MAD Perspectives Blog

Social Media + Big Data = Demand for Analytics

Peggy Dau - Monday, October 01, 2012

The technology watch word, regardless of industry application, is BIG DATA. Whether it is patient data in the health care industry, customer data in high tech or consumer data for packaged goods companies the collection of data and the storage of that data is attracting a lot of attention. Every storage company is touting the value of their products and their ability to store your valuable data. Why the focus on data? Perhaps it is because even more data is now available about our customers, be they business or consumer. Where is this data coming from? It is found in every social network, blog, video and slide sharing site.

Even as I was roaming the exhibits at the International Broadcasters Conference (IBC) in Amsterdam, last month, I noted the attention to BIG data and social media. The broadcast industry, like others, is rife with data. In its case, the data is internal - meta data - describing every media asset. And, for the first time, thanks to social media, broadcasters are able to directly gather data about their audience. Why? Because their audience is tweeting, updating, liking, gaming and interacting about their new, sports and entertainment programs. Rather than having to rely upon the insights of Nielsen, broadcasters can tap into the volumes of social media to understand the needs and demands of their audience.

Extrapolate this for every industry. Companies will collect, gather and store petabytes of data about their customers - raising the next big challenge - how to analyze and gather actionable insights from social monitoring tools and data gathered via other sources. Big data is not so precious, unless there are analytics to help companies understand the hidden value. Analytics will extrapolate the information necessary to support business strategies, marketing programs, financial decisions and R&D. Just as social networks will continue to evolve, social analytics companies such as NetBase, Evolve24 and Kontangent will emerge to disseminate meaningful insights beyond volume of likes, sentiment of comments and numbers of followers.

Storage companies, large and small, are hailing the importance of big data. they provide the hardware to store the data and the software to optimize the storage of it and manage the access to it. Social media will influence the rise of BIG data. Your social media plan must consider the volumes of data that will be uncovered and what to do with it. While social media efforts are often owned by marketing, the impact on IT resources is often neglected. Big data forces a collaboration between marketing and IT.  With that collaboration will come the assessment and use of analytics tools to create real value for companies engaging in social media strategies.

What's your perspective?

We All Want to Be Connected

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, August 14, 2012

We've just finished watching the most connected Olympics ever.  Who didn't tweet or update their Facebook status about an event, a team or an athlete over the past 17 days. We connected to friends, family, media outlets, journalists, athletes and coaches. We shared thrilling victories and disappointing TV coverage. We questioned online strategies and discovered alternatives based on feedback from social networks. China's Sina Weibo managed 393 million social posts around the Olympics.  The opening ceremonies inspired 9.6 million tweets. And, the Spice Girls closing ceremony performance surpassed Usain Bolt's 200M race with 116,000 tweets per minute vs. 80,000 tweets per minute.

Don't you want to be this connected for business? Of course you do! Connectivity is at the heart of all communications, from the telegraph to the telephone, from the TV to the internet, from email to social media. The challenge for business users is in understanding who, what, when, where and how to connect. The key is in thinking like a journalist. Connect to friends and colleagues who have common interests or inspire you to success. Connect when it makes sense for business and when you have something meaningful to share. Your audience desires certain types of information. Think about that content and deliver social updates that fulfill that need. Connect in response to customer demand. If your customers are asking questions about products or support, provide answers. 

Where to connect can be overwhelming, but it always comes back to your customers. Where are they? While there are many social networks that fulfill both business and consumer needs, not everyone is on these networks for the same reasons. Your customers may enjoy Pinterest, but are they pinning for business or personal reasons. It's the same with Facebook. Identify where your customers are and create appropriate content. Sometimes its as simple as a heads up on product functionality. Other times it may be a hurrah for a valued business partner.

Managing your social connectivity for business is often the most daunting aspect of a social media strategy. Simplifying listening and posting across multiple platforms requires time, attention and the help of social media monitoring/measurement tools. These tools (e.g., Radian6, Visible Heat, TweetDeck) can filter the noise and help you hear the comments that are most important for your business. After all not everyone wanted to hear about synchronized swimming, but most Americans wanted to hear about the swimming feats of Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin.

The guidelines for external social connectivity also apply for enterprise social communications. Connect to colleagues who share your goals, influence your success or provide meaningful content. Follow discussions that broaden your perspectives. Engage to learn, educate, share, simplify, collaborate or simply to connect. In many companies email has displaced a phone call. Will social chat displace email. Probably. Consider how we will be connecting for business success in the future. Don't be a laggard. Social media may make your business as successful as the London 2012 games!

What's your perspective?

Social Media is Killing My Productivity!

