Archive for the ‘Web Strategy’ Category

Matrix: Social Technology Adoption Curve Benefits –and Downsides


Know The Upsides –And Downsides Of Your Adoption Behavior
Individuals and companies should be deliberate in their adoption strategy, there are benefits and risks to each category. It’s been interesting watching different group adopt social technologies over the past few years, I can see who benefits from being first –and the pains to be a thought leader of both individuals and companies.

Screen shot 2010-01-03 at 7.30.36 AM

Above, this is the standard Rogers Adoption Curve, it’s important to point out that my matrix below only is in context of social technologies, it will vary from technology to technology.  I found this take on the adoption stages of social technologies helpful in framing how I thought about the following matrix. I built this following matrix in the context of social technologies and adoption by both individuals and mixed in with organizations and industries.

Matrix: Social Technology Adoption Curve Benefits –and Downsides

Categories Description Benefits Downsides
Innovators These brave souls take on new technologies, trial them, then will often evangelize them. I’d put those that adopted Twitter in 2006. or any entrepreneurs that creates new technologies fitting into these categories.  From a corporate perspective, Dell was forced into this arena, and has benefited. Glory for being first, a thought and practice leader.. Will have learned from their mistakes, and have far more experience than any others. Will always be able to tout they were first. Very costly in terms of time, effort to find new technologies that are often flawed. Additionally, since innovation becomes cheaper and more accessible, this becomes more difficult as more entrants to the market launch products. Lastly, while these folks may be first for some technologies, they are often wrong for the many other technologies that did not take off.
Early Adopters This behavior is exhibited by those that try out new technologies in a careful way, often thought leaders. Some analyst firms like Forrester adopted early, and the Tech industry deployed social.  Agencies like Edelman, Razorfish have helped their clients. Learn from the failures of innovators, they reduce risk. Often they have the opportunity to explain how it works to others. Become the case studies that other groups follow Never first, and have to write the playbooks. They may adopt, but at higher costs than the majorities as the technology has not matured. Tech companies adopted social in 2005-2007 as an early industry, but a lack of measurement, and rapid tool change required great effort to stay current.
Early Majority Although thoughtful in their deployment, they adopt faster than the mainstream. in 2009, we saw industries like consumer packaged goods, finance, and healthcare adopt social technologies. I think of when mainstream Oprah joining Twitter as a defining moment as she was ahead of most celebrities and media. Technology starts to mature, reducing risk and costs. Standards emerge, although this group gets to help define mainstream adoption. Some of the cool factor leaves, and brands start to move in on social technologies, scaring off some innovators.
Late Majority This skeptical group only adopts when the mainstream does. Industries that only got on board with social when Obama, mainstream press, or celebrity adoption occurred fit here. Companies adopting in 2009 and beyond. Reduced risk from learning from who’s done it right and wrong, as well as benefits from standard proccesses, and consolidation of vendors. Not seen as thought leaders and don’t benefit from the residual buzz from being ‘cool’, instead come across as a ‘me too’./td>
Laggards Still cautions in deployment, even after the technology has become mainstream. These folks will adopt social technologies in 2010 or later. Cookie cutter deployment from standardization and very little risk.  Deployment may actually be faster and with less effort than those above. In balance with lower risk, lower opportunity for reward. No thought leadership, and little additional reputation or buzz value from the intended investment.

Matrix: Be Deliberate In Your Adoption Strategy
Each category has specific benefits and risks, but rather than just behaving in a way that comes natural, I encourage you in your personal and work adoption to be deliberate in your actions.

  1. Examine your organizations adoption patterns. First, define how quickly your organization responds and adopts to technologies, and factor into your considerations.
  2. Be a Category Ahead Of Your Company. If you’re responsible for new technologies at your company, your personal adoption should be a level or two ahead of the organizations adoption, as you cannot effectively deploy for your company if you don’t personally understand the impacts of the new technologies.
  3. Track The Category Ahead Of You. Find an individual that’s above your adoption category (the early adopter watches the innovator) and be sure to watch their behaviors and learn from them. Adopters are often blazing their own trail, and may not ever follow anyone.

My Strategy: Early Adopter –But Not Innovator
One thing is clear, being first doesn’t mean you’re right, in fact, the Innovators have a difficult time dealing with early and late majority, paving roads of opportunity for analysis, agencies, and consultants. As a result, I make a distinct effort to be an early adopter of new social technologies, but not the innovator, as I find I’d rather be more often right, and expend less energy trying to be first.

