1
Apparently More than 140 Characters Is Needed To Actually Talk About Twitter — Not Very Meta
2
Need Support, but the Phone Is Terrible? Online Can Be Equally So — But At Least On Your Own Time and Faster!
3
Talking not Shouting: Context, Audience & Conversation
4
Add New POST… Thanks WordPress! What is the POST Planning Process?
5
Rising From the Ashes: Transformation Through Social Media
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Listening: Be Like the NSA… Except Not — That’s Creepy and People Won’t Like You Anymore
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Should I Use Social Media As A Business? (…Or To Choose Clients, Too?)
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Because 140 Characters Isn’t Enough…

Apparently More than 140 Characters Is Needed To Actually Talk About Twitter — Not Very Meta

First, an announcement

I really should have written about exports more (I had this thought yesterday, too)… mostly I’m just talking about British music (well, the 60′s and the 90′s at any rate), but they called it an invasion, so it sounds more like a war than an export, really. Invasions are generally not a nice thing — it’s likely the saturation of the music being pretty much everywhere… why not just call it substantial influence? Yikes. The only real Canadian music export that was substantial that we had was Justin Bieber (why oh why?!?) and the US population has been trying to deport himThe White House has finally commented on it and the comment was to not have a comment. Talk about relations gone awry. Kind of. Not really.

I’m moving into my office today! I’m really excited for it. Have to finish some purchasing off of ThinkGeek and then I’ll be on my way. It’s more fun working at a desk when you have fun things around it. I have a few stuffed animals (I’m such a professional!) but I’ll have actual, proper things, likely paperclips that are not in shapes of butterflies.

I guess I’m happy because most things are done. Although, I will be saying that I’ll also be trying (who knows how far this would get…) to also blog on my company blog! Why not? Well, if I can somehow hold office chair races, I shall, or have a funny video of it going absolutely horribly. I’m sure every startup holds at least one race, am I right? Well, if there’s some sort of time trial regarding that and then some sort of round robin with times across the country and then a championship… It’s kind of like the luge doubles, except for the office! Wait, do people have to wear those revealing outfits?! This could be good and bad. Well, at any rate, it’s pretty much just as dangerous (yes, especially about the outfits — what is seen cannot be unseen)… or at least I think so? Maybe not? Either way, there will be helmets… and likely falling over. There will be a maximum top speed and no stairs. Probably some sort of governing body… I don’t know. I ‘m thinking too much about this… best to be just left unsaid and undone.

I’m pretty sure I was meant to post about more business sort of things (kind of, come on, it’s a startup — that either means random things, or at least some business things that are actually business things), not the office luge. Great, now I have an image in my mind about what the office luge would look like. I like to call it creativity, your friends people call it strange, they’re being taken out to the country for some peace and quiet. Whatever. It’s called emotive conjugation, but Bernard Woolley calls it iregular verbs. This is one of my favourite quotes in the whole series, besides the whole “Red Tape Holds The Nation Together” shtick, which I had to use in a post to explain something, because I’m strange like that.

It reminds me of what Bernard Woolley says in Yes (Prime) Minister:

That’s another of those irregular verbs, isn’t it? I give confidential press briefings; you leak; he’s being charged under section 2A of the Official Secrets Act.

Editor’s note: Official Secrets Act was adopted by the Dominion of Canada then into provisions to the Criminal Code of Canada, then back to the Official Secrets Act, then several amendments from the crown (not our crown, we were still under British rule), then we got our own in 1981 in preparation for something else maybe (yay Canada! … you know what happened in 1982, right?). Then eventually changed to Security of Information Act. Essentially its for treason and national security… whatever that means (mostly protection of officials and the excuse of national embarrassment …. hence the term “official”). The government probably had its reasons to change the name (possibly other things?) to Security of Information Act as it would be to say its for the security of the information… not “us”.… but.

And another time:

It’s one of those irregular verbs, isn’t it: I have an independent mind; you are an eccentric; he is round the twist.

Now to our scheduled post…

Twitter. Yup. Twitter. So, some of you might just as well ignore this post. I feel you can still participate in Twitter, without really participating — just being a spectator and following up on news. Following the news feeds is how I get my news during the day with some conversation. I follow many different national, local, satirical, independent and more activist bent (I really don’t know what else to call it) sort of sources. It’s always all over the map. It’s great.

Twitter is great because it’s easy to join, short updates, gives power to people instead of the institutions, connects, and has now become the centre of an ecosystem its own ecosystem as well as blogs and other websites (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 197). Twitter provides an easy way to follow others and what they say (their tweets), (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 197 – 198).

However, there are uses of it as a business past news and perhaps seeing what competition is up to. You can play defense by helping with your public image by dealing with issues before they become a lot bigger, or you can play offense just the same, tweeting promotions or other information that’s in the demographics interests (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 196 – 197).

Just please don’t do this:

EPSON scanner image

Illustrated, Written and Created by Tom Fishburne | TV Advertising Hashtags

As @GuitarKat on Twitter (since September 2008, if you’re wondering), I have a hard time just justifying using tags that I made up, even if used ironically… some people also do that way too much. Unless it’s your actual catch phrase (“Also yes”), I don’t want to really see it, much. I’m sorry. I use ones that are already created by the community because they already have an interest, unless it’s an event where it actually requires it because of other people tweeting. One could have the same rationale about an ad, but I really disagree. What’s the ad really trying to engage with? What’s the action? What’s in it really for them to talk about your cream corn. Unless it’s what to put in that cream corn — it can be anything, suggestions on who or where to send a ton of creamed corn to — again, anywhere or anyone, I really don’t want to see it or will care. Let’s make it fun… and yes, you’ll be seeing inappropriate tweets, be weary, but you might get interaction with that creamed corn somehow, damnit! You have to give up some control in the groundswell. Because of that willingness, you might also be remembered when they go shopping… even if they make fun of the brand slightly (hey, deprecated humor is fun).

Twitter users have an outsized level of influence (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 199). Meaning, this group may only make up a small percentage of people online, but they have a great deal of influence over others… and their end purchases (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 199 – 200). According to Li and Bernoff (2011) tweeters are “three times as likely to be Creators, more than twice as likely to be Critics, and half-again as likely to be Joiners compared with typical online consumers” (p. 200). 70 percent of tweeters, according to Li and Bernoff (2011), is that they often tell their friends about products that interest them, which is way above average, and also make more money, better educated and more optimistic about technology than others online (p. 200). They are all not my age (I’m told I’m still young, but hey, that’s all relative, right?), but one-third of Twitter users are over 35 years old (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 201).

How Can Twitter Help Me As A Business Again?

Twitter can help serve your Objectives in POST planning. Remember the O in POST? It’s this.

It can help you Listen, Talk, Energize, Supporting and Embracing as part of your strategy in Twitter.

How to I Listen over Twitter? Well, the first thing you’ll like to do is look for keywords of your product or brand. The name of the store or product is a good start. Since you’re stretched for resources (you probably are, businesses generally are — just as I am), you might want to keep an eye on what you consider influential customers (either because of a large following, influencers with a large local following, celebrities, those with highly engaged blogs, etc) (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 202 – 203). There’s also the fact that you can use insights from listening to guide messaging strategy and timing of ad buys (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 203). What’s new? What’s not? What can I see from a web designer and developer view about what clients may like?

Talking: Well, I’m kind of talkative myself, but as a business there’s a few things to look over. Think about what your giving to the customer. It’s always what’s-in-it-for-me mentality. If you’re tweeting but not having value (mine is apparently “educational and informational — sometimes both” (very loosely quoted)), then who’s going to interact with you (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 203). Most tweets that businesses generally deal with are those with issues (as kind of covered in my support post) and responses that are for the customer. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 203). The best talkers are generally the media as they provide up-to-the-minute reports, especially as some users that are not part of the press can also direct press to issues and they will follow up or see (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 203). As a web business, it can be hard to connect with a following. Posting fun and funny things for other web designers and developers is great, but if you can place a great meme about web design or development with cats that people can understand… you pretty much won in my field.

Energizing: This means finding people that actually like you and your products (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 204). Well, I have a hard enough time finding friends, but sometimes, not so much. Connecting is key here as others will be your driving voice and force. Get them talking, as they will help you do your job. Even tangentially if you can get your brand involved, it will spread the brand, its voice and what it is related to (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 205). I have been fortunate here as a business and an individual… I’ve had some clients actually say they loved my work over Twitter (and their followers saw this) and of course, I’m extremely humbled. If you can get someone on your side, it’s great.

Supporting: Because people on Twitter are influential, you likely should be keeping an eye for support on Twitter about your brand (Li &
Bernoff, 2011, p. 206). We talked about Support in my last post… well, not we, more me… anyways. Things can get hairy as you cannot control what other people say in the groundswell. You can, however, have empathy for your clients and customers and get them to speak on a rational level as long as you approach it with the right mindset — addressing the customers’ needs (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 207). This matters a lot on Twitter, as things can snowball, very quickly.

Embracing: Embracing is the hardest to do in your objectives, collaborating with customers and giving a great deal of direction from them (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 207). You can direct customers to surveys, idea forums and just ask them questions over the medium, for example (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 208). The best way to do this is to engage your followers and create dialogue that is interesting. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 208).

Integrating Twitter with the rest of your marketing and social channels is very powerful, unique and useful (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 212). One word of warning: It is public speech, be sure to check with legal and regulators about what you do tweet (no financials that are private, okay?) (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 211). Enjoy!

References

Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press

Need Support, but the Phone Is Terrible? Online Can Be Equally So — But At Least On Your Own Time and Faster!

First, an announcement:

Technically, some parts of school is done. Well, other than me finishing up some stuff, but whatever. It’s writing. But in a form I actually like to write. I’ve been doing it for quite awhile (how many years now? 13? But it was definitely more angsty… at least I think it was).

I was upset angsty about something, so…

Maybe I can do satire… by accident, at any rate (how does that work?!). I was egged on to make a joke in my exam, because if there’s a written portion, I tend to try (yes, I play with fire, but it’s only a spark — I tend to not burn my exam with it and generally it was in context so…). I also seriously questioned it though as a possibility, but it seemed silly in some ways. Apparently I was pretty insightful somehow by accident (seriously, I’m not that smart!). Ends up being very similar to the crux of the issue of it not being in effect. I talked about having better diplomatic ties with various member states of the EU through many of my comments. But, still. What. How strange. Sadly, did not make the Twitter account joke about the Hon. John Baird (although, I could have, but it’s been done — twice now).

