I’ve participated in dozens of online and virtual events, including created my own, below is a playbook to think about virtual events as they intersect with the social web. While the scope of this article is focused on online virtual events, many of these tips can be used in real world events and the like.
[To be successful, virtual --and real world events must have a strategy that integrates social technologies, before, during, and after]
Three Principles Of Modern Events
To be successful, virtual –and real world– event planners must abide by the following principles:
Events should integrate with existing communities and social networks where they exist.
Events should have a strategy that includes the before and after –not just during.
The audience can assert control over the event, so encourage audience participation and know when to get out of the way.
Planners must develop a Pre, During, and Post strategy that integrates social.
Today, event planners only think of the fixed event that occurs in a day, they often overlook that a community talks, discusses, and chatters before, during and after an event. They should:
Have a “before’ strategy. Use social tools before an event to increase signups by first locating where their target community is, and use social tools to reach them. Encourage members to tweet and share an event before it occurs, they should create events in Facebook so it triggers updates on the newsfeed. Assign a hashtag so that excited attendees can interact with all tweets, blog posts, tags, photos, and videos can be easily found, tracked, and then measured. Savvy organizers will source questions and topics from the crowd before the event occurs, both to increase the relevancy of the content and spur word of mouth. Truly advanced organizers will allow members to connect to each other before an event by allowing users to connect in an online community, or login using existing social network profiles to ‘find their friends’.
Integrate existing social tools during an event, thereby increasing interaction. During the event, organizers should be monitoring the social web and chat rooms to see how the crowd is reacting –be ready to react in real time. Make it clear what the assigned hash tag is, and source questions in real time from audience members as appropriate. Integrate chat features and tweets live into the event, centralizing the fragmented discussion in your event. Take for example, virtual events company InXpo already provides Twitter integration to experiences and offers some best practices, see how Cisco has coupled their physical events with online events.
Follow up using social tools to aggregate and identify opportunities. Event planners shouldn’t quit once the event is over, the opportunity to further relationships is at hand. Event planners should immediately launch a survey to gauge quality and experience, and ask if there are follow-on opportunities. They should aggregate all created content (remember the hashtag) and create blog posts that highlight the top reactions. Advanced events will have a community where attendees are ushered to and can continue the conversation on after the event continues on. Finally, a brand should respond using the same tools as attendees in Facebook, Twitter, or leave comments on blogs and continue the dialog. There re more best practices available to study.
In the Future, Virtual Events Must Integrate Social
Virtual events will integrate with existing social networks. Brands need to fish where the fish are, and find communities where the exist. Virtual events will need to deploy in Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, and Twitter communities, allowing them to login and register with their accounts on those platforms –and then message on these platforms. See how Gigya’s Socialize product has helped Turner Broadcasting with the online event for the NBA finals.
Virtual Events won’t be a limited duration, but will become a persistent experience. Today, virtual events are often a limited duration experience (2-6 hours on average, perhaps longer for global events). We should expect them to be persistent longer term experiences that span days, weeks, and in some cases be permanent fixtures.
Integrate with existing corporate communities. Expect virtual event vendors to develop partnerships with community platform vendors, InXpo has staked a claim in early integration.. The first folks they should talk to? Leverage Software (who already has a strong community event module) Jive, Telligent, Awareness, Mzinga, Lithium, Neighborhood America, all cater to the corporate B2B market. These vendors provide long term community experiences for brands, and virtual events should integrate with the identity of existing customers, and foster experiences before and after the virtual event.
Event planners will need to measure their influence on the social web. Assign team members to monitor and track occurrence to a spreadsheet using Twitter search tools or Technorati, or hire a brand monitoring vendor that will provide a report.
Certainly, this isn’t a comprehensive guide, please provide your tips as social and online events integrate.
