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Developing a social media strategy – prevent flops

The best way to prevent social media flops is to create a sound strategy in the first place. It sounds a lot of work and too much for many small businesses but this model has proven to work even in small organizations:

* ASSESSMENT
Social Media Assessment (4 quadrant assessment model) find out where your customers are, where they hang out and what is on their mind. Takes you a week or two to make it right. But you learn more than ever before. If you feel you know already – this is your first red flag to a social media flop. Check your customers presence, research how your brand is seen in the market, research your partners and your competitors.

* SWOT
The assessment leads you to a good ol’ SWOT analysis. You will find out what your (brand, product, service) strengths and weaknesses are from a market point of view – develop your opportunity and threat profile. You do that in a few hours.


* STRATEGY

Now since you know more about your market from a social connection and conversation point of view develop your strategy: Goals objectives, value to the market, major activities to achieve your goals, resources, budgets. Develop a strategy team that includes some of your customers (the X-Team) – that is the most magic difference to old world strategies. May take a few days and online conference calls. But if you do it without your customers – you flop – guaranteed.

* PROGRAMS
Once the strategy is sealed, you construct and execute your programs together with your X-Team. Instead of the old model of blowing something into the market you work with the market. May take a week or two to develop. The key to successful programs is PARTICIPATION and CONTRIBUTION. Each program need to be designed that your eco system contributes and other participates. Otherwise it is just yet another marketing splash – random noise. But your X-Team will prevent you from that type of campaigns anyway.

* REPORTING
The key like in any other business project: Measure, Model and Tune your activities until they are truly successful. Select the right tools and monitor your activities daily – some in real time.

So all in all it may take a few weeks – but you have a wonder weapon – versus yet another boring marketing campaign nobody is listening to.

Make a difference WITH your market!

Axel Schultze Axel Schultze MyXeeSM

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Social Media Tools Week in October

Introducing the top social media tools for business

A whole week packed with the newest and most compelling Social Media tools from around the world, key note presentations and career development sessions. Probably the most important Social Media Event of the year will be held in October. The event is organized to cover the US, Latin America, Europe, Australia and parts of Asia.

You will see business related social media tools:* Platforms & Communities* Networks* Management Tools* Reporting Tools* Utilities.

Please help promoting the Tools Week – put the event logo on your blog or website and make a link to this URL:http://www.socialmedia-academy.com/html/SocialMediatoolsweek.cfm
We very much appreciate your support.

Marita

My Social Networks

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Social Media 2.0 – The Next Generation

Organizing Social Media Across Departments

Where most businesses start:
When companies begin to engage in social media they typically start in the marketing department with some rather tactical marketing campaigns. In those early models a large company either hired some social media “experts” to do the campaign or found some engaged people internally. The rest of the organization does “business as usual”. The problem quickly surfaces in sales “What are these guys talking to my customers”, on the service side “what are they promising to our clients”, and the product management team still doesn’t get any feedback how to better launch the next generation products. While it is obvious that social media is a key method to create a better customer experience, a better way to listen to the market, a faster way to react to needs and a less expensive way to become part of the market, the “social media marketing campaigns” alone can’t do the job. An isolated “campaign” is often counter productive and it would be better to just not engage at all.

What did we learn:
Learning from the early experiences we developed a holistic approach, a cross functional organization model that is able to carry out a social media strategy. The so called ComStar model integrates all departments that have a touch point with the market into the social engagement strategy. Only a small core of social media trained and experienced people is necessary to help steer even large global enterprises into a new direction. An internal social media strategy and it’s leverage effect makes it possible.

The Principle:
At it’s core, the ComStar Model has one principle:
– Develop a social media service team (SMST) that supports all departments in the organization
The SMST members do not necessarily tweet, blog, comment themselves instead empowers others to do so.
Similar to IT team, finance support or HR that services an entire company, the SMST functions the same way.

