The term social business is in the air today, and there seems to be some general confusion about what the term means. As I keep seeing it used, I think people who are saying “social business” actually mean “responsive business”. I’ll try and break down what I see as the different aspects of each:
This business is savvy in social networks and engagement. It’s got a channel open on every social corner, and has listening for brand mentions and customer concerns and responding quickly down pat. It is strong in brand awareness and customer service on social channels. Lead generation, thought leadership and business growth are happy side effects of a consistent social media, email and content marketing strategy supported by basic analytics and metrics analysis.
The true social business uses social tools, metrics and methods internally and externally to be a better overall business across departments. In addition to using outward facing social media platforms and tools in expected ways: to increase sales and sales leads and bring information from networks into the process, to build brand awareness and establish thought leadership, to market to customers and potential partners, to source new employees and gather information about applicants, for competitive intelligence, for product marketing and research, informal crowdsourcing, data mining, information distribution, affiliate and referral sales and other established practices, the social business has an internally social component. The inward facing social ideal breaks down silos between departments, making internal communication fluid and complete, ensuring that the company operates more efficiently. It relays information faster and more accurately and makes all employees at all levels part of the process of a smoothly run business. It empowers people to make better decisions in the departments by connecting them to the information and people they need to access efficiently. In short, a social business uses social tools and social ideals to create a well oiled machine with agile business practices that help them grow and become competitive as markets shift and change quickly. This is a holistic shift in how business is done that is different than being on social media and responsive in that space.
What do you think? Are there differences I missed? Do you agree that the term social business as it is often used today is on its way to becoming as meaningless as the overused term “innovative” (often used when “iterative” makes more sense)?
Walking through Target the other day, I started seeing giant “Hulk footprints” as I got closer to the back of the store. I knew they’d lead me to the toy section, and to an Avengers merchandise display, but I followed them anyway. Why? Because it’s just as fun for grownups to Hulk-stomp their way through a store as it is for kids.
When I brought it up at dinner that night, my friends were mixed. Many have kids, so they are largely against the glitz and glamour that encourages their kids to whine and beg for yet more toys, when they don’t play with the ones they have. And don’t get them started on toys branded as collectibles – that brings up stories of the Beanie Babies craze in the 80s and 90s and how spectacularly low in value those toys are now (one person even did a stint as a Beanie Baby show bouncer – the moms and grandmas would physically fight over the toys).
The conversation segued into movie product placements, and into movies that seem entirely sponsored by one entity, regardless of if that’s true or not (think You’ve Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks). This group of people, none of whom are marketers, have become jaded by so much advertising being inserted directly into their lives. They miss the days when advertising and marketing seemed more apart from the tools they used, the places the visited and the media they consumed. They described the feeling of their daily lives as being more “jangly” and “jarring” with “less room to breathe”.
Everyone agreed it was smart for Rovio to garner so many merchandise deals and product placements for their Angry Birds franchise, including a movie with a matching branded game edition – Rio. They also thought product placements in stores like Target that encouraged participation, like the Hulk footprints, were a whimsical and fun way to get a marketing message across, providing they didn’t cross that line from fun to jarring and intrusive. Crossing that line erodes trust. That erosion of trust was a huge topic (and will be it’s own blog post, this one is just about the fun you can have with creative marketing).
(Apropos of nothing, it also amused me to see Awkward Family Photos is now a video game)
What are some of your favorite product placement campaigns that you’ve seen lately? I think the marketing around the Avengers has been my favorite recently, but then, I am partial to super heroes. What’s encouraged you to play?
I’ve been thinking about social television and how slow the networks are to adapt to it for months. Then this week a spate of excellent shows being cancelled across networks (in spite of online fan interest) inspired me to try and compose my thoughts.
As an author and avid reader, many of my friends are frequently surprised at how much television I watch. I read, yes – I used to read a book each day but now it’s about three a week. I love the escape of the printed page (and no, I don’t have a Kindle. I get enough screen time for my eyes, the printed page is a great break.) I watch films, yes – some of my clients are in the film industry. But television has always captivated my attention.
