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enterprise

A survey of Inc. 500 companies shows the first decline in corporate blogging since 2007. Many are switching their content efforts to Facebook. Big mistake, as Janet Meiners Thaeler
points out in the post linked above. I agree with everything she says.

And here’s another way to think about it; Facebook is a valuable channel, but it’s not the Internet. It’s a walled garden, as we’ve come to call it. If you put your content solely on Facebook, you’re saying, “I don’t want my content on the Web, just this one place that can only be found one way by one group of people.” (Even if there are 800 million of them.)

As Janet suggests (and many of us have been advising companies for years), publish to your blog, then share the link in all your other networks.

As long as people still search the Web, a company blog should be at the core of your content strategy.

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pushing a boulderI spent the last two days at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston. As always, it was an excellent event filled with great information and smart people willing to share their experience and expertise. In addition to leading a workshop and participating in the final wrap-up panel, I volunteered to do some “one-on-one therapy” sessions with conference attendees on the topic of enterprise social media structure, policies and integration (you know, the stuff we write about in The Executive’s Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy).

I spoke with half a dozen folks and was happily surprised at how far along they were. A year ago, many of the conversations around enterprise social media were pretty basic: Who should “own” it? Do we need to be on Facebook? But these folks came to me with very specific questions about staffing, generating and sharing content, tracking results and other nuts-and-bolts stuff. It was great fun.

I also spoke with several very smart folks who I really couldn’t help very much. Everything I suggested, they’d tried. They were intelligent and adventurous and read the right blogs and the right books and went to the right conferences. We struggled to come up with ideas to address their particular problems. In the end it came down, essentially, to “I work for a company (or a boss) that just doesn’t care or get it no matter how much I show them what our competitors are doing, or what the industry best practices are, or the conversations about our brand we’re ignoring.”

What do you do with that?

I know a lot of people in the enterprise social media world who have pushed similar boulders up similar hills and had great successes. They are people whose names you may know, and a lot are mentioned in our book, like Zena Weist and Bert DuMars and Nichole Kelly and Chris Moody and Lee Aase. (And some of them have changed jobs since the book was published.)

If you’re the person inside your company who has been pushing the social media boulder up the hill, I want you to know three things:

1. There aren’t many people like you.
2. Eventually the people standing in your way will know you’re right.
3. You are more valuable now than you’ve ever been.

It’s up to you, obviously, to decide how much boulder-pushing you want to do. Maybe you like your boulder. Maybe you like your hill. Maybe I’ve taken this analogy too far.

But if you’re beating your head against a wall and feeling like you’re failing, I’ll bet you’re not. You may think you’re doing it wrong, and I promise you, you’re not. If you’re thinking you could finally break through if you just worked harder or smarter or longer, that’s probably not it, either.

Maybe it’s just time to look for a new job.

image by Krikit

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There’s a pizza place in my town that does a TGIM pizza special on Mondays. Great idea. I’ve always wondered why we celebrate Fridays when they don’t need anything more to make them special. Of all the pizza specials that are offered every week, this one stands out, because it’s different.

What can you do that’s unexpected, meets a need and delights people? Sure, that’s a broad and by no means original question. But narrow it down to social media. What are you doing now? Is it a surprise and a delight, or are you doing the same thing all your competitors are doing?

Take off your sales and marketing hat and put on your normal person hat. What do you want from a company with whom you have a relationship? What’s the one blog, Facebook page or Twitter feed you would miss the most? What real value are they giving you? What do you have that would be equally valuable to your customers?

Image by Matt Watts

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I got a lot of positive comments on my Four Step Plan for Getting Started in Social Media. It reminded me that people are at all different levels of knowledge and interest in social media. When you spend all day thinking about it and using it, it’s easy to forget that lots of people still want the basics.

So, here are some basic steps for getting started on Twitter:

What Twitter is good for

• Many of the advantages of blogging in a short, quick format.
• You can support your other communications channels and activities by promoting them on Twitter.
Hashtags allow you to gain a presence in and around events, conferences and issues.
Twitter search can show you who’s talking about what.
• It’s still a relatively small community in many professions, allowing you to make connections.

What Twitter is not good for

• Twitter is a tool, not a strategy.
• You have to be interesting to get followers; it’s not the place for heavy-handed sales pitches.
• It’s a firehose, and it’s getting worse. You need filtering tools to find the value (TweetDeck, Seesmic Desktop, Hootsuite).

Getting started on Twitter

Create an account, using your real name, and set up your profile.
• Use the search function to find people to follow in your industry, and follow who they’re following.
• Get to know the standards of the community and the way people use it.
• Think about all the useful and interesting information you encounter every day.
• Start contributing.