How it works:
With the ComStar Model, the SMST (Social Media Service Team) is the guardian angel of the social media strategy. The main objective is to inspire, motivate and service the strategy relevant departments such as marketing, sales, service, product management, HR and other. The departments in turn engage with the customer base, prospects and the market in a whole. In this model the SMST is the cordial spine for the engagement, while sales keeps the control and the relationship to their customers (even so in a different more social manner), marketing keeps being the creative part in the new engagement model “not pushing the message” but fueling the conversation, product managers get the tools and methods to better listen to needs of the market and service teams get the support to be better integrated in customer issues.

Change
Behavioral changes, in particular with “the old guard” on the sales side, are as painful as necessary. Change has never been an easy task. But also change has never been more important and has never shown more successful results like today. Creating some fan pages and a few tweets don’t create a better customer experience – nor does it generate the often promised millions of additional revenue. But a great and ongoing trust building relationship with the market does, as we can see in cases like Zappos.

Presentation:
We will present the model in greater detail on
Fri, Aug 14, 2009 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM PDT
Leasdership Series Webinar

Agenda:
– Social media impact to our business operations
– ComStar, an organization model for social media strategies
– Comparing structural differences
– Implementation challenges
– Job description, work flow and responsibilities
– Motivation and compensation considerations
– Cross functional reporting models
– A holistic view to corporate social media

Registration

Axel Schultze Axel Schultze MyXeeSM

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Webinar: Citrix Webex – a Social Media Case study.

It was great to have so many attendees in the webinar. Thank you very much for joining us.
Special thanks to all members of the leadership class Summer 2009 who performed this exercise and webinar using the assessment methods from the Academy, researching Citrix and Webex as a social media case study.
Team A – Social Media Customer Assessment

Barbara Daniels
Wendy Soucie
Matson Sparling

Team B Social Media Brand Assessment

Catherine Sherwood
Matthias Beckman
Lyn-Dee Eldridge

Team C Social Media Partner Assessment

Lisa Rob
Mark Eldridge
Nany Chou

Team C Social Media Competitive Assessment

Elsom Eldridge
Mark Moore
Susan Rice Lincoln
Steve Gasser

Questions from the webinar please find on this blog post.

We love to get your feedback about the webinar, the good and the bad.
Please share your point of view and comments.
Network – Contribute – Participate
Lets get in touch, join our groups and online communities
LinkedIn Group http://xeeurl.com/A0548 Facebook Fan Page http://xeeurl.com/A0805 Online Community = http://xeeurl.com/A01152

Listen to the podcast of the Social Media Assessment Case Study

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Webinar Q+A Assessment Case Study July/22

Q: I recently put my business on Twitter. I work for a hotel and the Brand in general does not have a page but individual properties do. Yesterday I received tons of messages and tweets about how angry this customer was at a different property but because we have the same brand name we were guilty by association. How do we address this?
A: I suggest you introduce that customer to the respective manager of the hotel and at the same time explain how the business is structured. You help the customer get to a person and the rest of the community to understand the connection. Offer your help if the customer needs it regardless of the responsibilities – like you said “Guilty by association”.

Q: How did you select the tools, did you conduct any thorough testing? Are there any other tools you suggest?
A: To be honest, we selected the tools based on how easy and well the companies responded. The market is in a very early stage. It was more important that the vendors are “social” as well not just a bunch of hackers with no connection to the outside world. Please check our Tools Week page on our website for more tool.

Q: How much of the assessment effort happened via the tools and how much was an additional manual effort?
A: Tools always run in a short period of time and the “brain work” is the lion share of the work. If you’d ask how much time was the ratio without tools, I’d say 80% data research and 20% intelligent analytics work. Now it is 2% system and 98% brain work.

Q: Can you make some rough price indications?
A: It may range from $2,500 to over $100,000 is that enough indication? The cost is pretty linear to the size of your eco system – mainly equates to company size as well. You may find people doing it for $295 – and as always you get what you pay for.

