MAD Perspectives Blog

CMO vs CIO = Blurred Lines

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

2013 was the beginning of a discussion regarding the use of technology by the Chief Marketing Officer. As marketing teams utilize social media, digital marketing, CRM  and big data to create campaigns to engage customers, the CMO requires more technology than ever, blurring the lines between CTO and CMO.  Whereas in the past, these leaders and their teams may have been able to ignore each other, that is no longer possible. Who owns the technology budget, IT or Marketing? The blurred lines extend beyond this discussion.

Consider the following points and think about who might own the budget, benefit from an investment in the technology and the impact of the technology on the organization.

     - Social media monitoring platforms. They are the source of real-time data about your brand. This data can help tune existing marketing campaigns and provide the foundation for new real-time campaigns.  in addition, they can provide the insight to guide effective online marketing investment. 

  •      - Digital Marketing platforms.  These solutions must not only support content & campaign management, they must also produce data and relevant analysis , AND be accessible anywhere, anytime.  Increasingly, these platforms must integrate with services and solutions 
  •      - Content Management platforms. While Digital Marketing solutions are on the rise, there are still many Content Management, Digital Asset Management and Media Asset Management solutions that continue to expand their capabilities. These platforms have evolved to address social content, user generated content and audio/video assets. In addition, they must (and this is no longer an option) address multichannel distribution and consumption.  

         - Mobile content development. Mobile is increasingly the platform of choice for accessing information while also adding a layer of data relevant to where they are when they engage online or request content. the challenge is whether to create an app or to develop a mobile friendly web site, or both.

The challenge facing organizations is that Marketing and IT have different goals. Marketing teams own the responsibility for attracting and engaging customers.  Their goal is often to create demand for a company's products and services.  IT is responsible for the hardware, software or services that enable access to critical information about the company's finances, supply chain, products, services, resources and customers. Marketers have been known to create campaigns and solutions that don't take into account the impact on finance or IT. In today's word, adoption of marketing driven solutions must address integration with existing systems and alignment with network security, at bare minimum. In reality there are also concerns as to who will manage and use these systems. Which budget is used to procure and maintain the platform? Who determines the ROI? What are the key factors to calculate ROI? 

Remember when technology was once considered the domain of engineers and the foundation for operational aspects of business that were rarely visible to customers? Now, technology streamlines and informs customer facing teams in both sales and marketing. It updates, educates, streamlines and enhances the ability to intelligently interact with customers. Why wouldn't the CMO want to own the responsibly for selecting and leading the use of such customer data-centric platforms.  Responsibilities will be redefined. New titles will emerge. Marketers will become more technology savvy. Technologists will become more customer savvy. All players recognize the power in the data and that will continue to blur organizational lines.

What's your perspective?









Get Smart About Social Media

Peggy Dau - Monday, January 28, 2013


There have been a number of blogs (here's one from Harvard Business Review) since the new year reflecting a sentiment that companies should reduce their social media presence. If taken out of context, one could conclude that social media doesn't work and that companies are only just realizing this. This is not the case. BUT, it is evident that companies must integrate their use of social media with existing marketing tools to improve the customer experience. Finding the right balance has forever been the challenge of marketing organizations. It's understanding your company goals (which may shift depending on the maturity of your business), the needs of your customers (which vary depending on where they are in the buying process) and your budget (which sadly is never big enough).

REAL VALUE REQUIRES INVESTMENT

Those companies who have made public statements about shutting down social sites have done so because they did not understand the demands of social media. The value lies in the ability to engage in real time conversations with customers, to extend the interaction beyond face to face meetings and website visits, to gain insight about the issues most important to customers.

Just like the stock market, where understanding the strategy, management team, financials and markets is important to making investment choices, social media requires investment. In this case its understanding how social media complements existing marketing programs. If your goal is to increase sales, then aligning social media to lead generation efforts makes sense. This could mean using LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to alert customers to a product launch webinar, to meet key executives at an upcoming conference or to trial new software/services using a special code only available through social networks.  