It just came to me because my boyfriend (legally Canadian), @VeryAngryBeaver has dual for both Britain and for Canada. He has full travel rights as part of the EU… I wanted the same (hey, I’m a first generation Canadian, there are some ties elsewhere, too). I wondered if it would be possible or not for us, too — I want to travel more freer as well. Very similar to what made it not occur:  turns out two member states wanted visa restrictions lifted because their citizens should have free movement. Turns out Canada didn’t want to get too full, or have jobs for them because of refugee status…. it does impact a lot, too, so they placed restrictions. Seemed obscure in some ways and strange that I would say what I said in some way — but there you go. Hey, we have to have good diplomatic ties. I mean random, careless, whimsical  Canadian students want to go backpacking through Europe to learn about cheese — we need that. It might not actually have anything to do with anything actually important… but cheese!

7567909_c838317867_z

Campus Crusade for Cheesemutantlog on Flickr

But cheese is really important in my education! That too much drinking thing? That’s just an excuse for the cheese — and for random clubs back home. See? Culture! I would also totally be at this… cheese!

Anyways, I also totally forgot something that just totally and completely slipped my mind on my exam and I guess I just had a rough week because by that point I was fairly tired. I’m so incredibly disappointed about it, it’s not even funny. I mean… seriously.

This tweet pretty much says it all. Anyways, despite all of that, I had an exam jokes to share:

 

This. Just this.

Not sure how this is a joke, but. It is and this was urban legend and speculation… but arstechnica just visited the site today and it was true! (as of writing of this post, they’re releasing more updates on the page). After a failed attempt in the area, someone in the audience saw a game controller cap on his way to the bathroom and an archeologist (no lie, so if you want to still change careers, you still can!) determined if it were contemporary or if it wasn’t. The legend of a horribly, failed so badly game and ties to the game crash was true!

At any rate, at least my favourite question showed up that makes me and my boyfriend laugh every time we talk about it. He’s British, and it has to do with something with France. While their relations are better than what they were, their is always going to be that sort of slight disdain/rivalry/whatever between them, kind of like Edmonton and Calgary fans in any sport ever… but especially hockey.

Now to our scheduled post…

Where do you go for help when you have a product that isn’t work right? I’m a little phone shy myself, so it’s kind of hard for me to talk over the phone. I always used forums, especially pre social media times (shudder… don’t make me think of that!) I still use forums to this day for general support questions, generally. But if I can’t, I turn to Twitter (this is the next post, though).

According to Li and Bernoff (2011) supporting customers is a burden and is a huge cost and adds up considerably when it’s something like $6 or $7 a call on the phone and it costs companies millions of dollars to run and support thing (p. 157). Most people, not me, I guess, like to phone call support for help. However, as a business, this is a big consideration if you are providing a product. Businesses like to cut costs and to remain viable whenever possible, especially when they can get value for their investments. So, what is a company to do?

Back in the 90s, companies found that the Internet was good for information to their customers and encouraged them to use it (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 157 – 158). Complicated questions, however, still required a phone call (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 158). Li and Bernoff (2011) argued that phone calls are still a pain and they’re painful, especially with interactive phone menus (p. 158).  Not only are they not the good type of menus that have food and drink, but if you misspeak, who knows where you’re going… gone forever.

Makes you want to hang up after a good 10 or 20 minute wait for someone after going through a labyrinth of number choices, but then they just transfer you around…. yup. And then hear the same song 50 times… but elevator version. Then they ask you a billion questions about yourself, but if you get transfered, you’ll have to do it again… etc, etc. I often wondered if Bernard Woolley had to put up with it (likely, it was the 80′s, so he had next to no choice or the teletext – Sir Humphrey would probably endearingly “threaten” him with working in such a place, after all, he did threaten him to work at the Vehicle Licensing Centre in Swansea. Definitely cringe worthy to Bernard).

cracked-iPhone

http://blog.gadgethelpline.com/smashed-iphone-screen-repair-foneclinc-review/

If you wait long enough, your phone ends up like this, and then you have to do it again to get a new one. Is it worth it? It’s okay that it was smashed up, it was an old iPhone 3G anyways…. or would you rather keep the 3G?

3b7fb64be99c2f9046eb1d4c35e52e4c5e2c71fa3650222be0cb28ddecc57dee

http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3u2w02

It’s okay, they equally feel the same way you do. Pretty angry. My boyfriend used to work for one, actually. He didn’t mind most calls, but he’s told me some frustrating customers from the past — I wasn’t dating him then (might be a good thing?).

So, what to do? Well, you can always use the power of forums. According to Li and Bernoff (2011) people are more than willing to help each other out (p. 158). This is something I can attest to. I have used forums recently, didn’t even join it, but read something for a solution for a problem I was having. I still write in forums from time to time as well in some of my interests, and I have found them to be a great deal of support in the subject. I’m still learning, but it’s much better than reading books sometimes… and sometimes you have exhausted the options of the books around your area and start having to buying them online… and find other sources of information, other users on the forum, too.

Some people post a lot of the time on these forums and it saves call centres $10 a call sometimes. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 160). People generally say thank you, pass some other good information to the user, but generally, they’re just happy with the thank you. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 160). It’s true. It makes me happy from either information I know or even just anecdotal evidence (use with caution! It’s fairly dangerous). It adds up quite a bit for companies, saving them considerable amounts of money (how does over $1 million dollars from users sound in only one year?) (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 160). People just get the warm fuzzies helping others, as a form of psychic income (no, I’m not going to tell you what next week’s lotto numbers are — you’re on your own!) and they come in various flavours: altruism, validation, and belonging to a community (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 160 – 161) … if you want to know, I think mine is belonging to a community… everyone has a favourite. Answering questions give people gratitude, recognition, influence and it’s free… “it’s paid in love, not money” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 161).

It does cost money (according to one, for costs of one year: $750,000, but $25,000 was to build it) to set up a form, especially in setting up, maintaining, supporting with support staff to help answer questions and to be involved… but there are benefits (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 161 – 162). However, the savings were huge and saved a million in year one (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 162).

I have seen hosting companies for websites use them, which makes sense. Currently, in the web design industry there isn’t this in use because of the personal nature in which we care for our clients (just like other occupations that operate similarly in this fashion). We do things by project and case-by-case basis. It may not be ideal, but perhaps to support other web site designers and developers, there are self made forums in which to help each other, if required.

What Should I Implement?

There are various versions to look at. There are discussion forums, wikis, and special question and answer style with reputation points type of systems. It always depends on your POST  planning processes and what comes of that. Not only that, there are other things to consider: What are you trying to solve? How will you participate? Should you create a support community or join an existing one? (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 171). Always keep in mind your customers? What is really driving them there to help (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 172).

To support its success you have to be involved. Create activity, which drives traffic and links, which helps search engine placement and drives more traffic, activity, and likely more ad revenues if you’re doing that (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 172). A dying community is one not making any revenues or saving you money.

Most people tend to read results and answers, rather than posting as a general rule (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 173). Wikis and Q&A places are very difficult to get started (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 173).

Some practical advice on starting one are the following:

“Start small, but plan for a larger presence” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 174). There’s also the fact that you need to start small to see if it’s doable and then it will expand to cover other areas. Be careful here, you do need to scale up, so find a vendor that can, because migrating a whole community can kill it as you can lose connections, have lag times from when it was open and other issues (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 174).

“Reach out to your most active customers” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 175). Your customers will know how it should work. Find who your enthusiasts are and ask them. They will lead this community. If there are celebs as customers, you can tell them in advance and pay them to participate (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 175).

“Plan to drive traffic to your community” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 175). Opens the doors and they will come? No, sadly, it’s like my blog a bit… fairly quiet in the commenting section, but I’ve had some good discussions over Twitter. However, advertise to let them know where you are: shopping sites, web address on all your widgets if you can. Search engines are important, too. You might also want to buy placements or ads at various search engines (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 175).

“Build in a reputation system” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 175). Some people love the Thank button, some people are into Karma, either way, its reputation and it helps new users conform to community norms and fit in easier. There is sometimes a competing manner about them, but it keeps people coming back and posting more — people also like goals (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 175).

“Let your customers lead you”(Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 176) . They have opinions on everything (just like me… which explains a lot!) They’ll tell you what they like and definitely what they don’t like and make sure there’s a thread or thread section letting them know you’re listening to them and keep listening throughout the forum (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 176).

These can be helpful and overwhelming all at once. It is a confounding and confusing feeling. It will change how your company functions, so feel free to read a post about change and adversity, if you like.

Have you ever contributed to a wiki? I have… and it’s something to do with Bernard Woolley and tropes in media (I’m smart enough to do that somehow and I’m not an English major (well, you can tell because my sentences are much too long!)). Have you ever started a forum? Joined in one? Have over 100,000 posts? Well, I don’t… but I’ve had over 5,000 in a forum once before I graduated high school (no, I won’t tell you which one). I know, I’m a total recluse, right? I guess I just have a lot to say… and people join in and make it even more wonderful! Or terrible, I mean, just stay away from YouTube comments in general, okay? There are also some threads that make you upset, shake your head, etc. But generally, there are some really great places, and if you’re a communicative over the written word like me (no really?! Couldn’t tell?) you’ll love it!

References

Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press

Talking not Shouting: Context, Audience & Conversation

First, an announcement:

Okay, so I decide to still do these, even just a little bit when something interesting comes up. Well, apparently I’m not the worst writer ever… so, I spoke too soon. I reclaimed my writing card in some way, somehow — I knew it was style! However, I still think that I’m definitely the informal blogging type or something. I like personal communication the best. Extreme academic essays are not that. I can write them, and I do like writing about new stuff… not in that format? Sounds about right. I don’t know where that puts me whatsoever. I still would like to try my hand at satire, though. Words should be fun… I suppose that’s why I’m on Twitter. Especially in the earlier days, it was practically all text based. I had to rely on my horrible puns to get by. Too bad school isn’t like that… but I guess, in this instance, it is!

There was a few funny tweets today that I think should have some form of attention here. I had my 60,000 tweet either today or yesterday. I do not know exactly when, but it happened. That’s kind of exciting in some sad way…

I wish I knew how this one worked? I’m guessing sometimes informative isn’t necessarily educational? Needs a venn diagram. I’m pretty sure I can explain things in venn diagram for several things. I have no real idea. But another 60k tweets? This is something I cannot even fathom. That could be a good thing. I’m of the mindset if I can see it or vision it, I can usually get at it.

Also this thread was kind of funny…

I get really silly really quickly. Mostly it’s people taking things out of context, which is absolutely my favourite context! If it’s out of one context, it’s technically in another, or more… like five depending. Can you imagine that?

On to our scheduled post (more or less)…

I wrote in a post earlier about how the POST (PeopleObjectives, Strategy and Technology) planning process. From this, I have wrote about one of the five things that are part of the objectives area of POST. A few posts ago was about listening, this one is about talking in the groundswell. So, this brings up the question? How do you talk to the groundswell and your customers in it?

