This time next week I’ll be at Webvisions in Portland, and I’m really looking forward to seeing you there (I know Jason will be there, he said so on a previous comment). I had such a good time from last year, that I put together an index of all the blog posts, pictures and media that was created. Webvisions is really my element, because it’s web folks. Those quirky, creative, cool, and geeky folks that are doing what we all love.
I’m having a fantastic time at the Customer Reference Forum, at the gorgeous Claremont hotel in Berkeley. Bill Lee (who has an engaging blog) has done a tremendous job as a conference organizer, he really wants to bring a high value conference. He’s carefully screened and selected presenters, as well as issued a survey to all attendees asking them about topics.
What’s a Customer Reference Program? Many corporations are realizing that word of mouth from a customer to a prospect is important. As a reaction, they create collateral that records positive customer opinions, and then they distribute to sales teams. In my Powerpoint presentation PPT, (which I’m making public) I said all that was going to evolve, now as customers use social media to share both positive and negative experiences. I wrote a blog post a few months ago that started it all, the preso is a rough cut of it.
There were a lot of great companies here like: EMC, NetApp, Dell, Microsoft, Riverbed, Insight, IBM, Oracle, RIM, ProjectLine, HP, Navajo, Point of Reference, Metia, Phelon Group, Siemans, SAP, and other great companies.
One of the topics I was hearing from presenters is how they’re incorporating podcasts, video, webcasts. Very few of them are reading blogs (organize customer references). In summary, I believe that the good customer reference folks will evolve, start to work with the community manager, and will have to figure out how to use customer opinions (both good and bad) into their programs.
LinkedIn has started the online manifestations of it’s community outreach, they’ve launched a blog with friendly pictures of the staff. For a company that’s so widely known and used, it’s an interesting perspective to see them step out into the conversation and join the community. Of course, it’s lead by my bud Mario Sundar who’s doing a fantastic job taking in feedback from the community (including mine) and is helping to lead the charge.
My focus is on how corporations use the web, and I’ve started to meet more and more community folks (as a ‘media guy’ that’s part of my job) and have noticed a wide variety of skills and approaches demonstrated. To me, Community Marketing (A term I’ve been using before many knew what it was) is not just about ‘yet-another-marketing’ tool, but a belief in putting the community (customers and prospects) before the company. It’s also more than just marketing, it’s also about product development, product support, and just being human.
LinkedIn is one of the early social networks (I evangelized it heavily when people were getting laid off at Exodus) so I know they will harness these tools to build a better experience. This is certainly a second step in the right direction, the first, of course, was hiring Mario.
Over the next two days, I’ll be live streaming (I prefer the term Business Casting, as I’m trying to up the production value and interaction) a few things, I won’t be going gangbusters like Web 2.0, but will be a bit more selective, here’s what’s up:
Update: This is probably one of the best session write-ups I’ve seen in a while, entertaining yet informative.
Customer Reference Forum: My presentation Wednesday, April 25th, 2pm PST
Tomorrow, I’ll be speaking at the Customer Reference Forum, focusing on the Impacts of Social Media on Customer Reference programs (read the post that started it all). I’ve a neat presentation that will be a lot of fun.
Things are sure hectic in conference season, but the networking is invaluable!
Last week, I was invited to speak at Intel, one of the largest tech companies in the world, I gave them some practical advice on how to organize internally. While this is only part of the information I provided them, there’s some good nuggets that I want to share with the world based upon my experience.
For many large corporations being able to manage the many additional voices due to social media in an industry is a daunting task. Many companies are just starting to appoint Community Managers or assign budget and resources for the marketing organizations. Listening to the blogosphere, podcasts, and now video requires time, figuring out how to respond to them is yet another challenge. Being somewhat internally coordinate as many employees communicate is an even larger task.
Strategies for organizing your Corporate Social Media Program:
Recognize the new influencers. Like Media, Press, and Analysts, consider Social Media yet an additional influencer group to reach.
Prepare for all scenarios. Create an internal process or at least discuss how to deal with crises. (such as exploding products, embarrassing situations). Draw from classic PR strategies, but realize that acting quickly in a human way, and not hiding is key.
Don’t shy away. Acknowledge deficiencies, no matter how shameful immediately. If you don’t have the answer, at least acknowledge you see the problem and will respond as soon as you have an answer. As a result you will become the first source of news, and will control any additional buzz. Stay relevant, address the issues.
Human media is at your disposal. Consider using video to humanize communications, during a crisis this could be a big difference. Recently Jet Blue and KFC have done these during crises.
Address the good as well as the bad. In addition to planning for fire drills, be sure to plan for positive unexpected events. If a customer raves about your produce on his blog, learn how to acknowledge and harness. There’s a variety of ways to use this.
Track who’s who. Create an index of bloggers and influences in your industry, consider putting on an internal list, an internal feedreader or even on an industry wiki. Update: Not sure what a feedreader or feeds are? Start with this video.
Appoint and Empower. For especially large organizations figure out who’s on point to respond to bloggers and social media in different segments, product groups or verticals. Teach them, empower them and support them to act without unnecessary political review processes. Let them be human.
Employees will blog, embrace. In addition to creating the corporate blog(s), be sure to recognize the natural employee bloggers that appear. You may find them in the product groups, support, and marketing departments. Have a discussion on how to include them in your strategy, even if it means to let them continue on their own. When it comes to trust, prospects and customers may trust employee bloggers that don’t have the corporate logo on their blog.
