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Social Media Strategy

Must Read, Social Media Strategy

Shortcuts Don’t Pay Off In Community Building

July 12, 2010
Spam

Today started out awesome – everything was on an even keel and productivity was high.  Around 1pm, I got this lovely message: “Welcome to the Events@kingpopulardesign.com mailing list!” Wow, I didn’t realize I signed up for this, since I have no idea who this is or why I would want to know about their events.  This email came into my ‘good inbox’ – i.e. the one that usually just has ‘real’ emails.  I use my yahoo email account to sign up for mailing lists, webinars, etc. where it’s likely I’m going to be added to lists, so it’s rare that I get outright spam to the main account.  Being the good internet citizen I am, I promptly followed the instructions and clicked the link to unsubscribe.  No big deal.  So I thought.

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Social Media Strategy

Does every new technology have to be a 'killer?'

March 2, 2010

Recently, there have been several devices, applications, technologies, etc. that have been released that were dubbed ‘killers’ in their category, and I wanted to take a moment to analyze this phenomenon.  Why must these new tools ‘kill’ the existing tools in order to be relevant?  Is this just a case of the media, tech bloggers, etc. gone awry with the hype?

Here are a few examples to demonstrate what I’m talking about:

Google Nexus One, Motorola Droid – ‘iPhone killers’
Facebook Titan – ‘Gmail killer’
Google Buzz – ‘Twitter killer’

and an oldie, but goodie: Facebook – ‘MySpace killer’

For a moment, let’s just imagine that you are one of the millions of happy people that are using the latter mentioned platforms.  Do you welcome the thought of your beloved technology, application, etc. being ‘killed’ by a new entrant to the market?  If you’re an iPhone user or developer, do you welcome the idea of that platform being trounced by a competitor? Or how about Gmail users?  Do you welcome the idea that Facebook Titan could roll in and crush Gmail?  In some cases, new entrants enhance the offering that exists and making things better for everyone, but it doesn’t always work that way.

Maybe I’m just growing weary of the constant barrage of new tools that seem to be trying to take down the market leaders that people are happily using currently instead of figuring out ways to incorporate them into their new offering.  On the other hand, I welcome tools that help aggregate the vast volume of information that’s floating around out on the social web.  Google has the potential to provide some real value here if they play nice.  I was encouraged by an article I read this morning on the Salmon Protocol that Google is developing currently that would allow comments to flow in real time between the original source out to aggregators, thereby reducing redundant data and allowing a more seamless experience for users.  Right on!  That sounds like a step in the right direction.  I’d love to see more of this kind of improvements to the social graph for everyone.

The reality is that companies don’t always have to kill off a ‘competitor’ to be successful, but they do have to offer something of value that doesn’t exist already.  It’s not enough to just build a ‘me-too’ app and pressure people into using it.  Frankly, that’s what Google Buzz felt like to many people due to the way it was released.  Looking back at some old rivalries such as Microsoft vs. Apple, which has been going on for decades, history teaches us that there is room for multiple profitable players in the market.  In fact, competition is the main driver of progress, so let’s celebrate this competitive spirit!

Think about it – do we really want any of the tools or applications that we use today to be killed off by a big monolithic corporation?  Personally, I like my iPhone, I like Facebook, I like Twitter, and I like MySpace (although I don’t use it as much anymore).  I’ll keep an open mind about any new technology, but I’m much more apt to be receptive if the new tools help me with the volume of social data I’m already processing and not try to pry me away onto another platform or service or abandon the tools that are working for me today.

What do you think?  Is this just media hype or are there underlying motives behind some of these moves?


photo credit: iStock Photo

Social Media Strategy

Does every new technology have to be a ‘killer?’

March 2, 2010

Recently, there have been several devices, applications, technologies, etc. that have been released that were dubbed ‘killers’ in their category, and I wanted to take a moment to analyze this phenomenon.  Why must these new tools ‘kill’ the existing tools in order to be relevant?  Is this just a case of the media, tech bloggers, etc. gone awry with the hype?

