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.