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.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In your facebook! you social media demographic is staring you in the face

As I continue to espouse the need to think about how social media pull needs to become part of the dialogue, I figured I would continue to create some thought starters around social media pull and how it relates to doing  a better job with your social media program.

In my last post, I created a "scenario" to think about changing how social media campaign management could look if folks were more interested in understanding content along the way towards doing a better job of "pushing" the right stuff to the right places and to the right people.

I thought I would tackle a different way to think about Facebook.

Typcially every company prides itself on its community management efforts when creating and maintaining their FACEBOOK FANPAGE.  In fact, there is great debate about how important this is to a successful social media program.  There is tons of evidence that each fan is worth some amount of money and how important interacting with you community is to making your business run.

I won't call bull shit on this thought...I think it is valid, but I would have to argue that in my adventures around the social media landscape people really have no clue as to what value this really provides.  In fact every single metrics tool I have seen for Facebook is really just a lot of cool stats with little to no depth behind them.

For instance, I have been quoted the social media riot act by many digital people when they talk about their PTAT scores. And I have to ask, "they may be talking about this, but do you know what they are really saying and whether it is positive or negative?".  The answer is usually a deflate no we don't but they are talking about it.  How can you truly measure the impact of something if you have no idea what the nuance is.  Statistics that move when you do something is definitely a response, I won't disagree with that, but insight comes from understanding not movement.

So what if you could "understand" not only that they were talking about it or commenting about it, but really know overall whether your captive audience was speaking positively or negatively?  Wouldn't that bring the insight you need to do a few important things?

#1 - understand your audience
 If you can tease out what they like or dislike within this conversation, you can really start to think about the cause and effect of you creating content for your community. Instead of driving an unstructured dialogue you can listen better so you can know what they want to talk about or are responsive to.  Knowledge is power and understanding is part of that equation

#2 - Control the dialogue
If you could understand your audience you can actually now "drive the discussion" in an informed way.  This is the value of pulling from this captive audience gets more valuable when you can start a "listen and learn loop" with your community.  By pulling (and understanding your audience) you can better push to drive the messages you want and then learn and loop from there.

#3 - Know your consumer target
This is an important one.  There is a ton of discussion around using social media to make sure you are talking to your target audience (or consumer demographic in business).  If you can actually make sense of and then control your fan audience you are actually talking to your consumer.  Couldn't it be argued that your Facebook Fanpage audience is your target demographic.  It doesn't matter what their age is or where they come from...the point of a fanpage is to talk to people who love your brand.  And this may be the biggest secret...your fanpage is your demographic and understand the captive dialogue is the path to a real time understanding of your consumer all the time.

Now this brings me to the point of this post.  As a use case, many companies are trying to figure out how to better sell to their customers.  So you have a sales team and the are responsible to sell products or services to these customers.  I used to be the customer and I had many suppliers come to me telling me they understood my consumer and I used to laugh.  With social media understanding and the ability to look at a FanPage, a sales team can easily study their potential clients core consumers to be better prepared to sell.  It is the ability to look at a meandering demographic day by day to really track what is most important to the consumers of your customer.  This is a sort of slam dunk way to be better prepared to sell using social media pull as a method.

The question is who hast he technology to really understand what is in that captive audience.

Stay tuned....the answer might come soon.....

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Being PULLY so you can way more PUSHY

One of my great blindspots over the last year is my focus on talking about social media from a minority perspective.  What do I mean?  As described in an earlier post, there is social media pull technology and social media push technology.

The post Links are here "link 1" and "link 2"

This segmented view of the social media market is something that opened my eyes to the fact that my conversation with the world was very lopsided.  And while I am definitely fluent in social media pull language and technology, I am not as fluent in social media push.  And where there is awareness, there is learning.

In fact, a great moment in clarity happened this week.  We recently hired a very talented new person in our company.  As we sat down to get acquainted, I started to share this idea of push/pull with her.  As I described to her this idea she stopped me and told me this simple concept was very helpful because since starting at our company she was feeling lost as she learned what we are doing.  She then told me that she had been working in social media for a long time, but wasn't quite sure why our language sounded so different.  As we talked, she confirmed for me that she now understood the difference which would help her think through this problem because now she could see why.  It made me tell her, I need to learn your language as well.

