Yesterday, Google announced “SideWiki” a new feature of the Firefox and IE browsers (Chrome to come soon) that allows anyone to contribute comments about any webpage –including this one. The impacts are far reaching, now every web page on the internet is social and can have consumer opinion –both positive and negative.
Control Over the Corporate Website Is Shifting To The Customers:
Customers trust each other more than you –now they can assert their voices “on” your webpage. Every webpage on your corporate website, intranet, and extranet are now social. Anyone who accesses these features can now rely on their friends or those who contribute to get additional information. Competitors can link to their competing product, consumers can rate or discuss the positive and negative experiences with your company or product.
Yet, don’t expect everyone to participate –or contribute valuable content. While social technology adoption is on the rise, not everyone writes, rates, and contributes content in every location, likely those who have experienced the product, influential, or competitors will be involved. Secondly, content created in this sidebar may be generally useless. To be successful, Google will need it to look more like Wikipedia than YouTube comments
Expect Google to integrate this feature with existing systems. Google recently launched profiles, a feature that is the foundation for extending their social reach. With large social networks like Gmail already in place (That’s right, email is a social network) they can eventually sort content on SideWiki by context of friends, experts, or other sources. Google’s strategy is to ‘envelope’ the web this is typical of their approach.
Although early, expect other social networks to launch competing features. Facebook has already created an ‘inlay’ so you can view links shared in the Facebook newspage in the context of your friends –expect them to grow this feature out shortly.
Recommendations for the Web Strategist: Develop a Social Strategy Now
Shift your thinking: recognize that you don’t own your corporate website –your customers do. Accept the mindshift that your job is to not only serve up product and corporate content but to also be a platform and enabler for customers to discuss, share, and make suggestions to how you should improve what you offer.
Develop a social strategy with dedicated resources. With every webpage now potentially social, you’ll need to develop a process, roles, and policy to ensure you’re monitoring the conversation, participating as you would in blog discussions, and influencing the discussion. 80% of success is developing an internal strategy, providing education before a free-for-all happens with customers and employees.
Don’t be reactive to negative content –embrace social content now. Give users the ability to leave social feedback directly on your corporate webpages, or aggregate existing social content. CMS vendors are developing features to enable this, as well as community platform vendors like Kickapps, Pluck, Liveworld’s Livebar offer rapid deployment options.
I predicted Google would be one of the first to do this, however I expected them to start with Chrome, not FF and IE. Expect this to be a default feature of Chrome –not just a plugin in future efforts.
Update: Just saw an interesting tweet from @prem_k about impacts to CRM. He’s Right. CRM systems (Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, Rightnow and others) will need to aggregate content in Google’s Sidewiki. It’s not just CRM, Brand Monitoring companies (Radian6, Buzzmetrics, Cymfony, Visible Technologies) will also need to “suck in” that data.
Update 2, a few hours later: We should stop to think about how competitors could display ads “on” your corporate site and you couldn’t stop it, why? Take a look at Google’s business model, they envelop and categorize the web, then display ads on it. There’s nothing stopping them from allowing advertisers to put ads on SideWiki as “sponsored” information. For example, Coke could run their latest ads on the Pepsi.com SikeWiki area. HP could run ads on the Dell.com site. This *already* happens in the search engine result pages on Google.com why not in sidewiki?
Update 3, the next day: I just tried out SideWiki to see how it works. I came to this very post and found out that there are already three comments. I left a comment welcoming folks, and it gave me the option to Tweet it, which I did. Here’s what sidewiki looks like, you don’t never have to have the plugin for this to work. Which means that this certainly has lower barriers to adoption. A few other field notes? I no longer have to fuss with captacha on blogs or name/email/url once I’m logged in to SideWiki, I can comment around the web. Secondly, it centralizes all my comments on my Google profile tool. You do see what Google is doing right? They are turning the whole web into a social network.
Recently, I started teaching puppy Rumba tricks beyond the basic sit and stay, I even made a video. How do I do it? I show him the move, then praise and reward him once it’s done. Repeat, over and over. Although customers aren’t dogs, (save for Purina and Dogster), we’re slowly training our customers that if they want better customer support, that they should say it loudly and in public –thereby influencing their friends.
