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Social Business Evolution Starts Now!

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Via Convince&Convert

Is today the day we start thinking about social media as part of an integrated program?

My friends at ExactTarget announced a moment ago that they have acquired CoTweet, the leader in enterprise Twitter management, and will be building a social products lab to add tie-ins for Facebook, YouTube, and other elements of the social communication ecosystem. All members of the CoTweet team, including uber-sharp CEO Jesse Engle will stay on board, and the CoTweet name will continue. This is the first salvo in what I anticipate will be a flurry of moves to bring together email and social media into a coherent whole. As I wrote just a couple weeks ago, email and social media are more alike than different, and the major corporations that comprise much of the customer bases of ExactTarget and CoTweet are embracing that concept. Really, what is social media from the brand perspective but email 2.0? A way to remain top-of-mind with your customers, in a way that’s (hopefully) relevant and engaging. Not the ready, fire, aim email that’s the bane of your inbox, but smart, contextual email that sends the right message to the right person at the right time.

That’s been ExactTarget’s territory for a long time, and extending that concept of message-centric, platform-agnostic to social media is a natural fit. And the fact that Forrester Research projects social media spend in the U.S. to be larger than email by 2012 doesn’t hurt, either.

4 Milestones to Social Business

There are numerous granular issues to consider, and it will be fascinating to watch ExactTarget and CoTweet work out the operational details (I might even get to help a little, as ExactTarget is a client), but I see 4 primary hurdles that have prevented the full synergy of social and email to-date. This move will start to eliminate all of these obstacles:

1. Personnel Integration

2. Database Integration

3. Messaging Integration

4. Metrics Integration

Written by Daniel Casarin

marzo 6, 2010 at 10:33 am

Pubblicato su Strategie

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Small Business Trends for 2010

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via Jeff Korhan

The Trends in a Nutshell

  1. Human-Centric Businesses – Business used to be about companies.  Now its about people.
  2. Collaborative Markets – Markets are no longer about selling to buyers, but collaborating with them to develop better and more sustainable solutions.
  3. Sustainable Communities – Organizations of people are evolving from exclusivity to inclusiveness.  This creates more sustainable communities where members place their trust in each other.

The Evolution of this Perfect Storm

All of these trends are simultaneously converging to create a perfect storm of opportunity for businesses, especially small or entrepreneurial business that are characterized as having personal relationships with customers.

If you go back to the late ’50’s and early ’60’s, there was an emerging technology that changed the world of marketing.  That technology was television.  In the midst of an expanding post-World War II economy, middle class consumers embraced television.  Television had reach.  People had discretionary income.  And all of this created a new era of consumerism that helped make many brands household names.

Television was a marketing technology that made everything more expansive by bringing it to a larger stage, and that fit perfectly with the growing economy.  What followed was a love affair with the automobile, highly stylized fashions, and countless consumer products guaranteed to make your life a dream!  Those companies were at the right place at the right time to capitalize on the converging trends of the day. Needless to say, some of those industries and companies are faltering today.

Human-Centric Business is Local

If you are an entrepreneur, YOU are now at the right place at the right time.

The technology that is transforming the business environment in your favor is social media marketing. It is giving everyone a voice at a period when people have gone through some tough experiences.  They want to move forward, but it is still uncertain where this economy is going.  Until that happens, they are looking for people to trust.  This means they are going to be doing business in their local communities.

This is why every Fortune 500 corporation has a presence on social media. They know that business is going local.  They are seeing how social media is leveling the playing field to create equal opportunities for every company. In a nutshell, they want to be more like you.

Your challenge is to be who you are, a human-centric business that is willing to reach out even further than you already have.  Social media is a tool that is ideally suited for that, and most significantly, it’s influence is sustainable.

Written by Daniel Casarin

gennaio 3, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Pubblicato su Strategie, Trend

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Enterprise 2.0: How a Connected Workforce Innovates

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via Harvard Business Review

Enterprise 2.0 tools—wikis, tags, Twitter and other microblogs, Google-style searches, and the like—are transforming companies’ innovation processes, according to Andrew P. McAfee, a principal research scientist at the MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the author of the forthcoming book Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges (Harvard Business Press, 2009). McAfee explains why in a recent conversation with HBR senior editor Anand P. Raman.

How do the new social technologies transform innovation efforts?

