I’ve started a new series, called Social Media Frequently Asked Questions. It’s a collection of the top asked questions I hear over and over. I’m putting them here on my blog is a great place to help everyone quickly get educated, convince their boss, or be able to help their clients get over these hurdles, so please, pass them around.
If you’re seeking advanced topics, cruise through the web strategy posts (it goes back pages and pages)
I’ve been speaking to a couple of companies each week from a variety of industries, and each at different levels of expertise (see the five questions I use to gauge their level of sophistication).
Now, in 2008, I’m often on the phone with the VP of Marketing, or speaking to a large group of corporate marketers, previous yesars, it was a small brownbag of those that were trying to evangelize –enterprises are waking up and seeing the impact.
I’ve noticed a trend of questions lately, where during the Q&A session someone will ask “Who owns the social media program?”. I get variations on the theme that include “Who should updated Wikipedia?” or “Who should respond to bloggers” or “Who should respond to twitter?”.
I’ve deduced there are two reasons why people ask this question:
The first reason is that companies are very unsure of who ‘owns’ this type of communication, one very foreign to the model of corporate communications who creates press releases and anoints official company spokespersons.
The second reason people ask this question is that they’re undergoing internal turmoil, and they are trying to get me to say something that will prove a point to someone else in the room. I can always tell, as I see the audience eyeballs shift from the person who asked to the person it was ‘intended’ to aim at. (Speaker tip: I watch the audience as much as they watch me during presentations –esp blackberry usage, and what’s said on Twitter)
..both are valid and real.
All of this gets trickier and trickier as when we realize that social media impacts nearly every department in the company, at first PR, then Marketing, Product Teams, Research & Development, Support, Engineering, HR, Legal, Sales, and of course the executive team, in fact, I’ve outlined how social computing impacts the whole product life cycle, only for advanced readers.
Social Media FAQ #6: Who Owns the Social Media Program
The answer to this question is “It depends”, and here’s how I answer it:
First, I discuss that the once solid lines of communication of corporate communications are now blurred at the edges of the company, where employees who blog, or Gen Y students who indicate they work for a company in their Facebook profile, or the product manager who guises as an expert in a third party product site participates –now everyone, in one shape or another can represent the brand online.
Secondly, I first share the three models of internal organization, the tower, tire, and the hub & spoke. After reading sharing this, I ask the audience which camp they currently are in, and where do they want to be.
Thirdly, I talk about the need for the roles of the community manager and the social media strategist, in fact there’s a report on it on the Forrester site. Roles are needed for success, in fact I was the former community manager at HDS –I’ve lived through this. (I’ve also developing the ability to quickly identify who these folks are in the room: by the questions they ask, head nodding during certain points, and when their eyes light up when I talk about connecting with customers)
Lastly, I discuss the air traffic tower, an internal tool and process where a cross-functional team assembles and communicates (the hub and spokes as I mentioned above)
I purposely did not directly answer ‘who’ owns the program (but something I would do for clients), instead, I’ve layed out all of the options, some goals, some roles that are appearing, that will help define where you should go. The thing is, each company will be different, although I clearly see some trends occurring.
Whew that was a lot, but each of those represent different takes of what’s happening in the external market and how they impact internal teams like Corporate Communications, Legal, HR, Sales, Product Teams, Support, and most of all… customers.
A new form of the Groundswell has appeared. What’s the Groundswell? We define it as a movement where individuals get what they need from each other, rather from existing institutions. The following hits home so hard for me, as I cover Social Computing as an Analyst, and I’m a former enterprise intranet manager.
In this case, employees are starting to collaborate, outside of the corporate firewall to connect, share, and learn from each other, here’s a few examples beyond the traditional Yahoo Finance Chat rooms:
Glassdoor: Rate Employers, CEOs, and find out Industry Salaries
This site launched today, although a few of my colleagues were briefed last week. Essentially, to obtain knowledge about company reviews, CEO reviews, and salary information, you have to first submit your information –all anonymously. This stealth startup, which just launched is being discussed on Techcrunch and on Cnet. I just reviewed my former employer to gain access. Essentially, companies are peer reviewed, and you can find out industry averages to see how well you do or don’t measure up to industry peers.
