Social Media Neophytes and Great Hopes

16 07 2009

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel organized by the local Entrepreneurs network about social media. The audience was clearly a majority of neophytes from local businesses, agencies and even government. I think it was an eye opener for me as to what people have on their mind. For them, the 6 panelists certainly gave them tons of useful information. It was participant driven which was a great experience. My natural tendency is to discuss on this blog larger phenomena occurring in the social media world.  I’ll therefore try to address those same questions a bit more regularly on the Extanz blog. For now, I want to focus on some of the points raised at the event….

Time devoted-to make effective? What to listen? How to listen?

I think entrepreneurs are even more wary about the time sucker that social media can be. Let’s just consider Twitter to start with as it’s probably the most straight forward one. If you’re lucky, and you have more than one

computer screen, I would pull up applications like Tweetdeck, Seesmic or PeopleBrowsr and start setting up searches, creating groups by interest. Scout for topics that your company is involved with, see what results come up. Tools like Twitter or Friendfeed are the most valuable when listening or monitoring that action. You or your company’s ‘social’ networks act as a knowledge guardian, you’ll be able to stay on top of what’s of interest to you (being the Tour de France or what are your competitors are up to, what customers/consumers are saying, etc). Most of these applications will allow you to create ‘columns’ or ‘groups’ that filter by keyword. Scroll through it, see what is being said and reply / participate if it’s worth your time. You can also share links or articles you find valuable or simply RT (re-tweet) with your comments. I would also advise using these tools in conjunction with Google Alert, Filtrbox, OneRiot and other similar tools which are much more efficient search tools than staring at Twitter all day.

ROI 101: Return On Investment 101

Throw away any of the usual metrics you’ve learned. Building relationships for a person or a brand cannot be measured as a statistical number. You will still see more followers on Twitter, more fans on your facebook fan page. Ultimately, if you share valuable content and engage in conversations, you’ll have a clear sign that people like your content. This clearly has a more powerful impact for you or the brand you represent. Also, I hear too often that people don’t use Google Analytics yet on their… this is a must have. If you expect to show any sign that your time is spent appropriately, Google Analytics will be able to show you this progress.

What percentage of your marketing strategy should be devoted to social media?

That will depend on your audience. The more you deal with tech industries and the knowledge industry, the more important it’ll be for your company. For example, a company like Crocs (not so much knowledge industry based) has one full time dedicated employee for Social Media (George Smith Jr) out of 3-4k people worldwide. Make sure to think about every activity you carry as a company and how to leverage social media in relation to those activities. Social media is not a marketing play, it’s a relationship play. Relationships happen at every step of a company’s value chain. Social media can fit in those segments. See what happens. Draw conclusions. Be creative. Repeat.

Some simple steps to get started:

Level 1- Join groups related to your industry in Linkedin or Facebook, engage there. This might be enough as some of audience is already there.

Level 2- Join twitter, start following 50 people who you care about as a company, start listening, share interesting news in your industry or localized content, engage where you can.

Level 4- Create a facebook page and try to get your other marketing activities to promote that facebook page. Link your Twitter account to your facebook fan page.

Level 5- Start a blog… this is a difficult exercise and can be time consuming, but it is still what can carry your business voice the furtherest. Remember that if you blog, stay away from clogging, don’t use this as just another ad channel (#fail).

There are 100s of things you could do, but start there. Your company’s digital footprint will benefit and you may be able to spend 1-2 hours per week without losing your boss’ trust. Finally, it’s more complex than it seems. If you want to be effective at it, getting help is usually well worth it.

Off you go,

Thank you for you great pictures:  by quelquepartsurlaterre, ToniVCjohn.d.mcdonald

@YannR

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The importance of being visionary…and tribes…

21 01 2009

Visionary —

1 : one whose ideas or projects are impractical : dreamer

2 : one who sees visions : seer

3 : one having unusual foresight and imagination.

Recently a blog post by businesspundit detailed 25 visionaries who created empires from virtually nothing. There’s some interesting people in there — we now know them as super mega stars — captains and kings of their respective industries, sports, occupations. Artists, scientists, financiers and engineers. Titans all. But they would probably all concur that it hasn’t all been an easy ride. We just need to look at the rollercoaster career and rumors surrounding Steve Jobs to know that. So why do they do it?

