The ROI of competitive intelligence

eaves

Rachel Happe is hosting this weeks #socialmedia session. I bring her up for a reason, which you’ll soon see. For those of you that are unaware of what #socialmedia is, I will quickly explain and then get to my point. Every Tuesday at Noon EST, Jason Breed of Neighborhood America and myself host a one hour Twitter session around the business of social media. Every week we have a different host to moderate  a session wrapped around some of the hottest social media issues revolving around business. They’re job? To challenge and question and probe participants to reach higher in their assumptions about what social media is.  The list of people that have hosted over the past few months is like a who’s who of social media practitioners. They include Jason Falls, Geoff Livingston, Toby Bloomberg, Lee Odden, Mack Collier, Danny Brown, David Alston and Beth Harte, to name a few.

Now more to my point. In one of Rachel’s recent posts on her new project blogsite The Community Roundtable, which I highly suggest you check out, she does a snap shot  view of how community managers use Twitter. She highlites  Connie Bensen, Dirk Shaw, Guy Martin, and herself. In each case, we see how each person manages to monitor the twit streams in their space. In every case, they all manage to monitor the sandbox or boxes in which they play. Why? Because it gives them more information, knowledge and data. And the best part, it’s free and for the most part passive.

Call it competitive intelligence or call it consumer intelligence, call it whatever intelligence you want; but don’t dismiss the value of this information. On the surface it may not deliver the troika that I constantly talk about when talking about hard ROI in social media- make money, save money, or increase equity but if I were going to place a value on competitive intelligence I would say, to use a few sports analogies- It’s the 6th man in basketball, the utility club in golf, the setter in volleyball, the pitcher with the rubber arm in baseball, or the slotback in football. Simply put, don’t underestimate or discount the value of competitive intelligence.

To not take advantage of competitive intelligence that is freely available is more like giving the competition a constant headstart. Or better yet, if you are a hitter in baseball, you’re starting with a strike before you even step in the batters box.

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Crowdsourcing-Social Media Listening Grids

Over the last 8 weeks @jasonbreed and I have had some tremendous #socialmedia Unpanels at Hashtagsocialmedia.com. Last Tuesday, David Alston of Radian 6, hosted a session titled Developing Corporate Listening Grids. the comments and the discussion was at such a high level, that developing a deck from it was a no-brainer. But obviously it doesn’t happen without the participation of the attendees and their voices.

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Top reasons to put off social media

David Alston of Radian 6, who is a good person, and will be hosting an upcoming session of our #socialmedia discussion on HashTag Socialmedia, cranks out some pretty good content every once in a while.  This slide deck is no exception. In this deck he puts together the top 11 reasons to put off social media and the top 10 conversations to listen for.

Mardi Gras and Social Media

mardi-gras-parade

Today is Mardi Gras and given that I’m here in Naples and I’m from New Orleans, I need to do the next best thing. I’m going to compile a list for you. The list is of people that I would want to buy food and drinks for and a short reason why. You see with drinks and food readily available, we could have some killer conversations.   Hell we already do, and there ain’t no food and drinks!!!! 

And isn’t what this all about? Social Media, Mardi Gras, being together sharing, talking, laughing, drinking, eating…So,  laizzes bon temps roulez

Say Hi to…

Mack Collier– great conversation, good person, here’s some beers for you Mack, followed by  a shrimp po-boy…:)

shrimp-po-boy

Arik Hanson Loves a good hoppy microbrew, so pull up a chair and crack one open.

Amber Naslund, she can bring it. Between myself, Arik and Amber the beer scene will be covered. I’d have beers with Amber anytime.

I gotta have someone who can bring the crawfish. Ahh Paul Chaney is in Lafayette, he can do it. Plus he’s a great guy. I’d split 15-20 pounds of crawfish with Paul!

crawfish1

This party needs some flavor and maybe I can show David Alston that his Canadian beer is not up to snuff. Molson? ick…:)

I can’t forget some Austin Flavor right? How about Peter Kim, Jack Leblond and Dave Gonzalez? I need to buy all three of these guys beers for their ability to share so much with me, for that, they can drink for free!

beers

What party wouldn’t be complete without some wicked people from the Boston area? Rachel Happe between sips of her Sam Adams, would be a welcome addition. As long as she kept the Red Sox talk to a minimum!