SalaryScout: Global Peer Salary Data
Although it feels a little less polished than Glassdoor, SalaryScout primarily offers the same peer based salary submission and review. Most interestingly is the global data available, it’s not just US focused. Do check out the map mashup of global salaries. The next step would be to standardize salaries to native currencies so we can compare. Since the technology is easy to grasp and build sites like these, the market winner will come down to aggressive marketing and fast iterative development. (submitted by bdthomas)
Criticat: Review, Advise and Discuss your employer
This startup, much in the same vein as Glassdoor offers a collaborative view into your company: “Do you feel you have a great solution to a problem in your company but not sure if everyone else will agree with you?”. Essentially, collaboration around company brainstorms happens outside the firewall. (thanks to Arjun for the tip)
UserVoice: Innovate with your marketplace
I covered this company a few weeks ago when they launched, essentially a public version of SalesForce’s IdeaExchange, it lets companies innovate (embrace) with customers by letting them submit –then vote– for the features, services, and products they want.
Get Satisfaction: Product Support –but not on your corporate domain
Although mainly satisfying startups with limited resources, and the occasional Comcast, this startup provides customers a universal way to support products, on one site, rather than visiting hundreds. A few savvy companies have started to monitor their brand.
F*ucked Company: Former dot com confession booth
Although currently shut down, it was very active in 2001-2003, this site tracked the many miserable failures of dot coms, and even Enron. Many internal memos were published within hours on this site.
Social Networks: LinkedIn, Xing, Facebook
Of course, it goes without mention that many colleagues are assembling on these social networks, before, during, and afterwork. Some frustrated companies block social networks from their firewalls, while the next generation of workers will simply bypass those shallow walls using mobile devices –the Groundswell is difficult to stop. Instead, brands should lead with policy, embrace, and look for the business opportunities of having a connected workforce.
Dangers and Opportunities of the Crowdsourced Company
The previous examples indicate a trend of what’s happening: The conversations that used to take place at the physical watercooler, has now shifted online, organized, and manifests as something greater. But what are the impacts?
Sometimes false, sometimes inflammatory, and sometimes truthful, yet frustrated sounding information will be posted to these sites from employees, former employees, and customers.
Employees get more control, as their voice will be heard to other colleagues, and in some cases, to the entire internet.
Salaries will be puffed, as professionals will seek to demonstrate how much they are valued, I expect salary data to be inaccurate, and inflated.
Candidates will have more bargaining power during hiring process, as they can view not only third party salary.com, but now look at pan-industry salaries –hiring managers and recruiters will refute.
Employees will seek out the hiring paying next step job, and develop career-pathing to lead to the larger pot of gold
Corporations will flinch, and many will setup policies to prevent employees from posting private information outside of the firewall although many of these internal memos will appear within hours on the very sites they seek to stop.
Dissatisfied and passionate customers will assemble on these third party sites to self-support each other, few companies will realize how they need to follow the conversation.
Some savvy brands will get ahead of this Groundswell, and launch their own tools internally and externally, some will successful centralize –then lead –their market conversation.
What other impacts do you see happening from this new pattern of websites that turn power over to employees and customers?
I just learned that one of our premiere clients has asked us to write a blog for their employees intranet. This means, we’d create specialized content just for them, personalized (un)syndicated content, interesting.
The objective? To develop a relationship with them, talk with them (not just at) to learn, grow, and share. This is unique, as many social media tools are deployed for marketing reasons, and often in public. So what’s to come of this?
I know we’re not the only ones doing this, as some companies have exclusive blogs, forums, podcasts for their partners or customers within secured extranets.
Our project has yet to be implemented, we’ll provide an update when we learn more. Do you know of any case studies where a third party company has deployed private social media tools inside of a client/partners secured intranet? I’m curious to know more.
My main coverage area as an Analyst is focusing on Online Communities for Interactive Marketers, I was formerly an enterprise intranet manager at Hitachi Data Systems, so I see where this is heading.
I realize that we’re just at the early days, as many of these systems are deployed by marketing units with little interaction or support from IT. In many cases users are forced to create a new user ID, as these systems are not tied to existing enterprise software.