[As companies accelerate their social support efforts, responding to customers in public reinforces the behavior of complaining to everyone they know]
An Increase In Companies Providing Social Support
The most notable example is ComcastCares who is more responsive to customers using Twitter than on the phone. Secondly, the recent customer service flareup reported by popular blogger Dooce forced the Whirlpool to respond to her when she wasn’t satisfied with support from the call center. BestBuy launched Twelpforce, a way for its thousands of employees to answer questions from anyone that has a problem. Want more examples? See these recent examples for B2C and B2B.
Three Opportunities For Companies To Evolve Customer Support
This isn’t just about rise of social tools, in fact, customers have had bad experiences before. The difference? Their voices were just limited to those they could tell in physical proximity. Rather than think of this as a threat, companies should see this as three distinct opportunities:
Fix the root issues, beyond the customer vocalizations. Looking deeper, this isn’t about social technologies, it’s really an indicator that the support systems within these companies are deficient. In many cases, customers try the standard support effort, hit a wall, then seek other avenues for self-venting, help, or just sheer observations of their frustrations.
Transform your support processes and go where customers are.Companies should continue to support customers on the mediums that they’re using (like social sites and soon mobile), as they are unlikely to change their existing behavior of being social and telling friends about their life and work experiences. Expect companies to grapple with outsourced crowdsupport in GetSatisfaction, UserVoice, Facebook Groups, Yahoo Answers, and community bulletin boards.
Evolve your support systems to connect with the modern marketplace. Expect a rash of social CRM features, companies and solutions to appear that connect existing call systems, knowledge boards, and customer databases with the public web –closing the gap that was once the firewall.
In the end, there will be hundreds of companies that won’t care what customers think, or have their margins squeezed to tightly they can’t afford to innovate and may suffer the fate of any organism that doesn’t evolve in a changing environment. This is an easy fix: their competitors will listen in, and poach their unsatisfied customers.
Recently, I attended a corporate event that showcased products related to an industry. Press, media, bloggers, and influencers were invited to attend, and meet a variety of vendors and see products. Featured were members of the company’s advocacy program, (a group of preferred clients), and were given products to demo. Some members of the this advocacy program are bloggers, in particular one with a journalistic background, who’s credibility came into question. While the event continued on, a not-impressed attendee (who claimed to be a journalist) started to make comments that some of the members of the advocacy program were not authentic and went so far as to say quite loudly during the presentation they were “shills” from the back of the room.
[Brands, which are often untrusted, must develop advocacy programs to influence their market. Despite good intentions, several risks could result in mistrust and even backlash from those they seek to impress]
Let’s break it down, as these same events are likely going to happen to your advocacy program at events and echo online.
Opportunities: Advocacy Programs Foster A Low-Cost Trusted Voice
Companies aren’t trusted, brands aren’t trusted, and nor are your executives. People trust each other, and now they have the tools to communicate with each other using social technologies and mobile with or without brands involved. As a result, trust has shifted to the participants. Many brands, knowing their credibility has diminished, rely on advocacy programs where trusted members of the community are given a platform and encouraged to speak.
Take for example the B2B Microsoft MVP program (I was formerly briefed) selects the most helpful professionals in their space, and anoint their most knowledgeable customers in public, and use the program as a way to get product and program feedback. They MVPs aren’t directly paid, but may have travel and expenses covered to speak at a variety of industry events. Another example is consumer facing WalMart’s Mom and Dad blogger program (also briefed) where influencers that fit their ideal market are given a place to blog on the corporate website. They have very few limitations and often talk about the competition.
These programs provide brands with a: trusted set of market influencers, a lower-cost program compared to traditional marketing efforts, and a platform to engage in dialog with their most knowledgeable market.
Risks: Incorrectly Implemented, Advocacy Programs Will Cause Brand Backlash
Innovation always requires risk, and many corporate cultures aren’t yet ready to yield control to the market. As a result, they apply command and control tactics to a group that could ultimately shoot them in the foot. Example? The “Target Rounders” program (I’ve not been briefed) encouraged customers to advocate the brand on public social networks, but unfortunately encouraged them to do so without transparency. The email sent from corporate to the members suggesting they advocate without disclosing their ties was quickly put on blogs –detracting from the whole movement. Also, companies not ready to take the bad with the good may not know what to do with the negative feedback, and may push back resulting in the program to crumble. Lastly, the members of the advocacy program themselves may be subjected to scrutiny from the community, they need to ensure they are inline with their own editorial guidelines.
