Apr 13 2009

It’s About Engagement, Stupid

Published by under Engagement,My Thoughts

I’ve been scratching my head for a while about the question of where social media should sit in an organization. I’ve learned that the way a person typically answers that depending on his or her background and point of view. A PR person will typically say, PR! (Especially if that person works at an agency.) An advertising person will usually say, ADVERTISING! You get where I’m going with this.

My auto-response answer is: marketing. As I give it more thought though, I don’t think it’s that straight forward. These days I’m thinking that it should live wherever business strategy lives and in the channels where a company delivers tactically against those strategies. Does that mean it lives everywhere? Maybe.

From my perspective, social media enables engagement. To me, it’s much more interesting to think of it as an enabling technology that serves a bigger business objective: a more effective and efficient way to serve customers.

Engagement translates to better communication and understanding of your business eco-system (customers, employees and partners), which results in better products and services, and ultimately happier customers, employees and partners. Social media happens to be a great channel for achieving that.

You have to ask where all of those things matter most within a company. I think most will come to realize that engagement has the potential to impact a company’s business at a fundamental level. I get excited about this because I believe that engagement, and social media as a technology that enables engagement, does this in pretty dramatic ways.

No, I’m not going to say that there’s a revolution at our door steps or anything silly like that. I do however believe that transparency, changes in control of communication mediums & messages and the need for authenticity, represents both a for change from business as usual, but more importantly, a HUGE opportunity for both consumers and businesses.

For me, right now, that means engagement as a business strategy is what’s more interesting, and social media as one of a mix of channels and technology for achieving those objectives is what makes sense.

So, where does it live? Marketing? Customer support? Product development? HR? PR? Partner relations? Yes, yes, and yes.

The real challenge (and opportunity) that I see is how a business integrates engagement into every aspect of its business operations where it makes sense.

One response so far

Apr 04 2009

Who Gets It?

Published by under My Thoughts

About a month ago, I had a conversation with a friend who doesn’t work in the same industry as I do about a phrase that she noticed is quite pervasive amongst the social media set.

“They don’t get it.”

This is used to explain the ineptitude and shortcomings of my brethren in marketing who work at brands, enterprises and agencies or all shapes and sizes, and pertains to their lack of understanding about social media and engagement marketing.

As an outsider, that phrase just sounded condescending, at best, and arrogant and obnoxious at worst, to her.

I tried to explain, as earnestly as possible, the context in which I’ve used that phrase to describe these small minded people. I’m sorry, I mean marketers. There are, after all, so many examples of marketers at brands and agencies that don’t get this new world of transparency and authenticity.  Truth is, even when they try, most attempts at engagement marketing by seasoned marketers are true fuck ups and one can only conclude that they just don’t get it. Right?!

I mean, they just don’t seem to get that the world has changed. They’re obviously just freaked out and desperate to hold on to their old ways of doing business in the same ways that Conservatives talk nostalgically about the good old days of oppression and slavery (well, you get my point).

After awhile though I started listening to what she was saying (usually a good idea in a conversation). It wasn’t whether or not people get it, rather, this industry that I work in seems to be really caught up in its own bullshit. That got me thinking. Maybe I’m living too much in my little bubble of get-it-ness and I’m missing something.

A couple of weeks after this conversation I met a guy who works at one of these ‘don’t get it’ big agencies. This guy is a classic ad guy. Knows the traditional ad business inside and out. He seems to be really good at his job and he immediately earned my respect.

We had a conversation about the transformation of the ad industry. We talked about their existing business and the fact that doing 30 second spots for TV remains their bread and butter.

Wait, hadn’t he and his Mad Men friends heard about what we in the social media industry know to be Gospel? Isn’t TV dead? Aren’t million dollar ad campaigns dead? Isn’t it all about the social web? Ugh, another guy who doesn’t get it.

But here’s the thing, I think he does.