A child of the 70s and 80s, the TV was my first babysitter (my Nana used to plop me in front of it in my playpen for hours. I’d watch Sesame Street, Electric Company, 3-2-1 Contact and Chico and the Man all the way until Young and the Restless and mom coming home). I used to sing my mom the commercials when she’d come to pick me up after work (an early career indicator? Perhaps). I knew I always wanted to write books, and loved reading books just as much – heck, I started reading when I was 3 – but TV has this way of connecting people, regardless of education or class, in a way even my favorite books simply don’t do. Anything that brings people closer together, that bridges the divides we place between “us” and “them”, captures my attention.
This means my thoughts have been focused on the sluggishness of the networks in catching up with the new “ratings” system of social media. To continue to depend solely on the old-style Nielsen ratings with no regard to the second and third screens (phone and tablet) is simply short sighted. I don’t watch anything without checking in with my friends (friends from real life and the people inside the box) on apps like Get Glue, TV Dinner, Miso and Twitter now. Friends of mine like Meleah have viewing “parties” on their Facebook walls and Twitter accounts with hundreds of people commenting and chatting about the show they watch together – every week.
Some networks, like NBC, are certainly trying to be social now with their shows like The Voice, but they are still falling short. Throwing a screetching, thinspo hostess and a hashtag at your audience is certainly a good start (and more than many networks are doing right now), but it isn’t the complete answer. It’s still trying to control the conversation instead of listening to the feedback your audience is giving you in real time.
Take a look at The Finder, a recently cancelled show (one of many not given adequate time to gain Nielsen traction). It had a good audience of happy fans watching – on DVR. Delayed viewers are captured via online media, social networks and mobile apps – not traditional ratings. Being part of Social TV and making sure your industry remains relevant means getting past pandering to old traditions in media and thinking of the future of interactive, participatory television.
I imagine the proprietary nature of the delivery mechanisms of television are a key stumbling block to the growth of Future TV. If delivery systems like Comcast, DISHNetwork, Time Warner, etc won’t share their analytics about viewers watching via DVR, On Demand, etc.; if Netflix and Hulu hold the same data close to their vests; and the online viewing tools like Beyond TV find sharing a risk – how can television grow and prosper? Media can no longer thrive behind a wall of suits.
Television is finally facing the same dilemma music and film have faced for years – finding growth in a changing technological world. Television is best suited to adapt to the winds of change – it’s a medium that is inherently deeply personal, that reaches people in their homes, at their invitation. The interesting thing is that now this invitation is also on the viewer’s terms. I have lots of ideas about how television can adapt and thrive (hint, it’s going to take more than an updated design and user interface, though those are long overdue). It will be interesting to see how long they continue to fling old media tricks at a new media problem, however.
Stay tuned. I’ll be deep diving into some of the ways I think TV should grow up over the coming days in a series of posts.
I didn’t have time to write a post today, finishing the next book is my main focus this afternoon, but I did quickly chat about Pinterest and Google’s new social search. I’m interested in your thoughts:
Education has been on my mind the last year or so. On one hand we have this public push to devalue all college education for not being some kind of magic bullet leading to getting a job in a down economy. While I agree student loans and college prices have gotten out of hand, I think to devalue education and knowledge for not having enough immediate monetary “ROI” is something we will come to regret as a society. On the other hand we have knowledge for the sake of knowledge – completing something for the sake of having done so – these things have merit to individuals and to the world we live in.
I’ve given a few presentations to universities and high schools on using social media in the classroom and in the organizational structure of the school itself, but those presentations largely focused on the mechanics of “school” and “tactics”. It is my opinion that we need to move beyond the institutional thinking and institutional process to really ride this sea change in education. While most are focused on the process, people in their infinite thirst to learn are building a new global process for eternal, immersive, self directed, multi-faceted learning and knowledge that will leave the traditional school system far behind.
Take a look at Twitter, for example. This super simple service has been making its way into the classroom a little at a time since 2007. Twitter has a long history of varied use at the administrative and classroom level (here are 60 quick examples out of thousands), and still makes headlines each time a new school like Wise High School finds a new way to adopt the service. Twitter makes learning accessible in a school environment, and is part of the overall change in the face of education itself. Access to knowledge in your pocket can break the institution of “school” out of the concrete, rigid shell it lives in and turn it into organic knowledge that students yearn for.