The investment takes the form of both time and budget - and both are related to the human resource required to define the social strategy, create content and manage your social presence. Social media is more than simply posting intriguing 140 character tweets with links to more information. It's about listening to customers who are sharing their needs, concerns and goals. Their thoughts can guide your investment.

FIND THE BALANCE

Social Media will never completely displace traditional marketing programs. Customers still want to read data sheets and white papers, engage with execs to understand product roadmaps, get hands-on product demos, compare competitive offerings. Social media is simply another option for sharing much of this information while assessing customer sentiment. The goals of companies will vary. Early stage businesses must incorporate social media to create market presence, while mature companies use social media to remain relevant. Companies manufacturing infrastructure products such as steel, farm equipment or pipelines use social media to educate and inform while technology companies add lead generation and customer support to the social media mix.

Many companies are using social media to extend their touch points with their customers. With travel budgets under constant attack, any opportunity to maintain contact with clients is welcome. Social networks provide an opportunity for ongoing casual contact, keeping your company's name in front of your customers even if your sales representatives cannot be present.

GET SMART

Social media is not dead - far from it. However, companies are putting more thought into how they can best use social media, in combination with other marketing solutions, to achieve their goals. Managing the programs, understanding which solutions fit best given company goals and customer need and aligning resources (financial, human and time) require teams to get smart. For larger companies, there are integrated marketing platforms to help manage programs. Smaller companies will often align manpower alone. In either case, more time is now spent preparing to use social media.

For some interesting statistics regarding B2B use of social media, check out Penton Marketing Services blog.  It re-affirms the point that social media is not dying!

What's your perspective?





Synchronizing Social Platforms and Brand Strategy

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Welcome to the final blog post in our six week blog series on Brand and Social Media, with UK brand agency, Taylor O'Brien.  We've learned a lot and hope that you have too!

One of the primary reasons for corporate adoption of social media is to expand the reach and awareness of their brand.  Our series on brand and social media has shared insight on the definition of brand and social media, understanding the importance of a cohesive brand strategy that incorporates social media, and the value of your corporate identity.  As companies consider which social media platforms to utilize, they need to keep identity, voice and customer in mind.

The big 5 social media networks: Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube can help increase market awareness, but they can also create unexpected challenges.  As you consider how your brand incorporates social media into its strategy, keep the following thoughts in mind. 

     - Are my customers using this platform?   Each network's demographics are shifting as adoption increases.  Which social media channel maps to your desired demographics and what kind of information does your demographic desire?

  •      - What kind of content best represents my brand and does the platform support that content?  Each social network was created with a different intent.  Understand these intents and aligning it with your brand strategy is critical to achieving social media success.
  •      - Is it worth the effort?  What are you goals for using social media?  Understanding that it takes time to build your audience, are you committed to the effort?

We’ve summarized our thoughts on the benefits and challenges of each of these platforms.  Think about your brand, your audience and the content they desire.  Consider the information you need share to reinforce your brand voice.  Which of these channels can be synchronized with your strategy?



The commonality across all of them is increased market reach but winning that audience requires time, people and content.  In addition, companies must be prepared to address any issues impacting brand reputation.  It is a given that criticism will arise.  Companies must be prepared to acknowledge and act upon any criticism.  Bottom line, using social platforms to support your brand – requires a plan.

The channels noted here certainly do not reflect all of the social platforms available, but they represent the most frequently used social networks.  Depending on the nature of your company and its brand, other social media tools (i.e., Groupon, Foursquare, Slideshare, Flickr, Vimeo, etc.) may also bring significant value.  When evaluating any social media network, consider how it will reinforce your brand voice and corporate identity.

We hope you enjoyed our series on brand and social media.  We encourage your thoughts and comments on your experiences with using social media to extend your brand!

What's your perspective?



A Social Media Plan to Ensure Brand Consistency

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, May 04, 2011

This is the fourth blog in our 6 week series, with our colleagues from Taylor O'Brien, on branding and social media. 


