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?

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

10 websites to get you started in 2009

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In the new year its all about doing what we do better, streamlining it and being more effective, here is a list of websites and blog posts that just might help you get that ball rolling.

Lee Odden whom I respect very much has just posted an article about 6 social search engines. The great thing about this, is that I have not heard of any of these before and I love when there are new shiny things out there that might make what we do better. Let me know what you think.

Contrary to how some of you might use Twitter or better yet, the way you add followers, I like to check out who’s following me before I follow them back. With that being said, Taly Weiss started following me the other day, and as I’m wont to do, I checked out her bio and then checked out her  blog site, Trendspotting, This site has so much cool data that it can only help to shape your opinions to make you smarter. I’m glad we found each other.

So staying on the topic of Twitter, if you don’t know what Mr. Tweet is yet, I’d suggest you investigate. Do so at your own risk since it helps you determine who you should follow. You could end up using it all day. But even better, check out Mr. Tweet’s blog too.

And while you’re at it, read this article about the 10 ways that twitter will be changing blog design in 2009. I’m not sure I totally agree with it, but you can definitely see how Twitter is weaving it’sw ay into the fabric of what do online.

I haven’t used this yet but at $139 a year for online  computer and technical support, it isn’t a bad deal. Although iYogi led me to think it was a yoga site.

Here’s a great list of the up and coming companies of  the 2009 Social CRM/CRM 2.0 Space, maybe one of them might help you or your company?

Profilactic is a social media aggregator/lifestreaming service that pulls together just about everything you and your friends create online, it currently supports 190 social sites.

I came across Ennect somehow somewhere, maybe one of its web marketing components  might work for you?

A very good friend of mine Paul Chaney writes a great blog, check out what his 4 goal words are for 2009 and then go check out the company Paul works for Bizzuka

Ok, so now you have 10 sites or blog posts that can jump start 2009. You see if we can’t share the resources that we bookmark, then how else are we going to get better at what we do? I need to rely on you to help me get better. What sites or blogs would you suggest or recommend?

Lets Focus

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When thinking of writing another blog post, it’s often about social media, or marketing, or web 2.0. All really big topics, and all with champions and thought leaders in each. But chances are if you come here to my blog, you’re looking for something. I want to give it to you. But today what I’m going to give you is some advice. It’s advice I need to heed but don’t from time to time.

It goes something like this.

How many blogs are in your feed reader? Mine? Somewhere between 150 and 200. I would love to read them every day but I don’t. Maybe I should focus on about 10 per day and rotate them from time to time? Want some suggestions?  Instead of the obvious, here are some with some variety in the content like Valeria Maltoni, Mark Story, Peter Kim, Toby Bloomberg, B.L. Ochman, Paul McEnany and Beth Harte

How many social networking sites or groups do you participate in? Me? At least a half a dozen, maybe more. How many can I actively participate in? That’s a good question. Maybe 3, maybe 6 and not much more. I’d rather be really active in 3 instead of marginal in 6-10. How bout just Linkedin, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and your blog? 2 of those are somewhat passive so you could manage them all fairly effectively.

How often do you read email? Me? Too often to really even narrow down. But it least 2-3 times per hour. I’m not sure what I’m hoping to get, but surely it can wait an hour or 2 before I respond. I believe Tim Ferris says read it twice a day?

How often do you use Twitter? What actions during your day revolve around the usage and participation of Twitter? Me? I have Tweetdeck running from the moment I step in my office. Not sure if that is wise. Does Mr. Tweet enhance or hinder this?

I think you see where I’m going, but let’s continue.

What amount of your day is spent reading about what is going on in our country right now? I admit that my day revolves around what is happening on a local level (Naples, Florida) a national level, an economic level, and globally. Does it consume me?  No, but It concerns me, so I read a lot. Should I reduce that amount like I should email?

What am I doing about IT? and what can I do about IT? What can you do about IT?

You see the challenge here is that we have a tremendous amount of tool sets and new web sites at hand right now, from social media tools to web 2.0 tools, and we can use them to improve what we do. We can also use aspects of them to improve our companies, our clients and our prospects, but we need to focus on which tools will work best for whom. We need to focus on doing what we do better. We need to refine it. Hone our skills, if you will. We need to better manage our time, our focus and our ability to cut through the clutter of filling up our day with a lot of social media bullshit apps and web 2.0  alpha and beta sites. Focus on what you know and do it better. I know I’m going to try. I need to. We need to. I don’t have a choice and neither do you.

