Category Archives: Social Media Strategy

Six Reasons Why Social Business Strategists should read Mark Fidelman’s Socialized!

I bought Mark Fidelman Socialized! on Amazon at its full price (no discounts or coupons from Mark) and just finished devouring it. Fidelman  delivers a fundamental work that greatly contributes to the heated debate of Social Business development.  Fidelman not only shows, but proves how quintessential it is for businesses to harness the power of social.  Not only with tools and technologies, but first with their immediate communities aka company workforce.  Time is ripe for dismantling the prevailing command-and-control leadership style. The militaristic/hierarchical leadership approach ought to be replaced with Jon Husband’s Wirearchy structure.  So why should you read Socialized!Social Media ROI expert Dr. Natalie Petouhoff: “Fidelman’s ability to simplify key concepts like the Digital Village, Darwin’s Funnel, and the Digital Network, gives the reader a unique and important understanding of the power of Social Business. You’ll be sorry if you don’t read this book before your competitors do.”
 
Mark Fidelman: Socialized http://amzn.to/10gw8CR

Mark Fidelman: Socialized http://amzn.to/10gw8CR

Fidelman and his team interviewed business leaders around the globe in order to present to us a state-of-the-art social business road-map.  Fidelman lives and breathes what he writes.  He is the sort of individual any social minded person ought to connect with; either on Twitter/LinkedIn, and Forbes where he is a regular contributor.  Socialized! not only talks the walk but most importantly walks the talk.  It is a practical text-book backed up with countless case studies and examples anyone aspiring to become a social leader should be aware of and study
  
2. Culture, culture and more culture is the foundation to any social business undertaking
 
Fidelman emphasizes culture as the 101 prerequisite to any potentially successful Social Business Strategy.  Fidelman: “Why after all do we insist on employees following our orders, and why do we call it insubordination if they question them? … Yet the companies that are leading in today’s world recognize the benefit of an empowered workforce that feels connected to the organization.  Empowered employees understand not only how to make great products, but more importantly how to create cultures that continue to make great products well into the future.”  Socialized! will assist CMOs and CCOs (Chief Cultural/Customer Officers) not only to analyze their existent Social Business state, but provide them with a detailed 10-point Social Business Culture development program.  
 
3. Building first an internal digital village and then an external digital network
 
Once the infrastructure of a cooperative culture has been established, business leaders will need to handpick the internal evangelists and shepherds (regardless of their rank) who will co-create their internal digital village — the nuts and bolts to any Social Business foundation
 
CXOs need to remember that becoming a Customer Service or/and Customer-Experience oriented company first  requires the emotional support and buy-in of their internal communities or “Smart Tribes” (as coined by Christine Comaford in her brand new book).  These “Smart Tribes” or internal communities represent the company’s intrinsic power that will transform the  traditional working communities into enthusiastic business advocates.  
 
After the creation of an apropos culture and the establishment of the right people foundation, the social team will need to select the social media platforms and its supportive collaborative technologies (Intranet/Extranet/SCRM/Social Business Software).  This will make sure that the Social Business community sets up the proper internal tools to construct its external digital network.
 
4. The new Social Business Playbook
 
Youtility author Jay Baer states: “Socialized! is an imminently readable, practical, and modern guide to social business.  The playbook section alone is worth the price, and then some.  Fidelman has added an important piece to the corporate social transformation puzzle.” Fidelman:  “In practice, management should provide the right atmosphere, guidelines, technologies, and opportunities for employees to thrive.”  Socialized! delivers a 15-point playbook: here are some of the highlights:
 
- Building an internal and external community
- Connecting and empowering thought leaders
- Recruiting a Chief Social Strategist or a Chief Cultural/Customer Officer
- Becoming an own media publisher, which makes me think of Michael Brito’s upcoming book: Your Brand.
- Replacing traditional inbound marketing with content marketing
- Leveraging employees, suppliers and partners to foster innovation
- Enhancing customer support to become the strength of your company
- Using Gamification to engage employees, partners and customers
- Creating the potential for serendipitous relationships
 
This last point is my favorite and reminds me of the romantic comedy “Serendipity” starring John Cusack and  Kate Beckinsale.   Fidelman himself gives a wonderful example of serendipity with StaffUnity:  an automated employee lunch club system provider.
 
5. The rise of the social employee
 
Fidelman  makes the case that, social networks, consumerization of IT, mobility, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device: smartphones, phablets and tablets) and cloud computing are all being part of the social and technological developments a 21st century enterprise cannot fail anymore to ignore. 
 
6. Measuring the ROI (Return On Investment) of a Social Business Strategy
 
Fidelman stresses that social business initiatives should only be undertaken if those can be measured.   He goes on to say: “Before starting any social initiatives, you must first identify objectives such as:  “improving customer relationships, product innovation, acquiring and retaining employees and growing revenues.” 
 
