Each one of these could be meaty blog posts, but I don’t have the time, and I’d rather share them, I guess to some degree, Steve Rubel is right, there’s a need for something in between a tweet and a blog post.
It was a busy week, I travelled to Indiana to visit a client, had several briefings and client meetings during the week. Chiago’s O’Hare is consistently poor performing, bigger isn’t better. Still conducting interviews for upcoming report on skills needed for social marketers.
I don’t need to say it, but there’s a tremendous amount of interest from brands and media around social. In the back of my mind, I try to keep a bigger perspective, as in 10 years we’ll look back and think of this in the same way as we currently do about people having email conferences in the 90s (that actually happened you know).
I wish I went to Blogher, the amount of brands (partial list) that are trying to reach online influencers is a sight to behold. Heard from many that this year, there were many more brands that ever, I realize there’s more to the conference than influencer outreach, but that’s my focus. Did you see the fake Scott Monty? He heads up social at Ford and was omnipresent, smart. On a related note, Adriana told me her vision for Girls in Tech, a site focused on empowering women in a male dominated field.
It’s not just women bloggers, learned of Dave McClure’s geeks on a plane tour that travels to Asia, as well as Christine Lu’s China Business Network blogger trip, and Renee Blodget’s we blog the world are travelling blogger troupes. Not only does this bring awareness to other cultures, bloggers get expose to new ideas, technologies, and startups.
It’s interesting to hear about the many acqusitions that appear to be happening (a common occurance in a downturn) and how companies have to reinvent their social strategies. It’s also interesting to see how slower projects get shifted into high gear and go live half-baked so teams can prove their worth. I’ve seen a few of those.
A few years ago, when brands said they would dip their toe into social that meant launching a blog. Now, I often hear of creating a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Why? it’s cheaper, less commitment, and all the rage.
Met with Ryan Block and Peter Rojas of Engadget, we discussed the launch of their social network Gdgt, here’s my profile. What is it? it’s a site where the social object is gadgets, this is important because we know consumers trust each other more than brands –this site will do this for the passion owners, but likely won’t be for mainstream users. If you’re in the consumer electronics space, you should pay attention. They have the community, experience, and vision to pull this off. There are implications to Amazon, Cnet, BestBuy, Wal-Mart, and of course the gadget manufactures.
Louis Gray, who I rely on for deep dives into technology, gave me a demo of My Sixth Sense, which is an app for iPhone. What is it? It’s a feedreader that suggests content based on your previous behaviors. RWW has a more thorough review. This is a trend, as there’s more content being created, we need tools to reduce the noise, see next bullet.
From an industry perspective, I certainly see many brands and people exploding with social activity, they are mainly doing pollinating, which is spreading content to the social web. As a result, it creates a lot of noise. As a result, I’m seeing a trend towards aggregation, the opposite reaction of pollinating. Aggregation alone isn’t sufficient, the need for prioritization and filtering is the next trend. Vendors like GetGlue and My Sixth Sense are the early pieces of this.
On a personal note, I’m realizing that being really busy reduces my ability to connect with people and build more meaningful relationships. As a result, I tend to be very direct, which unitentionally gives off the wrong public impression that I never intended to portray. There are certain stigmas I want to shed, I know what Ben would say to me, read his last paragraph.
Curious what you think of any of these bigger than a tweet, smaller than a post observations, either way, It’s 3am, I’m going back to bed.
Brands often ask how they should position their persona on social media profiles and accounts, this guide should be a helpful breakdown. This post is inspired by Michael Brito, one of Intel’s social media strategists who presented on this topic with me at Stanford a few weeks ago. There are different purposes for different needs, so my standard breakdown is designed for you to weigh out the pros and cons as you make your decision.
From Corporate to Personal: The Four Types of Twitter Profiles
1) Pure Corporate Brand
100% corporate branded with primarly corporate related content. These accounts, which are often sporting the proper brand name of a company are used often to provide corporate news, deals, and support. There is no indicator of any individuals involved. Example: Four Seasons corpoate or McAfee News feed which indicates it’s not an interactive feed. Pros: This account can be managed by a team, and less risk of an individual being co-branded with the brand, as they may leave later. Cons: This may be perceived as a just an extension of corporate PR or the corporate website with little human interaction.
