Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Maslow, Social Media, and Influencers

I recently attended and enjoyed the Seattle Social Media Club event (#smcsea), which featured Jim Watson of Razorfish as a speaker. I have been trudging (to walk, or in this case read, with purpose) through Razorfish's annual report regarding Social Influencers and their impact on marketing. I also have run across some Tweets and other ideas about Maslow's hierarchy of needs as they relate to marketing and have been trying to wrap my brain around the identification of social media and networking participants and how we in the B2B space can maximize our messaging and conversational impact by attending to the basic psychological craving and manifest destiny that drives us all to educate, research, and participate in online dialogue. As Maslow's hierarchy is often theory 101 in marketing classes, I think that it provides an interesting and functional metaphor for our engagement in the social media and networking world.

First, some rudimentary and repetitive themes from my posts:

  1. The applications of social media and networking are tools that should be contemplated in our overall marketing and sales strategies. Our profiles and content should be driven by our ultimate sales, educational, and conversational objectives never in the reverse.
  2. We should have a finely tuned definition of our demographic that should be enhanced, perhaps even modified by the feedback and understanding that we gain from participation in the social media world. Although the common misperception that Tweeting or updating our corporate status on Facebook is "free", an inordinate amount of internal resource and cost can mount rapidly if we are not preparing our content to meet the specific audience pertinent to our organizations and if we do not at least have some fundamental understanding of the needs we are fulfilling.

Second, some of the latest facts:

  1. Forrester research indicates that 75% of the online community is engaged in some sort of social media behavior.
  2. More Forrester research ( indicates that B2B IT decision-makers have an extremely high penetration at all participation levels in social media and networking, with 91% of technology decision-makers labeled as Spectators.


In a climate so finely keyed off of maximizing our resources, I think pinpointing the spot in our Venn diagram approach to developing a message that targets the needs of these Spectators can take apply a Maslow Metaphor particularly to those participants that Razorfish would identify as influencers. Let me advance the following theory:

Let's assume that I have already gained a "following" of decision-making spectators whose profiles are the demographic that is my target. According to Razorfish, a certain number of these followers, are going to have to the nth power of impact for me as any of the rest combined. If I also accept that all humans are genetically coded to follow Maslow's hierarchy of needs fulfillment, then my goal as a B2B social media content provider is to identity my key influencers, assess their particular needs and place in the Maslow Pyramid, and provide them with content that will address those needs in order that they repeat and retweet in ways that will not only report their fulfilled needs but ideally answer needs at other levels of the hierarchy. I believe that identifying the influential constituents at each level of the pyramid and customizing content appropriately becomes the science and the art of maximizing our messaging in the social media world. My first pass matching of content and conversation to Maslow's hierarchy of needs looks something like this:

Physiological Needs = Content in the form of basic company information, solution descriptions, cost model, customer lists, mailing lists, newsletters etc.
Safety Needs = Content and responses in the form of Reference validation, invitations to secure audio/video interviews, etc.
Belongingness and Love Needs = Invitations to corporate communities, special “customer only" information, etc.
Esteem Needs = Webinar Participation/Panelist Invitations, Case Study Highlights, Success stories e.g.
Self-actualisation = Promotion as internal/external "thought leaders", Internal Guest blog posts, invitations to conferences and special executive sessions e.g.



Clearly, this is an idea in progress. Obviously, if the content that we are providing is not meeting the needs of our constituents and the conversation in which we hopefully engage them is not compelling and acknowledging of their input and value to our organizations, we are not taking full advantage of the tremendous impact and reach that is afforded us through the mechanism of social media and networking. As I noodle more on this topic, I will be asking the following questions:

  1. How do we identify our influencers at different levels of hierarchical participation and are they often/always/sometimes at different levels of the pyramid?
  2. Do different social media applications more appropriately support our message delivery at different levels of the hierarchy? (My preliminary answer would be yes)
  3. Can the Maslow hierarchy of needs truly be translated into a working model for fulfilling the conversational exchange with our constituents and can its relevance be measured?

Thanks in particular to Jim Watson of Razorfish for his presentation and in general to my new friends in the social media world!


Best regards and until next post!


Monday, May 18, 2009

Social Networking-Old School

I just returned from a lovely wedding anniversary weekend in Port Townsend, WA, an eclectic community of oystermen, BnB's, and organic food coop owners. We happened to be there at the tail end of the annual Rhody-fest and were thus treated to bed races and a three-hour long parade of all the county festival Queens, the various political parties, the Shriners, and the Magic Bus! Thanks to Port Townsend for its warmth, welcome and whimsy.

