Archive for March, 2008


Email Consumes Us

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We live in a hyper-connected world, yet part of the blowback is the excessive communication that occurs –I fear it will only get worse over time.

Today, I spoke to an Executive at medium sized corporation who confessed that she cannot keep up with her email inflow. She receives about 500 emails a day, and told me at the end of the day she sorts by sender. First from her CEO, then by the folks on her team directly reporting to her, and then whatever else she can get to.

Despite the many collaboration tools available to all of us, we use email for way too many tools (I’m guilty too) from: Status updates, document management, calendaring, collaboration, social networking, and even for ‘conversations’.

Part of the reason I blog is that I can get my message, thoughts and story out to thousands of people in just about twice the amount of time it takes to write an email. My colleagues follow me on twitter, and often know where I’m at, what I’m doing. Scoble publishes his calendar so those he needs to interview can help schedule. Yet despite these, I, my colleagues, and Scoble and you likely have more email than can be consumed.

Ironically, most of my social media peers and I still use email as one of the main ways to communicate back and forth to each other But even more, there are more inboxes to check, twitter, facebook, linkedin, I’m getting business messages from these tools and I’m sure you are too.

So what’s the solution? It’s going to be part process, and part tools. Some have committed to responding to emails only in five sentences or less, and new tools like Xobni are starting to appear (I’ve requested a beta account)

Questions for you
1) How is your email intake? Can you handle it all?
2) How do you make your communications more efficient?
3) We’re headed to a hyper-connected world with an increase in communication channels, how will you cope?

Update: I’m all for solutions, and have found that aside from the excellent comments below, that some suggest to only check email twice a day (11am and 4pm) and to set that as an expectation. Colleague Julie Katz has announced an upcoming strategic report to help marketers how to understand how to reach those that are consumed. Hopefully, this email service vendor ClearContext promises to help with the problems.

Are you a Purist or a Corporatist?

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Last night, at the Blogger dinner in SF (see pics tagged ‘groundswell’), there were several discussions among the attendees from Josh, Shel, Debbie and others around their ideology and stance when it comes to the impacts of social media to companies.

Josh created a scale to help identify where peoples beliefs are, he describes it from his post as:


EXTREME PURIST

10 = The groundswell is such a powerful force, the people in it will always prevail. All companies can do is watch and listen. Their employees can participate, but only as independent people. Corporate efforts are doomed to fail.

9 =

8 =

7 = The groundswell is powerful, but companies have a role in it. Groups of people inside of enterprises can get together and make themselves heard. Even so, the groundswell will always prevail over their interests.

6 =

5 = Companies belong in the groundswell. They have interests just as the people do. They will set up corporate efforts — presences in places like Facebook or their own corporate blogs — and connect with their customers. They can’t shut down or co-opt people in the groundswell, but they can form meaningful relationships with them. And they can accomplish goals like marketing or collaborative innovation, if they respect that they’re not in charge.

4 =

3 =

2 = Corporations and other major institutions are powerful and will always be powerful. This so-called “groundswell” is similar to any other medium — people are there consuming it, and corporations can reach them within that medium. Flare-ups of negative publicity can be contained or at least “handled” so they cause minimal damage.

1 =

0 = Corporations have power because they have money. This groundswell thing is a flash in the pan and it doesn’t matter. If it gets too far out of hand we’ll buy it and make sure we control it.

EXTREME CORPORATIST


To me, the industry shifts over time: there was a lot of purist talk from 2005-2006, books, presentations and blogs came in with strong cluetrain values. Then, we started to see monetization of social media, social media optimization, and agencies, pr, and marketers getting on board.

I fall in the 5-7 range, you’ll often hear me say that companies need to let go to gain more, and that the power (trust) is in the hands of the participants, so employees should participate.

How about you? But really think it through and explain why this is your belief.

Josh has responded to some of the comments he’s already received.

Customers Should Avoid Community Software Vendor Lock In: Own your data

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Many corporations are outsourcing their community platforms
I’ve been talking to more and more companies that are creating their own corporate communities around their brand. For the most part, they lean on the SaaS models that the white label social network, collaboration, or even insight community vendors provide. While it certainly makes sense for marketers to lean on application service providers (it’s all setup, ready to roll, without the hassle of dealing with internal IT) and a decent to moderate price.

Avoid vendor lock in: own your data
One thing that I think is worth mentioning is that customers of these software providers need to protect themselves against vendor lock in, and the best way to do this is to make sure you own your data. The data is the ethos and soul of your community, it’s all the profile content, interaction content, uploaded media, and discussions.

Good for the industry
I’m hearing that most vendors have a clause that says that the client owns the data, but when you look deeper there may be vague descriptions or time limitations –which could really muck things up if a client wants to pull out.

Now why is this important for customers? It keeps them empowered to take their data and switch providers in the rare case a social networking vendor isn’t providing the right service or support.

What’s in it for community software vendors? It holds them at task to make sure they grow, take care of customer needs, and ensure that the relationship –and product roadmap continues to improve.

