Friday, November 30, 2012

Love in the time of Social Media

What do people love about social media?  When you live like an insect in the weeds you often don't even stop to think.  In fact, you are usually simply checking out the weeds from this vantage point day in and day out.  And I would argue it doesn't matter if you are a strategist or a market maker, if you live inside the bubble you will lose your perspective quickly.  So it made me think a little, since I would imagine those who read what I write are focused on the subject, about trying to get on the top of the trees a little.
If you ask anyone involved who works in this space, they might say they love social media because of the opportunity, or because it is a bright shiny new object and most would say because they feel connected perhaps.  These are all reason that cutting edge flies find innovative honey.  I believe the reality of this post is less about why people love social media and more about why they need to figure out how to love it.  My experiences are telling me that there are more reasons we don’t like social media as much as we do.  And I am not being negative when I say this, I am simply trying to go beyond evangelism and more towards practicality.  In fact, the best way to sell a new idea is learning to live in the mind of those who resist.

So firstly, what are the reasons that people need to figure out how to love social media?

Reason #1 – They have to.

This is me being the master of the obvious.  All the naysayers are finally coming to terms with the idea that social data is not going down, is becoming more relevant day by day, and is helping their consumers/customers make decisions.  Social is simply a reality now.  And I am sorry I have to write this paragraph, but if I didn’t this wouldn’t be a thorough enough post.

Reason #2 – Fear is the mind killer and their minds are at risk

One of my favorite politics of innovation principles is this; great innovators are often successful because they have encountered the desperate.  In social, there are many desperate executives, managers and workers being told that Reason #1 is valid and they are now desperate.  It doesn’t matter that they want to resist, slowly but surely the social media borg are taking over and they are trying to wrap their mind around something that is forcing them to change way faster than any “fad” they were afraid of in the past.

Reason #3 – They have had a near death social experience

Their reality is their experience and they love social because they have been burned by its fire.  If reason #1 is true and they are scrambling to get their mind around it, then having a true experience when it bites them is enough of a reason to learn to love it.  This would also fit into the encountering the desperate, but those who have been burned and lived are now more logically thinking through what to do to avoid having it happen again.

And secondly, what can you do to help those who are learning to love social media that they are safe?

So what can you do to accelerate those who are merely learning to love social media to become those who actually embrace it the way they need to?  As someone trying to help others understand why to buy something that lives over the horizon, it is imperative to learn how to find their sweet spot.
If we agree the reason’s above are true as to why others must learn to love social, then you need some weapons to help them get there.  Below are a few thoughts gained during my experiences living within the corporate monolith for 15 years  that always helped an intrapreneur succeed in gaining investment in the adoption of new ideas.
In my experience, great innovators are often successful because of 4 different drivers.  These include, data, power, influence and personal drivers.  Each of these drivers has sub drivers that helps you “read and react” in any situations.  These are different than the rules of thumb I described before.  I would say that the art of helping those who are learning to love is founded in these “success drivers” and how you use them.

Success Driver #1 – You’ve encountered the desperate (Influence Driver)

I know I mentioned it, but for someone who is resistant to doing something new (which your organization has many of these) this driver is the most helpful at getting the proverbial “quick hit”.  One can never underestimate the power of someone who really needs you; the desperate.  This sounds like a negative, but in some cases, helping them when they need you can help create new allies WHILE getting your new idea embedded in the organization.  As stated in Reason #2, the entire organization is become afraid of ignoring social, so in essence the company could become desperate.  The trick is to find the people within who are opening their minds.  This leads us nicely to Success Driver #2…

Success Driver #2 – You have strong standards of legitimacy (Data Driver)

You are working with someone who is starting to see the light or has simply been burned (the desperate), while they are going to be susceptible to your ideas, remember they have been resistant in the past.  You can’t simply go running into their office wild eyed with big new ideas.  Chances are no matter how much they are “desperately” trying to love social media, they got there by being someone who is “sensible”, prides themselves of taking “calculated risks” and understand “how things are done around here”.  You need to bring something concrete in your suitcase.  It is the essence of negotiation; strong standards.  What does this mean?  You have a strong experience based example that will align with how they thing about things.  In negotiations your rationale for your proposal for influencing someone is based on having a strong standard or simply put a reason you can point to for proposing what you are trying to get away with.  If you can help your client, who is learning to find the passion, feel safer because why they should adopt social is not terribly far from where they live, you can get them to try something new.

