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The unifying theory of communications: Sustain us

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unifying theoryWhen less is simply less 

Look at Earth, hanging in space, alone in darkness. After you’re done admiring the beauty of what you see, you can’t help but think, on some level:

Will we be able to sustain such a hurtling jewel?

What if we looked at communications in that context?

Sometimes communications are used in less-than-best practice.

Infographics are great. They convey information quickly. They’re on everybody’s lips.

But infographics can mislead. When infographics are over-tasked with carrying the thrust of a message alone, they fail.

Communications is about integration: a unification of channels. It’s about sustaining brilliance, about sustaining best practice.

Shaping a story

Some creatives can do graphics with great impact and shape a great story. It depends on the strategy behind the message. Infographics are brilliant tools, but success is in how infographics are used.

Words have built empires. There is no escaping our need for information. As we move into any subject, we want deeper information.

We live in a world where our communications race forward into space. Connectivity. Speed. Data blasting forward. It’s all tough to process.

Infographics are everywhere. They provide snapshots of almost anything you can imagine. Done well, they are useful, but …

How deep are some really?

The shallow end: Don’t use audiences when using data

Go out and search. You will doubtless find an infographic on what you’re looking for. Now, look for the source.

Where did the information come from?

Some infographics don’t reference where the research for the data comes from. They tell a story, but if the story’s fiction, consider its value.

Organizations have objectives. If data and infographics are used to mislead, you risk credibility.

In our race to process information, to relay information, to demonstrate concepts to people more easily, more accessibly, without demanding too much of the beleaguered audience or public, we sometimes forget to look into where the research for the data comes from.

Who did the research? If we don’t know … Are we setting up our audience, and so, ourselves for disappointment?

In these days of content curation, we still have to be conscious of where data comes from, and its interpretation. That can be difficult. Speed is of the essence.

Even the research process itself has come under repeated analysis. There have been a number of papers criticizing peer review. Often, the conclusion is, peer review may be imperfect, but it’s still the best thing we’ve got.

Questions, questions: Ask some questions

At the very least, we should ask questions about what research seems to demonstrate. We live in a time of rapid change.

Since Einstein, and beyond, we’ve learned that things are relative. We may like slow cooking, but we still have priorities related to “getting things done”. In a historical context, Einstein did pretty well without all the technology we have at our disposal today.

Take research on phones. As one of the largest manufacturers of phones used to advise us: Think different. A recent study suggested a few things about different phone manufacturers. One idea was that the wealthy / intelligent buy a certain model of phone.

What’s being suggested here? That the phone makes you wealthy or intelligent?

Let’s ask some questions: What types of phones are we talking about? Does one brand sell a greater variety of phones across a broader spectrum within a broader price range? (For example, if wealth determines intelligence, then obviously Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are smarter than Steve Jobs was.)

Which company focuses on the high-end? If a product costs more, it doesn’t take Einstein to figure out that the wealthy might buy that product.

Sheep or deep?

Questions can start to reveal bias or data manipulation. There’s a difference between interpretation and distortion of data. Insights have to be as deep as the data.

None of us are perfect, but If we use data with less-than-best-practice, doesn’t it reflect our opinion of our target audience? Our publics?

Is there an element of danger in such a strategy? How do people feel when there’s a massive pullback in a company’s stock? When IPOs and exchanges are held up as parlayers of bad practice?

Researching media reports after such errors in judgement – more often labelled as “debacles” in the media – provide clear evidence. No management team wants to see its name lit up in a reputational example of bad practice.

Need more evidence? Take a look at questions asked about the U.S. government’s reputation following the Merkel phone-tapping.

The complications involved in communicating, and various organizational debacles, are bound to affect brand and reputation. Do consumers want to know we’re burying poor references to our brands in cyberspace, or, that:

  • We’re addressing issues from stakeholders
  • Opening a channel of dialogue
  • Working hard to improve our organizations

and,

  • Willing to listen to feedback that provides insight?