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 23, 2012

Productivity: the ability to generate, create, enhance of bring forth goods and services. The economic success of nations has been defined based on productivity. 'Advanced' countries are those who used to lead in productivity. Why? Because they had invested in technology innovation, which help create efficiencies. According to a Harvard Business Review blog in May 2012, the United States enjoyed the greatest productivity increase from 1980 to 2000 thanks to the deployment of enterprise-wide IT. However, technology only improves productivity if it is aligned with changes in how work is done. The bottom line on productivity is to maker more using less.

Enter social media. Loss of employee productivity is one of the most frequently mentioned fears when considering adoption of social networking platforms. Executive perception has been that social networking is a recipe for disaster.  

  •      -  Employees will waste time or share proprietary corporate data 
  •      -  Corporate networks will be invaded by viruses and bandwidth will be maxed out
  •      -  Time will be consumed without a clear ROI

As mentioned in last weeks blog, fear is a powerful inhibitor. Given the current economic environment the focus on productivity is intense. In fact, global productivity has been in decline for the last few years. Corporations often capture revenue per employee as an indicator of efficiency and success. With overall productivity in decline, it is easy to imagine the fear felt by senior executives when faced with an unfamiliar communication platform that has infiltrated businesses by way of consumer adoption and success.  Social media was not originally designed for corporate use!

However, the rapid adoption grew due to a desire by customers for real-time, authentic engagement. Now, companies have the ability to adopt social media for external communication AND internal collaboration. Yet, the fear remains. How can businesses overcome the productivity concern? Be smart.  Align your use of enterprise 2.0 platforms (e.g., Yammer, Jive, NewsGator) or outbound networks (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) with how your business works. Every company has its own way of getting things done. These platforms should augment and simplify those processes. They may displace existing tools, requiring a learning period for new users.

More importantly guide employees on the usage of the tools. Keeping productivity as your target, consider advising employees to:

     - schedule time for managing social engagement
     - turn off notifications that may overwhelm your desktop
     - separate personal and professional use of social media

True social media aficionados will argue that meaningful engagement means listening and responding in a timely manner. However, not every organization can afford to dedicate personnel to monitoring social media full time. Barry Moltz blogs about how to Calm your Social Media Anxiety, with a focus on brands and consumers. His advice is also relevant to users of internal social collaboration platforms.

For those companies embarking on the use of social media to increase internal collaboration, understanding how and when to engage with colleagues will be useful. Many employees are already feeling overwhelmed due to persistent layoffs that increase existing workloads and existing platforms that can distract focus from the matters at hand. Most corporate employees are already a slave to their email inbox. Help them understand how enterprise micro-blogging can reduce their inbox clutter by resolving easy to answer questions quickly and allow others to see the answer to that question without creating and exhaustive email distribution list.

The fear is real. Concern about productivity is rampant. However, with a little education, patience and common sense social media can become a differentiator that improves collaboration, communication and ultimately, productivity!

What's your perspective?

Social Media - Growing Up!

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 02, 2012

It's been an interesting time for enterprise social media (called enterprise 2.0 by some).  In the last year, several leading social communication and social media monitoring companies have been acquired. Last weeks announcement of Microsoft's acquisition of Yammer raises the stakes for all companies enabling social connectivity within the enterprise. The difference between Yammer and Twitter, is that Yammer provides connectivity behind the firewall. It's a perfect fit for Microsoft as it is already integrated with Sharepoint. Yammer is focused on enabling real-time collaboration between users across the enterprise. It is already implemented in many large & medium enterprise customers. For the leadership team at Yammer, being acquired by Microsoft gave them access to a $360 million user installed based.  Not bad!

It was not surprising to see acquire Radian6 in 2011. Given's customer centricity, Radian6 complimented and enriched their customer relationship management offer. Radian6 provides social intelligence that allows users to benefit from the social chatter surrounding their customers., while not perfect, according to the wide variety of users who have volunteered comments about them over the years, has positioned itself as the innovative provider of services to help clients better understand and manage their customer relationships. Then they upped the ante with their recent acquisition of social media marketing giant, Buddy Media.

Of course, this elevated's battle with Oracle whose suite of CRM solutions includes acquisitions of Siebel and Peoplesoft. Larry Ellison has been engaged in a PR battle with CEO, Marc Benioff over definition of cloud, how to provision CRM solutions. Oracle has not ignored the social platforms either. They have acquired Vitrue (social media marketing) and Collective Intellect (social analytics), all to support its overall enterprise social business strategy to improve enterprise collaboration.