Leave a Comment. Share Your Adoption Strategy
Let’s learn from each other, I’d like to know about your adoption behavior and that of your company. Were you deliberate in choosing your adoption strategy? How does it hurt or help your company?

How Local Businesses Can Benefit From Mobile Social Networks


Local Businesses Can Benefit From Mobile Social Networks
The nearly mainstream social web is now evolving and graduating to mobile devices.  This emerging space of mobile-based social networks are empowering customers to find the best venues and prices, and offering savvy companies unique ways to cater to this new medium.  Yet, despite the emergence of applications like FourSquare, Yelp, and recently launched GoWalla, there are risks as customers talk directly to each other and opportunities for businesses who harness the tools.  Local businesses should approach the mobile social networking space by first listening to their customers, responding to commenters, provide special offers to advocates, and prepare for pricing to be impacted.

Mobile Social Network Offers Discounts Based On Location
Using FourSquare, a location based social network, I ‘checked in’ to the movie theatre indicator to my friends my location.  Immediately after the application identified my approximate location it offered a ‘special nearby’ which I clicked.  The Savvy Cellar Wine Bar offered me 50% off a wine flight to a store 2 blocks away. Using both my general location using 3GS on the iPhone and my explicit checkin to the location, it was able to serve up advertisements based on my physical location.  We should expect FourSquare to evolve and eventually offer advertisements based on your friends interests “John, Amy, and Allen all like Los Taqaritors, invite them now for a 20% off discount”.  Location based ads will soon connect with social information.

Catering To “Top” Customers Spur Word Of Mouth
The opportunities aren’t just focused on location based, but also provide opportunity for developing an unpaid army of advocates.  Take for example Foursquare’s point system, those who ‘check in’ the most to a location can become the ‘mayor’ of their particular store, indicating they’re the top customer.  Some savvy restaurants provide free drinks or other services to the mayor, who will continue to spread their affinity for a restaurant using social networks.   A few weeks ago, I spent time with Yelp’s marketing team and their community manager Connie who oversees many of the community facing events.  I learned that many local restaurants cater to Yelp Elite, and will likely provide them with quality service above and beyond, in fact, Yelp has launched a program for restaurants to offer a prix fixe menus for Yelp users. Expect to see Yelp’s mobile application advertise these special deals for Yelpers as they search for restaurants online using mobile devices.

Empowered Customers Check Prices In Real Time –Impacting Buying Behavior
Even if you don’t have a physical store, but offer a consumer good, consider RedLaser, which is a real-time bar code scanner that allows any phone to scan UPC codes and find them cheaper online.  This means that retailers with higher priced products may miss out as consumers can quickly buy it from a competitive store down the street or find it online.  If this trend continues, manufactures may shift their supply away from high-priced retailers to compensate for the change in demand.  (Thanks Andrew Hyde for the tip)

Innovative Market Dependent On Adoption
Despite the innovation, location based marketing and advertising has its limitations as it’s dependent on: total number of consumers with mobile devices, adoption of mobile social networks, and their desire to find location-based offers.

Key Takeaways For Local Businesses:
Local businesses should approach these mobile social networks in a four part strategy –not simply reacting without a plan.  Companies should approach this space by:

  • Listening In For Free Research. Local businesses should immediatly montior their brands on mobile social networks like Yelp and FourSquare.  Use this information as free research: find out the perception of customers opinions both good –and bad to learn about their market.
  • Responding To Reviewers. Use negative information as a way to improve products and services and let your community know you’re listening to their feedback.  Although there are always two-sides to any complaint use these same tools to respond to customers in public, but be sure to abide by the terms of service.
  • Rewarding Top Customers.  Customers that frequently patron your store and tell others on these mobile social networks should be rewarded.  Build both in person and online relationships with them so they’ll continue to advertise and market on your behalf.  Free drinks anyone?
  • Preparing for pricing impacts and positioning.  With disruptive tools like RedLaser appearing, customers can quickly find pricing of products and find them at nearby retailers.  Retailers like CVS, Walmart, Target, BestBuy, Safeway should take heed as consumers continue to become empowered through instant information.  Companies will need to respond by:  making product pricing more competitive, or offering other deals such as bundling, speed, time, or other value-based offerings.