The fact is that any big brand (the ones that my industry cohorts bitch about) are faced with a reality of today’s business. Would you throw away millions of dollars that roll in the door today to jump on a bandwagon that, yes, will become THE way of marketing in the near future but isn’t quite there today? Any executive worth anything would not say yes to that. If they do, they’re idiots.

Rather, wouldn’t you just send your best and brightest out there to learn and experiment as much as they can with these new methods, knowing full well that you’ve got to very quickly develop an expertise in this new approach to marketing?

The measure of that executive is how quickly they understand and act on the balance of allocating resources between maintaining your existing business and ensuring that the company is ready to move in a new direction when the market conditions are right.

This is exactly what my new friend appears to be doing.

So, when I was asked tonight whether I thought he ‘gets it,’ I had to think about it for a second. My answer now is, yes, he does.

More importantly, I think I finally get it too.

No responses yet

Feb 10 2009

New Media Knowledge Interview

Published by under KickApps

I just found the article that NMK interviewed me back in October, 2008.

“Politicians have a unique opportunity to engage with people directly through a highly interactive and cost effective channel. No longer are you bound by expensive ad buys or are you beholden to editors or news programmers, you can talk to your electorate 1:1 at anytime,” he told NMK.

US Presidential Elections Get Social, October 3, 2008

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Jul 02 2008

Future of Social Media – No Longer a Destination

Published by under Social Media

Coming out of last week’s panel on the future of social media at the Digital Media Conference 2008, I’ve been thinking more about the discussion we had and the questions from the audience.

One idea I’ve been thinking more about is that social media is as much a feature on any websites, or at least will be soon, as it is a destination. By destination I mean social networks (e.g. Facebook, MySpace and Linkedin), blogs and media sharing sites (e.g. YouTube and Flickr), etc.

The premise is that any website’s owner cares a lot about increasing the number of people who come to the website and spend more time on it. This translates into more pageviews, which equals more advertising inventory.

The fact is that the social web has broken through. People like it. They use it to interact with each other, discover new things and make new friends. What this means on a website is more engagement. In the past media has been largely a one way deal. Call it a monologue if you will. With social media we have the ability for a multilogue–a multitude of different conversations going in different directions. This means greater volume (pageviews), greater involvement with your website (people care enough to interact in your environment) and greater brand affinity and (a degree) of loyalty for those who are repetitively active.

The technology exists today to very easily and cost effectively add these features to your website. It’s a commodity. I think this is a good thing–clearly, since I work at KickApps.

So, fact #1 of the Future of Social Media = it’s no longer just a destination.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s not the future as much as it’s the present.

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Jun 27 2008

Digital Media Conference 2008

Published by under Speaking

I was on a panel about the future of social media at Ned Sherman’s Digital Media Conference in DC yesterday. Really good discussions came out of it. I recapped some of the main points (at the least the ones I remembered) during my train ride back to New York late last night on the KickApps blog.

The panel was moderated by Rohit Bhargava, who did an excellent job. Check out Rohit’s new book, Personality Not Included. Also on the panel were:

Greg Johnson, CMO, GGL
Terry Farrell, Senior Product Manager, Zune, Microsoft Corp.
Craig Stoltz, Blogger & Web Strategy Consultant, 2.Oh….really?
Nick O’Neill, Founder, The Social Times & AllFacebook

Craig posted a great summary of the panel on his blog. He writes about a point a I made during the session.

[Michael] said something interesting in response to a question about how people can make money from social media. Paraphrasing here, he said companies ought to go out and hire as many anthropologists as possible to try to figure out what’s going on with this new behavior–and then figure out how to make money.

After the presentation, a woman from Motorola came up and introduced herself, said she enjoyed the panel. She handed me her card. Her title read “Anthropologist.”

For real. Not a winky-funny-hip-corporate-title. Her actual job title.

Yes, Motorola has an anthropologist on the payroll.

I’m telling you, this thing is big.

Pretty f’ing cool coming from the world’s #22 blog according to Time.com.

2 responses so far