Nebulous according to Dictionary.com is hazy, vague, indistinct, or confused

Shelf life is the recommendation of time that products can be stored, during which the defined quality of a specified proportion of the goods remains acceptable under expected (or specified) conditions of distribution, storage and display

Depreciation is an expense that reduces the value of an asset as a result of wear and tear, or age. Most assets lose their value over time and must be replaced once the end of their useful life is reached.

Obsolescence is the state of being which occurs when an object, service or practice is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order.
Now what if we applied these to the world of social media?

My friend Danny recently sold his Boston Whaler. It was a boat no more than 2 years old and it was in pristine condition. He lost $5,000 on the transaction. His take? The boat depreciated as soon as he bought it. It was cool when he first had it he said, but after awhile, once the “newness” of it had worn off-it then was just an old boat that took up space.

Semi-truth #1: Our infatuation with the next, new, shiny, thing in social media depreciates as soon as we realize that it’s just another engagement, aggregator, application, thingy requiring more time, increased effort, permission to access, another profile creation etc., etc. and yet at the end of the day, delivers not much more than all the others. It’s like Danny’s boat.

——————–

Mike, a friend and a CEO of a cool little boutique ad agency, used to use Twitter, but then claimed that it was too nebulous. (Note I quickly had to run and look up the word nebulous)

His agency has never been doing better, and yet just because he doesn’t use Twitter any longer, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t think it has value for him or his clients. To him, Twitter is what Twitter is- But the basic tenets of good business like customer service and doing the job right, go further for him than “some web app”  that takes up too much of his precious client time. fair enough.

Semi-truth #2: The majority of social media applications can indeed be nebulous and though they may have the best of intentions with a cool interface-at the end of the day, they remain nebulous at best with a typical “make money via advertising” as it’s business model, and a primary marketing approach that is dependent on social “coolness” and going viral. Great news! Whether you use social media or not is not going to determine your success in business.

——————–

Remember MySpace? I honestly can’t think of a better definition of social media obsolescence, though there are many to go around. Yes they have had “some UI issues”, but at one point they were THE social network that everyone was talking about. What happened? It still worked and yet people just didn’t or don’t want to use it anymore. The coolness wore off.

Semi-truth #3: What happened to MySpace can happen to any social network. At any point in time, if something better comes along, or if people just get bored with what you are offering, they will leave, and there is really nothing you can do to prevent that, even if it “ain’t broke.”

———————

Some of your social relationships are platform dependent and might not last as long as you think. What is the useful shelf life of a social media generated relationship? What is the sweet spot for a “social relationship” before it plummets into the trough of disillusionment? How long does it last? 6 months? 1 year? Think Dunbar.

Semi-truth #4: Similar to the the shelf life of social networks,  some relationships in social media, though timeless, can be generally shallow and only last as long as both continue to use the application that bridged the engagement in the first place. If one departs, in general the surface like relationship ends. Thus the shelf life of social relationships is inversely proportional to a) Depth of engagement  b) Type of platform and c) One got what one needed.

——————-

Isn’t it interesting how shelf life, obsolescence, depreciation and nebulous can be so closely linked and aligned to the world of social media? It’s partly what makes social media great on the one hand, and so maddening on the other. It moves at the speed of sound and yet it’s innate fickleness is determined primarily by it’s  makers and it’s users and not much else. Yes new technology may change behavior, but behavior can change or determine the path of technology.


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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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