Update: Here’s some screenshots, I learned how to take screenshots with your iPhone by holding the main button and power button.

photo photo

Companies Must Plan Holistically For Social –Beyond Marketing


Having just returned from vacation, (hence the break from blogging) I had the distinct pleasure of keynoting Silicon Valley AMA last night at Cisco’s Telepresence suites in Santa Clara. In my opening keynote, I had a specific message to marketing leaders in the valley to think holistic about social. I outlined some of the major impacts to other departments beyond marketing.

Companies Must Plan Holistically For Social –Beyond Marketing

PR and Communication: The first business unit to be impacted by social, these organizations realized and have adopted the rise of blogs as early as 2005, and in response, many have launched their own blogs, or are sophisticated in blogger outreach. Additionally, AR professionals are just starting to recognize the impacts of social as analysts are able to bypass traditional gatekeepers and talk directly to product teams using these tools.

Marketing: Whether it be corporate or field marketing, the impacts are far reaching to marketing. Marketing has had to become an enabler as anyone who participates in the company with social is now acting on behalf of the company. There’s been several instances of support mishaps that have become the domain of marketing.

Events: Whether it’s virtual or physical, events need to develop a strategy around social. Event teams need a pre, during, and post strategy, and need to join communities where they exist. I’ve outlined how events need to harness social into their strategy in this informative post.

Sales and Field: Sales teams have always been social, now these tools amplify their relationships and communications. Marketing must be a resource and educate sales teams how to appropriately use these teams, including teaching them how to listen, engage, and act professionally as they would in real life.

Sales Operations: Systems that organize customer data need to quickly ramp up and include social data. Information found in LinkedIn, and other social networks can be aggregated into customer databases such as CRM systems.

Partners and Channel Marketing: The opportunity to allow your customer and partner channel to learn from each other, syndicate your product content, or to quickly educate them is at hand. See how channel marketing can benefit from social.

Human Resources: Now, with websites like employees can rate their experience at an employer, and even gauge the quality of leadership. HR professionals know they must build internal communities to allow and encourage employees to connect to each other. They also should extend existing behavior guidelines or disclosure policies to include the social domain before a crisis emerges. Recruiters have been using social tools to find candidates such as LinkedIn, Google Searches, and scanning blogs.

Product Development: Engineering, R&D, and other product or service creation teams recognize that customers are talking about their products and making suggestions in websites such as UserVoice, or Linkedin or Yahoo answers and need to envelope customer feedback and factor into the product lifecycle.

Support: Client service teams must reach customers where they are (like BestBuy or Comcast in Twitter) to support customers, as well as use social tools within their own companies to provide an opportunity for customers to self-support each other, or develop a collaborative knowledge base that can be shared between customers and support teams. Support teams should fix their existing support issues –not just respond in Twitter as it teaches customers bad habits.

Executives: Often the job of great leaders is to listen and communicate. These tools amplify each of these behaviors and can be used to listen to employee and market insight, as well as communicate back to them. John Chambers, Cisco’s CEO has an internal blog in which he communicates to employees on a regular basis.

I certainly didn’t get every department and look to you to fill in the gaps for the opportunities and risks for those that I listed above or those I missed. A few years ago, I created this diagram of how social can impact the product lifecycle, it’s finally become relevant.

Leave a comment below of some departments that I missed, and the opportunities and risks to each.

Update: Kirsti attending the event, and has more notes from the presentation. She notes the changes that companies must prepare for: disparate websites, internal rebellions, and developing long-term plans.

The Three Spheres of Web Strategy –Updated for 2009


Web Strategy Spheres

I hope this is one of those resources you print out pin to your desk, and share with others. This is the core theme of this blog, the balance needed for successful web endeavors in organizations.

I originally posted this diagram in 2006, then updated it in 2007, and it’s time to revisit the core structure of the goals and challenges of a Web Strategist, especially as I reset as I change roles.

Who’s a Web Strategist? In a company, they often are responsible for the long term vision of corporate web properties. At a web company where their product is on the web, they’re often the product manager or CTO. Regardless of role, the responsibilities are the same, they need to balance all three of these spheres, and make sure their efforts are in the middle of all three.

1) Community Sphere
To be successful, the Web Strategist must understand (by using a variety of techniques and tactics) what customers and prospects want. Stemming from, ethnography, analytics, brand monitoring and primary and secondary research the end result should be a web experience profile and mental model.

Specific skills needed: Ability to understand and implement research, strong understanding of user experience which would include usability, information architecture. Ability to synthesize content from a variety of real time locations such as web analytics, customer feedback from support and surveys and communities, and an ability to be empathetic to customers. Above all, this strategist should be able to predict where customers will be in coming years –not just understanding of previous or current states.