The joy of creating something? The beauty of seeing it work and people using it? The reward of improving the ways we live?   The often elusive promise of riches?  We could probably place people we know in these start-up tribes in every one of these motivations, but as start-up folks know, to be successful there needs to be something else. Recently we have been privileged to be working with several start-up enterprises in multiple ways. Start-ups and social media, like sustainability and social media, have something fundamental in common. Their success depends on engaging people actively in conversations about their contribution. Social media provides start-ups with a communicative velocity and intensity they would have to spend a small fortune on (and raise) using traditional forms of communication. More than that, social media has the potential to provide start-ups with an acid test that can determine what exact combination of seer and dreamer they may be as well as the consequences of this mix for their longevity.

For the last several years, our world has been a start-up world. It’s an interesting place. The people. The ideas. The visions. Why do we like start-ups when they fail so often? Why do we like start-ups when they are so poor? Why do we like start-ups when they require us to work more hours than humanly possible? Because they are visionary. People who are serial start-up folks, whether working for them or supporting them, are a special breed — part dreamer, part seer. Movers. Shakers. The Believers. A tribe. Working in and with a start-up reminds you of the fluidity of practice, the uncertainty and dynamic nature of the environment in which we all operate and force of the people involved. We forget these aspects of humanity that are embedded in all work we do when we tie ourselves to the security and stability (however illusory) of the corporate form.

Start-ups and social media remind us of the protean, organic, risky human potential  of all creative effort.  They’re hard to measure. Even harder to predict.  We know their success only in hindsight and find it hard to pinpoint at exactly what point our efforts took on a life force of their own.  They are constantly calibrating, ever changing forms seeking their groove.  Davids in a world of Goliaths.

So if a start-up or social media strategy is in your plan for 2009, think about the ride, not the destination. Think about the people, the tribe you travel with. Think about the idea that holds you together, swarming as individuals in dynamic collective ease. Release yourself from preconceived notions of success or effectiveness. Don’t be afraid to change it up and move with your environment. Most importantly, remember that both are grounded in active engagements and conversations with others.  Make 2009 your year to be a dreamer, seer, a visionary.

This one’s for all those visionaries around Extanz — you are the world to us 🙂 and with special thanks to rogiro and Admean for their images!

Kirsti






Your participation is required (no duh!)

14 01 2009

In the last few weeks, we’ve discussed the roots of and early influencers of web 2.0 and customer relations (the re-birth of Trust 2.0 , the village Not-So-Fool,  Napster, Gen y…).  More and more, Health 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 are taking the stage….. the 2.0 juice is everywhere, are you sick of it yet?

If you’re sick of it – You’re certainly experiencing a culture gap :).  If you’re excited about it, that’s probably the right feeling. It starts to get crunchy when you can claim and act as you are embracing it. Every segment of your company’s value chain should start thinking 2.0 collaboration. As the economy drops, it is essential that more brands engage in conversation.

The economy may be tanking but that’s not the case with all that is 2.0. Let’s talk about growth for a moment: Twitter 343% (users) and grew by 752%  in traffic in 08′, Ning 251% (users), Linkedin 193% (users) (the state of the Economy helping), Facebook 116%.  When was the last time you saw figures like that?? Staggering, isn’t it?

Now all those “sick and tired of this web 2.0 malarkey” would have you believe that this is all just a fad. A wild management fashion that will blow over by the time Spring comes. Just something to keep those geeks and young’uns occupied when they should be doing some “real work”. Right. Call me silly, but I see several major cultural and behavioral shifts here (feel free to add more):

– Numero Uno: This growth is conversation based.  Robots have no place in the hive and the communities are watching. Communities value quality, authenticity and collaboration. Sounds trivial doesn’t it? There you go, arguing that that flashing your sensory advertising 7 times in front of someone’ eyeballs may do the job. Forget that.  It’s just part of the noise.  As a product manager, a brand marketer or simply an employee, your online attitude and your ability to converse are making or breaking your business model.  The economy is just magnifying any cracks already there. Your products, your sales tactics and PR in general can only stay alive if you’re engaging with your consumers. No, it’s not only your engineering team’s job to do so… if you think so, you’ll fail.  Someone somewhere is  conversing about the features or service add-ons they’d like to see.