Success Driver #3 – You have created Hierarchical Cascade (Power Driver)

What the hell does this mean?  A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I was charged with making new prototypes for cleaning products of all things.  And in this job, I didn’t own the product launch, I didn’t own the interaction with the customer, I didn’t own the message when the idea launched.  Frankly, I didn’t own anything.  My skill was my ability to come up with new ideas and imagine what a person cleaning their floor would do.  Then I had to come up with a bottle of juice so compelling that it met the needs of the person launching it to the market, it met the needs of the person trying it and it allowed the person marketing it to say what they needed.  When I had so little power at the bottom of the consumer packaged goods food chain, I learned something very quickly.  If you can adeptly reach very high within the organization to demonstrate value to a decision maker, everyone in your way can quickly become “agreeable”.  Now everyone says that simply makes sense, sell high and you will always win.  I would caution anyone reading this to tread extremely carefully using this success driver.  Why?  Because it can quickly destroy all your tools in the last success driver (personal drivers) if done callously.  Innovation is absolutely about trust, transparency and collaboration.  Going around everyone can quickly leave bodies in the road that will leave a stench few will soon forget.  I bring this success driver into the discussion because of the nature of my reasons at the top of the post.  Follow my logic a moment.  Social media is here to stay and thus the organization, the leadership and the operators have to accept it.  This truth leads to people being afraid and makes them unsure what to do.  And this truth for those who are little late to have been burned by social to know they must do something.  Hierarchical Cascade is about knowing within the current landscape that someone high up is dealing with their new love of social, so the path to senior executives is going to be a pull.  Your opportunity to use this success driver has never been less dangerous.  If your CEO is dancing with their new passion for social, they are going to be looking for those they can trust to help them.  Leverage that shit…and don’t look back.

Success Driver #4 You have professional Credibility AND You have strong allies/relationships (Personal Drivers)

Ok, you are looking for a desperate ally who you is open to listening to new ideas using a historical that is in charge of making decisions so you can cement their “new love” of social.  Now you have found them.  Your ultimate success will be founded when you deliver the goods.  You are there because you work in social and have the credibility to make the recommendation.  Don’t blow it.  But I have put two success drivers here.  Why?  Because now that you have climbed the mountain to drive the change you will need support from someone to make sure you can play defense as you execute.  This is where the second driver comes in; strong allies and relationship.  We know that success has many parents and failure is an orphan.  Well you have just created a situation where parents will be running around everywhere trying to own your effort.  You ability to bring about the needed change after you hear Go will be about the strength of your village you build once you get going.  You are at the top now.  You are enabled to try something that will help everyone else “love social”.  Don’t forget to bring along your friends for the ride.  Going it alone is way less preferred than having everyone else win too.  It will make your ability to create hierarchical cascade way less dangerous in the future.

I know many of my posts seem a bit off kilter.  They vary between examples and theories and thoughts.  What I can tell you is this.  As an evangelist, many people simply dismiss our success as not being scalable because we sell on the merits of our passion.  Thinking this is a mistake.  Driving change is definitely an art, but to me it is a science too.  Why do I believe this?  Because after fighting the battles others are not willing to take on, the similarities in each situation from a cultural perspective are eerily similar.  This is what social media is about today.  It is not about whiz bang tools, great pitches and even decks with recommendations that result at the end.  If it were only about these things then the question about tangible ROI would be much firmer than it is.  In fact, if you think about it to a change agent the ROI question is their worst enemy because sometimes you don’t know even when you see.

Social media is about cultural adoption, creativity and collaborative innovation, NOT ROI.  It will be soon and has started to be over the past 12 months, but the free for all that exists is evidence of this.  And to bring it home for this evangelist: the fact that the market is unbalanced between pushing its message harder in a social media wind that blows back at you like a hurricane (because there is so much content every second) is evidence enough there is much change that will happen.

And as I like to say…change is my business and business is good.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's your fault they don't understand social...