2) Corporate With Persona
Estimated with about 80% corporate brand and 20% personal brand this account may be a corporate branded account, although it’s clear there’s an individual participating. Example: ComcastCares, which shows the account is run by Frank Elliason, or CiscoNews, by John Earnhardt Pros: This account maintains the face of the corporate side, yet shows a human element, building trust with the community. Cons: The account may be limiting itself as the community may come to expect and rely on the individual person to participate.
3) Employee With Corporate Association In a rough estimate this account consists of 20% corporate related content, and approximately 80% personal information. Perhaps the most common account are the thousands or maybe millions of accounts my employees that may not explicitly represent a brand –but they represent their individualism and often indicate they’re an employee of a company. Example: Take any personal account, which often indicates their name, they indicate they’re an employee, although may have disclaimers that their opinions are theirs alone. Bert Dumars of Rubbermaid. Pros: These personal accounts are often organic and are a great way to build connections with a community. Cons: Even if a disclaimer states that “these opinions only represent me, not my employer” they still are representatives of the brand.
4) Pure Personal Account
These accounts are 100% personal content and have no tie or mention of corporate or branded information. These personal accounts, either created by an individual that doesn’t want to be associated with their employer –or their employer won’t let them is void of any corporate ties. Example: There are various personal accounts, without any affiliations to brands. Pros: This account has no tie or risk to a brand. Cons: Although the risks are reduced, so are the opportunities. The chance to evangelize the brand with their community are lost.
Each Profile Type Serves A Different Purpose Which type is right for your social media endeavors? It depends on the culture and goals of the organization. Expect many brands to have several of these accounts (For example, Cisco has types 1, 2, and 3) within their social arsenal). Type 1 may be useful for sharing facts, Type 2 may be helpful for support, Type 3 may have advantages in evangelism and type 4 may be helpful for employees that have little connection to the product or customers.
Having multiple types of profiles for your brand strategy is useful, play to the strenghts of each, however it’s important to note that having internal coordination with process and policy will also help to provide a common, high-quality experience to customers.
Love to hear from you, what profile types does your company use? If you found this helpful, tweet out what kind of account you are, with this URL to this post http://bit.ly/3fZOHt
Long time friend Jennifer Jones interviewed me at Forrester’s Foster City office in California, and I shared three practical recommendations for them to start doing. Listen in to the above short podcast embed, or download the file directly.
Customers own your website and what you can do to get it back
Social media resources: understand the 80/20 Rule
How marketers can be more strategic within the corporation by leading the social charge across departments such as sales, client teams, HR, product development, support, and leadership.
I hope you forward this to your CMO and VPs of marketing.
In addition to constant listening and alerting to their market, brands should conduct an initial, then annual social media audit to be successful in their endeavors.
Just as brands conduct audits of inventory, employees, and budgets on an often annual basis, they should also survey the landscape to find out what customers, influencers, partners and employees are participating on the social web. Audits are key for identifying priorities, benchmarking previous efforts, and planning for future efforts; the same applies for social media. I’ve been reviewing social media strategy documents from a variety of large brands, and I’ve noticed the following three common traits:
Understand the Three Types of Social Media Audits
Initial Kickoff Audit. Brands should audit their social sphere as part of their initial planning process. Brands should work with a partner to find out the conversation index, top competitors, top discussed phrases, and customer experiences with products and services.
Conduct Annual Audits: Social media teams should work with management and marketing managers to understand how and why the social web responded to activities in the market. Benchmark top advocates and detractors, and determine which topics or products are most talked about. Most importantly, benchmark your own social efforts, measuring the change and analyze what caused them, you’ll need this data as your budgets are questioned. Finally, use this knowledge to set quantitative and qualitative goals of where you want to be next year.
Conduct Ongoing Monitoring: This really isn’t an audit but is key as listening doesn’t just happen in spurts. Brands should be constantly monitoring their brand using alerts and reports. Ongoing monitoring is helpful in responding to the real time web (crises can breakout even on a weekend) but may miss out in seeing the bigger picture and macro changes.