In the book Groundswell: Living An A World Transformed By Social Technologies, by Li and Bernoff in 2011 illustrates an example where Blendtec, a blender company that produces really tough blenders, had a great idea (p. 100). Li and Bernoff (2011) continues to show that inspiration took hold from an observant marketing director, George Wright, as he saw the techs’ room where they were testing the product with sawdust on the floor… and he noticed they were putting two-by-two lumber in the blender (p. 100). George thought that others should see this and decided to give it a shot to see what else might work (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 100). The videos got an amazing response, from elevated YouTube views to getting onto The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and from the extra media gained more views. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 100).

I remember actually seeing Blendtec‘s videos around this time. This may have been the first one I saw (I’m not sure if it was the iPhone or the iPod, actually). I just remember cringing. It was fun, it made the product something to talk about — they made it timely, or had a satire sort of statement about something by blending it sometimes. It’s great to have a laugh… and better yet, people will relate it to your product or service.

I wasn’t on YouTube with an account, but I was lurking YouTube. I was already on LiveJournal for several years at this point and did have a Facebook account myself. I don’t know but BuzzFeed said that I was an Internet Veteran. Now I just feel really old. Somehow? I’m pretty sure people older than me scored not veteran…. I just had no life. 

In the groundswell, marketing is not just straight marketing. It’s more than that. It’s interacting, it’s having a conversation. It’s having the right content for your audience in the context they will understand, find relevant, entertaining and perhaps help you do your job and share the content along. Make your job easier. While it seems counter intuitive if you are a social media marketing person, it actually validates your jobs existence. However, just telling marketers to make viral content is harder than it sounds…. and cannot be viable strategy.

Here’s an example of where it went right for one company and not another. Mostly, my favourite videos that may have been accidental marketing was the Diet Coke and Mentos explosion back in 2007.

The two companies had nothing to do with it. Mentos was beyond thrilled about the experience, but the Diet Coke people were not. They actually just publicly said that “…it didn’t fit with the personality of Diet Coke.” They went on the defensive instead of actually listening to their customers, the reactions and taking it more in stride — but later, they did. Because, from the post about listening the brand is what your customers think it is.

This is also the difference between shouting and talking. Shouting is just putting content out there with no regards to your buying public. Generally, this is associated with traditional marketing methods, such as TV ads, which rely on repetition (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 101). If you notice that there’s just one way communication here, you would be right. That is also not a conversation… and how would you know exactly what is working in terms of numbers for your ROI other than how many people might have seen it (through Neilsen ratings) and the conversion rates of purchase or asking at random, do you recognize this brand?

There is more to traditional media types: there is advertising and public relations (PR) (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 101). From the PR angle, there are hopes that the content, or “news” will prove worthy or interesting enough to be picked up for more free media (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 101). This is also very difficult to do, while also dealing with the media generally liking the more unexpected, or something that will actually appeal to their audiences… and more advertisements from your company isn’t it — public sentiment is hard to scale, as well. This generally doesn’t work as well as you hope it will.

This is why:

Purchase-Funnel

 

http://lrwblog.net/using-the-purchase-funnel/purchase-funnel/

This is something called a Marketing Funnel. According to Li & Bernoff (2011) the middle section is where the groundswell has the most impact and marketers have little impact, but the biggest section, the “Awareness” stage is where marketers have more control over their messages in the past (p. 101). I would suspect that the middle section influence has to do with influences from your followers or friends, so it utilizes mouth-to-mouth marketing. People also do not react to the shouting as much anymore and prefer the conversations and the shaping with the customers/clients. Just like in my last post, Lawyer Cat actually wanted to hear from his fans, which was perfect! But, then he doesn’t like giving away free legal advice too much (also love how the comic broke the fourth wall!) This is where marketers can direct conversation slightly, but not dominate and certainly do not shout. Again, it’s how your clients/customers see you, which is also something I touched on. If you’re blogging, or if you’re on Twitter or Facebook, your audience will expect a response from you (Li & Bernoff, 2011,  p. 102). This is part of the conversation part and certainly something you can control from your side, but not from theirs, but you will be present, saying your story, helping and supporting. In my type of industry (web design/development), it’s being there for your clients if they are having an issue with their site, sharing some fun things, or sharing ideas and seeing what they think — post content about web stuff, not your ads. That is not a conversation, nor is it inviting.

How Do I Talk With The Groundswell?

According to Li and Bernoff (2011) there are four ways to achieve this:

  1. Post a viral video. Put a video online, and let people share it. that’s what Blendtec did with its extreme blending videos.
  2. Engage in social networks and user-generated content sites. Creating a personality within social networking sites like MySpace (editors note: let’s update this and say Twitter) is one of the simplest ways to extend your brand reach. Turning it into a conversation is harder.
  3. Join the blogosphere. Empower your executives or staff to write blogs. Integral to this strategy is listening to and responding to other blogs in the blogosphere — and that’s one way talking with blogs is different from issuing press releases. …
  4. Create a community. Communities are a powerful way to engage with your customers and deliver value to them. They’re also effective at delivering marketing messages, as long as you listen, not just shout (p. 103).

There are different times to do different ones to what makes sense to your POST planning and strategy. Sometimes it makes more sense to do a blog because of more complex writing than to try the same content on Twitter (but some of us accept the challenge(!), much to others chagrin). Communities are also more over bonding things in life, unless you have a specific thing and enough people loving Bernard Wolley and Yes Minister you are going to have a very hard time…. actually, I’m not sure if that would work out. However, there was a small LJ (LiveJournal) community and eventually a Tumblr surrounding the fandom, but it is a very small fandom, indeed… it was more user-generated site all on our own. The first one should actually be more ignored than not, actually. It is difficult to scale, manage, predict these sort of things. So unless you’re only spending a few hundred dollars on your viral video, you lessen the risk of it not becoming viral (or any content).

A simple word of warning, however, especially in terms of your Return on Investment (ROI) on viral videos or any content, really:

3efhcx

http://memesly.com/meme/3efhcx

He always seems to get the point. He’s very concise!

Also this:

EPSON scanner image

 

Illustrated, Written and Created by Tom Fishburne | go viral

This is always something to think of. Not everything will be adored and shared. My blog, for one (um, yeah… it’s a little too educational, somehow?). I’m happy just typing along here. Get some comments on Twitter, on the blog itself. Not a bad thing!

Do you guys remember when you first saw the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment or Will It Blend?

References

Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press

Add New POST… Thanks WordPress! What is the POST Planning Process?

First an announcement… 

Yes, I realize that the normal announcements are getting boring. However, I am not one to stop that sort of thing. This is just part of the more personal blogging perspective side. I feel that with any blog, there should be a personal side — even for blogs that are considered a company blog.

A few bad things and a few good things. One, apparently I’m a good writer and apparently I’m a bad writer. Now, perhaps it’s due to lack of experience in dealing with how to actually write under pressure with strict APA rules with some crazy requirements for the paper (for statistics that are hard to obtain in the first place — and other stuff I haven’t wrote here) and about a week a couple of days (not counting other things), but I am unsure. Either way, it’s done, more or less it’s over…. and I’m a bad writer. Just wanted to make sure you guys knew that, so if you’re reading this, maybe you shouldn’t — save yourselves while you still can within the first couple of paragraphs! At least someone was nice to me (oh, wait more than one person was actually nice to me) regarding my writing. One was in response to something, but the other one was out of nowhere, so psh (thanks Victoria!).

Someone named Victoria (hey Victoria! *waves*) has posted a few comments on my blog. Apparently a text-to-speech would be helpful (and hey, I write a lot, I cannot blame her for this request, I’m very wordy), however, my timing has been poor on quite a few things this semester. Because of that, I’ve been unable at the current time to implement a solution but, but have failed to do so. Also, thank you for saying “[I] have a knack for writing”. This came before a time where I likely needed it, but there was another time later in the same week that would have worked out better. I know I’m a decent writer. It’s just sometimes I’m more for different style for writing. Or I could develop a more formal style, but for this it wouldn’t be me at all. And for blogs, formal actually doesn’t work very well at all.

I also want to share something with you guys. One of my local connections on Twitter, @JenBanksYEG, posted a very nice thing last week (hey, GuitarKat, I don’t think you understand this social media thing very well, you’re suppose to be wayyyy more up to date and immediate, what gives?). Anyways, I love it this much and she should be applauded for being so kind to so many people. This was also during a time where I actually really did need it as well.

 

 

See, maybe there is a future to my arguing debating after all! Apparently I have good research. At least there’s that, if not my writing.

@lindork  (you may also know her as someone who is running @NAIT on Twitter) is running and hosting an Edmonton Cat Fest (@YEGCatFest) event. If you like kitties and if you know that kitties are what the Internet is ran on (I hear it’s something to do with cables, electricity and various things, but), you should probably check it out! I may or may not have adorable pictures of kitties. I may or may not post them on my blog. I thought that was what Twitter was primarily for…. people think it’s for selfies and pictures of food…. okay, maybe that, too.

Anyways…

My other posts I’ll be posting on in the next day or so won’t have these little blurbs as much, unless I’m feeling festive (hey, last night celebrating was a good time — done a really difficult course, okay?). Either way, they’ll have something of interest in them. See if you can see the running trend/gag!

Now to our regular business…

I’m here to talk about something called POST.

6a0154337d49de970c016760889620970b

http://perridock.typepad.com/.a/6a0154337d49de970c016760889620970b-pi

No, it’s not POST cereal (yummy fiber!)

 

canada_post-e1354220254188

http://wpmedia.o.canada.com/2012/11/canada_post-e1354220254188.jpg?w=569&h=330&crop=1

Or the post (going postal about the mail? — Canada Post mailbox, go home. You’re drunk)

 

RacingDemons

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_7hEvHSRPMWc/TSuO-2Lk-aI/AAAAAAAAAEs/zkXSS6cIrzc/s320/RacingDemons.jpg

Or the first-past-the-post (thanks Canadian politics!… oh, wait, that’s where I live! Why are the various parties in power scooters with helmets on a race track?! Seems about right)…

Or just the Sochi Goal post, who was a Canadian hero during our 2014 Men’s Hockey gold Olympic game.There was even a Twitter account.

What about government posts… like cabinet posts? No, no, not literally a cabinet post, because if you remove one of those your cabinet in the house is no longer really functional (wait, is that pun intended or not? I’m so confused I’m not even sure anymore).

Was there any “posts” I have missed? Probably the one I wish I did when I ran into one while running one time… let me tell you, that it hurt a lot. And people laughed. My ego was likely more hurt than I was. I wasn’t going very fast in the first place (I also wasn’t in first place — which explains the whole not-going-very-fast thing).