Checklist: Develop a Successful Advocacy Program Don’t build your relationships on a whim, have a plan, and build off the learnings of others. This checklist is the start of your program plan, share it with your internal teams before getting started.
Get Internal Teams Prepared First. You can’t love your customers ’till you first love yourself. Companies that aren’t ready for the new world should tread lightly. Marketing, executives, legal, and the rest of the company need to be prepared for a new site of spokespersons to step forward in an unconventional way. Getting ready for the raw discussions that are already happening in your marketplace closer to your doors requires virtue, patience, and an open mind.
Find Credible Advocates. This is not a shill program. Getting individuals that are already experts in your market to learn more about your company and talk about it in an open way requires a filter. Likely they have respected blogs, or thousands of followers on Twitter, or frequently attend and speak at industry events.
Ensure The Advocacy Program Is Above Board. Make sure disclosure is loud and clear. Find advocates that are already vocal, maybe have sung your praises in public, and may already be a raving fan. Recognize them in public (online and off) give them a badge (maybe for blog, or even at events) that signify their distinction. Develop a policy, and enforce that any public mentions should require disclosure, involve your legal team.
Ensure It Matches Up With Their Agenda. Advocates need to feel comfortable this is a topic or association they like. If they are not comfortable with this program they risk ruining their own credibility which will damage your own associations. Make sure they can say whatever they want to –but always give them the right to discuss it with the brand first as a right of first refusal. Never limit their access or privileges based upon what they do or don’t say.
Incentivize Them With Special Access –But Don’t Pay Them. I’m a firm believer that your most passionate customers want to be recognized as experts, so thanking them, saluting them, and giving them access to information or events is key. Letting them demo products before others and providing an honest review is commonly done.
Hand Over The Microphone –Give Them The Platform. This isn’t about you, it’s about them. The market doesn’t trust your brand, so let them have the platform to speak. Recognize them on your public website, develop a way to indicate that they’re the most trusted members in your online communities, and allow them to tell others.
Intake Negative Feedback –But Be Actionable. You’ve now asked for open dialog for them to discuss with their community, but be prepared to intake their experience and thoughts with your marketing and more importantly: product and development teams. This can’t be just lip-service by corporate communications, but their input must be acknowledged, and then reported back to them it was taken into account. Use this as a way to reduce innovation costs –but ensure product teams correctly know how to develop these relationships.
Provide Them With Communication Tools. Give them the opportunity to talk with each other. Develop an online community or email distribution list, just for them to participate in and talk with each other. Additionally, give them a platform on your corporate website or within your communities to vocalize. For those with advanced communities, give them higher level abilities than other members such as ability to moderate, add unique media, or personalize their experience.
Define Success Based On Influence And Reduced Cost. This is an influence program, much like media, press, or analyst relations. Measure based on influence by looking at KPIs around number of touch points, impact (anecdotal and through surveys). Also, measure how much and how useful the feedback to product and development teams was taken used –divide by traditional ways of getting similar feedback. Measure cost savings: offset the measurement with the denominator of lower costs of a WOM program to develop a measurement based on value.
Got An Idea? Leave a Comment. Whew, that’s my list, however the real knowledge is with the community. Love to hear your thoughts. What are key steps companies must take to have a successful advocacy program? Here’s a chance for agencies, brand managers, and anyone who’s got first hand knowledge to share what they’ve learned.
Advocacy programs are a mainstay of today and future marketing programs –yet to be successful companies must have the mindset of being enablers –not controllers.
Augmented Reality is certainly in it’s infancy, and we know that at best, is experimental. I’m new to this space but am watching, and learning from Robert Rice and Dave Elchoness to see how it develops. While a few years out, see the proposed Hype Cycle, let’s spend time thinking about what the future could hold.
I’m in intake mode. Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched as many augmented reality youtube clips as possible, reading blog posts (as there are no real articles yet from mainstream) and talking to smart folks. What I’ve noticed? Many videos are folks excited about the toys –yet with little reference to how it impacts business. I’ve also been experimenting with Yelp’s monocle, which is sub-par at best, it’s really early days. My biggest challenge? I’m in the wrong country. The innovation and adoption with these tools will come in Europe and Asia –not the tethered American market.
I found a few videos that are void of the “Shiny object” syndrome and focus on how this could improve people’s lives –or fulfill a meaningful business need, here’s three:
Above Video: Supplemental Information Added On Location.