Daniel Libeskind and David Chipperfield discuss why architecture is collaborative and is a form of communication. Any new building is bound to cause controversy like any great new idea. The discussion is the thing.

Flip the agenda on its head

Some believe that in a world where our communications burn across media at a faster and faster pace, the potential for backlash is vastly accelerated. But isn’t it important to consider that people are also getting more discerning? Aren’t people looking for something to believe in?

Aren’t we building a form of architecture when we reach out to talk to publics and audiences? Aren’t we better off building a foundation that lasts?

Isn’t there opportunity here? And if you’re not involved in the discussion, not seated at the table, digitally, with your publics, then, who is?

If you’re not dealing with stakeholders’ trust issues, then who is?

Won’t integrity stand out?

Peter Lynch and Warren Buffett have been cited for discussing how a company’s focus on how to spend its money (read: not spending outlandish amounts on offices, furniture, etc.) shows a competitive edge in these companies, especially for the shareholder. Does this frugality on the part of management mean that the managements of these companies aren’t intelligent?

Warren Buffett still lives in a modest house. Is he less intelligent for doing this?

Meanwhile, some companies spend a great deal on their employees including training and R&D to help stimulate creativity, engagement and innovation.

Is there more than one way to get to an outcome? In fact, is the construction of outcomes liquid? In constant flux?

A river flows out to the sea, but the way the water gets to the sea is epic. It’s a story of flow, of perpetual change. It’s the story of nature’s architecture.

A discerning audience is able to deconstruct what it sees. New York has taken steps to protect consumers from fake reviews. Is it really sound to imagine that there are no customers that have ever considered that these kinds of bad practices are going on?

Smart competitors will create smart campaigns centred around companies’ branding. Clever advertising is full of examples of a brand’s position being reframed – even if you’re reframing the idea that consumers of that brand are “creative”.

If an infographic misleads, does it take your audience where you want to go ultimately?

Information in infographics absent best practice, can mislead. What can it do to a brand?

Data can be used in a self-perpetuating, self-aggrandizing way to rationalize, what? That a product makes us look smarter? Makes us superior to others because we spend more on it?

Publics are going to change as fast as the media that bombard them. Appealing to customers will be an act of ultimate creativity. Some will do it brilliantly. Others are going to be remembered for compromising their ethics.

Customers, more than ever, want organizations that walk the talk.

Even if an organization mounts a comeback related to a major stumble, followed by negative media coverage, wouldn’t it have been better to follow a sustainable path of best practice in the first place? Wouldn’t it have been better not to suffer the reputational damage – to have more consistent growth?

Isn’t this why business schools hold ethics classes? Why reputation and trust factor large in polls? Why the Warren Buffetts of the world focus on the long-term rather than the short-term?

Are we telling stakeholders that all of this is mere lip service? Do we want to build our communications architecture like a house of cards?

Consider smartphone advertising, public relations and marketing. Just this sector is full of (depending on your opinion and metrics) winners, winners who became losers, organizational wrestling with public perception of privacy issues, the rapid pace of technological change, intense competition, shrinking margins, hype, hubris and successes that are hard to maintain.

Looking for a bullet-proof suit? It exists in best practice. The structure that sustains is the structure than can be built on.

Privacy, hacktivists and change giving birth to change

What of privacy? How much are people willing to give away? With social media, many of us are more visible, willingly, but there’s still constant debate about what amount of social media exposure is healthy. We do that regarding television, and electronics generally, too.

Hacktivists seem to be playing a major role in our public perception of networks, our personal, societal and corporate treatment of information.

Doubtless, security plays in the minds of our publics even as they increasingly give more of their information away. Security issues could impact dramatically on collaboration and information exchange, but innovation depends on such exchange.

Multiple security issues can change perception about services. New perceptions create new realities.

Many in the media and related professions and organizations are trying to appeal to their audiences. We could go on and on asking questions: The pace of change is making us move from what we are, are becoming and will be. It’s a never-ending cycle of change.

