Thursday, April 29, 2010

Avoiding Social Media TMI

It’s a strange thing to tell people that my job literally requires me to check and update Facebook.  At a time when Facebook updating is becoming a workforce interruption  on par with the NCAA tournament, how are marketers supposed to draw the line between what we should be doing on our social networks and what’s personal use?

Or maybe a better question is: do marketers who use their social media networks for their job still have a “personal use” option?  For all intents and purposes, the answer to this is probably no.  Authenticity is fast becoming a requirement for having influence in social networking. That means that They get to know who you are.  In some cases, that means they also get to see the pictures of you passed out on someone’s lawn at Mardi Gras.  c'est la vie.,.

What that doesn’t mean is that we have to lose all perspective of professionalism.  There are lots of ways to express yourself through your network without compromising the carefully cultivated image you’ve sunk years of blood sweat and tears into.  More than anything else, this seems to require some understanding of why you publish on Facebook, your blog, twitter, whatever – and who your audience is.  What’s the point of what you’re saying? Are you adding value to a business conversation that never ends with a new perspective?  What does your social media network expect of you? What are they willing to accept from your opinion?  Are they expecting you to give them a play by play of your day?  Do they need to know about your relationship status?

Most of the people I’m connected to share valuable insights about what they’re working on or ideas on how to make our work a little better.  Sometimes I’ll connect to somebody who has a fresh or witty perspective.  This is basically what I expect of them, and in turn probably what they expect of me.  The danger seems to come from overstepping those boundaries.

The best rule of thumb I’ve heard in respect to social media publishing guidelines is the company party rule.  If you were at a business mixer, what would you bring to the conversation?  What wouldn’t you bring?

Most importantly, what would be considered “oversharing” or uncomfortable?  If you answered with, “not a damn thing”, then you might just be John Mayer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cool Social Media Survey

The Social Media Examiner just released a new report: 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report that covers how marketers are using social media to grow their business. Here are some of the highlights that stuck out for me:
  • The top benefits of social media marketing: The number-one advantage of social media marketing (by a long shot) is generating exposure for the business, indicated by 85% of all marketers, followed by increasing traffic (63%) and building new business partnerships (56%).
  • Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs were the top four social media tools used by marketers, respectively. (for Cisco I would move Blogs after Twitter)
  • Only 14% of businesses are outsourcing any aspect of their social media marketing. (I’d say about 14% of groups within Cisco are outsourcing some component of their social media marketing so that’s consistent with what I’m seeing)
  • 56% of marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more each week and 30% for 11 or more hours weekly 
  • Those who've been using social media for years picked Video/YouTube as the top area in which they will be increasing their efforts, with 81%

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Backstory of the B2B Magazine Integrated Social Media Award Winner

Cisco was awarded the Integrated Social Media Marketing Award by B2B Magazine for the creative development and marketing of the Cisco myPlanNet game. Cisco is now in the running for the people’s choice award so please vote for us.
I am fortunate enough to work with the mastermind behind this great work – Petra Neiger and was able to interview her for some behind-the-scenes info on what was involved to pull this off. Here’s the transcript:

First tell us a little bit about what myPlanNet is and what you were trying to do?
Cisco myPlanNet is a simulation “edugame” that puts the player in the shoes of a service provider president. You can experience life as a wireline carrier, cable or mobile operator, and pick a level of difficulty and the Internet era you want to start in. From there, your challenge is to manage your business, transform your community, and guide residential and business customers into the medianet era. As you go through the game, you will need to make decisions every step of the way and every decision you make will impact your balance sheet, operations, and customer satisfaction.
What was the objective you were trying to solve that led you to creating the MyPlanNet game?
The key words here are engaging, educational and fun. The idea was to connect with our customers and network aficionados in an interactive and fun way, and allow them to experience the effects that Cisco's broad portfolio has on people’s lives. This game helps people explore how the different pieces fit together and the role Cisco has played in the evolution of the Internet over the past 25 years.
I’ve taken a look at the game and played it, the engineering behind it looks pretty complex. What was the process to develop it?
It took us 13 months to develop. We were a small team who did this project on top of our day jobs. On a high level, the process included project scoping, game architecture design, content design and creation, graphics and UE design and creation, testing, legal clearances, database creation and integration, testing, web page development, testing, marketing asset development…and did I mention testing? We tested the game many times and at every juncture to make sure all the pieces work well together and I can’t emphasize how important testing is. The other thing I want to stress is the importance of project scoping. Do spend the time to make sure you have all the details and information outlined and how one thing will lead into another. The more planning you do upfront, the easier it will be to go through the project and it will also help you stay focused. Not to mention, it will help monitor how you’re doing on budget.
If you’re interested in the detailed steps of game development, please see the embedded slides embedded above or check out the presentation here.
Focusing on the social media aspects, what did you do to promote the game and what worked or didn’t work?
When we first introduced this game in October 2009, we coupled social media with traditional media, such as banners, emails, Cisco newsletters and trade show demos. Our social media efforts were additive. After about 6 or so weeks, we pulled back on traditional media and social media moved into the driver seat. From day one, social media marketing has been used to increase awareness, and drive game downloads and interaction. Our social media strategy follows a continuous learning model based on these pillars: listen, share, engage, integrate, measure/analyze, improve.

We used a variety of different tools:

1. The landing page contains web 2.0 components such as the bookmark and share widget and live feeds from the JIVE support page.
2. We are using JIVE for online game support.
3. We shared news, tidbits, assets, etc via blogs, tweets, Facebook cross links, ads, Facebook fan page, social bookmarking, video syndication, RSS and discussion forums
4. We have promoted myPlanNet either as a standalone item or as part of a bigger initiative, such as Cisco Learning Network/Network Academy, the US broadband stimulus program, Consumer Electronics (CES) trade show, or Cisco’s 25th anniversary.
5. We are engaging with users via feedback solicitation, offering discussion forums for people to interact with other players as well Cisco technology experts, and are actively updating our fan page with socially competitive mini-games and other information.
6. In addition to the Cisco accounts, our small team also used our own personal accounts and personal relationships to help get the word out.
What worked well, top of my head…:
1. The campaign was fully integrated between traditional and social media as well within social media. This means that we had “one voice” in all of our communication channels and our messages were consistent. We had a clear call to action and made our content available in a variety of different ways. This helped increase our chances of getting noticed.
2. Our efforts caught the press’ attention and generated several articles and blog posts. Not only did these articles help raise awareness of the game, but we were also able to leverage these third-party postings (e.g., retweet, social bookmark, etc) to further promote Cisco myPlanNet.
3. Our Facebook ad drove a lot of people to our Facebook fan page.
4. The reaction to the “socially competitive mini games” on Facebook has been very positive.
Where we were challenged:
1. The team that developed this game was small. The team who were responsible for promoting this game was much smaller. Resources were definitely a challenge. It’s not just about getting the message out but it’s also about monitoring the responses or posts that come in, and then addressing them as needed on an on-going basis.
2. The question of JIVE platform vs. Facebook fan page. We monitored both of them for the first few weeks to see how people were using each and what type of audiences went where. What we found was that JIVE was more suited for online technical help. Even today, people tend to read more on this page than post. On the other hand, our Facebook fans use the “Like” and “Comment” functions quite generously but do so on more casual, light-hearted topics. We also faced some platform challenges in the beginning but we worked around them.
If you’d like, take a look at some public slides from our detailed go-to-market communication plan.
What were the results of this campaign?
As of 04/13, we had over 115,000 hits to the game landing page, about 33,000 downloads, about 130 countries and over 2,500 institutions participating, and now have over 48,000 Facebook fans. While these numbers look good, it is also important to note the additional exposure Cisco myPlanNet has received in the form of blog and press mentions by the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Broadband Census, Network World, and Computer World to name a few. Tom Grant, Ph.D., a Senior Analyst at Forrester did a podcast on Cisco myPlanNet with Stephen Liu, Chief Architect and me.
What lessons did you learn from this experience? Is there anything you would do different?
I would categorize my answers in 2 buckets: development-related and marketing-related learnings. My presentation on the “Birth and Key Takeaways from the Development of Cisco myPlanNet” highlights some things we’d like to do differently next time.
From a social media marketing perspective, I think these were the key takeaways:
1. Experiment, listen and choose your action: don’t be afraid to experiment with a post, mini game, etc., watch people’s reaction and address as or if needed.
2. Balance between engineered and organic content: have some seed content ready to go but at the same time, let the conversation naturally unfold. Monitor what people say but give them the freedom to comment. If your engineered topic doesn’t catch on, don’t force it.
3. Don’t take things personally: there will be people who may not like what you do and that’s ok. Don’t get on the defensive.
4. Social media doesn’t go away: once you’re in social media, you are in social media. So make sure that people on your team continue to monitor and stay engaged with your fans, discussion forum participants, etc. I think many organizations don’t quite realize how much time and effort it really takes to nurture your social media engagements. It’s more than writing a blog or sending a tweet. Often times, we are required to move from one thing to the next very quickly and get too busy to keep the “old” things moving along as we start working on the “new” ones. If social media is specific to a campaign and is not intended for on-going use, plan for an exit strategy at the beginning of your program.
5. Align your marketing objectives to the requirements, limitations and opportunities presented by the tool you’re looking to market: wow, this is a mouthful. But basically, what it means is that everything needs to be connected and make sense. In our case, we would have loved to do a big contest with lots of prizes et al. But, we had certain requirements and limitations that prevented us from being able to do so. It certainly would have helped with word-of-mouth advertising much sooner and faster but it was not a possibility. So we tried other avenues to achieve the same goals.
6. Be patient: social media doesn’t happen overnight. You need to put the time and effort into it to get results.