Dutch company Layar appears to be one of the emerging platforms that enables data to be added to physical locations. It’s location specific and allows content to be shown through the display of a phone related to real estate, shopping, and healthcare. Add on a social layer (where are my friend, or should I know them?) and things could become more useful.
Above Video: Contextual Information While Reading Book, and On Location
This Italian video shows how virtual reality glasses (glasses are more fantasy than reality… yet) could be used to provide auxiliary content while reading books –or in real world as the character goes to those physical location and is able to get more information. Imagine if every book you read could provide supplemental information from the web or other digital devices. What if every example you read in Groundswell showed a YouTube video of each story –each executive who is mentioned shows their profile information powered by wikipedia, and pictures and speeches from flickr and YouTube. I’ll chalk this video up as certainly futuristic, but showing potential increase knowledge opportunities.
Above Video: Social Data and Contact Info Overlayed in Business Setting.
This future video created by Tat, doesn’t get into the business setting until half way the video, but shows how additional information can be seen in real life. An audience member can ‘scan’ the speaker, and get additional information about their presentations, contact info, and even rate them. Scanning around the table, I had a chuckle when you could see people’s “Mickey Mouse ears” of social site icons appear above their faces.
Early days –but interesting to watch.
It’s early days for the Augmented Reality space, yet that shouldn’t keep us aware of what’s going to emerge in the coming years. Expect innovation and adoption in Europe and Asia, with the US trailing behind. Early bridges will display data from existing web-data bases like Yelp, Facebook, Wikipedia, and review sites. Remember when some websites were not compatible with certain browsers, the AR space is also in it’s infancy as many applications don’t run on all mobile platforms and the data sources are limited.
Lastly, I’m considering hosting an event at our “Hangar” in San Mateo, CA to focus on the business potentials of mobile social networks and augmented reality. Perhaps in Q1, 2010. Let me know if you’d be interested in participating, leave a comment below.
Hiring managers, recruiters, and management staff are often confused on where they can find qualified social media professionals for corporate positions. They get a lot of resumes, but few are qualified and the rest are “wannabes”. In many cases, they have to employ the services of a recruiter to poach an experienced individual working at an agency or corporation, or post a paid listing on my job board (see right column).
I’ve reviewed quite a few job descriptions and talked to a few folks in the field, and can boil down the job reqs to three major skills, they are:
The Three Essential Qualities of Corporate Social Media Positions
There’s often a list of skills, backgrounds, education, and sometimes Twitter follower requirements listed but It boils down to three qualities:
1) Fulfill Meaningful Business Objectives Here’s where companies are having problems finding qualified folks. The social media early adopter types tend not to be able to see beyond the shiny technologies and understand the business objectives. I can quickly find out who these folks are as they focus on the greatest latest tool. What’s a trick for landing a corporate job in social? Be able to have a 5 minute conversation with an executive about connecting with customers without ever mentioning twitter, facebook, or a blog. Secondly, these individuals will be able to use brand monitoring tools, have analytical abilities, and be able to benchmark their efforts that tie back to business metrics –not social media metrics.
2) Bridge Both Internal Stakeholders and Customers
This quality requires the professional to be able to relate to internal teams that may not understand the social culture, be empathetic, be able to communicate and train them, and be able to put it into action. Secondly, they often need to understand the culture of the community which they serve, communicate with them in a trusted manner, and engage in meaningful dialog.
3) Show Credibility With The Technology
The biggest struggle with hiring teams is that the demand and excitement for social and the recession has spurred a great number of social media experts and consultants. We already know that usage and experience don’t equate to social media expertise, yet hiring teams continue to look for credibility by the individuals current use with the tools. What they don’t tell you is this: are you capable of learning new technologies, evaluating, and then applying for business needs. Don’t misread this, it’s not in your favor if you were a late adopter, or don’t know the nuances of the technology, but it’s secondary to being able impact the company.
My hope is that boiling down these three essential qualities it’ll help both hiring managers and applicants be able to sort themselves out. But let’s open it up to you, are you a hiring manager or a candidate? What’s missing?
This post was collaboratively written on a wiki by Jeremiah Owyang, who maintains a focus on Customer Strategy and Ray Wang, who maintains a focus on Enterprise Strategy. Together, we’re covering the convergence of emerging technology, Ray has cross-posted on his blog.