If you found this helpful, please share it with others, kindly tweet: “Web Strategy: How To Integrate Social Technologies with Virtual Events http://bit.ly/Y6xmP via @jowyang”
I often get asked by brands: “How should we organize our company for social media?” or “Which roles do we need”, or “Which department is in charge”. So for our latest report (clients can access all the details) answers just that, it has data and graphs about spending, brand maturity in the social space, which department ‘owns’ the program, and how companies are organizing.
Companies organize in three distinct models
For this post, let’s focus in on how companies are organizing. There are three basic models that I’ve observed and surveyed brands:
The Tire (Distributed): Where each business unit or group may create its own social media programs without a centralized approach. We call this approach the “tire,” as it originates at the edges of the company.
The Tower (Centralized): We refer to this centralization as the “tower” — a standalone group within a company that’s responsible for social media programs, often within corporate marketing or corporate communicaitons.
The Hub and Spoke (Cross Functional): Like the hub on a bicycle wheel, a cross-functional group that represents multiple stakeholders across the company assembles in the middle of the organization. The hub facilitates resource sharing and cross-functional communications (via the “spokes” in the wheel) to those at the edge of the organization (or the “tire”)
The above graphic shows how brands we surveyed are organized
Which way should companies organize?
We believe the most sophisticated and effecient way is the Hub and Spoke, which provides centralized resources that can support business units. The business units still have the freedom and flexibility to dialog with the market –and should be in alignment with what other spokes are doing. Social doesn’t impact one department –but impacts marketing, pr, product, services, support, and development –every customer touchpoint.
Remember: 80% is Strategy only 20% is Technology
On a related note, thanks to heavy collaboration with colleague Zach Hofer-Shall we’ve also published a report for clients on a community launch checklist. This checklist reminds brands that 80% of their success is dependent on understanding their customers, defining an objective, and assembling the right strategy that encompasses: plans, roles, process, budgets, measurement, and training –not a focus on technology.
The faster brands can realize that approaching social marketing and collaboration isn’t about technology, but about process and change management the better off they are. You’ll find simliar thoughts from David Armano –who’s scoping out different models within their framework of social business design.
Love to hear from you: Which way is your brand organized? In a tire? tower? or hub and spoke. In my experience, I often ask stakeholders in companies to vote by raising their hands on which model they think they are –most often, not everyone agrees –but most want to evolve to hub and spoke. Try polling your internal teams to start a lively discussion.
Today’s social experience is disjointed because consumers have separate identities in each social network they visit. A simple set of technologies that enable a portable identity will soon empower consumers to bring their identities with them — transforming marketing, eCommerce, CRM, and advertising. IDs are just the beginning of this transformation, in which the Web will evolve step by step from separate social sites into a shared social experience. Consumers will rely on their peers as they make online decisions, whether or not brands choose to participate. Socially connected consumers will strengthen communities and shift power away from brands and CRM systems; eventually this will result in empowered communities defining the next generation of products.
We found that technologies trigger changes in consumer adoption, and brands will follow, resulting in five distinct waves, they consist of:
The Five Eras of the Social Web:
1) Era of Social Relationships: People connect to others and share
2) Era of Social Functionality: Social networks become like operating system
3) Era of Social Colonization: Every experience can now be social
4) Era of Social Context: Personalized and accurate content
5) Era of Social Commerce: Communities define future products and services
Timing of the Five Overlapping Eras:
It’s important to note that these eras aren’t sequential, but instead are overlapping. We’ve already entered and have seen maturity for the era of social relationships, have entered social functionality but haven’t seen true utility, and are starting to see threads of social colonization with early technologies like Facebook connect. Soon these federated identities will empower people to enter the era of social context with personalized and social content. The following diagram demonstrates how we should expect to see the eras play out in the future –with social commerce the furthest out.