Here are a few examples to demonstrate what I’m talking about:

Google Nexus One, Motorola Droid – ‘iPhone killers’
Facebook Titan – ‘Gmail killer’
Google Buzz – ‘Twitter killer’

and an oldie, but goodie: Facebook – ‘MySpace killer’

For a moment, let’s just imagine that you are one of the millions of happy people that are using the latter mentioned platforms.  Do you welcome the thought of your beloved technology, application, etc. being ‘killed’ by a new entrant to the market?  If you’re an iPhone user or developer, do you welcome the idea of that platform being trounced by a competitor? Or how about Gmail users?  Do you welcome the idea that Facebook Titan could roll in and crush Gmail?  In some cases, new entrants enhance the offering that exists and making things better for everyone, but it doesn’t always work that way.

Maybe I’m just growing weary of the constant barrage of new tools that seem to be trying to take down the market leaders that people are happily using currently instead of figuring out ways to incorporate them into their new offering.  On the other hand, I welcome tools that help aggregate the vast volume of information that’s floating around out on the social web.  Google has the potential to provide some real value here if they play nice.  I was encouraged by an article I read this morning on the Salmon Protocol that Google is developing currently that would allow comments to flow in real time between the original source out to aggregators, thereby reducing redundant data and allowing a more seamless experience for users.  Right on!  That sounds like a step in the right direction.  I’d love to see more of this kind of improvements to the social graph for everyone.

The reality is that companies don’t always have to kill off a ‘competitor’ to be successful, but they do have to offer something of value that doesn’t exist already.  It’s not enough to just build a ‘me-too’ app and pressure people into using it.  Frankly, that’s what Google Buzz felt like to many people due to the way it was released.  Looking back at some old rivalries such as Microsoft vs. Apple, which has been going on for decades, history teaches us that there is room for multiple profitable players in the market.  In fact, competition is the main driver of progress, so let’s celebrate this competitive spirit!

Think about it – do we really want any of the tools or applications that we use today to be killed off by a big monolithic corporation?  Personally, I like my iPhone, I like Facebook, I like Twitter, and I like MySpace (although I don’t use it as much anymore).  I’ll keep an open mind about any new technology, but I’m much more apt to be receptive if the new tools help me with the volume of social data I’m already processing and not try to pry me away onto another platform or service or abandon the tools that are working for me today.

What do you think?  Is this just media hype or are there underlying motives behind some of these moves?


photo credit: iStock Photo

Social Media Strategy

What was the last thing you did to provide value to your community?

February 3, 2010

Let’s ask this question today and see what kind of responses we each have.  As Wim Rampen reminds us, it’s the outcome that customers want, not the relationship.  At the heart of business, we should be providing value to the people that we are ‘targeting,’ so let’s do a quick inventory of how we’re doing in this area.

We hear the words ‘provide value’ or ‘engage the customer’ all the time, but often the actual follow-through is lacking.  Our communications should be primarily designed to help the people we are communicating with, not just fill empty space for the sake of filling it.  I’m guilty in my own writing and musings online of not taking this into account fully, but it’s something I keep an eye on as much as possible.

Take Facebook for example.  For many individuals, Facebook is a great place to keep up with the people that are in their networks, but sometimes the content that is being shared doesn’t appear to be providing much value.  This sense of over-sharing can be detrimental to the ongoing engagement people have with their friends if they wear out the news feeds with random dribble and little valuable content that matters to their friends.  The same is true for brands, and arguably to a greater degree.  The endless ‘buy our stuff’ posts can have the effect of numbing the brand’s fans and desensitize them to the content that is being posted, or worse, they can hide the updates altogether, which defeats the point of having them as fans in the first place.

The remedy for the above scenario is contributing to the conversation in a way that benefits the recipient of the communication.  This seems so basic, but it’s often not practiced in day-to-day business.  If we want to engage our community and provide value, then we should be passing our communications through some sort of filter that determines the value of the communication to the recipient before they go out. An approach such as this might very well nudge participants into elevating the dialogue to a level that truly builds value for all involved.

So, what is the last thing you did, as an individual or as a brand that provided value to your community?  I’ll start.  I tweeted a few articles that I thought were very worthwhile reading this morning.  One was on the Agency of the Future, and the another was Does Being Happy Make Your Healthy? Both of the articles resonated with me and I thought they would be seen as valuable to the people that follow me on Twitter.  Hopefully this blog post also provides some value to those who are subscribed or have connected in other ways.

What about you?  What was the last thing you did to provide value to your community?

Photo Source: iStockphoto

Social Media Strategy

Mobile Engagement

January 25, 2010

What questions are you asking regarding mobile engagement?

