Most of my readers are interactive marketing professionals, they are experimenting, using, or living in the social media world –for some, it’s part of their very being and defines them professionally, and personally.
Social Media (which has gained popularity in the last few years) has never stared down an economic downturn, My CEO sees at least three to four quarters of reduced technology spending, and Chris Kenton sees even a more dire situation.
Four Social Media Questions You Must Answer During an Economic Downturn Whether you’re a CEO of a social media company, a professional blogger, or a community manager at a large corporation, you’d better be able to answer the following questions:
1) Is social media usage going to increase or decrease during a recession by consumers? In the last tech bust, I remember many tech professsionals going back to school, becoming real estate agents, or fleeing silicon valley, will migratory usage patterns evolve in social media? Yet even if usage of these tools increases, yet do these consumers have buying power?
2) Will brands and marketers increase spending on media that is generally unproven? Blog network Gawker recently laid off staff in anticipation of advertising dollars dried up, the key word here is anticipation, it hasn’t fully hit yet. Anecdotal case studies are available everywhere about social media, but hard ROI measures are hard to find –will marketers lean on the guaranteed 1-5% return on traditional advertising?
3) Will these be tools to improve communiation and collaboration within the enterprise? Time to think internally here, with travel prices going up, companies reduce travel plans, will these tools increase productivity, or will face to face meetings still prevail? Are these tools effective in communication beyond the ‘shiny’ factor?
4) Will the economic downturn force efficiencies to occur by shedding companies that lack innovation? The dot com bust was considered a market correction, is it now time to get rid of the new wave of dot coms that are missing vowels? or are the operating costs just too inexpensive that they will still thrive –and keeping markets crowded.
I’ve lightly weighed both sides above, I have my ideas, but would love to hear your thoughts below, I’ll state mine too.
Update: this post by James Duthie has thorough analysis, a must read.
I’m extremely busy these past few weeks, and you’ve noticed a slow down in my posting (have you met our other analysts?), so I’m going to do a series of short blog posts, unlike my longer meaty posts.
I met with Ali Partovi, CEO of iLike today, who told me about a recent trend of what I call “Transplant CEOs” that have addresses in Silicon Valley, are often here for meetings, but their company is located in other tech hubs like Seattle, Portland, Texas, Canada and beyond. Why this pseudo address? two reasons:
1) Running a company in silicon valley is expensive, talent tends to be flighty, and cost of living is high. In other cities, take Seattle for example there’s only a handful of web companies, keeping churn to a minimum.
2) Clients, investors, and prospects tend to want their leaders to be connected to silicon valley so having the CEO in the area makes sense, even if he or she just has a second house here.
It’s amazing that even in this day an age of the digital natives, that location still is important. Well for some this isn’t anything new, way back in 2006 (I know many of you weren’t even born then) the NYTimes had a article showing that most startups had to be 20 minutes driving distance from VCs.
Celebrating the hard work that companies invest in social media efforts is not only a way to feel good about our accomplishments, but also a way to learn from the successes of others.
The following list of social media awards gives agencies, brands, vendors, and consultants their chance to strut their stuff. Please leave a comment if you know of other awards.
I realize there are many awards for startups (like Demo or Techcrunch 50), but this is awards for successes that brands have done using social media
List of Social Media Marketing Awards
Forrester’s Groundswell Awards (I’m a judge)
Society for New Communications Symposium and Awards
If you like this list, then you should check out my other industry indexes –lists are helpful.
It’s difficult to see the detailed text of this sldieshare, so I recommend clicking to the main site, then clicking the small button that says “Full” which will take you to the full screen view. Update: Thanks to Benedict’s comment, this report is now in PDF.
I stumbled onto this large slide deck of global social media stats called the Universal Mccann International Social Media Research Wave 3. They break down usage of many different types of behaviors from creating to consuming blogs, rss, social networks, online videos, and uploading images. They provide a global viewpoint that you don’t see very often. While I don’t know their methodology to obtain these stats (they say they’ve a base of 17,000 panelists), it’s clear they are seeing growth in participation.
I found this link from future colleague Nate Elliott on his twitter stream, also read this blog. I noticed one small error in the 80+ deck slide, they spelled one blogger as “Michael Harrington” rather than “Arrington”
Marshall poses the question (and does analysis and conducts informal interviews) do startups need Community Managers? He points to my growing list of enterprise class companies who are adopting these roles, but we should also examine the startup.
First of all, if you don’t know what a community manager is, start with these four tenants on my blog, or read the Forrester report (aimed towards corporate, not startups) how to staff for social computing.
An excellent piece, but let’s step it up and look at the bigger question, for startups, corporations, or mid sized companies. The real question to ask is “Should companies engage customers and prospects in a collaborative nature online”. The answer? “it depends”.