Interviews with 24 of the top Social Companies:
Research isn’t done in a vacuum, that’s why we conducted qualitative research to find out what we should come to expect. We came to these conclusions based on interviews with executives, product managers, and strategists at the following 24 companies: Appirio, Cisco Eos, Dell, Facebook, Federated Media Publishing, Flock, Gigya, Google (Open Social/stack team), Graphing Social Patterns (Dave McClure), IBM (SOA Team), Intel (social media marketing team), KickApps, LinkedIn, Meebo, Microsoft (Live team), MySpace, OpenID Foundation (Chris Messina), Plaxo, Pluck, Razorfish, ReadWriteWeb, salesforce.com, Six Apart, and Twitter.
How Brands Should Prepare
What’s interesting isn’t this vision for the future, but what it holds in store for brands, as a result, companies should prepare by:
Don’t Hesitate: These changes are coming at a rapid pace, and we’re in three of these eras by end of year. Brands should prepare by factoring in these eras into their near term plans. Don’t be left behind and let competitors connect with your community before you do.
Prepare For Transparency: People will be able to surf the web with their friends, as a result you must have a plan. Prepare for every webpage and product to be reviewed by your customers and seen by prospects –even if you choose not to participate.
Connect with Advocates: Focus on customer advocates, they will sway over prospects, and could defend against detractors. Their opinion is trusted more than yours, and when the power shifts to community, and they start to define what products should be, they become more important than ever.
Evolve your Enterprise Systems: Your enterprise systems will need to connect to the social web. Social networks and their partners are quickly becoming a source of customer information and lead generation beyond your CRM system. CMS systems will need to inherit social features –pressure your vendors to offer this, or find a community platform.
Shatter your Corporate Website: In the most radical future, content will come to consumers –rather than them chasing it– prepare to fragment your corporate website and let it distribute to the social web. Let the most important information go and spread to communities where they exist; fish where the fish are.
If you translate this blog post, I’ll add your link here and credit you.
This project took a team effort, and I’d like to thank Josh Bernoff a guiding force in my career, Emily Bowen who kept the project going, Cynthia Pflaum for the quantitative data, Megan Chromik in our editing team for the polish, and Jon Symons in our PR team for the media outreach.
A few years ago, Julio Garcia suggested I redesigned my blog, I should have listened, he was right. Yesterday, I finally took his advice and launched a new blog design, in which I contracted Web Designer and Developer Mitch Canter to complete.
Although this blog redesign process has taken a few months (I’ve been very busy, as has he) I’ve come to learn there’s a few principles that have changed since I started my blog back in 2005. (BTW: Here’s the old version, if you want to jog your memory) Here’s what I think are appropriate for 2009, yet I expect this list to change in just a few years as new technologies and the media landscape shifts.
8 Principles for the Modern Blog …at least for 2009
1) Baseline: Have Valuable Content
This one isn’t anything new. You have to have relevant content that’s either helpful or interesting to your audience, or you can forget the rest of the principles. Content still rules the royal court, and without it, you can’t move forward. Ideas, insights, perspectives aligned with an appropriate publishing frequency to your market is baseline. Don’t read ahead ’till you do that.
2) Know your Audience
If you’re just writing for yourself, this principle doesn’t matter. A few years ago, blogging didn’t have a strong business objective, but now we see many companies involved in blogging, so it must impact company in a positive way. So, if you want your blog to grow and spread your ideas and knowledge, then you likely have an objective. In order to be successful for your ideas to be effective, you should first know what your readers want. I know through a formal survey that most of my readers are interactive marketers, so I’m attempting to give them what they want through content and website experience.
3) Distribute the Content…
In the end, I believe web destinations are irrelevant, as we should fish where the fish are. The goal of a thought leadership blog, is often to get your ideas to spread to other locations. In the most extreme example, take Jason Calcanis, who temporarily stopped blogging and shifted to a dedicated email newsletter, it worked, as people ended up blogging his content for him. I’ve highlighted email subscription, and a host of tools at the bottom of each post that enable you to share the content elsewhere.
