If it’s not mobile, then it’s probably not Social TV. Social TV is the rapidly growing interactive experience that complements TV viewing.
It is primarily a live TV experience, which may disrupt the on-demand TV consumption trend. Think of Social TV as the replacement for the water cooler conversations that used to occur in days gone by (when we all actually worked in offices and desperately needed a break from our cubicles). In the 80s we dissected Dallas episodes. Today we will engage around reality TV, sports, dramas and comedies. And we’ll do it via second screen apps using our mobile devices.
The Viacom Social TV Study, May 2012, defines Social TV as the ability for viewers to communicate, access content and interact with friends via a second screen. The dominant screen is the smartphone with 82% of respondents, in the study, indicating it as their preference. The tablet is a distant second at 18%. It’s not surprising that these devices are in use while we’re watching TV. Nielsen indicates that 69% of tablet users and 63% of smartphone users are on their devices multiple times per week, while watching TV.
There are an increasing number of Social TV apps appealing to the avid TV viewer. These apps complement the live TV experience by providing access to proprietary content, interaction with the cast and crew, and rewarding interaction with trivia questions or other games. Reality shows, like American Idol and X-Factor, have recognized the power of social media by enabling voting via Twitter, in addition to texting, calling or online voting. However, Social TV takes this a step further by delivering apps designed to enhance the customer experience.
The pressure is on for apps that are intuitive and quick-responding, with slick user interfaces. They must be fully integrated with the live episode in terms of content, plot and cast. Social TV is driving increased viewing of live TV content through adjacent conversations specific to the live event or episode. The second screen has been denounced as a distraction, but in fact it may be the saving grace for live TV.
What's your perspective?
Last week I introduced the idea of being human when communicating socially. Here are some further thoughts on HOW to be human. It's really quite simple, but I think we all get caught up in the demands of our business lives and forget about the basics of meaningful communication.
1. Be Open. Whether we are speaking face to face or sharing thoughts on LinkedIn or writing a blog, it is always possible to see when someone is hiding something. Either a question is ignored or the answer swerves in a different direction or the elephant in the room is completely ignored. Honesty is the currency of the social web. This is not an original thought on my part, but I do believe that integrity is the MOST important attribute for any business person.
2. Use pictures. They do speak a thousand words. When you create your profile, include your picture. Social media is about humanizing web communication. Don't you want to know who you are talking to? If you were on an internet dating site, would you respond to the person who didn't post a picture? And, it's not only about pictures of yourself, use diagrams, graphics or pictures to enhance your story and reinforce the important bits. It's amazing to see the rise of info graphics across the web. Why are they so popular? Because they capture and share pertinent information in an easily consumable (and shareable) format.
3. Post Engaging Content. For some, this is the most challenging. Who is to say what content is the most engaging. However, think about the needs of your audience and how the information they crave. Present the content in a human manner. We are not all technicians or experts in every field. Share information in easily consumable chunks. Make it real through real life examples.
4. Don't sell. This might be the most important aspect of social media. While the goal may be to create more leads, there is nothing more distasteful than a hard sell (in person or online!). I'm interested in understanding what makes a company tick. I'm interested in their application of their solutions in business situations. I'm interested in how they collaborate with partners or customers to create value. I'm curious about the trends that are influencing their product roadmap. I can read their website to understand the feature / functionality of their products. I can talk to their sales reps about special deals. I don't need a sales pitch on Twitter!
5. Listen. I've said this before and will continue to repeat myself. There is a LOT of fantastic information being shared by peers, partners, customers and competitors. It is important to take the time to listen and assess. It might change the way your business moves forward. I listen to social media experts; IT, broadcast & media pundits. I follow many blogs, eagerly review LinkedIn updates and connect the dots across the technology industry. What about you?
We are human yet sometimes we forget to act as humans when we are in business situations. Business, at its core, is about relationships. While I'm not promoting intimacy of a personal nature, business intimacy comes from finding common ground, delivering reliability and earning trust. The same skills that have been used in face to face dinners and golf outings also apply in the social world.