Q: Do you offer a class specifically for conducting assessments?
A: Interesting question. Not really. After thinking a bit more about your question: Even so the assessment is only the first step in a series, you need to see the whole picture. In the class the assessment sessions actually start rather late as we need to make sure students get the full picture rather than just a facet.

Q: We are a marketing focused consultant but don’t do those types of assessment, do you think we can work with your consultants or is there a potential conflict?
A: I’d definitely get in touch with them. The risk that you two compete is rather limited. The opportunity to do more successful joint project much more attractive.

Q: We sell exclusively through distribution channels and don’t have access to customer data. Any suggestion?
A: You still have end customers – even so you don’t know them. So there are a few strategic questions to explore like: Is there a conflict if you try to get in touch with your market? Will partners helpful or not? Is the market potentially interested in a dialog with you? What would the purpose of an engagement be (get market data or actually having a conversation)? So0 more questions – no answer, sorry. But contact any of us for a deeper discussion.

Q: All I hear about social media is “free”. Who invests in those expensive assessments?
A: For instance if you allocate 10 people from a 500 people organization, you most likely invest $1-2 Million in salary, overhead and other cost. Not much to create a better customer experience – still enough to make sure you invest it right. The assessment cost is a tiny fraction of the cost you are going to spend – so you better make sure you start in the right direction – the assessment is giving you this assurance.

Q: Can we get the link to the presentation?
A: This Link

We had a few very company specific questions, and suggest you get in touch with any of the presenter or academy and explore ways to answer them.

Thanks again for participating. Let us know how we did, by tweeting about it.

Axel Schultze Axel Schultze MyXeeSM

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PayPal Case Study – Social Media Ignorance

Paypal was one of the first online payment services and had a great start but over time lost the edge. The company seems to struggle with their internal administration and adjusting their business processes to meet customer needs.

Company Background
Paypal has 160 million customers
Their support centers work shifts and deal with approximately 60,000 support cases every day.
Over 1,000 support people handle on average 60 calls per day.
You cannot email or use other ways of communication than phone, fax or post.

Support team
To deal all day long with frustrated customers is not a very pleasant job, so fluctuation is rather high and the level of competency very low. It takes on average three calls to find a competent person. Some customers suggest you don’t use a case number as you don’t want to get back to the same person.
Most of the support calls are very low level issues with routine answers, nothing special, simply based on lack of user help and a pretty confusing system administration (a user voice nails it: “This is done by a bunch of engineers and never reviewed by business people”). Many functions are even unclear to the internal teams. Support staff admits it is not very intuitive if it is anything other than pushing the pay now button. Everybody can read that in great detail in thousands on public complains.

Customer Experience
People still really like the product. Some even donated a website like This Link Lots of discussions with thousands of valuable inputs that – as it appears- non of the paypal people ever read. Paypal instituted a feedback form that customers are asked to fill out after each and every support case. Even so many people probably are too angry to even bother, some do, I did. But that source of customer feedback evaporates in the dysfunctional organization.

More Market Research?
Now the latest hit was that I received an invitation to participate in a survey – yet I have to be “elected” to join. However I get $200 if I participate after I am elected. But it looks like I have to drive to Mountain View to do the in person interview. A “market research institute” actually is doing the gigg. I don’t want to know what that cost in total.

So here is a company that has free feedback from millions of users and thousands of cases but just doesn’t bother to care – instead pays a research institute to create yet another source of feedback?

Paypals Social Web Presence

  • There is a paypal account on twitter, mainly tweeting “please follow us so we can DM you” – 63 updates, following 123 people
  • There are hundreds of paypal groups on Facebook from paypal fans to paypal frustrated customers
  • There are 18 groups focusing on paypal on LinkedIn with over 3,000 members
  • There are paypal customers on MySpace and many other sites, the feedback is priceless.
  • Yet paypal seem just not to care.

