The Big Datastillery

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This video was sponsored by the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this video are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

 

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Social Business is more than Social Marketing

Although much of the early business use of social media was largely focused on broadcasting marketing messages at customers, social media transformed word of mouth into word of data and empowered customers to add their voice to marketing messages, forcing marketing to evolve from monologues to dialogues.  But is the business potential of social media limited to marketing?

During the MidMarket IBM Social Business #Futurecast, a panel discussion from earlier this month, Ed Brill, author of the forthcoming book Opting In: Lessons in Social Business from a Fortune 500 Product Manager, defined the term social business as “an organization that engages employees in a socially-enabled process that brings together how employees interact with each other, partners, customers, and the marketplace.  It’s about bringing all the right people, both internally and externally, together in a conversation to solve problems, be innovative and responsive, and better understand marketplace dynamics.”

“Most midsize businesses today,” Laurie McCabe commented, “are still grappling with how to supplement traditional applications and tools with some of the newer social business tools.  Up until now, the focus has been on integrating social media into a lot of marketing communications, and we haven’t yet seen the integration of social media into other business processes.”

“Midsize businesses understand,” Handly Cameron remarked, “how important it is to get into social media, but they’re usually so focused on daily operations that they think that a social business is simply one that uses social media, and therefore they cite the facts that they created Twitter and Facebook accounts as proof that they are a social business, but again, they are focusing on external uses of social media and not internal uses such as improving employee collaboration.”

Collaboration was a common theme throughout the panel discussion.  Brill said a social business is one that has undergone the cultural transformation required to embrace the fact that it is a good idea to share knowledge.  McCabe remarked that the leadership of a social business rewards employees for sharing knowledge, not for hoarding knowledge.  She also emphasized the importance of culture before tools since simply giving individuals social tools will not automatically create a collaborative culture.

Cameron also noted how the widespread adoption of cloud computing and mobile devices is helping to drive the adoption of social tools for collaboration, and helping to break down a lot of the traditional boundaries to knowledge sharing, especially as more organizations are becoming less bounded by the physical proximity of their employees, partners, and customers.

From my perspective, even though marketing might have been how social media got in the front door of many organizations, social media has always been about knowledge sharing and collaboration.  And with mobile, cloud, and social technologies so integrated into our personal and professional lives, life and business are both more social and collaborative than ever before.  So, even if collaboration isn’t in the genes of your organization, it’s no longer possible to put the collaboration genie back in the bottle.

 

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

 

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Social Media Marketing: From Monologues to Dialogues

“With social media analytics,” Ed Abrams and Jay Hakami recently blogged, midsize businesses “can calculate the ROI and assess the effectiveness of their social media marketing campaigns by tracking both the actions of consumers and the influence of their top commenters and re-tweeters providing a level of insight on the individual never seen before . . . allowing them to make informed business decisions on how to best leverage their online presence.”

But perhaps the most challenging aspect for businesses trying to best leverage their online presence by using social media in their marketing campaigns is that it involves the presence of voices that they don’t have control over — their customers’ voices.

Social media has transformed word of mouth into word of data.  And, as more companies are being forced to acknowledge, the digital mouths of customers speak volumes.  Social media is empowering customers to add their voice to marketing messages.

“Everyone loves to talk about customers engaging with brands,” Rick Robinson recently blogged.  “But in the process, customers are also taking over brands.  The message for midsize firms is that they can no longer count on shaping the conversation.”

“Social media offers,” Dan Berthiaume recently blogged, “the opportunity to directly engage with customers for real-time feedback.  Social media marketing at its core is a relatively inexpensive and fast way of conducting marketing.”  True, however as Paul Gillin explained during our recent podcast discussion about social media for midsize businesses, the fundamental difference between traditional marketing and social media marketing is that the former is one-way, whereas the latter is two-way.

In other words, marketing has not historically looked to engage with customers to receive feedback.  Marketing has traditionally broadcasted messages at customers — and marketing’s early use of social media has been as just another broadcast channel.

However, “social media is a process of continual conversation,” Gillin explained.  “It’s a very different way to go about marketing, but the natural tendency for people when they see something new is to apply the old metaphors to it.  What you’ve seen during the first five years of social media’s popularity is a lot of use of these platforms as essentially the same old marketing channels.”

“We see more companies every year that are getting the idea that social media is a two-way conversation,” Gillin continued, “but it’s a difficult skill to develop.  Marketers are not taught in school or at work to converse — they’re taught to deliver messages.  So that’s turning around a pretty big battleship trying to convince and teach all these people the skills of two-way engagement.”

Marketing has long been accustomed to controlling a conversation that was never really a conversation — since marketers did all the talking, and customers could only listen or ignore them.  Social media is evolving marketing from monologues to dialogues.

Is your midsize business ready and, more importantly, willing to engage customers in an actual conversation?

 

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

 

Social Media for Midsize Businesses

OCDQ Radio is a vendor-neutral podcast about data quality and its related disciplines, produced and hosted by Jim Harris.

During this episode, Paul Gillin and I discuss social media for midsize businesses, including how the less marketing you do, the more effective you will be with social media marketing, the war of generosity, where the more you give, the more you get, and the importance of the trust equation, which means the more people trust you, the more they will want to do business with you.

Paul Gillin is a veteran technology journalist and a thought leader in new media.  Since 2005, he has advised marketers and business executives on strategies to optimize their use of social media and online channels to reach buyers cost-effectively.  He is a popular speaker who is known for his ability to simplify complex concepts using plain talk, anecdotes, and humor.

Paul Gillin is the author of four books about social marketing: The New Influencers (2007), Secrets of Social Media Marketing (2008), Social Marketing to the Business Customer (2011), co-authored with Eric Schwartzman, and the forthcoming book Attack of the Customers (2012), co-authored with Greg Gianforte.

Paul Gillin was previously the founding editor of TechTarget and editor-in-chief of Computerworld.  He writes a monthly column for BtoB magazine and is an active blogger and media commentator.  He has appeared as an expert commentator on CNN, PBS, Fox News, MSNBC, and other television outlets.  He has also been quoted or interviewed for hundreds of news and radio reports in outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NPR, and the BBC.  Paul Gillin is a Senior Research Fellow and member of the board of directors at the Society for New Communications Research.

 

Social Media for Midsize Businesses

Additional listening options:

 

This podcast was sponsored by the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

 

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Social Media Strategy

OCDQ Radio is a vendor-neutral podcast about data quality and its related disciplines, produced and hosted by Jim Harris.

Effectively using social media within a business context is more art than science, which is why properly planning and executing a social media strategy is essential for organizations as well as individual professionals.

On this episode, I discuss social media strategy and content marketing with Crysta Anderson, a Social Media Strategist for IBM, who manages IBM InfoSphere’s social media presence, including the Mastering Data Management blog, the @IBMInitiate and @IBM_InfoSphere Twitter accounts, LinkedIn and other platforms.

Crysta Anderson also serves as a social media subject matter expert for IBM’s Information Management division.

Under Crysta’s execution, IBM Initiate has received numerous social media awards, including “Best Corporate Blog” from the Chicago Business Marketing Association, Marketing Sherpa’s 2010 Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame, and BtoB Magazine’s list of “Most Successful Online Social Networking Initiatives.”

Crysta graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA in Political Science and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University’s Medill School.  Learn more about Crysta Anderson on LinkedIn.

 

Social Media Strategy

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