Change begets change.

Audiences and publics are undergoing ferocious transformation, and they will undergo all manner of metamorphoses as they absorb their new universes.

The portals are everywhere

In our hands. In our pockets. On our desks.

Portals. Everywhere.

Our world has become worlds. Some of us are spending as much time in virtual worlds as in real ones. Since the advent of screens and all their permutations, we’ve gained new devices offering  portable portals.

Some won’t care. Others will constantly jump on the “new”, but the reality is, sustainability of anything, idea, product, service, depends on growth. But what kind of growth?

Integration and ethics: The song that remains, sustains

Infographics work best in an integrated communications plan. They are a great tool when used wisely. Today, the way you reach out has to have a long-term focus. There may be short-term tactics, but they have to rationalize with a long-term vision. Content is everywhere, so, creators of content need to work together to move mountains.

Eventually, you have to bring people somewhere where they access deep, meaningful research or information. While short pieces are the rage for grabbing views, leading audiences to deep information increases credibility. That, in itself, is the message.

Fluff eventually blows away. Substance is permanent. A well-built foundation upholds a structure.

Unethical manipulation of public trust, of audiences, can only end badly. Look at the U.S. and world stock markets as an example. It’s only this year that retail investors have come back.  If people hold great and enduring mistrust against the stock markets, what will the impact be on innovation, societal development and wealth creation?

The great thing about asking questions is it can help you formulate long-term strategy. In a world where you want to be aware of weaknesses and threats against your organization, your society on a small and large scale, you have to focus on ways to create opportunity that resonate for the long-term. (This should be in our DNA. It’s the double helix of a virtual spiral.)

We’ve all heard pop songs that are one-hit wonders, but there are some songs that sustain us, and in turn, we sustain them.  Quality endures. We make sure of it.

In a world of change, where there are so many one-hit wonders, songs that remain sustain.

Image source: Flickr/Ted Kendell

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N.B.: When it comes to integrated communications, here are three excellent key messages:

canada digital in sync

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The new portals are online, social, and big enterprise is buying in, again

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Is activity in online marketing slowing down? Not for Salesforce.com.

Salesforce decided to put their foot to the pedal with the $2.5 blahobillion acquisition of ExactTarget Inc. ExactTarget is the latest, but high-profile deals have been happening for awhile.

Big marketing

Big enterprise software companies are jumping into online marketing.

ExactTarget provides email marketing services to clients. Eloqua was swallowed by Oracle last summer. Eloqua’s involved in managing and measuring the effectiveness of organizations’ marketing efforts.

Salesforce, Oracle, Microsoft and IBM are managing change becoming more  social and more collaborative.

This deal does put the other large software vendors in the hunt for marketing assets …   When the proxy on this deal comes out, I think we’ll see they were all in the bidding …

— analyst Pat Walravens of JMP Securities

The competition for assets amongst the big software vendors is alive and well. At a 52 per cent premium, and the largest for Salesforce, will the acquisition pan out as profitable?

Salesforce is paying 5.5 times forecast 2014 revenue, less than the 6.1 times forward revenue Eloqua cost Oracle, according to Walravens.

Change is disruption is change

Online shopping is driving change. Change is leading  marketers to look at data in a big way. Consumers are empowered. The buying process and shopping, affected by the winds of technological change, is forcing change on business.

Data has fuelled providers like Radian6 and Buddy Media. With shoppers going social, companies want to listen. Providing for the needs of consumers is also about providing for the wants. The empowerment of the consumer has reinforced listening as a profound tool for marketing.

Reputation and perception factor into the equation. Consumer perception of reputation and brand have burst into the organizational atmosphere like an asteroid.

Power are the people

Consumers have opinions. Their opinions spread digitally. Listening provides valuable insights gained from focusing on customers.