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I spent some time with a boutique architecture firm while I was in London two weeks ago. This firm provides contemporary design to residential developers and individual homeowners. Each architect, including the partners, honed their skills in larger architecture firms, but elected to move to a smaller firm to gain broader experience in managing projects from conception to design to planning board approval to build. My goal in working with the firm was to help them define themselves for their clients and prospective employees, with the intent to help them expand their market reach.
Our morning workshop gathered the entire team around the conference table in their open space work area. The partners had met at a larger firm and found success in co-managing a small team within that firm. They had left to establish their firm, ph+, immediately winning business with residential developers. However, they had never thought about how they would market their firm. Their business is won through word of mouth. As we talked about the firm and how their business evolved, why each employee joined the firm and what they enjoy about working with clients - the value of ph+ became clear. The challenge will be how they incorporate these values into their web site, physical media and social media (should they elect to leverage social media).
We defined value in terms of the way ph+ acts and why they want to be for their clients. They are honorable and act with integrity. We defined value based on what motivates them. They want to provide comprehensive plans, paying attention to every detail to ensure planning board approval. We defined value based upon a commitment to contemporary design. ph+ pay attention to design details from window details to plumbing fixtures to how the space will be used by its inhabitants.
In today's world, Word of Mouth marketing is the cornerstone for many firms, large or small. Social media simultaneously simplifies and complicates word of mouth marketing. For a business, like ph+, whose first goal is to fulfill client requirements through comprehensive, detailed designs, marketing is a scary business. Marketing distracts energy from actual architecting, without a clearly defined return. Yet, ph+ wishes to expand its client base.
As ph+ moves forward, they will combine face to face and online word of mouth. They will continue to attend events which expose them to desired clients. They will review options for using social networks to gain insight about and access to new projects. They will identify what content is proprietary versus general information that will attract clients. They will consider expanding the content shared on their blog. Their primary concern remains individual bandwidth as they do not have dedicated marketing staff.
The commitment to social media by small business is challenging. Staffing and individual bandwidth is a key concern. ph+ has reinforced their values and their goals. Their identity has ben clarified. This is helpful as they continue to grow as a business and consider formalizing their marketing efforts. Have you taken the time to define your identity, based on your values and your business goals? If not, please do so before you jump into using social media to promote your business! Authenticity comes from an understanding of identity and purpose and authenticity is a core requirement of social media.
What's your perspective?
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:
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?
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:
Adoption of Social Media
- 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
- 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
- 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?
In this world of all things social, there is a lot of focus on making existing platforms social. As an example, there have been many discussions about social CRM. While salesforce.com is considered to be social, traditional systems (i.e., Oracle) are not. A simple definition of social CRM is “having a discussion when, where and how the customer wants it.” Coming from a world of digital media, should we be talking about Social Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems? Should users be able to access or provide digital assets when, where and how they want? Is this an oxymoron or redundant? Let’s review what functions a DAM system performs.
DAM systems evolved to address the challenges facing organizations who manage a variety of digital assets. In an enterprise business, these assets would traditionally be managed by the marketing department. They would include corporate logos & images. If anyone outside of the marketing department needed these images, for any reason, they needed to go through the marketing department to gain access to these assets. This could be a slow process with many bottlenecks.
Digital Asset Management systems evolved to provide a central repository for digital assets. As these assets have evolved beyond static images into rich media assets incorporating audio and video, DAM systems became more elegant in how they addressed issues of tagging, metadata, taxonomy, ontology and overall semantics. DAM systems, by necessity, must be easily integrated with other systems such as editing, transcoding, storage, digital rights and distribution.
Today, DAM systems are accessible by users across the enterprise, whenever they want. Marketing may own the responsibility for establishing a corporate wide policy for tagging, metadata, etc., but groups such as sales, engineering, product management have access to the company’s digital media assets. There is still separation between producers and consumers. Does providing access make the system social? Or does it become social when those same groups can become producers and contribute their own content and assets?