I spend a lot of time trying to convince people about what it takes to understand and get value out of social media.  Actually, I spend all my time doing that.  But long before I spent time trying to spend others to adopt a new data set with new methodologies that add "tangible value" to their business, I was just a simple change agent.  And before that an innovator.  Why is this important?  Because social media is merely something new for a change agent to hang their hat on.  It is the rush of driving the change that gets me excited even more than that tangible value.  And more than the change is learning from others.

I figured I would take a little time to reflect (AND CONTINUE SORT OF) my last post.  Link t>o that post here ==> X.  In this post, I really see that it will take a village of thought to push the final wave over so everyone is aware of the water bearing down on them.  

But that is about the market.  It is not about what you are agonizing with each and every day if you work in social.  Whether you are working in social within a large organization, in an agency selling social services or at a vendor like me trying to implement the change, it is a tough road to hoe.  In fact, it is often downright maddening.  I would bet dollars to donuts that even if you have the so called D (decision) on how to implement your companies social media program, you are still beating your head against the wall fighting to get them to understand.  I will get to that in a moment.  Below is your social media cultural reality in business. I call it a cultural conundrum, and have been discussing it in my travels, but I think this graph that my good friend Bob Ciccone put together frames it perfectly..

Simply put, we as consumer trust social data to make decision, business people don't and if you are selling social in a business environment, then you are going to face this cultural conundrum consistently.  There will always be someone too risk adverse to drive the change.  And those people love to hide behind their way of doing things, the process, the money, the ROI, their power....and the list goes on and on.

I have a number of posts on the politics of innovation.  I have had the privilege of working inside large companies innovating from the bottom, middle and the top with little budget, people or authority.  My experience with the politics of innovation are based on guerrilla tactics and warfare with a major twist of culture based focused.  

To follow up my last post with has everything to do with being humble about what I know versus the market, this post is all about helping transfer that humility with a few simple politics of innovation rules of thumb. 

Politics of Innovation Rule of Thumb #1  :  It's your fault they don't understand

Think about that a moment.  If the graph above is true (which no one can deny it isn't right now), they why can you get people who use social to apply to business.  Because you need to own convincing them, not the other way around.  You need to recognize that those who resist don't get your approach.  They simply don't believe and that means if you own the change you are doing a good enough job helping them understand.  I live this everyday in my quest as a change agent.  I am constantly frustrated about what I sell, but I ALWAYS know it is my fault they don't understand.  It is a principle to live by because it builds fortitude and helps you hone your humility and methodologies.

Politics of Innovation Rule of Thumb #2:  The Concept-Approach Principle

A while ago I was debating with my boss about doing something new and when I left I just couldn't get my head around why he wouldn't do it.  We were saying the same thing, but he wouldn't budge.  Then I realized something very powerful.  There is the concept and the approach.  They are two different things.  The concept is what and why you are trying to do.  The approach is how you are going to get it done.  I realized we had agreed on concept but not approach.  If it is your fault they don't understand, then you need to think about why they might not be moving.  Do you disagree on concept (social is not valuable) or the approach to getting it integrated (what resources, process and actions must be created to make it work)?  Start here and you can save yourself lots of heartache because you can prepare better.

Politics of Innovation Rule of Thumb #2:  Know thy Client

Ever been in this scenario.  You can work with someone on an opportunity that can grow the business by $1B but they are a jerk or work on one that is $100M with a trusted ally; who do you work with?  I learned a long time ago that knowing your client is as important as the growth opportunity.   Too many people focus more on the size of the prize versus the partner.  This applies to your social media implementation goals.  You are trying to get others to buy into new ways of doing things, know who you are going to do it with.  Pick your partners wisely.  Work with people you trust and can build ideas that are simply beyond ROI.  Yes this is critical, but not the end all in change.  Change is about getting people to believe in your idea and then do the experiment.  They will sell it when it succeeds.  You own getting them to see, but they own getting others to see.

I want to keep this short, but if you are really committed to making it happen you have to be humble (as stated in my last post) and always blame yourself when it doesn't go the way you need it to.  

There is a delicate balance between Ego and Humility.  In fact, I would argue that if you are balanced between the two you get Confidence.  You must champion is your job, but if you can blame yourself when it doesn't go well, you will come out the other side way more confident in your ability to make it happen then if you simply sit around saying people just don't get it.

It will allow you to don't just stand there but do something rather than the less preferred way of don't do something stand there....which is why people often fail to make change real or better yet even if it is adopted it is doesn't have the impact you want it to..

