Archive for October, 2012

29th

Continuing the conversation from last week, (albeit a little one-sided for my taste), the question is how is Social Technology a Game-Changer in business? Here’s 5 more to consider…

The Next Five:

8. Reputation Management

I rarely shoot weddings...

I rarely shoot weddings...

Who hasn’t “Google’d” a person or brand that they were unfamiliar with? Most Boot Camp attendees I ask not only raise their hands,but further say they did it with ME! We all do it – often. So what do people find about you or your enterprise. Do you care? Absolutely. And what if there is a negative mention on the first page of your results? Can you use Social to knock that item down to page 2 of the results? Absolutely.

9. Environmental Influence

Here I’m not referring to the green movement. Instead, this is about impacting your personal sphere of influence. You see, once you have established the connections with your network, how to you leverage those for influence. For example, we’re seeing this in a big way on Social with the 2012 election in the US. We are also seeing it with “Frankenstorm” and Hurricane Sandy. One insurance agency that does a nice job with Social, The Murray Group in Albany, NY, is putting out some solid content right now on Hurricane preparedness. Obviously there are so many other ways to exert environmental influence – notable sales and marketing.

10. Work Spaces

Many thought-leading companies are starting to use virtual work spaces that leverage Social Tech in an effort to improve efficiencies with time, money, and real estate. Working ‘virtually’ from a home with ubiquitous broadband internet is a great way to improve productivity – of course depending on the home situation. But we’re starting to see more and more executive suites being used to distribute work spaces closer to the home so as to reduce travel time, expense, and drain on productivity. And I’m just touching on the surface here.

11. Efficiencies

I tell you what – one of the greatest efficiency gains I’ve seen in recent times is the powerful HTC S1 droid I’ve been using. I can do SO much with this device, anytime, anywhere. I’d imagine the Samsung Galaxy 3 is similarly powerful. As I’m coaching busy executives, that’s the first thing I go after, especially if they are on a Blackberry. But iPad’s as well. And let me just tell ya – the Macbook I bought almost three years ago now has been nothing short of brilliant when it comes to speed and efficiencies. Technology is a big key – but also getting right to the point in communications. I think that’s another benefit of Twitter, blogging, public speaking – they force you to be extremely efficient with the written and spoken work – saving time and money.

12. Cost of Doing Business

We all know by now the story of Netflix and Blockbuster. While that was more of a pure technology versus real estate issue, it seems fair to say that Social definitely helped spread the word about Netflix faster than Blockbuster could unload its real estate and adapt. But clearly eWord-of-Mouth is reducing sales and marketing costs. Crowdsourcing is reducing IT development costs. Linkedin is reducing recruiting costs. We are only bound by our creativity here.

I will ask the questions again:

How is Social impacting your day-in-day-out activities?

What’s the next big thing?

What are your comments and questions, barriers and obstacle?

Perhaps I, or another reader, can help answer them.

26th

OK, I haven’t used that line yet and I’ve been blogging for 7 years. Hey, everyone else uses it on me!…

Btw, “LinkedIn currently has more than 175 million members, with 50 million of those members joining the service in just the past year alone. To put that growth in perspective, in 2009, LinkedIn had just 32 million people.” – Mashable

I also read recently that the Social Web has reduced the classic “Six Degrees of Separation” to 4 (Can’t find the reference off-hand.)

My Linkedin Endorsements as of 10/26/12

My Linkedin Endorsements as of 10/26/12

  1. Credibility is a powerful under-current, perhaps even currency, of the new Social business model. Ratings are becoming critically important. Endorsements are yet another example of Rating systems.
  2. Clearly, Linkedin is trying to ramp-up the new Skills feature. It’s a great marketing strategy for Linkedin in terms of increasing the utility of the system. But IMHO it’s gumming up the system with a lot of notifications.
  3. It’s an interesting opportunity to see the alignment between how peers actually see you versus how you see yourself.
  4. As with anything that comes from the crowd, it needs to be managed. Some endorsements might not be optimal for a variety of reasons. Some might be specifically sought after, as with Recommendations. I recommend that it merits attention like anything else, but not hyper-focus.
  5. It’s yet another interesting and competitive data-point to the profile viewer, although must be taken in context and with a grain of salt.
  6. It’s yet another reason to make connections with, and nurture, your network on a persistent basis, just as with off-line activities time immemorial. The more Connections, especially strategic ones, the more potential Endorsements.
  7. Thank-you’s for Endorsements seem appropriate. As always, it’s an opportunity to engage with your network, though it’s a lot harder to say “Thanks for the Endorsement” than it is to simply click the Endorsement button. So with a large network and lots of Endorsements, that becomes problematic.
  8. As far as the ubiquitous quid-pro-qua concept, that’s something to consider as well. I’d be curious what others have to say on that one.

In fact, I’d be curious what others have to say on the whole thing. Please Comment. Thanks in advance.