Companies have traditionally been very specific about who’s going to do the innovating: their designers, engineers, scientists…Those people have the credentials—the right combination of education, experience, success, failure, and so on. More recently, companies have allowed major users of their products to participate in the product-development process.

Some companies now say: Why stop at lead users? Why not let everyone take a crack at helping us develop a new product, improve an existing one, or solve a vexing problem? They no longer specify who can participate in the innovation process; they welcome all comers. Enterprise 2.0 tools are designed to help with these more open innovation processes. In fact, most new types of innovation, such as open innovation and crowdsourcing, are based on these technologies.

Procter & Gamble, which has embraced the open-innovation philosophy, does some smart things on its Connect + Develop website. P&G doesn’t only publicize what it knows and what it can do; it also highlights what it needs. That’s radical; big companies don’t usually display their ignorance. In addition, the company doesn’t restrict itself to product development; it’s looking for new ideas in everything from trademarks, packaging, and marketing models to engineering, business services, and design. Finally, P&G invites everybody to submit ideas—not just prequalified partners. It recently bought the technology for an antimicrobial product from an unknown company that submitted a proposal through the website.

Does the use of Enterprise 2.0 technologies yield better ideas? Won’t a company simply drown in bad ideas?

Keep two things in mind. One, there’s no guarantee that your next innovation challenge is going to look anything like your last one. It might require a fresh perspective or skills that your existing innovators don’t possess. A company that uses Enterprise 2.0 technologies can publicize the challenge widely and collect responses from many people. Two, the community that forms around the challenge can help sift the ideas. People suggest improvements and vote on one another’s ideas, so the best ones eventually rise to the top.

Because of Enterprise 2.0 technologies, good content becomes apparent over time. A good idea isn’t always obvious. For example, Gwabs is a game that lets characters fight one another using the elements on a computer desktop, such as toolbars and icons. It came out of a crowdsourcing start-up, Cambrian House, which solicited ideas from a large community and let them vote. It then had the top vote getters face off in a tournament. The company’s executives thought Gwabs was a pretty dumb idea, but it won the tournament. In fact, investors are now funding the game’s development.

Written by Daniel Casarin

dicembre 21, 2009 at 9:49 am

Pubblicato su Strategie

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Il Nuovo Potere dei Consumatori

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Anche quest’anno si è svolto a Roma l’evento organizzato da me e dai miei colleghi di Digital PR dal titolo “Il nuovo potere dei consumatori sul web 2009“. Un momento di riflessione sul rapporto tra aziende e social media, che pare sia stato apprezzato dai partecipanti in particolare per l’equilibrio tra teoria e casi concreti.

Tra le presentazioni più di scenario mi ha colpito quella di Davide Bennato (Università di Catania) che, partendo dalla constatazione che le istituzioni sociali sono in crisi, ha sottolineato come proprio la tecnologia (attraverso strumenti paradigmatici come iPhone e Twitter) possa aiutarci a ridare nuovo senso a spazio, tempo, valori, che sono alla base delle istituzioni sociali.


Variegate e inedite le testimonianze aziendali:

Pepe Moder (Barilla) ha espresso chiaramente come la visione dell’ecosistema digitale che ha l’azienda (con il sito web corporate al centro e i social media in posizione periferica) è diametralmente opposta a quella degli abitanti della rete (che al centro dei propri interessi metteno Facebook, blog, forum, YouTube, …). Emblematica della diffidenza delle aziende verso i social media è il racconto del timore iniziale del management di Barilla di scrivere autonomamente la voce di Wikipedia relativa (cosa possibile come spiegato chiaramente da Frieda Brioschi) “perchè scriverla noi? Magari ci criticano, lasciamolo fare ad altri”;
L’obiettivo di un brand oggi dovrebbe essere, secondo Pepe, di creare un mondo di significati, un “vocabolario comune”, fatto di tasselli che i consumatori possono utilizzare autonomamente per “parlare dell’azienda”.

Continua su

Written by Daniel Casarin

novembre 25, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Pubblicato su Strategie

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Social Business: Overcoming The Obstacles

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via Harvard Business

While social media often commands favorable media attention, the less often told story is that successful initiatives are rare to come by and that there are still a number of organizational roadblocks that managers need to overcome in order to make progress.

