Category Archives: Social Networks

Three things to do before you ‘sell’ social media to anyone

I hate using the word sell in a way that really means ‘influence’ or inform. But there are some times when you as a communicator need to sell the idea upstream because, frankly, no one seems to have the courage to broach the subject.

I was talking to someone in an association the other day and he sort of shielded his mouth and lowered his voice to tell me “our website sucks.” I’m sure you have had that kind of experience. Then he went on to say that most people agreed that the content was so badly laid out, and the delivery was soooo not in keeping with new media, that the higher-ups had decided to revamp the site. But still, no one wants to be the first, or loudest, to say that ‘we need to plug into some social media strategies – fast.”

How do we tell them and prove to them these are the things we need to do, he asked? I was tempted tp say make a list, but I held back.

I came across a “Five things to do” article (on executive buy-in) at Ragan Communications that was one of those. It is a great list and I happen to agree with the steps. But I worry about numbering these, and even putting a finite number to it.

I know, I know! I titled this post “Three things” but you will discover why in a bit.

The writer, Frank Strong, asks you who dare to sell the idea to the big guys to take these steps:

  1. Get the facts
  2. Identify customers and prospects
  3. Review the competition
  4. Know your ‘Use Cases’ –a  buzz phrase that means what-if scenarios. Among  many other things!
  5. Manage expectations

To which I would add:

Identify related topics and conversations that the company ought to be addressing. He covers part of this in#3. But apart from responding to queries, senior management might like to know the blind spots and what might not seem obvious, and why this ‘chatter’ could be responded to.

Provide a plan of action. Sounds simple. But most people tend to want to wait for the green light to provide the steps that might be taken. By outlining, however basic, the road map you will might take, makes the executive more confident that this is not just another “let’s throw something and see if it sticks” idea.

Work the back-channel. Execs often have their ear to the ground and randomly check the pulse of people who have opinion credibility. Get to these first if you can. See if you can have their buy-in even at a basic level, so that they may not be the ones who make of break the deal.

So here’s my list of things to do.

  1. Seek out the blind spots
  2. Sketch your road map.
  3. Get lower heads to nod
  4. Ask permission later

On that last point, sometimes you need to get things moving before you can bring the heavy lifters in. Social media always lets you try-before-you-buy. (Can’t see that happening with say, a  TV campaign or magazine inserts!) Start a Twitter account even if no one has approved of one. The worst they could do is shut it down. This gives you the up-seller a way to reach deep and wide and check the pulse, so that you can then say you have dabbled in this thing and have acquired … (provide numbers and details here.) Same with other channels whether it is starting a LinkedIn group, a Flicker account, or guest blogging for a friendly vendor or alliance.

So yes, there are four suggestions in my “Three Things.” The point is, there could be four or fourteen; they can (and should) vary for every situation.

Make your own list! Don’t follow mine, for goodness sakes!


Altimeter’s Social Media Analytics – please remix and reuse

Even though I’ve been writing about this collaborative space for a long time, I never cease to be amazed at the generosity of organizations who give out their knowledge with no strings attached. The The Altimeter Group has published a step-by-step approach to social media to bring some clarity to an an area that is hard to pin down. Measurement.

Authored by Jeremiah Owyang and John Lowett, it has been published under theCreative Commons license.

As Jeremiah Owyang notes, both toe-dipping and deep diving into this thing is risky business. The focus of this framework is on measurement, and how to gauge what you are presently doing, and what you are up against. They talk of the four business objectives of a social media strategy:

  • Dialog: involves starting a conversation and offering your audience something to talk about while allowing that conversation to take on a life of its ow
  • Advocacy: activation of evangelism, word of mouth, and the spread of information through social technologies
  • Supporting: customers may self support each other, or companies may directly assist them using social technologies.
  • Innovation: The business objective of innovation is an extraordinary byproduct of engaging in social marketing activity.

Here’s a good place to take it all in –via a SlideShare presentation. You can download it, and in the spirit of the CC license, ‘share, remix and reuse.’ The remix mart is key in this case. Because, as the folks at Altimeter note, each organization needs to customize the framework to suit their needs.

I would add a fifth business objective –something I always recommend: Insight. I get –and promote– the evangelism part. But for management, insight is priceless.