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Humility of "Pundit-cy": A Social Media Explorer Experience Revisited

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at Jason Falls Social Media Explorer Conference.  We have known each other for about a year now and he is a very inspirational guy because of his wide purview of social media.  In fact, he has been much of the inspiration for my "4 pillars" model because he helped me think more broadly about the marketplace as a whole.  My quest is to continue to learn everyday, everywhere I am.  With a goal of always being collaborative, it is relationships with people like Jason Falls that help widen my ability to serve my customers and the social media market.

I have been to many conferences in my time working in social media (and in my past lives in innovation and chemistry), but the content shared at Jason's conference was head and shoulders above what I have seen.  It wasn't merely about a simple use case focused on an organization.  This conference was packed with people pushing the boundaries of where social needs to be.  It was the cutting edge of the cutting edge because this group is passionate about the social media market and where it needs to be.  I am proud to have met many of these folks and I look forward to continuing collaboration.

@andreacook best summarized the conference with her 8 points and takeaways from the 2 day event.  Rather than simply go into detail.  I feel she captured its essence perfectly.  If nothing else, I would say you should consider talking to folks like these to make your programs better, smarter and more cutting edge.

8 takeaways from Portland Explore Link Here

The point of this blog post is quite simple.  I find that the further and wider I look, the more people I find who know so many vast and wonderful things that make our own thoughts even better.  As we all work to help make social media not only mainstream but integrated it takes a village to get there.  While I feel my own thoughts are helping people better understand how the concept of pulling data from social before you push your message is a critical component to a successful social media program are important, they are merely an island in an ocean.  This is the great irony of social media.  All of our own thoughts we push out are just a drop of water in an endless sea (who can resist a good Kansas quote).  But oceans are vast and as we sail along them long enough we find other islands with different cultures and ideas.  My experience last week in Portland was definitely being around people who are part of a tribe that is working to coalesce the important ideas that can change the corporate landscape.

I guess this is what I would call an ode to the humility of "pundit-cy".  The more I learn about social media, the more I learn what a challenge it is to be heard across the noise.  I is what I preach.  We must pull to push better if we want to be heard.   As in a world where data is a commodity of sorts and methods by which someone gets heard are every moving like quicksand, we have nothing but the partnerships we have across what is growing from a social media solar system into a social media galaxy until it becomes the size of a social media universe.  And in a space that vast, any pundit is merely the meekest whisper in the largest cacophony that ever existed.

Gang...thanks for a mind opening experience and for the collaboration now and in the future....

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When social meets sustainability...the LITTERATI movement

Everyone wants to make it big in social.  And as we think about the spectrum that is social business there are many ways to make it.  You can be bold in your idea by serving everyone.  You can fill a gap that others don’t see.  You business can focus on being for the consumer directly as successes like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter are.  You can focus on driving to create a solution that helps businesses serve their customers or partners like social listening or social marketing platforms do.  No matter how you slice it all these ideas contribute to connectivity in the world of business and between individuals.  But where is the social change.  Yes, Twitter has successfully innovated its way into this idea with the mobilization of people towards events like the Arab Spring.  These are I believe unintended consequences of brilliant and innovative applications of a novel invention.  But where is the effort to pinpoint the greater good in your social solution.  They are out there I guess…Kickstarter helps microdonate to inventors, but in reality this is another form of venture capital for products that in most cases are about getting rich.  And by the way there is nothing wrong with getting rich while doing good, just look at my hero Gary Hirschberg, owner of Stonyfield Farms, he uses his wealth to do good.

Recently I came across a concept that is bigger than us all.  I had the privilege of seeing my very old friend Jeff Kirschner a few weeks back.  Jeff and I grew up together and knew each other as mutual acquaintances who ended up together all throughout high school.  It so happens he and I live about 20 minutes apart now.  In the interest of seeing my past, we met to catch up.  After the perfunctory where have you been discussion (which I cherish greatly), we started to talk about his new idea. 