Key Recommendations for 2009-2010: Focus on brand monitoring of customers in the social space. We’ve seen an increase in consumer adoption of social technologies which has caused a shift in where customers make decisions (not just on your corporate website). This is an opportunity to quickly identify who they are, what they want (and don’t want) and understand the language they use in order to reach them.

2) Business Sphere
Yet understanding customers alone isn’t sufficient, the Web Strategist must be able to achieve measurable business objectives. This leader must be able to first identify key stakeholders within an organization, capture their needs, prioritize, and balance into a plan that meets both their needs and the community. This delicate dance requires the strategist to balance the needs of a variety of internal teams, offset daily fire drills, yet meet the needs of the company. Many Web Strategists fall short here, they meet the goals and objectives of internal stakeholders yet fail to balance the needs of the community. The end result? A website where users rarely visit, and go elsewhere to make trusted decisions.

Specific skills needed: Ability to communicate within a company, understand and prioritize emphatically the needs of multiple business stakeholders and prioritize. This leader will also need to be a mediator and must defuse the assertive business stakeholders will cool logic and business acumen, as well as ensure the web team operates in an efficient operation. Management skills are critical here: project management, human relations, communication, and the ability to define clear concise goals based on dates for content and technical teams. Lastly, the core of the role includes skills in marketing leadership, advertising, media, product management and marketing.

Key Recommendations for 2009-2010: In many cases, the recession has clamped budgets down to operations with budgets coming from campaigns and business units to innovate. Where budgets are limited, learn how to use inexpensive technologies like community software, blogging, or status update tools internally –yet have a long term plan for how they work. On the external front, provide guidelines and resources to internal teams to use social before it cascades to many areas of the company without common framework –fragmenting the customer experience and wasting business resources.

3) Technology Sphere
Lastly, the Web Strategist should be an expert in their own realm of internet technologies. They’ll need to know the capabilities and deficiencies of their current arsenal of tools as well as adopt new technologies that are ever emerging. Leaders in this space often become complacent configuring current systems and forget to plan into the immediate roadmap new technologies that widen the breadth and width of what can be done. If the Web Strategist is performing the Community sphere correctly, they are already watching how the use of customers technology adoption is changing.

Specific skills needed: Ability to understand the workings of web architecture in the internet field. While they are not technical experts they should be able to understand the impacts of these technologies to the business and community. They should also be watching for emerging technologies and devote a percentage of resources to research and development for new technologies –never falling behind. The strategist should demonstrate skills of innovation, and experiment and practice with new technologies as they emerge first hand –but by keeping a focus on long term business objectives.

Key Recommendations for 2009-2010: Web Strategists need to prepare for a new set of connected devices that are quickly emerging. While social caught most companies off guard, mobile technologies within and outside of your company will impact how information is quickly shared. Start by analyzing related applications and mobile social networks in rich mobile devices such as Blackberry, iPhone, and Palm Pre.

To be successful, the Web Strategist must balance all three of these spheres. Becoming a master in each of these spheres requires incredible dedication, so the leader must rely on their team for input, actively seek out education, attend workshops, and read books on the various subjects.  Also, if this helps to shape your career, or you’re a hiring manager for this role, I hope it helped to define what to look for.

The community sometimes translates my posts, I’m thankful and am happy to highlight them here:

Web Strategy: How To Integrate Social Technologies with Virtual Events


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]

Traditional Online Events Vendors Recognize Impacts of Social
My focus on social technologies continues to spread to many verticals, industries, and experience. Virtual events, where companies host attendees through a digital online experience, continue to captivate marketers.  It’s good for attendees, as they can experience a virtual online event event during an economic downturn, and continue to rely on virtual events for making decisions.  Currently, I’ve been briefed by On24, Unisfair, InXpo, Webex, and have had conversations with GPJohnson (I lean on Kenny) a company that fouses on physical and digital events.  As virtual events continue to grow, expect them to tightly integrate social technologies.

Three Principles Of Modern Events
To be successful, virtual –and real world– event planners must abide by the following principles:

  1. Events should integrate with existing communities and social networks where they exist.
  2. Events should have a strategy that includes the before and after –not just during.
  3. 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 via @jowyang”

Report: Companies Should Organize For Social Media in a “Hub and Spoke” model


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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”)

How companies organize for social media
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.

Update: David Armano responds, and points out there can be multiple hubs and spokes in a single corporation. We’ve found this in large CPG and Tech titans, this model can work well.