Your brand strategy has a unique vision and identity.  You identified this strategy by aligning your brand with your business goals, accounting for both cultural identity and customer knowledge.  As you define a social media plan to support your brand strategy, don’t forget that social media is a means of communication.  It brings with it a high degree of immediacy and interactivity.  It allows you to communicate more directly with your customers.

Social media reinforces a need to be responsible, understandable, reliable and genuine.  This is why a social media plan is so important.  You are serving your customers with the information and content they need.  Here are 6 key components of social media plan that supports your brand.

  1. Objectives – What do you want to achieve and how will social media help you fulfill those goals?  How are these objectives related to your business strategy? Are they focused on sales, market awareness, customer service or other core business topics? Defining objectives will help you determine what content is needed and which social platforms to use. 
  2. Customers – Who are they?  Where are they?  What content do they need or want?  Depending on your customers role (i.e., buyer, influencer, executive, technologist) they will crave different types of content.  Any plan must consider the customer’s need and supply the content needed to the relevant platform and device. 
  3. Integrate – How will social media support or expand your overall marketing strategy?  Social media is not a stand alone marketing effort.  It must be aligned with other online and offline activities.  An integrated plan will identify resources (people, content and time) needed to achieve your objectives.   Social media can draw attention to events, reinforce messaging, personalize your brand, capture customer insight or input, create stronger customer bonds, manage your reputation and drive sales.  Social media, perhaps more than other forms of marketing, becomes your online voice.  It must reflect your brand and your culture. 
  4. Metrics – How will you measure success of your social media strategy?  All other aspects of your marketing plan have goals and metrics – social media is no different.  Your metrics must support your objectives and can also be tied to your overall marketing plan.  Early stage metrics are usually related to followers and web traffic.  Later stage metrics can include measures of influence, leads, sales, product development or support.
  5. Policy – Who will engage in your brand’s social media efforts?  How will they engage?  A policy can be considered the “rules of engagement”.  It is your opportunity to remind employees on how you want to represent your brand.  It is also the means of communicating your goals for social media.  A critical element of any plan or policy is to determine how your brand will address negative comments.  They are bound to occur and it is important to establish guidelines to help your social media constituents understand how to address them.
  6. Engage! – Most importantly interact, share, communicate and respond!  Social media is a customer engagement medium.  Be informative and be informed!

Social Media has the ability to expand and personalize your brand in ways not previously available.  It is an opportunity for all brands, be they consumer or business centric, to communicate frequently and openly.  It is also an opportunity for customers to express their likes or dislikes.  Be prepared for both the positive and the negative.  Understand your brand voice, align your social media efforts with your brand strategy, educate your employees on your goals and engage with your customers like never before!

What’s your perspective?



Watch Your Language!

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Social Media is immediate.  Video is memorable.  Online interactions via blogs, social networks or communities are forever.  We search online support forums for assistance with our PCs, cars and travel reservations.  If I’m acquiring IT products for my business, I can investigate user experiences for printers, servers, software and more. We are using the internet to find information that can help us in our buying decisions.  However, we’re not only seeking information, we’re checking out attitude.  We’re trying to understand how that company represents itself and its products.  We’re looking for a solution provider who “gets” our needs and our style.

Steve Jobs and Apple have been uber-successful in understanding our desire for intuitive, stylish products that make our lives simpler for both work and entertainment.  Apple may keep the details close to the vest, this culture of secrecy has only made them more attractive to their customers.  We are compelled to watch Apple's announcements, not only to capture the information but see Steve Jobs share his passion and excitement for every new , very appropriately, as their ambassador - announcing every new product, service or content relationships with enthusiasm and passion.    We, Apple's customers, crave the information and the manner in which it is presented. 