Everyone wants to learn something. It’s human nature, this quest to know. Some folks want to learn a new language (the BBC is one of many places offering free immersion language courses), some want to know more about Snooki’s life beyond the Jersey Shore sitcom and some want to learn how to fix a car or quantum physics, but we all yearn for more information and deeper understanding of something beyond ourselves. Innovative schools like MIT, with it’s new free online education program, are beginning to deliver a future that takes knowledge and sets it apart from “school”, putting us in control of what and how we learn, and what quality of learning it is.
Even our search tools are starting to cater to this quest for knowledge – for good, vetted knowledge. Take a look at MentorMob (“Learn what you want, teach what you love”), for example – bringing you knowledge from around the web that is then sorted by trusted sources and people who have demonstrated topical savvy. Will it work? That’s not clear yet, but it definitely stands as one result of this new thirst to know everything, anywhere.
My takeaways from obsessing about education are several:
1) Education will become multi-media (and richly cross platform, moving fluidly from PC to phone to tablet to augmented reality and more not yet imagined)
2) Education will become portable (leaving the rigid institutional “school” structure far behind)
3) Education will become free (eventually)
4) Education will become completely student driven (gone are the days of the rigid, semi-applicable “core curriculum” concept)
5) Education will have two clear and more divergent paths: immediate ROI (job training, trade training) or life enhancing (broad knowledge based)
6) Teachers will become more like mentors or knowledge sherpas than the current system of educational drones chained to the ideas of a school district far removed from the needs of its students
7) Education becomes game-ified
Just think, education is going to be changing so much that the days when you can plug in to the Matrix and learn like Neo are nearly here. Are you as excited as I am for where this is going and how we can teach and learn from each other?
What did I miss? What other cool things are being cooked up in education that aren’t mentioned here? How did I do on my predictions? What are yours?
Updated to add this video from RSA, a unique look at the education system:
I jotted my thoughts on small vs large networks in a QIK video, but I’d love to have a deeper conversation with you about it here.
Tell me your thoughts below!
As many of you know, I’m writing a book about metrics for John Wiley and Sons Publishing called Social Media Metrics for Dummies. What you may not know is the struggle I’ve had trying to figure out how to address the issue of services offering incomplete metrics that become some kind of standard for folks too lazy (or, to be fair, too pressed for time) to do much deep-diving on their own. Things like Klout, for example.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know what Klout is trying to do, I think. And they have adjusted their algorithm a number of times. My score was a 79 in the beginning (until I spent less time online, when it dropped to 72). It hovered at 69 through several more algorithm changes until it now is resting in the 56 or 57 range after the latest one. What bugs me about Klout is that it isn’t a complete metric. It doesn’t tell you anything about the person except, conceivably, how noisy they are on various services.
I’ll use myself as an example. This morning I finally “hid” a topic that Klout has dubbed me as “influential” in for two+ months now: Waffle House. I like Waffle House and all, but I don’t live near one, and I don’t go visit them when I travel. How did I get “influential” about it? Doing a little digging, it seems it began when I shared a tweet from a WSJ article several weeks ago about the Waffle House disaster plan and Waffle House trailer offices – how they handle natural disasters and get their stores open quickly with limited menus where possible to be a local source of food and comfort, and also how they use their online presence to spread the word.
By a sheer coincidence of timing, that tweet got re-tweeted a gazillion times and picked up on several Tumblr blogs*, entering the Tumblr share network. Shortly after that, it emerged as a topic I’m influential on in Klout, never having discussed it before or since. Now you tell me: is that an accurate measurement? I should be influential in a variety of things, like hockey, music, food, wine, football, mma, film, politics and other things I discuss and have deep conversations about frequently (none of which show up) or in social media, content marketing and emerging media (which do show up).
*To me, my “influence” in Waffle House was a better measurement of TUMBLR’s influence than mine. I don’t have a Tumblr blog, but those who did caused most of the impact. To not take into account deep conversation and conversions over noise indicates a failing on the part of Klout and narrow metrics like it. I’m sure they are working to address it – it’s plain they want to be the go-to metric source for measuring influence – but they have a long way to go (not to mention other problems with privacy and trust issues and some nefarious practices to solve first).
In the book, Klout gets a relatively positive mention, but with the double caveat of “use with caution” and “not intended as your sole metrics solution”. If the folks at Klout would like to have a conversation with me about this and discuss case studies or what they are working toward, I’d love to. I like to keep an open mind.