Sports and Social Media

We talk a lot about the fabric that is sports and how it is weaved throughout the daily routine of our lives. Whether we like it or not, we all have some type of passing interest in sports and our communities. Either on a local, regional, national, or international level. Face it, if sports didn’t mean anything it wouldn’t be a section of the newspaper. It wouldn’t have it’s own segment on the local nightly news and it wouldn’t dominate our attention every  four years, or every sunday in the fall.

But how has social media changed the landscape of how we view or participate in sports? Here are some sites and examples that have already or seem to be elevating how we use social media with sports.

Ballhype is a social news site that’s sole focus is on sports, but it uses sports content/news as an entry point to encourage more interaction amongst its users.

Sports-focused social media company Citizen Sports recently acquired a few social media application developers: Sportacular, Sport Interactiva, and FantasyBook.  Citizen Sports launched its first fantasy football app on Facebook in July, and the acquisitions of Sport Interactiva and FantasyBook add new fantasy sports content to the roster, as well as securing  Citizen Sports a coveted spot in mobile, as Sportacular has a leading sports application of the same name for the iPhone.

Yardbarker breaks down traditional barriers, allowing fans and athletes to debate sports, read and write articles, and watch videos. It also features thousands of sports websites and blogs,

Pat Coyle runs a site called sports marketing 2.o that is related to all things web 2.0 and sports. Pat is obviously understand the effect that social media is having on sports, as he also created the NING group, Sports Marketing 2.0

The Sports Business Journal recently mentioned the 5 people that you need to know in social media-

Open Sports Led by Mike Levy, the founder of CBS SportsLine.com this site is a comprehensive platform of products and services that brings together breaking sports news, social media tools, user generated content, fantasy sports games and multimedia applications.

Want to see a professional athlete who has leveraged his blog to a degree that journalists and fans use it for his latest sound bite? Look no further than the baseball player Curt Schilling

Then we have XOS technologies a leading technology partner for maximizing the value of content, commerce and services for sports organizations and fans.Whether it’s a coach assessing recruiting content, a video coordinator creating game-video highlights, a team streaming a press conference online or a fan engaging in interactive content.

Jason Peck uses his blog as a platform for sports, business and social media. In fact, Jason provides a great resource in his 50 sports social networking sites, which is a must bookmark blog post. Along the lines of citizen journalism in sports, look no further than Deadspin.

Mashable, the great provider of all things social media list related chimes in with it’s own 20 sports social networks, though it is a year old.

MVP Spot is an online community that provides amateur athletes the ability to showcase their talents to the world.

And SportMates is a global sports social network founded by a group of passionate sports fans who have created and managed some of the largest sports communities on the Internet over the last eight years. They have created an environment where fans and athletes from all cultures and geographical locations can share their passion for sports with likeminded fans.

The point of this post was really to show you that sports is permeating every thing at every level, related to sports. From fan blog sites, to communities devoted to teams and activities, to Facebook groups devoted to teams and athletes, to teams reaching out by creating social networks devoted to their most ardent of fans. and to  professional athletes themselves blogging.

Sports and social media are at the cross roads of fan participation like we have not seen at any other point in time sports. Look for it to continue to escalate with even more user generated content and platforms created to showcase that content. With that being said, look for the voice of the fan to become more and more prominent in the industry of sports.

Social Media and Sundry Quotes

This first quote actually was found due to a tweet from Chris Brogan and can be attributed to Rachel Rubin who was guest posting on Kyle James’s blog, did you follow that?

One of my biggest professional challenges is to find a credible, valuable way to assess the effectiveness of our electronic media. Using Web Analytics and calculated ROI for certain projects are great starts, but I think there’s more to it.

Joseph Jaffe goes off on the Big 3

Bottom line, they did not join the conversation. I can’t put it any differently. They never listened to their customers; they never listened to the market; they never listened to the industry.

Kyle Flaherty tells you what we’ve been saying for a while on Twitter and elsewhere, in this guest post on Jennifer Leggio’s ZDNet Blog:

Do NOT ask “How will the economy affect social media?”
DO ask “How can I prove and then improve how social media affects my business?”

Chris Brogan

it’s water…

Read this wonderful article by John Kotter in The Harvard Business Review

Real urgency is a belief that, yes, there are big hazards and big opportunities out there (not just the former). More importantly, true urgency is a set of emotions, a gut-level feeling that we need to get up every single day with total determination to do something to deal with those hazards and opportunities and make some progress, no matter how modest, and do so today.