Okay… I’ll try to stop with the posts now (heh, not in this blog I won’t!) I imagine Bernard Woolley saying something about posts and unraveling every single metaphor or allusion I have drawn and explaining how it has nothing to do with my subject… or perhaps he’d just talk about the stocks or the pillory, as he loved gallows humour (pillory was attached to a post, after all! History!… in more than one way…)

So, now that I’ve practically ran out of horrible post puns, I can continue this post about… POST. This is actually a social media theory, but what does it mean? This is an important question that must be answered. Pressure your backbencher MP today! I suggest a nicely worded stationary, done in calligraphic style with a nice floral scent (sent — hee hee). I imagine the question being tabled  in Question Period to look something a little like this:

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian people must know, what exactly is POST?

It is actually fairly important to our sovereign nation, I know. Just ask  The Hon. John Baird and the trickiness of bilateral relations… especially over Twitter.

What Exactly Is POST?

POST (with or without italics) is a representation of four things for the planning process of a social media groundswell strategy: People, Objectives, Strategy and Technology (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 67). Each of these questions that frames your thoughts helps you obtain a “systematic framework” which works for your plan (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 67).

Li and Bernoff (2011) explain what POST really is in a concrete and practical manner, starting with People:

  • People. What are your customers ready for? The Social Technographics Profile we described in the last chapter [in our case a couple of blog posts ago. Remember the post “Should I Use Social Media As A Business? (…Or To Choose Clients, Too?)] is designed to answer this question… What’s important is to assess how your customers will engage, based on what they’re already doing. Skipping this step and making guesses about your customers might work, but you might also build a whole social networking strategy only to find that your customers are more likely to write reviews than join social networks (p. 67).

In my case as a web design/development firm (or right now doing an online based service) there are things to consider to your Technographics Profile and they do differ on various things. Where are your customers right now or the chosen segment of the demographic you wish to have as clients or to market to? I know, I have a blog. Some of my clients would actually read this blog… I’ve gotten clients off of Twitter, so I already know they enjoy connecting, commenting and do need some work done. But they are also two different demographics according to the Technographics profile. Blogs are for people that will likely be spectators oftentimes than not, to read what the company is up to, instead of actively commenting, like over Twitter or Facebook, for example. But, they might like different types of connections or content over the various mediums… if they’re even there. The question is, are they?

In terms of client relations and business, I was thinking of some fields and their general impressions from the adoring (sometimes adoring?) public (don’t look at me like that — I didn’t say anything!) and it has nothing to do with this comic below (maybe?). You can be informal without being unprofessional, but can show being approachable through some informal conversation. Being approachable and connecting is key for getting clients and something I feel that is sorely missing in most industries that should be worked on, IMHO. It’s always about your network, your clients and relationships. Then your brilliance, technical and following through with competence. This can work for both business-to-business and general client relations, because behind every business is people. They happen to have roles in these companies, but they are people.

Here’s something from the Doctor Cat webcomic that illustrates this point through email and answering questions (I don’t know about the skydiving thing, entirely, but he is a kitty! They land on all fours pretty well, but I do worry about his glasses!):

2013-06-07

Illustrated, Written and Created by Sarah Sobole | Ask Lawyer Cat

I had to use this in an example. I’m really sorry. It was bound to happen at some point.

Anyways… if I feel that my segment is more traditional business-to-business I may have to change my social media strategy to be more on Facebook than on Twitter. Online based service, with the target demographic, would be Twitter and Facebook. Twitter is key for motivation and buzz — I feel more guerrilla, than Facebook. I feel while still important. However, it’s the people side that is more important, as opposed to the technology and what it can do in terms of social media marketing (yes, this is hard for me to write, seeing as I make and create these sort of thing… well, not social media specifically, but web sites).

Li and Bernoff (2011) show more interesting things through the POST method and next talk about Objectives:

  • Objectives. What are you goals? Are you more interested in talking with the groundswell for marketing, for example, or in generating sales by energizing your best customers? Or are you interested in tapping the groundswell internally to help your employees work together more effectively? (p. 67 – 68).

There are also five different ways to categorize your objectives that can make or break your strategy (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 68). These are: Listening (See this blog post from a couple posts ago), Talking (blog post coming up next!), Energizing (another blog post coming later), Supporting (blog post coming later), and Embracing. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 68).

These are very practical objectives that make sense to a business. Especially one as mine, but embracing is allowing the client to help change in the positive of what you’re offering but is done after the other four categories (listening, talking, energizing and supporting) are complete (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p . 69). This is likely to fully understand what the client is really looking for and what makes sense to your business and the other parts of POST that should be considered.

Next, Li and Bernoff (2011) write about Strategy as part of POST:

  • Strategy. How do you want relationships with your customers to change? Do you want customers to help carry messages to others in your market? Do you want them to become more engage with your company? By answering this question, not only can you plan for the desired changes up front, but you can also figure out how to measure them once the strategy is under way. You’ll also need to prepare and get buy-in from people within your company who may be threatened by changes in these customer relationships (p. 68).

There has to be a long strategy to help ensure that the Return On Investment (ROI) is sound. Otherwise doing all this other stuff does not make sense if there is no actual goal in mind to keep track. That, and you can celebrate some small wins as well along the way. That’s probably my favourite part about strategy and planning is reaching a goal and being happy about it. Buy-in on new things is difficult when it can hurt them in terms of office politics and should always be considered? Why should they take the chance on you? If the strategy is sound, not hurting people’s jobs in the company, show why it benefits them, and perhaps they’ll get on board. Make sure you think carefully of your strategy. Please know there are consequences to any action — either it be because of you or someone else. Always remember that you cannot control others in what they do or say, especially on the groundswell.

The last part of POST is Technology. Li and Bernoff (2011) explain the idea of Technology in terms of the POST method as:

  • Technology. What applications should you build? After having decided on the people, objectives, and strategy, you can move on to pick appropriate technologies (p. 68).

After deciding on the other three things needed for planning, technology comes into play. What is going to enable your business, in the best way to achieve your goals? Are you going to build your own? Will you already use what is there, like Twitter to facilitate it, for example?

Suggestions in Implementation

A few pointers from Li and Bernoff (2011) which can assist your business in implementing POST planning:

  • Create a plan that starts small but has room to grow.
  • Think through the consequence of your strategy.
  • Put somebody important in charge of it. 
  • Use great care in selecting your technology and agency partners (p. 72 – 73).

These pointers seem obvious, but they are not. Especially about the consequence of strategy. Predict how using the groundswell will change your company. A plan that is small so you can see it move readily instead of something big and intimidating and allows you to respond to change to and to be flexible in decisions as required.

Putting someone important in charge of it is important, especially someone who knows your company very, very well.

From BrandCampthis is a very good example:

091214.voiceofthebrand

Illustrated, Written and Created by Tom Fishburne | voice of the brand

It’s an oldie, but a goodie and still resonates today. Choose someone that will be an asset to the brand and its voice, as opposed to someone who doesn’t understand or know or is actually up to the task properly to do so.

In terms of choosing technology and agency partners, do not always pick the lowest bidder. This is coming from someone who is in the technology circles, but if you do choose someone from the lowest bid, do so with caution. They have to understand what you are wanting, what you are looking for and makes sense. Choose someone who is really understanding of how it works if you are building your own. If it doesn’t feel right, listen to your gut and back out. If you do not do this then ongoing work and conversations with this person will prove itself difficult.

References

Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press

Rising From the Ashes: Transformation Through Social Media

First an announcement (again!):

My friend, @RASweetness, otherwise known as Karen, has made a haiku blog and there’s an entry about me (I’m not that interesting. But… apparently? Maybe). There’s a pretty awesome picture of me (well, it’s not bad, she’s got skills!) and of course, it’s about kitties, being smart (sure, why not), and stats. Yes. Stats. I don’t know how that happened either. I’m pretty sure it’s about random information about random things… not actual numbers or stats class (save me!). I’m not that bad at Trivial Pursuit actually. Maybe I should have a few drinks with my boyfriend and try our hand at a diploma exam drunk. If anything, I can just blame my ignorance and stupidity on the liquor… although we all know the true story. It’s a great excuse if you do badly and a bragging point if you do pretty well. ;)

Now for our originally planned broadcasting…

I want to say thank you for hanging on this long for whatever reason you can think of for actually reading my blog. I’m sure it’s a good reason, everyone’s is likely different. I wouldn’t know why someone would want to (especially since it’s for marks and I cannot think of a reason, really… bored, right?). Okay, maybe I’m being too harsh on myself. Still though. Why? Don’t you have anything else better to do? No, okay then. I’m glad that my writing will somewhat entertain or amuse in some fashion (terrible, horrible fashion), let it be my terrible style, my diction and my lack of actual grammar. I compare this to Norway’s curling pants in the Sochi 2014 Olympics. Both glorious and horrible at the same time.

In something else that is totally not related to this, here are some comments about my last blog post. Myself and @toddtrann had yet another discussion about my that blog:


 

I only do pseudo grammar. Remember, blogging equals informal, which likely equals pseudo grammar and some semblance of structure or logical following of thought (probably not here — sorry in advance). Hopefully my papers would have less of that, but I’m unsure of my luck and/or ability (notice how it’s an and/or? Exactly). We should make pseudo grammar a thing (a thing could also be a change in public sentiment — hm, is there any proof?) and somehow make it more acceptable form of communication, but then the traditionalists would be kind of peeved. First, there was going from some sort of symbols from the various cultures predating Shakespearean English to our more written and spoken English (pretty much, if you can call it that — I’m not sure about the Americans, they’re on their own), to whatever texting has done to it, from what I understand… maybe place in something about Instagram and Twitter and their roles in the lexicon. Why is it always the status quo verses change? Is it truly verses? Or is it equilibrium and context of need in society? Mostly I just don’t want to use an editor or manage to write an entire paper without doing so — ah, a true evasive dream… I don’t see this happening in my lifetime at any rate. Maybe you’re luckier than I am, or most certainly more talented. Maybe I like not failing too much. Not quite sure.

From the last blog post, I was looking at the falling out of former Premier Redford from a PR/public sentiment sort of direction, as opposed to the clear party politics infighting that was going on in terms of leadership, etc, because it suited the topic of the blog more directly in terms of listening. She had two three “masters” to listen to, much like Bernard Woolley (but he had two) of Yes Minister (and Yes Prime Minister) fame. In former Premier Redford’s case, it was her party, her constituents and the whole of Alberta as a leader. Tough to juggle priorities. In Bernard Woolley’s case, it was the needs and whims (only whims in Hacker’s case, unsure if he prioritized enough for actual needs, but I digress…) of tasks pulled and tugged like a tug of war and he’s in the middle of Hacker and Sir Humphrey. Dying loyalties (ha, pretty telling…) of duty to both camps cannot be fun. It’s like being a double agent. Um… I just had a thought of Bernard Woolley being like a spy, but more private investigator type. That would be so strange! Lots of puns… and guns and more dark humor than we can put up with, likely… it’s not very bright.