Now, IDC has released its Worldwide Enterprise Social Software 2012-2016 report. How timely! They project a compound growth rate of 42.4% over the next four years, with the market growing to $4.5 billion in revenue by 2016. Drivers include enterprise interest in adding social collaboration features to existing applications and desire by enterprise users for software that feels like the social media applications they use outside the workplace.

Social media is growing up as it the market consolidates. The maturity of these large enterprises provides expanded go-to-market opportunities for social platforms targeting the enterprise. These companies will certainly integrate these platforms with their various enterprise applications. Social also naturally expands their cloud service offerings as social media has been in the cloud from its inception. The question is, will these social technologies continue to innovate now that they are part of corporate america? 

Is your enterprise getting social? I'd love to hear about it.

What's your perspective?

The 4 Bs of B2B Social Media

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 25, 2012

It's all about business for any company engaging in social media. Sometimes we forget that these platforms are a means to an end. That end is revenue. All the effort to win fans, followers, interactions, comments and click-thrus is part of a comprehensive effort to increase visibility, generate leads and sell products.

So, why is social media so important for companies selling products and services to other companies? It's all about the 4 Bs.  

#1 - Business Intelligence:  Social media allows companies to share content and capture data. Various tools and platforms exist to discover, analyze and assess this data. Individuals and companies gain knowledge about the demographics of their customers, affiliated industries, emerging topics, key trends, competitor activities, opinions regarding products and services, and more. Social media provides additional insight that can help companies create and sustain powerful relationships with their customers.

#2 - Business Development: Revenue is the life blood of all companies.  Without it, a company will eventually disappear. Therefore any tools to simplify or accelerate the acquisition of new business, whether from new clients or existing accounts, are welcome. Social networks provide companies with additional channels through which they can identify prospects, learn about companies and individuals. Platforms, like LinkedIn, Plaxo, Branchout or Zerply, can help users figure out how to connect with key decision makers or influencers. Individuals can learn more about them via blogs, tweets, status updates, presentations or videos.  56% of B2B marketers acquire new business partnerships through social media (Social Media Examiner, 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report). Imagine that first meeting with an understanding of what's been top of mind for that individual based on their social commentary!  

#3 - Business Relationships: Once a relationship is developed, it takes effort to maintain it. It's not always possible to enjoy face time with contacts. Social networks provide an alternative method of staying in touch with colleagues, customers and competitors. It's possible to congratulate contacts on promotions or job changes, make introductions for peers seeking new roles and comment on shared content. Here at MAD Perspectives, we reach out to connections on a regular basis, simply to catch up with old business friends.

#4 - Business Conversations: Social networks are all about engagement. They provide a platform to discuss topics of mutual interest, ask & answer questions, collaborate on new ideas, share content and to learn. Entrants into a new markets can learn about local business culture, business priorities and key competitors. 62% of business technology decision makers now read and post comments on blogs (Social Media Examiner, 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report).  Participants can turn casual conversations into long-lasting relationships. However, just as in face-to-face conversations, each party must provide value to the other.

Social media mirrors the business activities of any company. It is simply another channel through which to pursue these actions. As you consider your use of social media, think about the 4 Bs. Perhaps you are using all 4, or maybe you've just started engaging. Either way, be strategic and tactical about how social media can help you connect, collaborate and communicate to achieve your business goals.

What's your perspective?

Facebook Stumbles, but Social Media is NOT Dead!

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A lot has been written in the weeks since Facebook's IPO stumble.  The social media bubble has burst and all social networks are under close scrutiny.  If Facebook cannot succeed, then allegedly, none of the other networks can succeed either. What does this mean for all the adjacent platforms that are monitoring and analyzing our social behavior? The bubble burst, social media is dead, long live...what?

The focus on the financial models of social networks is long overdue.  Like the Internet bubble of the late 90's, many social networks have emerged with little differentiation and even weaker business models. A reliance on advertising  (e.g., Facebook, Foursquare) and group based coupon revenue (e.g., Groupon, Living Social)Advertising is simply not enough. Personally, I find the ads that appear on my Facebook page less than compelling and honestly, a nuisance. Location based services are intriguing and finding coupons for discretionary purchases are helpful.  However, most local businesses that I've talked to are not a fan of the Groupon model.

Facebook is popular, prevalent and provocative.  900 million monthly users (as of March 2012), 80% of which are outside the U.S. and Canada, reflecting over 125 billion (yes, that's a B!) friend connections and 3.2 billion Likes make Facebook both popular and prevalent.  It's provocative in the way it introduces new features or changes personal settings.  It's always asking for forgiveness, not permission.  This is reflected in its public launch.  While Facebook is certainly THE social network of all social networks given the previously noted statistics.  It's business model is still suspicious.  Facebook and its investors were hoping to ask for our forgiveness in the pricing of the stock  and number of shares issued, regardless of the fact that the corporate structure still leaves Mark Zuckerberg in full control of company strategy and decisions about future stock issues that could devalue the investment even further.

