One of the best ways to conduct research isn’t just to go to the field, but centralized the field. Last week, mobile analyst Michael Gartenberg was in town for Apple’s new video iPod announcement and there were dozens of others in town for GigaOm’s Mobilize conference, so we organized a Tweetup on Union Square in SF. The topic? The future of mobile. 30-40 folks showed up from startups, PR firms, folks from the mobile team at Microsoft and even the Financial Times.
What will you learn by watching the video? See how GeoVector is piloting new applications for Augmented Reality. You’ll hear some exploratory discussions on how augmented reality (see other YouTube videos) can appear in a variety of combinations with the physical and virtual –beyond geo caching games. You’ll hear about how custom content from Off Beat Guide is now on mobile devices like the Amazon Kindle, and some demos of the latest augmented reality applications are quickly appearing on the scene. We also got a tour of Palm Pre’s Synergize product which syncs and aggregates social graphs into one location. We also took a close look at the new video iPod which could give Cisco’s Flip Camera (which I used to create this video –which Cisco gave to me to demo)
What’s the trend? Convergence. Mobile devices are giving birth to applications that triangulate geo data, compasses, and social data and serve up unique experiences. Facebook just released a lite version of it’s site –in order to meet the needs of the mobile experience around the globe.
Last night, I played the new Beatles Rock Band edition, it’s important to note how video game entertainment has both social components and a revival of music made popular decades ago –although some musicians worry this detracts from people playing real musical instruments. Expect other genres to appear as this expands to Hip Hop with Snoop Dogg. We’ve already seen mobile versions of these games appear, so it’ll be interesting to see how mobile device that conncect to each other make these games portable, social, and who knows what.
Stay tuned, next month I’ll have a tweetup around the topic of just mobile social networks like FourSquare, Twitter, BrightKyte, and whatever comes next.
Thanks for everyone who attended our webinar today (799 registrants, 458 attendees) to discuss Altimeter’s vision on the future of business, and to tell a little about ourselves.
Yet, for us to be successful, we know that we need to be part of the larger community, so we only presented till the half of the hour and opened it right up to discussion by taking questions from the webinar, and tweets that were tagged #futurebiz. Ironically, it became a trending topic, then the twitter spammers quickly moved in to offer cialis deals.
We learned a lot. Looking inside the company, this was a great internal exercise as it forced us to really work together, define our vision, what and who we are in a public way. We also learned from the real time and live feedback: Some folks wanted more detailed content, others preferred some speakers over others, and we made the mistake of forgetting to record the conversation so only the slides are available.
The learnings never end, but now I’d like to get your opinion on where you think the future of business is headed. Take a look at the embedded slides above, and come up with your own: How must business change in the future for companies to be successful.
Love to hear from you: What’s the Future of Business?
Salesforce’s Twitter integration and application launch helps brands monitor what’s being said. Yet despite the fanfare, the application lacks a pre-determined way to identify the profiles of Twitter profiles and primary keys within the CRM database. Secondly, the system doesn’t provide a default setting to prioritize the influence (such as more followers) vs a profile with few followers –limiting the ability for brands to prioritize their support offerings.
Salesforce’s “Answers” product is a threat to community platforms that offer support-heavy features. Vendors like Lithium (although a SF partner) Jive, Telligent, Awareness, and Mzinga are impacted. Brands that have a strong SalesForce implementation will first look to their CRM vendor for social support offerings –reducing the pipeline for community platform new comers.
The newly minted “Knowledge” product, which harvests the IP from customer service reps, and customers themselves is also a direct threat to wiki creators such as SocialText, Atlasian. Those vendors should quickly bolster their marketing efforts to demonstrate how they are differentiated. Client server based contact center products will face increased competition as business users choose to move to platforms that deliver provide greater social aspects tied to user generated content.
Despite Salesforce’s technical announcement, this doesn’t mean success for their customers. Technology is only 20% of any enterprise change, the other 80% is culture, process, roles, and strategy change –key requirements that Salesforce is not equipped to provide. As a result, don’t expect customers that don’t have the right program in place to take advantage of these technology offerings –instead expect vendors with a heavy professional service offering to empower a company to truly embrace customers in the social web.