Originally published on Conversations & Connections, my SAS social media blog

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The Boy and the BlackBerryRecently I speculated about the future audience I’ll be talking with in 20 years. Despite being someone who thinks on a daily basis about communicating as a brand, I think that mindset is on the way out. I don’t mean we shouldn’t have brand standards and think about how our communications reflect on our company, or try to have consistent messages and useful content. I mean that in 20 years, the idea of a company will be completely different.

My father’s generation responded well to the idea of a corporate entity. And no wonder; the military/industrial complex had just defeated the Nazis. What was good for General Motors really was good for America. They still firmly believed you could work for a corporation your entire life and the corporation would take care of you. My generation knows that ideal is nearly gone. My son’s generation will probably see it as quaint as dial phones.

Each succeeding generation has responded differently to the idea of corporate perfection. Will future generations respond better to brands, or to people? At the Society for New Communications Research’s NewComm Forum, Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu from Clemson gave us the results of her survey of college students and how they relate with brands on Facebook. The gist: “Being friended by a corporation is creepy.”

People these days react poorly to “Mistakes were made” and positively to “We screwed up.” Why? Because we can relate to other people screwing up, because we’ve all screwed up. And we can forgive that. Maybe we expect companies to be perfect, but we expect people to be human.

Todays kids won’t expect everything to be buttoned down and perfect. The cracks and fissures won’t put them off. It’s the cracks and fissures that will convince them we are real people they can trust.

Originally published on Conversations & Connections, my SAS social media blog

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  • People are talking about SAS online whether we are there or not. It’s good for SAS employees to participate in those conversations provided we do it in a way that is respectful of the standards of the online community, follows the Social Media Guidelines & Recommendations, the Online Conduct Guidelines, and behavior and computer use policies.
  • We trust SAS employees to represent SAS online in a professional manner, the same way we trust them to do it in the real world.
  • Don’t talk about customers, partners or vendors, reveal private or proprietary information, intellectual property, pricing, details of customer installations or anything else that could harm our business or business relationships. The exception: You can link to content on sas.com that references customers, like success stories, press releases and videos.
  • When you participate in social media, you are speaking for yourself, not on behalf of the company. Be sure to make that clear. And know that you are responsible for your actions.
  • Talk to your manager about your social media activities, what you’re doing, how it relates to your job and how much time you spend doing it.
  • Open communication among employees, customers and the community at large will inevitably lead to some uncomfortable moments, but we can deal with those, and the benefits far outweigh the risk.

Originally published on Conversations & Connections, my SAS social media blog

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Originally published on Conversations & Connections, my SAS social media blog

My stated intention for this blog was to talk about the things we’re doing at SAS to integrate social media into our communications, and share information about what’s working and what isn’t. It’s unforgiveable that I’ve waited this long to talk about the Marketing 2.0 Council, because it’s been our biggest success story to date. I’ve recommended this as a tactic to several folks working on social media in a company setting.

The Marketing 2.0 Council began in late 2007 with a mandate to look at marketing 2.0/Web 2.0/social media as a whole, decide what was important to SAS and how we should go forward. The list of attendees at the first meeting included representatives from all corners of SAS: marketing, public relations, marketing editorial, online strategy and services, education, publications, advertising, email marketing and too many more to name. That first meeting was standing room only in a conference room designed to hold 30 people. I was lucky enough to be invited to join, having been a vocal advocate of incorporating social media into our public relations efforts. The assembled group had a wide range of awareness and understanding of social media but we were all agreed that we needed to figure out a strategy.

Our first major activity was a brainstorming session designed to put all the Web 2.0 outlets we could think of on a white board and narrow them down to the list we wanted to consider first. Somewhat surprisingly, that activity generated a manageable list without any bloodshed. We agreed to focus our attention on blogs, social networks, content syndication, podcasts, online video and Wikipedia. We soon realized that none of those channels would be worth much if we didn’t have something useful to feed them, so we added content as a category of its own.

From that starting point, we put together a task force for each area, led by a member of the Marketing 2.0 Council and made up of people who were either vocationally or avocationally interested in the field. The task forces met over the course of several weeks. They looked at the prevailing wisdom about their area, found examples of companies approaching them well, looked at what SAS was doing and put together recommendations for what we should be doing. That may sound like a simplistic explanation, but there wasn’t much more to it than that – the advantage of clearly-defined objectives.

Once we had all the task force recommedations compiled in a standard format, a working group of council members put them together and drafted a set of overarching recommendations and priorities and a proposed timetable. Even with a comprehensive outline, we felt the need to suggest only two new positions: social media manager (the one that I got) and an integrated content manager, to make sure we had valuable information delivered in a consistent manner to all the 2.0 channels.

With that work behind us, our executive sponsors were confident we had examined all the angles and gave us the green light to fill the new positions and get started on the recommendations. As the person selected to fill the role of social media manager, it’s been extremely helpful for me to know what a broad base my position was built on.

So, if you’re finding yourself trying to get your arms around social media at your company, creating your own council could be a big help. My suggestions:

1. Figure out all the people in your organization who have a stake in communicating your message and get them in the same room.