I’d buy a beer for good friend Jason Breed anytime, as long as it was a 2 for 1 special!

Speaking of Jasons why not have Jason Falls? He has an “in” over at Makers Mark! Plus, he’d be a welcome addition to any party.

I better invite George “Loki” WIlliams since he lives in New Orleans
and does write a blog called Social Gumbo!

I’d buy a few beers for David Armano provided he hooked us up with some Chicago dogs.. waddya say Dave? Plus he’s a good dude too. As big a heart as someone can have.

It goes without saying that 3 of my favorite gals would all be getting beers AND shots from me. Beth Harte, Liz Strauss and Toby Bloomberg. If They didn’t want that, then we’ll settle for splittin a Muffeletta from Central Grocery– Trust me you won’ be disappointed. These sandwiches are ridiculous!

muffuletta

I’d also like to have beers with the following: Sonny Gill, Daria Steigman, Ari Herzog, Nathan Taylor, Lisa Trosien and Shannon Paul, Todd Defren, Brian Solis and of course the Yat Pundit! Because they all are great conversationalists and thinkers and even more importantly, better people!

One more rule, You can bring 2 friends. Mardi Gras is all about blowin it out..so bring a friend or 2. Who ya bringin? and Where Yat?

Oh we need someone to do the music, any suggestions?

The only 2 questions an SMB will ask about Social Media

I had been throwing the following around in my head after meeting with a quite a few business owners and talking with some respected thought leaders in the social media marketing space and I want to know what you think.

As an SMB you need to ask two primary questions when pitched with incorporating some aspect of social media in to your business and they are:

#1  What is in it for me and my business?

#2  What’s in it for my customer?

Simple enough right?  But we’re forgetting someone. Someone as critical to the business as the customer is. Do you know who it is? One of the beauties of social media is that there are so many layers, aspects and dynamic components that allow it to address people it all levels of an organization. Including the sometimes forgotten and under appreciated employee.

So Mr. or Mrs. SMB, what we are really saying is that, if social media is pitched or considered then, the pitcher/social media practitioner, should be focusing on 3 aspects of the business:

  • The business owner
  • The customer
  • The employee

For the business owner you will want tangible hard core proof of “If I do this, this is what I can expect for my business and my employees and If I do this, this is what the customer can expect or will do, or this will be the customers reaction. It’s that simple.

If you are a social media marketing…person,  show the SMB what the expected results will be. Give them examples of either what you have done, or… if you are in the majority and are just starting out as a social media marketing N00b, utilize the many URL’s that are starting to crop up citing examples of other companies using social media components within their organizations.

Here is a list of links that SMB’s can utilize that may help them in at least understanding more of what is going on should they be approached by a “social media marketing consultant” or are thinking about doing it on their own. At the least, you will get a better understanding of what’s in it for you, and whats in it for your customer!

Why Executives Don’t “Get” Social Media This is a good article on executive level mindsets as they wrestle with including social media into their companies.

The Ultimate Small Business Twitter List This is not only a great list but it also includes a list of Orgs. and their employees or Reps. that serve the small business market.

Here is a great link on Facebook titled, Social Media for Small Business that some of you should check out.

Why Social Media Is Worth Small Business Owners’ Time Taking advantage of all the Web has to offer is like eating your vegetables or getting exercise — most of us don’t do enough, and even those that do could always do more.

My friend, Amber Naslund, who now works at Radian 6 has 2 posts that I think are worth reading. here is the first Getting a social media foothold and The social media starter kit. Self explanatory right?

Lastly we’re going to finish with some video. I encourage all of you SMB’s out there to watch it, as well as newcomers to social media marketing. It includes a number of my friends and colleagues and thus, I would put a lot of stock in what they are saying. They are the genuine real deal:  Brian Solis, Rohit Bhargava, Tim FerrisToby Bloomberg, David Alston, Liz Strauss, and Paul Chaney,

Lastly, let me say this. IF, you are a social media marketer, wannabe, or whatever… At the end of the day, you better do a pretty damn good job of stating your case. Because no one, and I mean no one can afford to screw up right now and the last thing an SMB wants is for them to be your test case!