Meanwhile, if you want to put understanding your Klout on steroids, have a look at this nifty data set from always-insightful Chris Penn. It will rock your socks. Also, I’d love to hear what goofy thing Klout thinks you are influential in.
Aside: Single focus metrics options that show a more complete picture could include Smarterer, by the way. I really like where they are headed and hope they soon integrate with LinkedIn and other services. Disclosure: I wrote the bulk of their Twitter test and edited it during their private beta phase, though it’s now open to public edit.
Spam. Everyone hates it, but few marketers are truly prepared for the changing definition of what constitutes “spam” to most people they are trying to reach. Hotmail’s push to eliminate greymail has brought the new definition of spam front and center, however; marketers would do well to pay attention to the conversations taking shape around the issue.
Spam can now be defined as “anything you don’t want to see”.
That puts even legitimate incoming items or messages as well as updates and emails from friends, family and trusted sources in the hot seat. If someone subscribes to your newsletter and you exceed the number of messages they consider appropriate for their day-to-day level of available attention, you are now spam – even though they asked for your newsletter.
Games and apps like Spotify on Facebook? Spam to most people, even if they play the game or listen to music. Games on G+ sending out notices? Also spam. Pictures of your adorable children? To some folks that’s spam also. Someone sending a tweet to the wrong handle because they are too lazy to log in to the computer and check that it’s their actual friend? Spam. Language being used that the other person finds offensive on social networks? Spam. Different politics or religions than the recipient you are sending messages for your cause? Spam. Those videos your company wants to go viral or those votes you need to get into SXSW? Spam, spam, spam.
So how does a marketer circumvent this new definition of spam and the universal desire to get away from traditional spam of the Nigerian prince type and greymail as well? Since a person’s definition of spam is entirely subjective and personal now, thats going to be trickier and trickier as time goes on. Here are a few tips:
Make sure you are being relevant to the medium or network on which you are sharing. Not all messages are appropriate for all platforms. Each network has a culture and expectations – familiarize yourself with them and keep to the etiquette of the network or email group you are sharing with.
Track your open ratio on your email newletter. Track your stats on social shares. Pay attention to when and where people do read your message. Then adjust your shares for optimum interactions. Once you’ve figured out when folks want to hear from you – leave it alone. Don’t overshare. Resist the urge to share the same thing repeatedly – doing that will only get you marked as spam as you become more annoying.
No amount of timeliness can counteract a boring message that doesn’t resonate with whoever receives it. Do your homework and find a way to tell your story and involve people with what you are sharing – don’t just use these outlets as your bullhorn.
Offer Clear Ways To Opt Out. This one speaks for itself. People won’t have to click that spam button if your unsubscribe method is clear and up front and simple to use. Make it easy for folks to get their time back. They’ll find you on one of your other channels where they think your message is more appropriate if you do so.
Marketers, what are some of the techniques you are using to avoid becoming everyone’s least favorite lunch meat?
Using social media during your next event will help build attendance and awareness.
What are some things to consider when planning to use social media during an event?
Here are the top 10 things Doug considered when tweeting for the New Hampshire Film Festival this month. Throughout the event he was able to connect with fans, monitor trends, and share moments of the festival aimed at connecting festival goers and others. Having someone dedicated to sharing throughout the festival helped build awareness and strengthen the bond with current fans.
1. Make sure people know how to connect
It’s important to share with everyone how they can connect with you during an event. Make sure to be clear on what networks you’ll be monitoring and sharing from. Your social invitation should be shared on all event material let people know where you’ll be. For the festival this was done on Twitter using the hashtag #NHFF11.
2. Be clear about the story you want to tell
Now that your fans know how to connect with you. What is the story that you’ll be sharing throughout your event. By understanding the strengthens of the networks and how to best utilize them you’ll attract more fans that are passionate about sharing your story. For the film festival we shared film buzz as well as the social aspect of the festival such as parties, sightings, etc…
3. Let your online networks know who you are
Encourage them to come up and share with you in person during the event. This will lead to more stories that you can share online.
4. Understand the difference in how content is shared on different networks
Make sure you use the different social networks to their best capabilities. For the festival we tweeted a few times an hour, but on Facebook we posted just a few times a day.