Overall, Salesforce is above and beyond other CRM vendors in terms of connecting to the social web. Yet despite their ability to connect with new channels, they lack a full solution to empower brands to make the cultural changes within their orginiazations. Expect other CRM vendors such as Oracle’s Social CRM offerings and Microsoft Dynamics CRM to do a “me too” in coming months as others jump on the social CRM bandwagon.
For the CIO: R “Ray” Take: The coming wave of social CRM initiatives and cloud based service solutions require CIO’s to rethink about their overall apps strategies to support hybrid deployment options. Rapid proliferation of SaaS solutions inside the organization requires strong CIO leadership in coordinating data, business process, and metadata integration strategies. Moreover, now will be the time to begin master data management activities that will support social CRM initiatives and resolve profile identification and entity resolution issues. Take control now or lose control forever.
For the CMO: Jeremiah’s Take: Marketing has spread beyond awareness and lead generation –support IS marketing. Yet to be successful, your internal processes must quickly meld PR and support to provide a seamless experience to the customer. Be proactive, not reactive: Use brand monitoring technologies to head off issues before they volcano into PR disasters.
Customer support is tactical, a cost-center, and the clean-up-kids at the company. Well, that’s the mentality that needs to change. Instead, customer support can be strategic, a value center, and proactive towards customer needs.
The lines between marketing and support continue to blur, as customers share their experiences (most recently, Dooce vs her Whirlpool washing machine) the support experience she has becomes a PR task. Support organizations must quickly evolve as customers connect to each other –and share their stories –using social technologies.
How Customer Support Organizations Must Evolve:
Companies need to stop treating support as lowly department to deal with customers problems, and start to advance their role.
Go Beyond the Official Support Domain
Some companies only support customers on ‘official’ requests such as calls to 1800 numbers or support tickets generated in help systems. The evolved support organization must go to where customers already are at, like in the social web to find, triage, and respond to customers. For example, Logitech was proactive in responding to my customer needs in Twitter –shifting the conversation to email and solving my problems. The many companies who have joined Get Satisfaction, conduct support on Twitter and Facebook are already demonstrating this value.
Become A Strategic Asset to Marketing
Outsourced support site Get Satifaction’s credo that “Support is Marketing” is spot on. As customers share their product experience with their trusted peers –they influence their network. Comcast’s Frank Eliason and his Comcastcares team as an indicator of a PR blessed support individual becoming a marketing asset. As a result, customer support experiences are indeed the scope of marketing. Perhaps the most trusted members of a company are not the VPs of marketing and their shiny blog, but the rough and tumble support technician who resonates and resembles a customer.
Influence Product Development
Customer touching groups have more insight to the needs of the market and must integrate with product development teams. For example, Intuit integrates community in their actual product –enhacing how customer voices influence their next-generation. Customer interactions should be recorded, prioritized and share with product teams who are designing the next generation of products.
Let Go and Allow Customers to Self-Support Each Other
In many cases, customers as a collective know more about the product set than a support team or product team do. Microsoft and other tech companies have developed a thriving community of customers that self-support each other in their developer forums. Companies struggle letting go of answering questions about products, but should instead use the right collaboration and knowledge capturing tools to allow customers to self support each other.
Become Proactive, Not Reactive
Support organizations must not only be responsive and wait for customer issues to go awry, but be proactive and head off issues before they become customer problems. Beyond companies forced to issue recalls, asking customers how their experience is going on a regular basis is key. Expect support organizations to develop advanced monitoring strategies and couple with CRM systems to instantly alert stakeholders of issues that can be corrected.
Anticipate, And Move Beyond Real-Time
Most companies already have 24/7 support organizations that can handle customer needs round-the-clock yet need to prepare for real time responses. Shuffling customers with issues (esp influencers) into a queue only amps frustration. The truly evolved support organization anticipates customer issues using proactive techniques mentioned above.
The path to the evolved state of support isn’t easy, to start with, companies should get started by:
Measure based on Value –Not as a Cost Center
Support organizations must not only measure based on customer sat, number of calls received and closed, but develop marketing and PR metrics. Measure on how many crises were diverted, new knowledge gleaned, and interactions in the open web.
Develop An Internal Marketing Plan
Get a seat at the table by demonstrating the strategic component of customer facing support efforts. Show marketing, product development, and leadership teams why your scope has increased –as should your internal influence.
