Archive for the ‘Word of Mouth Marketing’ Category

Timeline: Corporations in the Collaborative Economy (Ver 2, Oct 2014)


The longest graphic in the history of my career is embedded below, some mobile devices may not properly render.

As the Crowd Economy Rises, Brands Seek to Collaborate
We’ve been tracking corporations in the Collaborative Economy, and released version 1.0 in April, 2014. Now, as we approach the Crowd Companies members-summit in NY next week, we’ll be dissecting and analyzing the different deployments large companies are rolling out to participate in sharing, marketplaces, as well as co-innovation with makers. The scope? This collaborative or crowd based economy continues to rise (study, and daily numbers), and therefore corporations are adapting their business models to adjust to this peer-to-peer commerce movement.

Below Graphic: Frequency of Deployments
Since our initial tracking in Feb 2013, the frequency continues to increase. Since April 2014, we’ve found 27 new case examples, some that were before April 2014, but most were after. We’ve updated the following frequency chart to show the consistent deployment. It appears March was a slow month in terms of deployment (we do see a lot of conferences that month) and we saw a heap of deployments in August, which were due to Uber’s API partnership with several brands. We only counted the large brands like United, Hyatt, and Starbucks for the Uber API deal, as some of the others were smaller startups.
Frequency of Corporations in the Collaborative Economy Ver 2.0 (Oct 2014)

Below Graphic: Timeline Shows Each Deployment
The below timeline contains many of the deals, partnerships, deployments of corporations in the collaborative economy, using the same data set used in the above frequency chart. A great deal of these deployments are partnerships with startups, but we’re seeing many companies launch their own initiatives, which is a signal of corporations starting to invest more in these programs. There’s over 30 deployments in 2014 only, and most are partnerships, aside from Verizon launching a sharing service, starting with cars, and Walmart enabling game exchange.

The Future? Tracking will be Challenging as APIs Accelerate Exponential Adoption
It is my assumption that it will be nearly impossible to track this in just a few quarters. Since Uber has launched an API, expect Lyft and Airbnb to follow suit –resulting in Facebook-app-platform like adoption across the industry.


Altimeter Book: ‘Open Leadership’ the Next Phase of Groundswell


Open LeadershipIf you’re a catalyst for change within your organization, this book is for you, you should buy several copies for your organization today.

I’m proud to be part of the next generation of Groundswell, my business partner Charlene Li’s book ‘Open Leadership’ hits the shelves today.  If you want your management team to accelerate their thinking for your social business programs, this book offers insights, examples of how other leaders have embraced these technologies, internal audits, checklists and even ROI formulas that the C-Suite demands.

Like the prequel Groundswell, Open Leadership stems from solid research and yields real world use cases.  For those of you that are managing existing social business programs you know how the biggest challenge is causing  a culture change to happen from inside out.  One of the key levers in your business program will be to obtain executive buy-in in order to bless organizational change –without it, you’re plane can truly never leave the runway without great risk.

We work closely with many of the world’s social strategist’s a corporations, and know that the biggest challenge is a cultural change of letting go to gain more. This book, is a useful tome of knowledge that can accelerate learning within your executive suite. Use this book to quickly find examples of how other leaders around the globe are adoption social technologies in order to gain more.

I’d also like to point out, from an internal point of view (having worked with her a few years now) that she truly lives and embodies the spirit of being open. She ‘let go’ of a lot of control of the company in order to make it a partnership, and is always open to our eccentric ideas. Aside from being a thought leader in the concept of Open Leadership, she lives it within her own company.   I was previously involved in reviewing Groundswell before it was published and joined the Groundswell team, and am very proud to be back again working closely with Charlene here at Altimeter Group.

So, if you’re already investing your career to catalyze change within your organization, add octane to your efforts by getting your team, and executives moving faster by ordering a case of Open Leadership now, rarely do I ask you to take action and buy anything, but I ask that you do so now

Open Leadership Resources

Update: Thanks to you, it’s working, it’s now #10 on Amazon and #6 on Barnes & Noble as best sellers.

Slides: Real Time Web Is Not Fast Enough– Three Strategies For Business


I’m about to present at LeWeb, Europe’s largest internet conference with this year’s focus on “Real Time”.  With information moving even quicker, there’s a new strategy needed for companies to adopt.  Since the accompanying slides are best used with narration, here’s the gist of my presentation:

Real time data is exploding at a rapid pace with the influx of status features and mobile devices.  This brings new opportunities for people to get information when they need it and opportunities and the companies that want to provide contextual information.  Yet, despite the opportunities, most companies are unable to keep up with the “Slow time” web as it is.  In fact, those that can’t keep up risk missing opportunities, or worse –heading off detractors before they become mainstream.  To best leverage real time data, companies must adopt three strategies:  1) Start listening now, and quickly offer social personalization features, 2) Develop an unpaid army of advocates who can respond when you’re not there, and 3) Start to invest in systems –like social CRM– that can support their overall strategy.

Looking forward to sharing more on this topic as it develops during 2010, I’ve written more about this topic and the intention web.

Also, thanks to Carmen of Rexi Media, who is a great coach on presenting, her resources for presenters, such as the iPhone app are helpful for any speaker.  Update: Here’s a video of my presentation.

How Customer Support Organizations Must Evolve


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.

Get Actionable: 
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.

News Feed Optimization in Facebook Overated


A few weeks ago, Facebook thought leaders Dave and Justin identified and shaped the term News Feed Optimization. Sadly, (or gladly) we suspect it has already jumped the shark.

[With the release of Facebook’s open widget platform, marketers are jockeying for position on the prominent News Feed page, savvy Facebook fights back, but deep down, we know the battle never ends]

What’s News Feed Optimization (NFO)?
It’s an evolution of social media optimization where a clever developer will maninupate a Facebook application so it appears more frequently on the Facebook News Page (essentially a Feedreader). The opportunity? viral growth from massive network awareness.

Facebook is a savvy company, already aware of the massive opportunities that applications can grow and amazing rates. Aware of the tricks of clever application developers, they’re preserving the user experience by limiting the power applications have to ‘spam’ out over news feeds.

Kevin Chou, CEO of Watercooler, a Facebook application company I advise (well, just until Sept 30th) tells me that:

“News Feed Optimization is overrated today. Sure, in the first three-to-five weeks it was a strategic lever, but then Facebook responded to general news feed overload and reduced the impact of application news feeds. Today, NFO only works when both users have the same application installed, thus limiting its usefulness for rapid growth”

Also, Facebook is continuing to optimize and recently articles suggest they ‘punish’ spammy applications, so some notifications have been decreased to protect users. It’s important to note that when a user installs an application, it’s default behavior updates their entire network.

Still don’t believe me? Want to start a career as a NFO? well then is for sale, would make an excellent buy.

Hungry for more social networking industry news? I’ve got the thing just for you, I publish a weekly digest of the social networking industry for those who don’t have time to scour the web like a mad web strategist.