Toby Bloomberg asks a very simple question:

In this overwhelming world what One – 1 – I thing would you just do?

We focus a lot on personal brands and Frank Martin writes a lively piece titled Personal Brands(again) in which he says:

You HAVE to focus on adding value first, not your shine

Fred Wilson “rocks it” on this blog post which asks, “Do you do any real work”?. Check out this blurb then go read it!

And that’s one of the main reasons I keep writing, commenting, discussing, and participating in blogs, tumblr, twitter, disqus, and the social media world at large. Its about the “realest” work I do

OK folks,  read them,share them and retweet them…

Social Media Pitch-Raise your hand if you understood anything I just said.

This is starting to become a recurring theme of late. I pitch a social media project and spend the majority of the time explaining my vision and my passion for what the possibilities might be, and I get the blank stare:

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Except this time, they nodded their head as I was speaking. So the whole time I’m thinking.. “I’m building momentum”, but something tells me I better ask the following question just to make sure.

You guys know what social media is right?

Before they could answer, I though to say, “Better yet I said, Raise your hand if you understood anything I just said.” Now this is a group of fairly young, hip execs. 1 CEO, 1 CMO, 2 VP’s and 3 sales and marketing people. I got nothing.  So I had to scramble. I said the 50,000 foot view of social media is that of a MySpace or Facebook. They all nodded. I tried going deeper but it was futile. I might have used the term SEO but now that i think back, there is no way they knew what that meant. I did get this question though:

Can you get us ranked #1 for __________ in the whole country?

Uhhhh.. no I cannot, unless I worked for Google, I think I mumbled that. At the end of the day I walked away with a project but it’s not going to involve any social media components. I guess that’s the upside. Here’s the moral.

I need to to do a couple of things going forward. Here’s what they are:

  • I’m going to determine if social media even makes sense for the company I’m talking to.
  • If it does, I’m going to work backwards with any company or individual I deal with or talk to, and show them examples of companies that do what they do and how they use social media successfully.
  • I’m going to simplify my examples of social media and explain some tools that might make sense
  • I’m going to show the sizzle of social media
  • I’m going to show even more value and demonstrate the power of social media in regards to extending the conversation with their customers.

Now before you say I should have done this homework beforehand, perhaps I could have, but the homework I did do, was on what their business model was. And the potential it posessed for social media adoption.  My assumption was, “Every company has the potential” Maybe, maybe not. But as I head down this road even more, I’ll be able to determine if that is indeed possible.

You see, you have to understand, I’ve rolled out quite a few social media projects for my former company and it’s clients and their products, but now that I’m pitching the projects as well for my new company, all of a sudden it’s a whole different ballgame. One in which i was not completely prepared for.

Twitter, Stay vertical-Stay relevant

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OK before I go any further you can find the video of what I’m about to write here, on Seesmic and also know that this vlog supported blog post was inspired by Beth Harte, who got the ball rolling with her vlog. Beth has about as fresh a perspective of all things marketing and social media marketing related, as anyone could have right now and I strongly suggest you add her blog to your reader.

With that being said,  I want you to tell me your process for how you utilize Twitter and how you decide who you follow, and who follows you.

Before I jump in, answer me this: Why did you sign up for Twitter? I’ll tweet this. but I’m curious. Ok I digress.

Here’s my Twitter process: I go through the email alerts and click on the persons name.1) I then look at their number of followers,  2) the number of people they are following, and 3) the number of tweets. 4) I then look at their Bio. and the link on the Bio. 5) I need to determine why this person is choosing to follow me. What is the reason? 6) Are they wanting me to look at their website. 7) Are they promoting something 8) Are they just following as many people as possible 9) Do they even care what I have to say? and 10) Do they bring value? 11) Do they offer value? 12) what kind of tweet quality do they have? 13) How often do they tweet? 14) Are they even in my space?  15) Are they vertical enough?

Once I ask myself these questions then it’s fairly easy to decide whether this is a relationship I want to take to the next level. You see, at the end of the day, I want us to be able to share, and learn from each other. I want you to share something with me that I previously did not know. And I want to do the same for you. I want it to be mutually satisfying for both of us. I know this sounds like we’re dating but I want it to make us both better at what we do. As with all other social media tools, it’s a 2 way street of communication. It’s a dialogue not a monologue, and I value as much from what I learn from the people that I follow, as to what I give them in return. Value begets Value.

So… are you using Twitter the right way?