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News Update – Best of the Day

IBM just recently published their study “The State of Marketing 2011”. The study that asked 300 online and direct marketers from different companies, industry sectors and sizes gives some interesting insights.

– Marketers are not only trying to go “measurement, analysis and learning”. The next challenge will be “IT support of marketing needs”.
– Marketers see technology as the key to productivity (let’s bear in mind it is an IBM study).
– Marketers see an integrated marketing solution as the driver of future business. 87% stated interest in a marketing suite that is better integrated.
– Marketers trust in Interactive Marketing. 57% adapt inbound marketing tactics (personalized targeting/messaging) for their Web activities.
– Social Media Marketing stays a challenge. 53% use it currently for their efforts but have to justify their workload with it now.
– Marketers love web data. 92% appreciate the value and importance of Web data. Most of them don’t apply the data to their campaigns though. Just one third thinks they are effective.
– Mobile Marketing is increasing. 43% use it currently for their tactics, 23% planning to start this year.

Craig Hayman, General Manager of Industry Solutions at IBM Software Group, talks in a Forbes interview about IBM’s conclusions from those study findings.

How Social could meet POS? Just look how PepsiCo’s Social Vending System offers full touch screen interactive vending technology, “enabling consumers to better connect with PepsiCo brands right at the point of purchase”. The prototype of the Social Vending System debuted at the National Automatic Merchandising Association’s One Show in Chicago last month. The question is if people really would share their contact details with a machine (humanization of companies?) but the idea is great. Just imagine you could log in with your Twitter account and share with your network how enjoyable it is to have a “Coke” now. I am sure the brands would love you then…

The next wave of the new Passat commercials also surprises with another nice story (although not as brilliant as the Darth Vader one). If I was a surfer, I would have a closer look at those who are jumping in the sea with their boards with me…

News Update – Best of the Day

Is Social Media a sales tool for retailers? A study by Forrester Research and GSI Commerce says Social Media has almost no influence on online purchasing behavior. The survey shows that social media rarely leads directly to purchases online — less than 2% of orders were the result of shoppers coming from a social network. The question is what the ideology of Social Media is for companies… and there are examples like Threadless that can deny such studies. If retailers see it more like listen-to-act approach, pre-selling, sensitising and serving their consumers, then they will be successful in also selling through Social Media.

C-Level is engaging in Social Media! A recent study by Useful Social Media – State of Corporate Social Media 2011 – gives us some compelling charts that describe the trend how the C-Level increasingly gets into Social Media.

Although the European managers are still not completely behind the Social Media vision, the following chart suggests that it won’t be long until European senior C-Levels understand the advantages of Social Media.

How does the future of shopping look like? Mobile will definitely play a massive role for the consumer 2.0, or 3.0?! Where can I get the best bargains? Which company or retailer has the product I want in stock – now and not in 5 days? Sumi Das explores the “ultimate personal shoppers” of tomorrow.

Cebit Interview – Über die Zukunft der Arbeitswelt

Die Arbeitswelt verändert sich. Die Menschheit fägt sich, ob Social Software, Social Media, Social Networking oder Web 2.0 harte Arbeit ist, oder die Produktivität der Businesswelt an den Abgrund treibt. Geht es nur um die Erhöhung des persönliche Reputationsindex, des Personal Scoring Index, oder ergibt sich nachhaltige Lead Generierung -erst kürzlich als Salestainability umschrieben- und neues Business einfach selbstständig aus Gesprächen?

Wenn man zum Interview auf der Cebit von IBM eingeladen wird, kann man in ein paar Minuten nicht alles sagen, was man gerne sagen würde. Man kann auch keine 3-Säulen-Strategie im Detail erläutern, die man in der Zukunft als essentiell für den erfolgreichen Einsatz des Social Web für die Webstrategie eines Unternehmens ansieht.

Ich wollte im Interview so verständlich wie nur möglich auf die wichtigen Trends und erfolgversprechenden Taktiken eingehen, die sich abzeichnen und teilweise heute schon gelebt werden in der Businesswelt. Hoffen wir, mir ist es gelungen…

Die Idee der Visualisierung meiner Gedanken von Anna Lena Schiller während des Interviews finde ich sehr gelungen. Sie greifen den Gedanken des Personal Web Managers auf (links oben), sowie die zukünftige zentrale Herausforderung für den Einzelnen, einen 24 Stunden Tag so effizient mittels Social Software zu nutzen wie einen 36 Stunden Tag.