Still, we are seeing signs of progress in the form of new efficiencies, more direct ways to connect with customers, and ways to make products and services better. From my experience working and talking with people in large, complex organizations, here are a small sample of obstacles to look for with suggestions on how you might overcome them:

  1. Culture shock

  2. Externally, social media is a vastly significant iteration of the Web which has empowered the public in ways we never imagined. It’s also highly disruptive. The same potential for disruption exists internally for organizations. Instead of everyday consumers becoming empowered, everyday employees now have this potential as well. And this could cause a culture shock to the system of an organization structured upon decades of tradition, hierarchy, middle management and incentives. An inconvenient truth remains that change is often perceived as a threat.

    How to overcome it

    Find the change agents within your organization who are passionate about making your company better and harness their passion for the benefit of your business. Comcast’s Frank Eliason was a customer service manager who began engaging (and, more importantly, helping) customers via his personal Twitter account. When the rest of the company was made aware of the initiative (and the ensuing positive attention), they decided to reward the effort as opposed to doing a u-turn. A great way to overcome culture shock within a large organization is for leadership to recognize and embrace the mavericks driven to change things for the better. The next challenge then becomes scale.

  3. The legal treadmill

  4. The changes sparked by technology are giving the lawyers a headache. Legal teams must be on full alert to changes in the social media landscape, such as the FTC’s recent decision to force bloggers to disclose when they’ve been given payment or products. The legal department of any organization exists to protect it. But sometimes doing business at the speed of real time makes it feel like you are on a treadmill when you need to be sprinting to the finish line.

    How to overcome it

    Legal needs to be engaged early on and by the right people. There also needs to be support from the top if it means doing something that pushes the boundaries. Michael Dell fully supported Dell’s pioneering social media efforts from the top down which no doubt influenced decisions made in the legal department. That said, not everything has to involve the CEO. When I recently approached The Art of Shaving (a P&G brand) to sponsor our Movember team, I advised them that the first thing they should do is talk to their legal department. The brand manager did just that and legal produced clear guidelines about how the social sponsorship would work. In order to get off the legal treadmill, you need a combination of leadership and collaboration.

  5. Riskphobia

  6. Making strides toward thriving as a more socially calibrated business means taking a risk or three. And in this economy, no one wants to do that. Unless your organization has a serious entrepreneurial streak running through it, it’s likely that the people who work in it are generally risk averse and rewarded for playing by the rules. However, riskphobia is a serious problem for large companies who are finding their businesses disrupted by smaller, more nimble players. Tower Records probably wishes they took some more calculated risks before the industry came crashing down around them.

    How to overcome it

    Risk can often be managed by piloting small initiatives to see what happens — while learning, gathering data, and iterating on them while they inform bigger and better initiatives. When our company launched our website, we included a real-time stream of our activities and content on our homepage. The stream even includes information about who we email (you don’t see names, but you do see the domains). Some view this as risky business, but we felt that the gesture would help us help others manage the risks of transparency and we can manage what gets shared. It’s a small gesture, but meaningful as we hope to help others manages their own risks.

Written by Daniel Casarin

novembre 18, 2009 at 11:44 am

Pubblicato su Strategie

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Social Strategy Talk: Participation and Open data

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via DachisGroup

Social Strategy Talk hosted by Creative Crowds and ViNT. Tom Steinberg (mySociety) and I were the closing speakers, talking about the issue of public participation and open data in relation to government innovation. There were plenty of smart people there, including practitioners from the government of the Netherlands and key players behind the Dutch Digital Pioneers initiative that funds social innovation.

My talk was a very simple introduction to why this topic matters, plus a consideration of some recent critiques of transparency initiatives, decorated by a lovely data visualisation of world population growth from the G-Econ project.

It went more or less like this:

We are living with political structures from the last century (or older), and we must be bold in stepping forward to build smarter government services that leverage the power of ‘we’. Even Obama’s administration is still in the relatively early stages of achieving anything like this. We face problems that governments alone cannot fix – problems that are rooted in network behaviour and whose solutions also lie in network thinking – and we also face issues of fragmentation, identity and belonging in a rapidly, and unevenly globalising world. But also, right here and now, we face the issue of ever increasing expectations of public services, combined with rapidly dwindling funds.