Perhaps a DAM system with the ability to annotate, rank and comment on these assets makes it social within the enterprise. Or, perhaps it’s the option for online, interactive communication that facilitates effective collaboration. System features now enable users to rank assets or for managers to understand how many times an asset is viewed partly or in full. DAM systems providethe intelligence and elements of social platforms. DAM systems continue to evolve and incorporate features that feel social. Perhaps they are already social as these capabilities are core components of many social sites and platforms.
The ability for a DAM system to accept and manage user generated content (UGC) is increasingly important. If companies recognize the social web as a relevant content distribution outlet, they may also need to consider it as a source of content input. The DAM system can become more social by enabling content upload and the assignment of relevant tags, metadata by establishing and automating a standard taxonomy and ontology. Thus the DAM enables users to access all digital media assets for the company, when, where and how they like.
Are you accessing your companies DAM system? Does it feel social to you? If so, why? If not, what would make it more social?
What's your perspective?
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Facebook privacy issue and questioned whether it was about privacy or control and discussed the corporate focus on operational issues when commencing their foray into social media. Thus, addressing the legal, security, network and business goals around their foray. However, the question of control in a digital media world goes beyound that initial discussion.
Company business models have been based on control - control of all aspects of their operations, financials, product and messaging. Why? Companies want to build meaningful products, build market leadership and sustain competitive differentiation with the overall goal to create profit and margin. Companies protect their intellectual property, technology and business processes as they often provide that competitive differentiation. Companies have controlled the flow of information about their products and their product roadmaps. However, there is a major shift that has been underway for some time, but that is exaggerated by social networking. Customers want information whenever and however they can get it.
Look at Apple's veil of secrecy around every new product launch...and the hoopla around Gizmodo's "lucky" and early access to iPhone 4. Steve Jobs seeks to control the introduction and messaging around every new product. However, the internet buzz around the product(s) creates demand for insight and discussion, and we can imagine, product.
Companies control access to their products and solutions to create interest and demand. In the 'old" media world, broadcasters created programming and determined the schedule for when each program would be broadcast. This created demand for the program and allowed advertisers to target ads to the programs audience based on their demographic. We have seen this model challenge on multiple fronts as advertisers sought incremental outlets (i.e., the internet) and consumers sought alternate channels to access content (i.e., the internet) or new devices allowed consumers to watch content when they wanted (not when the broadcasters wanted them to).
The tide has turned and B2C companies are responding. Broadcasters make their content available via multiple distribution channels. Airlines offer discounted tickets to followers on Twitter. Local businesses offer coupons to consumers in their neighborhood (i.e., Groupon, Foursquare). Consumers are using social media to "get what they want, when they want". If you have a question, you tweet or facebook about it - and, you get an answer.
How will B2B companies respond? While they will (and should) protect their core assets of IP and technology, they are figuring out how to leverage social media. They are uncomfortable with ceding control to their customers, yet they are beginning to see how customers can give them an instantaneous opinion on products, support and company. B2B companies can gain great insight on product features, customer satisfaction and company image. Whether their customers are actually gaining control is still an unanswered question, but customer influence is growing.
How is your company addressing social media impact on control and influence? Are you listening? Do you particpate in social platforms, communities, discussions about your industry or niche market? Do you actively engage your customers to prioritize your product roadmap? Do your customers have an online community to discuss support challenges? Do you enable your customers to help each other? Ceding a little control can gain great benefit.
What's your perspective?
HP announced its ePrint Center at Internet Week New York on Monday. Due to some laptop problems, I've been delayed in sharing my thoughts. As a former HP employee who left on good terms, I'm still very interested to see what new technologies HP pursues. While I never worked in the printer group, I feel affinity toward the LaserJet as it was announced the same year I joined HP. The printer business has been a mainstay for HP ever since.
This weeks announcement takes printing to the next level. What does Hp ePrint Center do? It federates your print capabilities by associating an unique email address with every new ePrint enabled printer. This allows you to store files in the "cloud" and print to the designated web-enabled ePrinters. Why is this cool? It removes the need for print drivers on your device - bit it a laptop, PC, handheld, phone, iPad, etc. The documents are rendered in the cloud with the relevant print drivers associated seamlessly. We've all been down the road of downloading or updating print drivers when we upgrade to new devices or printers. this removes that challenge.
