Archive for February, 2011

Expand Your Social Media Mix: Twitter Alone is Not Enough


Escape VelocityIf you’re using Micromedia (Shish Kabob) tools as your primary tool for thought leadership, then your efforts are out of balance. Add longer lasting, higher impact, larger form content now (Steak) content to your mix now.

Your Mix Is Unbalanced: Twitter’s Limited Features are Overloaded. I’m seeing an unbalance in how individuals are trying to get the word out, and an excess focus on micro tools, resulting in some bad behaviors.

[Unlike Facebook’s intelligent sorting of news items, Twitter is at risk as users are rewarded to publish frequently in order to stay top of mind]

  • In an effort to publish “Shish-Kabob”, brands and individuals have forgotten about “Steaks”. There’s been a change in media consumption.  We consume smaller bits of information at greater quantity, and consume less long-form content.  Five years ago, over dinner, Steve Rubel and I saw this change coming in which we identified as a shift from media diets away from Steak to “Shish-Kabob”.  The challenge is, people and companies have shifted their social media mix so far to the left towards micromedia they’ve forgotten about long form content.
  • Tweets Lack Persistence, Thereby Quickly Losing Value. Tweets are hard to find after being published, and diminish even further over time. For example, Twitter doesn’t make it easy to see and find older tweets, (see how searches on my own company are limited to three pages only), so I believe that data that you publish there becomes harder to find, and therefore less valuable. The net: If you’re investing a lot of time into Twitter, you are not wisely investing your time.
  • Conundrum: To Stay Top of Mind, People Tweet more, Resulting In More Noise. While Lists are nice, and good nuggets won’t always arrive to the top of the stream, and as a result this encourages people to post the same message over and over to stay top of mind (and stream).  As a result, the way Twitter is designed, those who publish the most (or get RTed the most) can actively stay at top of mind.  Of course, there’s a limit, if you cross the (publishing too much rate), people may unfollow you.

Mindset Change: Rebalance Your Social Media Mix
Taking a page from Chris Brogan’s suggestion to re-evaluate our efforts, I see so many people out of balance with their media mix, it’s time to rethink.  Next, recognize that that there’s many tools at our disposal (and new ones arriving like Quora, for global Q&A and Namesake, Path for personal use) and they all have a different purpose.  These tools have stronger use cases for thought leaadership, archiving content, sharing tools, and connecting tools –Twitter is not longer enough.  While every tool has a strength and weakness, and it’s important to use them in an integrated fashion.

Fix Your Menu: Insert Longer Form Content “Steaks” Into Your Mix
Here’s a sample of tools that individuals and companies should be integrating into their mix on a regular basis, in fact if you Tweet more than 20 times a day, you should have just blogged.  Not just publishing tweets or linking to your latest corporate press release, I’m listing these tools from the top of the marketing funnel, down towards the more important call-to-action point.

  • Appetizers: Source information in Q&A sites and Communities. While the primary use case is for these tools allow for individuals to ask questions and get answers, they are incredibly valuable in finding out where you need to focus your research, thought leadership and product roadmap.  Use these tools not only to learn, but trigger discussions, share your own knowledge, and then identify contacts to followup with.  Also see online communities where your customers are already located, like brand communities or IT Communities like Spiceworks, one of our clients.
  • Entice The Market: Infographics are the New White Papers. I frequently say that Infographics are the new white paper, they spread further and are consumed by more people.  Infographics are a key way to convey meaningful data to short consumption types, and are easy to spread to blogs, tumblr blogs, and FB wall feeds.  See how Jess3, a design firm that specializes in creates these, and how a variety of brands are using these to get their content into the space.
  • Feed the Information Starved Slideshare Community. Slideshare is a thriving community to share content, in fact, when I publish research reports (like this one), and webinars there they can get up to 40,000 views and 4000+ downloads.  This tool has a thriving community already built in, so releasing higher quality content there makes a lot of sense.  Be sure to use their embedded video Zipcast tool during launches of content.
  • The Main Meal: Your Blog is an Central Platform, Use it Judiciously. Use your blog as your master archive tool, to collect information.  Remember, while all content loses relevance over time, blog content is easier to find, and is centralized in a location closer to your own owned domain or URL, not lost into the ether.
  • Finish With Dessert: Videos, While Limited In Consumption, Have High Engagement. See how Scoble uses videos to capture thought leaders in his interviews, these are longer form content that requires a lot of focus, but if you’re engaged, it’s the highest fidelity distribution on the web as you can capture a portion of the non-verbal communication. Or listen to this podcast interview I did with Jennifer Jones, it only takes a few minutes but it’s permeant archive.  The downside to both video and audio? searching for the video content is difficult as the verbal words aren’t often translated into metadata, and because we’re shifting to a shish kabob media diet over steak it makes it difficult.