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Quotes for the week ending 30 April, 2010

The press release is dead, whether or not it’s optimized for social media. When was the last time you sent a release to a reporter who then replied with enthusiasm about covering your story?

Len Gutman, at ValleyPRBlog

Maybe it’s the term press release that is antiquated. Perhaps it should be called a fact sheet or project overview.

Holly Harmon, a reader commenting on the above.

“We are Wall Street. It’s our job to make money. Whether it’s a commodity, stock, bond, or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn’t matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn’t hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone’s 401k doubled every 3 years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I’ve never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas.”

An email circulating this week, written by someone supposedly form Wall Street

“An enraging piece of utter nonsense”

Huffington Post, commenting on the “We aren’t dinosaurs” email above


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Engaging employees plugged into the social web

Thought I’ll feature part of a guest post I wrote for the Employee Factor, a blog about Employee Engagement.

Managers don’t need proof to tell them that someone who’s more engaged is much more productive. There is plenty of experiential and anecdotal evidence to support this. For those who like some empirical data there’s always the long-term tracking study –the Q12 study– by Gallup that serves as “a macro-level indicator’ of a healthy workforce.

I tend to look at this through a communications lens. So when studies make a case for engagement, I see it not simply as good management strategy, but as great communication strategy. When they refer to it as ‘maintaining a line of sight’ I see it as keeping people on the same page. They sound analogous, but they have key differences.

Maintaining employee line of sight (L-O-S) involves bringing clarity  between actions and outcomes. But it also means doing away with too much hierarchy, unlocking the holds on information, and also creating an attitude that welcomes suggestions for how employee goals can match corporate vision. Keeping those employees on the same page has deeper implications in a digitally enhanced workplace. Not just via emails and web conferences, but a willingness to open up two-way conversations. Line of sight in today’s workplace is not limited to being able to see ‘up and down the chain of command’ but sideways and diagonally –much like the connections of a social web.

Continued here


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Are we crashing the conversation using social media?

I have to say I felt a bit guilty, reading Patrick Keane’s article in Advertising Age.

His point: Many people are confusing social networking with social media.

But that’s not the part I was feeling guilty about. He then goes on to talk about how there’s a big difference between joining the conversation and crashing into it.

Are you? Am I?

In this space -my blog– I have every right/reason to start and extend a conversation, one that I began somewhere else. Perhaps a face-to-face one, or one on Twitter, or as a comment on someone’s article or video.

But sometimes we use social media to dive in and out of conversations that amount to crashing the party. To use it as a megaphone in stealth mode. Two examples:

  • You may have come across this annoying practice of someone  dropping into a group just to seed an URL to a product or service.
  • Recently a member alerted our online group that a certain individual was up to no good. Basically posing as a member harvesting demographic information for some direct marketing scam.

So what’s the difference between that, and, say sending out a tweet with a shortened URL to one’s followers? I could come up with a reasonable defense of why this is, after all, targeted, not spammy. But the tool at our disposal has made it all too easy to go beyond what it was intended for.

It could end up being the biggest social media party-crashing tool, if we’re not careful.

UPDATED 03/15:

When posting a link, don’t lead people to a landing page for your book, webinar, e-zine or CD series. If you want to “hawk stuff,” go to your local flea market.



Social media’s dark side – badmouthing just because you can

Heard about Unvarnished?

Tech Crunch’s Evelyn Rusli has a great analysis of taking our ability to trash anyone online to a logical conclusion. I thought this was a very powerful statement about a new

“My guess is that many will be seduced by the dark powers of the internet (the power to hammer an adversary under the guise of anonymity).”

Unvarnished is still in Beta so unless we try out the service we won’t know what it entails. Maybe it is not another site that attracts dirty linen basket cases. Maybe they do have a great idea, based on their description: That it is going to be “community-contributed, business-focused assessments” about “building, managing, and researching professional reputation” and “professional reviews.” They do advice being fair and balanced.

“However, with the right to share candid opinions comes the responsibility to do so in a balanced way. Be honest, but be fair. Only review people you have a professional relationship with. Only discuss business-related topics. And remember, reviewers earn an authority rating over time, based on how others rate their reviews, so it is in the best interest of reviewers and the community to leave helpful reviews.”