Thinking towards the future, I realize how important it will be for IT departments to think holistically about social media, especially large areas of customer and prospect congregation. For many marketers, they are graded (paid) based upon the amount of qualified leads that are generated for their efforts, online communities, blogs, and other tools are examples of this. I can already imagine the big consulting shops moving into Fortune 5000 companies with another Enterprise Resource Planning for Social Media projects underway (ERP-SM).
Exactly what would success look like? For one, brands will be able to track, manage, and monitor who enters the community, determine if they are a prospect, customer, partner, or even inactive. Secondly, brands will be able to develop intelligence on how effective communities are for bringing customers closer such as integrating existing social networks like LinkedIn to the corporate intranet. In a theoretical sense, brands could determine which customers have the best reputation, and how to keep and reward them. But perhaps, most importantly, customer experience will improve as companies now have a better understanding of them throughout their life cycle –and beyond.
Caveat: The key to success isn’t just about building systems to ‘capture’ customer registrations and information, it’s about building real relationships empowered by these tools. Any corporation who attempts to enter social media just for the sake of holistic data, or for lead generation only will fail –and perhaps become a case study analysts tout in our powerpoint decks. First recognize the power shift, then understand how this is different that other marketing activities.
The following is a list of companies or vendors that are starting to tie their social media software into CRM systems:
CEO of Leverage Systems proclaims: mwalsh Leverage Software is integrated with Salesforce.com – has been for 2 years. The integration is currently light, but will deepen. June 3, 2008
SalesForce for Dell/Starbucks?
SalesForce offers IdeaExchange, which powers Dell Ideastorm and My StarbucksIdeas. Being that they are a CRM software vendor that now offers community insight tools, I can only assume that their data is being shared. this is just my assumption, they have not confirmed this for me. June 3, 2008
Hivelive for Serena
Serena’s Mashup Exchange (powered by HiveLive) is an online customer community that is being integrated with lead/CRM systems. Specifically, HiveLive’s LiveConnect Community Platform is integrated with MarketBright’s lead management system and Salesforce.com. Submitted, June 3, 2008 by HiveLive CEO John Kembel via comments
Submit in comments, provide links to qualify
Hoping to see an example of a company that has automated it’s community tools to tie with it’s CRM tools, I’m expecting you to link to a credible source of information, or identify yourself as an employee of a vendor or client. Leave a comment below, or email me if you want to stay confidential or anonymous.
At some point when this list becomes to difficult to manage, or this goes mainstream, we’ll just have to read the comments. If you know of a company that has integrated it’s social media data with a CRM system, please leave a comment.
My background is with corporate web teams, and this is a topic that is just starting to get explored.
Channel and Partner Marketing often largest revenue stream
At a previous job I was the Web Marketing Manager for the Channel Extranet site at Hitachi Data Systems, called PartnerXchange, a website that dedicated to helping our partners resell our products. This was a high-tech B2B sale which accounted for 60% of the overall revenue of the company. One of the largest networking companies recently told me that the channel accounts for 80% of the overall revenue of the company.
[While Social Media has impacted corporate marketing departments such as PR, MarCom and Web Marketing, Channel and Partner Marketing programs are starting to wake up to the opportunities --and risks-- that it entails]
Vendor: The primary company selling the products, such as Hitachi Data Systems
Partner: Often referred to as the “channel, this group resells products to the market, often with additional services, sometimes referred to as a value added reseller or “VAR”.
Social Media: An easy to use toolset that includes technolgoies that empower anyone to easily communicate, such as: blogs, forums, podcasts, social networks, and other easy to publish tools.
Customer: End recipient of product and services, in this case, they primarily deal with the Partner, and may or may not deal with the vendor.
Small uptake in Channel and Partner Marketing
At first, social media impacted the PR group within any particular vendor, then spread to corporate marketing, yet just now in 2008 I’m starting to see some uptake of Channel Marketing departments starting to take notice of social media for channel use.
Resellers often have limited marketing resources
A majority of resellers (although there’s some larger ones) have challenges with marketing, many are small or medium size businesses that have strong competency in service delivery, but lean on the larger vendors to setup marketing initiatives and programs to help them.
When it comes to social media, this can go one of two ways, some small companies, strapped for resources have already started to use these cost-effective tools to communicate to their clients. On the other hand, these resource limited companies won’t have the time to even think about ‘new media’ ways of marketing themselves.
The fact of the matter is that social media tools are cost-effective when used correctly, but could cost hundreds more when used incorrectly –often in the form of brand backlash.