I was involved (I come from practice within corporate) in the brand monitoring when I was running the social program at Hitachi Data Systems, I leaned on Converseon and Factiva, now owned by Dow Jones as well as setup Google Alerts and tracked Technorati links. Here’s a few things you’ll need to take into account:
Don’t conduct your audit in a vacuum. Identify the keywords and phrases to measure by involving a variety of stakeholders. Be sure to distribute the findings to stakeholders as well as conduct a findings meeting to discuss next steps
Find a brand monitoring vendor as a long term partner. Find a listening platform that understands your business, and gets the social web –beyond just mainstream media. Forrester has conducted research Wave on this topic to find the right listening platform vendors to meet your needs.
Appropriately Staff and Fund. Don’t expect this partner to understand the nuances of your markets’ discussion, assign a few part time resources internally to champion this audit internally –and don’t forget to budget. I’ve seen many annual pricing proposals at the 100k range –varying on services and number of keywords used.
Love to hear your tips, best practices, and pitfalls to avoid in the comments when it comes to developing an active listening strategy.
Those who are seeking social media careers need to remember to remember that social media technologies are secondary to meeting business and customer needs.
I’ve been interviewing social media strategists at corporations or their bosses for my upcoming report on social skills needed in brands. I also get emails from hiring managers who are trying to hire folks to develop strategy and manage ongoing social programs at large brands. Lastly, I’ve spoken to social media recruiters who have a very hard time finding qualified candidates. One theme comes across many of these conversations: many candidates are incorrectly positioning themselves.
Here’s three rules that social media candidates must know:
Usage of social media doesn’t equate expertise. Many who want to pursue a career in the white hot social space equate the number of fans, followers, or blog readers as a badge of honor –at times, I do that too. It’s an effective indicator of someone’s ability to use the tools, however it’s not an indicator they were able to use them in a corporate setting to meet customer and business objectives.
Long Term Experience of Social Media doesn’t equate expertise. Many speakers and about pages on blogs like to indicate they were using social technologies for years, to demonstrate they were an early adopter. This can backfire to a hiring manager as the duration doesn’t indicate ability to use these tools in a strategic way. In fact, many of the early, early adopters really aren’t the type that may work well in a corporate environment.
How candidates behave online can make or break the deal. Candidates should recognize that recruiters and hiring managers are looking at how individuals behave online –it factors into the decision on why they may –or may not be contacted. So before you post that blog lambasting another blogger, or somewhat questionable photos in Facebook, or talking about recovering from your hangover on Twitter, remember that hiring managers are analyzing how a candidate will represent their brand. (Update later in day: I gave the Miami Herald my opinions on this very topic)
Although hiring managers have told me that they do look for ability, experience with social tools, they’re also seeking to find out how candidates have used these tools that align with corporate and customer objectives –not just a fondeling of the latest and greatest tools. In upcoming posts (and the report itself) I’ll discuss what skills –and positioning is leading to getting hired. BTW: I’m guilty of breaking rules 1 and 2, and sometimes 3 , so this is a good check to keep all of us focused.
Love to hear from you what else candidates should be considering in their social media positioning.
It was so fun to live blog this event, something I rarely get to do now. I just love in taking all this information from the world’s largest brands, this is a raw capture. Read the live tweets #ISF09 here at the Internet Strategy Forum in Portland.
Katherine Durham VP of Marketing, who I just met this morning is responsible for many of the consumer facing product lines at HP, Imaging and Printing Group, view her LinkedIn profile to learn more.
Topic: Integration of digital median and conversational marketing
Trends that HP sees:
The more things change the more they stay the same, reaching the right customer with the right message at the right time, and in the right place.
Digital is getting marketing what it used to be. Talks about the old corner store, how relationships were built in real life, digital is doing the same now.
“If content is king, context is queen” Jeff Berman, MySpace
14hours per week are spent online by consumers (40% of time) however companies only spend 5% online.
5 years ago only one of the 10 top sites were social (myspace), now there are several in the top 10 youtube, facebook, wikipedia
Social media isn’t just for kids, many are not accessing it from twitter.com but are using mobile devices.
Talks about forkfly.com a mobile social network that enables customers to show restaurants coupons while at the table.
77% of Americans watched a video last month
The importance of reviews are important as they give credibility. 87% of customers would rather ask a friend and trust them than see a critics view about that product.
Negative reviews can convert
Gives a customer reference to BazaarVoice, who helps increase results.
The mix still matters, traditional marketing tools still matter. She breaks it down in three different stages: initial consideration, active evaluation, closure, and shows the mix changing. See below image.