Even internally people know what the issues are: A support person inside paypal (very nice and very professional) “…I know, we asked numerous times to fix those issues but nobody seem to listen”.

How to actually fix the problem
Social Media for Paypal could become a life saver. Not as a marketing gigg but to improve and fix a dysfunctional operation.
1) At first a company team would aggregate and distill the customer feedback using established assessment methods and available reporting tools.
2) Then develop a customer supported advisory board and rigorously execute – fixing the top issues.
3) Tackle more problems and just grind through the list from top to bottom.
4) Ask the folks from “paypal sucks” groups and sites to HELP.
5) Using the, by then established, processes to figure out how new features need to be developed (co-creation)
6) Get feedback in a structured way through groups and networks rather than through useless questionnaires
7) Create forums where customers help customers, supported by maybe even less but better educated paypal support people

Non of the above has anything to do with sales or marketing – just building a better company.

Who Is Responsible?
Is this the responsibility of Dickson Chu Vice President of Global Product and Experience? Or is it Ryan D. Downs Senior Vice President, Worldwide Operations? Or is it Scott Guilfoyle Senior Vice President, Platform Services? Or Barry Herstein Chief Marketing Officer? Philipp Justus Senior Vice President, Global Markets, responsible for growing the company? Everybody has his/her fair share.

But No, Scott Thompson, the President is the one who need to engage his executive team in a cross functional initiative to fix the dysfunctional organization.

Social media is not a cool marketing gigg – it is a strategic engagement to react to the major changes in our society reflected by changing customer behavior and an ever more demanding market.

Axel Schultze Axel Schultze MyXeeSM

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How to start in social media?

I get more and more of the very same question: “Axel, I finally decided to get into the social media thing, do you have some advice?”

OK – too long ago I started from scratch, so everybody please chime in and add to it.

1) Give your engagement a purpose (other than just trying it out or selling something). For instance: You may want to learn more about your customers, you may want to help others in an area of your expertise, you may want to know more about your partners, you may want to learn what issues your customers have, you may want to learn from others about an area where you feel you are rather weak… Again don’t sell and don’t be as boring as “expand my network”.

2) Start on two places: let’s say LinkedIn and Facebook. Create your profile by:
– Adding a picture of yours, don’t make it too special amongst the 6 billion you are unique enough as you are
– Add your real name, your real background. No need to hide anything – it is out there anyway.
– Be open, the more information you provide the approachable you appear.

3) Social networking is about connections, conversations, exchanging experience… Invite all your friends from your address book to join you in your engagement. Don’t select only 5 or 10 – don’t be shy, you may be surprised who else is already there for years. So invite them all. If you are not comfortable to invite 1,000 – they only get an invitation from one – YOU. Don’t embarrass any of your friends, contacts or alliances by not connecting with them.

4) In the next few days you may be busy with confirming invitations, thanking them that they connect and asking them for their experience. They may have good tips for you as well. Keep the dialog over the next few weeks – make sure you leverage the connection for conversations – not just as yet another address book.

5) Now look for some groups with interesting topics or interesting people. Don’t forget your purpose by selecting the groups. Sign up with 2 or three, get familiar with the conversations. If you like it chime in, if not you may as well just leave the group. Once in the group: Don’t sell but just develop your skills and help others develop their skills with what ever expertise you may have. You will see others trying to sell something – don’t imitate (we’ll get to that later).

6) You are now a few weeks into it. You may wonder how much time you spend with no results. If that is the case: Your conversations or your network may have not been in line with your purpose. Or you may wonder how many wonderful and helpful people you met in such a short period of time – great – you are right on track.

7) The selling and doing business with those people almost reach the melting point. When can you go out and do business, sell something take orders….? Give it some more time. The social web is like a secret society you don’t get to the secret in the first few levels.