This is the context for the importance of participative processes underpinned by open data. The social web has taught us that lots of people performing simple actions can result in spectacular collaborative outcomes on the aggregate level; and we have also learned the immense power of feedback as an evolutionary force for improvement. These lessons, when applied to using some of the vast array of data produced and consumed by government, could help us create new, perhaps real-time relationships between government and citizens, rather than 4-5 year electoral feedback cycle we see today. This is partly why we have been working with David Osimo and others on the Open Declaration on European Public Services, calling for greater transparency, participation and empowerment through public service delivery. Please endorse the declaration so that David can present it to the Ministerial Conference in Malmo next month.

We have seen some progress with and the UK’s open data project, and extending this to other important data sets, such as mapping data in the UK, is vital work that must continue. We have also seen a number of good participation projects that show the potential for involving people in co-design of services, sense making and decision making. We also have the excellent example of Social Innovation Camp and 4IP that show how people can come together to find innovative solutions to social problems, or just make better public services; and, of course, we have the example of mySociety, who have produced some ground-breaking projects that open up previously invisible data or processes in meaningful ways.

So why are governments not mainstreaming this value more quickly? Why are these projects so under-funded when (at least in the UK) the government is paying millions to large private sector suppliers every month for major projects that deliver little added value and have such a high failure rate? Perhaps the simplest way to change this situation is to top-slice all IT project budgets and distribute 10% of the funding as innovation funds that can allow smaller players, perhaps even community groups, to try to solve the same problem, with follow-on investment if they come up with workable solutions. In my view, participation and open data projects should be leading the mainstream, not relegated to the periphery.

In thinking about participation and open data projects, I suggested there are four key areas of focus in our social business design methodology that provide useful starting points to think about related success factors:

  • ecosystem: developer networks to play with open data, distribution networks and critical friends to help shape these projects in the early stages
  • co-design: ensuring that the services we build involve users at every stage of their design, which is in itself an empowering outcome for people used to just ‘getting what they are given’
  • signals and data flows: how does information and data move around networks, and how do we signal relevance or importance to others
  • filters: more data needs better filters to make sense of it

Finally, I looked at two recent critiques of transparency to consider whether we should watch out for negative externalities or unintended consequences in pursuing open data and participative methods. First, Larry Lessig published a piece Against Transparency that looked at the limits of what he called ‘naked transparency’, and he made the point that raw data (especially about individual performance or potential influence / bias) is open to mis-interpretation and mis-understanding, so total transparency should not be our only goal. He also argues, quite rightly, that there is an attention-span issue that means people will not necessarily track an issue with the diligence we might expect:

To understand something–an essay, an argument, a proof of innocence– requires a certain amount of attention. But on many issues, the average, or even rational, amount of attention given to understand many of these correlations, and their defamatory implications, is almost always less than the amount of time required. The result is a systemic misunderstanding–at least if the story is reported in a context, or in a manner, that does not neutralize such misunderstanding. The listing and correlating of data hardly qualifies as such a context. Understanding how and why some stories will be understood, or not understood, provides the key to grasping what is wrong with the tyranny of transparency.

The other critique that I think we should consider, but which is also very much for the future when we have made far more progress towards opening up government to popular participation, is the issue of legitimacy. Will Davies recently wrote:

…following Mirowski, we might say that ‘government 2.0′ is the final realisation of the neo-liberal state. No auditors, no experts, no objective knowledge, no sense of the common good, just maximum freedom for individuals to form opinions and privately process information. As David Weinberger says in triumphant Hayekian style, “transparency is the new objectivity.” In some instances, consumer perspectives may form the basis of action – demanding change if they’re a prominent journalist or campaigner, selecting a different service supplier if they’re a fortunate lay-person, or just mouthing off on facebook if they’re not so lucky.

But siding with perspective over expertise cannot be the basis for legitimacy. Allowing people to express their frustration or disappointment, but without offering dialogue or improvement at the end of it, removes the security offered by expertise, but without offering anything in its place. Auditors act as the critics of experts, but they do so from some rival position of expertise; they damage legitimacy, but partly so as to then rebuild it. By contrast, a state laid bare only to the audit of general public dissatisfaction is surely heading towards a legitimacy crisis.

What this suggests to me is not so much that the new forms of government we are fumbling our way towards is necessarily less legitimate than a representative democracy run by a bureaucracy, but that we need to find more sophisticated deliberative methods to supplement the simple participation and ‘opinion’ tools that we see today. Not an issue for now, but nonetheless something to think about.

Written by Daniel Casarin

novembre 18, 2009 at 6:59 am

Pubblicato su Strategie

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