Enhance Your Existing Processes
Put in processes that enable support in the real-time open web. You’ll need the right roles, processes, and tools to grow where your customers already are. Develop a triage system that integrates marketing’s efforts in social with your own internal processes to identify, triage, and react to customers.
Conduct Internal Training –and Fire Drills
New technologies require new processes, skills, and roles. Support organizations must train staff to learn new tools like mobile, social networks, and brand monitoring tools. Conduct internal “fire drills” and have contingency plans to avoid staying off this list.
Expand CRM and Customer Systems To Connect to Social Web
Customers are off the reservation, as should your systems. Learn to identify, prioritize, and capture customer interactions as they spread to social platforms and the to mobile.
Shel, a contemporary, a friend, a mentor, knocks it out of the park yet again with this follow-up book on the next set of smaller faster tools: microblogs. Twitterville is a collection of stories that tell how the protagonist overcomes challenges from organizations, cultures, or crises.
One of the challenges of writing a technology book is that the tools and technologies change faster than the ink can dry. Shel Israel’s Twitterville overcame this challenge with ease, as he focused not on just the tools, but instead the stories about how people were connecting to each other –not just a focus on the technologies. I noticed the same crafted stories in his first book Naked Conversations, which focused on the impacts of blogs to business.
If you’re a social strategist at a corporation or agency and are trying to develop plans, efforts, or programs to connect with customers that are on these microblogging tools you should have this book.
Why? You should keep abreast of all the different tools, tactics, and deployments in your toolchest –this book has 15 major sections, each with multiple case studies. Such as Rubbermaid’s lethal generosity, IBM’s thousand twittering experts, and the growth of personal brands (page 170 has a case study outlining how I use Twitter). In the end, you’ll find practical steps to getting started, best practices, and the nuances of online twitter etiquette.
I still talk to the press about the emerging technologies and their impact to business, and will keep Twitterville at arms length, it’s a desktop reference to quickly find case studies of how people have used simple technologies to connect to each other. And thanks to @shelsisrael who gave me the first signed copy.
“Help! My boss wants to be my my friend on Facebook” was exactly the text message I received from someone close to me early last week.
Career Limiting Move or A Platform To Build A Great Relationship?
This young member of the Gen Y generation recently joined the workforce –and was experiencing the pain as personal and professional lives collide. While some may laugh at the notion, first understand that Generation Y may share their most intimate of details on Facebook, from what they love and hate, who they love and hate, photos from last Saturday night to where they’re going tonight –it’s more of an online diary.
Don’t scoff at this situation, on this Web Strategy Blog we discuss how corporations can benefit from new technologies (like social) and know that employees will use them –often in the context of the workplace, this is just one instance of a particularly real issue. What’s at stake? Building a long term relationship with your boss –or sending the right or wrong message about your ability to be a worker (update: like this one link via William). We were successfully able to wade through the situation, but first, let’s list out all the options available to you when this situation happens:
Contingency Planning: So Your Boss Wants To Friend You On Facebook
1) Do nothing. Simply ignore the request and hope it goes away, it sends a message: one of inability to communicate or not follow through.
2) Deny them. Suggest this isn’t how you want to communicate with them, with a message like “Sorry but Facebook is just for my family and friends” and risk alienating a relationship you could grow.
3) Add them and expose them to your entire life. Adding one’s boss may be easy as a single click, but exposing them to their steamy private life could be detrimental to one’s career.
4) Redirect to LinkedIn. Suggesting that you want to keep professional relationships professional and they go in LinkedIn is a fine idea. But snubbing them could be a career limiting move saying you don’t want to be in an engaging relationship –or worse yet: you’ve something to hide.
5) Use Facebook permission features and filter. Although clunky and hard to figure out for most, users of Facebook can create groups (like one for colleagues) and allow them to only see certain types of information.
What Did We Do? Our Solution: The best course of action was number 5. I had this individual create a separate group for work, and tag it the name of their company. They then filtered what information that could be seen, of course, only professional related content void of those party pics from last week. For the test they added me to this group and I confirmed it was only a limited view. This individual then granted admission to their curious boss to Facebook –preserving the relationship. In addition, I encouraged the individual to send a LinkedIn request –nothing like granting one’s request –and offering to grow it in yet another area.