Four Impacts of Social Media on Channel Marketing and Partner Marketing”
1) Internal Vendor Training and Support
Vendors can benefit from training their Channel sales groups, and support teams by creating internal blogs, podcasts, to teach internal staff how to better communicate and work with channel partners. Along these lines include fulfillment and support, where collaboration and community tools could help harvest, manage, and deliver key information to teams.
2) Vendor to Partner Communications
Perhaps the first seen effort is to use these tools as a way to better communicate to partners. Tools such as blogs and podcasts are great for talking to your partner base, but don’t forget about letting them cross-communicate to each other by using community tools. The better your partners are at reselling your products, they better off you are. It’s expected there will be some needs for permissions and rules of engagement as many partner are competitors.
3) Partner to Customer though Empowerment
The resource restricted partner is going to be happy to receive help from the vendor to market their products, and often they already have content that is re-syndicated on their website such as brochures, case studies, and white papers. Now, start thinking about how to create media (audio video) that could have a pre-roll with your partners name on it, and then embedded on their site. This would include RSS news feeds what could help populate their website with freshly updated content. Lastly, consider social media training sessions that teach them how to fish. As the vendor and partner groups start to cross-link all boats start to rise as the conversation gets passed from one company to another.
4) Vendor to Customer
Lastly, vendors should use the opportunity to discuss from their own social media activities the great things their partners are doing to satisfy clients. While it’s sometimes difficult to remain non-partisan, discussing issues, challenges, and solutions that partners are doing in an non-biased way from blogs, forums, communities, and podcasts could spark discussion that could lead to further sales.
In summary, there’s quite a few ways these tools can be used to improve the triangular relationship between vendors, partners, and customers. You’ll often need to find an internal resource dedicated to these new media efforts, and you may require outside help to train, establish a program and conduct workshops. I’m sure you’ll find the right mix.
In the late 1990s the CMS invaders deployed their systems at large corporations, as managing web pages using HTML editors wasn’t scalable and non-technical folks needed to publish. In many cases after the invader left, the company’s business teams and technical web teams were stuck cleaning, fixing, enhancing, for years to come.
Unplugging web publishing systems (and community platforms) ain’t easy.
Publishing from Word Docs, ouch.
I was a web manager at a very large corporations, as such, I was the business sponsor for the website, and therefore the tools that were used to publish the website. Often, in most cases, I inherited a legacy CMS system, one that I did not choose, the underpinning structure of the site revolved around it, documents, navigation, ability to edit pages, and look and feel.
This was one of the worst implementations of CMS systems I’d ever seen, the idea was for non-technical people to edit the webpages, so the system would have the ability to check out a ‘word doc template’ filled with macros, publishers could edit the word doc, check it back into the system and a new webpage would appear. fail.
The templates were so complicated as users had to be trained on how to use the word docs, understand the styles, and all the nuances associated with the code. The linking structure linked to a primary key for a document, which also caused confusion. That’s just the publishing process, it gets worse.
The Pains of Content and Structure Coupled
The site was unfortunately designed so the structure would for the most part, remain constant. The structure of the site, and the content were coupled together, and that’s a major problem. As the site would grow and more pages were added to the taxonomy, the system became more and more inflexible. The developers had a very complicated way of managing the pages, the changes took a few days to work as the underlying code had to be changed. The simplest of web changes that you would expected to see from a web CMS system required ongoing developer support –not content changes at the business level.
I’m not going to mention the name of the CMS vendor who provided this less than stellar tool, as I believe the deployment of the system was to blame from the in house technical group –all of which happened before I got there. Whew, I feel better, that’s been pent up inside of me for a few years now.
Thinking forward: Community Systems of today, to be legacy systems tomorrow
As we deploy community solutions that have social media features, are we thinking about in a few years how these legacy systems will be inflexible, don’t talk to our other systems, cobbled together application ware that we loosely couple with our other customer facing web systems?
I also know of many business groups that are deploying community software, often by ‘notifying’ IT that they are doing it, sometimes without thinking about the long term implications of these systems not being able to migrate, talk, or share data with other websites. In many cases, the business sponsor will move on to another role, job, or company, leaving the archaic community platform in the hands of the next web strategist.