Der IBM Social Business Channel gibt im übrigen noch weitere Einsichten diverser Vordenker im Social Web. Ich empfehle sich auch die Meinungen mal anzuhören bzw. anzusehen.

Nun interessiert mich eure Sichtweise der Zukunft der Arbeitswelt. Wie stellt ihr euch den Arbeitstag von morgen vor? Was fehlt euch heute, was wünscht ihr euch morgen? Bin gespannt, auf eure Gedanken…

Do we have to talk about "conversation"…?

It’s the basis of humans living together. It’s the essence of people getting in touch with each other…, and finally doing business together. It builds the fundament of collaboration, of cooperation. It’s the breath of the age of social. What is “it”…? Well, it’s not rocket-science. And still it seems to be the never-ending challenge for companies, for brands, and especially for people who are running the business. It is… conversation.

“Often I wish people understood the word “Conversation” – To start a successful collaboration we must learn to lose fear of networking.”

Do managers really have to talk about “conversations”?
Yes, we do! Don’t you agree? And we all know why. We are getting sad about the way managers (don’t) encourage themselves to engage in conversations. How often do managers not respond to a written letter? How often did they not pick up your phone? How often have they not replied to emails? How often not shown any reaction to Facebook, Twitter and the likes?

Hello managers – wake up! There is somebody trying to have a conversation with you? You cannot argue what somebody wants before having listened to them, can you?! Ignoring is so easy and it happens so often. You can do better. You can participate. And your words have significance when you take part in a conversation.

How will traditional managers get new inspiration? How will they generate new connections? Yes, conversation is the answer…

Do brands really have to discover how to do conversations?
Yes, they do! They need to figure out what they want to be: person or economic construct. Active or passive conversationalists? Motivator or creator? Former sender or modern vendor? Brands might build a consitent dialogue but only value their opinion, playing according to their rules. Listening is where relevance brings brands back in the driver’s seat, and not making them sit still and beg that the driver (who ever that consumer is) knows the way towards to the targets.

Productivity, creativity, innovation, thought-leadership and ROI counts for brands. This M&M philosophy often goes straight against lose conversation. Brands have been shaped and formed around formal structures (organisations and meetings), planned grouping (= not Groupon but agendas), lead work-flows (step-by-step approach). In earlier years, conversations came with a coffee break, some biscuits, a cigarette on the floor. Conversation today comes with an email, a tweet, or a status update on LinkedIn at your desk. And they appear different in character and tonality, “the conversation mode is changing” as Eric Schmidt called it at the DLD11 in his augmented humanity speech.

How will brands find innovation in the future? How will brands get response to products and services? Yes, conversation is the answer…

Do companies really have to reinvent the human dialogue?
Yes, they do! Companies are made from (and made by) people. People always had not enough time in their lives. Conversations cost time. Time builds trust and drive efficiency. Email took us time, too. We had to learn how to communicate online. Not now anymore. We know how it works. It is just a different platform or technology every crucial department of your business will be using in the future, called Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, Quora or blogs. They will control our marketing efficiency, our sales opportunities, our upscale, our revenue sheets. And we won’t even know, when we don’t embrace and value the conversation on the social web.

Power to “processes, people, potential and possibilities” means opening up our mindset to a new way of conversation. A way that shows the value of starting the talk. A way that shows clients how companies rate their review, input and sharing of brand messages and product conversations. Customer just want to get the feeling that it is not a maschine out there they are buying from. They want to see the personal human touch that makes mistakes, laughs about themselves and answers when getting questions.

How will companies renew their strategy, their tactics, their visions…? How will companies build products that their customers want? Yes, conversation is the answer…

Spot On!
Conversations are the basis of your future business-strategy, as well as your web-strategy. This is nothing new, you knew it before. Companies have them multiple times every day. Brand can get engaged in them every minute on a day in the future. And you even more. Every minute you can have the chance to have conversations today. The only difference is that conversation is also happening online – not on the phone, not via fax, not via mail, not on the floor, or in meetings. You just have to embrace conversations… it is that easy.