8) By now you may feel good about exploring other places and spaces. You may want to signup with Twitter and follow conversations that are in line with your purpose. Search for specific terms and check the people out. Also here, invite the people who are relevant to you and your purpose and follow them. Forget all the hype around getting thousands of followers. You are here for a reason – people who collected stamps in the past collect followers now – I guess you are not one of them.

9) Other places may be of interest: Create a little clip on your laptop and post it on YouTube, upload your presentations on SlideShare, store your bookmarks on Digg. You may find a few other interesting tools based on recommendations from friends. By now you do a lot of things and use a lot of tools based on recommendations from friends.

10) You are getting into the upper levels of the secret society. You learned a lot based on recommendations. You started tell others about your experience and recommend the tools to others. You retweet, write it to others on their wall… YOU NOTICE BY NOW: You never saw an advertising from LinkedIn or Twitter, you never received a cold call from any of the tools vendors you use. Nobody ever sold you something but you may already pay for some of the extras or reporting tools that help you follow your purpose. You may recognize: All it takes is recommendations. If somebody would have called you at home to use “Friends-or-Follower” you may have dropped it because thats the last thing you want.

11) As you join more groups you recognize the guys who ask hundreds of questions, answer the question right away and put a URL you should visit. Thousands of SEO and outsourcer try to sell you that way – and I’m sure like anybody else you just hate it. You reached an important point of understanding. Selling and advertising in the social web just doesn’t work. But you have this wonderful group of people who helped you and you helped them. And while you still want to do business, introduce your solutions and make a living you learned by now RECOMMENDATION is the currency in the business web. Recommendation = conversation, conducted by others. And maybe you experienced it already – other people recommend you and maybe even your business or products because what you produce or sell is helpful to somebody else.

12) You look back – probably 6 or more month passed by. You are proud that you made it through the maze of valuable and stupid information, through people you met and others you have known for many years. Your initial goals may be achieved and you feel good about the social web. Now you may take it to a whole new level – take your company and help the entire team to make sense out of all this. Make your team and your business partners a helpful hand to your customer base and your industry. Work with your customers and make them so happy that they RECOMMEND you. They can do that much better than you ever will in your life. When all the connections of all your team mates and partners recommend your products and services because they are helpful to others you become one of the top successful business person – without selling a thing.

Axel Schultze Axel Schultze MyXeeSM

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Most shocking report – How Teenagers Consum Media

“How Teenagers Consume Media:
the report that shook the City | Business | guardian.co.uk” ( This Link )
What is shocking to me is that what pretty much everybody is talking about shook the British Guardian.

More shocking that there is no way to comment on this report. It is electronically “printed” with no way to interact. I have to admit I haven’t been on a news paper site for quite a long time and recognized that this seems still to be the standard.

At the New York Times you have to sign in to “recommend” an article. But also wait until all adds are loaded.

However on SF Chronicle articles you can provide a comment on pretty much everything. So why spend $200 Million on a new printing press?

Axel

Axel Schultze Axel Schultze MyXeeSM

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Your Twitter Profile Sucks

Too many people wonder why their followership doesn’t work too well, get unfollowed or not followed in the first place. Starting with a good profile seems to be essential:

1) Give your account your real name

2) Have a photo up – any photo as long as it is YOU

3) Point people to your main URL (check http://xeesm.com)

4) Mix your profile well (not your resume, not some funky info – just what is your main concern

5) Custom wallpaper is nice but definitely the last thing I improve

6) Your location is more than a courtesy – people look for others in their vicinity

7) Don’t “protect” your profile – protected means “don’t touch me” and many including me just never even ask to get in touch.

8) Understand that 3 values are part of your profile: Followers, Following, Updates

9) UPDATES is a big influencer of your profile – some people check older tweets as well. Tweet what you think makes sense to your network – mix personal and business aspects in a healthy way.

10) Let pretty much everybody know that you are on Twitter – trust me it helps a lot.. Thought share this with the group.

Axel

Axel Schultze http://xeesm.com/AxelS

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