Twebinar 3, a Mashup of Heavy Hitters

So yesterday was the final Twebinar in the series of 3. I’ve written about how successful the other 2 were and this one did not disappoint. What makes these twebinars better than good, are the components, that in their own right are singularly successful.  Combined into a mashup of staccato like proportions though, they then take on a life of their own.. It is in short a live show, a webinar, live video, taped video, live Q & A, and twitter. Will it blend? Ohhhh yea it did and yes it does.

Each of the Twebinars is and was hosted by Chris Brogan  from Crosstech Media, who currently is the pied piper of all things social media related and rightly so. Chris knows everyone and everyone knows Chris, so it works. Along with David Alston from Radian 6, Chris and David have melded multiple technologies and people into a workable format for robust discussions. In the course of the hour plus twebinar Chris trots out all of the hitter heavy hitters in marketing, PR and social media like Todd Defren, Maggie Fox, Sally Falkow, and Paul Gillin, to name a few, and in rapid fashion they give you their take on all things, in this case, the art of listening in the space that we all are swimming in right now. How to listen, as I tweeted yesterday is not a novel concept, but you would be surprised how often it is ignored and overlooked as a tool of measurement. All of yesterdays guests and fellow twitterers essentially said nothing to the contrary either.

I’ll tell you why I like twebinars. It’s an opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas and opinions on what I think works, with my peers, with my colleages, and with people that are looking for answers. All in an insanely fun and interactive format. In fact, all of the participants have that exact opportunity because we are as much a part of the twebinar as are the people that Chris had on. It’s why it works.

Glitches? A few but all temporary and expected. The upside? 95% of those who participated woudl do it again. And the downside?  I’m sure there was a downside if someone chose to find one, but on the surface, I’d say Chris and David, and all those who were a part of the Twebinars, would say in baseball parlance, went three for three. To check out the tweets from yesterdays Twebinar, Try #tweb3 on Summize. I would keep your 2 ears open for the next one.

Twebinar #2 review: Who owns your brand? We do.

Yesterday Twebinar #2 brought it on home. Huh? What I mean is that, though the first one was good, the second one was great! For those of you who are wondering what the hell I’m talking about, this is what a twebinar is and was.

The twebinars are a series of  mashups in which Chris Brogan and David Alston have assembled the best and brightest from PR, Marketing, and Social media into a series of video interviews, live sound bites, and live video, into a massive twitter round table. What occurs is this healthy discussion on a certain topic, in this case the brand, and more specifically, who owns your brand. The discussion is rapid fire, the tweets even faster, and this is something that has gotten better, and not only combines the best and the brightest as a focal point, but really what makes it work so well, is the conversations that occur with stars in their own right from companies far and wide. 

I was amazed at the depth and breadth of the tweets. Combine this with Chris Brogan moderating the stream of videos, the conversation with some live guests via web cam and phone such as Richard Binhammer, as well responding to questions via twitter and you have this organized chaos of free flowing discussion about a very poignant and hot topic at the present moment. Your Brand.

I have to give props to how quickly things have evolved from the first twebinar. Given the improvement and the depth to which they took constructive criticism to heart from the first twebinar, this bodes well for the next, which means that we will be seeing more of these in the future. For me, the twebinar produced 18 new followers in twitter, which is very cool.

What I would like to see for the next session is a way for a lot of us to be able to see the videos and the flow of discussion at the same time. I was using Summize-recently bought by Twitter. I was also using Twhirl too, which had some latency issues, which caused me to use Twiiter as my main client, So I toggled from the videos to Summize to Twitter. It worked for me since I was listening more than I was watching. But ultimately it worked.

What I took away from the mashup was simply that brand management is as important as anything that a company might do, and yet sometimes the brand gets ignored through complacency, smugness and ignorance. Often times, when this happens, it’s too late to try and grab marketshare back.

Yet, the companies that do value the customer, and who ultimately realize through an epihpany sometimes, that the customer is the one who defines the brand, are the ones that realize that YES they(the customer) are the brand as much as the company is.

Bottom Line, the twebinars give marketers, social media champions, PR peeps and N00bs all a chance to voice some very valuable opinions and thoughts and what it tells me is this. There are soooo many superstars out there who DO get it. I want to connect with them as much as I want to connect with the true superstars in the space.

For those of you that did participate yesterday, what did you think? What did you take away from it? and how will use what you learned? What should happen in the next Twebinar?