In today’s hyper connected online community, our thoughts, rants and raves are ‘out there’ forever.  We need to think about what we say, how we say it and when we say it with an eye towards its impact on our target audience.  I don’t mean to say that we should be scripted and working off a teleprompter.  In fact, in the social arena, this is contrary to the desire for authenticity and transparency.  What we do need to think about are the nuances of language and emotion.  Here is just one example and you’ll see what I mean:

  • A business leader participates in a web video interview about a technology company’s participation in the first practical implementation of a new global initiative

o   He describes the initiative, from a technical perspective, without naming the participants

o   He explains his company’s role in the initiative, at a high level

o   He does not explain business benefits to customers

o   He does not acknowledge the intelligence of the other members participating in the discussion

o   He does not seem particularly excited about the topic

o   His body language is very closed (arms crossed, legs crossed, little eye contact)

  • This business leader failed to inspire action from his audience due to his lack of authenticity, passion  or interest in his topic. 

Personal style is increasing in importance as we communicate socially.  Think about your colleagues.  I bet there is a least one who just fantastic in business meetings.  What makes him or her so successful? Most likely it is their ability to align the conversation with their customer’s needs.  They communicate in a way that resonates with their customer.  They use the appropriate language or buzz words.  They listen and look for verbal or physical cues, and respond to them.

As we communicate socially, we need to listen and respond to those same cues.  It’s a little harder when your audience is not in the same rooms as you.  However, if you can inject energy, passion  and intelligence into content that is aligned with your customers needs, you will be successful.  As businesses, we must listen to our customers other via blogs, twitter, facebook, linkedin and understand priorities, needs or challenges.

Think about your customer’s needs.  Then watch your language!  Communicate in a way that is meaningful to them.  Use the language that helps them realize that you “get” them.  Use language to get them to want to work with your company!

What's your perspective!

P.S.  As I finish writing this blog, I’ve clicked on a link from one of my Facebook friends.  I’m not alone in my thoughts.  Check out:  http://eatsleepsocial.com/ we’re on the same wavelength!



Influence B2B Buying Decisions with Social Media

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What actions do you take to encourage your customers to make a purchase?

The goal for any company is to drive revenue, manage expenses and earn profits.  Companies employ a variety of strategies to encourage customers to purchase their products or services.  These strategies increasingly incorporate different types of digitial media, from online advertising, SEM and SEO to social media, from online video to video conferencing.  Use of any of these customer centric efforts is to motivate customer action.  The ultimate desired action is for the customer to make a purchase, however, there are many other actions that may lead to that purchase.

Much emphasis is placed by B2B companies on lead or demand generation.  The basic premise is that the larger the funnel of opportunity, the greater the number of closed deals.  However, how does a B2B company inspire action through social media?  B2C companies offer special promotions or discounts to their fans and followers.  B2B companies have not, generally, seen increased sales directly related to limited time offers or discounts.  However, they have seen increased webinar attendance, increased whitepaper downloads and website visits when using social networks to enhance the visibility of the companies' programs.

North Plains, a digital asset management vendor (see North Plains case study), participates in many DAM related LinkedIn Groups.  By promoting their educational webinars in the groups, they increased anticipated attendance at their webinars.  Increased attendance equates to increased awareness and potentially increased sales.

The goal is consider what phase of the sales cycle your audience  is in.  Are they building knowledge?  Are they assessing vendors and options?  Or, are they in the decision making phase?  Aligning your content efforts with these different phases can help drive a desired action.  TechTarget shared the following findings in 2009 as related to IT buyers interest in online content based on stage in the buying process. 



This study provides some interesting insights that can help you target your content efforts to drive the desired action.  It reinforces the need for an integrated marketing strategy that incorporates social media, streaming media, marketing collateral and whitepapers, shared across a combination of your corporate website and social outlets.  It reinforces the need for a strategy that aligns content development efforts with all phases of the buying cycle.  It reinforces the need to understand your customer's needs when creating content to drive a specific action.

Social networks are a relevant source of information.  They can help a potential customer increase his/her knowledge of your company and its products.  They can faciliate community discussions.  They can inform a potential customer on where or how to find more detailed information, but can they actually convince a cusotmer to make a purchase in the B2B space?   In my opinion, the jury is out on this topic at this time.  While there have been many reports indicating that B2B marketers have found success increasing awareness and knowledge, I have not seen clear evidence that shows Twitter or LinkedIn, much less Facebook, are driving significant sales of B2B products and solutions.  Companies such as IBM claim to have sophisticated listening tools to help them uncover leads, however that is not a sale.  Perhaps it's a matter of time.  Perhaps it is dependent of understanding key drivers influencing the buying decision and aligning that understanding with the right social networking.