How Cisco's SocialMiner helps improve the conversation with customers (a John Hernandez interview)

One-on-one interview with John Hernandez

John Hernandez is General Manager of the Customer Collaboration Business Unit (CCBU) at Cisco, which provides contact center and interactive voice applications to enterprises and service providers. In this capacity he oversees product and market development, and is closely involved in the business with the Cisco sales force and partners.

The Strategy Web spoke with him about the launch and benefits of their new customer care product SocialMiner.

What were Cisco’s most successful social medias tactics in the last 2 years? How did Cisco came across the new solution SocialMiner? Why is social media monitoring so important from a strategic point of view for businesses?

Cisco is very active in social media. Our employees were some of the earliest adopters of Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social sites. We have tens of thousands of active social media users in our company, as well as a robust and vibrant corporate presence on the social web.

Social media monitoring can become a key strategic advantage for businesses. From a contact center perspective, social media could be treated as “just another channel” in a multichannel approach. However, the public nature of social media, along with the sheer volume of social media postings, makes social media as much a business intelligence tool as a new way to engage with customers. Cisco believes that proactive social media customer care will have a transformative impact on how companies engage and serve their customers.

The concept of the SocialMiner product came from our observation of the changing communication habits and Internet usage of consumers. As consumers have adopted social media channels for their individual communications on an ever-increasing basis over the past couple years, it is only natural that they would consider interacting with a business via social media. This concept of social impacting customer relationships is a very active topic within the emerging “Social CRM” community.

Is SocialMiner just a Customer Service product? Bearing in mind that social conversations on the web affects the whole business…

Cisco SocialMiner is an engagement product, not a “listening product.” SocialMiner is designed to scale the quality and quantity of social media interactions performed by a business. SocialMiner can be used for a variety of business functions such as Support or Sales, but we believe the customers that derive the most value from social media will also use these engagements to drive business process change. For example, an organization could use SocialMiner as a source of business intelligence to provide real-time customer appreciation or criticism of a product or service (or of a competitors’ product/service). Social media can direct their business strategy. Cisco believes that companies that learn from social media will become closer to meeting their customers’ expectations and this will drive overall business success.

Which three benefits do business users have using SocialMiner compared to other tools in the market (Radian6, Alterian, etc.)

1. Cisco SocialMiner is complementary to brand monitoring dashboard solutions. It is designed to support scaling social media by leveraging the best practices from contact center type operational models: Queuing, Service Level Metrics (Average Speed of Answer), and productivity metrics for users. By contrast, many of the brand monitoring dashboards have pieces of workflow capability, but these capabilities are either relatively limited or recently introduced functions.

2. Cisco SocialMiner is a component of the Cisco contact center portfolio which currently includes an installed base of over 10,000 customers. SocialMiner is packaged, priced, and delivered along with Cisco Unified Contact Center Express and Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise solutions, and therefore it supports the same installation, deployment, serviceability, and user experience as these other Cisco collaboration solutions.

3. Cisco SocialMiner is a very easy to install and operate software appliance. It runs on premise or in a customer controlled data-center hosting facility and offers unlimited capture capability. Cisco SocialMiner is an API-first product with 100% of functionality available via REST API’s and all user interface delivered as OpenSocial gadgets with documented source that can be modified by Cisco channel or customers. This model supports the preferred consumption model of most enterprise organizations along with a broad customization capability.

Can it be used as a stand-alone product or only in combination with other Cisco products for customer service? Do you have any case studies of success?

Cisco SocialMiner can be used as a stand-alone solution. We have several case studies that illustrate SocialMiner’s success. Zone Labs is one of them. The small wellness company was looking to accelerate revenues & grow 1000% in next 3 years, implemented Cisco SocialMiner to increase customer engagement, customer satisfaction and sales. Zone Labs started developing social communities on their own website as well as Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. They used Cisco SocialMiner to route and queue contacts to experts within their organization.

