Archive for category THe Social Media Playbook

Towards a More Social Organization

Chief Social Officer The discussion around social media at this point in time is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the breadth and depth of change that is being created in organizations of all sizes around the world. While some like Steve Rubel will argue that this emphasis is a passing fad and social media is merely another channel that will be thought of eventually as media, I disagree. By looking at this era in such a short sighted way, you miss what Doc Searls talks about as the ‘greater significance ’ of this transformative technology.

I contend that the rise of Social Media is the catalyst that will ultimately transform our world of work, our economy and our entire society. It will propel us to evolve from being industrial organizations, focused on increasing throughput and efficiencies of production processes to becoming social organizations, with a true emphasis on people over processes and technologies. Surely, Steve and others who feel the same way are right in thinking that the technologies will one day be thought of as simple tools (like pencils are today). You would also be right to assume that one day, the newness of what makes this different will be worn down to the point that we refer to a lot of what is happening more broadly as simply media.

However, to de-emphasize it at this time destroys the all important context that contains the most valuable and nutritious part of the signal we are trying to send around the world. That it is time for us to return to being social with one another, to look at other people (especially those who are different from us) as our ‘friends’ and to really think about how our decisions and actions can positively or negatively affect other people. In short, our organizations and the way we operate them need to become more socially oriented, truly engaged in the market conversation.

In a recent discussion with my Social Media Playbook co-author Brian Solis , we started to bring together all these points that we have been discussing with others for the past two years. Social Media is not just about how an enterprise does its marketing, but how all the people in the enterprise talks with its market.

Yes there is an internal employee to external stakeholder communications path, but there is also a collaboration element added to this – a social sense of working together for common goals. To be really successful however requires more then proficiency with this one aspect of managing your organization. It also requires you to develop deeper expertise with your communications and collaborations process between employees; between employees and partners; and even in some cases between external stakeholders and other external stakeholders.

This includes marketing, customer support, product development, research, partner relationships, internal collaboration, information technology, and even facilities. There is no aspect of your organization that will go untouched. This is not some pie in the sky vision of a far off utopian future, this is what many people/consumers are clamoring for. Tired of being sold to ant talked at, advertising is less effective then ever before and efforts are underway to turn CRM upside down in favor of VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) .

This is not to say that we are supposed to turn away from profitability, far from it. By increasing the efficiency of market interactions, there is a greater chance for profitability; for good companies to become great companies; and for bad companies to just die off. Companies need to be profitable in order to grow and flourish and continue to do good for the world – as the saying goes, you are either thriving or dying and seldom if ever just stagnant. The difference between where we are today and where we will be tomorrow can be summed up as reasonable profitability with market cultivating behaviour as opposed to exploitative profitability and predatory behaviour.

While today you can gain a competitive advantage through the proper applications of Social Media, tomorrow it will be the price of admission for every market. So the question we are trying to help you answer with The Social Media Playbook is not how do I use Social Media for Marketing or Public Relations, but rather how do you transform your company into a social organization.

To this end, I see the potential for a new position in many larger organizations – for someone to wear the hat of the Chief Social Officer. While this responsibility could be held in any of the existing C-Suite titles, in larger organizations I believe it is necessary to have one person overseeing these efforts. Their needs to be someone with the authority, leadership, vision and yes, power, in order to effect change of this magnitude, as Michael Dell did over the past several years.

Why do we need a Chief Social Officer? Because embracing social media is embracing change management; changing the way teams collaborate; improving our relationships with customers; affecting our interaction with partners; overseeing customer support; empowering sales people to be purchase support; altering our product innovation and creation processes; and ultimately, bringing us out of the industrial age, beyond the information age and into a new age of enlightenment. It requires us to break down, once and for all, the silo walls that separate groups, the moats that have created fiefdoms of power and the interpersonal bullshit that prevents us from seeing that we all want what’s best, even if we have different ideas of how to do it.