What should you own?
Customers should be able to pull their data (all of it) at any time with no questions asked, for a period as long as the forum has continued, or to receive periodical backups and exports perhaps monthly or longer. They should be able to get it at will, with no questions or withholdings by the vendor. If someone has a clause that has been written that meets these objectives, please leave a comment below, I’m no lawyer, so I won’t be creating the specific agreement content –but I know what it should meet.

Concerns and considerations
Of course, by owning the data doesn’t necessarily mean that you can quickly switch vendors, as the data will often be structured differently quite a bit of massaging from experts will need to occur, but you can sleep better at night knowing your more in control of what really matters –the ethos of the community.

If you’re a client (or vendor) in this situation, I’d like to hear about what policy you’ve all agreed upon.

Update: In one case, one client sent me an example of a vendor only offering the last 30 days of archived content. Only after they discussed it further with the vendor that they received the details. Vendors need to be more upfront about what this actually means.

Case Study: Dissecting the Dell Regeneration Graffiti Facebook Campaign

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Situation
The market pressure to create technology products that protect or at least damage their impact to the environment continues to grow. Sustainability and green-tech campaigns are coming from nearly every tech company –esp hardware manufactures. Dell is no exception and launches this Regeneration campaign.

[Dell Leaned on an Active Artist Community In Facebook to Create, Vote, Self-Regulate what it “Means to be Green” Regeneration Campaign]

Goals
I’ve not spoken with the Dell marketing team, but it’s pretty obvious this is a campaign helps to help improve Dell products to be more eco-friendly, and of course, spur affinity torwards the brand from green leaning consumers, the ReGeneration site has more details.

Strategy
Dell Computers, along with Federated Media (A social media marketing agency), and Graffiti Wall (A popular self-expression Facebook application), deployed an interactive marketing campaign that encouraged existing Graffiti artists to be involved in a contest that spurred a member created campaign resulting in affinity towards Dell. The artists were encouraged to ‘own’ the message, their creativity would spur a contest, and would continue to fuel the campaign.

Tactics
I was briefed by James Gross, who shares his thoughts mid-flight, a Director at Federated Media, as well as CEO John Battelle (interview), and they explained the contest to me.

1) Existing application with thriving community

Graffiti is a self-expression application in Facebook. It has popular (rated 4 out of 5 stars) Based on 242 reviews, and has 177,506 daily active users. Rather than creating a new application, this campaign took advantage of an application –and community–that already existed.

2) An art contest: What does Green mean to you?

Facebook members who used Graffiti were encouraged to join in a contest to win a 22″ environmentally friendly Dell monitor (appropriate for artists) to create art around the theme of “What does Green mean to you?” The contest lasted for one week

3) Engaged contributors spur theme
Over 7000 pieces of artwork were created and submitted to the contest. If you watch the replay of the art being created, you’ll see hidden messages (like easter eggs) from the artists as they discuss what green means to them. Many of the drawings had the Dell logo or the regeneration logo embedded in it. The Regeneration microsite promotes a few contributors.

purple-froggreen-grassbutterfly

4) Self Regulation
There were few negative pics that would detract from the campaign, as the community of existing artists will self-regulate and vote off pics that were not appropriate.

5) Community Voting and Winners Announced

Voting began on the second week by the members and over one million votes were cast. The winners were from United States, Canada, Sweden and Maldives. You can see the actual winners here, or click image.

Results
The campaign was a success, thousands of engaged members participated, created the campaign on behalf of Dell (similar to the Chevy Tahoe campaign a few years ago), and the community was rewarded. I don’t know for sure, but I’ll guess the majority of the campaign dollars were spent creating the microsite, then hiring FM, and working with Graffiti. The monitors, were likely less than a $1000 each.

  • Over 7300 Graffitis created from Jan. 16th-Jan 23rd around the theme of “What Does Green Mean to You”
    Over 1150 fans of the contest
  • Over 1,000,000 votes were logged from Jan. 26th-Jan.31st for the artwork. (Here are the Top 150 based on votes)
  • Over 1,000 ideas have now been submitted over at ReGeneration.org
  • 209 comments to the post at ReGeneration.org
  • Over 197 blog mentions in Technorati
  • What could have been better
    When it comes to social media, the mentality of short lived campaigns should go away. Communities existed before a brand reaches to them and after the campaign stops. Marketers should plan for long term engagements with these people, rather than short two week spurts. There was clearly traction here and now’s the time to step on the gas and continue forward.

    Secondly, the artwork created by the winners (and runner ups) should be included in future products, such as digital wallpapers, in the primary branding for Dell, and even the artists should be given an option to continue as sponsored artists. With the relationship forming, take it to the next level. Encourage artwork to be part of next generation green computers, with proceeds going to non-profits or back to the artists to continue forth.

    Thirdly, the campaign was limited to Facebook, which isn’t the extent of artists on the web, as well as limited to other social networks such as Bebo or MySpace where similar communities can be found. The contest should have been created not just within the walls of a closed gardens, but also spread to the open web.