4) ..Yet Aggregate the Conversation
If you’re successful because of the two principles above, your content will start to spread to other locations on the web. It’ll be discussed on Twitter, tagged in Delicious, rehashed in Friendfeed, talked about in Facebook, and maybe event submitted to Digg. As a response to content distributing (Principle 3) then as a response to help to re-centralize your thoughts, you’ll need to aggregate your social content. This builds a reef for the fish to centralize around. As a result this accomplishes three things: 1) Helps people to find opinions in a single place 2) Helps you to manage the conversation 3) Provides a social reward to those who spread the content.
5) Highlight Community Conversation
While I know that in Principle 1 it’s about the content, for some blogs, highlighting the community around you is key. For example, in this blog redesign, we’ve given nearly equal attention to the comments and conversation. We’ve aggregated Friendfeed conversation (and soon Facebook), as well as given each commenter the ability to show their icon. (sign up to Gravatar if you want your smiling picture to appear in the comments), you’ll even notice the prominent comment bubbles next to each blog title. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that the collective commenters say some really brilliant stuff –let’s focus on the collective voices.
6) Reflect a Personal Brand
Whether you like the concept or term, expect the desire and need for personal brands to increase during a global recession. As people become sensitive that they may be positioned against a dozen other candidates, demonstrating thought leadership to be found, a built in audience, or a living resume of their knowledge and how they interact with others is key. We’ve provided a variety of ways for people to connect with me via email, social networking sites, and even an embedded Twitter ticker tape below the header. This means that having a visually aligned personal brand with your goal is important, why? The way you represent yourself is an indicator of how you’ll represent your employer and clients.
7) Get Serious, Hire a Pro
This project was more ambitious than I could have taken on in my busy schedule or antiquated UI design background. Therefore it’s important to hire someone who knows what they’re doing, in fact read Mitch’s behind the scenes guest post, there’s only 7 images on the blog design, in an attempt to optimize the site. Mitch does this professionally, and it was worth the money to hire him to lead this project. I don’t have the time to learn it, nor do I want to risk messing up the blog.
8] Got an Principle to Share? Leave a Comment
I won’t profess to knowing all the principles, so I’m leaving this one open to the community. What principles for the modern web blog need to be factored in?
By the way, I’ll be working on the popular posts section, making it a quick reference guide to those that quickly need the most helpful content. Stay tuned.
This post is a bit dense, I’m not writing for my general business audience, but for those that really are advanced social technology thinkers. If you’re seeking starter info, read my FAQs.
I’m working on a report called the “Future of the Social Web” and I interviewed quite a few companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Lotus, RWW, Federated Media, Plaxo, Dell, Cisco EOS, Flock, Meebo, Gigya, Intel, Razorfish, Six Apart, and a bunch more to find out the trends in this industry. There’s probably less than 10 people in the world that have access to all these teams, executives and thought leaders, and I’m taking advantage of it. I just met with Appirio, which is a San Mateo company that birthed out of the SalesForce incubation process and I think they’re one of the first generation vendors that’s connecting social networks to CRM systems. They’re not alone, see the other apps in SalesForce AppXchange that connect with Facebook. Update: Rapleaf is in this space, I need to meet with them soon.
[Marketers Use Registration Forms For Only Two Reasons: 1) To Be Able To Bug People 2) To Be Able Bug Them More Effectively]
Most marketers don’t know why they want prospects to fill out registration pages, they’ve been doing it for so long, they’ve forgotten why. I’ll remind you, there’s only two reasons: 1) To get their contact information so they can bug them. 2) To get demographic and other data so they can bug them more effectively (target marketing). That’s it.
One of the calls I’m making in my report is that registration pages go away. Why? CRM systems and Social Networks will start to connect, and share information in a two way manner. Of course, the trick is to make it all opt in so the user community can control what part of their information can be shared and with who. Appirio does just that, they have built a Facebook application that can be rebranded for a marketing campaign, it can then be used to share information, recommend information to peers, and used for other purposes such as recruiting, word of mouth, and other typical social network activities. As information gets shared, it can be passed to a landing page where users can submit information in a web form –then passed over to SalesForce.
