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Social Media for B2B

Submitted by Sam Moore on Sun, 10/04/2009 - 18:43

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Socialnomics has a brief but interesting piece on using social media for B2B.

While it seems many B2B companies see Social Media as only appropriate for consumer interactions, in fact the ability to hear and listen to what the market is saying is just as important for B2B companies.


Here's a snippet:

Listen First

This is a major maxim for B2C companies in social media, and it’s just as important in the B2B realm. Each B2B vertical uses social media differently, so it’s important to determine not only where the conversations are taking place, but what the conversations are about. Many tools can help a company collect this conversational data (including Radian6 and Filtrbox).

You will be able to better determine the needs of your most important clients by listening. Good B2B companies have always listened to their clients. Great B2B companies have always taken it one step further and listened to their competitors’ clients.

Full Article

B.L. Ochman's blog: Dear Corporations: Nothing Else Matters if Your Customer Service Sucks

Submitted by Sam Moore on Mon, 08/17/2009 - 16:05

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B.L. Ochman has a pointed, if brief, article on why customer service is where your business will be won or lost.

When you come right down to it, it's almost always the hourly employees who have actual contact with actual customers who create your bottom line results. It makes great economic sense to empower them to solve a problem with one phone call...
In case some companies haven't noticed, we are in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Customers count. Treat us like you know that. We'll all be a lot happier. And more prosperous.

Full article

I've come across a few other instances of this kind of thing in the last few days. A friend on a music site I'm part of noted that the Intellitouch tuner company cheerfully replaced his broken tuner, even though his kids had stomped it - not the company's fault at all.
As a counterpoint to Ms. Ochman's experience, you can't beat this kind of story. Intellitouch has made a customer for life - more so, an evangelist.
Here's a snippet of a similar, if more widely read, account, from BoingBoing, detailing KitchenAid's remarkable service:

The operator asked for my serial number, asked me to describe the problem, then asked if I could be at some address the next day to receive my replacement unit and ship back the defective one. I gave her my office address, and yesterday at around 2PM, a DHL guy showed up with a brand new espresso machine in its package. I lifted it out, replaced it with the defective one, watched as the DHL guy slapped a return sticker on it, and then he left, leaving me a shiny new coffee machine that I brought home in a cab (two people on the street and the cabbie all stopped me and asked me about this beautiful coffee machine and whether it worked as good as it looked and where they could get one of their own). This morning, I enjoyed a perfect cappuccino with breakfast, and ruminated on just how damned good the customer service from Kitchen Aid had been, and I figured, man, that deserves some public approbation.

Now, that was worth it for KitchenAid - BoingBoing's readership is enormous, and everyone now knows how good KitchenAid is. All because their CS team "got it". Now, what happens in the opposite case? Do you really want some widely-read blogger telling the world how atrocious your service is? Wise up, everybody.

CMSWire: Nobody Cares About Your Website

Submitted by Sam Moore on Mon, 08/17/2009 - 11:24

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CMS Wire's Gerry McGovern has a deliciously snarky reminder of how silly it is to expect that anyone cares about your "newly-redesigned-to-serve-you-better" little web-turd.

Here's Gerry:

Your customers couldn't care less about your new look, your new design or whether your dog has just had kittens.

I love a short-and-sweet puncture to the marketing hot air balloon. Thanks, Gerry.
Full article

Information Architecture of Social Experience Design: ASIS&T Bulletin

Submitted by Sam Moore on Sat, 08/15/2009 - 00:26

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The American Society for Information Science and Technology has an in-depth look at user experience in social applications. While probably no one will agree with every point here, they certainly do raise some good questions. At least they've articulated many of the issues.