 
Image Credit: PulsePointGroup.com: The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise

Image Credit: PulsePointGroup.com: The Economics of the Socially Engaged Enterprise

 
Social Business metrics and ROI are  very well documented in a 2012 study by MIT in collaboration with the Deloitte institute.  The Economist Intelligence Unit and the PulsePoint Group published a study showing that 81% of interviewed leaders agree that social engagement has the following tangible benefits on the following areas:
 
- Project management
- Innovation
- Collaboration
- Efficiency gains
- Cost saving
 
In conclusion, Fidelman’s Socialized! is a management textbook that provides all the necessary steps for a clear pathway towards a successful social enterprise journey:  
 
1. Reviewing the existent culture of an enterprise
2. Setting up an internal digital village
3. Attaching an external digital village to the internal one
4. Establishing a social business strategy
5. Measuring Social Business ROI
6. Reviewing, correcting, adapting and repeating
 
Any leader wanting to understand the implications and repercussions  of a Social Business development program should study and dissect Socialized!.  Kudos and thanks to Mark Fidelman’s altruistic attitude for having taken the time to give us one of the best researched Social Business Strategy text-books ever written thus far. 
 
 
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10 Ways for Small and Medium Businesses to Establish a Social Business Strategy (1/2)

Our world is getting more complex every day.  Technology evolves at a speed that is hardly possible to keep up with.  The amount of information is exploding and as Clay Shirky points out, we need to avoid filter failure.  We are at the threshold of intelligent marketing because now, Big Data is available.  We are moving from descriptive and predictive to prescriptive business intelligence.  How do we establish an effective business strategy, the one that will give our businesses the necessary room for successful growth and development?  What should its priority list look like?  Social media, blogging, inbound or outbound marketing, curation of information, website updating, brick and mortar shop, digital shop?  Trying to answer such a complex question within a ten point two parts blog article is a daring undertaking, but here is a modest attempt at doing this.     
 
1. Regularly review and refine your company mission, values and goals
 
This could be a daunting task, but a simpler way of restarting the process is to review your unique selling proposition (USP) and then divide it into three sub-categories: company mission, company values and company goals.  Having a sharp and targeted vision is quintessential for refining and pursuing a suitable strategy.  Reviewing your mission is crucial as business opportunities and changes do take place.  IBM, in the mid 80s, was the personal computer leader. IBM wrote US$ 16 billion of losses under the baton of Lou Gersten with 35.000 workers made redundant.  IBM finally sold its mainframe business in 2003 and, under Ginni Rometty’s leadership, concentrates on three core areas: analytics, cloud computing and emerging markets. Should IBM have failed to adapt and change, who knows if IBM would have become the thriving social business leader it has been now for the last several years. 
 
IBM-Social-Business_Ginni.Rometty_01 
A challenging way of applying technological trends could be to ask yourself if you could “create your 140 character brand promise”?  Can you summarize your company’s strategy in 35 words or less? The shorter and the clearer, the easier it will be for your communities to understand your mission and purpose.  It will help your business to energize its community while making it an active part of its purpose and vision.  Here are three USP examples which are each worth billions of dollars:
Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less—or it’s free.”
FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”
M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”
 
2. Keep transforming your content marketing into convenience marketing
 
Traditional marketing is no longer sufficient.  Businesses which mostly concentrate on their own activities and products are promised a tough time ahead.  Today there are many companies that master innovation and customer experience by creating and listening to their communities. Such companies like IBM, Amazon or Starbucks give their customers the opportunities to consult, advise and recommend new products and services.  Starbucks understands that some of the best ideas come from their own grass root marketers, the ones entering their coffee-shops day in and day out.  Could there be a better source of feedback than the one coming directly out of their customers’ mouths?  
Consider your website as a customer hub with people coming and going, uploading and downloading information. The more your business listens to its community, the more focused its content marketing will be.  Some of the platforms to distribute your content could be  how to, tips, recommended sites and resources, books, authors, literature, recipes, videos, interviews, podcast, webcast, webinars and so much more.
 
Image Credit: www.hyken.com

Image Credit: http://www.hyken.com

3. To blog or not to blog

It’s great to hear what Chris Brogan has to say about blogging:  “No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog … It’s a website, with lots of built in features that make it useful from the search perspective, and simple from a content creation perspective…”  Blogging is like jogging for the brain.  Euan Semple once said:  “You do not know what you think until you write it down.”  At first blogging could be a strenuous way to ratify your thoughts, but the best way to freely express your personal ideas, views and expertise.  A blog is all yours and you may write (within reason) whatever your heart desires.  To blog or not to blog, this is the dilemma and the sooner your business starts the easier it will get. Blogging, like jogging, takes training, dedication and relentless commitment.  Avoid blogging about your products and services.  Concentrate on answering, sharing and inspiring.  Give your community what they want.  This will be the first act into bringing traffic to your website, and a natural way to gain traction and attention. 
 