[The Future Of The Social Web Makes Registration Pages Extinct]
While they haven’t built out a system that can remove registration pages all together, I know the second generation Social CRM systems will be able to do this. How? A technology will emerge that will allow users to pass only as much of their social networking profile information as they want over to a CRM system, how much? It’s up to the user. A new social contract will appear that will encourage users to give as much information as t hey want, and in return the brand will reciprocate. The more information the user gets gives, the more the brand will give back in return, I call this a “Social web contract”. Since the data will come from the profile information within a social network, there won’t be a need to have a collection web form, instead information will be passed through connective tissues.
Obviously this flips a marketers world upside down as they are ultimately measured in most cases on generating leads and conversions, there’s a pretty radical mental shift that will need to take place, I’ll have to talk about this later. Oh, and I’ll have to tell you what this means to email marketing –that’s going to change too.
That’s all I can explain right now, as I’m still putting together dozens of interviews and over 20 pages of notes, I gotta get a draft to Josh Bernoff, my rather tough editor. Just remember, the power has shifted to the community, so the tools, approach, and ideology has to meet the needs of the users.
If you’re involved with connecting social networks and CRM systems, I want to talk. Also, Appirio needs marketing agencies to be truly successful, you may want to contact them, or just email me and I’ll connect you.
The ISF has conducted a survey and has made data available about corporate web decision makers, this brief (I’ve read the full version, which is available for purchase) gives information on how web strategists are organized, their concerns, and even compensation. The highlights of this research will be presented at the Summit, along with other informative speeches and case studies.
Last week, I listed out 9 reasons Why Brands Are Unsuccessful In Twitter, and other microblogging technologies. Companies are caught between the minutia of the discussions and their willingness to be human or add value to the conversations. Although a one-sided view of what’s going wrong, now let’s focus on what’s going right.
I’m watching –and talking– to many brands that are choosing to engage with this seemingly endless stream of personal thoughts, updates, and conversations within Twitter.
Web Strategy: The Evolution of Brands on Twitter
First, identifying if this is the right marketplace
Brands need to first evaluate if the community members within Twitter are the audience they’re trying to reach. Although we’ve yet to see any formal survey produced from Obvious corporation, most could identify these members are technology early adopters, media fiends, social media practitioners, and those interested in future communications.
Next: Listening to glean insight
Some brands are using the somewhat accurate search tools formerly known as Summize, or even Twitscoop to track graphing of potential terms, or to find influencers. Companies like Visible Technologies are mapping out the discussion in Twitter for tech giants like Dell –they’re likely going to provide a list of influencers and detractors in order to determine who’s the best way to approach them. In the case of the New York Times, Twitter is yet another opportunity to source stories, and potentially find out about breaking news or emergencies. Not only is this key for determining what’s being said by customers, prospects, and competitors, but to ensure rogue employees aren’t speaking on your behalf and potentially causing brand damage.
Registering the namesake
Once a company has figured out the conversation in their marketplace (assuming this is one for them) they should next secure the key domains related to their brand. There has been some impromptu indexes that show that many companies don’t have ownership over their individual brand on Twitter. Since registration is limited to one account per real email address, and companies will never be able to register every potential variant, the process is still limiting.
Decide on persona: corporate and/or individual
Brands will next need to decide on their online personas, and how they want to be perceived to the world. There are only a few variations and among them include: 1) A branded approach, void of personal interactions. In many cases, brands are unsure how to approach this conversation and most speak on behalf of the company, void of a personal reference of the publisher. Companies like Popeye’s chicken don’t readily indicate who’s behind the account, although they are very engaging conversing with others. 2) Some brands indicate who the user is, and go so far as to encourage individuals to represent the brand, RichardatDell takes this on with ease, as he both engages in personal interests as well as evangelizes and defends the Dell brand. See the NYT’s Communication department as they list out the personal contacts right on their twitter page. It’s assumed that brands that have engaged in option 2, also have corporate accounts listed in type 1.