Click on image to see my notations
HP success factors:
Maximize Online to In store integration
Breaks down in three cross channel shopping opportunities from online, in-store, and on-ad.
96% research online, 79% purchase in store from consumer product line
Key message: Integrate your strategy cross-channel
Integrate social media
Everyone wants to have a say, so listening is good, consumers want to share their opinion
Social networking has become important within the employee culture.
These tools are about relationships and trust with ‘friends’ and that helps to deliver that with HP
Mom is a key target for them, talks about the Pioneerwoman blog –as great example of a blog that demonstrages a customer using printing products in her life. http://thepioneerwoman.com/ Gave a case study how the blogger Ree drove more conversion.
They have a social media lead that builds relationships with key influencers and bloggers, they gave products to the top bloggers to give to their community –making the blogger appear like a community hero.
HP just recently launched a Facebook page –a bit late in the game considering how large the company is.
She gives the final points that it’s an “AND” not an “OR” use these mediums together with digital and social. Use the data and trust nyour cut, and leave room for innovation and experimentation.
Kathy’s got it right, social marketing, while a different approach to marketing that doesn’t work with traidtional marketing efforts, should not be encapsulated as a silo –it needs to be integrated like an overlay across nearly all marketing efforts. Tip: Rather than talk about social in your marketing strategy plans, instead talk about customers –which will naturally lead you to involve their voices in the program.
Yahoo’s new homepage is more like a feedreader and application platform for users to do more without leaving Yahoo.com. It’s a much needed update as Yahoo keeps up with the modern web, but think of it as evolution –not a revolution.
Last week, a handful of Forrester analysts were briefed and given a demo of Yahoo’s much needed homepage redesign –here are my observations from the demo and conversation.
Outdated Yahoo.com in need of redesign
The old version of Yahoo is in serious need of a refresher as the main page navigation hampers users with two sections of tabs with even more content and links. For the most part, the content not as personalized, and no integration of social. Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity is the page is designed for people to click through –using it as a pass through only.
The 2009 Yahoo.com keeps users on site with Apps, NewsFeeds, and Real Time Info
Fortunatly, Yahoo, who serves many types of users offers a broad range of content to meet their needs, has moved forward to redesign their homepage to meet the needs of the changing web times. The new Yahoo page isn’t just about media and news, but is now integrating true functionality on the site by allowing applications to be embedded, and streaming real time searches and status updates, the key features in the redesign are:
Fresh, streamlined design. The page architecture has less clutter, cleaner lines, less content, and is more focused.
Personalization of media content: Serving a large broad audience is different for any site, so Yahoo has included a slider that lets users choose if they want “fun” or “serious” content in their news feed. This should also cascade to other elements such as application.
Application Platform: A platform that allows users to integrate applications into the experiences such as default features like Yahoo mail, but also content that is bookmarked automatically becomes an applet that has high level content from RSS in the left nav. Rolling over these sections exposes the information in snippet formats –increasing a users ability to quickly scan over information. This also makes Yahoo.com more sticky, as users can get more done –without leaving the page.
Real time content surfaced “Zeitgeist”: The “Popular Searches” on top right show a living breathing update of what people are looking for. This is simlar to Twitter’s trending topics –and a great way for the people to define editorial content –not just Yahoo’s content team.
Basic Social Feeds: Although it’s tucked away in a left favorites link, the “updates” link will allow a user to quickly see the content that their friends are producing. These lifestreams could signal latest tweets, Yahoo buzz, or other personal updates. Users will be able to integrate Twitter status updates,
Mobile integration: Although I’ve not tried it, Yahoo has made promises to integrate this same experience with mobile devices, such as the iPhone.
Above: Yahoo’s outdated redesign was cluttered –click image to see my notes
Above: Yahoo’s new has a cleaner, more organized look –click image to see my notes
Above: Yahoo supplied me this screenshot of Facebook integration in the apps bar
Above: Lifestream show updates from your friends and contacts –a trend seen in Facebook, Twitter, and Friendfeed
This redesign, while in the middle of speculation of a potential Microsoft relationship, impacts users, developers and brands, here’s what you should know:
Yahoo follows modern web trends –but must evolve: Yahoo is following the trends in this space, where social updates from friends –and applications come front and center with this global redesign. We see these trends in Microsoft Live, Facebook, and Twitter, among other portal type news sites. The design isn’t without flaws, the newsfeed should be front and center –not just news and media to really take advantage of what people care about.