Anyways…. this specific blog talks about how commentary can actually change your company for the better, adversity, challenging convention, dealing with various setbacks… and how to get back from it. It’s something I feel is an important topic past social media and businesses. For some, it’s likely fairly timely as we’re all put through trials of varying degrees of fire through passion (things sometimes burn, sometimes you play with fire so you burn yourself), so to speak as well as status quo and change. It also speaks in a practical tone in terms of how to enact it in a social media campaign, as an example from Dell.

A Hero’s Journey… to Satisfied & Happy Customers

What is a hero’s journey about? What does it have to do with adversity and transformation and social media? According to one of my favourite websites, tvtropes, it states:

The Hero’s Journey is an archetypal story pattern, common in ancient myths as well as modern day adventures. The concept of the Hero’s Journey was described by mythologist Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces and refined by Christopher Vogler in his book The Writer’s Journey. It can be boiled down to three stages:

  • Departure: the Hero leaves the familiar world behind.
  • Initiation: the Hero learns to navigate the unfamiliar world of adventure.
  • Return: the Hero returns to the familiar world.

Here’s also a great illustration that was added to tvtropes to explain the concept:

Hero's Journey Illustration  

Simplified Journey Illustration by Reg Harris

Also, this image appears to show a hiker or something as the hero. I’m surprised there’s no guns, or a sword, or a steed, or anything like that. Perhaps that’s a comment on that all you need is you! Be that hero and answer the call!

The Call To Big Damn Heroics!

Just as the illustration shows in the previous section, there is a call. Sometimes it’s literally as someone phoning you… or perhaps a mysterious phone call from a phantom caller! Oh, scary… I don’t want to end up in a summer blockbuster horror movie (what character would I be… wait, don’t comment on that)! Generally, it can be customers contacting you or starting a business. In this case, in social media, it can be that your company’s post somewhere really upset people, or perhaps your products were not being up to snuff and your clients got really upset… and blogged about it and you were not there to do damage control. Whatever the case, you have to acknowledge you have to change as a business. What would your transformation be like? How can you guide it so it is successful?

For me, it was fairly recently, if I like to think about challenges in my life as a Hero’s Journey (hey, let’s be honest, shall we?) Random Girl’s Various Misadventures! In my case, the “mentor” was also the “threshold guardian” – interesting character twist!  Who knew they could be both? Who’s side are they on anyways? Anti-antagonist (what does that even mean)? Well, I was challenged, I was mentally pushed into the corner seriously asking, deep down — which, I would like to remind people it is tough to be there, but it reveals purpose — “is this what I aspired to do?”, to casually quote someone when things get tough… and inevitably tougher (it also comes up later, at the abyss stage). It challenges the fact that people deep down want to change, despite want of security, to fulfill life’s goals. Either way, I passed the test, so to speak.

Dell was in this very trial-by-fire case. Literally, but less the trial, I think (depends on what you mean by trial…). Li and Bernoff (2011) argues that Dell was not watching it’s online presence other than it’s forums in 2005, when blogs were starting to become more popular and from this, became directly impacted from this in a negative way (p. 223). According to Li and Bernoff (2011), Jeff Jarvis, a  journalism professor, had a very popular blog and decided to spout off about Dell’s customer service being beyond appalling to the point to where he eventually contacted Dell’s chief marketing officer through email (p. 223 – p. 224). How is this effective? From the very same entry, Jarvis was calling out for Dell, saying “Is anyone at Dell listening? I know you are. What do you have to say, Dell?” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 224).

They were not listening to their brand in the blogosphere, in fact, they had to be emailed. They were not present online for blogs or other social media at the time enough to listen to customers like Jarvis to respond appropriately to deal with the difficult situation that was brought upon Dell. This was aptly described by Li and Bernoff (2011) via Jarvis as “Dell hell”, due to the process of mailing off the computer that was not working in question according to Jarvis and waiting a number of days, only to find the new computer was also not working (p. 224).

Stated by Li and Bernoff (2011),  Jarvis and his blogging friends were “documenting the actions and inaction of a company that was clueless about the groundswell” (p. 224). How can you deal with something if you don’t even know about it? It’s like they were speaking two different languages and one of them were kind of swimming around in a lake in the valley with their head submerged in the water while the other was shouting from a mountain top. Exactly. How can they listen or communicate?

The question was Dell listening at all? Did they even really care? How did it impact Dell? As claimed by Li and Bernoff (2011), the entries that were blogged by Jarvis was back in June and Dell finally saw concretely the problems occurring from it six months later, in November 2005, stating “quarterly profits dropped by 28 percent” and that Dell “… was very publicly floundering” (p. 224). They had to “listen first, then act” (Li & Bernoff, 2011), so they could respond properly to the issues (p. 224). Li and Bernoff  (2011) explain further that a computer in Osaka, Japan in May of 2006 actually lit on fire at a conference and that there were bigger things to deal with than just the blogs at the time and “the formation of a social strategy was not the company’s top priority” (p. 225). I don’t know, actual things on fire? I have to say that when it comes to that, people’s cameras come out, bigger publications show up at conferences generally… if it’s a tech conference, Dell would have been really screwed. Dell needed to act, and it did… but it also had a strategy to try to implement.

Dell was now at the abyss and had to climb its way out of its own “Dell hell” and the profits pit (soon to be losses if not quickly acted upon). But how? Do they have the gear? I don’t know if knowledge of social media and dealing with others is sufficient of getting out of an abyss… a laptop doesn’t make a very good rope or shovel! Perhaps, though, in a less literal sense, it can be. Better yet would be an actual social strategy.

Transformers: More than Meets the Eye

I think when you have decide to change, you’ve already begun your transformation — Haruhi Fujioka

A show called Ouran High School Host Club, which is on Netflix and on YouTube, is basically a show about relationships, its trials, tribulations, and business politics and insights (yeah, I bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you?). What is a Host Club anyways? …. Anyways, I think the show has some important insights to say, so I decided to borrow it to explain a few things.

The example from Ouran High School Host Club, describes the need and reasoning for transformation. The abyss was found and it was that what he was doing, wasn’t what he wanted for himself, but for someone else (but still selfish all the same, as bluntly and painfully pointed out by Haruhi — with a literal pointing out). But, it was also insightful, determined that if you decide to change, you’ve already started. Why is that? Because of the mindset that is changed. You decide, as a person or as a business, to take subconscious steps towards that purpose. Every day, small decisions are made in that direction — sometimes you don’t even notice if the purpose or vision is ingrained enough into your ethos. For example, the Ouran High School Host Club‘s is: “To make every girl (guest) happy.” It doesn’t matter that it even has anything to do with the club, if they were in their care in any shape, way or form, they try to help to make them happy. What unyielding purpose, presence and loyalty to its clients, just as the above scene from the video illustrates.

What are you really doing? Supplying a service? No, it runs much deeper than that to your customers and clients. You’re allowing them to dream, to discover, to influence, to have a better life through your service or product. Your ethos and purpose should be deeper than your business.

As a business, one should always be willing to change when it is needed, when it is reasonable to do so. When do you know its time to transform and in which way?

It reminds me of being a “mentos”… don’t ask, that’s just what my boyfriend calls it because he find the other term mentoree or protege a little odd. Like mentos isn’t odd? Whatever. Just don’t put me with diet coke in a 2L bottle — I’m enough trouble as it is, don’t make it worse. I suppose, if you think about it, a mentor has to decide when it’s also time to prep for a transformation as well for a protege (I refuse to actually use the “mentos” thing!). That takes strategy, insight and careful deliberation to bend, but not to break that cannot be fixed. I often wonder if there are signs, when a student is ready to learn a lesson that is required… and sometimes if its just too soon and they just can’t swim. Would someone or something be thrown to save them? Or do they have to MacGyver out of something with ductape? I would have no idea how that would work out with swimming, or climbing out of something, but I can be proven wrong.

According to Li and Bernoff (2011), there are a few ways to be ready and prepped for a transformation:

  • First, start small …
  • … Second, educate your executives…
  • …Third, get the right people to run your strategy…
  • …Fourth, get your agency and technology partners in sync…
  • …Fifth, plan for the next step and for the long term… (p. 230)

Dell started small in their plan, and as described by Li and Bernoff (2011), they had to pick their battles strategically, because too much change can alienate customers. Not only that, but as a professional in a larger business, you also only have so much political power and perhaps the level of prowess to exert and influence decision making to only so much of an amount (p. 230). Li and Bernoff (2011) explain that in Dell, Lionel Menchaca, picked up a few skills in regards to listening to its customers, the nuances involved and learning that a blog could facilitate discussion, or just viewership and other insights (p. 226). From Bob Pearson, Li and Bernoff (2011), illustrates that in Pearson’s words, “Dell had over 3 million customer contacts per day. Our customers were already coming to us looking for a solution. But with a blog, we would be talking with people who are not coming to us with a problem but are still interested in hearing from us” (p. 226).

With Menchaca and others, they were ready for their first foray, as told by Li and Bernoff (2011, p. 226). Li and Bernoff (2011) further tell they managed to convince Mike Dell to give it a try and were subsequently told to have it up and running in two weeks (p. 226). They were one week behind on the actual launch, they were tired and their first couple of blog posts were even slammed and lambasted by Jarvis and his friends, but at least they were trying and it was a start, Li and Bernoff explained (2011, p. 226). Later, the flaming notebook event occurred in Japan, but Menchaca and others were ready to go (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 226). People were not happy to see this post go up, because it seemed so cutting, so truthful, admitting its mistake and its commitment to look into the issue directly and unabashedly told them what was going on… gasp! (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 226). Li and Bernoff (2011) continued to explain this oddity that people within the company wondered what was going on, blog commentators were happy and giving their kudos, versus more criticism  – they used this to their advantage to move forward (p. 226).

They were ready to move on to talking to others to move the plan forward and ready to transform, as accounted by Li and Bernoff (2011, p. 227). As per Li and Bernoff (2011), they talked to their executives, to convince them the requirements and needs of the business in terms of the needing to be transparent and available to talk with their customers — the level of transparency at that level of the company was unheard of and wanted to build off its previous successes — this did help convince managers to blog and get involved in responding to customer issues, being part of the groundswell (p. 227 – p. 228).

The long term changes were differences — things like “IdeaStorm”, which included key IT people and other people from support from its managers at Dell to improve and continue in other initiatives, being cross-departmental in its ideas and a key team in its execution and tracking, told by Li and Bernoff (2011, p. 228). Li and Bernoff (2011), also say that Dell’s key people, their teams making good decisions matched with the technology made it successful and appeared to be transformed in its abilities in the groundswell (p. 228).