In order to further crystallize this methodology of thinking about social media push/pull, I thought I would take a couple of use cases that people think about in their social media lives and bring this concept to bear with some thought starters on how to make it work.

In my work, I hear a lot of different use cases that are interesting to folks.  They include such things as campaign management, new product innovation, B2B selling and issues management.  I will start with Campaign tracking and do the other ones in other posts to come.

Let's pick them off one at a time...

Campaign Management - People always ask us if there is a good way to manage campaigns, because people are looking to understand their social media ROI when promoting their brands.  We can all agree that a campaign by its nature is push marketing whether it is social or not.  The mistake people who are not well versed in pull social media make is when they want to measure their campaign effectiveness they tend to stop short of really pulling key information to help their campaign.  They usually want to pull the metrics of their launched campaign.  This can include tracking buzz, sentiment or other simple volume based metrics.  They never really go deeper the way they now can.

How about a new scenario.  You are about to launch a new campaign for your brand.  Before you even design it couldn't you take the time to study where people are talking about your brand.  You could study where the most positive sentiment is on what websites.  This PULL would allow you to more accurate target where you PUSH your message.  In fact, when you are searching for the where, you could actually figure out what they like or dislike about your brand on that particular target.  Armed with more information of where they talk and what they like or dislike you can now craft more targeted message in the place you now push.  You single messaged campaign could be segmented across a similar but targeted social geographies (website etc).  Now you launch the campaign in a different way.  Because you can understand using PULL the reaction in-flight you learn that of the 5 customized and targeted campaigns 3 of them hit the mark as you expect, but 2 of them do not. In fact 1 of the 2 could use the message from one of the other successful campaigns.  Now because you studied it in flight, you can adjust and adapt to make sure the message you want hits your target in their soul.  After it is over, you can track and measure what went right or wrong.

Where is the ROI?

The ROI is founded in the simple fact that by first understanding where to push and what message you could push, you have the power to really understand what is important rather than simply hope.  Yes you know your consumer, but the cost to do so is so much higher when done traditionally versus simply using social media analytics to learn.  So you have probably saved money using social versus traditional means.  Second, figuring out yourself quickly and inexpensively where people are talking about your brands as well as elements of your campaign allows you to more effectively tighten your message and deliver it where it counts.  One of my big complaints about PUSHERS is they have lost the notion that they are simply pushing more and more content to a world that is creating it faster then they are.  Do a search sometime on topics similar to or around your brand.  You will find that in your space no matter how big your brand is, it is still a small part of a much bigger conversation pie.  And lastly, by learning more quickly about the success of your campaign you can take those learning and more quickly create the next more successful campaign without waiting weeks for the traditional measure to tell you your effectiveness.

The disconnect is no one's fault but as I learned in the innovation world...

If you don't have clear operational definitions then you will simply be saying two different things.  Pushers and Pullers don't speak the same language and because of that the ability to use social media data is severely diminished because no one is looking at the total picture...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What is a Chief Evangelist? Besides CRAZY!

I have been thinking a great deal about the following question...

What is a chief evangelist?  I am one (at least my card says so), but what the hell does this really mean?

Here is a scenario that I live through every day now.  I meet someone (it can be at home or at work) when I inevitably tell them my title/role (either by giving them a card or telling them my role) they do one of three things

1.  They laugh with a smirk like my job is bullshit
2.  They are really interested and curious
3.  They are actually envious because my card is cooler than their card (which is a funny reaction to me).

The reality is this.  I work in a role (and have my whole career) that is mushy, squishy and for many an easy way to totally dismiss the value we try to bring everyday to our work.  

In fact, I often will react to all of the differing reactions to try and defuse the awkwardness by saying, "I don't know what it means either, but that's the title they gave me."  My response is to try to bring jokey clarity to  to the moment.  What moment?  The fact that people are trying nicely not to admit they have no idea what I actually do in a role they can't fit into a traditional box.  And as I have learned for many years, when people don't understand it they often ostracize you or ignore what you can do to help.  Jeez, I have had people I am interviewing for jobs questioning why they are even talking to me at the beginning of the interview because if the title can't be tied to legitimate revenue generation in a way they understand it, then the person must be a laughing joke that no one pays attention to.

