Mormons and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS - not to be confused with LSD(!) - have been on my my radar screen lately. It has nothing to do with HBO's popular drama Big Love or Mitt Romney's failed presidential campaign. Rather, LDS has embarked on a brand image campaign which, upon a closer look, is much more than a polished, high-gloss initiative aimed at a younger generation of potential disciples. In fact, it is both a timely move for a marketplace in search of answers and a bold competitive move among religious institutions.
For the first time in history, brands are trying to navigate a two-way channel of communication. Social media requires a value exchange between the consumer and the brand. Here are some reasons to think of it as one giant party.
It’s possible Apple will become more enterprise-centric in the future, but I doubt it. Why? Because Apple doesn’t seem to target markets in the way other companies do. It targets people. It focuses on users. And Apple lets them decide how and where they’ll use its products. This sounds simple, but in my experience very few companies think this way.
You see, businesses, brands and organizations are truly struggling with the disruptive nature of social technologies. In fact, the term "social technologies" is part of the problem—we are all fixated on the technologies and meanwhile the real action lies in harnessing the change brought about by human behavior enabled by technology. I used the simple story of how a colleague shared a book with me. The book itself (media) is not social—the interactions, communications, stories and conversations that involve the book are.
I will try to demonstrate here the manner in which social acts and communication result in mediated social realities. And suggest that the relational connections and value-added associations which are the byproduct of social media use create a marketplace of content whose highest value, individually motivated subjective choices, we are only beginning to capture and mine.
Welcome to...the Roaring Teens? More than a few investors I've spoken to recently think that because consumption appears to be skyrocketing upwards again, all's well that end's well. And on the basis of that conclusion, they're ready to pump capital back into the same old industrial era assets and businesses. Would that it were so. A slightly deeper logic suggests a very different conclusion.
Content doesn’t make something viral; people are the primary source of powering social objects across the attention nodes that connect the human network. Despite what appears commonsensical, we’re surprised when our brainchild doesn’t attract the views, attention, and circulation we believe it deserves. The reality of social media is this, in the attention economy, information isn’t randomly discovered and broadly disseminated. It is strategically positioned to either appear when someone searches for a related keyword or it’s presented to someone manually and deliberately.
It’s worth revisiting and re-crafting this refrain today — in a marketing arena in which the whole world’s gone topsy-turvy. As Social Media has blown up the silos between Advertising, Corp Comms, Direct Marketing, Public Relations, Customer Service, and even Information Technology, it’s easy to get caught up in the tools and techniques rather than focus on the sea change underlying this new madness. What’s this Social Media stuff really all about? It’s about the people.
So, it's official. The answer to every possible question about the marketplace is a click away and free to one and all. The internet is choked with information and advice. Who is doing what and why. What works and what doesn't. Trends and predictions. 10 steps to this, 6 keys to that, how to, how not to, when to, whether to, and on and on and on.
On the surface it may appear that Google simply created Buzz as a social network add-on for Gmail. But in reality the Mountain View, Calif. search engine launched the beginning of a hub that could eventually connect to forums, third-party PC and mobile applications, as well as other social sites. Google recognizes the need to allow data and people to seamlessly travel between portals and Web sites. Gmail Buzz users will get a better picture of that soon.
The leader of Britain's Conservative Party says we're entering a new era -- where governments themselves have less power (and less money) and people empowered by technology have more. Tapping into new ideas on behavioral economics, he explores how these trends could be turned into smarter policy.
Nikon is taking a cue from the popularity of Twitter by using the microblogging service as a launchpad for a new promotion. Yesterday, actor Ashton Kutcher kicked off the campaign by tweeting his involvement in the Nikon Film Festival, a user-generated content contest for people to submit "a day through your lens" video for the chance to win $100,000. Kutcher, who has 3.9 million followers on the service, posted a link to his own submission, a short film documenting a day he spent in Africa with his actress-wife Demi Moore.
Consumers use the social web to talk about everything including products. Sometimes they are praiseworthy, sometimes not. There are no strategic meetings or secret gatherings where consumers discuss which products to talk about and when. They just happen, and happen organically. And at times – at the demise of some brands — these conversations can reach the mainstream media as it did with Motrin.
