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.