4. Transform your website into a social hub and your visitors into your website co-creators
 
Amazon is a fabulous example of information crowd-sourcing.  When inquiring about books, the first thing most of us do is to find out about customer book-reviews.  Amazon has long understood that their website is not about them, but about the communities reading the books it sells.  It’s about letting visitors write reviews, comment on other people’s reviews, create groups and meet like minded readers.  It’s about customers’ wish-lists (a fabulous way of gathering marketing information) and remembering their interests, likes and dislikes. Amazon is a platform where people meet, read, comment, upload videos reviews and create personal profiles.  A company’s website should altruistically answer, inspire and educate its community.  It is not about your products or services, it is about your community, their worries, their interests and what inspires them.  Consider reserving enough space for uploading videos, reviews, articles and for giving your visitors the chance to become your website’s co-creators.
 
5. Carefully choose your social platforms
 
According Wikipedia, “Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks … It allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content.”  Social media is the new technological platform businesses use to promote physical or digital goods.  Social media networks should be kept to a minimum: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube.  Pick three or four and get professional help.  A Facebook and Pinterest expert like Mari Smith will save you time and money as she keeps up with ongoing platform changes and updates. Mari will provide you with the necessary support while you concentrate on your business.
 
In part two, we will review the last five fundamental points connected to the ongoing review of a successful social business foundation.  
 
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Get Real: Earn Every Follower You Have on Twitter: Earn Each and Every One of Them

I am still new to twitter with roughly 3200 followers and still learning to appreciate each and every single one of them! I block “riff-raff”, permissive stuff but particularly followers offering so many followers for a couple of dollars! Ladies and Gentlemen, I do not care what it takes to get followers on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook: JUST DO NOT DO IT!
I remember not too long ago Jon Jantsch @ducttape doing an experiment with the purchase of “fake followers” and having finally to manually un-follow every single one of them: Please do not sell your valuable name for a couple of dollars, it is absolutely not worth it!

I went through a short stretch where I was tempted: I admit it I was, considering the amount of followers some companies or accounts have, I was considering “taking short cuts” but I did not! I refused to do it the easy way: because each and every one of your followers has to be earned! Yes you are reading it right: every one of them has to be earned!

Imagine if suddenly you came to my account and saw 10.000 followers knowing that I am usually worth 3.000? What would you think: “for him -@brunogebarski- I am just a number”, he wants numbers not quality and I would most probably end up trading quality for quantity! I have fabulous mentors following me, and I started an excel table of my favorite ones. Depending on your interest, passion and priority lookup for specific twitter accounts and promote them! Please do yourself a favor and do promote others, do not worry about your count or how little followers you have: it takes time and effort for a twitter-stream to become a twitte-river don’t you think?

I tweet about Social Business: E20, content & social Marketing, Cloud computing, Social Media Strategy, and BYOD; there are plenty of fabulous people out there: use the proper tools to spot them! It is not difficult: spot the hash tags and look up Dan Zarella’s tool: tweetcharts.com: it is a fabulous tool and it will get you up and running on what is happening on Twitter: Twitter is an extraordinary tool, use it wisely and appreciate the people you meet: avoid the rubbish and I really mean it: you will meet lots of rubbish, but concentrate on the 5% out there worth getting to know! Some of them are writers and contributors to fabulous magazines such as Forbes: I can only think of Meghan M. Biro: @meghanMBiro or Mark Fidelman: @markfidelman to name just a few! David F Carr @davidfcarr is a writer who brings a tremendous contribution to the topic of Enterprise 2.0 as well as Dion Hinchcliffe: @dhinchcliffe. Find out what topic you are interested in and locate your mentors and the leaders you can learn from and start promoting them: do not worry about yourself and apply the biblical principle: do unto others as you would love people to do unto you! This is one of the fundamental of “crowd sourcing” and learning humility because as the bible rightly states: before honour there is humility!

Be humble and earn one tweet at a time every one of your followers by bringing a valuable contribution to the Twitter forum and not by taking short cuts and purchasing fake followers for a couple of dollars: remember your name is so much more worth than 10 or 20 US$

Marketing Convenience Replaces our “Pay Spray & Pray” Traditional “Outbound” Marketing Approach