Two questions for you:
1) I’d love to hear from you about your CMS horror stories, feel free to leave a comment below, go ahead, vent away.
2) Are you deploying a community platform for your web strategy at your company? What are you doing to plan for the long term 5+ years impacts of this system in regards to the rest of the enterprise web strategy?
In 2008, Business Adoption Of Web 2.0 Tools Is Expected To Grow Strongly
Global Enterprise Web 2.0 Market Forecast
On Monday, colleague Oliver Young (I was involved with the report) published a forward looking report on the growth of Web 2.0 technologies within the enterprise entitled Global Enterprise Web 2.0 Market Forecast: 2007 To 2013. As I mention with every report, you can purchase it directly from the site, or if not satisfied, obtain a refund, as we stand by the quality of our products.
Who should read this report?
Anyone investing in the space such as VCs, leadership at Social Media companies, or those involved in purchasing at corporations for social media tools.
Caveat: Sans services and “organic” sites
It’s important to note that calculations do not include properties such as ‘organic social networks’ like Facebook (which is valued at $15b), nor do they include services (a report I hope to do soon), so the numbers, in our opinion are just a slice of the overall technology sector. For example, in 2008 we project enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technology to account for just 0.2% of the $364bn global corporate spending on software and to barely even register as part of the $1.7 trillion we expect to see spent on technology overall is a useful piece of context. When you think about social media tools for the enterprise, most often, these commodity technologies are cheap, easy to deploy, and often free.
Web 2.0 Expo, a Physical Manifestation
I spent the last two days at the Web 2.0 expo (I was an advisor to the show), where 7000 people from this market assembled into one building. Who are these people? they are the ‘market’;, vendors, clients, analysts, press, media, and users. It was clear to me many mainstream businesses were attending, I’ll take a guess that many early adopters within the enterprise (I was that guy at Hitachi Data Systems) are dragging their boss, and colleagues who were once nay-sayers to the conference to learn. I saw many Fortune 1000 brands there trying to learn and understand how to use these tools for business.
To me, last year’s Web 2.0 expo was far different, it was a geek fest, where live streaming was prominent, and there was much more fascination over the tools –rather than the business impact. This year, many of the questions and folks I met were interested in using these tools to improve their business, they weren’t enamored with the latest widget. On the show floor, I spoke to two CEOs who read the report and commented that the numbers looked in par to their expectations.
Technology Infrastructure moves in
SUN (Who’s had the startup essentials program for a few years), HP, NetAPP, EMC were all present on the show room floor. What do they have to do with Web 2.0? In most cases, this is not their core business, but they realize this growing market will need infrastructure and technology to power these websites. I was pushing for this nearly 3 years ago at the data storage level, but I guess I was too early. Another change is the strong presence of an analyst firm, in this case it was Forrester, we were involved with four sessions, hosted a party, and launched a book. I guess this movement really is headed mainstream now.
What others are saying: in agreement and disagreement
Our friends at ZDNet may have misunderstood what we were actually sizing, at first it was assumed it was just “enterprise 2.0″ (internal) purchases, but in reality, this sizing encompasses externally facing (marketing), and is the largest piece of the pie.
The above and following image was posted on many blogs on Monday, where I encourage you to following the conversation and analysis. First, start with Read Write Web (Oilver and I are big fans of this blog), then Andy Beal takes Here’s the Reason Why Small Businesses Won’t Adopt “Enterprise 2.0″, and for a counterpoint, the respected Dennis Howlett The problem with Forrester’s $4.6 billion prediction, I always enjoy Dennis’ contrarion position, it’s needed in the industry. (update: Oliver Young left a comment on his post)
(This post was reviewed by colleague Analyst Oliver Young, who published the report)
Forecast: Global Enterprise Web 2.0 Spend By Technology, 2007 To 2013
Spending time with large corporations and getting to understand how they adopt social media is fascinating, recently, I’ve noticed a trend, not on public use, but on internal organization.
Unlikes Advertising (which is often controlled by a single group) Social Media is being adopted by many business groups across the enterprise, from marketing, product teams, sales, to support. While not uncommon, social media tends to be a grassroots movement that comes from the edges (where customers are) of the company, where individual users, vertical marketers, and client facing teams exist.
