Friday, March 20, 2009

Twitter Tumult

Early this morning, I was asked by a colleague to offer some advice regarding a negative (what I call a "Heat Tweet") Tweet re a client of his. This client is relatively new to the Twitter sphere and other social media mechanisms and their initial reaction was to retaliate by lodging a harassment complaint with Twitter. As I have opined before, because these applications are merely tools in what should be a much broader and comprehensive customer dialogue, we need to evolve our usage of them to align with our marketing and outreach strategies. Additionally, the rapidity with which information may be shared and the exponential number that our audiences reach when we provide content via them, makes me even more emphatic that organizations ought to consider a Social Media DJ whose primary responsibilities would be to re-craft our message and content appropriately Twitter, et al. If we issue a press release in response to a negative situation, we have a little more luxury in terms of crafting my response and messaging. Absent an overall strategy that outlines clear objectives for our participation in social sites, we are much more prone to knee-jerk reactions to feedback and elicit even more negative responses because of their wide-reaching favor.

I offer the following thoughts vis-à-vis response to negative Tweets:

  1. Don't React. Asking Twitter to remove or suspend an account for harassment or particularly outrageous Tweets may be a moot point. In some ways, this is just common sense, but it is worthwhile to highlight the fact that if a client is particularly aggrieved, removing their ability to express themselves may aggravate them further AND given how easy it is to simply turn to another social media or networking location to express the same thoughts, it may be futile.
  2. Participate. Acknowledging all feedback, negative or positive, speaks to an organization's credibility in terms of its customer service, consideration of input from various audiences, and it dilutes any particularly harsh criticism. Rather, I would recommend that we respond publicly in our timelines, even if our message is along fairly vanilla lines.
  3. Deliver. By carefully responding, organizations can very quickly turn shift the focus of the community to more credible information sites, e.g., "More information about this issue can be found….." Any other tactic may be perceived as a "cover-up" and thus elevate the Tweet to a visibility and status that is undeserved.
  4. Research. Any client who will take the time to harshly criticize is most likely a member of other networks and feeds their comments to other sites and forums. People who are passionate about social media do not typically embrace one mechanism. Do the research.
  5. Research Again. Unsolicited Twitters should be considered an EXCELLENT resource for understanding user community perception of our solutions. Just using the various applications to do Twitter searches should be a mandate of every marketing organization. I would actually advice doing this as a piece of Phase I in an organization's plan to roll-out a corporate Twitter account.
  6. Mean What You Say. Transparency and Credibility are key issues in current social media dialogues. Again, the rapidity with which information is exchanged via these networks also means that if we strike a false note in our messaging or we are too generic in our responses, we risk being exposed as just jumping on the Tweet bandwagon to comb for leads rather than to initiate meaningful dialogue with a variety of audiences. I suggest that not only should businesses consider corporate Tweet responses to negative messages, but also direct message the Tweeters when possible. For larger organizations, part of our implementation must be the development of tools that will receive, sort and track Tweets and direct messages and ensure that they are delivered to the appropriate groups in our organizations for follow-up. Almost worse than retaliating against a negative Tweet would be to ignore it entirely. Worse would be establishing a corporate Twitter account and just letting it run in idle.
  7. Integrate. Organization's need to develop ways of accommodating the information delivered, exchanged, and developed for social media and networks in a centralized, scalable, accessible fashion. If I look at negative Tweets from the perspective of overcoming objections in a sales cycle, I should be integrating them into my other customer collateral and marketing tools.
  8. Innovate. We need to consider how we engage various communities on our behalf in response to negativity. Organizations might be in "listen mode" on Twitter, but should consider actively supporting and launching customer communities in other applications. The ability to link feeds, blogs, Tweets, and Facebook Updates means that we can use all of these tools in complimentary ways. Organizations should look at their existing methods for delivering "testimony" and re-purpose content from those environments to Twitter, et al and vice versa.

Until next time….

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Social Media Methodology and Metric Mania

In the last couple of days, my fascination with the social media trend has turned to establishing some repeatable paradigms around measuring the effectiveness of these tools in the B2B world. I continue to opine (quite firmly), that until a strategy around an organization's use of social media and network facilities is established, developing measurement criteria about their use is a futile and misguided effort. I can't, however, help being personally curious about whether or not my footprint with these tools has any relevance and how to discover the best ways to track interaction with my various 2.0 dabblings. Let me outline some initial thoughts re methods, using my own presence as a metaphor:

  1. What is Lisa's reason for playing in the social media world?

    Education. I need to evolve my understanding and skill-set re the Twitters (and the many accompanying tool-sets that support), Blogspots, Facebooks, Linkedins, Naymz, Nings, etc etc etc.

    Conversation. Both from a familial and professional standpoint, the various networks support my desire to communicate with with my professional friends and family, and colleagues across time zones, geography, and technical/technique barriers. The mechanisms available don't really care whether you are a Windows machine or an Apple, iPhone or a Blackberry, Eastern time or Pacific, etc., etc., etc.

    Efficiency. Although I posit that the barriers between my professional and personal personas are and should be breaking down, the social media world affords me the luxury of taking the same content and quickly altering and adjusting it for various audiences. My brother may not be interested in deep-dives in this social media topic, but I may want to alert him to the webinar event that I am moderating or particular blog posts. I belong to professional networks that are duplicated across Linkedin and Facebook, yet my profile in Facebook is not 100% available to members of these groups while my Linkedin profile is.

    Ego. I think that everybody wants to "hear" what I have to say and I don't have a global megaphone. J

    Advice and Comments. Despite the last objective, I do solicit and welcome constructive criticism and pointers from both my professional and personal associations. Barring sending out a survey to everybody I know about a variety of topics, I can easily accept and review solicited and unsolicited review of my opinions and interest via these tools.