The transforming philosophy of “Marketing Convenience”, already applied today by many successful companies and aspiring to be more effective marketers, is just kicking in!  Marketing is becoming  a “convenience store” whereby customers / prospects come and go at their leisure, peruse our offerings and perks, to finally walk out with a basket full of goodies and ideas without having spent a dime: yep without having spent a single dime! This is the reality of Convenience Marketing! Alas but over are the days when companies could present products and services while automatically expecting consumers to fill up their shopping cart! Marketing has become much more complex as most of us customers do expect a run for our €uro / US$! Remember Seth Godin’s “Why marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department” presentation? If you have never seen it before please do yourself a favo(u)r and watch this it right away! A couple of years back David Armano wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review stating: “fire your marketing manager and hire a community manager”: an article well worth reading while regularly checking out his contribution to Edelman Digital.
So why did Albert’s Einstein become so famous? Ever thought about it? Albert Einstein was a personality involved in the business of “spreading ideas”! Yes and his ideas are still spreading all over the place! But back to our topic: successful marketers ought to be spreading ideas in a “convenient way” giving out customer oriented perks such as:  
B2B Inbound marketing aka convenience marketing goodies:
-     Blog articles
-     Whitepapers
-     Pre-Recorded webinars
-     Case studies
-     Free product demos and downloads
Or B2C inbound marketing or convenience Marketing:  
-     Blog with relevant articles custom made for a specific niche audience
-     eArticles or eBooks
-     Videos (Remember Gary Varnychuk?)
-     Advise & Recipes
-     To do lists
-     Improvement recommendations
-     Tool kits and much more depending on what sort of business you are running.
By no means am I intending here to write an exhaustive list of inbound Marketing tactics or tools: There are plenty of fabulous people like Joe Pulizzi and his superb Content Marketing Institute platform offering scores of free resources that will keep your marketing folks busy for a quite a while if you only check this particular venue! It could also be that you have decided to become “more social” then Michael Brito and his wonderful Britopian venue should be of help! The issue here is for us to stop and think about this rather new concept of “Convenience Marketing” i.e. an approach transforming our former “pay, spray and pray” sales-approach with a philosophy some of us marketers only reluctantly accept! Consumers have choices; a  smorgasbord of product offerings “à la IKEA superstore”, where just about anything is available to your liking (or not as a matter of fact!) including facilities for you to eat (and stay longer) before you finally pay, pickup and load up your vehicle while rounding up a strenuous furniture shopping spree!   
 
Transform your sales approach with this philosophy of “Convenience Marketing” and learn to entrust your most valuable treasure: your customer and prospect with valuable informations and free stuff specific to your particular business-niche! Give, share, spread ideas while finding out directly from them what they are specifically looking for or interested in. Refine, rehearse, repeat, be humble, participate, listen and ask particularly if you are facing consumers on a daily basis either personally or on the phone! Inquire from them directly what they are searching for and give it to them! Reward them for their time and information and thank them for sharing it with you! Both customers and prospects will come back to you and buy from you because trust and equity will have then been established and remember may be it is time for you to “fire your marketing manager and hire a community manager”!
Happy Convenience Marketing days to you and a wonderful week wherever you are

2 Main Issues to Consider While Migrating To CRM Salesforce Cloud Computing

I just returned from a Salesforce presentation: Social Enterprise Essentials: a fine event organized in the SAS Radisson hotel here in Hamburg City with wonderful people among others: Kerstin Daher and Ulrich Hoffmann: “Welcome to the age of the networked enterprise”:
  • Sales Cloud: as a sales enterprising tool
  • Service Cloud: innovation and customer service / care
  • Chatter: a private social network for business
  • Force.com: cloud platform for custom app development
  • Radian6: seminar & case study around the international CEBIT computer show in Hannover.
I cannot help but be reminded that we are in Germany and that charm and chivalry remain integral part of our French vocabulary! There is no need to get into the details of these applications since there is plenty of information on the pages attached to the links provided above! These topics were addressed quite thoroughly during this very well organized one day infomercial.
 
Salesforce is using this Cloud tsunami development to certainly establish a stronger business base in Germany and Europe with a significant deployment of man power hosting an event this year in Hamburg city with roughly 250 in attendance.
 
Well done Salesforce for putting together a sales oriented IaaS, PaaS and SaaS package ready to go: it is undeniable that those tools are in place and ready to unleash their power if implemented properly! The need for Cloud CRM is there and the trend not to be stopped! Add BYOD to smart phones & tablets commercialization and you’ve got the right foundation for a Salesforce thriving business potential and its US$ 3B turnover if I understood the presenter correctly!
 
Well done Salesforce for buying Radian6 last year and adding  Heroku  and  Ripple to your 2012 cloud shopping tour, obviously en route to moving from traditional CRM to a more social CRM or SCRM. I was impressed by the morning Radian6 presentation, which completely convinced me of the most “in real time” detailed analysis utilizing countless internet sources of information! It is also worth adding that Salesforce updates its platform three times a year definitely trying to keep up with the relentless social media pace moving forward at the speed of light!
 
Salesforce is mostly keeping up but I was a bit disappointed though when asking about full integration of social media new comers such as Google+, Pinterest and Pinwheel! For now the social media platforms being taken into consideration are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Klout more is probably coming but without any concrete information on future developments.  
 
Salesforce did a great job at presenting an installed and operational cloud structure but did not initiate us to the two main challenges to be faced when
a) implementing a social business / enterprise culture 
b) migrating from legacy structures to PaaS and IaaS,
which are both the foundation for a successful social cloud migration! When I challenged one of the presenters with these two core issues I was kindly requested to “find out more from their service partners” and was told that Salesforce is not responsible for creating a social enterprise or migrating from legacy systems! Correct! However, these two main issues remain and furthermore what happens if a company decide to do a U-Turn and retreat to its former legacy system?  
 
