Feb 25, 2009

Groundswell Blook Report:Chapter Seven-Energizing the groundswell

Groundswell is broken down into three parts. Part two (chapters 4-9) focus on tapping the groundswell. The authors provide advice and a strategic framework on how to do this.

Chapter 7: Energizing the groundswell

FriendFeed Room: Chapter Seven reference links and case studies from the book. Join the room and start a conversation.

Feature Video: Constant Contact: Creating B2B Communities, Josh Bernoff

Feature Presentation: Online Community Best Practices, Jeremiah K. Owyang

Slides 5-11: Start with an objective
Slides 12-20: Developing a plan
Slides 21-25: Getting your company ready
Slides 26-28: Staff you will need
Slides 29-31: How to pick a vendor
Slides 32-34: Kick-starting
Slides 35-41: Growing and maintaining
Slides 42-47: Widgets and Open Social
Slide 48: Recommendations

What I learned:
1) Word of mouth/mouse is critical when it comes to energizing your groundswell. If your customer base’s Social Technographics Profile over-indexes in the critics segment then you have a base of people who are high potential energizers. Remember, if you want to an energized base you’re going to have to let the chips fall where they may. So, if someone says your product sucks then swallow your pride and find out why IN THE community. Others may come to your rescue with other points of view. Reach out to people, especially the Jim Noble’s of the world who will provide you with authentic feedback and ideas. Hey, and they love to help and be heard.

2) Use energizing to help buyers reduce purchase risk and cognitive dissonance. eBags uses reviews as a way to get around a consumer not being able to touch and feel the bag in a retail store. This is essentially how eBay works in some respects.

3) B2B markets are fertile ground to establish a community and then as Captain Kirk would say “Energize” it. Why is that?

First, b2b buyers (especially those who evaluate and buy technology) have taken social media like a duck to water. They are using social media in their professional and personal lives.

Second, b2b buyers have a lot in common and they look for people who are in the same boat as they are. They need a place to bump into people who are and who have experienced the problems they are experiencing in their business. Online communities are a great place to bring these people with common interests together. If you’re a vendor selling stuff to these folks get involved but don’t be fake, don’t spam and don’t sell. Engage, encourage, listen, learn and figure out where and how to belong.

Third, if your a technology manufacturer or systems integrator, your buyers are looking for relevant content. The problem is that 58% of the time they can’t find it. Social media can help fill those gaps.

4) Whatever stage you are at in building your groundswell you must have commitment from the senior leaders in your company. They should take a long term view and realize that as you progress through the groundswell objectives (listening, talking, energizing, supporting and embracing) your potential risk increases as does the level of commitment. But, the potential reward does too!

Feb 15, 2009

A simple but useful improvement for friendfeed

I use friendfeed more then any other social media service and I give it an 8 out of 10 so far. This service has great potential. However, I have a pet peeve and a simple solution to it...I think.

Background: Friendfeed allows people to be grouped in two primary ways. You can create Lists or Rooms.

Situation: My Blook Report on Groundswell features a friendfeed room with over 80 members. A few people join each week, and I in turn subscribe to their feeds. I then add them to a Groundswell inbox list so I have one place to aggregate their feeds. This list serves as a listening post and I read it daily.

Up to five new members join the Groundswell room each week. But, there is no easy way for me to know who they are and whether I've subscribed to their feed or not. To your left is a partial list of the room members. See what I mean? The simple solution would be to have a small "+" or "-" under each persons name, or when I mouse over their picture. Alas, this isn't the case. So what do I have to do instead?

I'm glad you asked! To your left is how it works today. I have to mouse over each member of the room and wait for their profile to display. You can see that I've subscribed to Josh's feed and added him to my Friend list called Groundswell InBox. This is the only way I can check to see if I have or haven't subscribed to his feed and added him to the list.

While this takes a few seconds per member, imagine if you have 200 people in your room and 40 people join it in one day. Imagine this happening every day, every month, every year. This cannot scale. If you're thinking about using friendfeed for community building and research this would become problematic especially as your community grows.

So here is why I think it is simple for friendfeed to fix this issue. On your left is Josh Bernoff's profile picture and you'll notice a "-" sign on the top right hand corner. Because Josh is on my Groundswell Inbox list, I can mouse over his picture and unsubscribe by pressing the "-" sign. But, I can't do this when I mouse over his profile picture while in the friendfeed room. This is odd. Imagine that you are using Microsoft Excel and the drop down menu is different from Microsoft Word. Hey where did the file > save as go?

Solution: Does it not seem simple to offer the same feature for rooms? I would mouse over the persons picture and there would be "+" or "-" sign on the top right hand corner. Man that would be cool. Simple things can produce amazing results.

Feb 13, 2009

How To Screencast: Using a blog and friendfeed for my Blook Report

I've produced this screencast to show you how I'm using this blog and friendfeed for my Blook Report on Groundswell. This is my first screencast so it isn't the quality I would like. I hope it is useful for you. Suggestions on improvement? Feel free to provide your feedback.

Feb 11, 2009

Groundswell Blook Report:Chapter Six-Talking with the groundswell

Groundswell is broken down into three parts. Part two (chapters 4-9) focus on tapping the groundswell. The authors provide advice and a strategic framework on how to do this.

Chapter 6: Talking with the groundswell
FriendFeed Room: Chapter Six reference links and case studies from the book. Join the room and start a conversation.

Feature Video: How to have profitable conversations - blogging for business, yourBusinessChannel

0:20 Blogging creates conversations, creates credibility, content varies. Don't shout, don't tow the company line.
1:17 New to blogging? Learn from these "gurus". Lot's of good tips here. Don't shout. Tell a story and create conversations. Create content that is meaningful.
3:44 Importance engagement, being authentic and responsive.

What I learned:
1) The power of YouTube!
No experience in consumer marketing? No experience in producing television commercials? Neither did George Wright from Blendtec. When he saw how they tested their product by blending pieces of wood he knew that people had to see this! He thought, let's put the owner of the company in a lab coat and show him blending wood, dictionaries, iPhones, GPS devices etc. Let's make it a bit "campy" and throw it up on YouTube! Tom, the owner, embraced this idea! He didn't run from it. That's probably the most amazing part of this story. The leader got involved and embraced the idea.

2) Shouting vs. Talking
Broadcasting your message as loud as you can and to as many people as possible is shouting. Talking creates conversation. Conversations, at the least the good ones, are meaningful exchanges of information. You're not on a stage blurting out rhetoric. You're amongst a group of people engaging in dialogue. The key, is to create and share content through social media and participate in open and honest conversations.

3) Committment
If you want to engage in conversation through social media you must be committed for the long term. Your company must be committed to it. What does this mean? It means committing resources (people, money and time) permanently. It means culturally and strategically embracing social media as a channel to communicate, share and converse. And be open.

4) You may be surprised!

Be prepared to experiment and accept that as you begin talking and the groundswell begins to grow it will likely evolve into something you never expected. This is a good thing! Let it happen. Remain open, honest AND committed to making your social media experience rewarding for you and your customers.

Feb 8, 2009

Humour and Hope

We all remember the "Whats Upppp" advertisements awhile back. This is the updated version. Makes you laugh, hope and believe that things can change. Great combination.