If 80 per cent of online content is user generated (infographic below), then shrinking away from listening to consumers is the kind of arrogance that leads to crushing falls in stock valuations, mistakes in product development and customer service debacles.

Stories focus on how marketing and IT will work more closely together. Trends are toward collaboration and trust.

The hidden vampire

Silos can form even within marketing departments as analytics and more traditional roles butt heads. The problem is the effect on the bottom line. Silos are vampires and suck the life blood away from the overall health of a business or organization.

Companies need to sustain their organizational lifeblood by moving from a  conquest-based departmental viewpoint to a collaborative one. The players that play for the team rather than for the individual stars become an irresistible force.

How will marketers work with new technology? The technology’s built, but are we letting the operators come? Are we investing in training people? If we aren’t, what does that say about our future efforts to get talent?

While there has been significant criticism of companies like Apple hoarding cash, Salesforce Chief Executive Marc Benioff said:

We can’t just keep making these small acquisitions … That strategy was just taking honestly too long. We needed to do something of consequence and we needed to do something strategic and we needed to do something now.

Now. Sounds like a call-to-action.

Judging by the media attention Salesforce has generated, not every company has been blind to the reputational effects of putting cash to work.

Companies continue to share or invest cash by finding investments that fulfill their vision of new data-driven and social tools. As tools continue to open up portals in space, companies will look to how they can build their businesses in a way that allows them to go through those portals, find new worlds and make their businesses thrive.

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2013-04-03-The_Future_of_Marketing_Infographic_March_20131

Written by johnrondina

June 6, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Social Media: A universe expanding at an incredible rate

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superva

The more researchers study the social media space, the more value and productivity they find. Social media, enterprise media, hangs like the baby in Kubrick’s famous movie.

What does that baby represent?

A nascent technology evolving into something like a new consciousness. A metaphor for what we are becoming: SocialMind.

The collaborative expansion of knowledge-sharing for those who search becomes the competitive advantage of those who find. Creation is cosmology.

The cosmology of social media. The context of enterprise media.

Just as a focus on searching our galaxy and universe are uncovering astronomical and astrophysical discoveries day after day, so, too, are researchers finding a cosmology of the new enterprise. We are continuously looking for ways to leverage competitive advantage through new tools creating new holes in the fabric of old enterprise.

Theoretical physics in the shape of Higgs-boson, has shown us that we may exist in a multiverse. Our universe may be getting smaller as our knowledge goes beyond our stars.

The astronomy of the social media value add

McKinsey Global Institute’s research shows social media could unleash “value and productivity” through communication and collaboration that could add $1.3 trillion to the economy.

Most of this value would come through productivity:

  • 98 per cent of the value add would come through the professional services companies sector

Social media universe? Multiverse? Consider what companies like Oracle, Salesforce.com and Microsoft are doing:

  • Salesforce.com bought GoInstant and Buddy Media

Short-term damage done and enormous opportunity

These purchases indicate where enterprise companies are going. The Facebook IPO damaged the reputation of social media, but that’s in the short-term.

Why?

Because interactions workers have the highest spread of profits per employee. Because what companies saw as their business before the explosion of social technologies, is not what they see as their business now.

Not alone.

Evolving through holes in space:

Breaking through to the new business model

Companies are lookng through holes in space. They are looking to evolve. Disruptive technologies create as part of their process.

Organizations are going through wormholes. They are seeing other worlds. Their visions and strategies continue to develop as they embrace enterprise media to travel beyond their old business models.

Ask yourself:

Where do breakthroughs come from?

The companies mentioned above aren’t in the habit of following. They are leaders. Leaders in enterprise.

The future is social. The future is perpetual change.

In industries like banking, this will be huge. Make your most important capital, your people, more effective, and you will dramatically increase the profit spread per employee. Connected by the potential in social technologies, we communicate, we collaborate, we create our cosmologies of knowledge.

Nielsen recently found total time spent on social media (U.S., PCs and mobile) increased 37% to 121 billion minutes.