If you are interested in seeing some more ideas about how to use social media in support of your overall marketing campaign, feel free to visit my presentation “Framework: Social Media As Part of Your Overall Communication Strategy”.

If you think this case study is as awesome as I do, please cast your vote so Cisco can win the people’s choice award!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Fun: My Collection of Social Media Infographics

Storytelling is becoming increasingly important as I continue to evangelize social media at Cisco. And like most corporations we use PowerPoint to tell that story. I’ve been working on some fancy PowerPoint’s lately and have been searching for the right graphics to help tell that story. Which has lead me to this collection of great social media infographics:

If you have any cool, new infographics to share, by all means – share!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Social Media Cross Training

One of the great things about social media is that it’s allowing marketers to take
on more of a role traditionally held by salespeople: communicating directly with customers and partners, creating dynamic and timely content, and speaking in a much less formal voice.

Unfortunately, this isn’t what all marketers signed up for.  It’s one thing to sit comfortably behind a PowerPoint deck that will be used by a professional salesperson whose had a lifetime to cultivate presentation skills, its another thing to walk in their shoes.

It would be a mistake to overstate the differences between salespeople and marketers.  After all, we’re focused on many of the same things and our books are right next to each other at Borders.  But its also a mistake to ignore the fact that as social media is bringing both groups much closer together, its also presenting challenges in the way of forcing people to use skill sets that are, to say the least, a little rough around the edges.

For every salesperson who is very comfortable blogging a couple times a week and building virtual communities in Facebook, there are others who’ve made a career out of networking and presentation skills and find the idea of constant, structured publishing daunting.

On the other side of the table there are marketers that have spent their whole careers building adcopy from the abstract and are now being asked to communicate directly and, in some cases persuasively, with customers and partners using a language they might not be familiar with.

The answer here of course is a new kind of cross-training. 
We’ll find that it won’t be sufficient to teach blogging to sales people or witty tweeting to marketers, but rather necessary to encourage bi-directional training from the two groups of people who make their living on different sides of the same coin.  Sales and marketing departments will need to build a Freaky Friday curriculum that leaves both groups more prepared for tackling Go To Market 2.0.