How well do you know your customers?  Stay tuned for further discussion on this topic.

What's your perspective?



Does B2B need a new app?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Many years ago a technology industry CEO distributed a poster throughout its various corporate, sales and manufacturing offices stating something like “Technology is always changing, if you cannot keep up with the pace of change then you are in the wrong industry.”  This was before Unix, before the internet and long before social media was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye.  The technology industry IS constantly changing and at pace unimagined more than 20 years ago.

So, how do we keep up?  Social media has changed the face of communication forever and who knows what’s next.  While it is possible to imagine that IT hardware will continue to see improvements related to performance, price, environmental impact and size, it is more difficult to forsee how applications will evolve.  An articled on Wired.com recently debated the death of the web while the internet lives on.  Regardless of your point of view, the commentary regarding the implication of an app based future is intriguing

Thanks to Apple and its ubiquitous devices, there seems to be an app for everything from reading our favorite publications to comparison shopping to bouncing penguins off the wall.  Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, Groupon have led or leveraged the growing social mentality to share, communicate, and interact based on interests and now location.  Whereas 20 years ago we spoke of Big Brother’ and our fear of anyone having any visibility of comings and goings, now we have left “1984” behind and voluntarily share our likes, dislikes, and destinations.

Do we need to adopt all forms of social media and start developing apps for fear of being considered a ‘neo-luddite’? The term “social media” is becoming all encompassing.  Any application that creates some sort of community experience is considered social.  A community could be moms against peanut butter or customers interested in new storage technologies or individual investors trying to navigate the financial markets.  The challenge is in how any of these tools can provide solutions that are aligned with strategic business goals.

B2B Companies are using or experimenting with social networks to:

  • - understand customer opinion -> to increase customer satisfaction, customer retention, modify product features/functionality, maintain customer loyalty
  • - invite customers to events or webinars -> to  increase customer knowledge, increase customer touch points, qualify customer interest, increase quantity of leads
  • - provide product updates ->to  increase customer knowledge, invite customer input, increase customer loyalty
  • - share industry insight -> to show thought leadership, educate customers,  improve competitive differentiation
  • - offer special discounts or deals -> to drive short term revenue, create awareness,  reward community members
  • - create communities -> to understand trends, drive discussions on select topics, recruit new employees, crowdsource to solutions to simple and/or complex challenges

As long as these activities support higher level goals for sales, innovation, operational efficiency or other needs, the investment in social media is beneficial.

With the increased focus on apps, should companies be developing apps as well as using social networks?  Perhaps apps can help companies address these same goals.  If an app can be distributed on multiple devices, does that make it social?  Personally, I don’t think so.  Being social is about interaction and community.  So, if that app enables customers to easily interact with each other in some kind of semi-private walled garden, then perhaps it is social. 

I can envision B2B apps focused on addressing frequently asked customer questions.  As a long time HP employee in my past life, I can image HP apps to troubleshoot printing problems, a SMB focused app to configure servers, or an app to easily locate your nearest value added reseller (VAR). Other companies could leverage the data associated with calls coming into their 800 numbers to develop apps that easily and quickly address frequently asked customer questions.  By using social networks to inform their constituents that these apps exist and are available for download to defined devices, these companies leverage the two hottest trends (other than cloud computing), apps and social media to enrich their customer’s experiences.

Perhaps we need an app to help us keep up with all the new technologies that are emerging.  Ooops, perhaps that is the new Mashable app!

What’s your perspective?



Does Your Organizational Structure Inhibit Social Networking?

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, August 17, 2010

As marketers plan their social media strategy, they usually focus on content, resources and platforms.  I rarely hear anyone discuss organizational structure.  Yet, a company’s organizational model can reveal a lot about how they will use social networking platforms.  The structure of an organization impacts processes and behaviors that will reflect company and employee comfort with the openness and interactivity of social media. 