Nielsocmin

To touch the face of your audience

Banking and financial services clearly demonstrate the need for tools that can reach out and engage consumers with great immediacy. The financial crisis, multiple scandals including LIBOR, are all examples of ongoing media stories compounding the reputational damage to an industry full of hard-working, honest people.

With the financial crisis, we have seen the greatest business upheaval in most of our lifetimes. The need to reach out and engage with publics to restore trust is not an option. The bold step is a necessity.

Shock wave and rebirth

The reputational damage left after the financial crisis is a star going supernova, still spreading its shock wave. But supernovae created the building blocks of life.

Reaching out, engaging, informing publics that have been burned by an exploding star, and listening to them, is crucial.

Missing the potential in these channels will separate the forward-looking from the fearful. And more channels will be born.

Social media in the context of enterprise media is spreading its influence. It’s an explosion of tweets blasting through our collective consciousness. We are going beyond where we’ve gone before.

I am become social, the creator of worlds

We are the SocialMind

Organizations are touching the faces of audiences through ideas and channels that were once just concepts. Companies are communicating with their audiences as they exist in their own times and spaces through a cloud interface.

Through social technologies, we have become something different. We are the SocialMind.

We are the creators of worlds.

What kind of worlds will we create?

Our starships are enterprise media travelling at the speed of light within and without organizational planets and galaxies.

We are going beyond where we have gone before …

And we are all made of stars.

stars

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The social multiverse at work?

A friend of mine sent me the following, startled at how similar the beginning of it was to my pieces on the social multiverse. Interesting …

How Twitter Is Reshaping The Future Of Storytelling http://www.fastcoexist.com

Update: Here’s a great infographic on Social Media ROI.

Infographic: The ROI of Social Media
Infographic by MDG Advertising

Coming soon:

Universes. Multiverses. Messages. Creating social cosmologies.

More on social media? Find it here:

Reputation. Reputation. Reputation. Your key differentiator: Corporate Social Responsibility

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Stand out by being a CSR thought leader

“In the business world, the rear view mirror is always clearer than the windshield.” — Warren Buffett

reputation

A study by Adam Friedman Associates continues to confirm the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR’s becoming a harder asset.

Executives from Fortune 1000 organizations said that the C-suite and/or board of directors involve themselves directly in “decision-making and measurement processes with regards to the company’s CSR programs.” There’s lots of talk about being different but when it comes to CSR and “getting it”, decision-makers at the forefront of thought leadership understand that CSR is a key differentiator.

Be different. Be better.

Who are you? What do you stand for? Where are you going?

Competition is fierce. Tools that define who you are and what you stand for as an organization show a company to be forward-thinking with a strategy that reaches beyond the latest quarter and far into the future.

The C-suite’s talking about CSR. Executives are more and more conscious of how CSR contributes to business.

CSR: Growing. Growing. Grown.

Results of the study show:

[T]here has been an expansion in scope and focus of CSR strategies and resource allocation. Many CSR initiatives were created in response to environmental issues and pressures, but companies are now expanding their focus to social, health, diversity, labor and safety issues. While many companies still focus much of their time and resources on environmental issues, CSR has grown to include almost any issue or concern that affects the operations and reputation of the company.

So, CSR is growing its influence.

More measurement. More third parties.

Measurement’s still not universal. But there are more third parties involved and more supplier audits. Of course, reception of programs by consumers and media are important and impact evaluation.

Transparency and volume of information have made consumer opinions more important than ever.

CSR and profitability are clearly linked for many corporations. Today’s thought leaders no longer see CSR “as a ‘soft’ discipline within the corporate structure”.

CSR directly affects profitability.

Integrate. Maximize. Get results.

Still think social media is a digital smoke screen?

The study found:

Social media has become an important tool companies use to communicate to their publics about their CSR efforts in addition to traditional media. This allows companies to communicate their CSR activities and progress in a manner that is fast, easily accessible and provides them with vital feedback from their publics.