It is called Litterati.  (

What is Litterati?  It is more than a merely a brilliant idea.  It is a movement waiting to happen.  And the story of how it came about was as fascinating as what it is trying to do.  Jeff shared with me that one day he was jogging on a trail with his daughter when they came across a full jug of cat litter sitting on a hill.  As they stood there in the Oakland hills taking a breather, his daughter looked at him and said, “Daddy…that doesn’t belong there does it?”  As he stood there looking at the jug of cat litter, he thought to himself how wrong it was.  After pausing for a few moments he looked back at his daughter and replied, “No, it doesn’t”.  And rather than do what most of us would do, which is simply move on about our day disgusted at the callousness of some idiot for putting it there, Jeff went deeper.  He looked at his daughter, he looked at the jug, he thought about the future and he picked it up.  He took it off the hill and removed it from where it stood.

I bet you are thinking right about now, so what?  He did what any tree hugger would do.  He removed the trash, cursed the idiot for doing it and was a change agent in the way we wonder if a tree falling in the forest makes any noise if no one is around.  But that is not simply what he did.  He took it farther.  Way farther.  Before he picked up that cat litter jug, he got nutty…real nutty.  He pulled out his phone.  He booted up instagram and took a picture of it before he picked it up.  And after taking that picture he created a new hashtag; #Litterati.

The Litterati Concept

Why was this step so important?  Because at that moment he started a socially conscience movement that requires engaged and connected activity.  You see, after he picked up that jug of litter, Jeff took it upon himself to pick up 10 pieces of trash a day using the same process; find, shoot, tweet, move on.
Why am I writing about this?  Because Jeff Kirschner is challenging all of you MEO’s to be a MEO for the planet.  He is asking anyone who will listen to change their behavior and rather than simply walk by the trash and throw it away to mark it down socially.  Why?  Because if we all changed our behavior a little bit, we could actually map the trash.  We could map all of it.  It would take the stupid concept of geo-caching to new heights.  And if you ever met a geo-cacher you’ve met one too many. Their never ending quest to find small vials in the weirdest place like behind the toilet in a chick fila restaurant, you know what commitment to an social idea can be.  We could know where people are being responsible versus irresponsible.  I mean for crying out loud we stop and tweet the stupidest personal moments to the world hoping to be noticed and listened to.  And frankly people care about when Kim Kardashian gets a smoothie.  Why can’t we care enough to call out where the trash is?  Why can’t we take it upon ourselves to bend over to take a picture rather than snap it standing up?  Why is taking a moment to do something you know is right AND leverage technologies’ ability to know where you did so hard?  It seems simple…but it requires change.  So I ask you…why can’t you get engaged in help the Litterati movement?

You have all changed your behavior to live inwardly on your phone, why not take a moment to live outwardly by noticing when some jerk has littered the planet?  Why not help us know where it is, how much is in certain places so we can all put it where it is supposed to be?  And rather than be a do-gooder no one pays attention to, we can be a do-gooder who is trying to socially connect everyone to the needs our Earth is crying out for; attention.

I believe Don King summed it up best in the 80’s film Head Office when he said (paraphrasing) his big idea was not about white power…it wasn’t about black power….it was about GREEEEN power (skip the part about money).  I am talking about geometric progression...2, 4, 6, 8, 16 the numbers boggle the mind...All he was asking was people get off the dime and get the show on the road.   Now he was talking about money, but the idea still stands and frankly makes sense.

And who would ever think that Don King would be a visionary of why we must all embrace Jeff Kirschner’s epiphany on that hill and the birth of a movement called

You can see Don’s most legendary moment on film here…(LINK)

Enjoy the DON….listen to his wisdom…help do your part to save the plant one photo of trash at a time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The maturation of social media analytics

In the last post we discussed the pillars of social media and the questions a buyer should ask its vendors when buying.  This is useful because the language discussed levels the playing field a bit.  I have included these questions if you didn't read my last post.

The post is here...(link to post)
The pillars and their corresponding questions...

But how does this apply to the market itself?  That is a more interesting question and one that needs a historical perspective.  In many of my posts, I have often written about the time analogy.  To simplify it (you can find it in many of my other social media posts) one has to think about the maturation of the social media analytics market as a march to high noon.  When I started in this PULL part of the market it was midnight.  This was about 2006.  As different market events have occurred the sun has come up.  In fact most of my posts would suggest it is about 930AM now.  Dawn hit late last year when people actually went from arguing about even buying analytics tools to deciding which one they would buy.  As people have grown more savvy and bought various tools, we are seeing cycling.  930 arrived when people decided to move beyond simply worrying about features and working in silos to actually collaborating to have a social media analytics program.  But how is the market actually maturing.  I would argue it still is.  And by my account there is a long way to go.  Analytics is still trying to find its way and companies are still pondering the ROI of their investment.  It is an age old business question.  Below is a model that I use to think about the maturation of the market.