Would you notice the transformation if it did occur? Well, sometimes the transformation is psychological, obscure, minute but makes a difference, or its truly confounded that the transformation cannot be pin pointed by one significant event — or it could be, depending. They can be long coming and over a bigger span of time and fairly gradual. Sometimes you learn the most by looking at the differences, but sometimes I feel that people should also look at the similarities — there is a solace knowing that transformation was always possible.

Your Experiences Make You… You. For Better Or For Worse

It takes great persistence and courage to realize change and the need for change as a business through adversity. You have to acknowledge that change is required or you will not make it past the challenge and adversity and as a business, the business will be more likely to fail. Yourself as a person will not be your potential. The decisions you make as yourself and as a business impacts your strategy, your vision and its performance will have to be at the potential it can be to survive.

It reminds me of something someone told me: “We’re all basically all falling apart all the time, some people are just better at holding it together than others.”

What does that quote actually mean? In this context it’s holding it together, coping, just simply surviving through life. Often, the brushes against flames allows us to be reborn from the ashes, much like a Phoenix and the resilience, despite the falling apart. Take the adversity as that as a business, as a person, that it will make you better. You have to choose that route proactively and take its advice for next time. The influences and the impacts which this creates will make you who you are, for better or for worse — but you have to decide.

As shown in an example from Ouran High School Host Club, illustrates how a tough upbringing can make you resilient, make you see things in a different way, and make you who you are, and accepting of it.

Haruhi Fujioka: I never knew. He’s always so cheerful, I didn’t know he had such a painful upbringing. If I had been Tamaki-senpai, I wonder if I could keep from resenting my grandmother.

Kyoya Ootori: It’s easy to feel sorry for him, but I’m glad that Tamaki is who he is now. He will be fine. Having accepted everything he’s been through, he is here now, in the Host Club.

A quote that I have always liked (I like to think it’s one of my favourites… because I see it personally and people like to think I’m delicate, that I’ll break (hey, I’m petite!) and they miscalculate my abilities and sometimes you fight anyways. Despite everything.

Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow — Alice Mackenzie Swaim

While I was hiking last year in Jasper, out by Mount Edith Cavell, I went and did the Cavell Meadows hike with my boyfriend, but move past the trail marker to the summit to have better views of the glacier (an extra, but demanding 200m+). From this extra hike, I saw a beautiful flower, growing out of the rock on my sharp elevation up. It was beautiful.

Mt Edith Cavell Alpine Flower

I did summit, of course, and there were some extra views of myself and my boyfriend, with the Angel and Cavell glaciers in view. Sometimes, the view was just a bunch of other peaks, depending on which direction you were looking. I remember it being fairly chilly because of the harsh windy conditions higher up and the rocks being particularly a bit more pointy (remind me to bring gloves next time… I was very careful and managed to not really hurt myself).

See pictures below:

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We were on the Rock (>2,400 meters) up by looking at the summit we were on.

 

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This is the Trail End marker at Mt. Edith Cavell, Cavell Meadows. Note the trail sketching up the scree and rocks upwards — you can’t see the summit from here. This is where my boyfriend and I ventured off to — and the skies looked good! No being hailed on this time like at Mt. Fairview at Lake Louise, previous year.

 

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Some of the scree and rocks that had to be scaled carefully. Note the incline.

 

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Myself with Mt. Edith Cavell in the back with the Angel Glacier in the view.

 

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My boyfriend looking at me from one of the vantage points, with Mt. Edith Cavell  and the Angel Glacier with various other ranges in view.

 

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Myself up at the summit past the Cavell Meadows trail end with other ranges in view.

Through adversity, as a person or as a business, you can get to the top, find your way back up, maintain your balance. You will weather through various transformations, with the appropriate gear, preparation and strategy through your underlying purpose and ethos. Listen to the environment around you, considering it deeply and with readying anticipation.

References

Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press

Listening: Be Like the NSA… Except Not — That’s Creepy and People Won’t Like You Anymore

First an announcement!

The fine folks at Social Media Breakfast Edmonton (or SMBYEG, for short), asked me to blog on their first SMB Camp, for reasons unknown (although I was thrilled! Thanks!). You can read my shortened escapade to keep away my rambling, titled: Why not ‘Social Media Midnight Snack’? A First Timer Experience at SMBYEG. I decided to have a lot of fun and use my general sense of humor, if one can call it that. I talked about social media in terms of what I learned from the camp, bacon (so much bacon!), an 80′s film, Hello Kitty on a nametag and advocating for something strange… because I could. If you’re interested in social media and can actually wake up in the morning, consider going. If you are like me and do not do 8am classes or waking up before something like 2pm, consider going to an event like SMB Camp!

Another reminder!

My blog is often satirical in nature and any comments I do have are not made with malicious intent. I’m more into light hearted satire and I want people to think why I might say something, while having fun. Because having fun is fun.

Mostly, I just have this to say:

This pretty much explains my blog. I am deeply sorry and regretful that I have been forced with grades to write. Don’t blame me, blame society. I do. All the time. They say free will, but to what extent?… I’ll stop now. I actually like writing. :)

Now for our originally planned broadcasting…

Why Are You Listening and How Are You Listening is More important Than Just Listening

One could say that listening doesn’t happen very often in conversation sometimes…. but does that make it a conversation? For myself, in person, I tend to be with introverts (kind of comes with the territory of which I chose, plus I am unsure at times if they like verbal conversing)… and those that choose to allow me to speak, I gauge their reactions through body language, pauses, some responses and sometimes allow them to steer conversation. What happens if I didn’t gauge reactions properly or listen properly to what was truly needed? It’s likely they wouldn’t want me around or to be their friend or my boyfriend (mostly, I think they keep me around to be the butt of jokes — thanks a lot, guys!). Well, sometimes I can be overwhelming when I get excited about something… it really shows. I’m sorry. I won’t run around yelling random awesome things about Bernard Woolley anymore. I Promise! I can be quite emotional and I guess I can be overwhelming… that, or you’re jealous of Bernard Woolley… I don’t know about you, but I would be. He’s pretty awesome.

However, conversations in the groundswell (aka: social media) is both listening and speaking and also relates to your demographic. For me, it’s those introverts (perhaps my demographic) — they won’t say what they feel, but if you look closely, you can see it in mannerisms, tone of voice (in the few words) and the words they do choose (because they’re much less chatty than me and therefore word choice is more significant). They say a lot… it’s just not with voice — sometimes it through action and intention. It’s how you listen and why you listen, most of all, for your demographic.

There’s one person who has listened to me, and it wasn’t the fact that he would just listen. It’s a reason of why he listened (I’m sure it’s a good reason and that’s really sweet). It’s also how… he allowed me to speak more than what he probably wanted — obviously, as you can tell from my blog posts, I simply ramble (or perhaps, not so simple… rambling is quite complex!).  The act of doing that (notice how there wasn’t words, it was an action), communicated to me. I noticed, sometimes the “listener” (in quotes for a reason, because they’re not really listening) doesn’t understand or notice. Show you care to your audience by listening in the way they find appropriate and make an effort to do so — it will help if there are crises and you can shape and respond appropriately.

Communication & Perception of Communication

Communication is understanding the intention and message of said communication. You know the old adage? If a tree in the forest fell, and no one was around to hear it, did it make a sound? No, because how can one be certain if no one was actually there to hear it? That’s assumption and conjecture. (my rationale) From someone else, I heard a more biological rationale of sound waves hitting the ear drum, but I think we’re on the same wavelength (hee hee), so to speak. There are facts and reason in both our explanations… suppose we’re not much for deep philosophicals sometimes. Although, I could totally come up with something really deep.

From that, we have to find that it is what is perceived by the listener and understanding of the message to be considered communication… and in our case, branding. Branding that makes sense to what you are sending across. Your brand is what your customers say it is. In other words, it is how they perceive you and your message. It’s not what you think it is, it’s what your demographic and customers think what it is. (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 78).

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Source: http://i.imgur.com/Ugy44E5.jpg

As an example, Former (as of Sunday, the 23rd) Premier Alison Redford of the Conservative Party of Alberta is having issues regarding listening and public sentiment, or at least her communication offices did. The PCAA and their public branding are not at all the same currently and in the worst way. Because of this, it really snowballed into something that no one would want to hear in politics on the side of the politician: MLA crossing the floor, non confidence, not considering her a leader (placing her on probation — and then some as of last night), serious party splitting and lots of other issues coming to light that may have been in the shadows before. These are serious issues. In politics, perception is quite a bit of it to your voters, especially around election time (ask about our friendly ads that are actually in the public interest!)

Former Premier Redford tried to make things right from the $3,200 flight, but it was a case of too little, too late. What happened? She didn’t listen. She (and her office), felt what she said was in the public interest, when it wasn’t (refusing to pay back $45,000 when questioned is likely not in public interest and using the mommy card). In fact, when she got into office, she really didn’t listen — lots of reasons. Now, because she gauged the public interest and sentiment horribly wrong… she’s currently paid dearly for it. Her positioning was poor and her optics were poor.  Not only in $600 million dollars in LRT funding (at least from the politics we got something good out of it — out of pressure), then Redford got put on a work plan, otherwise known as a “probation”. Then, she coincidentally had her daughter present in the legislature (was it a coincidence… pretty awful if not, IMHO). In politics, if there is blood in the water, party members, other interests (whom can use it as pressure to try to appeal for public interest), will take advantage of the situation in whatever way they see fit (like LRT funding, like position, like… who knows what else).

Now, former Premier Redford resigned and moved on to being just an MLA for her constituency. A lot of signs pointed towards that end over in the media, but more so in the groundswell. People debunked things, found other information, all things that couldn’t be controlled… and it didn’t help her case. It made it worse, more pervasive and persuasive (another two set of words that are really similar in a way!)

This is why it’s so important to listen. Not only in marketing, but in politics… technically politics is definitely marketing and public relations. A lot. It’s how politicians keep their jobs.

Using the Groundswell To You and Your Customers’ Advantages

From a politics perspective above, former Premier Redford tried to play to public interest through the mommy card (moms will understand and fathers might too!) and then admitting she was wrong, but it just wasn’t on the ball enough. It was miscalculated. Often, they keep their eyes on the polls, newspapers, commentary, critiques (no matter how painful, because its important, and they want to know that they still exist). What can we learn from that?

Well, we can learn that there’s a right way to listen and a wrong way to listen. Companies pay quite a lot of money to figure out what part of the market they are serving and what they are saying — except they call it market research (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p.79 ). Proper market research costs a lot of money because of the analysis that is required by it, and the methods in which they are reached (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 80). Also, the answers that the market research provides may not be the insights in which you are looking for. What they do is just look for answers to questions, not insights from them (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 80).

This is where the groundswell gets useful and interesting. With actually listening directly to your customers, clients, your targeted demographic, you can learn quite a bit. It’s like learning things about a person. It’s not the answers that matter, it’s more of the questions and the more in depth or understanding you can get about a person, the easier it will be to do analysis and to gain insight.