Companies are using social media to supply their stakeholders with information and content. They are building online communities.

Companies are using social media to find out what their stakeholders care about. They’re using incoming messages to help craft future social media strategies.

Thinking strategically, companies have embedded CSR communications deep into their overall communication strategies. Employees are using social media to measure the effectiveness of CSR.

Everything that makes CSR disappear, makes CSR stronger:

In integration, find strength

Some executives believe:

[T]he CSR function may disappear altogether as corporations begin to absorb CSR into all aspects of their business and make it a part of every employee’s responsibilities. As companies begin to assess and measure the effects their CSR programs have on the business’s reputation, CSR may increase in both scope and importance. Based on the interviews conducted, some CSR practitioners said they believe CSR should not be its own function or department but rather an integrated part of the business … Senior executives should pay more attention to the views of their external stakeholders when developing CSR strategies because their sentiments will affect the company’s reputation and/or its position among competitors.

The study found businesses need to look at CSR as a growing function. CSR strategies should be integrated into all areas of business.

In a world where the media is full of stories of corruption, best practices will continue to resonate.

Loudly.

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Find the study by request.

Find more on reputation and CSR/sustainability here:

How can social media help with lead generation if you’re not using it for lead generation?

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You’ve got to plant seedlings to growplmotree

Some have criticized social media for lead generation. But it’s harder to criticize a tool if you’re not using it.

Eloqua posted an interesting infographic recently, showing*:

  • 65 per cent of B2B marketers are using social media

yet,

  • 40 per cent know they’re not using its full potential

But what really stands out is:

  • 53 per cent aren’t using it for demand generation

Now, if these companies aren’t using social media for demand generation could that be part of the reason why some are questioning the validity of social media for demand generation?

Are you leading from the back?

Consider yourself a strategic thinker?

Consider this:

  • 43 per cent of companies said they had no strategy in place when it came to social media and demand generation

Now, let’s see:

If you don’t build it, will they come?

If you don’t make it part of your strategy, will you build it?

While LinkedIn is three times more effective than other popular social media platforms for lead generation, use of LinkedIn trails other major platforms.

Know what you know

Metrics are important. The ongoing story of social media tools and best practices for using those tools bears close attention. Measuring your social media activity is the only way to provide yourself with great data. Broad research informs but is in no way a replacement for your direct research.

Studies are useful but your own personal, professional use of social will differ from studies. There’s no better intelligence for how your social strategy’s working than your own measurement.

Here’s an interesting read from McKinsey on social intelligence.

McKinsey thinks social intel is changing old-school intel.

Dig the “crowd”

In another study:

  • 69 per cent of executives said they used social tools
  • Senior managers were more likely to post questions and engage with thought leaders via social networks during research processes
  • More than 40 per cent of social media users said they followed discussions/threads to learn more about topics they were researching
  • 37 per cent said they posted specific questions on social networking sites seeking feedback on how others solved specific business challenges
  • Nearly 90 per cent indicated that blogs impacted their research during the “Solution Analysis” phase and 3 in 4 respondents used social media

B2B buyers like to share experiences after purchase:

  • 60 per cent like to share what they learn from their research and buying process
  • One-on-one discussions were most common for sharing insights
  • Blogs and discussion forums on social sites are a growing area

Zeno just did a study showing:

That is a truly shocking statistic today. And it shows B2B is trailing behind B2C in social thought leadership.


Your own personal Catch 22



Not using social? Missing an opportunity to connect with important audiences?

The questions are:

  • Do researchers using social media have an edge on those who aren’t?
  • Will neglecting to use social media for research purposes kill a crucial value add?
  • Will neglecting social media become a growing weakness for businesses not involved?

And:

  • Will companies miss out on executive audiences who are active on social media?

It’s time to go where corporate decision-makers play.

Social media is a tool. A forest is made up of many trees.

How full is your toolbox?