 
Who is going to write a company culture book and educate both staff and management that it is mandatory and obligatory in a 21st century hyper connected company to share strategic customer information? How are we going to motivate sales, marketing & customer service among others to share their confidential customer data and transfer it to a centralized cloud database? Not that easy Salesforce  and we know how much silo thinking isolates information and keep it to itself! The real answer is obviously the undeniable need to create first the right company culture. There is no need for cloud or centralized strategic information if company staff and management are both reluctant to share knowledge and business insight!
 
I regret that QR codes were not put on our badges, which would have helped the networking and exchange of information between participants. A well deserved mention to Claudia Hilker, who managed to pull off a 30 minutes presentation on social media strategy! Well done Claudia and thank you for the book! Looking forward to getting a free copy of the latest “advanced” version!
 
Thank you again to Salesforce and the hospitality extended to all of us with great drinks and good choice of food: Well done and compliments for a well-organized event!  

25 Ways to Transform Your Business, Promote Innovation and Optimize Your Sales Results (Part 2)

Reminder: your USP (Unique Selling Passion / Proposition) and Web-strategy should have been identified and ratified.  This is the core of knowing what your business delivers! Furthermore your first piece of social media real estate should be your blog: if you do not have one yet start one right now!
 
1. Develop your Social Media accounts strategy in 5 main groups:
2. Position your Social Network Icons on the top of your blog with a one click procedure automatically opening in a different tab or window so that your visitor does not have to leave your site in order to connect and find out more about your business.
 
3. Identify your customers: possible health food store customer segmentation:
4. Make it easy for customers to sign up to your newsletter with a one click subscription via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+!  Consider Pinterest, Pinwheel and other social media trendsetters, and remember Social Media is not static: It moves and changes all the time!
 
5. Please eliminate the outdated and annoying “Captcha” sign up procedure: believe me I have given up many times for not being able to read the hidden letters properly and failing to register three or four times in a row and “see ya later alligator”!  
 
6. Consider instead signing up to free web services such as Disqus and Livefyre to encourage visitors to easily comment on your site or blog! You’d be surprised how many blogs and websites do not offer this free service! Additionally use the one click Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ sign up procedure for those who do not own a Disqus and Livefyre accounts: the goal is to make it super easy for visitors to engage with your business.
 
7. Offer signed up visitors and customers the facility to upload pictures, blog articles or vlogs: think of Amazon again and how it is possible to record a video comment on the site! Trust your crowd when they are registered: look up how Lastfm encourages its community to upload comments and pictures of unknown artists: do the same be opened and social: your business will reap the rewards.
 
8. Customize your monthly newsletter so that both prospects and subscribers receive the information they are specifically interested in other words “Convenience Marketing”. (Think again of how cleverly Amazon solves this issue with: “customers who bought this item also purchased….”).
 
9. Run a tombola for best content of the month: It will motivate followers and fans to participate! Divide it in sound, video, blog & picture: It will encourage viewers to visit more often your website while leaving their customer’s / prospect’s footprints helping you in return to keep up with trends, interests and blog content marketing priorities.
 
10. Adjust the content of your website blog according to your subscribers’ interests (please review previous point).
 
11. Offer Subscribers and VIPs the privilege to guest blog on your site / blog: you will then have less to write and create! (Remember blogging might be difficult disciplinary exercise for you as it is for most of us: trust me on that one).
 
12. Insert your company’s main twitter account on the web front page with a Twitter live feed on website, blog and Facebook Fan-page (it should be possible to insert your Twitter feed into your Facebook Fan-page).
 
13. Accept most credit and debit cards, PayPal & Square as well as main currencies making it very comfortable for potential customers to buy from your business.
 
14. Develop a one click payment system procedure: (sorry again but think of Amazon!) for both physical and web. Make it convenient and fast for both registered customers and visitors to do business with you! Spell out payment / shipping / returning terms so there is no misunderstanding: be generous: trust FIRST and then you shall be trusted.  
 
15. Start planning your mobile payment strategy now because it is a very present issue with companies such as Square or PayPal right around the corner and do not underestimate BYOD’s commercialization.
 
16. Apply (if you can) a free shipping and return policy strategy right from the beginning: Think of the Culture & Service giant Zappos (now part of Amazon) with their 365 days return policy.
 
17. Make it possible for customers to order online and pickup their order in your physical shop: reward them for doing it the first time and surprise them with freemium especially if they are coming for the first time to your shop.
 
18. Organize book ordering for your customer and in shop pick up and pay as a convenience they will love dropping their book order at your shop and will come back to pick them up and pay for them: one more visit for your business!
 
19. Accept orders per Fax, Email and plan accepting them in the future via Twitter, and Facebook for registered accounts.
 
20. Use QR codes for informing customers about promotions and more updated product information.
 
21. Send QR codes to your Twitter followers or Facebook fans via Twitter or Facebook for special promotion while geo-positioning them via Twitter and / or Foursquare
 
22. Organize a Tweetup with your community and engage with them by organizing a special event around your business. Do not forget to create a hash-tag about your event and to remind your participants to tweet while attending. 
 