Using SocialMiner, experts were able to proactively answer health and wellness questions via Twitter, providing encouragement to consumers on the Zone Diet, customer service and expert advice on questions such as vitamins and healthy recipes. Zone Labs saw improved agent productivity by automating capturing and responding to social media posts (currently estimated at ~10x). They gained greater customer satisfaction & brand mind-share from faster first inquiry resolution on the web, and were able to compete on comparable scale with larger companies. Their social media activity reduced their customer acquisition cost and created a larger funnel with more leads, that were converted more easily and more quickly than before.

Within 4 months of using SocialMiner, Zone Labs saw tremendous results:
– Web site transactions up 189%
– Revenue up 203%
– 202% increase in total visitors to www.zonediet.com

Thank you for your time, John. And by the way: I like your commercial for the product…

Does work still work at work?

What is the future workplace going to be like? A question many of us have been asking themselves in the last years. Jason Fried, founder of 37signals did a great presentation at TEDtalksDirector on why work doesn’t work at work. As managers look into the future of work, some tools and techniques affect the productivity and he is asking if the Western work world is China when managers ban Facebook or Twitter. The real problems are the M&M’s (managers and meetings), Jason thinks. Managers job is not to turn up in meeting and to interrupt people. Meetings are just toxic as they are organized by managers to make people talk – and this kills creativity, productivity and spontaneity. His suggested solutions: Silence, passive communication and yes, … cancel meetings.

These are quite provocative views. As some of you are managers as well, what is your take on them and how would you make work work at work in the future?

The way to the real-time future of marketing mix

When you hear the term “marketing mix”, what do you think…? Pause! Think… Pause!

Does that sound familiar to you? For some of you it might. To others it blurs as they follow the hypes as new marketing topics that are shouting at them. Or did you listen to their silent tones? Isn’t it better to varify and understand the client before start creating a new marketing-mix.

Watching the latest videos on your Youtube channel, talking to “friends” on Facebook or following the latest conversations on Twitter is one thing. Drawing conclusions out of these conversations on the social web world is another. And taking actions like evaluating adwords versus email versus social network marketing or blogs versus micro-blogs) for your marketing mix afterwards is a third step.

Conclusions might also be that marketers realize that B2B people still read print preferably to online or love real face-to-face conversations. They might find out that these business decision makers think twice before they engage in conversations. Reasons might be social media guidelines or policies. Steps are needed (like social media monitoring) before you start understanding your own marketing mix could pay out (i.e. online and offline focus groups).

Other marketing opportunities have never died although social media still hypes. And there is a reason why the “marketing mix” phrase was created by Neil Borden some years ago. Not only as it is an easy to understand phrase. More as we use it in our daily business as marketers without even noticing anymore. It is in our DNA. It is a necessity. Will it ever be removed? I doubt it…

Isn’t it interesting that we never had something like “The ultimate approach to market your products and services”?

Obviously, there is none. In over 50 years nobody found one. Why that is? Well, the world is driven by human beings and their attitudes to become familiar and aware of new things is a dynamic process. Some people adapt quick, other slower. They prefer to get informed via paper. Some like online (via publisher platforms, social networks or blogs). Some still stay offline (as they are often on planes or trains). Others record TV news programs and watch them on-demand with their iPads. And then others use mobile readers or apps to stay up to date with their favorite brands.

Seeing the social hypes in our business world from an outside perspective, I sometimes get the feeling that marketers have to refocus on where users are in their “adaption of technology evolution”. And not invest all their money in one horse race. Or to use another business anology from a tactical HR point of view: Never let the whole sales team be on the same flight.

Where is the difference in marketing?
Is there one? If all your marketing budget goes on airport billboards and then an oil crisis comes up, the invest equals zero in terms of earn out. Or if you buy just one ad in a service provider catalogue on the web but the world uses Google and cannot find the provider in the first ten results, the budget might be wasted.

Some companies think investing in Twitter or Facebook saves their brands awareness in the future but forget that these sites go down once in a while. And then the data is gone or not accessible. Lucky are those who can be approached from other access points then – be it via a phone call (at most companies I am searching hours for a phone number), at an event promoted with social media maybe, at their corporate website, or the self-hosted community that is not on the popular social networks.