5. Understand the schedule
Know the schedule of events and run through the event in your head so you know where to be and for what. Before an event I always run through the day in my head. I want to make sure that I know when different story opportunities will be and what type of stories I should be prepared to share. This will lessen moments where you may be caught off guard or miss something special to share.
6. Find the unique things to share
This goes back to number two about knowing the story you want share. Most of time unique moments are spontantious, but be ready to share them when they happen.
7. Make others outside of your event feel like they were there
Give the people that may be following your event the opportunity to participate and feel like they were at the event. This will build their excitement and hopefully entice them to come the following year.
8. Have a dedicated sharer
Choosing who you’d like responsible for sharing during an event is important. You need someone who understands the brand, the ins and outs of the event, and has the initiative to travel around and insert themselves throughout the event.
9. Strike up a conversation online
Some of your posts should come full circle. Make sure you’re asking your fans what they think, or to get involved in what’s happening at an event. By opening up the conversation you become less of a billboard and more human.
10. Don’t stop and plan to continue communicating with fans a few days after an event.
Make sure that you have the necessary tools to keep communicating with fans about the event for a few days after. People will continue to share photos and stories and you want to make sure that you’re present to reshare them and to thank them.
Have you used social media for a live event? What advice would you offer?
You may remember me talking about business Darwinism (adapt or die) on the blog a while back. Today’s restaurant industry is a prime example of Darwinian business choices in action. Chefs of all experience levels are moving to food trucks as way to create pop-up markets for their food at a price people can afford.
The food truck model allows the chef or restaurant owner to reduce costs and/or potentially down size a restaurant that isn’t doing well without giving up their dream. In some cases the food truck replaces a restaurant altogether. In other cases it compliments it. Still other chefs who might not have had the budget or experience to open a full restaurant are using the food truck model to jump start their dream of cooking for the public without the high risk of failure in the first three years that haunts many restaurants.
The ability to reach new markets with a food truck (in effect a portable dining experience) is unparalleled. While there is a fine line between not staying in one place long enough to garner a crowd and leaving too late for the next location, the mere fact that you can move your food truck if you are having a bad sales day is appealing and helps the business survive. If you have great food and optimize social media like Kogi BBQ started doing so long ago (the first food truck to use Twitter to report it’s location – fabulous marketing tactic and unique to them in the beginning), then you can create a loyal following that will follow you to each new location, growing your customer base exponentially.
The food truck business model has certainly come a long way from the days of the “roach coach” that would bring greasy food to the parking lots of offices, schools and construction sites. As the food served has gotten more upscale and increased in variety, the need for good marketing has increased as well. Some sites have started popping up to help people find food trucks near them, as the food truck foodie culture is growing right along side the proliferating trucks. Curious to see what trucks are near you? Here’s a few sites (some that also have mobile apps) that will help you find your local trucks:
Some food trucks, such as Kogi, are using social media very well. Twitter is ideal for mobile business of all types like this, since you can announce your location each time it changes and build an online rapport with your strongest supporters, finding out in real time what they like about your food and what they’d love to see added or improved. You can even get real time traffic and weather feed back from your followers, allowing you to shift location choices accordingly.
Foursquare is an interesting service for a food truck, since they move around. However, you can place your location as a tip on the nearby businesses Foursquare walls as one way to use it to get the word out about your location. I’d advise NOT posting your tip to a restaurant’s location wall, but instead to a complimentary business, as posting to a restaurant wall would be considered rude.
Facebook, aside from giving you a handy place to have a presence where true fans can rave about you, may no longer be a great place for the time strapped food truck owner to be. Because of changes in the timeline, Facebook has become more story-heavy for businesses. People will see more of you is you post more stories, and more compelling stories, than the usual “we are here today” type of post. If you don’t think you’ll have time to generate video and photo content that tells a compelling story, Facebook may make a better outpost than focus point for your truck.
YouTube is a great place for food trucks to market. What better way to display how happy your fans are than to create a video interview series or to capture their stories (and yours) in short videos that you can share with people on your website (you still need a website that you own) and other social sites?
What other social media do you see food trucks using? What “future social” do you think will most benefit a mobile business such as the food truck industry? Do you see Google + and its Hangouts (video) and Messenger (text/chat) feature as being useful to mobile business?
How can you apply the food truck model to your business to make it more portable?