23. Always send promotion and call to action with your monthly company newsletter and make it personal
 
24. Develop a customer loyalty program with a Business Membership Card including four levels: Silver, Gold, Platinum and VIP Statuses: Organize perks accordingly with best privileges for the highest membership level! This will increase customer loyalty
 
25. Print social media icons on all collaterals and make them visible on both physical and virtual shop (Part 3 coming up this week)

How to Transform Today’s Traditional Midsize Companies and Literally Drag Them Into Digital and Social 21st Century Transformation? (Part 2)

My favorite book (The Bible) states: without vision people perish: what a true statement and without vision many companies disappear such as this old-fashioned German Drugstore outlets Schlecker struggling to find an angel investor before the end of this very month! It is sometimes sad to be able to predict that some businesses won’t be around within the next 3 to 5 years if they do not drastically change their Modus Operandi! Often companies are way too busy with “business as usual” while not spending enough time on strategy! “If you do not know where you are going you will most likely end up somewhere else”: an old adage we all know!

Today many SME (if they have not done it yet) should heavily consider creating a new responsibility, which could be something like a “Business Facilitator”: a savvy strategic thinker, who ties up four main challenges companies are facing today!  An all-around talent, visionary, influential, inspirational and above all motivational! Some would name it a CIO but may be it should be a bit more like a CBF (Chief Business Facilitator)?

I came across some quotes from CEO leaders not only talking but walking the leadership walk and embracing the turbulent changes our networked society is forcing upon us!  In the social enterprise people and culture are the two driving forces and building blocks our Business Facilitator will increasingly have to take into account:

1. Social Culture

Creating a “Culture Is Your Brand” philosophy à la Zappos and studying Tony Hsieh’s culture book would certainly be a very good start! Without enterprise culture it is going to be tricky to create motivated employees to positively and actively participate in social media communication!  How many companies out there still use Twitter as an “Inbound” marketing tool or a pricelist Email alternative? Painful! Check out the Marketing Master Coca-Cola Content 2020:  CEO Muhtar Kent thinks that marketing is getting more and more data driven and “Coca-Cola needs to be part of Digital Marketing and IT closer to customers”.

2. Content or Inbound Marketing

How does one keep patrons drinking coffee?  By providing WIFI in all Starbuck outlets so that both business people and Twitter addicts may connect to their favorite social media accounts while sipping on their preferred coffee specialty. Or by starting a monthly campaign such as: “Global Month of Service”! How about letting customer pay in its U.S. stores with a smartphone app tied to their loyalty and payment cards? Social is important to Starbuck providing its Facebook fan page with an online suggestion box while letting fans send gift cards! Being sociable seems to be “a must” for Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz who is also upgrading his IT Infrastructure for point of sales inventory management, CRM and Labor Scheduling tools!  Desktop Virtualization is also a hot trends IT department are implementing in order to accommodate BYOD and the commercialization of smart phones and tablets.

3. Social Business

Social Media is constantly changing and the first three most visited platforms in March 2012 were Facebook, Twitter and surprisingly Pinterest overtaking layout-old-fashioned “veteran” LinkedIn! It is now impossible to do business without making Social Media full part of a Marketing Strategy: And this involves a lot more than sticking a Facebook and Twitter logo on a website!  Videos themselves are becoming an integral part of the social media portfolio and if you have not yet seen the 2012 Cartier Video, I recommend you watch it! To this day it has been viewed 14.586.933 times! Airlines are also beginning to use videos such as: “KLM Surprise” and “Air China in Sweden” as well the outstanding Mini Getaway Stockholm Case Study, which already took place a year ago in Sweden! Some funny campaigns also involving an entertaining “Dollar Shave Club” and the Guinness St Patrick’s Day Commercial 2012!

4. Modernize IT infrastructure and move to the cloud while embracing mobility

Legacy systems may sometimes be responsible for slowing down technology growth and we all know mobility demand is on the rise: it is now time to reconsider a more focused cloud outlook!  Lowe’s CEO Robert A. Niblock has understood Lowe’s need to zero in on modernizing IT infrastructure with faster internet connections and deploying a gigantic action to equip store personnel with 42.000 IPhones. He also recognizes the challenge of a multi channel strategy while planning to equip both call centers and retail outlets with better access to company’s 250.000 products, customers’ accounts as well as being able to close sales on Iphones! TJX’s CEO Carol Meyrowitz has similar priorities with a multi channel strategy: “We continue wanting to marry shop and web since Ecommerce gives TJX the opportunity to sell things, which are not carried in the physical shops”. Procter & Gamble’s CEO Bob Mc Donald plans to move accounting from traditional responsibilities to operational: “accounting systems aren’t designed today for operations–they tend to look backward–but we’re working on integrating our operational system with the financial system to move in that direction.”

The Business Facilitator’s challenge is immense but one thing is for sure silos have to be dismantled: Over are the days were company departments could allow themselves to work “independently” as a block almost against each other! Time has come to transform our work environment into a social networked place following the example of Apple and Starbucks with their IT helpdesk coffee shop allowing employees to choose IT smart phone & Tablet on display and directly bill them to their departments as well as technical support and suggestion on how to make IT run better!  