To Regain Balance, I’ll focus on Fewer Higher Quality Tweets, and Less on Quantity.
Twitter, while low cost to the user, makes sense as a quick broadcasting tool, but those that are trying to use it as their only thought leadership mechanism are missing out.  Two years ago I began an exercise in self-control and took nearly 3 weeks off from Twitter, but this time, follow along, as I will use Twitter sparingly, in an experiment to find how media continues to evolve.

Social Business: It’s like the Internet in 1997


Although Naked Conversations (2006) and Groundswell (2008) were published a few short years ago, it feels like the case studies took place eons ago. The case studies in these books echo what early companies have done to move the needle forward from Dell Hell to Dell Swell, Lego product innovation, Microsoft evangelist blogs and beyond . Yet fast forward to 2011, it’s still amazing to realize that social business (formerly called social media marketing, formerly called social media, formerly called citizen media, formerly called business blogging) is still very young.

How young? Well, in our Nov 2010 report on the Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist, we surveyed 140 enterprise-class corporations and found out that the largest segment of respondents have only had formalized social media programs (beyond just experimentation) for 1-2 years. Fast forward to Feb, 2011 It starts to average just about 2.5, hence while we call 2010 the year of social business formation. It’s really early friends, in fact if your company has deployed social business in a formalized way today, you are early pioneers. In fact, I like to use the metaphor it’s like the Internet in 1997, companies are just starting to deploy their corporate websites in a formalized way –not just from the spare latitude under the IT guys desk –in many companies there are now internet groups that manage the corporate web properties, it’s a an official career.

Duration and Maturity

Just to emphasizes, most companies have only had formalized social media programs for 2.5 years, this space is just starting to green shoot. In fact, a majority of the respondents were currently in marketing, but I know the business decision making will also spread to the support teams, product innovation, then supply chain. If your company has formalized your program (find out what companies are spending on), you have staff, headcount, budget, and are organized in hub and spoke or multiple hub and spoke you’re way ahead of the majority of companies, you’re a pioneer, and hats off to you.

Webinar Recording: Rise of Social Commerce (with Slides and Report)


Last quarter, Altimeter hosted a conference on The Rise of Social Commerce, in which we release a research report based on interviewing dozens of companies who are integrating ecommerce with social media. This post has three embedded components: 1) The recorded webcast from a few weeks back that contains many of the examples of how companies are integrating –as well as how they have to change their internal structure. 2) The associated slides, which you can download from Slideshare, 3) The report that has the four phases and deeper data points for those that need to dig in. If you’ve any questions, feel free to leave a comment so our lead analyst Lora Cecere (who stems from supply chain) can respond, or follow her on Twitter.

Rise of Social Commerce from Altimeter Group on Vimeo.

Rise of Social Commerce (Webinar)

View more presentations from Jeremiah Owyang.

Klout for Business: A Useful Metric –but an Incomplete View of Your Customer


Special Treatment of Select Customers Isn’t Anything New
Just as companies have been treating wealthy customers, or customers who are more likely to spend more with preferential treatment, there’s no surprise that some companies plan to segment customers based by influence.  As more consumer data appears in social media channels, relying on influence metrics like Twitter followers to blog readers will help companies identify those that can hurt or help the brand on a grander scale.  As a result, companies naturally will seek a standard measurement for measuring influence.

Businesses are Relying on Easy-to-Understand Klout for Finding and Prioritizing the ‘Elite’
Klout, is starting to integrate into many digital touchpoints.  From hotels in Vegas offering special services to those with high scores, to a growing range of services that Klout is integrating with, and even politicians, the service is starting to grow.  In fact, I just learned that social integration and curation vendor Echo is already helping some clients sort which content appears on the corporate website based on their Klout score, see their documentation to learn more. Just last week, we learned that Klout is starting to integrate their service right into using browser extensions.