Brands should use this as opp –as users spend more time on site: As the Yahoo homepage becomes more sticky, and users spend more time interacting on this page, this means new opportunities for brand marketers that want deeper impressions with users –beyond advertising. Expect brands to create applications designed for interaction on the Yahoo apps left bar –then promote them from a variety of locations.
Yahoo must reach to developer community: For Yahoo to be successful, they must foster their developer community, tie into existing application platforms like Facebook developer community or OpenSocial, and integrate more social features.
Improvement for users –and Yahoo: For Yahoo this isn’t a revolution, but an evolution it’s long lineage of Yahoo homepages, much deserved, and a step in the right direction. This redesign should help users sort out the information waterfall –and find the information they need without opening too many tabs.
Love to hear your feedback as a user, what do you notice and experience? Also, thanks to colleague David Card (Twitter, Blot Posts) who provided insight to this post.
Note: I had a typo, and corrected it, and also removed a screenshot at the request of Yahoo as this feature may not be live for everyone as it’s under testing.
Interns are an important part of the team, you’ll be more successful with them –but should not be the core business leader — supplement with seasoned business managers.
I remember being a bright eyed intern during college at Silicon Valley’s premiere web startup Exodus Communication. Filled with enthusiasm some of my seasoned management took to me to learn about how to best understand the web –which was clearly my passion.
Fast forward to 2009, with many companies dabbling in social technologies, it’s easy to assume that social is the domain of the young. In fact, I’d doing research on social media skills for an upcoming report, and am hearing of more cases of brands handing over the social media strategy to interns –I think that’s a bad idea.
While they’re certainly heavy adopters (our data proves this) –it’s not limited to the youth only, take for example this report I did on the active Boomers. Using low cost interns are critical in getting an often unfunded skunk-works project is a good way to get the program up to speed in house –but relying on them for strategic corporate communications is a risk.
How to Use Interns In Your Social Programs:
Lean on Interns to learn about technology: Although I’m no longer an intern, I’m one of the younger analysts at the firm, I like&ly represent a new type of behavior that’s emerging in the industry, I’m the first of many to come. When it comes to interns, companies should understand their behaviors and best practices with tools. Allow them to become the tool experts: setting up accounts, rebranding tools, experimenting in a safe place, and teaching others. Let them master the hammers, nails, and tool chest.
Pair interns with senior management for reverse training: The folks from Edelman have a program called ROTNEM (the opposite of mentor) that started off with the Chicago office pairing young bright interns with slower seasoned management (tip from Edelman’s Erik Wagner)
Develop strategy with senior management: Here’s a critical bullet, don’t turn over the strategy of the program to an intern, ensure that you’re developing plans with business goals in mind that align with the rest of the organization as you put resources and your brand name on the line. Partner up with senior management that’s graduated from the ROTNEM program that ‘get it’ ensuring you’ve top down support, and bottom up tactics. While interns may be master of the toolchest –senior management still owns the architectural blueprints.
Give interns a safe place to communicate: Companies often want to suppress the voices of this next generation, often resulting them spilling it their friends in public locations like Facebook. Be like Cisco, who created an internal community for Gen Y employees who were given a safe, sanctioned place to communicate.
Get real data: Do not use interns as your model for going to market. They are not representative as a larger segment, and individual personalities won’t always represent the whole. Don’t be like Morgan Stanley who embarrassed themselves by publishing a report on Twitter based on the opinions of one intern –which resulted in Time Magazine saying to “Toss”.
Interns, like every other type of employee set you have are an important part of your company. We must include them, plan for them, and cater to them as the represent our next generation of workers, buyers, and partners. Use them to understand then model their communication habits, as they grow, include them in more strategic elements of planning.
Developing a social program is like building a house: You’ll need experts that understand the tools, but also leaders that craft the blueprints. –often these are two different types of employees, understand who and when to lean on for both needs.
Last week I jumped on a call with Joseph Jaffe, who focuses on social media marketing. Usually in my career, day job, and blogging style, I’m very structured, organized, and well…analytical. I gave all that up to have an impromtu converation with Joseph to discuss social. Listen in and tell me what you think.