But it brings up a point I have always wanted to talk about. Beside the power to say things under a false identity, the ‘dark side’ to me is how easy it is to use (misuse) our channels and our tools to say things just because we can.

  • It’s so easy to trash a brand because we have a network
  • It’s way too easy to make our bad experience with a product seem like it is an universal problem, when the truth is we may have bought a lemon, which yes, needs to be replaced
  • It’s easy to spread an idea we didn’t originate when the premise may be flawed

As you can see, I am not prepared to support Techcrunch’s view of Unvarnished, until I have tried it out.

Have to say I have, in the past, often used a social platform as a soap box. Now I think thrice before I do so. Often it is only after repeated attempts to use the traditional fix-it channels.

On the other hand, I know of plenty of examples where someone using a tweet has had a better, immediate response than a call to the 1-800 number. Maybe Twitter is the new 1800 customer complaint number staffed by real people. I know of someone who now has what amounts his own ‘concierge service’ and a good friend at a service company only because he used Twitter to not just bitterly complain but to start a conversation.

It’s darn too easy to stack your dirty linen baskets, rather than do a bit of work, turn a few knobs and engage the ‘machine’ to clean them up.

Whatever happened to positive feedback?


GreenNurture podcast with Jay Baer

In my podcast series with GreenNurture, I often feature people with disruptive perspectives, from companies that are redefining business as usual in their segments.

So it was an honor to have Jason Baer, fellow Arizonan and someone I have been following (check his blog Convince And Convert) for as long as I’ve been working as a mashup of writer, marketer, communicator.

For those of you who don’t know him Jay has founded five companies, consulted for more than 700 companies and brands worldwide. But he’s best known for three words: Social Media Strategy. Just Google those words and see what I mean!




GreenNurture debuts social media app at DEMO this week!

Happy to be associated –embedded?– with a company like this. As some of you know, I manage the social media for GreenNurture.

GreenNurture logoThis was under wraps until today. We were selected to be at DEMO — a premier tech conference known as ‘the launchpad for emerging technologies.’  Take a look at the very cool company we are in.

Later tomorrow (Monday) I will be updating this blog and GreenNurture’s blog with more details.

For now, here’s the official statement from DEMO



Community as fire pit?

So what’s your definition of a community?

Members of your Facebok fan page? Those hundred-something peeps who follow you on Twitter? How about the ex colleagues of a former workplace in a large, unwieldly Google Group?  You probably have a stake in all or most of these right?

Building a community is one part of the equation. Nurturing one –being the ‘community organizer’ — is something else.  My latest column in CW, the magazine of IABC talks of some easy ways to build an online community.

I think we often get distracted by the word media, and pay lip service to the word social. My definition of a community is a fire pit. It can be small, it is noisy, always generates some sparks, but it draws people together.



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Quotes for the week ending 20 Feb, 2010

“This award celebrates the fact that, in today’s world, a brave bystander with a cellphone camera can use video-sharing and social networking sites to deliver news.”

Judges for the George Polk Awards in journalism who honored a work produced anonymously, in a new category (videography) the video, of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman who was shot during antigovernment protests in Iran. This was the first time in the 61-year history of the awards that an anonymous person was recognized.

“You won’t be set up to follow anyone until you have reviewed the suggestions and clicked..”

Google. in a blog post on the buzz about Buzz. It said the company had heard the feedback –outcry, really– loud and clear about what Gmail users thought of the new social media feature. Google immediately changed the ‘auto-follow’ model to ‘auto-suggest’ and apologized.

“misleading, confusing and disingenuous,”

Plaintiff’s claim against Facebook’s new privacy settings –in a lawsuit filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco

“My real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time.”

Tiger Woods in his ‘press conference’

Ask etymologists who work for any common language dictionary … and they will tell you that all dictionaries cannot Prescribe means, but instead only Describe meanings that are already being ascribed through common usage.”

“For those who don’t find that good enough or revealing enough at this point, well,  maybe they have their own issues.”

Michael Wilbon, sports reporter for the Washington Post about, commenting on Tiger’s apology, calling it ‘pretty powerful stuff.’

Russell-Oliver Brooklands, responding to a discussion in Melcrum’s Communicators’ Network (via LinkedIn) about the use of the word “fulsome”


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