Decide on method of engagement
Next comes the interesting part, how brands will actually publish, interact and communicate with others. There are three major options that brands can use: 1) Publish content in a ‘push’ style. Marketers, corp comm, PR folks and media companies can choose to use Twitter as a publishing system, as those who opt-in to follow can now receive updates from the latest story, press release or update. 2) Dialog: Some employees engage in relationship building with community members by responding, answering, and asking questions of those around them, see this large list of Oracle employees who are using these tools. or the ‘classic’ case example of Comcast Cares and Zappos shoes interacting and supporting customers 3) As we’ve indicate above, some may use these tools to glean insight –mainly listening rather than talking.
Examine the digital communications policy
Often known as ethics policies, blogging policies, or communications policies, the world of online publications continues to grow and brands must be prepared for these changes. Brands that have employees using social media (that would be just about all) must ratify their communications policy to: 1) Define what’s an official representation or have acceptance in the gray area of online communications 2) Define what the difference is between someone who is a company spokesperson and someone who’s acting and represents the company. Last week, at a client meeting, some employees at a enterprise IT networking company expressed concerns of employees who were on Twitter would talk about their personal beliefs around politics, culture, or preferences. Potentially some of these expressions would negatively impact other partners or customers in other regions or cultures, and didn’t know where the definitive line was between work and personal was.
Integration with other tools
Seeminly rare, most brands don’t integrate these tools with their other social media or even traditional website. With the recent case of brands being brandjacked by twitter domain registrars a new need came up of brands wanting to validate their twitter accounts. In fact, some have sent me emails from their corporate account asking me to confirm they are ‘real’ accounts. Of course, the most effective way to overcome validation from third parties and to enhance other tools is to cross link from various web properties, which Tyson foods has recently done. Take for example Dell, which has listed out many of their twitter accounts on their corporate website, now segmented out by verticals, products and regions. Brands should cross link their twitter account from their corporate blogs, traditionally websites, and vice versa.
Aggregation and joining conversations
The next step in this evolution is to watch how the conversations will fragment, spread, and be aggregated on different websites. The conversation isn’t going to be limited to Twitter, it’s search clients, but will start to aggregate on other websites. Take for example Get Satisifaction a ‘universal’ support site that is aggregating twitter conversations on their page, in this instance, Comcast. The conversation about the brand has now spread off the site, and will sputter off new threads of discussions on other websites. Brands like Dell will aggregate those same conversations right on their mainstream site –bringing the engaged audience closer to their site.
Although we’re still far from seeing this implement, I expect to see a tie with location aware devices that will integrate twitter with marketing, communication, and support. For example, as one approaches a product, or store where that product is, alerts, the ability to ask questions or receive special offers could automatically trigger to a customers account (most will be opt in, savvy marketers will figure around it). Expect savvy companies to further monitor discussions and respond to support or help questions using these micromedia tools.
While there are many variations and some companies skip from step to step, these are the major evolutionary phases of how I see companies adopting micromedia tools like Twitter. I’d love to hear your feedback on what you’re seeing, and where it’s all headed.
Ongoing List of Social Media Strategies
A social media strategy is a long term plan utilizing all of the resources at hand using two way social tools. In the early days of 2005-2007, developing sophisticated strategies were limited to just a handful of tools such as blogs, forums, and online video. Now with so many resources being available from Twitter, Upcoming, Facebook, Widgets, and more, the opportunities –and level of coordination will vary. This post will be an ongoing list of enterprise size companies (over 1000 employees) that share their social media strategies, plans, online –hopefully in slideshare, as it’s easier to communicate.