A few topics we end up talkin about are: Importance of signal vs noise, PR blackouts, Sponsored Conversations, Mother bloggers. Let me know in the comments if you think you’d listen again –or why you would not.
“Looking at LinkedIn Recommendations, They are Puffery”
I’m currently doing research on what skills marketers are looking for in their social media team, and interviewed one hiring manager yesterday. She told me she didn’t value the references on LinkedIn and told me that “Looking at LinkedIn recommendations, they are puffery”. Instead she was looking for examples of work experience, eagerness to do the job, and of course ability. I agree with her, when I see recommendations on LinkedIn, my alarm goes off, I know most are not objective.
Why These Reccomendations May Not Be Trusted
From time to time, former colleagues ask me to be their reference –or even do recommendations (online references or testimonials) for them on social sites, like LinkedIn. Yet having gone through this process, they aren’t that trustworthy, here’s why:
Filter One: I question how honest and authentic recommendations are when the system primarily has features that vet out unwanted reviews. In nearly every experience I’ve been in, a former colleague or someone I’ve worked with requests a recommendation, this means they are expecting a positive review. Since the content is in public, saying something bad about someone else (even if it’s true) isn’t going to help your network, so the the contributor is biased.
Filter Two: Then, they can review my submitted review, and then accept or reject. I’ve had someone reject my reference, and ask me to rewrite it once before (I think it may have been because I had a typo). Because these three filters are setup, it’s unlikely that you’ll see reviews that are have objective content, or negative information.
Now it’s not just recommendation systems in business social networks, it’s also case studies from vendors, and customer testimonials. All of this content is cleaned, scrubbed, and presentable in favor the seller.
Potential Solutions RSomers suggested that LinkedIn reduce the number of recommendations people can give. Like UserVoice or Deal Ideastorm they give a certain amount of points anyone can use, forcing people to be choosey and selective in where they put their vote. Also, Get Glue has interesting technology to do this for the media side –maybe they can apply this to job candidates too.
References Will Always Have Their Place
I triggered a discussion on twitter, and had a variety of responses, many who see the positives. At least two people told me they received their jobs from recommendations they’d received on LinkedIn, but not because the content was objective, but because it triggered a notification in the references stream –causing word of mouth to happen. Luke said he got his job from a LinkedIn recommendation, and says ‘who’ reccomends him is more important.
Recommendations in any form still matter, but become more relevant if they come from someone who are at the top of their game, or have a relationship to the buyer. This isn’t to say that none of these are helpful, they have their time and place in the marketing process. While a plethora of glowing references on a company or professional profile on LinkedIn may seem like typical marketing –in the end, smart buyers and employers will dig deeper to find where sellers and candidates shine –and need some polishing.
I Won’t be Giving LinkedIn Recommendations
Although I’ve only given honest recommendations in LinkedIn, I won’t be giving anymore recommendations on that platform (at least for the foreseeable future), instead, I’ll use my blog and Twitter to provide them in a more organic area where there aren’t obvious filters –making the recommendations count even more. The challenge of course is finding them will not be easy.
Recommendations that are vetted by the requestor will never be fully viewed as objective –savvy buyers know that, and can figure out how to get the information through private conversations or other reviews.
Reccomendations still matter, but who they come from, and in what context matters ever more, indicating you liked working with someone is still valuable –even if they are filtered.
Buyers should look for references (positive and negative) from more organic locations like blogs and Twitter, where the candidate/seller has less control over filtering and scrubbing the content.
Canidates and sellers need to prepare for the open reviews of good –and bad–reviews about their company and resume.
LinkedIn very valuable, and has many other features of note. This isn’t a knock on them, but instead on the marketing and pitching process in general.
LinkedIn’s communications savvy Kay Luo, contacted me and gave some best practices around how recommendations should work, as such, she gave a recommendation to my own account, which I accepted. If they have any best practices around recommendations, I’ll be happy to link to them from this post –furthering the conversation.
Update: July 24th, LinkedIn has responded from their blog, discussing the benefits of recommendations and the social economy. They suggest that you give recommendations to five people unsolicited, although I’d suggest don’t feel obligated to meet a number, just do it when you believe in it. I really appreciate them being part of the conversation –so we can make these systems better.