The primary organization structures are:

Structure

Characteristics

Adoption of Social Media

Functional

-          Employees perform a specific set of tasks (i.e., marketing, engineering, sales, etc.)

-          Focus on operational efficiency and economies of scale

-          Fosters technical expertise

-          Creates silos

-          Communication across silos is difficult

-          Focus on process, hierarchy and control

-          Pursuit of social media  will require planning of  strategy, policy, clear metrics and employee training

-          Social media most likely to be pursued by marketing department only

-          Employees may not feel empowered to communicate socially  

-          Social media primarily used to reinforce outbound marketing messaging

Divisional

-          Employees organized by product or geography

-          Employees perform specific functions within the divisional structure

-          High accountability for achieving goals

-          Communication encouraged across function to achieve goals

-          Little interaction between divisions

-          Hierarchical within the division

-          Pursuit of social media  will require planning of  strategy, policy, clear metrics and employee training

-          Social media effort led by marketing with intent to include other functions

-          Strong interest in gaining external feedback

Matrix

-          Employees organized by function and product

-          Structure reinforces and broadens employee expertise

-          Reduces organizational silos

-          Requires clear communication of goals, objectives and metrics

-          Poor communication can create confusion and/or stress

-          Focus on communication will foster interest in use of social networks as extension of communication model

-          Multi-tasking employees will easily adapt

-          Requires clarity in how social media will support goals & objectives

-          Collaborative environment will easily adapt to interactive nature of social media

 

The focus here is primarily around structure and does not take into account culture or communication style, which was discussed in a previous posting.  The level of bureaucracy in a company may impact willingness to communicate effectively internally, externally or on social networks. You may want to consider the impact of social media on existing organizational structures, business processes and communication methods.  While full scale reorganization is not the goal, education and training may help management and/or employees understand how the use of social media influences the existing business model.

While organizational theory segments company structures into the simple models referenced above, it is likely that your company reflects some mix of the models noted.  Your company’s approach to social media will reflect a combination of cultural and organizational influences.  It is important to recognize the challenges they may represent when building and implementing a B2B social media strategy.

What’s your perspective?



HP, Culture Shock & Social Networks

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 09, 2010

Last week I began a discussion about the impact of corporate culture on a company’s level of comfort with social media.  While I was thinking about this week’s continuation of this discussion, the CEO of my former employer, HP, resigned due to allegations of misconduct.   This news hit the social airwaves like tsunami last Friday. I enjoyed a 24 year career of Hewlett-Packard Company, which means I was lucky enough to have learned from the founders, Bill and Dave, what it means to be open, ethical, moral and to do business with integrity.   One of the key elements of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct is to “think about how your decision or behavior would look in a press article”.  This is a good foundation for us to consider when we think about how a company’s culture and organizational model impact the company’s use of social media.

HP’s culture and what became known as the “HP Way” focused on innovation, integrity and collaboration.   This culture was a natural match for social media.  The predecessor to today’s social networks was “MBWA" or management by walking around.  In HP, this meant an ability to learn from others in your office.  Employees would mix and mingle and share experiences.  Many careers grew through discovery and learning from peers.   HP’s founders would have been cautious about protecting HP’s Intellectual Property but they would have loved the ability to crowd source innovative concepts. However, over the past decade or so, the culture at HP changed.  This was a result of both external and internal forces.

External forces include the internet and the rampant availability of information.  They also include the increased demands from the financial services sector for all companies to provide and meet quarterly estimates.  This kind of instant gratification will change the way any company works.  Internal forces took the shape of CEOs and managers hired to lead change (defined in many diverse ways) but who each also had personal agendas.  In all cases the “HP Way” was deemed out dated and the collaboration of old gave way to siloed, hierarchical organizations with formerly empowered employees fearful of making even the smallest mistake.  Could Mark Hurd's HP, with a culture of cost containment, hierarchical decision making and limited employee empowerment, succeed in social media?