  2. How is Lisa going to use all of these tools? (Although this seems similar to number one….bear with me)

    Keep friends, family, and colleagues updated on what is going on. I really despise and question the credibility of annual Xmas letters. Social networks afford me the ability to exchange up to the minute updates and information with a variety of people. I'm also saving trees by not sending out massive paper missives at set times throughout the year. I can tailor the information being exchanged to specific people and interests. Vice-versa, I can choose to alert myself to content in which I am interested.

    Determine whether anybody is interested in my opinion. By using alerts and statistics and rating and ranking, I can do some self-editing of my own content (I'm sure everyone is happy about this!) I'm currently playing with Hoot Suite and looking at "visits" to my various updates; I track my blogs for visits and commentary; I deploy various other tools of measurement for other footprints. If I mean what I say by welcoming constructive criticism, then I can use these measurements to customize my content and post about things in which people are interested rather than about things in which I think they should be.

I think that these types of questions about my personal interaction with social media and networking are very appropriate first steps for any organization that is contemplating these mechanisms as toolkits in their marketing, sales, and customer relationship practices. Just these two questions have driven me down a pretty structure path to formulating my own strategy and purpose for being "present" and certainly have enabled some filters around the various tools available for measurement.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Brian Solis' Conversation Prism Model for Social Media

As I was scanning my feeds on this Sunday morning, I read with interest Brian Solis' recent blog post introducing The Conversation Prism as a way to wrap our over-stimulated brains around social media efforts. Rather than synthesize his comments and regurgitate them, I will leave it to all of you to digest the article, but my comprehension of our evolving exploration of this trend is akin to my belief in the FSM (Flying Spaghetti Monster). I believe that social media and networking provide us with marcomm and sales theology that is far broader than customer relationship approaches that we have all traditionally taken. Even CRM and SFA systems that play extremely well with anothers in terms of their ability to integrate with a variety of contact and lead generation tools and methodologies do not begin to approach the capacity of Web 2.0 functionality. Although I quite sternly advocate against social media and networking being in and of themselves a strategy, the flexibility and variety with which we may deploy these mechanisms in just, as an example, our lead generation, is indicative of the nature of the approach we should take.

PR 2.0: Introducing The Conversation Prism

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Social Media DJ for Corporations

When I starting spinning up my internal dialogue and musings on the social media/networking facility in corporate communications, relationships, marketing and branding, I came up with the metaphor that helped me personally frame the way I think that organization's should approach the subject: A social media DJ. As I was expanding my footprint beyond the basic networks like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc., I recognized that although the core of my message has threads across all of these spaces, that I was definitely tailoring it contingent upon the venue. I started reflecting (reminiscing) that what I was doing was in terms of picking and choosing content and ordering depending upon the network, was akin to creating mix tapes in college and today burning CD's from playlists in my ITunes library. I was using the same fundamental content or songs, to create new footprints (playlists) that would appeal to different audiences. Rather than exposing myself to claims that I suffer from a form of multiple-personality disorder, I posit that because I am presenting similar content just in different ways, I am actually acting out a virtual DJ role: looking at my life's personal and professional song list and ordering and styling it for each context.

For those you who have been the victims of my evangelism for my metaphor (and might still be raising their eyebrows), I challenge you to review your own profiles across your networks and ask yourselves if they are completely dissimilar or whether they reflect a core message that has just been spun in slightly different ways? From there, I challenge you to reflect on corporate messaging and whether or not the true objective is for marketing and sales to "play" the same songs but edit the length, fade-ins and outs, and order to fit the sales cycle, prospect profile, and particular solutions you are pitching.

I believe that we can quite quickly come to the conclusion that the viral nature of social networks, the facile way that they enable us to quickly select content from a library and "templatize" for a Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, blog, comment on a blog, etc. are precisely the role of a DJ with Web 2.0 expertise.

Have you come full-circle with me? Rock on colleagues, rock on.

Saturday Morning Twitter Play Launches New Blog

I have been negligent and lazy regarding my posting. I have been so entranced by the social media and networking world lately that I have not invoked my writing muse. For this ex-English major, the world of Facebook, Twitter, etc is a dangerous one. It affords my ego the opportunity to reactively and often pompously respond to the Web 2.0 world without the more careful consideration I give to more expansive writing. As I was opening a new document to capture some stream-of-consciousness around Twitter as a business tool this morning, I saw that Word now provides a blog post template, so I thought I would capture my thoughts this way as a test.

"Social Media and Networking" has become the newest buzz phrase for organizations and individuals who want to play with the cool kids. I have been working on building a practice around how the various mechanisms in this arena can facilitate organizational customer relationships, service programs, branding, and marketing. I was Tweeting around several topics this morning and have been testing some of my theories about how Twitter in particular can be positioned as a B2B sales tool. Bear with these random thoughts and trust that I am going somewhere with this:

How B2B sales and marketing departments can utilize Twitter:

  1. Use applications such as Tweet Beep to create alerts around your company name, employees, topics relevant to your solution or your clients.
  2. When you get notifications that somebody is following you, check out their profile and any accompanying url's (their website, personal blog, sites of interest to them) and determine whether they are a lead for your company.
  3. Start following them and set up Tweet Beeps for their organization, name, etc.
  4. Check out all those people that are following THEM!

Very quickly, by following just step number two, I identified five new leads for my company that are in the appropriate vertical and appear to be a good target for our solutions. Counter-intuitively, this did not take up much time!