– Numero Dos: This growth is participation based. Your product, your brand (personal and company), your PR, and your support operations have to be able to engage and sustain conversations if you want to stay relevant. Relevancy has 2 axes:

– your current customers and prospects (do you empower them through conversations? are they getting your brand experiences for the same price they bought you product or services?). Are you in conversation with them before and after they bought your product? Like a good Chef, does your brand walk around Twitter or Facebook and see if what you cooked went beyond expectations?

– and Google of all places 🙂 Your brand digital footprint is constantly analyzed by search engines to create rankings.  Engaging in the conversation is cheaper and more effective than hiring any gizmo PR firm.

I’ve  seen a lot of debate on Chris Brogan’s blog lately about lead generation methods. Guess what, the most viral of us are spreading the word faster than ever before. I knew of the DIA air plane crash before any news coverage, I knew about the earthquake in Thailand and that my friend Neil just bought his new iPhone before he called and told me. Yes, your traditional communication methods are still relevant but engaging in conversation is required. Social networks and social media are not just for kiddos anymore – those of us 25 years of age + are the fastest growing segment on most networks.

So here’s your case for change:

– Your social media engagement should empower your users, especially if you are developing software or any collaborative tools. Sounds trivial, yes, now go listen to the blogosphere or the twitterverse and judge for yourself.

Brand monitoring should be like breathing – people are already talking about you, now listen and engage where necessary. I am always pleased to see brands replying to me when I comments about their product on Twitter or else

– If customers come back, great – if they speak about you on yelp.com, facebook or twitter… it’s better, their friends are listening.

Good blogging is the mothership of social media – it’s like going to a networking event– you’re putting yourself out there.  You may be anxious at first but there are no robots in this room, just human beings, style gets you only so far. Substance rules.

It all sounds very much like a village right?  People using technology have created more human avenues for connection than ever before.

Finally, if you think you don’t have the budget for this, your current marketing budget mix is wrong. Just because you’ve done marketing this way for 10 years doesn’t mean you’re right, that it’s working or that people are not immune to your message. It isn’t. And they probably are.

Let’s go man! It’s exciting.

Yann





Trust 2.0 … Get Used To It

12 12 2008

I am more and more convinced that 2.0 is a mindset.  I was on Twitter (like always) last weekend between attending to the urgent lives of my 5 and 3 year olds… (Tonka trucks and other logistical movements) and struck up a conversation with @bakespace (bake who you may say? … twitter name/id). Much of our conversation was based on the rise of Digital Divide 2.0 which I see happening as Social Media reaches out to more human beings. You could argue that social networking sites in general are a generational thing and ultimately we will all be on there . You could also argue that it’s an early adopter phenomenon.  I tend to think that 2.0 is a mindset.

Newspapers, magazines and traditional sources have been ‘seen’ as the trusted source of information over time. “Who are we going to trust”? They say. Well YOU, your brand, your digital footprint. Web 2.0 is an organic world where new tools (software for the most of it), new behaviors and new ethical codes swarm. We are the media. We are re-creating trust mechanisms. I believe we can see through, look at each other in the eyes, shake hands, smile at each other and respect each other online. Businesses as well. Get used to it. It’s here.

Forums in the 90’s and early 2000’s have really given a bad reputation to online presence… they were one big stream and everyone could actually be as primal as possible. We now live in a more open world, if you vote for a 2.0 Mindset.  More and more consumers are judging how they are being treated and how their peers are as well.  BS on Twitter, blogging, facebook and so on just doesn’t fly and people quickly vote with their feet when BS shows up.

This week, amongst other things, I ran into 2 great pieces of content that talk about TRUST. The first was by Rodger Doodley blog on Trust with Rodger quoting Paul J Zak: The key to a con is not that you trust the conman, but that he shows he trusts you. Conmen ply their trade by appearing fragile or needing help, by seeming vulnerable… the human brain makes us feel good when we help others–this is the basis for attachment to family and friends and cooperation with strangers. “I need your help” is a potent stimulus for action. [From The Moral MoleculeHow to Run a Con.]