I expect contention
What’s interesting is how the language of corporate folks describing these tools is often very different than the language purists use. I expect some contention from this, and this will make for healthy discussion below. I too understand the need to meet business needs, but at the same the needs of customers, do leave your opinions below, or on the blogs or slideshares.
Why would a brand publish their social media strategy?
Well, for a few reasons. These programs are designed to reach customers, partners, and colleagues in an open and transparent way, why not share with them in public? Secondly, by showing these companies are sophisticated in their approach, they demonstrate thought leadership. Lastly, by opening up for a public dialog, there’s so much to learn, gain, and grow from the larger community.
Requirements for this list
If you want to share (this could potentially be useful for Forrester reports) please leave a comment. Your blog post, slideshare, video or podcast should explain what your enterprise company is doing in the social media realm, thinking both long term, and considering the many resources and tools available to you.
While I enjoy the holsitic view of the multi-departmental opportunities, it’s important to note that social media is not for everyone, as if you look at our technographic data, you’ll find inactive in nearly every demographic cut. I’m pretty sure they are suggesting that it’s for each department, so if that’s the case, then the statement is correct.
IBM’s Adam Christensen shares this slide deck of IBM’s approach on social media. I’ll be meeting with him to discuss it in early Oct 2008.
Intel: Intel Forming “The Insiders” Social Media Advisory Team
Ken Kaplan, Broadcast and New Media Manager, Global Communications Group at Intel Corporation
In this blog post, Intel calls for a board of advisors to reach and assist to them for their social media efforts. If you’re not aware, Intel is already doing a lot in this space, much with success. I give them a tremendous amount of credit for taking risks, quickly learning, and then making iterative changes.
EMC: Applying Personal Social Media Techniques to Corporate EMC
Dan Schwabel, Social Media Specialist at EMC Corporation
June 2008 In this post, Dan Schwabel shares the many different tools that are used at EMC and how they related to the overall change in personal and corporate branding. He examines events, CEO activity, and the many different social technologies used in their approach.
SAS: Online communities for SAS users and SAS professionals
Alison Bolen, sascom magazine’s Editor-in-Chief
July 2008 In this post, Alison lists out the many ways that customers can communicate with each other.Your Company
Leave a comment below with URL and description.
If you’re not familiar with the Social Media Press Release (SMPR), it’s a process/document that helps press releases to not only carry the traditional content (who what when where why and how) of a company announcement, but it also provides links and assets to social media: blogs, images, videos, tags, etc.
[Currently, Social Media is disparate and fragmented, making the conversation difficult to track, find, and use. Although too early for it's time, the Social Media Press Release, will reincarnate as Friendfeed]
Alone, the social media press release isn’t an effective use of being in the spirit of social media, it’s somewhat devoid of the humanness and resulting conversation that many expect. However, full-blown announcements that contain quit a bit of images, blog posts, videos, and social networking campaigns require an ability to organize, and keep track of the disparate conversation.
SMPR too early
I’m the recipient of dozens of press releases every week, so I’m very familiar with what to expect, and frankly, haven’t seen a single SMPR since I’ve been an analyst since Oct, 07 submitted to me. You can however view Ford’s Social Media Press Release room called “Digital Snippets“, as one interpretation. Update: Inventor Todd has a small, but growing list on his site.
The good news for the pioneers of the SMPR (smart folks like Todd Defren, Brian Solis, Chris Heuer) of the Social Media Press Release is that they were way ahead of the curve, they really had foresight to how corporate communications were going to change. The bad news is they were too early, and adoption hasn’t yet happened.