For is my career.  I have lived on the front end of the business since I started in it.  I have held following roles over 15 years.

New Products and Technology Scientist (the easiest to follow)
Technology Broker (Huh?)
Open Innovation Networker (Squeeze me?)
Global Vice President of Innovation (How the hell do you measure that?)
Chief Evangelist (Hardy har har).

I am clear on what I do, and now I understand that it is my fault they don't understand the wacky path my career has taken me.  In fact, I have bubbled it down the following way.  I am two things an Innovation Navy Seal and a Muse. 

Innovation Navy Seal - I like to land on the beach before the army gets there, use my specialized skills to identify the opportunity to take the beach so I can guide the army onto the beach successfully.  I don't need much help to figure out the path, but to actually take the beach I need the resources the army brings so they can successfully take the beach quickly and with limited casualties.  If I were in charge of the beach everyone might die, because I can't manage the  details of actually taking the beach.  After giving them the path to the take the beach, I leave for the next one.

Muse - It is fun to be part of working with partners to provide a different spin on things.  You are there to help partner to make it bigger, broader, and different.  You don't own that decision, but through strong relationships you help work to see things collaboratively that are usually missed.  You help partner to make ideas bigger and better with the knowledge your partner has but you don't.

I am digressing.  Why write about this when talking about a chief evangelist?  Because it needs a definition that helps one avoid the laugh...

Here is my definition based on my experience doing weird jobs for many years.

A Chief Evangelist is the CTO of the marketplace.

After two years of doing this job, it has become clear that this role is very important to help shape the direction the market is going.  It is not about shaping the market from a business perspective as much as a cultural one.  It is about working with both the sales function, the product function, the marketing function and the services function to understand what helps create new deals, what makes people say yes to them and ultimately what it takes to manage those deals once they are signed.  It is about bringing the needs of the customer to the development of the product with recommendations focused on bringing the greatest total value to the greatest number of customers.  It is about helping be part of sending the message to the market by shouting out the wonders of your offering and how it helps create and do unique things for the market.

Being a Chief Evangelist is about helping people see over the horizon why this new idea is worth investing in, why it is worth doing so with your company and why you are going to help them champion this new idea across their company.

Being a Chief Evangelist is about being willing to push the envelope on behalf of your partner by standing next to them when they fight within their organization as well as with  your own organization.  Without your support those who believe in change need the help of someone who understands not only what that change can bring, but why it is important and how to show people where they must walk to get value from it.

Being a chief evangelist is helping coalesce the needs of the market with the efforts of your organization.  The market speaks one way and you are responsible to make sure the market's broad descriptions can be prioritized and discussed in your organization in a way the brings the maximum revenue growth.

Being a chief evangelist is about showing others the skills they need to more successfully convince others why they need to buy into the change your company is selling.

Being a chief evangelist is to have a thick skin for those who simply think that careers are something that are made up of roles and not based on the skills we acquire.  For many years, I have built skills as the center of my efforts and figure the roles will find me.  As an evangelist, I am a change agent who works to bring tangible value to any situation that it is needed.  I want to own the start (Innovation Navy Seal) but not the implementation.  Why is that more valuable?  Because the market is constantly changing and to be the best navy seal one can be we must live on the edge and not on the beach too long.

I have been given career advice for years not to talk about being an innovator or a change agent because it scares most people off and makes them believe you are not valuable and full of fluff.  While I agree this has definitely been a challenge for me in my time in Corporate America, I ignore it.  Why?  Because there is a need for those interested in the challenge of working at the front of the funnel.  And while I never dismiss the advice that one needs to bring tangible value, I am finding that by focusing on building the unique perspectives and skills to take on these difficult roles, one is able to bring change faster and tangible value more quickly.

More concretely...How does an innovator describe what they do at the highest level.  I give credit to a very inspirational man, John Jenson (link here), who helped me when I was down.  He helped me define what I do...

Here it is...

All companies have two things; their products and services they create and their balance sheet.  You need one to drive the other.  Between these two incredibly important things is a hole.  This hole is filled with things like culture, processes and new ideas.  All of them build both your products and services and the balance sheet, but when you don't have them you end up having a mess.  A change agents job is to make sure that hole is filled and a strong bridge is built.  I work on making that bridge strong and unassailable.