Image Credit: Josh Janssen

Friday, April 9, 2010

Funny Friday: Politician Canned Over Terrible Tweets

Ever wonder what politicians are like when nobody’s looking?  Thanks to Stuart MacLennan, former Labour parliamentary candidate in the UK, we have an idea.  I’m sure not all politicians are this entertaining once the cameras are off, but a girl can dream.  Let’s hope those of us responsible for advocating social media adoption at our own companies remember to cite this as a great example of “insufficient filtering”.

(Tweets are NSFW, follow link here at your own risk
=) )

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Evolution of Crowdsourcing (and how my husband roped me into watching a basketball game last night between two teams I’m not even remotely familiar with)

Yesterday, an interesting thing happened on the internet.  As reported today by Trey Kerby from Yahoo (courtesy of previously mentioned husband):
“. . . going in to the Phoenix Suns' matchup with Ginobili and the Spurs, Jared Dudley knew he had to do something. Somehow, he needed to shut down this scoring machine. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Dudley did what we all do when we need answers — he took to Twitter.”

Jared Dudley crowdsourced his strategy against another player for a professional basketball game?  That has to be a first, right?  Check out the tweets and the following results (again from Kerby):

“Amazingly, it worked. Ginobili scored only 10 points on 5-14 shooting, made no three-pointers, and had two turnovers in the Spurs loss. It was his worst game in a month and third lowest scoring output since the All-Star break.”
Amazingly is definitely the right word - even I know enough to say that's good!  Kerby goes on to share his hopes for the future of crowdsourcing in his domain:

“Hopefully, crowdsourcing game plans is the next big Twitter craze. I don't know about you, but I anxiously await the day when you can look at Twitter's top trending topics and see "#howtostopLeBron" and "#thisishowyoubeattheNuggets" alongside "#JustinBieberRocks." It's a pipe dream for now, but this is a good first step.
Since crowdsourcing’s introduction to the social media lexicon, of all the promising Web 2.0 technologies, it has made the least amount of headway into the way humans interact.  Social networking sites like Facebook have fundamentally changed the way we socialize with each other.  Twitter and blogs have changed the way we get our news and information.  Why hasn’t crowdsourcing changed the way we get knowledge and work on collaborative projects?  Why does it still feel experimental and not familiar?

Sure, there have been any number of successful crowdsourcing projects, one notably where I work.  But why are they still projects and not just the way stuff is done?

In the interest of crowdsourcing, I’d love to hear from the crowd on this one.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The State of Social Media

Last weekend we endured the Hypiest of Big Hype release with the launch of the Apple iPad. A few days in and there’s some talk of drastically overoptimistic first day sales estimates, some genuine buyer’s remorse, and of course the inevitable backlash from trendsetters looking for the New Shiny Object.

The official host of the iPad Honeymoon turned Hangover party is Hewlett Packard, which seems to have a lead on gaining the sought after “iPad killer ” moniker for it’s offering in the space, the iSlate.

What’s interesting for social media marketers is the anatomy of HP’s campaign to win back some mindshare from the savviest consumer electronics company in history: pure social media. Leaked photographs through Engadget and Gizmodo, and a blog launch you can find on industry blogs but not from HP’s homepage (at the time of this writing), etc.

This isn’t a huge surprise considering the demographic and technographic HP is targeting but it is somewhat of a milestone. This is the most important product launch HP has had in years and the cornerstone is a video blog? Although we would expect there to be a big budget Old Media campaign to debut later in the year once the iSlate is closer to release, it’s notable that the medium HP chose to highlight its New New Thing is a blog that’s not even two years old.

One way to spin this is that HP is making a clear case for what they think is most effective at this stage of their campaign. The other is that they’re making a clear case for what they think is not effective. HP didn’t integrate social media elements into an old media campaign. They just went all in.