[Brands will use Friendfeed like a Social Media Press Release, to aggregate their social assets, and then to spur on a conversation]
How it could look
Fortunately, there’s good news at hand, with social aggregation tools at hand, such as FriendFeed, a brand can create a Friendfeed account and easily consolidate all the assets from one location. What would this look like? A brand like Ford could create a Friendfeed account, submit to the various social services (Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, blogs, Delicious, and over 30 others), then encourage fans of Ford to either follow that public Friendfeed page, or to become actual ‘friends’. The end result? All the social media assets will be viewed from one location, searchable, findable, with the ability to comment, without using a SMPR.
Many brands will get it wrong, it’s not just publishing
The one caveat is that brands will need to be part of the discussion that happens among these social tools, as what’s really important is the people that are talking, debating, and discussing what your company is announcing. For those that get it wrong, no one will subscribe, no one will talk about it, no one will ‘like’ it and spread it to their network. So be active in the comments, conversations, and an open manner.
I’ve not seen a single brand do this, but it’s what I expect to see in the coming months, let’s see if my prediction will come true.
I just visited a client who had several groups in their company doing quite a bit around social media (they are trying to answer the 4th and 5th question). They were what I call “walking” and were on the verge of “running”. Often, when I meet companies for the first time, I try to find out which of the following questions that they are answering, as it determines their level of sophistication.
As one might expect, brands in tech, media, and some consumer goods are more advanced, and finance, insurance, and sometimes government are trying to answer the first questions.
Five questions companies ask about social media:
What is Social Media?
For many folks, corporations, the question to answer was “What is a BloB”. Blogging was the primary tool that we saw in the marketplace, for some, it wasn’t taken seriously, for the savvy, they quickly adopted. We saw scare tactics from the threatened mainstream media, such as “Attack of the Blogs” and light of amateurisms, angry customers and crazies were painted. For many, we wanted to know what are these tools, how to they work, and what’s the impact. Early on, this impacted corporate communications, PR, and mainstream media.
Why does it matter?
As we’ve evolved, many were realizing the impact of exploding batteries, brand hijacking, and blog evangelism. Savvy companies were starting to adopt these tools, a few provided integrated communities that were scrapped together or built from existing platforms. For the majority, trying to understand why these tools matter to a business. In addition to corporate communications, PR, we started to see other marketing and business units being impacted by these tools, as well as adoption.
What does it mean to my business?
We’re here now. This is the year of ROI, measurement, and experimentation. Many corporations have deployed resources, headcounts and budgets. Corporations are afraid to make mistakes, so plans are created, and measurement is critical to help manage and prove the worth of new programs. ROI was proven, new social media measurement attributes were defined, and many new tools were deployed, I did what I could to further this industry (see all posts). In addition to Corporate Communications and PR, business units are starting to experiment with these tools, often out of the PR budget. A new role started to appear more frequently, the digital marketing manager, the community manager, the social media strategist.
How do I do it right?
Now that experimentation is done, and business units are starting to apply these tools, like advertising, PR, field marketing, and customer references, companies will want to do it right. Frameworks will be developed, consultants will offer packages, and a loosely developed process will be used. For companies that don’t have enough internal resources to listen, manage, and deploy, consultants will be a very sought after service. Nearly every brand will start to have an ongoing budget for social media, the new role to manage these tools will appear. IT departments will start to deploy enterprise 2.0 tools.
How do I integrate across the Enterprise
Normalization is happening, A checkbox for ’social media’ on every announcement, product launch, product development and support will be using these tools. Social media tools to listen, converse, collect knowledge, and build new products will integrate across the customer cycle. It’s not just external, intranets will start to deploy suites for collaboration, such as blog accounts issued to many internal and external employees. Product Teams, IT departments, HR, Finance, Executives, and of course Marketing will be using these tools.
Update: June 10th. I’ve scheduled 52 inquiry calls with clients since April 2008. Inquiry calls are 30 minute discussions with clients that want to pick our brains, and I tell them everything I know that will help them meet their business objective. While the range of questions wily varies, most are asking questions 3, 4, 5.
What question is your company, or your clients trying to answer, this is often a good post to send to your internal teams and try to trigger a discussion.