2. Resist the urge to invite only the people who you think will agree with you. Better to smoke out any objections now and deal with them.

3. Get the lawyers and the HR folks involved from the start, because they will have concerns you will probably never think of yourself.

4. Make sure you have a good cross section of decision makers and doers. In other words, if it’s all practitioners you’ll always be running upstairs to get approval, but if it’s all executives you won’t have anyone to do the grunt work like research and writing the recommendations and making pretty PowerPoint slides.

5. Make sure to create a mechanism for communicating your activities internally. We have an internal Marketing 2.0 Council blog and a SharePoint site where we house all the documents, including the task force reports and the draft social media guidelines and recommendations.

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Originally published on Conversations & Connections, my SAS social media blog

For a while we were thinking of this job as Digital Media Manager, but a Google search for that phrase gets a lot more hits for software packages that help manage your digital media than it does for people who manage Web 2.0 activities. I suggested changing the title to Social Media Manager, fully aware that a) the term may become hopelessly hackneyed and/or quaint in six to 18 months and 2) that there are many people who believe you can’t manage social media. "Social media strategist" would have also been a perfectly good title, although with the trails I need to blaze, I didn’t feel like creating a whole new taxonomy for our HR department as well.

So in this blog’s spirit of looking behind the curtain, I present my job description.

Social Media Manager

Job Description

The SAS Social Media Manager is both internally- and externally-focused on developing & executing SAS’ social media strategy and advocating for the external community. Externally, he or she identifies influential opportunities, engages regularly with SAS’ audiences online and may be called upon to speak publicly as a thought-leader on SAS’ social media strategy. This person anticipates the evolution of social media. Internally the Social Media Manager sets the tone, philosophy and strategy (including budget) for Web 2.0, gains appropriate buy-in, then communicates relentlessly. He or she monitors Web 2.0 activities across departments and geographies, guiding participants on integration and best practices while encouraging successful participation. The Social Media Manager is obsessively focused on how results connect to corporate objectives, and is given the tools to measure those results.

Scope Geographic: Global

Internal/external: 50% internally focused/ 50% externally focused
Breadth of channels: Actively advises on, monitors and coordinates SAS’ activities on prioritized Web 2.0 channels, with responsibility for exploring & researching relevance of new channels.

Authority

Given ultimate authority to define SAS’ strategy & approach, including spend, for digital media channels that fall within the scope. Decisions that require budget will be appropriately coordinated with field marketing efforts.

Skills

Demonstrated experience with Web 2.0 channels & great affinity for learning new technologies.

Strong relationship building skills, including negotiation & executive interaction, ability to coach others

Project management

Ability to develop a business vision for social media, including goals & results

Leadership/decision-making: is skilled at articulating to executives and internal teams the importance of social applications and is able to make calm recommendations during crises. Is able to exercise good judgment with quick response time.

Flexible communication skills: Strong editorial writer. Is able to present needs and plans and communicate internally, has a distinct, personable voice for external engagement. Can manage negative situations toward positive outcomes.

Public speaking skills: This person will be the face of SAS Social Media Strategy, and will be called upon to speak to professional groups

Experienced manager: is able to manage budget and a team, if this function grows

Has foresight and vision: identifies Social Computing trends and is able to separate tools from fads

Tools required for success

Social networking analysis tools: To monitor/track results of digital media engagement.

Current mobile device(s): To test mobile Web 2.0 applications, monitor flow & delivery of mobile traffic

Responsibilities

· Coordinate online media outreach and viral campaigns to promote SAS messages that increase awareness and/or drive traffic to the SAS site.

· Identify key/targeted bloggers by industry and solution area.

· Establish and cultivate positive relationships with key/targeted bloggers, and/or identify SAS marketers and PR managers who should be monitoring and influencing these relationships.

· Develop and manage pages on popular consumer social networking websites such as Linkedin, Facebook, YouTube, Second Life, MySpace, etc. as well as popular technology sites intended to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to the site.

· Develop and publish internal strategies for social media projects and technologies.

· Coordinate social media activities by actively engaging in consumer and industry conferences, blogs, video sharing, online chats, wikis, etc., to promote SAS messaging and increase brand awareness resulting in driving brand traffic to the site.

· Engage in regular participation within the customer community, including the review of user blogs, wikis and communities such as sascommunity.org.

· Recruit, develop and coach new bloggers and blog editors.

· Manage the day-to-day blogger activities; proactively identifying and developing blog posts, recruiting bloggers and assigning blog ideas to others.

· Track and monitor the success of online initiatives (i.e. impressions, reach and influence), and provide reports for directors and execs.

· Identify and report on digital/social media trends to PR and marketing leaders.

· Educate staff on the implementation and use of new technologies.

· Promote and evangelize social media activities internally.

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