The cocktail of having different access points available, and those interacting with each other, is the marketing mix of the future. Although they might have a single target or focus the are aiming at, the marketing mix should be aligned to one common strategy: Engage the client.

Spot on!
As we are automizing our marketing more and more, we always have to keep an eye open which tools and trends are coming up. As technology evolves quite quickly, human beings tend to forget that they need to adapt their marketing mix accordingly. Having said that it does not mean they have to switch their marketing mix approach immediately. Watch out for the tipping point when your power buyers, your brand vangelists, start using different technology. This is the time when the “adaption of technology evolution” happens…

News Update – Best of the Day

What are good case studies for viral productions? A question, I get asked quite frequently. Please find the link to a selection by AdAge which I would also recommend.

The recruiting business will have changed in 2020. Job Boards have to improve their services and social media could be one solution for it. HR managers should be looking at this list of 10 excellent innovations.

Managers think about how to use LinkedIn effectively. This video gives some advice by Mark Perl and Louis Gray on how to leverage social marketing and networking with LinkedIn.

Social Media oder die Qual der Wahl

Wir haben gestern einen Ausflug gemacht. An den Tegernsee, denn wir lieben die Bergregion um München. Schöne Berge, traumhafte Natur und auf den Almen immer nette Menschen und leckeres Essen. Aber eine Sache macht uns immer wieder zu schaffen. Die Qual der Wahl… Die Qual der Wahl, welche Hütte wir diese Wochenende “bewandern”. Welchen Weg wir nehmen sollen. Oder, welches Essen uns wohl am meisten ansprechen wird, wenn wir oben auf dem Berg angekommen sind. Und selbst wenn wir es wissen, lesen wir die Karte und sehen immernoch vor der Entscheidung … oder haben weiterhin die Qual der Wahl.

Eine große Auswahl zu haben, ist eine schöne Sache. Man könnte sagen, ein Luxusproblem… Aber wie auch schon Miriam Meckel in ihrem Buch Das Glück der Unerreichbarkeit klar macht, ist die Qual der Wahl eine unserer größten Herausforderungen der Zukunft. Viele Sachen stimulieren uns, viele Sinne rühren uns, viel Auswahl verwirrt uns. Ohne Filter wird alles zu einem einzigen Chaos.

Wir lieben es Karten zu lesen, die eine große Auswahl bieten und soind enttäuscht, wenn die Karte nur klassische Breotzeit offeriert. Es sei denn auf der Hütte, wo die Brotzeit zu einem kulinarischen Highlight avenziert. Und wie es immer so ist, scheint der Hunger und die Begeisterung größer als das Bedürfnis. Die Qual der Wahl wächst…

Warum erzähle ich das alles?

Manchmal möchte ich nicht in der Haut von den Leuten stecken, die ich so berate oder beraten habe in den letzten Wochen und Monaten. Social Media Marketing scheint einen ähnlichen Effekt auf Marketing-, PR-, HR- und Customer Service Manager zu haben.

Die Qual der Wahl stapelt sich für sie in Form von zahlreichen Fragen…

– Nutze ich Social Media überhaupt? Eine Wahl, die eigentlich keine mehr sein sollte…
– Bleibe ich besser bei meinen Leisten und erklimme nicht die Höhen und Tiefen der modernen Medien?
– Welche Kommunikationmedien nutzt meine Zielgruppe (am liebsten und in 5 Jahren noch)?
– Welche Plattform schmeckt mir (Benutzerfreundlichekeit, Usability, Technik) am besten?
– Welche Plattform oder welche sozialen Medien ist/sind für mich zielführend?
– Kann ich eine Strategie, die meisten meinen eher eine taktisches Vorgehen, eines Mitbewerbes adaptieren?
– Geht die Geschäftsführung d’accord mit einer unstrategisch wirkenden Trial-and-Error Phase?
– Welche Tools, Taktiken und Trends nutze ich um meine Botschaften anzubringen?
– Wie und womit hört man eigentlich am besten in die Zielgruppe rein?
– Wie kommunizire ich und mache die Marke menschlich?
– Mit welchen Techniken oder Apps erhöhe ich meinen ROI-Output?