Marshall’s post gleans opinions from those that agree and disagree with the notion, all of them make sense, and I’m sure I’d agree that you don’t always need one. For example, the cash strapped company, having a dedicated role to manage community relations is costly, especially when you’re trying to get the next product iteration out. Another thought is that for small startups, nearly everyone is doing community relations, it’s not one specific role. Lastly, a few reasons why it doesn’t make sense is if there is no social aspect to your product, if it’s just being consumed, and no one has questions or needs to develop or share it with others (a component part perhaps) they the need to have relations doesn’t make sense.
Of course there are lots of considerations, Dawn lists out others, for some financial companies this may be a challenge due to legal restrictions (although Mint had Damon Billian as the community manager for some time). But taking a look at most startups (as to how Marshall is referring to them) he’s often asking about the web startups.
[Should Startups Have Community Managers? It depends, use this informal scorecard to conduct self-analysis and to trigger an internal discussion]
Startups are unique compared to large funded corporations, so, let’s list out when it makes sense and when it doesn’t using this scorecard
Add Positive Points. Startups should have a community manager when:
You should tally check marks as “+1” for each of these:
Score one point if the startup has a thriving online discussion around their product
Score one point if the startup has a thriving discussion around the “lifestyle” that the product provides (different from above)
Score one point if the startup has an online web product or service
Score one point if the startup wants to improve products from direct customer feedback
Score one point if the startup’s business model requires third party developers to help growth
Score one point if the startup has a competitor with a community
Score one point if the startup has a strong product in the market and is ready for mass adoption
Score one point if the startup has a competitor that has a community manager role
Score one point if customers are ‘banging at the door’ with questions, suggestions from forums, blogs, and other resources.
Score one point if your customers are specifically asking for a community manager
Tally your positive score
Subtract Points. Startups should NOT have a community manager for the following scenarios
You should tally check marks as “-1” for each of these:
Minus one point if the startup is in stealth mode and the product isn’t yet revealed
Minus one point if the startup is small enough where everyone can participate
Minus one point if no one interacts with your existing products, or perhaps it’s quickly consumed and not discussed
Minus one point if the startup is small enough where every employee can act as community liaisons
Minus one point if the startup if there is no current online discussion at the “lifestyle” level
Minus one point if the startup’s product is failing and all resources should be focused on building the product
Minus one point if the product can be supported by the community at a 95% or greater threshold
Minus TWO points if the startup’s management and the orginization is not prepared to take in community feedback to make changes.
Tally your negative score
= combine positive and negative points
Next: Conduct your own self-analysis and have an internal (and external) discussion
If you can suggest other additions or subtractions, leave a comment below. First, put yourself in the seat of the CEO or COO, does this make business sense?
I’m not going to give you a single number where a startup should or should not hire a community manager, as I think there are internal factors that will set each companies ‘go or no go’ threshold number, but instead, use this checklist as an internal discussion point and conduct your own self-analysis.
I’m starting this post series (see archives) to recognize and congratulate folks who get promoted, move, or accept new exciting positions. Please help me congratulate the following folks:
Wishing Dawn Foster who is striking it out on her own and leaves Jive Software to start a consulting practice. I’ve met her before, and she’s a very strong performer on my panels, her consulting bio is on her site
Shannon B starts as the Community Manager at Zeer.com a grocery review community that just made Time Magazine’s Top 50 Websites in 2008 list.
Connie Bensen, a key fiture in the Community Manager space has now made a job move to Network Solutions, and writes the following thank you. Shel has more of the story.
Damon Billian goes to TokBox as a Community Manager, having been with Mint.com. Damon, as many of you know is a long time community manager at several companies, and is a personal friend of mine. Congrats yet again.
Shawn Morton has accepted a position with Nationwide Auto Insurance in Columbus, OH. He’ll be the Senior Consultant for Social Media and starts on July 21, 2008.
How to Connect with others:
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.
Seeking Social Media Professionals?
If you’re seeking to connect with community advocates and community managers there are few resources
See Web Strategy Jobs powered by Job o Matic (Post a job there and be seen by these blog readers)
Connect with others in the community manager group in Facebook
Check out Jake McKee’s community portal for jobs
See Chris Heuer’s Social Media Jobs
SimplyHired aggregates job listings, as does Indeed
ForumOne Jobs for Social Media and Community
Teresa has a few jobs, some around community
New Media hire has an extensive job database
Social Media Headhunter
Social media jobs
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, or I’ll delete it.
I’m seeking folks that are related to full time hands on social media strategy and community managers, to be on this list, so let me know if you see these folks, and please submit them. Also, I probably will not include executive management changes on this list at social media companies, as the list would go on and on, but you can feel free to express yourself in the comments!