The Blogging/Ethics Policy. This depends on the corporate situation, for some companies, this is a requirement, and for other companies, this is already covered in the employee ethics policy. Figure out what’s right for your culture. Ultimately, you should trust your employees, if not, why did you hire them?
Consider creating the “Air Traffic Control Tower”. Just like at an airport, having an internal direction to let know corporate and employee bloggers know what’s happening is helpful. This internal blog could help let bloggers know what’s appropriate to say, what’s not, and indicate what’s happening out on the blogosphere. Use to keep track of advocates and detractors, and use tags as appropriate to create a running history.
Use Social Media as Sales Tools. I’ve found that corporate blogs can be used for sales and marketing three ways: 1) A “living” white paper by your companies thought leaders, 2) A rapid response tool. Think about how long a press release takes to craft. 3) A Conversation Starter: encourage your sales teams to send along interesting or controversial blog topics to prospects and customers to elicit a dialogue –even if they don’t agree. Consider creating sales FAQs and upload to intranet, these are tools that can be used.
Measurement. You’ll need to measure to prove worth in this new arena, get more budget and even get a raise. I’ve discussed this extensively, see all posts tagged Social Media Measurement.
Web Theory: Is the Web OS a dream?
I don’t care if I use an Apple or a PC, I just want a working browser. Cnet explores what happens if the Web becomes an operating system. One thing is for sure, documents, profiles and accounts are being pushed in a distributed method around the web.
The internet as a utility and the Death of a Network Engineer
Like gas, power, and water, The internet is starting to be considered as a utility that can be turned on and off by demand. This impacts both network (pipe) raw computing (processor power) and even data (data storage). What impacts does this have on those that have a career in servicing these companies in the web industry.
28% of all Americans have HD TV
Hey User Experience folks, Want a Nintendo Wii at work? With so many consumers purchasing HDTVs this past holiday season, designers need to start experimenting with other-than-the-traditional broswer for interaction. The Wii itself is a ‘mouse’ and input output device, so be sure to start to planning for the family room as a place to get business information and ecommerce.
Even if live streaming caused a decrease in attendance, there’s equal opportunity to extend the knowledge and experience globally, as well as to monetize any live streams through advertising, sponsorships or premium pay.
What do you think?
1) Is live streaming a help or hurt to conferences?
2) Does it matter on the size of conference?
3) What are ways for conference organizers to leverage these tools?
4) Will virtual conferences start being the norm?
5) Will social media tools become some effective that schoomzing and relationships can be built as effectively online as well as in person?
PodTech colleague Irina sent this my way, she’s probably annoyed with me and Robert for all of our low production live streaming hype. Irina really makes me laugh so hard sometimes, and this is one of those times, wait till you see her get out of bed, her grin while she’s riding her bike with the camera is the best. It looks like Scott Hirsch made the final ending sequence.
For the record, I was never “lifecasting” ok Irina? I was “Business Casting” that means that I’m more egotistical and have a tripod facing me and all the other folks!
Also, I’m very impressed with the updates on the PodTech player, we’ve a talented software engineering team, who is also pretty good at chess. Seems like Loren Feldman likes live streaming too.
Irina’s video is beyond just giggles, there’s a point she’s trying to make and I got the message. I’m seeing some chatter on New Tee Vee on the future of streaming, production and online video. Please note when I gave that quote it was in context to live streaming and real-time event sharing “business casting”. There will always be a need for high production edited content that last for a longer period of time. Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to go back and see the ustream content unless there’s something really compelling or interesting. For any of those high production folks that I may have offended, I offer my apology, I’m sorry. Ok, let’s move on and figure out how all these tools work together and when to use them.
I’m having lunch with Intel’s Social media champion from the Corporate Communications department, Ken Kaplan. Of course we talked about the great work that Intel is doing (they just launched 3 blogs with multiple authors) and of course the ever passionatte Social Media Evangelist Josh Bancroft (who I’m subscribed to his blog and Twitter). If you’ve been reading my blog we’ve recently interviewed Ken on PodTech’s Marketing Voices.
We’re having an interesting discussion how companies and corporations are waking up to giving equal attention to Social Media (customers, prospects, and others) in addition to Press, Media, and Analysts.
Or vs And
I’ve talked to a lot of “Web 2.0″ marketers who believe that Social Media is the ONLY way to get heard and found, but in reality, it’s not an “Or” but an “And”.
We see on Techmeme how bloggers swarm stories from NY Times about Google’s Financials, and we also see how the SFGate picks up on stories that were broken from bloggers –it goes both ways.
Them vs Us
So please, if you’re crafting your strategy for communication for your company (big or small) please realize it’s an “AND” social media is yet another group to cater and connect with. These tools are being used by not just one group, but many groups.
Thinking a bit more advanced, we also know that Press, Analysts and Media use tools that were primarily started by customers and consumers, so everyone will be using these tools. I attended a conference in Miami a few months ago, although the conference was highly fragmented the name of it “We Media” seems so appropriate.
So let’s all remember that it’s an “And” and a “We”.
Hearing back from customers/users is something I preach about every week on this blog. As you know, I had an experiment to try Ustream at the Web2.0 Expo, I was live streaming every day during the conference; sessions, hallways, interviews, keynotes, and events. For those that didn’t get to come to the event, I was their ears and eyes. There was a chatroom where they told me what sessions to go to, who to meet, and I asked questions on their behalf, even during my own speech!
Michael from Dog Patch Dispatch caught up with me in the halls, he’d been watching me from his Hotel, I saved him time from even coming to the event. Find out if this technology is disruptive to events, and what Michael’s feedback was.