Relying on a Single Metric is Dangerous
In fact, this interesting case study below shows that Kenneth Cole’s Klout influence increased significantly during the Twitter debacle, as Klout fails to take into account sentiment measurement –just raw reactions and network growth.   See this image and read my additional comments on the photo.

Kenneth Cole's Klout score skyrockets during Egypt Fiasco --yet without sentiment data, Klout scores are an incomplete view.
Above Image: Kenneth Cole’s Klout score ascends nearly 30 points during his self-inflicted PR disaster.

While Useful, Klout Offers Significant Insufficiencies:

  1. Alienating your mainstream customers in desire to serve influentials. Careful when using Klout to segment customers priority, while high scoring Klout users may appreciate the ego boost –anyone with less than the ideal number of points may quickly fall out of love with your brand if you display elitist behavior. No one likes a ‘better than thou’ unless they are the ‘thou’.
  2. Consumers will game the system –reducing validity of metric. Expect many people to start gaming the Klout systems, in fact I see some ‘influential types’ tweeting over 200 times a day to try to hopefully raise their Klout scores, which just ends up annoying their followers.
  3. Klout is not representative of a customers real influence. Currently, as I understand it, Klout only siphons in content from Twitter and Facebook if the user allows for FB connect.
  4. Without sentiment of the influencer –the gauge is incomplete. Klout lacks sentiment analysis, so true opinions of what’s being said about the person may be ill-informed, see Kenneth Cole example above.
  5. Relying on this single metric alone is dangerous. as Frank Eliason of Citi (formerly Comcast Cares) indicates the “sleeping comcast technician” was uploaded by someone who had practically zero prior online influence.
  6. Influence is not a gauge of true buying potential. Perhaps the most important point is that influence scores don’t necessarily impact the revenue or customer satisfaction of your brand to your core set of customers. While we trust Scoble for technology choices, relying on him for the latest in landscaping design may be a mis direction worth avoiding.

Recommendations: Brands Must Factor in Relative Influence –not just Absolute Influence.
The folks at Klout have done a good service to the industry, but I must warn against blind enthusiasm to note that a single metric is not sufficient.  In fact, a single metric, like Klout’s 100 point scoring system applies well for Absolute influence (global influence) it’s unable to provide Relative influence, or influence related to a specific market, like baby diapers.  For example, Ashton Kutcher who has very high absolute influence, has relatively low influence when it comes to bio-engineering or pottery arts.  As a result, brands need to recognize there are more than one type of influence required.  As a customer strategist you must factor in both forms of influence before making a decision. Learn more about the various types of influence, NPS, and what the ideal metric would look like Remember, there is NO “Standard for Influence” –every market is different.

Companies must not rely on a single score like Klout alone, but develop their own formulas to factor in a variety of influence metrics that relate to their specific market

I look forward to the comments below: How should companies gauge influence? Also, see the SCRM pioneers thread on this topic. Update: Joe Fernandez, the CEO of Klout left a comment, kindly read.

Zipcast: Beyond Social, Disruptive Technologies to Watch


There’s more to disruptive technologies than social to watch. In fact, we’re exploring a variety of new disruptive technologies, to see how they impact business, culture, and customer relationships. Slideshare has released ‘Zipcast’ a no-download video+slides technology that allows anyone to give a ‘keynote’ speech to an online audience in real time. Due to travel schedule, I was unable to produce my own, but Altimeter’s Charlene Li presented her viewpoints on disruptive technologies to watch –and those to ignore. Listen in below or go right for the slides.

Now, back to you: What disruptive technologies should we be exploring in our research agenda?

Strategy: Five Steps to Achieve ‘Escape Velocity’ –and Finally Stay out of the Social Media ‘Help Desk’


Escape VelocityOur November Report on the Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist (it helps to have read that first) yielded some surprising findings: these business decision makers are struggling to scale to meet the growing demands of customers and internal business units –while maintaining a very lean team.