Over the past week Google has been rolling out the first invitations to its latest service, a complex "real-time communication and collaboration" system dubbed Google Wave. Instead of sending messages back and forth, users create web-page-like documents called waves that others can modify or comment on, using a combination of features more usually seen separately in email, wikis, instant messaging and social networking (see a video introducing Wave). Early reviews have been positive, and demand for invitations outstrips supply (Google says ours is still on the way). But even for those who have tried and liked it, Wave's potential is still hard to assess. The problem is that most talk about it is focussed on technology, not people.
It is the size of a large fridge and looks like a cross between a portable heater and a computer server. However, this new domestic device is no kitchen appliance - as suggested by the familiar logo on the front: VW. More than 60 years after creating mobility for the masses with its Beetle, Volkswagen is now trying to bring power generation into private households by diversifying into the production of miniature thermal power stations. The move follows a tradition among German carmakers to use their technology and expertise to target different markets. Porsche, for example, has used its engineering, production and design skills for products such as coffee machines and bicycles. VW's move, however, stems largely from its wish to avoid having to make redundant 160 highly experienced employees at its engines plant in Salzgitter, in the east of Germany.
Better ballot design could have changed the results of the 2000 election. A better design for information sharing might have prevented 9/11. Now, could design thinking help fix something fundamentally broken in American democracy: how we engage in national debate? Whether the topic is climate change, financial regulation, or health care reform, when asked to "discuss amongst ourselves," the conversation devolves into who can shout the loudest, hurl the nastiest epithets, or pervert the facts to fit their own agendas. Can this process be saved? We spoke to Tim Brown, CEO of famed design and innovation firm, IDEO, and author of Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, (and Fast Company expert blogger) to see what might be done.
Watching football last weekend, I saw a commercial for the new 2010 Buick LaCrosse. I couldn’t tell you what the commercial said, because I was in shock looking at a car that I found hard to believe was a Buick. All car commercials are basically the same, but, despite the droning ad speak, this car was something new. At least it appeared to be. Now, for decades Buick has produced cars that I imagine were designed by a committee of tired, old, white, golfing buddies who never actually worked in the same room at the same time. The cars looked more like adequate results rather than ambitious, intensely focused statements. So where did THIS car come from?
Journalists are truth-tellers. But I think most of us have been lying to ourselves. Our profession is crumbling and we blame the Web for killing our business model. Yet it’s not the business model that changed on us. It’s the culture. Mainstream media were doing fine when information was hard to get and even harder to distribute. The public expected journalists to report the important stories, pull together information from sports scores to stock market results, and then deliver it all to our doorsteps, radios and TVs. People trusted journalists and, on our side, we delivered news that was relevant—it helped people connect with neighbors, be active citizens, and lead richer lives. Advertisers, of course, footed the bill for newsgathering. They wanted exposure and paid because people, lots of people, were reading our newspapers or listening to and watching our news programs. But things started to change well before the Web became popular.
I hope this is one of those resources you print out pin to your desk, and share with others. This is the core theme of this blog, the balance needed for successful web endeavors in organizations. I originally posted this diagram in 2006, then updated it in 2007, and it’s time to revisit the core structure of the goals and challenges of a Web Strategist, especially as I reset as I change roles. Who’s a Web Strategist? In a company, they often are responsible for the long term vision of corporate web properties. At a web company where their product is on the web, they’re often the product manager or CTO. Regardless of role, the responsibilities are the same, they need to balance all three of these spheres, and make sure their efforts are in the middle of all three.
When thinking of any Social Business Design problem, it's important to realize that there are three areas which will define all of the challenges which will need to be resolves in order to move any business toward a more open, collaborative model which benefits all constituents (employees, customers, partners). These areas are: People Process Technology Right now the industry is focused on technology, which is understandable since advances in it have enabled us to do so much more with less. However, I wanted to focus this short post around a subset of people. It's a thing commonly referred to as "corporate culture".
I have worked with Paula Rosch several times over the years. So when I sat down to think about who was acting in the capacity of an unspoken Chief Culture Officer, she came to mind. I asked Paula if she would sit down and tell me about how she helped make Kimberly-Clark a living, breathing culture, and she produced this fascinating document. Here are some of the highlights that await you.