At least three models of social media orginization within a large corporation, which loosely resemble a tire, a tower, or a spoke model.
Common to grassroots movements within corporations, adoption happens at the lowest levels at the company, rather than from a centralized group. You’ll see individual business units define their own strategy, pick their own tools, engage their own vendors, and communicate with the market on their own terms.
Common to companies that haven’t put a strategy in place, depending on culture, this could be detrimental as resources are not used efficiently, data is spread on multiple systems, and the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.
Common in organizations where power is centralized, we may see a central team formed to organize social media. This team defines the policy, best practices, vendors, and tools. This team which will commonly found in corporate communications and supported by PR will often dictate the direction of social media. Expect a dedicated role or sub-group to appear either experiential marketing, new media, or interactive media to eventually be born out of the group, where social media is centralized.
Social media is a grassroots movement, so common dangers can be gagging the natural voice of conversations of product experts with customers using these tools, so a centralized team needs to be more of a support organization to the enterprise, not a controller.
The Hub and Spoke
This coordinated model has a central organizational unit that provides best practices, sets policy, supports infrastructure but encourages conversations at the edges of the company. More about empowering business groups to partake in natural social media discussions without hindering, this group will be more of a coordinator, and less of a controller. Expect to see this model to occur as social media infiltrates every nook and cranny of a business, and at a certain point, a company as an enterprise can’t ignore the raging groundswell.
Cautions to this model, as overly coordinated programs will be difficult to achieve, and may be ineffective to different unique markets that a large company may have. Like the tower, having a centralized group at a large enterprise is always going to slow down natural conversations so focus on empowerment, rather than control.
What styles of adoption are you noticing from large companies?
Len Devanna is a Web Strategist at EMC I was able to get his precious time in SF recently, and he shared with me how to get organizations to adopt social media.
Learn how to change and move a large culture, how to demonstrate there is value (vs being a time waster) and convincing management.
Listen in at the very end, Len shares his one bit of advice (from being in the trenches) on what to always remember.
To preface this post, be very clear that the participants are the owners of the community. I write this in context of who within an organization is spearheading and leading the community business program. This post is really aimed at those in the corporations who are leading the social media program from within and have to wrestle with confused management, doubtful colleagues, and the majority who want to keep status quo.
I’ve served in web teams in both IT and on the Business side, so I find this topic interesting.
IT or Business
Yesterday I had a call with a client who was leading the social media/community charge at his IT related company. Nothing unusual for me, but in this case, he was in IT. Most of the time, when we hear of customer facing community programs or social media programs they are being lead by Marketing. In any case, I’ve got to applaud him for taking the challenge, as for customer facing community programs they usually require a business sponsor.
Business Sponsors help things go smoother
Why is a business sponsor needed for community program today? At least two reasons:
1) A business champion makes it easier: Evangelizing a community program and launching it within an enterprise requires interface with many business units. Marketing, Product Development, Product Support, Communications, PR, and other client groups are often impacted. Having a business champion (that will convince each of these groups) that will address the business objectives, mitigate risks, and define how it’s aligning with the corporate objectives are key.
2) They often control a bucket of money: Most of the time, business units have the budget issued to them from the budget committee, which will fuel the spend for development with either a vendor or with IT. This is not to suggest that IT departments don’t have budget, but when dealing with a customer program like community, the plan will need to gather requirements from the business who understands customers.
The ‘relationship ownership’ plague
Everyone wants to feel protected and safe, and in many corporations, the ‘ownership of relationships’ are present to keep things organized and also to assert some control. PR ‘owns’ the relationship with the influencers like press, media, and analysts, support ‘owns’ the relationship with customers, and sales ‘owns’ the relationship with prospects. So who ‘owns’ the relationship of a community that consists of all of the above constituents?
What really matters
In the end, it doesn’t matter who runs the social media program (IT or a Business unit) what really matters is that the program is customer centric and designed around delivering an experience that lets customers self-support each other, or communicate with the company and other members. Not to forget to mention that the most sophisticated IT departments have become business units, not ‘technology support’.
When these tools normalize, the walls drop
Looking to the future, the argument of ‘community ownership’ will be moot, just as email has normalized as a communication tool present everywhere in the enterprise, the same will be true of the social media tools. just take a look at the youngest graduating class to see how ubiquitous these tools already are.