In a recent McKinsey report, they talked about The Evolving role of the CMO , and the increased demands (related to these responsibilities) being put upon the position. I believe, as the report suggested, that the CMO should be the voice of the customer across the organization. The CMO/CEO and Chief Social Officer can and should co-exist and work together to bring about organizational transformation.

This is a new world of work, where knowledge, applied with compassion, creates a sustainable economy and a more peaceful world by transforming the very heart of business.

What are you doing to make your organization more social? How are you “being the change you want to see most in the world?”

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The Golden Rules of Marketing

Our panel at last week’s SxSW Interactive conference was by far the best panel I have ever had the pleasure to join.  Self Replicating Awesomeness: The Marketing of No Marketing included Deb Schultz, Jeremiah Owyang, Tara Hunt, Hugh Macleod and David Parmet who are each absolutely brilliant in their own way, and some of my favorite peers in this field.  You really should listen to the audio (where is it?) and I really should do a better recap post then just linking to the Google Search Results, but a few things have been bouncing around in my head for the past few days I wanted to share with you now.

First, several people are attributing to me something I quoted from the CEO of iProspect, Fredrick Marckini, who said “The brands with the best storytellers win.”  I wish I could take credit for that awesome insight, but Fredrick deserves the credit.  More people should set the story straight when they are standing on the shoulders of our peers – it is a shame so many seemingly smart people quietly sit by and take credit for the work of others, but that is a separate story.

Most importantly, there are three major thoughts about marketing that I have been thinking about deeply that I want to share with you now.  The first is my definition of marketing, the second is about marketing’s place in the product lifecycle and the third is about marketings interaction with markets.

  1. Marketing is the work we do to match a company’s product or service with the people or companies who will get the most value and/or satisfaction from it.
  2. The best marketing is done during the product development process, where the needs and desires of those who will use the product or service are considered and designed into the product or service with an understanding of the broader marketplace in which they will be sold.  You can’t easily market a product that was not well made, but the iPhone sells itself.
  3. Marketing is not the transactional process with which it has become associated despite its close proximity. If markets are indeed conversations, then marketing is a series of conversations intended to serve the better interests of the market. (David Weinberger has famously said ‘somewhere along the way marketing became what we did TO people’)

Of course, all of this is moot if you don’t remember and live the original golden rule DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.  In short, don’t sell people crap, don’t try to pretend that people need your crap and don’t, by any means, try to pretend your crap is not crap – because everyone knows crap when they smell it.

So this is my first draft to attempt to redefine how we think of marketing, or rather how marketing is perceived and presented.  What do you think the new golden rules of marketing should be?

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Are you ready for what comes back? The Unilver Axe/Dove Connundrum

Just saw the incredibly powerful new Dove Onslaught video during the lunch presentation here at The Search Insider Summit . I think the latest update to the Campaign for Real Beauty which established the Dove Self-Esteem Fund is a great step in the right direction towards resetting our societies self esteem. I was surprised to learn that the very provocative Axe brand is under the Unilever umbrella, making for a stark contrast between the two brands that Ryan Clifton parodied in this video below.

The point of the most excellent Google presentation from Suzie Reider (former CMO for YouTube and current Head of Sales and Marketing) was that companies need to really understand the power of visual storytelling. She explained the power of video through her own personal experience when the story of President Bush inappropriately massaging the German Chancellor broke. Being offline, she has not heard of the story, so she excused herself to go check it out online. When she searched for the video and saw it for herself, she was immediately up to speed and able to participate more actively in the conversation.

I was very impressed with her and her presentations was very informative – not what one might expect from a sponsored lunch event – she definitely walked her talk during her presentation, which included the following four takeaways.