Their article promises "Five Principles, Five Anti-Patterns and 96 Patterns (in Three Buckets)". It's a long read, but worth it for anyone who has responsibility for - or advocates for - better UX in social media applications.
Here's the first bit - the principles:

Five Principles

Of the myriad principles we've unearthed so far, five cut across the entire experience:

  • Pave the Cowpaths
  • Talk Like a Person
  • Play Well with Others
  • Learn from Games
  • Respect the Ethical Dimension

Here's some detail on the "Pave the Cowpaths" principle, in this case touching on something I've butted heads against myself:

The second application of Pave the Cowpaths comes later in the lifecycle of your site, when you’ve got a user base and they start doing things you never anticipated. Often the impulse is to stamp out these rogue behaviors and enforce draconian rules requiring only the behaviors you had planned for. This course of action really only makes sense if the behaviors you are trying to stamp out are truly destructive or evil. There are many anecdotes about thriving social sites that killed themselves off by legislating against fun and forcing their users into exile to find the activities they had been improvising “incorrectly” in the site they had to leave.

A better plan is to support the behaviors your users are engaged in. Let your users tell you what the best and highest use of your interface may turn out to be. Don’t be so arrogant as to assume you know everything about how the social dynamics you’ve unleashed need to evolve.



I have this same beef with the owners of an educational site I'm part of - though the issues are better articulated here than in my rants on the subject.

Basically, they insisted on obscuring the ways in which their students could download their video content and watch it while offline, slow it down (it's a music education site), take it on the train, etc. The owners went so far as to delete posts offering tips to other users, and reprimand the posters.

My contention is that you're never going to stop people from doing this (hint: Video Download Helper for Firefox is your friend) - you're just going to make it more difficult for the people who are less technically adept.

Instead of fighting your user base, why not learn from them? Maybe they really are smarter about what you're building than you are - there are certainly more of them, and they use your application more than the owners typically do.

When your customers are coloring outside the lines you have two choices - yell at them for being messy and not following the rules, or re-think where your lines are.

Or, as the quote above says, "Don't be so arrogant."

Full article

Tweetmeme

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 08/13/2009 - 00:05

Picture 2.pngGuy Kawasaki's blog on American Express had a piece a few days ago, about TweetMeme.

TweetMeme not only tracks popular tweets (here's Alltop's TweetMeme aggregate), it also tracks how many times a post is re-tweeted. Here's why that's interesting:

The Tweetmeme retweet button is more useful than Digg as an indicator of the quality of a link because Digg is about a small number of selected people getting stories onto the Digg home page. The assumption with Tweetmeme is that if you retweet a link, you are telling your followers that it leads to a good site, and you are putting your reputation on the line. If you digg something, you are not risking your reputation nearly as much—if at all.

Retweet_buttonI plan on adding the TweetMeme button (sample shown here) to my blog tomorrow.

Why? Well, now that I'm using Gigya Socialize for Drupal to push my blog posts out to both Twitter and Facebook, TweetMeme should help me keep track of where they go - at least on Twitter, which I frankly care more about anyway.
Guy's post

UPDATE: as I might have known, as with many things in Drupal - "There's a module for that!".

In this case, the TweetMeme module (surprise!).

Right now, all it does is add the TweetMeme badge to your posts. But it's smart enough to know the Blog posts's URL, as disctinct from the main page URL, so that's handy. You can see it in action at the top right of this post, if you're reading this on the web site.

Later, I'll dig through the project's issues etc. to see if there's plans to add the button to the RSS feed.

Seth Godin on The CPM gap, or - where to spend money online?

Submitted by Sam Moore on Mon, 08/10/2009 - 13:56

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Here's an insight from the always-worthwhile Seth Godin's Blog.

Consider that conference attendees lavish attention on the marketers & products they've come to see, whereas when we see advertising for those products in other contexts we probably just ignore it - or actively loathe it.

Which of those environments is better for reaching your customers? One where they've made a great effort and perhaps spent some money to come see you, or one where they're actually trying to do something else and you're in their way?

Here's a quote from Seth:

...advertisers treat prospects online as targets, as victims, as people to subject to interruption. Conferences treat attendees as royalty, as paying customers who invested time and money to be there.

And that's the difference. As long as your site is about something else and the ads are a distraction, you'll see CPM rates drop. As soon as you (or the advertisers) figure out that creating online communities aligned with the advertising, where attendance is a choice by the consumer, then you're creating genuine value.

Seth's post

So in building online communications - should we plan on interrupting the audience with ever-more-stupid ads, or should we create an environment they'll be eager to participate in?