However, this does not mean that social media is dead. To the contrary, it's a wake up call to pay attention to the basics. A business plan must show how value will be created for customers. Value will translate into revenue. Revenue should be invested in further value creation in the form of product development,employees, R&D, partners and go-to-market channels. Social media has connected both consumers and business in a manner not previously seen. It's like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube. Users of social media have an expectation for instantaneous access to information from friends, family and companies. We desire candid opinions and informal interaction. It's like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube. Once it's out, it's impossible to put it back in.

Like any emerging market, social media is now undergoing growing pains.  There has been an amazing amount of VC funding available to almost any company with a social proposition. The challenge is in converting ideas into sustainable businesses. Is it realistic that they can all survive? Of course not. There will be mergers, acquisitions and failures. Like Darwin's theory, it is survival of the fittest. And, that means those with a viable business plan.

What's your perspective?

Are You Authentic?

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I've been thinking about what it means to be authentic.  This is perhaps one of the most overused words of the past few years, particularly as it relates to our use of social media.  Forbes has written about it, raising valid points about whether companies and individuals are truly authentic, or just using social media as another outlet for building their brand. recently wrote about finding your voice (as did we last year!) and aligning with your brand.  And, Social Media Today has curated at least 750 articles that reference the term authentic.

So, I started looking around for a baseline, against which to measure true authenticity. It turns out I didn't need to look too far. The best example of unlimited exuberance, clear intentions, consistent messaging and bountiful joy is my dog. Yes, you read that right, my dog Whisky (and perhaps your dog too!) expresses his brand (a true mutt) in every action he takes. He loves his soft squeaky toys and throws them in front of me to entice me to play with him. Doesn't this sound a bit like tweeting (or is that squeaking)?  As we walk through our neighborhood, at the dog park or at the beach, he eagerly approaches other dogs and humans - confident in the connection he will make. Sounds a bit like LinkedIn to me (and yes he does remember them the next time he sees them, it just takes a quick sniff).

Whisky does have a Facebook page, but he doesn't update it very often. He doesn't want to post his status unless something meaningful has happened. If he were active on Pinterest, he would pin items related to dog toys, treats and rescue shelters. These are the products of high interest to him and are consistent with his brand. He is happiest when playing with a soft, squeaky toy or snuggling with his family. As a rescue dog himself, he wants all homeless dogs to find families to love them.

Does your social strategy provide your audience with the content and interactivity that they crave and demand? Do your posts reinforce your brand, yet provide a fresh voice? Social interaction is conversational and should not sound like a lecture. It should not simply be a rehash of existing marketing materials, but provide a new perspective. The unbridled enthusiasm of dogs gives us a view of activity to which individuals cannot help but respond. This should be the goal of any social strategy - engagement. If your content is authentic, your audience will engage and help you meet your goals whether they are related to awareness, lead generation, influence, product feedback, event attendance or more.

What's your perspective?

What's the Social Buzz at NAB2012?

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm here in Vegas to check out what's new in the broadcast community as it relates to social media.  There has been a lot of buzz around the topic of social TV in the last year or so. Social TV can be defined as either the use of a second screen (usually a tablet or smartphone) or the integration of social media and online video.  Either way, advertisers are salivating at the thought of incremental channels through which they can reach and influence consumers. VC's are putting money into technologies which simplify integration of social streams into programming.  Large technology companies (Google and Microsoft to name two) are investing. Microsoft recently demonstrated the integration of social plus online tv via its XBox at the Social TV Summit in San Francisco. Big name broadcasters (CNN, NBC, CBS, MLB, WWE and more) are investing in apps to make sure their content is wherever their viewers are, physically or virtually.

Traditional broadcast vendors like Chyron and Vizrt have already adopted technology to integrate social feeds, from Twitter or Facebook, into onscreen graphics - making the social audience an integral part of the live broadcast. I'm curious to see other ways social is impacting the broadcast industry. This is a space in constant transition. Social media could be considered a double edged sword, both threat and possible savior. It's all about engagement, but where will that engagement occur?

Stay tuned. Today is day one of NAB2012.  I'll keep you posted on what i learn!

What's your perspective?

How to Be Human

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

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.

What's your perspective?

Define Your Business Identity Before Going Social!

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, February 21, 2012

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?