A chief evangelist does the same, only for a companies' products and services that are constantly changing for a balance sheet this trying desperately to gain a foothold so it can grow. 

Being a CTO for the marketplace is as important as being a CTO who builds great technology for the marketplace.

Without a Chief Evangelist and a CTO you could run the risk of being to slow in a market that moves faster than ever....

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The elusive social media ROI - Pinteresting!

We are all trying to figure out how social can actually help drive business.  It is a problem on the tip of everyone's tongue and while people are often clamoring for the answer, they continue to blindly do the things they do because they now have to.

No one ignores the impact of social.   It is becoming impossible.   What is impossible is the human resistance to getting out of the box about how it applies to what you are doing.

In my last few posts I have spent a ton of time expanding what I am learning by bringing the concept of push and pull into the dialogue.  This realization that so much of this ROI discussion continues to be about creating content as opposed to learning from it something that I believe must stop soon.  Why?  Because without thinking about the picture in a total and complete way it is like trying to go from zero to 180 miles an hour in five second with a scooter as opposed to a Ducati.

Just like everyone, I am on the hunt for ways to apply social in a meaningful way.  A while ago I wrote a post about why we won't see the dotcom bust again (post here).  In this post, one of my key ideas is what the rise of twitter and facebook brought about the ability for individual nanocapitalists (what is a nanocapitalist?) to be able to easily and freely market oneself.  I got this idea from watching my sister.  She is a world class photographer who is continuing to successfully build her brand through the free marketing she does on social.  She was a wizard at drumming up new wedding clients using facebook.  She blogs consistently about what she does that is special and now...she has unlocked value from a place that everyone is struggling to understand.

What has she unlocked and been able to articulate...PINTEREST.

Yes...pinterest.  I have to say...and maybe it is a guy thing, but I don't get it.  I still don't get it and frankly one cannot get everything on social because we all innovate differently.  That being said, I recently read a post my sister wrote about pinterest and what blew me away is the actual ROI she is creating through it.

See her post here...(link to kristin chalmers photography blog post).

If you read this it will make total sense.  It did when I read it.  But let's dig into it a bit.

Firstly,  Kristin Chalmers uses pinterest to "communicate" with her clients.  She does this in a unique way.  Some of the greatest successes in business come from hybrid mash ups.  When a market research firm goes beyond survey's to actually bring unusual methods like video or social they have morphed.  When an innovation firm integrates technology based ways to understand the consumer quickly and more cheaply they own the space because they a ton more with less.  And when a photographer goes beyond simply taking orders and focusing simply on the what the customers wants and makes production partnership that forces her clients out of the box, you get wedding innovation.

See the excerpt below to see what I mean...

"Plan your wedding and let your vendors know your vision – This part is tricky and I have a love hate relationship with how Pinterest helps but can also make photographers and other vendors a little frustrated.  This is really the inspiration of my post and I will get to the bad stuff about the Wedding Boards and Pinterest issues a little later.

Here is why I love it!  – I love sharing ideas with my couples via Pinterest.  For example, I have a bride in December of this year who told me that she really loves pine cones.  So one night I searched around on the web for pine cone bouquets, center pieces and and even cake decor.  From there I pinned all kinds of beautiful images to my “wedding ideas” board and then “tagged” her so that these images on my board were sent to her board directly as well as sending her an email of the actual “pins” that I just put on my board. I know, that sounds a bit confusing but if you are a Pinner, you get it."

Here is one of the most innovative examples of my concept of PUSH and PULL (Post on subject here).  She has frigging figured out the balance of push and pull in social using pinterest for god sake.  Rather than simply sharing it, she actually gets value from it to help CONNECT with clients.

1.  She PULL directly from her client what they like. (PINECONES)

2.  She PULLS from THE CROWD to learn what is possible about PINECONES.

3.  Then she PUSHES content from what she PULLED to help them think (MORE PINECONES) about what they might like.

4.  They are now partnering quickly and effectively to decide which direction to take.

Why is there ROI?  Because through simple communication, my sister has figured out how to move clients from simply telling her what to do to engaging in a dialogue where they are collaborating with all the data in the world to come up with something better.  This creates tangible and innovative value from her service and over time methods like this will enable her to charge higher prices.