(Side note: I’d be curious to know if insurance companies and agencies are updating their internal Social Tech policies to accommodate this new feature.)

This is a really good article on the feature. Good Comments there as well.

25th

The more I watch, study, learn, and interact with others on the Social Web, the more convinced I am that Social Technology is a Game-Changer in business. Now I know that some of you will say, “Well, of course you do, Mike. That’s your business. You’ve got a vested interest in saying that…” Yes, that’s a true statement. I AM driving revenue for my little enterprise. But a statement like that is yet another example of very simplistic and dismissive brush-off’s that executives and business leaders at all levels are making – one that completely misses the point of emphasis. A few more:

  1. “Why would I use Twitter? What do I care what Charlie Sheen had for breakfast?!?!”
  2. “I don’t want my people using Facebook at work – it’s a waste of time.”
  3. “YouTube is nothing but a bandwidth problem on our network. We shut it down.”
  4. “I’m on Linkedin, but I’m just connecting with people. I have no idea what the value is.”

    Pick your Social Network

    Pick your Social Network

  5. “Show me the ROI of Social Media and I’ll be more than happy to use it.”
  6. “I can see using Social Media if you sell consumer products. But we’re B2B.”
  7. “I can’t keep up with email. I can’t imagine keeping up with Social networks, too!”
  8. “I just don’t have time for all that nonsense.”

Let me get right to the point of how I’m seeing Social Tech accomplish business goals. The following is a VERY brief list of 12 undeniable ways smart companies are leveraging Social Tech. Remember that, as I say in Boot Camps and Keynotes, Social Tech boils down to this statement: “The goal is to 1. build your Social Networks through which you can 2. share Social Media and thereby 3. amplify your Social Relevance and influence.” In other words, build your connections, develop and share helpful stuff, and drive your business objectives, whatever they may be. Just like you can’t mail people stuff without mailing addresses, you can’t call people without phone numbers, you can’t email without email addresses, you can’t reach people via the Social web until you make the connections. And with ALL of them you have to have a solid , meaningful, and compelling message. And the holy grail is word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations that amplify your efforts. Pretty basic stuff. Social Tech is just making it a whole lot easier – and trackable.

1. Recruiting – Linkedin is so incredibly powerful, even the novice is finding utility with it. If you know how to get up to 4th and 5th gear in the system, holy cow! And that’s just one tool, not to mention others like Twitter and hashtags, Online Reputation Management, Viral Video’s, e-Word of Mouth, and more.

Laptop or Smartphone?

Laptop or Smartphone?

2. Information Gathering and Education – Who hasn’t used Google to feed their brain on some topic? Well, the same concepts apply to Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, RSS, and a host of other tools that can be positioned to feed your brain on any topic you want – on an automated basis. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best kept secrets of Social Tech savants – and will be the key differentiating skill for employees in the years ahead.

3. Customer Service – Many, many smart companies are using Twitter and Facebook as customer service channels. Why? The vast majority of Americans are using Social Tech at some level. And they often use it to solve routine problems – as efficiently as possible. That’s a big reason why they are following their brands and business partners across the Social web. FAQ’s?? OK. But at the same time as your customer service rep sees the tweet, the crowd also sees it, and maybe has had the same question and already has the answer. And this concept will only grow.

4. Relationship Management and Nurturing – Man, once you get someone on board, don’t you want to keep them there? Of course. So how do you do that while at the same time getting more people on board – all as efficiently as possible while keeping overhead low? Create reusable, sharable content and make it easy for your fans to share it with their networks. Create useful content – stuff that answers questions, expands the utility of your gear or services – blog posts like this, video tutorials and aids, in-depth e-Books, real-time and archived Webinars, Tweet-ups, infographics that educate, inspire, and otherwise communicate. People want to business with people that help them, not just sell them.

5. Sales – The Social Web was practically MADE for sales people. Man, if you’re in sales and you don’t know how to leverage Linkedin yet for warm referrals, just like you might at an industry conference or networking event, get on Google and start feeding your brain. Social Tech can feed the pipeline, shrink sales cycles, improve close ratios and competitive advantage, and of course generate referrals to feed the pipeline. If you do it right, it’s Revenue on Demand, no matter what business you’re in.

6. Marketing – Inbound marketing to drive leads is where it’s at. I’ve got one word on that – HubSpot. Beyond that, Social Tech helps enterprise marketers with Reputation Management, Organizational Voice, Advertising, Public Relations. How many times have you Google’d an unfamiliar person, brand, or product that you needed to know more about? Every day is a common answer? So what makes you think that people aren’t doing it WITH YOU??? Don’t you think it’s thus kind of important to have a powerful presence across the various Social Channels?