Below is a description of the 4 pillars listed above and view of how the market is maturing. 

As I have described how you can ask your vendor about the 4 key areas of development, we can also use these "pillars" to describe how the market is maturing.  I will actually discuss next how this applies to the sophistication of an organization social media analytics program, but today let's just discuss how those buying are speaking and where the majority of that market lies.

Before the FEATURES PERIOD:  Before 2009

In the early days of social media analytics, people literally laughed at this idea.  In fact, many couldn't even imagine garnering insight from this data.  The owner of the company that I recently worked at, in is old fashioned and often wrong wisdom,would call it a really dumb idea.  He swore that the companies were the only ones out there marketing their message to everyone.  It was a lie.  I used to smirk at him because that is the closed minded way to look at things.  The rise of data changed that...the rise of twitter and facebook brought about the need to look at what the data said. The question at hand is how would we pick what we used to see what the data was saying.

The FEATURES PERIOD:  2009 to Late 2011

With the rise in the amount of data, came the rise of tools.  In the first phase, or the Features phase, it was all about what you could measure and how much data you could measure. Companies who were new to this idea would buy whatever tool made sense in terms of its ability to "show" them things.  They didn't think about content or whether there was any data quality; it was all about tracking trends.  Radian 6 did an excellent job during this time, because they built an engine that showed the PR function what it needed to know.  When things go wrong, what is the movement of the data.  In fact, they mostly wanted to be able to engage.  I would argue actually that this use case had little to do with analytics and everything to do with "marketing" away the problems because you could know what they were saying and tell them it was going to be OK.  This seems a little harsh to say, but a recall based use case (meaning show a trend from every piece of data regardless of quality) is one that is basically unsophisticated.  The features period was important because it established the fact that trying to make sense of the content was an important part of building a broader social media program.  It is clearly the foundation of true analysis, but in the early phases people mistook the ability to measure something with the quantification of a action.  Unfortunately, if you focus on features you are missing the depth the data from both a completeness and accuracy perspective.  The features based organization doesn't ask questions about is it all the data or how good is the data...they simply care if you can see the numbers of some set of data.

The CONTENT PERIOD:  2012 to ????

Today we are in the midst of the content period.  The rise of this period is clearly refreshing because there has been a greater evolution of most companies social media programs.  This period is the admission that I need to know as much as I can about as much data as I can collect.  I need the Twitter firehose so I don't miss anything.  I need to be able to see what people are saying within this massive data.  And most importantly, the features of my solution have to help me separate the wheat from the chafe.  It brought about looking globally at the social data (what languages do you have). It is bringing about the expanded desire to segment and understand all channels (facebook, twitter, you tube...).  As far as the content period is concerned, companies are really testing their tools.  They are choosing.  They are regretting those choices.  They are fixing that problem, by choosing another.  But people are still looking for the elusive ROI from the social data.  They are still stymied as to how they should apply the data to more use cases within the organization.  They are still more interested in having their fingertips on all the data and ways to slice that data.  But to make informed decisions with the data, companies need two things.  They need to realize that tools don't solve the the problems, but the process by which you apply them does.  The second is that if you have poor data it is really hard to make a repeatable decision.  The content period is a great leap forward in social media analytics because it acknowledges that completeness and thoroughness are key factors is knowing.  The question remains is when the market will skew towards the need for accuracy.

The ACCURACY PERIOD:  When will it come?

This is the question on my mind.  When will this period truly start?  I see the seeds of in the major partners I work with.  They are showing signs of thinking very comprehensively about their platforms now.  But how will this period of analytics be defined?  For one, it will be about creating meaningful correlations within the data to truly know you are making good decisions. It will help validate the value of social data.  I believe companies will be thinking harder about pulling content rather that simply creating it.  The rise of application and solution based thinking will overrule a single tool or dashboard to give you the answer.  Accuracy is what analytics requires and as we move into this phase the power of social can be tapped.  The questions I have for anyone reading this are these?