It certainly does remind me of getting to know someone. Ever played 20 questions? How did that go? Did you know the person from someone else so there was already established trust? How about just a feeling you had about that person? Were they in a position of authority (power distance makes a difference on responses)? What was their eye contact like? Were they nervous? Was their body language inviting or cold? What was their tone of voice like? If you knew the person already fairly well, the 20 questions game would likely be boring. You might have to up the stakes in some form. Some people prefer to do ice-breakers or to throw random elements into the mix. How will you get to know your clients? There are a couple of methods.

One is using Twitter to listen to hear about how they speak to you in a more candid way. Like my example above about my predictions and from others on those feeds (and sometimes those not using those hashtags), you can get a good idea of what the public sentiment might be off and away from main media. This can be incredibly useful for getting feedback somewhat unfiltered. There have been instances where polls have been horribly wrong (hey, Wildrose Party win prediction, anyone?) and focus groups won’t get you the people you really need or really want because those incentives are either not good enough, they feel it is a waste of their time, or that they are too structured to get the right “answers” (whatever you consider answers, I’m pretty sure my exams run a little short on that) from them, which makes them a bit useless in the way of insight.

Example being my own Twitter feed. I’m not the most influential on #ableg, but I know quite a few people who are. They do have the communications office involved, but sometimes poorly or not up to task. This media helps with brand monitoring for politicians. They always seem to have a propensity to do this through traditional media (the papers and TV, for example), but have been having a hard time with newer media… except President Barack Obama, where he’s practically just perfect at everything — including his own satire (embed was disabled by request, but I highly suggest you watch it).

I had my own predictions a week before the resignation and the LRT situation (along with a few jokes, of course):

What came from that? Well, we see straight commentary and also getting a few laughs (most of my tweets are definitely laughable in quality) while there with some insights that may not have been seen if polled because polls are too structured and wouldn’t have given us the same thing (well, sometimes, especially in my own comments, not the best thing ever — derailed all the time!). Take advantage of the medium offered for more candid remarks. They are how people see and feel at the time given. Li and Bernoff (2011), mention about using private communities as a method as well as using these mediums to listen in more carefully for brand monitoring and for more insights (p. 82). This goes back to knowing these clients and customers — what they think of you. They want to tell you, but in their own way, and to not be dictated of how.

I have been part of focus groups before and they key in a lot of things, probably also your body language, tone of voice. However, they always seem to “keep you on task”, which makes you miss the motivations of reasoning or other things that can prove useful in the end. The groundswell, seems to let conversation flow, more candid and allows for deeper analysis by knowing these people. It’s just not a comment… its values, its behaviours, its decision making and more strategy and insight the better.

 References

Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press

Should I Use Social Media As A Business? (…Or To Choose Clients, Too?)

I have finally started blogging. It feels like years, because it was/it is. Back in the day, and you’re probably wondering, because in my last blog post, I have mentioned that I did indeed blog when I was 13. Ah, memories, always bittersweet. Let’s just say that it was always for myself. Sometimes people would comment, sometimes not. It’s just like my midterms… I haven’t done an essay response in a long time, so that was probably interestingly bad (this is a source of inspiration for my equally likely bad blog posts!). Oops. I did get some response, though. But let’s hope this is different!

Feedback! Ouch, My Ears!

So, I got some feedback on my last blog post! Thanks @9_Likes and @toddtrann! Apparently there are good things and bad things. I’ll keep the meandering in check as much as possible, but don’t ask about my career aspirations! I had great feedback like this:

This is great feedback, and something I can build off of your words! I can learn a lot from both and relate for this sort of topic. Michelle figured it was an insight blog… which was exactly what I was going for. Fantastic! It’s nice to have some validation. As for Todd, I agree, sometimes I should really consider sticking to points more instead of following a fun allusion as far as I do… and I should really consider blog part or series to keep focus, while still being personable — and consider an editor because of verbiage. Thank you both!

There was also another interesting tweet from Michelle, saying this:

Aw, The Business Thinks Its People! Guess What… It Kind Of Is.

The no-holding back feedback from Michelle, especially from a business standpoint can be a sticky issue (may be too informal or polarizing), but people don’t want to relate to businesses, they want to connect to like minded people and your brand or business may represent them in such a way. Being human works well… and its funny, because I’m human. Business should be human in relations, I mean, even in law they are represented as persons somewhat (corporate personhood) Editor’s Note: I’m not a lawyer, okay? Do not actually take anything I say at all about law to as legal advice of any sort (seriously! Even if I were, I would still write that here). They’re also seen as slightly psychotic and too self serving sometimes. Not sure if I would want to drink with some, but there are some that are represented well that I would definitely consider it and hope that they like screwdrivers, too! Call me! Hopefully my boyfriend isn’t too jealous! ;)

Mostly, I just think of Hetalia: Axis Powers in how he tries to be recognized as a nation.

So, we learned that Sealand knows what they want to be as a nation (they’re a principality), but want to be officially recognized as such. With this, in terms of social media, is that can our business be also recognized for what we want to be seen as, on definition? The requirements and risks of becoming a nation is great, and perhaps Sealand doesn’t have enough to put it’s skin in the game, so to speak. As a business, we have to know ourselves, our traits, what we bring to the table and if we have enough skin in the game to determine if its worthwhile to contribute, collaborate and get involved in social media. With that, we have to look at what are demographic is as well, and if they’re using it and if they may accept us as well and in what ways.

But My Mom is on Facebook!

Is she? Well, if I’m a brand that figures certain usage from my key demographic, I might head over to Facebook and see how that works. In this case, mom being on Facebook is a good thing, depending on my product. I may assume certain usage of Facebook from various data and develop a strategy of where to spend my time and how I spend my time as a business creating, collaborating and conversing.

Forrester Research, a firm that conducts information gathering and analysis in consumer behaviour in terms of social technographics usage, based off of a person’s demographic. Please see the slides from slideshare to explain further by Josh Bernoff, a writer of Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies.

Note that in the 2011 edition it had added Conversationalists, which go below Creators and above Critics on the ladder. It can be defined as, by Li and Bernoff (2011):

… participate in the frequent back-and-forth dialogue that’s characteristic of status updates on Facebook and Twitter. Unlike the other groups, people in the Conversationalists group must do these updates at least weekly, not just monthly. We created the Conversationalists group two years ago into our analysis of social applications, in 2009, but by 2010 this new group already grown to include 31 percent of the online population both in the United States and Europe (p. 44).

Now That We Have An Idea… Where Do We Go?

So, we have an idea of what type of engagement is scaled to certain statuses within the technographics. Mostly, in terms of my own teachers, I kind of think of the meme…  What People Think I Do/What I Really Do.

Teacher - What People Think I Do

Source: http://thumbpress.com/the-best-of-what-people-think-i-do-what-i-really-do-meme-25-pics/teacher/

This meme (albeit a little old, but still great) explains different viewpoints or lens of perception from various points of view. Everyone’s is different, but everyone’s, depending on their demographic, is a bit the same. Personally, I think Professor Snape is pretty cool, so its hard for me to say that. He was one of my favourites, actually. He was just a little strict, but whatever. I also see myself having cool hats like that — seriously. Can I also have stickers on my exam… pretty please?! I also suspect a lot of teachers with the last panel constantly… probably because of me. :D I’m sorry. Kind of. Although I kind of really want the second to last panel, too, so I suppose some disillusion is required for the profession (or any – tainted by rose coloured glasses). It’s okay, I have a healthy dose of that as well (I’m an entrepreneur… it’s pretty much what I live on).

So, it’s how we perceive that technographic group to use the technology and do they truly use it in that way — especially tagged with demographic. There are generalities based on the data the Forrester Research have provided in their research about for surveying consumers, just like demographics and psychographics, but focuses on technology behaviours (Bernoff & Li, 2011, p. 41). This is designed to allow to make comparisons for various two groups of consumers, like XBox One owners versus Playstation 4 owners (Bernoff & Li, 2011, p. 41).

There are seven technographic groups that are explained in the above graphic. For a small B2B (likely another small business), I have to be more wide reaching with my net, but I would want to have clients I would want to get along with. In this case, most of my clients have been male, a little bit older than I and usually on Twitter, but sometimes not. Sometimes they’re not even on social media, but they hear of me from somewhere else (I cannot put a value on referral, but its high) . I will have to exclude that group for this assessment.

technographics3

The source for these graphics can be seen and recreated at http://empowered.forrester.com/tool_consumer.html

One of the groups, Conversationalists, are not on these graphs, but this is where I pick up clients quite a bit. Critics are the next closest. A lot of them are Joiners and Spectators. So, they would be engaging in the way of reading what I post, looking at images, etc. They might pop in once in a while. However, the Conversationalists and the Critics tell me they want to have fun or express a need, which suits what I want to offer, not only because of the market and the niche, but because of something I like to converse normally in.

Choosing Clients? You Mean I Can Do That?

Of course! Why not discern which clients that you feel are best for you and your business and what you are offering — making it worthwhile to be choosing the correct message, content and social media platform to converse with them. Again, business relationships are human, not an entity necessarily. From knowing their technographics, you can converse and engage with them and learn about them. I find it most helpful to learn about others to have closer relationships than in likely “normal” B2B transactions. I can determine their personality more and fit solutions, emails, discussions closer to fit in personal dealings, just as I would hope they may consider with myself. Business is much nicer when its tailored appropriately.

For example, I have been fortunate to have clients leave wonderful messages, happily refer me for other work, tell me in public on a public channel that they have appreciated my work and other things of the like. It’s also very likely they will connect again and do work again. It’s also very likely that I will need work from them to help me with in the future, using their services. I have found working with others this way as well, to collaborate or finding services as well, as I already feel I have a connection with them. Having the chance to interact with them appropriately on a personal level has also been very fulfilling. We find we have common interests, sometimes similar politics (even though this is normally a no go as it can be too polarizing, so be careful in how you converse here — extremely sticky) and perhaps a similar view on life, or at least a bridging view on life. Sometimes I have had a client want to know my ideation process, which I happily provided and made me feel all sorts of squishy. Money is only part of the reason you’re working, right?

References

Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press

Because 140 Characters Isn’t Enough…

Since I don’t have an about page right now (I’m really sorry… but not so sorry), I’ll say a few things (in a bullet-point-style-essay (ha, you know who you are! Obscure in-joke! *ahem*)) Let’s get to business:

Hey! I’m @GuitarKat (otherwise known as Kathleen or Kat — depends on how informal you feel). I suppose this is an intro post… and as I don’t have an about page, I thought it would be totally okay to have a friendly greeting and informing you that this is a blog on social media/whatever-I-feel-like-because-I-can and that there is majority of informal, conversational toned and styled blog posts with some perhaps serious/not-so-serious APA styled (almost) like styled opinion in a satirical manner (or “organized rants”)  essays (because I have no life and I grew up a loser. Are you happy now? I had a blog/and written journal since I was 13…). If you’re wondering the tagline/title of this post came from the fact that Twitter only has 140 characters and that I’m naturally really wordy and some subjects demand more characters and word count, but I love bite-sized information that I can apply and combine, too. See my problem?