Die Qual der Wahl ist wie ein unbewanderter gebirgiger Waldweg. Man muß sich ab des Weges der Konformität wandern und testen, wenn man dann doch mal mit Ruhe einen klaren und zielführenden Gedanken fassen will.

Ein paar grundsätzliche Fragen, die man sich machen sollte…

– Wer ist meine Zielgruppe und wie ist sie im Social Web heute und morgen unterwegs (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z)?
– Wann soll mein Auswahl Erfolg zeigen? Deklinieren Sie vom kleinsten gemeinsamen Nenner der Unternehmensziele (Markenbildung, Engagement, Leads, Umsatzzahlen…
– Was schränkt mein Vorgehen (One-Voice Policy, Kunden Status Updates, Kommentare oder Posts) mit den sozialen Medien aufgrund business-strategischer Vorgaben ein?
– Warum scheinen soziale Medien für meine Zielgruppe am aussichtsreichsten? Eine gute Analyse der Erfolgssäulen gehört vorangeschaltet, um Kosten, Personalaufwand und sonstige Resourcen abschätzen zu können…
– Wie setze ich die sozialen Kommunikationskanäle Blog, Twitter, Faceboook, Youtube oder XING/LinkedIn zukunftsträchtig als Informationsmedien auf, wer testet und wer optimiert? Wie kann hieraus ein steter Prozess entstehen?

Vielleicht bietet der Post eine Leilinie zur Entscheidungshilfe. Falls nicht, sagen Sie mir, wie sie mit der Qual der Wahl umgehen oder umgegangen sind. Die Diskussion ist eröffnet…

Social Networks – Are niche communities the future of networks?

More often people are fed up with all that self-referential talk of individuals on social networks. Or, companies which do not understand the idea of an online conversation, including clients and not just broadcasting the old-fashioned marketing and sales way. Just today, I had some people in my Facebook stream and my Twitter updates telling me how the weather was, what their kids had for breakfast, or that their wives don’t understand their affinity to social networks. OK, nice, fair enough… Interesting? No!

And then I hear my wife saying… “Why keeping up the contact to so many people if there is no option to even get actively into 10 per cent of the conversations happening in these online relationships?” True, but you never know when some contact might need you, or vice versa.

Checking Facebook and staying up-to-date on Twitter becomes challenging on a busy day, with kids that are happy to see dad in the evening for some minutes, and long-time friends complaining why they don’t hear anything from you anymore.

So, is there another trend coming up in the future that might go for niche social networks, niche communities? Why? We had that offline for ages. Years ago, people have spend hours in their football club bar after a training session, or went to book readings to enjoy the discussion afterwards, or went to a vernisage in order to “philosophy” about the latest gallery exhibition with someone they don’t know. The reason for doing it was just their share of interest in something, a hobby, a passion, or a kind of affinity. So, are we seeing social networks for art geeks going on virtual gallery tours in the future?

My father was telling me that he uses a Bridge community and plays daily for one or two hours. A friend of mine is a DJ and he spend hours in communities for DJs like My DJ Space or Mix DJ. Some even still (or again?) love vinyl and become members in a community there. These music enthusiasts do nothing more or less than share their interest in being DJs, and obviously loving to mix tapes. The special interest is the centre of their community engagement.

Some years ago, somebody approached me with the idea of an international golfer network (http://www.golffriends.com/welcome/community). As I love playing golf (though don’t have enough time to play often…), there was some interest to become a member, if not more to become more engaged in the business idea. But then, time and the thought of managing many private interest networks -as I have quite some hobbies- next to my business networks and the top networks made me not investing too much time in that vision. Maybe I should have done…

Mothers share their passion for coffee on Cafemom, and if we think about all the Starbucks communities it does not surprise us. Games exchange ideas and thoughts on Raptr, or real social activists use Care2. Even more “nichy” is the passion of men for their moustache that they express online to the public. And others share their interest in Whisky or Wine networks.

So, my question is if niche networks could take a big portion of the market share of global social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc.) in the future? Can you see people going away from the self-gloryfying popular networks that the mainstream web user is engaged in? Tell us of niche networks you know and how you see this trend?