You’re going to hear more and more people in the social media space start using the term “social business” in the coming months. It will likely replace “community building” as the corporate catch phrase of the moment. Trend setters in the industry like Charlene Li, Jeremiah Owyang, Peter Kim and random other former Forrester Research employees now cashing in are already tossing it around. It puts a prettier wrapping paper on the larger payoff for what social media thinkers do. What the term implies, at least from my perspective, is that the business in question, or what they’re trying to sell you, is one that is not driven by products or services.
Here is a tale of two businesses. There is good news and there is bad news. Let's try and stay positive. Good news first. Hiscox, the insurance company, announced some impressive results last week - a 30 per cent increase in pre-tax profits in the first half of the year. The company has outperformed most of its rivals at a difficult time. Something is going seriously right. I trawled through my paperwork and found the notes from a conversation I'd had with Bronek Masojada, Hiscox's chief executive, some time ago. The topic for that conversation had been the rather abstract concept of the "employer brand". You might not feel that an employer brand would have a great deal to do with your decision to pick company X over company Y to insure the contents of your house. Indeed, you might feel that the term is a typical example of business's unfailing ability to invent grand-sounding but ultimately flaky jargon. Secretly, you might not really know what an employer brand is at all.
I received an email not too long ago from a professional colleague. It was a private email asking me to do them a favor. It was written rather tersely and almost demanded that I adhere to their request. The more I thought about it, the more it saddened me that their outward persona via their blog, Twitter channel and so on was upstanding and respectable, but just a ruse to disguise someone so manipulative and greedy.
If I were on some weird reality show (I know, the "weird'" is redundant), where they made me hire a search strategist, and they only let me give one instruction, it would be this: To understand search, you have to understand human behavior.
Seriously. It’s ruining you. Well, at least sometimes it is. Because when we bring marketing into a relationship, we damage it. As we’ve said before (and we’ll say again), nobody WANTS to be marketed to. So I think it’s really, REALLY important to remember to take off our marketing hats and just be a person thinking about how to relate to other people in a honest, open, transparent way.
People today are awash in news and stories about war, climate change, famine, and disease. Their lives are increasingly being touched by financial hardship, illness, natural disaster, and death. These images, stories and intimate, personal associations and experiences are creating a richer understanding about the fate of others and, thus, a deeper sense of empathy.
Pick up any of the trade papers or read any of the marketing blogs recently and you’re likely to notice Amara’s law at work: “we invariably overestimate the short-term impact of new technologies while underestimating their long-term effects”. We read a lot about the rush to do something ‘on’ the next tech phenomenon - do something on Facebook, have a presence on Twitter or (yes, still) launch a viral marketing campaign. But there is precious little conversation about the impact technology is having long-term on culture, and how this might challenge some of the assumptions we have built marketing programs on for the last few decades.
Advertising has long been criticized for making hollow unbelievable and overblown promises that aren't grounded and simply pandering to people's emotions. The public has gotten sick of this stuff, which presents a problem for clients and their agencies who want to say something big. I think T-Mobile in the UK has gotten it right.
As public relations, communications, and new media marketing professionals, it's our job to identify the communities where our customers, peers, and also influencers communicate with each other in a way that's transparent and frictionless. It's how we build relationships and how we establish our personal and corporate social capital while simultaneously increasing intellectual equity.
If the separation between magazines’ editorial and advertising sides was once a gulf, it is now diminished to the size of a sidewalk crack. Recent issues of Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Time, People, ESPN the Magazine, Scholastic Parent & Child and other magazines have woven in advertisers in new ways, some going as far as putting ads on their covers.
In recent weeks, I've realized that each day I use the best feed reader of them all and I didn't even know it: Twitter. Since then, I've used it exclusively as a replacement to my RSS reader and I couldn't be happier. Believe it or not, Twitter is the best way to find all the best news.
Getting good at change is becoming one of the most important competitive advantages for a company. What you need to understand is that companies don't change -- people change. That said, if you can learn how to get good at change, you will be indispensable to your company. Employers need to find people who can navigate changes, acquisitions, new bosses and layoffs within their teams. Are there ways to get better at change? Absolutely.