Selling is about creating a trustable and repeatable experience. If you are a marketer, you are here to build or consolidate the brand trust capital. Social Media (blogging, facebook, twitter, flickr, youtube….etc) when used in concert are here to “empower users” as Chris Brogan says – Those users are your prospects or your customers… Instead of being in their face and being another ‘Interruption Day Marketing’ brand, be part of their lives, be part of their search and their social graph.

Forrester Research just published a new study that has made bloggers and micro-bloggers rage this week… Corporate Blogs are at the bottom of the scale when it comes to “trusted information sources”.  It is very debatable and obviously linear thinkers (let’s apply traditional marketing to social media) are mostly doing it wrong. If you try to sell hard, you’ll just have ZERO effectiveness.

Cloggers (corporate bloggers) it’s time to stop – Companies and corporations have the bad reputation of just republishing their press releases on their blogs, talking about inward content…etc. RISE UP I say… Start by creating value, content that ’empowers your users’. If you can’t think of your higher purpose… have someone else handle your social media services. If you think you know but can’t get traction and your blog traffic sucks…. you’re also in need of help.

Now go on, get out there and build your company digital trustworthiness…

Onwards and upwards,


Cheers
Yann

Thanks to jasoneppink and will lion for their cool pix





What the Blog?

1 12 2008

One of the things Extanz is committed to is “growing experts”. It’s one of our core values. We take this approach to our clients and to ourselves. My story is a case in point…..

Until recently I didn’t really understand what all this blogging was about. To be perfectly honest I thought it was primarily for geeks who wanted to discuss….well I’m not really sure what I thought they were discussing…. or for journalists who were just re-formatting their previous articles into the form of a blog to keep up with the times or a new arena for people to rant about whatever they were currently annoyed with. None of the above was of any interest to me what so ever.

I never really did much work on-line in my past jobs aside from daily emails and helping to update our company’s website every now and again, but working for Extanz has opened my eyes to a whole new world…the blogosphere. And this blogosphere is pretty cool, I must say.

While doing research on influential blogs (yes, blogs can be influential!) for our clients I began stumbling upon all these nifty blogs that I found very helpful and interesting. I have now become the “annoying yet full of information” friend and daughter that emails everyone links to cool and sometimes helpful blogs. Like the gluten free blog for my Mom who has Celiac disease, or the cool Mom product review blog for my best friend who just had her first baby.

Yes, blogs are cool, but as I mentioned they can also be influential. Does your company have a blog? Are you letting your customers/clients know about who you are? Are you reaching out and making a connection? Having a company blog can bring in new business that you never thought possible. For instance, the other day I was cruising around the web and found this really cool, local, honey farm and they happened to have a blog on their website. I started reading and found myself so fascinated and loving all the information in this blog, about the history of the company, the bees, and most importantly to me, the honey and its health benefits. Before I knew it, I was buying $30 worth of honey and have been telling all my friends about it.

So… as you can see, I have found out that my previous assumption of blogs was not entirely true. Blogs are not just for the geeks, journalists, and complainers. Blogging is for everyone and by everyone. Make a connection, share information, tell a story, be influential. Come on, what are you waiting for? Everyone’s doing it…

Cheers,

Lauren

Thanks Hi I’m Chris for the cool pic





Social Media and Crossing the Amazon

2 07 2008

Like the first time we crossed the Amazon in our homemade canoe, Extanz is here to help you navigate the ever complex social media world. We’ve been on the (b)leading edge of it for the last two years. Like an integrated marketing plan, the best tools in the world will work efficiently only if they work in sync. So it’s not a case of ‘got Facebook?’ anymore….it’s a case of ‘what has your Facebook done for you lately?’

The image below depicts the Social Media GALAXY as viewed by Fred Cavazza. It’s a excellent rendition of the complex extanZiveness of our contemporary Social Media reality. ENJOY!

Social Media Landscape by Fred CavazzaSocial Media Landscape by Fred Cavazza

Ok, so we have never crossed the Amazon but we’ll get there!

Yann