Microsoft gets serious about collaboration using the web and it’s office products by offering Microsoft Office Web Apps. On the consumer side, it’s just catching up to Google Docs, Zoho, and whatever collaboration start-up emerges. On the enterprise side, this could give internal teams real-time collaboration tools –and close security gaps through an on-premise solution. Regardless, IT must develop a collaboration strategy or run the risk of being blind-sided by business units developing it without them.
Microsoft Office Now Web-Based
Enterprises seek unified solutions for web-based applications that complement their desktop productivity tools. Today’s tools often do not work seamlessly across on-premise, on-demand, mobile, and disconnected scenarios. The delivery of Microsoft Desktop Apps just under a year after the October 28th, 2008 PDC announcement in LA puts Microsoft back in contention among corporate user who have been actively piloting alternative solutions from Google, Zoho, and others. Microsoft Office Web apps includes web-based versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote. In addition, Microsoft delivers an online document management system with permissions called SkyDrive, which is advertising supported. These set of features are available to both consumers who have Windows Live accounts as well as to enterprises who have purchased the Office Volume License, who can install an on-premise version on internal serves for intranet usage.
Jeremiah’s Take: For the CMO
CMOs should be aware of the broad ranging changes of consumer behavior, but should recognize this is just catch up to Google docs which has beginnings as far back as 2006. Despite this “me too” there’s a few distinguishing points that make this announcement stand out:
Gives consumers the option over Google Docs. Consumers and certainly stakeholders in B2B prefer the no-nonsence experience of corporate issued Microsoft office. The upside for Microsoft is the spreadsheets appear to have more features than Google sheets, although some of the advanced functionality of web-based excel is not available. As a result, users will have to use the desktop client to perform advanced features like pivot tables.
May have better performance –attracting consumers. Microsoft makes claims its service will be faster than the somewhat slow Google docs products, which we believe as we’ve noticed latency in real-time collaboration in Google Docs. (which we’re using for this blog post)
Microsoft’s big footprint will accelerate adoption. A research survey conducted over a year ago suggests that Google Docs was used by just a 1% of the US consumer base, and Microsoft Word had over 51% adoption. Expect Microsoft’s large footprint in enterprise combined with over 375 million users of Hotmail and Live to push these web based apps to the mainstream –expect integration into other MS web products.
Ray’s Take: For the CIO
Enterprises will benefit from a familiar solution that delivers enterprise security and collaboration. For intranet deployments and mobile, there are three key use cases that standout:
Secured experience behind the firewall. Microsoft delivers an on-premise install that does not expose corporate data to consumer products such as Google docs.
Improved real-time collaboration. Consumer teams can now use these light weight web-based tools for near-real time collaboration. Apparently, this is Microsoft’s first real time collaboration tool, as we know Sharepoint often acts more like an asynchronous DMS and CMS.
Lighter mobile footprint. Browser based docs give the mobile warrior less resource limitations on laptops or other mobile devices.
IT Must Develop A Collaboration Strategy –Or Business Units Will Do It Without You Enterprise IT must develop a collaboration program, as the advent of consumer collaboration tools will quickly outpace ITs ability to play catch up. As employees continue to create collaborative workspace in the public web, data can become mishandled, not accounted for, or orphaned. To avoid these risks, we recommend that:
Enterprises should take inventory of the vast teams using consumer based collaboration tools, evaluate their usage and decide if an enterprise solution should be available for internal collaboration features.
IT leadership shouldn’t shut down the firewall and block third-party collaboration tools, as work is often being done at the edges of the company with business units working with partners, customers, and prospects. Instead, focus on providing secure tools within the enterprise for collaboration, then roll-out proper awareness campaigns, training, and ongoing support for company supported technologies.
IT departments should be proactive resources to business units and provide them with the right tools, training, and resources. IT departments that are reactive or clamp down on business units needs for collaboration will find employees finding work-arounds on consumer collaboration tools.
Enterprises will want to reevaluate how Microsoft Web Apps work within existing volume licensing agreements and enterprise agreements, especially as many have considered alternatives during contract negotiations.
Below are screenshots provided by Microsoft to us of the web-based applications: Word, Powerpoint, OneNote and Excel. It’s not clear if the infamous “Clippy 2.0” will re-emerge –we hope not.
Silicon valley based Altimeter Group is a strategy consulting firm focused on providing companies with a pragmatic approach to emerging technologies..