    Summary
    Unlike most marketing campaigns that deploy heavy ads, fake viral videos, or message bombardment, this campaign let go to gain more. Overall, this is a successful campaign as they turned the action over to the community, let them take charge, decide on the winners, all under the context of the regeneration campaign. The campaign moved the active community from Facebook closer to the branded Microsite, closer to the corporate website, migrating users in an opt-in manner that lead to hundreds of comments was clever. Well done.

    Articles and Related Case Studies

  • Article: Virtual art for the natural world
  • MediaPost Social Media Insider: Maybe Advertising In Social Media Should Be An Oxymoron
  • LA Times: Web Scout: Spinning through online entertainment and connected culture
  • Case Study: How Sony connected with the Vampires Application
  • Case Study: Facebook Sponsored Group Analysis: Target vs Wal-Mart
  • The Need For the Social Media Manager

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    Update: Constantin has created a new wiki of Social Media Managers and Strategists at the New PR Wiki.

    I stand by my research, personal experience, and industry monitoring that the need for social media managers will continue to be in demand for the foreseeable future.

    This post is a direct response, refuting and correcting Steve’s post that the Social Media Manager will go extinct.

    While I enjoy Steve’s predictions (as well as a peer) that the Social Media Manager will be extinct, I’m here to respectfully correct him and leaning on my research findings from my recent Forrester report: How to Staff for Social Computing. In fact, we’ve found that there are two roles to be found in corporations serious about online communities.

    Steve comes from the PR agency perspective and from his view, this makes sense. Yet, I come from where demand actually happens: in corporate enterprise marketing, where I was a social media manager at Hitachi.

    Currently, in large corporations, specialized marketing managers, are found often sorted by industries, but also sorted by mediums and channels. For example, there are corporate marketers that focus on Web Marketing (my background) Advertising, Direct Marketing (email, mail) Search Marketing, Event Marketing, and even Print Marketing.

    While I agree that social media skills will eventually become a normal bullet point in nearly every marketing resume in the future, today, and the foreseeable, we’re needed specializing for the following two reasons: 1) The specific duties are foreign to most other marketers 2) Online communities (like the support team) require a dedicated role.

    In our recent report, we indicated that there are two distinct roles appearing within corporations, the social media strategist (I gave the example of VP of Social Media, Ed Terpening at Wells Fargo) and the community manager, who is responsible for being an online face to the community (Lionel Menchaca is a great example).

    So, until the roles of medium based marketers (like direct marketer, web marketer, event marketer) go extinct or this skillset completely normalizes or the role of communities (another way of saying customers) go by the wayside, we’ll continue to see the growth of these dedicated and specialized roles.

    Steve is wise to assert that the blur between social media and traditional media as we know it is correct –from a PR perspective. But when it comes to corporate communities, developing social media programs, these are skills that the majority of traditional marketers have –nor understand.

    As an analyst, many of my clients (at Fortune 5000 companies) consult with us for social media guidance, I’m increasingly on more and more concalls where these individuals have a dedicated role in this new medium.

    Lastly, to drive my point home, I’ve been publishing a series of blog posts called “On the move” that list out (in groups of 5-6) individuals that have been hired to fulfill this specific job. If you notice, the rate has been increasing, not decreasing over the past weeks. Looking at actual job movements is a more accurate –and telling—way of looking at social media jobs than keywords from a job site.

    People on the Move in the Social Media Industry: March 21, 2008

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    onthemove

    I’m starting this post series (see archives) to recognize and congratulate folks who get promoted, move, or accept new exciting positions. We should congratulate the following folks:

  • Tom Diederich joins Cadence as the Social Media/Web Community Manager. He’s working for Carlos Soares, my former colleague at HDS.
  • Brian Chappell joins Ignite Social Media as Sr. Social Search Strategist, and tells me he is seeking other talented individuals. Brian’s blog is here
  • Daniel Thornton moves from Journalist to Community Marketing Manager at motorcyclenews
  • Michael Brito accepted the position at Intel managing social media for the consumer segment, a great company doing lots of the social media front.
  • Adriana Gascoigne joins Ogilvy helping clients with their social media strategy as Vice President at the 360° Digital Influence Group at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. (and they are hiring)
  • Aaron Uhrmacher was appointed to the role of Global Peer Media Lead, where he will provide strategic consultancy to clients and internal teams, at Text 100 Public Relations

  • How to Connect with others:

    Submit an annoucement
    If you know folks that are moving up in the social media industry, leave a comment below, or if you’re feeling shy (it’s cool to self-nominate) send me an email.

    Seeking Social Media Professionals?
    If you’re seeking to connect with community advocates and community managers there are few resources

  • Also see my Web Strategy Jobs powered by Job o Matic
  • Also see my community manager group in Facebook
  • Check out Jake McKee’s community portal for jobs
  • See Chris Heuer’s Social Media Jobs
  • SimplyHired aggregates job listings, as does Indeed
  • ForumOne Jobs for Social Media and Community
  • Hiring? Leave a commentt
    If you’re seeking candidates in the social media industry, many of them are within arms reach, feel free to leave a link to a job description (but not the whole job description, or I’ll delete it.