1.  Do you believe having every tweet is more important that accurately knowing the emotion behind it?
2.  Are you looking for solutions that accurate help you understand what the data says rather than that you have all the data?
3.  Are you considering whether your talent is more interested in creating content or accurate informing those who create content what content they should be creating?
4.  Do you consider solution based social analytics to be bigger than any single tool?
5.  How are you challenging your company to consider all the angles of how to build a holistic use case library that really impacts your bottom line?

The market is still evolving.  I challenge myself everyday to understand it more.  The greatest thing about emerging ideas is they are rife with the seeds of learning.  The more we challenge ourselves to think broadly about a problem, the faster we can invent ways to leverage the opportunity.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A view of the social media PULL marketplace

Over the last several months, I have had many epiphanies about the social media market place.  What I find amazing is how if we keep searching we never stop learning about things.  And simply put, just when you think you can't come up with something more interesting we usually do.  It just goes to show a person, that if we focus we can learn every moment if we so choose.

Why write about this?  Because humility is the mother of learning.  Why?  Because if we think we know everything then we are paying attention to how things connect together and ultimately we miss things we don't know.

For years, I spent time thinking a great deal about creating insight from social media data.  When I first came across the idea in 2006, it just made sense.  I stumbled upon this cool form of data and a new way to think about it.  To have the world's largest focus group at your fingers tips makes sense.  And off I went trying to find ways to PULL social data to learn.  Way back then I used it to help my company understand the consumer in a 2 week acquisition cycle. Social data was used to help enable a 900 million dollar acquisition. I used to help bring clarity to the launch of 150 million dollar new brand.  We were able to find out things a team of 40 couldn't using traditional methods.  And the list goes on an on until I became one of the many voices championing social data as a means of understanding.

In a post a few back I talked a lot about the idea of social media push and pull.  Essentially, I realized that most of the market is pushing content out into the social data maelstrom while a smaller group is pulling it first to understand what it means before they push.  The slide below highlights this breakdown and idea.

Those who push are mostly driving engagement, message and interaction.  This is e-marketing.  It is building your brand online.  But as I have written, why don't people think about pulling first before they push.  If they pulled and understood what people were saying, then they could create new insights, really probe for ROI and try to track and correlate the social data to their message.  And while most would say, "I do pull!".  I would question it.  For instance, I check everyday whether people read what I write.  And when I get 150 people in a day I am happy.  But do I really know if you are actually reading this or simply come by for a glance.  The metrics are too light and not deep enough.  This is were understanding is key.

We all know there are many companies (mine included) in trying to convince you they are the best at understanding.  I won't argue that point today.  What I want to discuss is how to think about the tools you are considering buying.  Everyone is a salesman and as someone who helps sell new ideas, I have learned one thing.  Stay on the balcony.  As I think about all tools that are claiming that they are the best at understanding the intent of consumers in social data, I realized there had to be a way to discuss any tool that was out there to help people think through how to compare them.  My job is to think about how social can change the business landscape.  It is my first I say change is my business and business is good.

How do I think about social media analytics' tools?  The slide below includes 4 pillar of social media tools.  They include FEATURES, CONTENT, ACCURACY and INFRASTRUCTURE.  Each pillar is accompanied by a series of questions that one might ask about the solutions they are thinking of buying.

Why break it up this way?  To make it easier to think about how to break down someone selling to you.  While they are high level, they do represent a way that you can ask your potential partner how they handle the things that are important you.  Each pillar can be dug into further.  You can, for instance,write down how you want your solutions to present the information.  These questions are what I face each day selling and when I can thoroughly answer these questions for perspective customers I can win the day.

Do you think about all of these or merely one of them.  If you are buying social media software that helps you understand all that content, thinking about only one pillar is not enough.  You need to think about all of them.  If you have a solution that has great features but nothing else, how can you make good decisions of you don't have all the data you need, the data isn't accurate or they don't have the infrastructure to change at a pace that is sufficient to keep up with your needs over time.  As I sell if I am thinking how to answer any question that one may pose to me, then I cannot thoroughly do my job.  The same goes for you.  If your vendor can't convince you they have all the bases covered or a plan to do so, then you are doing your job either.

As you think about buying new social tools?  Do the 4 pillars help you???