  1. Create commercials that work as content. (as I often say, make media not marketing)
  2. Let users know that you understand the context (the most important of all famous “C”s IMHO
  3. Encourage interactivity. (ie, enable people to unleash their creativity and provide a safe, welcoming environment for them to do it in)
  4. Be ready for what comes back. (as in the example with the latest Dove campaign, mentioned above, the parody showing the hypocrisy between Dove and Axe, 2 brands in the Unilever family, represent the downside of what might happen – but I still think it is great, because people like Ryan cared enough to be engaged and share his perspective and make some of us more aware of the bigger picture)

In speaking with a few people afterwards, I was curious as to any characteristics that might be helpful in understanding at what point a brand might be ready for what comes back, so that they may really engage in the conversation. The response was universal, and in line with the early work we did at The Conversation Group in identifying our ideal clients. Courage – a willingness to just do it and show that the results most generally speak for themselves. In that courage is an essential element of participation in any real world arena, it makes sense that is a pre-requisite here, in the early market for corporate engagement through Social Media.

Are you prepared for what might come back? What are your favorite stories of where it wasn’t as bad as some of your co-workers may have feared?

Other exceptional coverage from the Search Insider Summit from Lee Odden’s TopRank Blog (who I finally got to meet in person for the first time this morning)

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Help me help you. I need your input for my book.

Please take this survey www.contentconnections.com/socialmedia2007 to help me with my book – keep reading to find out why…
The Social Media PlaybookThere is a lot going on these days and a lot of different books being written about what’s happening, with an apparent emphasis on social media, communities and user generated content. As the founder of Social Media Club, it should be obvious that I am writing a book focused on the rise and importance of social media – to a large extent, I am writing that book, but as Doc Searls says, there is something of greater significance happening beneath the meme.
While I am still torn on the title of my book, it is now being envisioned as “The Social Media Playbook.” The goal for me is to help people understand the era we are now entering and enable professionals to maximize the effectiveness of their participation on behalf of the organizations they represent. For me, this is best seen through the framework of Look, Listen, Join, Lead. In that it is as much art as it is science though, the book will be peppered with PURPOSE – or rather, illustrating the answer to WHY through metaphor and real world stories.  Ultimately, social media is the spark that has ignited the movement towards the HUMANIZATION OF THE ENTERPRISE, which I will illuminate better over the coming weeks.
There is quite a bit to get done in the next 3 months, which is not a lot of time for 60,000 words – especially considering the problems I have with Repetitive Stress Injury, but it will be done. I will be revealing more details of the book very soon (within the week) along with my plans for leveraging the best practices of “social publishing” I have been researching, but I am torn on a few decisions we need to make, so would love to hear what you think is the most effective way to leverage social media in creating the book here in the comments, or even call me 408.834.0884
More urgently though, I am participating in a survey put together by David Brake of Content Connection together with entrepreneur extraordinaire Lon Safko to determine what you really know about Social Media and what you would like to understand more deeply. Receiving the gift of your time to take the survey, and better still, to pass it forward to others, would be a huge help in getting the right information into the book. There are a few iPod nano’s being given away as prizes, your responses/personal information will be kept private and your participation will be recognized appropriately.

Please take the survey here www.contentconnections.com/socialmedia2007. Please note that Lon is a friend, but not a co-author of my book – he is writing his own book on the subject from a different angle. It is an interesting situation, to be collaborating in this way on market research, but to essentially be competing for attention in the market once the books are published – I think of it as an experiment in co-creation and co-opetition, which in and of itself makes for an interesting case study…  Then again, this is just a more explicit expression of support similar to what I have been giving to others such as Paul Gillen, Geoff Livingston, David Meerman Scott, Shel Israel/Robert Scoble, David Weinbergber and Debie Weil.  I expect I will be doing the same with Charlene Li and Tara Hunt’s upcoming books – each of whom has a valuable perspective to be considered that helps us all move along in the right direction, which is my ultimate goal – to help make the world a better place by sharing what we know.
More to come very soon…

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Chris Heuer Speaks: Social Media Workshop, Social Media Playbook

On November 7, 2007 Chris Heuer presented his thoughts on a book project at the Social Media Workshop in Austin, Texas. The presentation, “Social Media Playbook,” focuses on the principles underlying Chris’ book on the rise and significance of social media.

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