A Socially-enabled Conference

A Socially-enabled Conference

7. Getting things done – Crowdsourcing is simply a huge, largely unknown and untapped opportunity in American business, especially in the insurance space. Sites like LogoTournament, PopTent, TopCoder, and Chaordix are huge opportunities to help companies increase their velocity. One insurance company I’ve mentioned before leveraged PopTent for video content – and accomplished something in a fraction of the time, at a fraction of the cost, and with a terrific end result. You know the dreaded IT Project Priority List? Use TopCoder for the bottom third that will likely never get done, or be too late, off-target, and hastily made. How about product innovation, creative writing, adjudication, the list goes on and on. Yet sadly, most executives are at 0 or 1 on a scale of 10 relative to Crowdsourcing. Yikes. Huge opportunity for the competition, eh?

Well, that’s all the time I have for right now. I’ll get back to this list later.

The Next Five:

8. Reputation Management

9. Environmental Influence

10. Work Spaces

11. Efficiencies

12. Cost of Doing Business

How is Social impacting your day-in-day-out activities?

What’s the next big thing?

What are your comments and questions, barriers and obstacle?

Perhaps I, or another reader, can help answer them.

What d’ya say?

18th

“All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever effects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. (from Strength to Love)

This quote jumped out at me as I read this book. I highly recommend this book, btw. Did you know that MLK was extremely conservative in his political/social views? His writings are spot on. Do you see the implications of the quote vis-a-vis Social Tech?

So much has happened since the Fairmont Boot Camp, the subject of the last post. It seems like that Social Tech Boot Camp, combined with the INN article that mentioned me, has pushed me to a new plateau professionally. And yet in the midst of that, I’m being used in new and different ways. It’s impossible to see where it’s all leading. But a good friend and industry associate said at SIIA 2012, “Mike, 2013 is going to be a very good year for you. Hang in there.” To be candid, I’m not sure why he said that. But it resonated. Word.

"Food for Thought" sponsored by Re-Solutions, at SIIA12

Speaking of SIIA12, that was an impressive conference. I think I’m going to get involved. It will likely mean shifting scarce resources from one of my other associations. But given the people, the markets, and the engagement of the attendees, it seems like it might be worth the focus in time and money. One interesting bit of innovation: An attendee who sat in the Fairmont Boot Camp had an inspiring thought. Liz Mariner with Re-Solutions, who’s on the Board of SIIA, asked me to come to her invitation-only dinner party at SIIA and speak to her guests about Social Tech for a few minutes. Brilliant use of time. The space was perfect. I shared some conceptual stuff like Crowdsourcing and ORM as well as some practical tips on Linkedin and Twitter. It was really well-received by all involved.

OK Cleaners, my local drycleaner

OK Cleaners, my local drycleaner

I wanted to share another recent image as well. It’s totally unrelated to insurance, but very much on Social, especially location-based marketing. I’ll go into the details later, but suffice to say that my drycleaner is very smart about marketing. She shows great concern about her customers, remembers small details about them, and always says. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” One time last year, Sue cleaned my son’s Army uniform. Zach and I dropped it off and picked it up. With her huge smile and winsome manner, Sue spoke to us for 5-10 minutes. Ever since then, she always asks about Zach. So when I told Sue that Zach was deploying to Afghanistan in December, a big frown crossed her brow. “Oh, Oh, Oh… so worried,” she said. I glanced at the wall by the register gulping back a flash of emotion. I noticed that Sue had just removed some old Kiwanis baseball team plaques from years past. The nails were still in the wall. So I said, “Sue, do you think you would like to put Zach’s picture up on the wall here? I have his Army picture in my office. Maybe customers would like to see it?” A BIG smile returned to her face. “YES! YES! … YES! YES! YES!” So the next time I came in, I brought the picture with a little note about what’s going on. And there it will sit until next August when he returns, Lord willing. Social, Marketing, Customer Engagement. Local. Excellent.

Lunch at a Soup Kitchen in Akron

Last week, I also took some time to visit a local Soup Kitchen in Akron, located right next to the County Jail, that serves people coming and going from incarceration. Yeah, it was great food, served by ex-cons trying to go straight. But Duane Crabbs is the real deal. He used to be in business. But now he feeds and ministers to the people that need the help the most. South Street Ministries is a ministry my church supports, so I know I can trust it. And speaking with Duane – yeah, it’s legit. Another big gulp.

Talking to kids about "An Infinite God"

And wouldn’t you know, I was in Kansas City this week. The friends I was staying with, insurance peeps I met in the Dominican Republic on the mission trip last year, who live in K.C., asked me to take a few minutes and speak to the kids at the morning Chapel service about the DR. Sure! My meeting didn’t start until 10 and it was right down the street from the school. Chapel was at 9. Sure! So we showed the video and I told the story about the water jug, the teacher, the student, and how God used us to repair a critically important water line spanning a river that had been washed away in the Hurricane Irene flood a couple months before. The kids were enraptured – for a few minutes! Then I lost ‘em! So I quickly ended. But it was good for 7 of the 10 minutes! Ha!

Thanks for taking the time. Enjoyed it. Love to hear your thoughts on any of this..

Archives to 2005