You are asking questions in this area, right?  If not, what are you waiting for?  Here are some thoughts to chew on that might help you steer your thinking toward mobile.  The recently released Morgan Stanley Mobile Internet Report suggests that web traffic will be greater on mobile browsers than desktop browsers within 5 years and that shipments of smartphones will outpace that of desktop PCs by 2012!  These are remarkable predictions that deserve some serious consideration.

Beyond the basics of having a presence on the mobile web, we must make sure that our presence there makes sense from the end user’s perspective.   The questions I believe we should ask when beginning to think about mobile strategy are ‘how can we provide value to the user’s experience while they are on the go’ and ‘can we provide this value with a unique proposition that our brand is best suited to deliver?’  These questions along with others that are customer-centric set the stage for a fruitful relationship between your brand and your customers.

Placing ourselves in the customers’ shoes

Placing ourselves in our customers’ shoes first allows us to be in a better position to meet their needs.  The needs will be different with each organization, but one thing is consistent across nearly all of them – the ability for users to access information that is readable, digestible, and actionable while on the go.  Don’t forget about that last point – if they can’t take action at the point of need, then the opportunity is missed.  The mobile web is critical territory, and if your customers are not able to get what they want from a mobile device, what does that say about the value you place on these interactions?

Have you developed a mobile site for your brand?  If so, is it just a repackaged version of your existing site or does it truly take into account the experience that a user has when consuming content on a mobile device?  What about mobile apps?  Have you developed a mobile app for Android, iPhone, Blackberry, etc.?  In either case, what needs are you satisfying for the customer?  Notice I didn’t say what needs are you satisfying for your internal marketing department.  This is the critical fork in the road.  Believe me, customers are not waiting around hoping for another way for you to market to them on their mobile phone.  However, many of them are no doubt longing for an easier way to access information, complete a task, discover new products and services that meet their needs, etc.  These are the desires that we need to pay attention to.

Focusing on the Point of Need

We should start with the customer’s point of need and work back into the tools to help from that perspective.  Peter Sells did a fantastic job of illustrating this in his recent speech at the Battle of Big Thinking.  Special thanks to Jonathan MacDonald for pointing out this video! In his talk, Peter mentions a positive experience that he had with British Airways that was facilitated by a mobile site accessed via iPhone.  Check it out if you have the time.  At the end of his presentation was a quote that I thought really nailed the idea of asking the right questions:

Instead of asking what we should be saying to the consumer, ask what we should be doing for the consumer.’  Exactly.

On the other hand, Steve Smith has recently documented countless missed opportunities from brands of all ilk that are simply not utilizing mobile to its potential or are ignoring it altogether.  Steve’s article left me scratching my head and wondering why so many brands have failed to realize the importance of providing a solid mobile experience with their brands.  There is no question where this is headed, but there is definitely a question of how well brands are going to be poised to capitalize on the opportunities to connect with millions of users who have the power of the web at their fingertips 24 hours a day, and virtually everywhere they go.

If you have physical locations that you need to drive traffic to, are you paying attention to mobile search placement?  If you sell products through mass distribution channels, is there an easy way for people to learn more about your products on a mobile device?  Better yet, does your packaging encourage this?  If a customer is browsing for more information about a specific product or service, do you provide a way for them to see who else has purchased or provided a review of that product or service on their social graph?  Could you?

Integrating Mobile and Social

It’s been said that mobile and social are close cousins, and I totally agree.  After all, being social is about connecting with others, and mobile devices are the quintessential connection points that are by our sides day and night.  Social and mobile are joined at the hip, and we should endeavor to connect the user experience in social channels to the experience on mobile platforms.  Services such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, etc. are underscoring the desire for people to connect with each other and share experiences, tips, etc. with friends on the go.  Additionally, the adoption of mobile applications such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. reminds us that people are taking their social graph with them wherever they go and sharing more aspects of their lives than ever before.

How are you leveraging this for your benefit?  Do you encourage social sharing on your mobile site and/or apps?  Does your main website have functionality that allows customers to send reminders or product info to their mobile devices or create accounts they can access via your mobile site or mobile apps so that their shopping experience is easier when they are away from their computer?

Planting the Seeds

This post is all about planting the seeds for a renewed commitment to mobile engagement.  If you are exploring mobile, hopefully this has spurred some thought.  What do you think?  Does this resonate?  What questions do you think we should ask?