10 Fundamental Ways to Transform Your SMB, Promote Innovation and Optimize Your Sales Results (Part 1)

Social media or not, Customer Service is what is being added to customers’ purchase before and after the sale has been executed! B2C retailers and B2B platforms should heavily reconsider rewarding both regular customers and brand faithfulness with additional perks and special privileges! Customer loyalty cards are already a given and let’s be frank we all know that most of those are not adding much value anyhow! It is now time to harness your creativity and develop a state of the art Social Business Marketing Enterprise!

1. Ratify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition and Unique Selling Passion) in order to focus the targeted customer audience your business will want to reach! The more precise the better! Brainstorm and debate: If you are still not sure about your USP make a turnover hit-list of your top 30 to 50 (or more depending on your business size) best customers and ask them personally to give you some input into what they would love your business to communicate about and sell! This will be a great way of getting them involved right from the start.

2. Your first piece of real estate should be your blog before even starting a website! Create one right away if you do not have one already and start communicating with your clients, prospects, visitors by posting relevant information around your USP relating to your audience, business and core values by publishing the following information:

  • Own and guest posted articles
  • Own videos (think of Gary Vaynerchuk’s creativity and audacity)
  • Videos uploaded on your site relating to your audience
  • Interviews, Podcasts and Webcasts on specific topics of interest
  • E-books, White papers, E-articles
  • Pictures, Recipes (if you are in the food business)
  • Featured articles linked to other sites (it will help SEO)

3. Refine your Social Media portfolio by making sure you have accounts in the following areas narrowing it down to 10-12 platforms at the most:

4. Create a digital company newsletter, which should include blog content with some specific items reserved to your exclusive circle of contacts and personally delivered to their mailbox always including a call to action! Consider making this letter custom made according to their preferences and interests by adding personal perks and offers.

5. Customer Content Marketing: Communication goes both ways: Reserve plenty of space for your visitors to upload the same sort of material your company is uploading:

  • Customer articles and / or links.
  • Give them the freedom to build their community on your website: it will dramatically increase your traffic!
  • Customer videos, personal videos even if not relating to your business (be personal and social and grant them the freedom to communicate)
  • Personal pictures, anecdotes they would like to share with their peers
  • Events customers want to share with your business and their community
  • Trust them first, in return they will start trusting your business

6. Read, listen and consider what your customers are sharing with your business on your blog / website; it will definitely help you fine tuning and adapt your blog-menu to your audience’s tastes, needs and expectations.

7. Make it simple and easy for visitors to sign up and upload any media content (picture, sound, video & text) and please drop this annoying “Captcha” by facilitating the signing up process with most popular media sites Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or YouTube.

8. Transform all your written collaterals by physically including your customers’ most relevant Social Media Icons

  • Ad your company’s blog & website link(s)
  • Ad Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube and Pinterest logos to all your printed collateral including business cards
  • Facebook, Twitter logos and links should automatically be printed on your cash register receipts with a call to action changing on a regular basis
  • Make your inside signs with your blog address, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest discretely visible on both physical and virtual shop.

9. If your business owns a physical shop give your customer the flexibility to sign up on site (with a touch screen computer) to your blog, Facebook Fan page or follow you on Twitter: Reward them on the spot with some free goodies and thank them with a smile.

10. Embrace mobile devices (Smart phones & Tablets) Please do your company a favor and organize smart phones for your sales and marketing people ASAP! It is not a toy it is a modern marketing tool you cannot afford not to have! Make also sure that the same web / blog content is readable on any platform and remember BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is not a buzz word anymore it is reality! Welcome to the 21st century “tradigital” business!

It is extremely important to keep up communicating with customers while delivering content in real-time! In future posts we shall review more items on how to make SMBs more competitive in this thriving mobile social media environment!

Zappos 10 Core Values (from Zappos “2010 Culture Book”)

I am a great advocate of Zappos and I think all my business contacts, friends and encounters hear me mention Zappos and Tony Hsieh on a regular basis! Now it is time to write a blog post or two about this unique and wonderful bunch of people! Because there is a lot to learn from this great company! I really mean LOTS! For those of you who do not know, Zappos bought by Amazon is an online clothing retailer shipping US wide (with a free-shipping: both ways and a 365 days return policy!). Did you catch this? 365 days return policy! This already sets the business pace for Zappos and one of the reasons why Zappos has managed to turn over US$ 1,190B in roughly 10 years! But this is not the only reason! The first thing one has to appreciate about the company is its culture and it is exemplified by CEO Tony Hsieh’s profound statement: “Your Culture Is Your Brand”!

From the Huffington post on November 17th of 2010 (quote): “At Zappos.com, we decided a long time ago that we didn’t want our brand to be just about shoes, or clothing, or even online retailing. We decided that we wanted to build our brand to be about the very best customer service and the very best comer experience. We believe that customer service shouldn’t be just a department; it should be the entire company.”…“So what’s a company to do if you can’t just buy your way into building the brand you want? What’s the best way to build a brand for the long term? In a word: culture”…“At Zappos, our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff — like great customer service, or building a great long-term brand, or passionate employees and customers — will happen naturally on its own” (end of quote).