As we were scoping our spot for the bed races, I struck up a conversation with a man who was wearing a Pagosa Springs, CO baseball hat (mine read Steamboat Springs, CO). My natural inclination to chat with everyone, everywhere and anytime led to the discovery that this gentlemen knew my father's college roommate, who had settled in Durango, CO many years ago and for a variety of reasons, was well known. As I reflect on the conversation and my delight at another anecdotal example of what a small world we truly inhabit, I feel compelled to remark that the social media and networking trends which so intrigue me today are truly founded in the fundamental communications skills upon which I was reared and coached by my parents, mentors and teachers, speech and debate coach of high school, and the intrinsic connection that I share with all my fellow "Twibe" members. I firmly believe that the power of the WEB 2.0 applications that extend these opportunities across time and space today are self-regulated and able to maintain a warmth and personality by embracing the principles of hospitality, grace and curiosity by which I was raised and schooled.

I previously posted about "Tweetiquette", which I think gives me some structure by which I extend my virtual hand to you and I sincerely hope that my posts and musing are marked by the joy, exuberance, and delight that I take in my social networking outreach, old school style. If I can't meet and converse with all of you F2F, I certainly hope that we all walk away from the conversation with at least the taste that we were sharing a spot along a small town parade route and uncovering connections that enhance and elevate the dialogue.

My very best,

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Those of us who are avid (rabid) Twitter Talkers have noticed a phenomenal increase in less personal and conversational and more SPAM-like Tweets, particularly in the last couple of weeks. I firmly believe that Twitter and other social media applications are self-regulating and the embedded ability across these platforms to unsubscribe, stop following, re-Tweet w/negative commentary and of course, publish blog posts should continue to support an open, educational, dynamic conversation. However, I recently Tweeted and am now blogging about my underlying desire to embrace some almost Emily Post era etiquette in my virtual social exchange as well as my in-person dialogue and presence. For those of you who are not of my generation or not still, even in their forties, monitored by their mothers, may give you a reference point. I offer you the following thoughts for Tweetiquette:

Lisa Channels Emily Post in a WEB 2.0 World-The First Six Tips

  1. Use the Direct Message feature in Twitter for one-to-one conversations: As many have noted, Tweets that are primarily @ replies and not generally informative really belong in personal email messages or as Direct Messages to your intended recipient. The rest of us feel left out and in the dark when your Tweet is something like: "@janedoe I'll see u there at five" or "Great idea. Looking 4ward to hearing more." As is true at a party, it is rude and exclusive to carry on private conversations or talk about inside jokes in front of other people.
  2. Assess Your Audience/Pause Before Posting: The ease and speed with which we can react and respond to virtual commentary and information also limits our natural "edit twice; post once" inclinations. I am as guilty as everyone else of firing off an email response prior to fully reading the thread or doing some basic research before opining. I would share several embarrassing "Reply All" anecdotes from early organizational email implementation days, but suffice it to say that as wonderful as our real-time conversation capabilities are, it is worth your personal and professional reputation to give yourself a time-out or to deliberate a little bit before your keystrokes blast your thoughts to the world.
  3. Make it Personal: I have never been one for auto-follow features or "thank-you's" and am still an advocate of personalizing, to the extent possible, email campaigns. In my Outlook inbox alone, I delete approximately 200 unsolicited, impersonalized SPAM messages per day, not so much because the senders are not Emily Post-certified as because I only have so much bandwidth to research, respond, and contemplate all of the messages. If I really believe that my message is important, I can take the ten extra seconds to address you in a more direct fashion that is indicative of my interest in you, your solutions, and your needs; not just assume that because it is coming from me or my profile, that you have an inherent interest in hearing what I have to say.
  4. Source Yourself: I was reading a Tweet and accompanying article about FTC guidelines around social media marketing (see @Build_a_Tribe) Not only are these thoughts critical for those of us who are WEB 2.0 conversationalists on behalf of our companies, but I think it offers some secondary lessons in netiquette transparency. Although we should continue to be cautious about specific contact information that is available to the world at large, I think it is very important to source ourselves when we are communicating in the SMN world. It is a courtesy to your reader to let them do a little bit of research about you so that they may determine their level of interest in your message AND so that it is received with the credibility it deserves.
  5. Old English Majors Still Check Spelling: I came into the business world during the Baby Bell breakup days, so am as acronym slap-happy as the next person. I love hash tags and shortening my URL's so that I can fit all my incredible thoughts in a 140 character space, but I still try to maintain a basic conscientiousness about spelling, grammar, and the clarity of my message. I hold up a professional colleague, Toby Bloomberg, as an excellent mentor and guide for clear messaging in a rapid-fire, limited bandwidth world. Toby (@tobydiva, is publishing a book using Twitter and represents a wonderful balance between southern, old-school, elegant charm and grace and WEB 2.0 facility. Her messages, Tweets and blog posts are clear, well-sourced, and still accessible to the internet-sensory overloaded.
  6. Remember the BIG PICTURE: It is far too easy for me to get so focused on an individual thread or idea that I lose sight of my primary objectives. In my professional role as a Director of Customer Conversation, I am responsible for educating and consulting with clients and prospects about solutions and innovation in customer relationship and reference management. I MUST overlay my WEB 2.0 activities with this in mind or I risk my reputation and my organization's reputation because I can so easily reply to so many different topics that come across my DSL connection. Although I have personal opinions, political views, and philosophies that are mine and I am a member of personal-interest communities as well as professional ones, I need to consider my posts, Tweets, and comments in the context of my entire profile, not just my individual presence.