And here I am writing about it marketing her genius as an innovative wedding photographer to the social media community (the few that read this blog).

Innovation comes from all angles and social has opened the box on the ways we can come up with collaborative ideas to create, influence and learn...even at 41 a brother can still learn from his older sister.

Read the rest of her is mind blowing.  It is a novel fit in what is becoming a clearer puzzle in the quest to leverage social media for business.

Social media...its not just for breakfast anymore.  This clearly moves the clock up 5 minutes to 9:20.  I am getting hungry for lunch...maybe when people start to find balance in push and pull, will we get closer to social media high noon;  the minute those who are behind will be shot in the back.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

You have to Co-Opt the message not drown in it

Very recently I wrote about push and pull in social media.  In an effort for self growth, it is important to force yourself into uncomfortable positions.  One of the places I have been challenging myself lately is to think bigger about the social media market/problem.  In a recent post, I spent a lot of time discussing the importance of being a social media puller and not a pusher.  Pull being learning from the content so you can push better.  The below view is how I see the social media marketplace as a whole.  It gives one some context around the market's development.  What I am advocating here is that entire market wont' settle until PULL and PUSH are in balance which seems a ways away.

This is the social media market's current reality.  When people talk about having a social program, it is my hypothesis that 80% of the program (and their cultural focus) is centered on creating successful programs to drive consumer behavior.  I like to simplify it down to social media "push".  This includes activities like engagement, e-mail campaigns, SEO efforts and other things of this nature.  These are efforts to create content that is PUSHED out into the social marketplace.

The other 20% of the market is actually starting to think about pull. What is PULL?  This is pulling data from the Social Marketplace into the Corporate Landscape.  It is what most people call a social listening program.  And in most cases, there is an immense amount of pressure on the social practice to create ROI from their listening programs.  Everyone wants to know why they should invest in listening if they can't for sure know whether it is accurate or even tells them that their PUSH was successful.  And even though they continue to send this message, most companies are getting very comfortable increasing their PUSH efforts because they feel it is creating viable ROI.  I won't try to refute that belief here, although much of my experience working in the PULL market suggests that most people believe it is of value but can't prove it?

My question is this?  How can you successfully Co-Opt the social message that is being created if you don't understand what people are thinking about it prior to crafting that message?  In my opinion companies have to get a whole lot better at PULLING first to PUSH effectively.  This is similar to polling consumers on what you message should be before crafting and launching it.

In socal PULLING...the data is all there waiting to be combing and analyzed, but most don't trust it as they blindly PUSH content out into the world.  This seems like a broken process to me, because it is only half complete.

In fact, I would argue people who are not staffing their social efforts in a 50/50 manner are wasting their resources because the amount of PUSHED content both from companies and consumers escalates daily at a rate that is mind boggling.  So doesn't it make sense that by PULLING first, you can focus your PUSH to the right folks talking about the right things in the right places.

This type of internal process (where application meets reality for social media tools) is the culture shift that will add efficiency and excellence to any social media program, because you can now optimize how you do things rather than increase what you are doing to reach the consumer.

In will Co-Opt the message rather than letting it Co-Opt you...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The need for owning your social media speed...

Let's face it, social media is fast.  Real fast. In fact, they don't call it going viral for nothing.  So this begs a very serious question.  If social media is becoming an extremely important part of running your business, then why are so many organizations letting other organization run their social media programs?

Ask yourself this, if you willing to let an agency or other firm or even a contractor own the reporting on your social media successes, messages or failures aren't you basically saying that viral is slow?

If we look at this question from a simple workflow perspective and not an I am better than you are perspective, we can see that the logic of outsourcing social media can be a huge mistake.  Why? Because between the cultural context that is lost by your third party doing (and not being part of your organization), the sheer clunkiness of the human hand off between organization AND the fact the partners never have your business interests completely in mind, you run the risk of losing the ability to react to the virality of social media.

Essentially, in this vendors humble opinion (and I work in services for a social media company as a piece of my role) if you outsource your social media listening/understanding program, you can't catch and throw what social media brings to you in the time you have to answer what is going on.  There is too much gunk in the system when you don't own it yourself.