The other interesting aspect of ePrint Center is a service called Scheduled Delivery. Now companies can create widgets that users can elect to download to their printers. Based on the personalization that the individual assigns to that widget, they can schedule content to print at pre-defined dates & times or on-demand. For the purpose of this announcement, HP focused on consumer needs with partners like Nickelodeon and Live Nation sharing the ability to print kids coloring books or concert information without going online via your PC. it allows simple, fast access to printed content. As much as we would like to paperless, we simply are not there - yet.
HP will announce the business benefits later this year, but I was imagining how this can benefit B2B companies. Assuming that web-enabled printers become the norm (and is there is a reason that they wouldn't) this truly enables Print-on-the-Go. You can print brochures, quotes, proposals, product roadmaps, price lists, manuals to the desired printer from any device. It truly is content anywhere, anytime. Imagine you left your sales presentation in the taxi (god forbid!), you can use your smartphone to access the presentation in the cloud and have it print at your local print shop (i.e., Fedex Kinkos, Staples) or at your customer. This also enables you to create content on the fly and print it easily, without concern for the right print drivers, wherever your are.
Similar to Apples App Store, HP has the App Studio for partners to create printer apps. Consumer centric businesses are already creating widgets to be downloaded to the new ePrinters, B2B companies could do the same. Imagine creating customer support or FAQ widgets. I'm sure there are many more creative ideas out there!
This announcement does take printing to the next logical step and turns what have been primarily output devices into smart devices that can bring incremental value to consumers and businesses. As with all things "cloud", the usual concerns for security and control still exist. Yes, this will likely continue to drive ink sales. And, yes, it gives us all a reason to buy new printers. But, it addresses long existing challenges with printer drivers, it addresses the conundrum of wanting to be mobile but still need hard copy docs, and it solves that pesky inability to connect an iPad to a printer.
Share your thoughts on this topic. I'm interested to understand what you think about web-enabled printing. Will the ability to download widgets make the printer social?
What's your perspective?
Once upon a time... These are the infamous words that start many a fairy tale. But, it is also mean we about to hear a story. George Lucas used similar words to launch a trilogy and then a prequel of stories about a galaxy far far away. His Star Wars movies are considered some of the best stories of my generation.
We read stories to our kids before bedtime. We go to the movies to become enthralled with drama, comedy, horror or adventure stories. We go online to watch webisodes of programs created specifically for Internet consumption. How do you tell your story? The most common methods have been to write product briefs, whitepapers, case studies and press releases. However, the past few years have shown that customers want to be part of the story. The ability for customers to comment on products, blogs, facebook or twitter, has give customers a greater share of your public face.
This is good news! Your customers have a unique perspective of your company and it's products or services. I've learned a lot about how to tell my story, both personal and professional, by listening to my partners and customers. My customers want me to tell my story in a way that integrates with their PR strategy. That's ok for me, my services are complimentary to the services offered by most PR firms and, in fact, should help drive incremental revenue for these firms.
My customers want me to share my background in high tech and in communicating in B2B environments. By including my background as a core part of my story, they realize that I can relate to the challenges they face. They want to understand how I made the decision to leave corporate america and pursue independent consulting as this helps them understand my motivations. They find comfort in understanding that I too, had to figure out how to tell my story, just as I'm helping them figure out what solutions will help them tell their story.
It's also about how to tell your story. Do you tell you story on your company website? Via your personal blog or industry analysts or in press releases or webinars or online video? Depending on how your customer consumes information, your story can be told in many ways...and many times.
Listen to your customers. They will provide you with great insights on what parts of your story are interesting to them, or not! They will help you prioritize your efforts and perhaps help you reduce some aspects of your marketing budget. They will let you know who they listen to and perhaps influencers you should also listen to and influence.
Are your customers helping you tell your story? Share your experiences with me!
What's your perspective?