What You Should Do: While it’s going to take time to setup, invest your time wisely and use Facebook’s group features from the start. Everyone you add should be segmented into the right bucket so you can easily control who sees what of your life. Also, set some guidelines of comfort where the line is for you, for some, putting colleagues into LinkedIn is the only place that it’s appropriate as Facebook could be for work alone. See how to create and manage groups, manage privacy, and other advanced privacy features.
You A Boss? First, Think It Through. A manager should first be sensitive to the relationship they have with their subordinates, you’re in a position of power. Really gauge if your relationship is that of a friend, mentor, or just work related. You may want to leave the offer open to your subordinates –and let them add as their prerogative, rather than forcing them into a potentially awkward situation. If you do feel your relationship is on strong ground, send them a LinkedIn request first, and see if they reciprocate into Facebook. Lastly, be sure to see if your content doesn’t embarrass you in front of your own team –use the filtering features yourself.
Social and Professional Lives Continue To Collide. Social networks technologies are pervasive, they’re creeping into our personal and professional lives. The challenge is finding the separation –and defining the overlap between both. Love to hear your stories of where social tools cross the employee and friend relationships.
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:
Fleishman-Hillard hired Jessica Smith as a VP in its Sacramento office, who will help build out the agency’s digital strategy on the West Coast, as well as be an agency resource nationwide. She will also support the firm’s FH Moms practice, which launched earlier this year.
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)
Although we’ve seen heavy adoption of social in the tech and consumer goods space, the impacts are far reaching. One industry that’s often overlooked –but could have the most impact is the luxury industry.
Their biggest challenge isn’t the usual like convincing management, measuring ROI, or coordinating your company but perhaps something more disruptive. Consumers of luxury products want to associate with a dream, a celebrity, or other aspiration –and most of the time, that’s not common people who buy those products and who will talk about them.
[Luxury products are for the elite, yet social technologies are for everyone. Luxury brands face a unique conundrum of marrying these two worlds]
By definition, luxury items are more difficult to achieve, represent the elite, or render a higher performance. Although we expect social technologies to democratize the world, we gotta be honest about today’s world, many consumers associate true luxury products with the upper echelons. With that said –there are methods luxury brands can still participate, here’s a few:
Five Ways Luxury Brands Can Overcome the Conundrum of Social Marketing:
Monitor and Listen to understand customer needs. First, hire a brand monitoring company that can understand the needs of your customers in the real time social web. Radian 6, Altierian, Scout Labs, Visible Technologies frequently come up in conversation, and there’s a larger group of incumbents such as Dow Jones Factiva, Nielsen Buzzmetrics, and TNS Cymfony. For those that want to create an online focus group –contact vendors like Passenger and Communispace who focus on what I’ve dubbed “insight communities”
Start with by using sharing tools. These enable customers to share corporate created content such as videos, blog posts, images, and contests. Vendors such as Share This, Add This or other similar technologies can easily get a brand up and running. Why is this a good first start? It simple extends the corporate approved and created content to the social realm.
Create “On-Brand” Contests. Develop programs that maintain the sanctity of the premium experience by developing a program that encourages members to share the preferred experience with others. Example: Develop a Facebook app that asks a quiz “which one of your friends is most likely to buy our beauty product” and then encourage them to share it.
Highlight consumer created content from “preferred” segment. If celebrities are using your products and talk about them, echo it back and highlight from your own efforts. Example: highlight users of your products in your blog, from Twitter, or other social technology “See how Ashton sports our latest suits”, allow users to share and spread it to their own websites using simple tools like sharethis.
Develop or sponsor lifestyle communities. Branded communities, social networks, or bloggers can all be reached using traditional media relations tactics. Not unlike traditional sponsorship and spokesperson product trial programs, you can develop brand affinity in the social space through formal programs. The trick however is to become a platform to uplift their voice –not just insert your own.
The five above tactics are just toe-dipping ways to get involved in the luxury space, in the long run, these premiere brands will have to figure out how to acknowledge, interact, and even embrace all customers.
This difficult topic can’t be solved through a single blog post, so I look forward to hearing from you how luxury brands can embrace social. You can also read more on this topic from Mashable, Duo, and results from a recent study. It’s going to take some time for brands –and society—to tackle this topic. If you’re an agency or vendor (or even a brand) please leave some suggestions and case examples below.
Update: Thanks to Scott Galloway, faculty at NYU school of business, who sent me a link to a study he was involved with called the Digital IQ of Luxury Brands, with a slant on social. Be sure to read this PDF