Everybody goes through a 4 weeks intensive training regardless of the position: the training is the same for everyone and during this time every single “trainee” is offered 2.000 US$ (Zappos does not want teammembers to be their only for a paycheck) to quit in addition to paying the time he or she has already worked! In this first post I would like to rewrite the 10 principles Outlined by CEO Tony Hsieh in his company culture book I hold in my hands right now as I write those notes and I will tell you a bit more on how I got a copy of this wonderful work! 

1. Deliver WOW through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest relationships with Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More with Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble
I stumbled upon the customer site on Zappos Website and from Hamburg Germany I placed “my free order” for the Zappos Culture Book 2010! And I must say the Zappos follow up, for a free book request, has stunt me to say the least!  A couple of days later on February the 7th of 2012 I received a confirmation message with the following text: “While you wait for your culture book: we are processing your culture book and packing it with care. It may take a few days to process. We’ll let you know when it is on its way! Here is a video for you to watch so you can see how the books were made!  And again on February the 10th (only 3 days later) I got a second email telling me that my book has been shipped! I knew that it would probably take around 4 to 5 weeks to get here since there was no need for it to be a courier overnight delivery! I did received the book on the 22nd of March again accompanied a day later by an Email message from the Zappos Inside Team asking me if I had enjoyed the reading! Pretty amazing is not it? All this because of a FREE BOOK! I treasure this book and will share more of its inside with you in upcoming posts!Let me know what you think and leave a comment on your “company culture” experiences! Looking forward to reading from you! 

5 Keys Areas to Proactively Manage Your Business

Today’s corporations are working hard to keep up! Is this a wonder? Strategy curation just like content and information, is crucial for the development of (y)our corporate vision! Vision 2020 challenges your present accomplishments in order to increase turnover, reduce costs, improve efficiencies and set up action plans while ratifying priorities! In this “hyperlinked” and hyper-connected society both existing businesses and “start-ups” have to rapidly adapt! Every mobile user is not only a potential buyer but a reporter having the power to promote or demote!

Vision 2020 assists you into developing your hyperlinked corporate strategy with the utmost priority of increasing sales, productivity and real time communication while concentrating on 5 key areas:

1. Social Culture: Establishing a social culture in a 21st century company is obligatory! Social Media dialogue with engaging customers or prospects (positive or negative) ought to be monitored and answered in real time! US Business Think Geek promotes a “one head one heart” social culture but also states: “We need to hire for passion and train for skills” because it is impossible to have a board meeting every time a negative comment pops up on Facebook or Google+. Zappos exemplifies social culture in a remarkable way with CEO Tony Hsieh Zappos’ Culture Book and how Tony defines branding: “Your Culture Is Your Brand”!

2. Social Media Strategy: in the 1870s Graham bell developed the Telephone; the Facsimile was invented by Giovanni Caselli in 1865 before the telephone even existed! Email came in the early 1980s. Mobile phone was invented by Motorola in 1973 and first commercialized in 1983. Social Media as a web-based and mobile technology has literally transformed our daily communication into an interactive dialogue also promoting “user-generated-content including (micro) blogging (twitter), content community sites (Vimeo YouTube), social networking sites (Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest) and finally location-based social networking (Foursquare or Pinwheel). Social Media demands to be fully integrated into the marketing strategy of a company! It is a business prerequisite to properly roll out inbound marketing tools, foster brand awareness and develop communication between brand, prospects and customers and transform followers into passionate brand advocates.

3. Inbound Marketing: Over are the days where companies could blast marketing emails, brochures and fliers to prospects and customers! Traditional outbound marketing (buy, pay & bug) is in the process of being replaced by inbound or content marketing. Sharing resources, vlogging, blogging, EBooks, Earticles, whitepapers and all together relevant curated information not only attracts customers but promotes, develops and solidifies brand loyalty.

4. Cloud Computing (IaaS): As wireless devices (smart phones & tablets) commercialization becomes a pressing IT issue, mobile technology (Dropbox, Box) and mobile payment systems (Square & Paypal) develop, IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service: SAP, Oracle, IBM or Salesforce) become a matter of speed if IT wants to timely react in our dynamic cloud environments! Modern CIO needs to budget these areas if companies want to keep afloat and compete with Internet Cloud Giants such as Amazon!

5. Mobile Technology: Tablets & Smartphone including the broadband development have both created a Networked Society. Wearable computing is already here; connecting home to adjust temperature via your smart phone is a given! In 2012 windows will sell tablets while 4G networks will develop and grow! Companies like Square & Paypal already compete for mobile payment systems market shares! Commercialization of mobile computing hardware will merge private and professional life into each other whereby workforce won’t have to physically be at work in order to produce and connect. This is a nightmare for IT leaders as they strive to move additional parts of the traditional IT to IaaS (cloud computing) while constantly worrying about data safety!