Despite Having 300 Million Members, Facebook is Not The Largest Social Network
In my opinion, online social networks have three distinguishing features: 1) They have profiles that enable people to express their identity 2) Ability for people to connect to these profiles 3) To be successful, there’s a greater value created by a group of people sharing than as individuals who do not.
When you combine all of the email networks from Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, and the millions in Outlook at corporations all over the world –it dominates over Facebook.
Not Everyone Agrees Email and Social Networks Are The Same
I took the conversation to my own community in Twitter, and while the majority seemed to agree others respectfully suggested that “email is not a social network because:” 1) It’s private, not public, 2) Lack of profiles, and 3) Lack of discoverability of people. I’d like to quickly address why I stand by that email is the largest social network:
Social networks can be private. Just like in real life, some communities are not for the public. In fact, Facebook is a closed social network, very little of your personal information can be seen by the public. Secondly, some of the most successful social networks are deployed inside of companies, just ask folks like Telligent, Mzinga, Awareness, and Jive.
Email does indeed have profiles. Many argued that email doesn’t have a profile, yet, consumer email clients all offer profiles. For example, see Yahoo’s, Microsoft Live, (which can spur from a hotmail account) and the Google profile. We’re encouraged to put our handle, name, location, and other demographic information. The second place to look is within the signature of each email you receive, people put their name, company, title, contact information and whatever else they want to self-express. In both cases people opt-in to put that information in, and make their profile information accessible to those they want to share it with.
Email profiles are discoverable and social. Some who don’t believe email is a social network will argue that the profiles are not easy to find. A social networks will help like-minded users find each other, and some social networks even recommend others to follow. Take another look corporations that have deployed exchange server have a large directory with individual names, profiles, and groups that they belong to. You can search for titles, locations, and groups to find who in a company may have similar needs to you. What about in the consumer space? Yahoo encourages it’s mail users to ask and answer questions from each other –even if you don’t know them directly. In fact, in my Yahoo profile, there’s an area that suggests people I should connect with, one which is Shel Israel, who is certainly a friend, and Microsoft Live recommends people “like you” to connect with.
Recommendations: Approach Email and Social Tech in an Integrated Strategy
It’s too easy to focus on the shiny microblogging tools and cast incumbent technologies by the side. Savvy communicators should factor in how email and social networks fuel each other, they should:
Interlace email and social efforts. In your marketing efforts, make it easy for people to share content both on social sites and through email. Use the sharethis feature on your websites encouraging people to post content on social networks –or email to each other. In your email marketing, make it easy for people to also share the information on their social networking profiles.
Prepare for applications to be build on email platforms. Recognize that email portals are becoming social platforms, and brands will soon build or sponsor applications that interact with Yahoo Mail, Microsoft Live, and whatever comes next.
Focus on the relationships between individuals –less on the medium. The medium isn’t as important as the relationships between the people. When Twitter goes down, some shift to Friendfeed, or Facebook to communicate, people have a way to find each other regardless of the medium or channel.
I hope this triggers an interesting discussion, even if you don’t agree. Would love to hear a global perspective on mobile usage, how does that factor in?
Update: On a related note,this study indicates that email usage is being eroded away by social networking sites and instant messaging. This is the type of data that will send email providers scurrying to the product roadmap to quickly integrate into the social web as quickly as possible.
Despite a downturn in the economy, we continue to recognize those moving in the social media space. I’ve started this post series (see archives) to both track and congratulate folks who get promoted, move, or accept new exciting positions. Please help me congratulate the following folks:
Simon Collister, formerly Head of Digital at Weber Shandwick >has joined We Are Social to head up public sector and not-for-profit work as an account director at social media shop, We Are Social. @simoncollister
Passenger, what I call an ‘insight community vendor’ that fosters communities for brands that want to better understand their customers has named Michael Winner as SVP of Technology. He hails from Blink Logic as the CTO, and will spearhead product dev, QA and IT.
Congrats to Christpher Lynch, who did excellent reporting at CIO.com with a strong focus on micoblogging and other web topics. His interest in the topic has landed him at SocialText, a company that provides social and enterprise here in Palo Alto. He’ll be involved with marketing and will utilize his skills and background from mainstream media, I’ll be watching for the launch of his new blog @cglynch
MindTouch has filled it’s Community Manager/Customer Advocate Role. We are excited to have Katherine Smith (LinkedIn Profile) join from HL2. At HL2, she was Director of Marketing Strategy for Microsoft clients and created the social marketing strategy for SharePoint Social Computing.