Interestingly, the answer is yes.  Consistent with its current command and control model, HP has a well defined, publically available, blogging policy.  They even have a digital media council, which includes representatives from all business units, that sets the policy for how HP will participate in social networks.  Any employee that will represent the company on a social network must take the requisite training.  So, HP empowers its employees with guidelines of expected behavior.  Is that really empowerment? I check on various HP blogs from time to time and follow several twitter feeds.  I find them interesting but cautious.  I think that HP could use social media as more than another PR channel.  I believe this is indicative of the internal culture.  That said, HP is number 22 on the NetPropex Social Index, which measures the social network activity of the largest U.S. corporations across a variety of social platforms.  Imagine what HP's score would be if the former culture of openness and collaboration was prevalent.

As a former HP employee and current HP shareholder, I hope HP’s next CEO balances innovation and operational excellence.  I hope they remember that their 300,000+ employees are the company’s biggest asset.  I hope they empower them to connect, communicate and collaborate, using social media, with their peers both inside and outside the company to create and innovate market changing solutions.

What’s your perspective?



Tips for Incorporating Online Video into Your Communications Strategy

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 19, 2010

I recently read an IDC Whitepaper about the 360º Approach to Video.  I've written about companies using a 360º approach to define marketing strategies  and was definitely interested in IDC's opinion on video.  I consider video one of many tools that any company can use to connect and communicate with customers, partner or employees.  Video is memorable and is used for executive communications, customer education, employee training, product demos, customer testimonials and more.  Video is personal and can be consumed live or on-demand in the form of streaming media, webinar or teleconference.

The IDC whitepaper, which is sponsored by Online Video Platfrom vendor Kyte, primarily highlight features of privately funded Kyte.  However, it also touches on some relevants shifts in the market place:

1. Websites have become more interactive.  The days of one-way communication are gone and customers or consumers have an expecation for enticing, visually appealing, interactive sites.

2.  Video is everywhere.  This means video is on your website, on YouTube or Vimeo channels, on Facebook,on mobile devices and many other locations or devices.

3.  Content comes from many sources.  While companies produce a lot of their own content (i.e., executive communications, product training, ads, customer testimonials, etc.), they also invite customers to submit their own user-generated content

If you are thinking about how to incorporate video into your communications strategy.  Consider the following tips:

1.  PurposeWhat are you communicating with the video?  Are you educating, informing, inviting, or sharing?  These are all different types of stories and each story may be best told using different styles.  For example, if your video is to share your quarterly financial status, this is likely a professionally produced event with a well structured script.  However, if your are sharing information about an upcoming event or new product, you might decide that authenticity and personality are more important.  While you still have a script the style of the video may be more casual.  Alternatively, you may invite customers to share their experiences at an event or training.  They thoughts could be capture live and in person or via video uploads to a defined site.  If you define your goals for using video, it will make it easier to make decisions about what kind of content to create. Tip:  Align purpose and video style.

2.  CustomerWhere and how will your customers consume your video?  Are they in an office, at home or on the go?  Will they access content using their PC or a mobile device?  What operating system, browser, video player or video codecs will these devices use?  Is there an expection for live or social network interaction?  Understanding the answers to these questions, will help define the requirements for any online video solutions that you consider.  Tip:  Undertanding your target audience and their communication needs will drive business and technical requirements.

2. InfrastructureHow will you handle video content?  Will you produce and manage your video assets on an in-house system or will you leverage an online service?  In either case, consider its features and functionalities (i.e., codecs supported, bitrates, end user interface, ease of use, server requirements, metadata model, social/community features, digital rights management, analytics and reporting, etc.) related to your goals.  In addition, consider how it will integrate with other enterprise applications, impact on corporate network, level of expertise required and support models.  Tip:  Align infrastructure requirements to your goals to identify the relevant solution.

Content is valuable.  Video is memorable.  Create a valuable and memorable online video strategy thinking about who your customers are, where they are and how will you need to be able to share video content with them.  For a list of leading online video platform vendors check out:  www.streamingmedia.com, www.onlinevideo.net ir www.vidcompare.com

How are you using video to communicate your story? 

What's your perspective?