Seems to me the proper use of social media for business is to create an attractive gathering place for your customers - one that's aligned with their operational needs, interests, etc - and become part of the conversation. You will then be a host rather than a salesperson.

Or you could just keep pummeling your visitors with banners. How's that working so far?

Social Media Reality Check for CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs - B.L. Ochman's What's Next Blog

Submitted by Sam Moore on Tue, 08/04/2009 - 21:08

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B. L. Ochman's "What's Next" blog always has insightful commentary on corporate life and communications in the internet era.

Here's a piece on a favorite topic of mine - the dysfunctional nature of the modern corporation; specifically how sprinkling "magic social dust" on your organization won't get you better customer relations, or higher sales numbers.

This is because - surprise - most companies aren't any good at communicating.

From the article:

Dear big companies: If you want to try using social media - start inside. Create a wiki, internal blogs, company-wide IM, a help line where any employee has access to any other employee's knowledge at any time.


Full article

8 social media sins to avoid - iMediaConnection.com

Submitted by Sam Moore on Mon, 08/03/2009 - 16:04

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And of course, a counter-list to the previous list (fewer items, but I guess since they're "sins" they each weigh more...?)

Here's a taste:

Social is PR

Social media is too big for one department. By defining social media in a purely public relations or communications capacity, it limits the scope of your campaign. Keep in mind that in employing social media, there are functionalities and benefits to other departments (e.g. product development, service and support, research), so include those departments as ways to deepen and continue your engagement with consumers. Your audience wants to know more about you than just what you're selling; they want to know about what you do, who does it, and how you do it.

One way to ensure you avoid the pitfall of operating social media in a silo is to ask yourself who else in the organization should participate, and how else can you leverage your social presence beyond just product launches and news events?

Takeaway: PR is great for news and launches, but social media creates the ongoing and sustained interest between news and launches.

Hard to see what the "sin" here is - looks to me like simple short-sightedness, something which everyone who's ever done business with a corporation of any size ought to recognize.

But I guess "Sin" in a headline sells better than "boo-boo", eh?

Full article

25 Ways to Make Friends, Fans, and Followers - ClickZ

Submitted by Sam Moore on Mon, 08/03/2009 - 15:36

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ClickZ has this brief list of suggestions for building a following for your company on social networks.

Here's a favorite (fits in with the "Get slightly famous" strategy):

Let go of your secrets. Sharing your knowledge with other people breaks down barriers of engagement. Don't sell a success package for $19.99; instead start a blog. (For example...this article!)

While we all love lists, how do we know this one's any good? Other than appeals to authority (ClickZ is fairly well-known) I guess we don't. We're all figuring this out as we go along, aren't we?


Full Article

Twitterhawk - Target Marketing on Twitter

Submitted by Sam Moore on Thu, 05/28/2009 - 14:11

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Twitterhawk is a service that flags tweets based on your keywords, and allows you to auto-respond - or respond later, by hand - with your marketing message.
From the home page:

TwitterHawk is a real time targeted marketing engine that will find people talking on twitter now by your chosen topic and location, allowing you to really hit your target mid conversation with ease.

It will periodically search twitter for you and either auto-reply or generate a list of matches for you to respond to or reject from your twitterhawk account.

Seems the best thing to send in your tweet would be a link to your site or service.

Here's a use case from their website:

Let's say you just opened a new coffee store in Queens and wanted to let people know about it. As part of your advertising efforts, you could setup TwitterHawk to search for things like "coffee near:Queens within:8mi" (of course you could simply search world wide if you are global).

We would then periodically (at a frequency determined by you) find twitter posts that mentioned coffee by users that are actually located within 8 miles of Queens such as
'@cracksh0t Oh I could really go for a coffee right now' or
'@loxly Coffee... my one true love'

Depending on how you set your search up, the system will then either send the response automatically right then, or it will add it to your matches list for you to check over and confirm.

Should there be a match for coffee on something like '@coffeeh8r I cannot stand coffee!!!' you can simply remove this from your matches list.

Twitterhawk can track how many links you send and how many of those result in click-throughs - sort of a CPC model for tweet-marketing.

So - is this spam? Or smart context-sensitive communication?

Twitterhawk's services page