More to come on this I is helping me think about you too....because turn about is fair play.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Does the consumer pundit rule over the real ones?

In that last 3-6 months, I have had the pleasure of working with many folks in the public relations groups.  Having spent most of my time in the product development area among other places in the organization, it is always a pleasure to learn new things from new people.  To this end, bringing the concept of social media understanding to the public relations process is a thrill.

Why?  Because when you can impact a process and show others how to do their job in a different way, great things happen.  And those changes are not only focused on improving their process, but finding new ideas that are totally groundbreaking.  As a change agent nerd (really...if you saw what I put together on the plane recently it would cause you to run from pure geekyness), it is the essence of the change point that is most exciting, because beyond the impact to the business lies the insight that drives many other ideas that are of value.

Today what caught my fancy is the idea that in real time understanding, is the virality more important that the story it is linked to?  What do I mean by this?  Well, in traditional news (as a layman looks at it), an event is reported on by someone and everyone reacts to that report or expresses how they feel about it.

A great example of this happened last week during the debates.  As I sat in a New York hotel room listening to them, I frankly was bored to tears.  It really felt like trench warfare.  Two guys sitting there quoting stats, essentially trying to win style points clarifying their political positions on why they are better.  It was painful.  I really couldn't take much from it.  And while I was suffering waiting for the President to simply ask his opponent which guys was standing there on the stage (the right winger of the fall or the left winger of the moment), I have to admit Romney's vigor was higher.  And while I try to be non-partisan, this debate to me was more of a tie.  And not because Romney was not showing spark, conviction or even out energized the president, but because I was bored to tears hearing details that I knew were potentially bullshit all around.  And as I sit there with my layman's hat on, I couldn't make heads nor tails of it.

Then it ended and as always I flash to CNN to hear my favorite pundit in the world weigh in.  Who is it?  David Gergen.  He is my political reporting hero.  He is by far the most neutral, insightful and tell it like it is kind of guy.  He is ALWAYS be my barometer.  He speaks the truth in a non-partisan way and he is someone of high integrity in his analysis (a guy I want to have lunch with...because that type of passionate neutrality is gone from politics...hello Hannity and Maddow).

And boy did he weigh in...he took it to the president.  He called him listless and said he blew his opportunity.  The pundits piled it on.  And on and on.  Then the poll came out.  And as usual I sat there wondering, what was going on in the real time world of unfiltered social.  Before the pundits spoke, what was really happening.

Below is a look at the BEHAVIORS expressed by people on line on Twitter during the debate.  You will see that according to data below, Obama won with this crowd.  Which surprised me based on the pundits language is that Obama actually won (at least as expressed during the debate).

Why is this interesting?  If you take your political hat off for a moment, it suggests something way more profound in my opinion.  Typically, we watch a group of 20 swing voters powerpressing a button as we watch the debate.  Or we quickly get the results of a scientific poll conducted through the phone right after the debate.  And while these are both interesting methods, we are actually look at 6 million comments that happened in real time and are unfiltered other than sorted and classified by their sentiment.  Which is a more scientific method.  Sure you could say that there are more liberals online...but that is bullshit.  I have watched the net sentiment for both candidates for weeks and I can tell you that after the republican convention, Romney got a huge bump.  And for the past several weeks, Obama has been kicking his ass UNTIL people saw the debates AND watched the news.

It was at this point that the sentiment really changed as driven by the news.  Does this mean I am saying that the news swung folks as to who won?  No.  I am not.  I believe that Romney did win because of the reasons stated.  But what I am questioning is how the purity of real time expression during a crisis, event or other is becoming a really unbiased barometer of something going on.  I used the political example because this is a case where emotion is expressed in real time.

But what happens in a business situation when something happens first that is not emotionally charged?  What happens when your business nemesis goes public with something and the news picks it up?  What if you you know the news is going to report something and you want to see whether it is an issue.  When you can't see the news because the social response is faster.  What am I saying?

I have started witnessing events where the latency of processing news is slower than the public response of  Twitter.  We saw this during the Osama bin Laden raid (my favorite tweet of all).  Meet Sohaib Ahtar...the man who beat the news.  While this is an extreme case of someone truly beating the news.

So what is the point?

I guess I am asking...which response is real?  The response that is pure or the one that is influenced.   Either way the game is changing and we need to figure out who is controlling who.