Who knows a companies operations, culture, processes and method better than those who are part of it?  What I am suggesting is this...if you want to be able to operate at the speed of viral  you need to be willing to slowly grow your internal resources to make your social media program work

Why does this work?  For several reasons.  For one, building a process internally that allows social media learnings to flow cannot be created from the outside in.  You can't trust someone who doesn't live inside your company to create a process better than yourself (I can hear the $MM/project consultants calling bullshit on me...but hey isn't this the point of this are selling services that don't live in the shit so to speak).  Secondly, by bringing in new blood who understands social (they could have worked for your consultants) you can take their external knowledge and blend it with your internal culture to ensure that you get the best of both.  And lastly, you will be better able to do to social what it can do to you.  You can bring your knowledge and power to bear in a time frame that is meaningful.

Why would I write all this?  Because as a social media story teller able to show organizations how social can help them, I am constantly preaching (pun intended) that all I can do is present strategy and insights that make my client say, "huh...I didn't know it could do that."  They must know how it is relevant to the business.   They must know the context by which an activity happens.  they must know how it can either hurt or help the organization better than me.  And lastly, their pride for their brand or company will always be greater than the contractor that serves them.  I am merely a shill who can see neat things, but doesn't ultimately understand its potential impact on the organization...they must own it.

In fact, the more my clients begin to own developing the insights, processes and metrics for their social media program the more effectively they are becoming.  To do that, you can't simply say it is interesting and  can you hire someone for me to do it.  You have to own it culturally and functionally.

They often say that innovation and change must work to escape the antibodies of the culture of the company you are trying to change.  But if innovation (or in this case social media) is a virus in the corporate body, isn't creating a vaccine by introducing DNA from the virus itself into the body (in this case social media talent) the way to cure the disease so you don't keep getting sick???

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Why push needs to become pull...

The long delays usually encompass deep thought and more importantly implementation.  For the past two months I have been knee deep in the social media battle.  From hearing people's fears about whether they should even believe the validity of social media to working with true believers hell bent of making their own organization take responsibility for building their own capability.  The spectrum is still vast.

Using the time's still 9:15 on its way to high noon.  I say no change because I amazed at how little consistency there is around the social media landscape. It is still a free for all. The confusion is baffling.

In fact, I had the chance to sit on panel recently and got to ask my favorite two questions of the audience once more.   1.  Do you trust social media as a data source?  Less than 5 percent of the 300 people raised their hands.  2.  When you make a purchase online how many of you read about it before buying.  Everyone's hands go up.  18 months of asking this change.  And change is what everything is about these days.

What does all this confusion mean?  I think it means a lot of things, but most importantly that this is going to be a long slog and there will be major casualties along the way.  In fact, I can see it already.  Why?  Because I have had the pleasure of working with two organizations in particular that are slowly embracing the need for change.  And in both cases, the champions who have true vision for what is need and really understand social media the results come quickly and with great impact to those who are resistant.

But what is the secret of their success?  They believe in pull.....

What is social media pull?  It is different than push I can tell you.  As someone who works on the pull side (I will explain in a moment), I have been blind a bit to how much push is going on.  What is the push then?  It is the creation of content.  It is the modes, methods and tools that work the help people and companies drive the information flow.  It is about working to control the message, to drive engagement and and increase the interaction with each other and companies' consumers.  This is a critical part of the puzzle.  Why?  Because push is what made social possible.  If people didn't create the content, then there would be nothing for people to read, react to and protest or embrace.

We must all pay homage to the great data push of the last 5 years.  It has fundamentally changed how things work in the world.  We have seen regimes fall, companies thrive, and people gain favor from their own backyard (blogging).  The problem becomes noise.  There is now so much content that the noise in the maelstrom is deafening.

Today, I am here to make a case for the opportunity that is falling on deaf ears created by the content fever. It is the case for pull.  If push is the creation of content, pull is the antonym.  It is about learning from what is pushed, listening to it, measuring it and understand its potential impact on what we push.  Pull is about what must happen now.  Companies continue to push messages out unaware of what else will be pushed by their decisions.  When Chick Fila deciding to go public with its message against gay marriage they didn't really count what it could become with what else could be pushed.  In fact, I saw an article showing how much it affected their companies sentiment with consumers.  Their push created negative push and if they had just pulled ahead of voicing their beliefs they may have decided to keep them to themselves.  Papa John's..same thing...don't get political without expecting the push to push back.