How many seedlings are you using to grow the forest for your bigger picture?

Grow some trees.

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More on social media? Find it here:

You can find the Eloqua infographic here. They’ve adopted a galaxy theme. Interesting considering my main metaphors for social media are the universe and the multiverse.

* I put out a request to Eloqua asking them where they got these stats but so far have not heard back. It’s always nice to know where the statistics come from on an infographic. Regarding the stats, it’s not the first time data on social and lead generation have presented similar results.

//

Written by johnrondina

December 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Digital at the speed of light: Who’s afraid of social media?

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Companies fear of social media may be the greatest danger to companies’ digital strategies

Fear. Fear of a social planet.

Over the last few years, communications professionals have been challenged by the rise of social media. They also face the challenge of a consumer who has issues with trust.

Consumers feel burned by great financial forces that left many repositioning their opinions of the financial sector. The financial crisis has been a profound instructor. Companies need to communicate transparently in order to work at rebuilding trust.

If you monitor issues related to CSR/sustainability and social finance, you’ll find interesting comments left after articles. Read the wrong way, they can be paralyzing.

The virtual world can be filled with negatives about corporations, banks, fees and a litany of other topics. We live in a social world. Business is going to have to get used to consumers’ flexing their opinions socially.

Consumer empowerment is changing business. Businesses that aren’t getting it could be in for a universe of pain. An enormous part of the lifeblood of business is its ability to adapt to changing environments, opinions, priorities.

Seeing social tomorrow

Strategists work hard to understand the direction and impact of social enterprise. It’s important to see the grand scheme of things.

“Social” touches so many moving parts of the communications world.

Social enterprise isn’t one definition. Social technology isn’t Facebook. It’s not Twitter. Not alone. It’s a vast union of technologies converging, changing and moving, evolving at a pace that would freak Darwin out.

When Facebook went through a very public reputational (it is a word if you know Fombrun) convulsion, many linked social media as a whole with the avalanche of bad news that hit Facebook.

Social enterprise and social media: Evolution happening so fast, it’s hard to forecast what SocEnt/SocMed will become.

Social media: Where will ROI be tomorrow? Power in communications has always come through the integration of communications technologies.

Evolution. Don dark shades and miss the rays of light.

There is nothing to fear but change itself (for some)

Change.

Change can frighten.

With the flip of a tweet, Joe Average has become Superman. The creation of movements depends on the successful communication of ideas. The successful communication of ideas rarely results from someone sounding off, spreading impenetrable jargon out into the world.

But 140 characters, for those who learn to do it well, is a succinct statement to the universe. And the universe is listening. The universe is hungry.

The marketplace loves technologies that promise much. At the same time, the consumer craves a relationship based on trust. When 85 per cent say, worldwide, they expect companies to become actively involved in solving world issues*, brands have to notice.

How the elitist fails in communication

One of my professors used to say that if you go about sounding like an elitist, you’re not going to make a whole lot of friends. His popularity was due, largely, to his ability to communicate at a very grassroots level. A kind of Warren Buffett of the academic world.

He had a genuine love for his students. It came through loud and clear.

Joe Average doesn’t always have a well-researched opinion. But what Joe A. does have is the pulse of Main Street thumping through his veins. Digital Joe Average is the social revolution. The “x” to the exponent “many voices” that can come together and cause immense, pivotal social moments.

So, there’s Josephine and Joe A., looking for something they can believe in. A partnership.

Talk to any number of individuals involved in development in business or the not-for-profit sector, and you’ll see they welcome partnerships. Much is  accomplished through partnerships spanning inter-organizational objectives.

Partnerships connect people. Ideas are forces for change. Like anything worthwhile, opportunities come with challenges:

  • The challenge to rise up above the norm
  • The challenge to do things better
  • The challenge to break down “us” and “them” mentalities

Silos are vampires. Blackholes. They draw only for and into themselves to increase their own immortality.