How to connect with others (or get a job):
Several people have been hired because of this blog post series, here’s how you can too:
Submit an announcement
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. Please include a link to your announcement, and ensure you’re really living and breathing in the social media world –this is not a small aspect of your role.
Seeking Social Media Professionals?
If you’re seeking to connect with community advocates and community managers there are few resources
Hiring? Leave a comment
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, please)
Left Image: Companies can monitor and manage the discussions in their marketplace, screenshot of Jive Market Engagement
This post was collaboratively written on a wiki with my colleague R “Ray” Wang who focuses on enterprise strategies such as CRM. My focus is on customer strategy which encompasses social technologies. Together, we’re covering convergence of the emerging and incumbent technology systems, he’s cross-posted on his own blog.
Summary: Jive Offers Brand Monitoring Using Radian6 –Empowering Companies To Quickly Respond
Jive Software made an announcement that they’re now incorporating listening service Radian 6 into their community platform suite, they dub it Jive Market Engagement. This gives internal teams that manage brands, topics, or influencers to discuss, manage, and assign tasks to follow up with real world –and real-time market events. An example? A company selling headache relief medicine can quickly be alerted to conversations with mommy bloggers in the social sphere, discuss in an internal, private community powered by Jive, then decide on how to quickly take action before it escalates.
Currently, companies are doing this in a mish-mash of manual efforts using scraped together RSS feeds, Google alerts, and Twitter clients. The benefits of this partnership? Companies can now become more organized around the real-time web, develop a process to quickly respond and therefore be more reactive to customers. Yet, despite the automation upside to brand and customer management, this causes yet another disparate pool of customer data that IT departments will have to splice together –potentially giving customers a fragmented view. Companies should nod to this latest trend of social business software converging with existing company systems and develop an information strategy.
Macro market forces foster new trends in adoption and risk:
Despite this announcement, there are greater trends at play that impact both business and IT side, be aware that:
Diverse systems converging, resulting in greater speed but more complexity
The push to improve customer intimacy, move to a proactive customer experience, and convergence of Web 2.0 with enterprise class social business apps, drives new models and solutions. We’re tracking this living breathing reef and see social software, CRM, brand monitoring, email, and mobile quickly converging.
More “CRM” features being deployed, without involving the CIO Jive’s offering is really a customer relationship module in disguise, yet because of the web based offering, marketing can implement this psudo-CRM solution without involving IT. We continue to see technology adopted from business units -often at the frustration of not getting on the IT roadmap during budget tightening times.
Greater exposure to risk, as more siloed customer information fragments enterprise systems Being responsive to customers is ideal, but in the long run, it’s not truly effective if you can’t integrate it with your sales, service, or marketing systems. In the end, fragmenting customer data will result in disjointed user experiences for customers as separate departments will have disparate data for each customer.
Jeremiah (business side) and Ray (IT side) come from completely two different worlds’ speaking two different languages. Yet they both know that these new technologies are going to force IT and Marketing to quickly come together. Expect to see more joint-blog posts merging these two groups together, because customers don’t care what department you’re in –they just want their problems solved.
Ray’s Take: For the CIO
Expect a proliferation of social media monitoring solutions to emerge with a tie back to CRM, eCommerce, project based solutions, and collaboration software. Disparate sources will create fractured customer experiences. Single 360 degree view must be assembled and reassembled.
Find tools to aggregate these new channels and sources. Consider how these new social business software platfrms will integrate back into data warehouses or customer interaction histories.
Jeremiah’s Take, For the CMO
Marketers should continue to be responsive to the real-time web, but quickly develop processes that involve other customer touchpoints such as support, service, and product development into the mix
Don’t limit your responses to the corporate communication team and brand monitoring team –cascade this information quickly. While the discussions that will be had in Jive’s community platform will help to aid the customer triage problem, be sure to tie the process and data back to other customer facing teams. Remember, customers don’t care which department you are in.
Use imported social data to create topic based aggregations. Looking forward, use the data that brand monitoring companies are unearthing and turn your product pages into trusted aggregations of conversations –not just static product pitches. Learn how future webpages will be more like collections of customer conversations.
The Altimeter Group is a strategy consulting firm focused on providing companies with a pragmatic approach to emerging technologies. Note: Ray had a minor changes and links added, which I’ve updated since original post.
I hope this is one of those resources you print out pin to your desk, and share with others. This is the core theme of this blog, the balance needed for successful web endeavors in organizations.