One stark reality we learned about the compounding demands is that Corporate Social Strategists are now realizing that they cannot scale: in fact every time we respond to customer complaints in social channels we reinforce that they can get our attention by ‘yelling at their friends’ in public.

They have no choice but to quickly develop scalable business programs, which we call “Escape Velocity” or be rendered in a role that is responding to every fire, and cleaning up messes from ill-fated programs started by Business Units (BU) that lack experience in what is called the dreaded “Social Media Help Desk”.

[As demands from customers and business units compound, the corporate social strategist is at a crossroads: they must scale their program or be relegated to sanitation in the social media help desk]

In my keynote presentation last week at the Social Media Strategies Summit, I presented to a few hundred corporate social strategists some real-world strategies we’ve gleaned from those before them on how to scale and be proactive. Here’s five of them:

Strategy: Five Steps to Achieve Escape Velocity –Stay out of the Social Media Help Desk

  1. Get Proactive: Give Requirements to Business Units –Before They Ask. Many strategists told us they were afflicted by last minute “Give me a Facebook page now! Our campaign launches Monday, if you don’t do it my niece is all over it!” As a result, a proactive stance is required, the strategist must give a list of requirements to the Business Unit before they ask.  This list of requirements should include items such as: Understanding of social media, awareness of current policies, commitment to long-term efforts, a promise to engaging in the tough conversations with customers, tools and resources required, business plan, and understanding how to measure.  By providing these requirements before the BU asks, the strategist can pre-empt last minute requests, and guide stakeholders into a business program with order.
  2. Get to Hub and Spoke Now. We learned that most corporations that are novices in social business were in the ‘Centralized’ formation, then quickly moved to ‘Hub and Spoke’ a scalable formation, if you haven’t, read our latest report on social business maturity to learn more.  The strategist who leaves their organization in the distributed or centralized formation is at risk, as they cannot scale through uncordination or lack of resources, accordingly.  As a result, strategists should quickly move their company into the ‘Hub and Spoke’ model and then Multiple Hub and Spoke formation in rapid succession. Here’s one rich pattern we found during research to quickly end up in the Hub and Spoke model with the strategist in the middle:  start with Governance (policy and executive buy in), then quickly develop a triage and social media Process (see how the US Airforce has developed a blog triage), then immediately launch an ongoing Education program that includes internal sharing and external experts.
  3. Become an Enabler for Business Units –You Can’t Deploy All on Your Own. You can never hire enough community managers or run all the programs for the dozens to hundreds of business units and stakeholders within your company.  Social technologies are designed to be easy-to-use, and therefore implemented by the non-technical.  In order to scale, you must relinquish control over implementing the programs on behalf of the business units, and instead teach them how to roll out their own programs in a safe, and scalable manner.  Yet, don’t expect this to happen overnight, significant hand holding, education, best practices, vendor short listing, and technology support will be required on your behalf.
  4. Deploy Scalable Go To Market Programs –One to One Social Media Does NOT Scale. That’s right.  Social Media does not scale, and don’t let anyone fool you.  The logic stands that your customers will always outnumber the amount of talented community managers you can hire.  As a result, one to one social media programs cannot scale.  As a result, you must invest in programs that leverage the crowd and technologies.  These programs include communities, advocacy programs, Social Media Management Systems (SMMS), and investing  in SCRM initiatives. Update: In the comments Esteban Kolsky points out that automated social media tools will be another choice, see this post describing the benefits and drawbacks.
  5. Quickly Deploy Programs Beyond Marketing –as the Duration of Your Role is Limited. One of the fascinating findings from the report was learning that if these Corporate Social Strategists were successful, they’d work themselves out of a job as social media permeates the organization.  While most strategists are currently in the marketing department, they must quickly think beyond PR and move their programs to support, product innovation, then supply chain management.  The opportunity here is to quickly grow ones career to serve the entire customer lifecycle beyond pre-sales.  Don’t expect your marketing management to appreciate this broader view, but remember that customers don’t care which department you’re in, they just want their problems solved.

Use these five strategies now, to ensure that you stay out of the social media help desk and establish scalable business programs.  Remember, the demands are about to compound exponentially, you must achieve Escape Velocity as soon as possible.

(Attribution: Image from Nasa’s Marshall Space Center)