Okay, now that’s out of the way, let’s get to the first blog post (as required by a class, but let’s pretend you actually want to read my rambling — I don’t know, you likely follow me on Twitter for no reason, so pretend this is about 1000 tweets, okay?)

Social Media & Why Do I Have To Do It?

(Otherwise known as: Why does Kathleen have to write about social media?)

If you’re here and you don’t know how you got here, then you’re probably my ideal audience. Actually, if you are here and you know why you’re here… then you might also be my ideal audience.

This is something to be mindful of right here. Pinpoint your audience. Right now, I feel like I’m mainly writing for myself (which is fine, but perhaps if you’re a business, it may not be ideal). Why are you asking that? Well, because you have a main audience (the ideal customer) that you have in mind that might work best with you and may actually understand you as well because of content, style of content and tone expected with it (win-win!). So, you’ll attract the right type of connection, audience, relationships and content and engagement from them as well. I’m hoping to not be entirely not talking into a void here, but most of my conversations will likely occur on my Twitter. Maybe I’ll get lucky and actually have a thread going here.

I’ve had thoughts of what to write, how to write them, but I have decided on series of blog posts on a topic (with links) as nice, readable bite-sized enough information, or using Storify (which is really neat ,by the way), to use some of my tweets and other media, as I often use it as almost like a think-aloud notebook to gather feedback from friends and influences, have impromptu discussions about various topics, from perceptions of law, perceptions of perception in communications (today’s discussion — which I also likened to a class discussion, because I’m not fun — why should class discussions should be fun, or work? But that’s a different discussion), public policy predictions, apparently the #abbudget on Thursday (live tweeting again! Thank you midterm week because I would have had class otherwise (never thought I would be saying that…)!), and various other things… sometimes actually relating to classes for no reason.

Why yes, this is the pinnacle of blog posts! How dare you! Very important to society!

Maybe something called engagement or unifying as a brand (or polarizing, who really knows which is which these days, right? I’m sure there’s a comment about foreign policy in here somewhere). Sadly, this can qualify as a form of engagement with an audience… I just don’t know who. This is a mistake in media (likely more than playing Tetris in a drunken stupor).

“Red Tape Holds The Nation Together!” — Bernard Woolley

(Otherwise known as:  ”Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media” blog comment)

Because I can place in a random Yes Minister video here, I will:

And now I have. Bernard Woolley is the best, I don’t know why everyone likes Sir Humphrey so much (I admit, I like all three, but Bernard is special). Bernard is always so helpful! Well, I can tell I’ll just get along with him. It would be a train wreck of horrible puns (although, I’m sure he would say that we’re not trains and puns apparently are not carried by trains somehow…).

I’m not entirely sure what that title has to do with this, but I imagine in my mind that social media certainly can hold the nation, or perhaps the world, together (The Hon. John Baird may have his work cut out for him sometimes, especially with hockey games!). Maybe it can have challenges/opportunities much like red tape. Depends whom you do social media for (hahahaha, no, this isn’t a comment on the Government of Canada and it’s Social Media workflow – if you can call it workflow). ;) It’s diplomacy, it’s connecting. It’s managing to still be here next week. Maybe next year. I’m not entirely sure. You should be happy I’m not in charge of something really important. :)

Seriously though, not tweeting with proper channels in mind, or being careful of what you tweet, can get you in a lot of trouble. Seriously. But, there has to be communication, immediacy, connection, engagement, or as a business (government can be like a business), you’ll lose your audience.

At any rate, social media can unify, as well as separate, much like red tape (or red tape involved in the process, but now I really digress).

So, what can polarizing or unifying with your content on social media do? How does a business speak while keeping itself and its message, mindfulness and strategy in mind?

It’s actually having a strategy, but being nimble and knowing how to deal with information (note that I didn’t say control, you never have 100% control here). According to Kaplan and Haenlein (2010), firms are not comfortable where consumers can speak freely about their brand and have less control over what is being written about as information because of it. Historically, what has happened is that there was an official media release, planned out way in advance with professional public relations managers at the helm crafting the message entirely with their teams (Kaplan & Haelein, 2010). Today, they are not  in control of that message, but are placed to the sidelines as observers. This is something that has to be considered.

Shape the Force, Luke…

How do you shape the message from the sidelines? Listen, do not force the message. Otherwise you will get burned (flame wars and a wildfire… both very bad, in real life and digitally in PR). You shape the message, how its received and respond appropriately as according to your company’s guidelines, strategy and message.

… the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. – Walt Whitman, O Me! O Life!, 1900

Listen to Walt. Yes, he happens to be very, very dead (it was written in 1900, so one can assume), but he has a point. As a company, you now just contribute verses to the play. The current trend (well, current in 2010, at any rate), dictates its evolution from the Internet and its past. What it was initially created to do was to facilitate information exchange between users . Starting from BBS (from the late 70′s, otherwise known in layman’s terms “Pre-Internet” (coined by yours truly)), the Internet has evolved to being able to contribute and exchange information in many different ways (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Sorry, you’re going to have to play nice, not just one way communication here, it won’t work very well.

How Do I Craft A Message If I Don’t Even Know Who I Really Am?

This can be a problem. Especially if you are to have a unified and clear message. It’s kind of like dating. They always say, “Oh, just be who you are!”, but we all know how that works…. apparently I’m just naturally strange. I don’ t know, it kind of got me the type of guys I wanted, so it worked out well for me. The problem is when you need to appeal to a certain audience… no, Kathleen, not everyone wants the cute-bookish-introverted-intellectual-types-that-likes-puns (too bad!). In this case, if I were running a web site design and development firm for a business to business transaction, I have narrowed down to my ideal client (my bookish-introverted-types-that-likes-puns), *ahem* I mean my small businesses that are growing themselves and have a need for a website or perhaps a custom web application created and like fun and interaction and a personal feeling.

Well, I narrowed down to what works for me. What my market niche (and what I’m able to obtain in the market) is to where I can work to and perhaps persuade (or pursue… those two words are so close with one another) with the bookish-introverted-types-that-likes-puns generally its appealing to horrible puns and see their tolerance level for an extroverted-tangential-type-that-understands-some-logic-of-some-sort-and-random-rambling…)),  and know how to pursue/persuade the market with my image. I now have to get dressed up, figure out what I should say to not sound like a total idiot (okay, how about partial idiot?) and figure out what my lines are. So, figuring out my brand, what makes sense to say as my brand and to know my talking points.

Since I’ll know that, I can move to knowing that the “social presence is influenced by the intimacy (interpersonal vs. mediated) and immediacy (asynchronous vs. synchronous)” (p. 61, Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).  What are these things? According to Kaplan and Haenlein (2010), it is in terms of the medium of the message (phone verses face-to-face and if its in real time or not). It can impact if you are being heard as a brand accurately (or your clients) or not. In my case is if my words, my body language, the colour of my dress is appealing and if they can hear me (I blame the noisy pub for making me sound less clever with its loudness!)  This indicates that to have social presence with “my type”, and that I have an idea of how to converse and interact (in whatever form that may be (or maybe)) perhaps I can figure out how to portray myself more accurately and what they would like to see to my intended audience.

Now That I Know My Type And How To Present Myself Somehow… What Do I Do In Social Media?

There are a few things here that have to be kept in mind. When you know how to present yourself, what you want and how to position yourself… which social media channels should I consider?  What challenges are present in them? Well, what makes sense to your audience or to yourself? Social media is totally all about collaboration… which means, no, you cannot control the message (see the quote above from Walt, he knew the score). How as a business on social media deal with rumors? Advice from Kaplan and Haenlein (2010), believe that being a business with a plan with these crises is key. Tell them straight and talk with the issues with your audience, but do not change that Wikipedia entry that you shouldn’t be.

How about blogs? Well, they’re kind of like this. Kind of one way, a lot, not much for back and forth conversation except for the comments. I feel almost like a soliloquy, except with nothing really insightful or Shakespeare writing it for me and everyone hearing the soliloquy (well for those that actually read this blog post entirely. Kudos!). But, it does provide the business and company with a voice with what they feel to be important, but there are risks. They can link to you and criticize you heavily. There are also employees whom may speak with criticism for your own firm. To be honest, I consider that to be transparent. There can be good strategy here.

Social networking sites… which ones? What issues are there? Well, things spread quickly, but that can also be a good thing as well as integration of a distribution channel for your wares or services. Consider your voice, be adaptable. It’s not easy to get things back out from a social media channel whatsoever. There are various, specific issues for each site, but there are generalities.

Choose the best social medium for you… which reach do you like, where are your ideal type? Don’t waste your time and resources on social media sites that make no sense for your business and its intended audience. Remember to integrate and unify your brand and message. What are you trying to say? How are you saying it? Which customers/clients do you want to attract (remember the cute-bookish-introverted-types-that-likes-puns?… oh, wait, that’s just me). Make sure the alignment is there with all the mediums to reduce ambiguity… no conflicting or contradiction. Consider your security and guidelines of your employ in regards to social media and your brand. You can be damaged in seconds and spread quickly and once its out there, it will never leave.

What Tips Do You Have?

According to Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) there is a few:

  1. Be Active
  2. Be Interesting
  3. Be Humble
  4. Be Unprofessional
  5. Be Honest (p. 66)
What does being active mean?

Being active means just that. Be active, reply to your user base, always have new content and engage with them in open conversation. Remember Walt? He said you can contribute a verse, not dictate the entire play!

What does being interesting mean?

Building off of being active, is that you must listen to your customers, find out what they want to hear and find stuff they might find enjoyable and post content that make sense to them.

What does being humble mean?

There is stuff to learn in the social media landscape. It’s okay, your userbase will likely want to help you. Don’t repost TV spots on YouTube or refabricated press junket material…

What does being unprofessional mean?

Well, it doesn’t mean being unprofessional in the meaning of the word, but not overly professional. This is a conversation, not a press release. Blend in with your crowd, with your type and enjoy it!

What does being honest mean?

Play to rules of the game in the sphere which you are function. So, in this case, the laws of the land. Do not be editing things you may not be allowed to, like companies on Wikipedia for example. “rectify[ing]” information as a hired PR person for a company on Wikipedia is not the best thing and users will revise back the edit. People will find out who is also underneath an anonymous account.

Go Out There!

If you don’t know what to do, just try! Enjoy your time! Good luck!

References

Kaplan, A. M., Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media.

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