I originally posted this diagram in 2006, then updated it in 2007, and it’s time to revisit the core structure of the goals and challenges of a Web Strategist, especially as I reset as I change roles.
Who’s a Web Strategist? In a company, they often are responsible for the long term vision of corporate web properties. At a web company where their product is on the web, they’re often the product manager or CTO. Regardless of role, the responsibilities are the same, they need to balance all three of these spheres, and make sure their efforts are in the middle of all three.
1) Community Sphere
To be successful, the Web Strategist must understand (by using a variety of techniques and tactics) what customers and prospects want. Stemming from, ethnography, analytics, brand monitoring and primary and secondary research the end result should be a web experience profile and mental model.
Specific skills needed: Ability to understand and implement research, strong understanding of user experience which would include usability, information architecture. Ability to synthesize content from a variety of real time locations such as web analytics, customer feedback from support and surveys and communities, and an ability to be empathetic to customers. Above all, this strategist should be able to predict where customers will be in coming years –not just understanding of previous or current states.
Key Recommendations for 2009-2010: Focus on brand monitoring of customers in the social space. We’ve seen an increase in consumer adoption of social technologies which has caused a shift in where customers make decisions (not just on your corporate website). This is an opportunity to quickly identify who they are, what they want (and don’t want) and understand the language they use in order to reach them.
2) Business Sphere
Yet understanding customers alone isn’t sufficient, the Web Strategist must be able to achieve measurable business objectives. This leader must be able to first identify key stakeholders within an organization, capture their needs, prioritize, and balance into a plan that meets both their needs and the community. This delicate dance requires the strategist to balance the needs of a variety of internal teams, offset daily fire drills, yet meet the needs of the company. Many Web Strategists fall short here, they meet the goals and objectives of internal stakeholders yet fail to balance the needs of the community. The end result? A website where users rarely visit, and go elsewhere to make trusted decisions.
Specific skills needed: Ability to communicate within a company, understand and prioritize emphatically the needs of multiple business stakeholders and prioritize. This leader will also need to be a mediator and must defuse the assertive business stakeholders will cool logic and business acumen, as well as ensure the web team operates in an efficient operation. Management skills are critical here: project management, human relations, communication, and the ability to define clear concise goals based on dates for content and technical teams. Lastly, the core of the role includes skills in marketing leadership, advertising, media, product management and marketing.
Key Recommendations for 2009-2010: In many cases, the recession has clamped budgets down to operations with budgets coming from campaigns and business units to innovate. Where budgets are limited, learn how to use inexpensive technologies like community software, blogging, or status update tools internally –yet have a long term plan for how they work. On the external front, provide guidelines and resources to internal teams to use social before it cascades to many areas of the company without common framework –fragmenting the customer experience and wasting business resources.
3) Technology Sphere
Lastly, the Web Strategist should be an expert in their own realm of internet technologies. They’ll need to know the capabilities and deficiencies of their current arsenal of tools as well as adopt new technologies that are ever emerging. Leaders in this space often become complacent configuring current systems and forget to plan into the immediate roadmap new technologies that widen the breadth and width of what can be done. If the Web Strategist is performing the Community sphere correctly, they are already watching how the use of customers technology adoption is changing.
Specific skills needed: Ability to understand the workings of web architecture in the internet field. While they are not technical experts they should be able to understand the impacts of these technologies to the business and community. They should also be watching for emerging technologies and devote a percentage of resources to research and development for new technologies –never falling behind. The strategist should demonstrate skills of innovation, and experiment and practice with new technologies as they emerge first hand –but by keeping a focus on long term business objectives.
Key Recommendations for 2009-2010: Web Strategists need to prepare for a new set of connected devices that are quickly emerging. While social caught most companies off guard, mobile technologies within and outside of your company will impact how information is quickly shared. Start by analyzing related applications and mobile social networks in rich mobile devices such as Blackberry, iPhone, and Palm Pre.
To be successful, the Web Strategist must balance all three of these spheres. Becoming a master in each of these spheres requires incredible dedication, so the leader must rely on their team for input, actively seek out education, attend workshops, and read books on the various subjects. Also, if this helps to shape your career, or you’re a hiring manager for this role, I hope it helped to define what to look for.
The community sometimes translates my posts, I’m thankful and am happy to highlight them here: French Serbian Italian Czech