As always, warmest regards,

Friday, May 1, 2009

Right Time/Right Place: A "stitch in time" in an SMN World.

As many of you know, I am a huge advocate of integrating an SMN strategy with existing customer relationship and reference business practices. The power of multi-threaded, real-time, credible conversations with existing and prospective clients cannot, in my opinion, be overemphasized. Whether a B2B has initiated and implemented an approach to participation in social media conversations or is just watching them, it is clear that our clients and other interested parties have been very quick to incorporate forums, communities, Tweets, et al into their research and outreach about our services and products. As I have posted previously, however, the more overzealous of us may "forget the oatmeal" or neglect to attend to our fundamental customer philosophy and processes if we shift our focus completely to posting and responding in the WEB 2.0 world. In my classic fashion, let me share a story from this morning.

For a demonstration and discussion, I needed to use the services of a tried and true vendor of ours this morning. I have always been and continue to be an advocate of their solution, customer support and roadmap. I have offered myself as a reference to them and will continue to do so. This morning, however, a glitch in the application prevented me from being able to use them. If my reference comments regarding them had been previously captured via a case study, quote, or audio/video reference interview, this vendor would have the ability to "normalize" experiences such as I had this morning and have a consistent representation of their clients' experiences that they could share with prospects and other audiences. If I had been scheduled to take a direct reference call for them this morning, although I would still be considered a positive reference for them, my usual effusiveness and enthusiasm for their solution would not have been as compelling or on target as it normally would be. Although I have not chosen to Tweet, comment, or blog about this specific vendor or situation, as someone conversant with and a consistent user and contributor to these tools, I would hazard a guess that most customers would have immediately sought answers or worse, negatively commented about the glitch. I know that this particular vendor has implemented a comprehensive and quite elegant triage system for responding to SMN client comments and questions, so this option is not unfamiliar to them. I chose the "old-school" route of reaching out to our account executive and speaking to customer service. As a side note, this method took up far more of my time and perhaps gave me less immediate satisfaction than if I had Tweeted.

So, what is my message? I'll offer just a few brief take-aways from this anecdote and my post-experience musings:

  1. The SMN explosion has made immediate and perhaps knee-jerk very public reactions to minor and expected technical problems extremely easy. Depending upon the situation and the triage plan that we have established for responding to negative Tweets, etc., the possibility for disastrous and unrecoverable customer experiences has achieved phenomenal proportions.
  2. Having said that, the most effective triage plan for responses to WEB 2.0 customer interactions will never obviate the need for consistent, credible, normalized customer reference collateral. I think every technology professional intrinsically knows that applications will have glitches; that downtimes are not indicative of overall solution failure; and that good vendors who respond in a timely, comprehensive fashion to problems are still worthy of our reference commentary. We should capture that reference testimony when it is most compelling, fresh, and enthusiastic.
  3. Once again, our SMN play is NOT a strategy. Creating corporate support Twitter profiles, online discussion groups, and establishing blogs, does not replace the importance of consistent, standardized, comprehensive reference and customer relationship collateral. To reprise a really old cliché and to give you all a hint at my age, "a stitch in time saves nine" OR one comprehensive, on-line, credible reference interview may minimize the impact of nine direct reference calls or a thousand negative Tweets.

Best regards