Partnerships give birth to new life. They create out of a seed, an idea, a plan: potential.

When partnerships touch a great many people, then an incredible, transformative force is let loose.

Coming soon:

Why win-win thinking triumphs over fear

Update (Jan. 14, 2013):

Software Advice did an interesting experiment involving big brands recently. What the experiment shows is that even big brands can struggle with social media when it comes to employing social media best practices.

Bank of America had the best response rate. Still, the lack of response for most of these top brands is interesting:

Companies only responded to 14% of the tweets.

See the infographic here:

soc cust serv

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*Source: Havas Media

The hydra upon you: Hype and its dangers for public relations and marketing

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Today’s post is a continuation of Silos, silly season, social.

The many-headed hydra and key messages

If you believe in dialogue, if you believe in the multiple digital channels that can help convey key messages, then you know the potential for communications. Still, there’s been so much noise during the iPhone 5 announcement, you might wonder why the heavens haven’t opened up and why we aren’t being visited by angels of innovation blessing all things with an “i” before them.

Never mind that sales are being reported as a disappointment.

In the post-Facebook IPO era, best practices, truth and open communication should be reinforced as the way to communicate. Sustainability as a strategy looms large.

Hype is a many-headed hydra. When all the hydra’s heads are talking at once, which one will consumers believe? What are the key messages? Is it just confusion?

Do target audiences believe they have a part in the conversation, or is it just the heads of the hydra talking to themselves?

Just as I’m writing this, a connection of mine, Mark D’Cunha posted this on LinkedIn:

Ears that do not listen to advice, accompany the head when it is chopped off.

— African proverb

Media is a wonderful creator, but what it creates, it can take away.

Satire and blowback:

Reputational damage is best avoided in the first place

When people start satirizing a brand en masse, what does it say about a brand’s future business potential?

Some outcomes are beyond even the most careful planners’ control.

The blowback from the Facebook IPO resulted in a ton of reputational damage, left many who talked about Facebook’s short-term growth potential looking a little ridiculous while reinforcing the long-term thinking of those who understand what P/E ratio means.

Companies have bottom lines. Attenion has to be paid to profitability.

Still, attention also has to be paid to whether a brand can wear out its welcome. How much is too much?

informal
Definition of hype

noun

[mass noun]

  • extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion: his first album hit the stores amid a storm of hype
  • [count noun] a deception carried out for the sake of publicity: is his comeback a hype?

verb

[with object]

  • promote or publicize (a product or idea) intensively, often exaggerating its benefits: an industry quick to hype its products they were hyping up a new anti-poverty idea

Origin:

1920s (originally US in the sense ‘short-change, cheat’, or ‘person who cheats etc.’): of unknown origin

Credit: Oxford online dictionary

IPO gaga and the misvaluations from Mars

If you’ve followed what’s happened to the Facebook brand since IPO, you’ve more than a clue about what could happen in a less-than-best-practices environment. From a risk mitigation point of view, when the crowd’s gone gaga, there’s definitely potential but also a proportionate increase in exposure.

What happens with Facebook is still unwritten. What’s sure is that amidst the feeding frenzy of negative news post-IPO, there were also stories working hard to portray potential, still. If public relations around the Facebook IPO had been conducted differently, less energy would’ve had to be directed toward rehabilitating the Facebook brand.

Facebook isn’t the first nor will it be the last to suffer from its own success. When hype goes out-of-control, it ceases to be good public relations, good marketing. Because target audiences are left with the feeling of being had.

This is sort of like a salesperson thinking of her potential clients as “marks”. Maybe the naming of things creates destiny. Clients are people.

Growth: The greatest investment the world ever knew was the investment in you

Audiences are made up of individuals. When they get together, they have awesome power. It doesn’t matter if they’re internal or external.

If you invest in treating people like smart human beings, they’ll invest in you.

I’ll be continuing posts on Silos, silly season and social. I’d like to share them with you.

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