Link to Masahable

Social media analytics, listening or whatever you want to call it gives one the power to understand the chaotic flow of the push.  If you decide you are going to filter everything around you in an effort to gain some measure of control by understanding you can win.  How many companies are currently planning their next push based campaign leaving no room during the event to use pull as a means of adjusting and optimizing the message they have set in stone prior.  Better yet, how many companies used pull before they even planned their plan. Imagine if they used pull to learn first, then plan and then leave space to co-opt the push that is naturally created during their effort.

It would enable one to run their organization in a more fluid way.  They would essentially embrace the idea that they don't control their brands as they did and it is important to pay homage the vast push that continues to grow by the second.  The push controls them and their success is in a entities' ability to control its own reaction to how things used to be.

Well...they aren't the same anymore.  We all know the world is different.  My advice from the battlefield is this.  Stop thinking that you can take your same old marketing messages to the virtual world.  You can't control it.  How much evidence do you need?  The message is often a fart in the wind.  You may go back to your organization and tell the tell of the likes you created, or the views  you had, but either way if you don't really listen or learn from the push, then you are just being pushy.

Don't be pully will help you be even more pushy then you realize.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Social Media Singularity - Resistance is Futile

Somethings happened last week.  Something big.  Did you catch it?  Did you notice it?  I have spent the last year writing here about social media and how it is transforming the business landscape.  I have used analogy of Midnight to Dawn over and over (I am getting sick of it too) to capture how things are moving toward the social media sun in the sky at NOON.  (see last post that mentions this analogy here)

Well, I would say we saw a shift in the time from 9:00AM to 9:15AM this past week when the New Orleans Times Picayune a venerable newspaper and stalwart of a tight knit community that is New Orleans announce that it is moving to a 3 day a week print schedule (SEE LINK HERE).

It seems mundane to bring it up.  We are seeing music stores collapse because of the Cloud (thanks to both Pandora and definitely Spotify).  We are seeing bookstores vaporize because of Kindles and Nooks.

So why do I say this is a movement from 9:00AM to 9:15?

Because it is about news...the place where most social media information can start.  Yes it starts on twitter.  And yes it can start on your facebook page, but the mainstream news can often be the public focal point of the a story that carries enough importance to be discussed.

Of course, because of the concept of C2B (consumer to business ===>>  see white paper here), there is no question that many stories and quakes across the world do start both organically and socially on the web outside of the news.  But to me the announcement this week is really an important moment.

It is important because it is the first admission by a major news publication that over time it can't and won't compete with virtual news.  I would hope to believe that greenpeace is smiling somewhere as are the many trees that will be spared from the choice of stopping print.  This announcement really says to the people of this great land that if you don't want to be left behind it is time to get digital to stay focused.  The news will never be the same not because you can't read everything you want from the Times Picayune, but because if you don't have a means of being connected digitally, you cannot even get the news.

But even with all this...there is still something even more important to consider.  The reason the clock moves forward is because for a major news publication to change the cadence of its printing schedule, tells anyone who is anyone that social media data IS valid now.  This to me is the inflection point we have been waiting for.  If all newspapers (the "accepted" vehicle to get your news) go online, then the eyeballs that read them are officially the silent part of the social media data creation.  And if everyone has to read their paper digitally, then we are all officially accepting this mode of data sharing.  Why?  Because at the bottom of each article on line is what...a place for comments.  These comments are now social media data and if all papers are online and have these comment windows then the data set and method of communication has officially changed!

The next step in the transformation of the news to "clock" what percent of articles for news online has a comment.  This will be the blurring of the lines between social media, C2B and the data generated on the other social media formats like twitter, Facebook, blogs and forums.

Welcome to are now late for work.  At 9AM, it was okay to be 5 minutes late, but at 9:15Am you are now 15 minutes late and if you remember the 15 minute rule in college you will remember that if the professor is this late you are free to leave.

That means if you are late, you will be left behind with the group moving onto to other things...

Don't be late, start the change...