Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Social Media transitioning from craft to science

I have said (and written) many times that Social Media needs to begin making the transition from craft to science; I believe that is dependent in a very big way in us, the practitioners, becoming more formal about the way we call, measure and report on our efforts and findings.

 A whitepaper I read recently give me great hope we are already heading in that direction; here a few snippets and comments on it as well as the link to where to find it:


  • Basically Lithium is proposing the “Community Health Index” (CHI) and its discrete elements as standards to measure the health status for online communities; and also as a tool for marketers and audience managers to identify issues and opportunities. 
  • The elements accounted for in the CHI “formula” are: Membership growth, Content Volume, Traffic, Responsiveness, degree of Interaction and Liveliness. 
  • The overall CHI score is interesting; but I find it even more interesting that the individual elements present great scoreboard metrics and actionable information… is your Responsiveness lower than it should? Maybe time for a program to promote and reward participation. Membership grow stalling? Maybe time for a stronger promotion of your community; or bringing out the value so people appreciate it and join.  This comprehensive set of measures allow you to look at the Community as a whole, and not only at membership volumes and page view which only tell a partial story. 

My wishes for what should happen next: 

  • I’d love to see the same or similar measures applied to most community platforms, and use the same names for the elements. Lets get our semantics in place and use them consistently. 
  • I’d love to see this applied to pages and groups in Facebook; why couldn’t marketers and group owners that use Facebook have these same resources? 
  • I’d love to see others (myself) build on top of these and complement as necessary. 

What do you think? 

Filiberto Selvas 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mexico’s Brand & Reputation


I just came back from a visit to Mexico, the country where I was born, and the experiences of that visit plus the media onslaught about the situation in Mexico have me thinking…  What are the efforts a country needs to do to impress their fair Brand and Reputation? 

When I think of India I think of smart and hard working engineers. When I think of France I think of wonderful cuisine, amazing cities and wine. When I think of Germany I think of high performance machines from small to big… is everything great in  those countries?  I don’t think so; but the problems are not the first (or the only ones) to come to mind when you think about them.

I don’t know what you think when you think of Mexico; but after this visit my thoughts will be: a vibrant country full of individuals that are trying to impulse themselves and others forward, a country of entrepreneurs that are incessantly thinking of the next opportunity and helping each other to reach it, a country with abundant and capable technical workforce that properly applied can be lead to achieve wonderful things, a country where today innovation is alive, even if poorly publicized. 

I will do my best to point, highlight examples, and collaborate where possible, to help all the honest, hard working and deserving people I met in Mexico in the past few days. This will be my small contribution to help Mexico’s Brand & Reputation. 

What do you think? 

Filiberto Selvas
Filiberto.Selvas@Gmail.Com

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Value of changes in Facebook supported by Economist.Com article


This article at the Economist.Com supports the value of the user experience changes Facebook is bringing forward with their new home page; clearly having the ability to filter your relationships by lists will allow all of us to closely follow and interact with those that are in our “core networks” while at the same time allowing us to follow the “broadcast” of those that are outside that core network and keep those casual contacts in place.

 However I believe this is only ½ of the solution; what about the other way around? Where is the capability for me to selectively share with a subset of those among my Facebook friends a certain piece of information? Do I want to inform only my family and high school friends I am visiting Mexico soon? Do I want to let only my professional friends know I have published a new blog post related to the interests we share? I look forward to the time Facebook and other Social Networks enable this.

 

What do you think?

Filiberto Selvas

Filiberto.Selvas@Gmail.Com

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

DEEP BENCH PROFILE 3: JOHN JOHANSEN


In that unique way that is characteristic of the true believers of the Social Media Rachel Happe, herself affected by the job crisis we all know about, is publishing a series of blog posts titled "The Deep Bench Series". These posts present profiles of people interconnected through Rachel that have been affected by the same crisis and, in her words, “… have a ton of experience in operational roles but also understand the new media and marketing worlds. This makes them rare and valuable given the direction business will need to go to keep up with changing expectations of communications and transparency.” I was published as profile # 1

Doing my part I am re-publishing Profile # 3; JOHN JOHANSEN. I don’t have the pleasure of knowing John personally (nor does Rachel, funny enough) but if Rachel trusts himI do as well, to see the original post for this profile go here


John is a social media buddy - I haven't met him in RL (i.e. real life) and I still think of him more as jljohansen - his Twitter handle - than by the name John. Funny how that works. But while I have not worked with John directly, he's been in my circle for quite some time. John was a Bostonian that is currently in Austin...part of that trend last year of some of Boston's brightest moving to Austin...what is up with that?!?!  To me, John exhibits all the best behavior of a community manager - even though that has not been an explicit role - he shares his knowledge and information freely, engages in conversation, and is not into gratuitous self-promotion.  I would guess that those qualities are what make him so plugged in.

If you are in the Austin area and looking for an interactive or social media marketer, you should snap John up quickly.  Here's his response to my questions - I love the Speedo incident!:

What part of the social web world are you most fascinated by and why?

I'm most fascinated by how the social web continues to change. Not only is it changing everything it touches but it keeps changing itself. It's nearly impossible to keep up with everything that's happening but the broad trends are starting to emerge and you can see how they start applying to specific situations in social spaces.

I'm also fascinated by the change in search and discovery using the Internet. I had an instance this morning when I was using Google for a search and switched to Twitter Search because I wasn't getting results that were useful to me. Real-time search is a powerful tool.
 
What are you passionate about and what motivates that passion?

I stopped to really think about this question and came up with some very interesting answers. Part of what I'm discovering in my re-assessment of my career path is that I'm passionate about solving problems. I thrive in situations that need me to be creative and innovative. Keeping up with my blog is an example of this, I post sporadically because once I find a topic that I want to explore my single post quickly grows into full-blown series

In the arena of social media, what drives my passion is that I have the opportunity to be exploring the space before the 'rules' are defined. There are a great many smart people that I respect in the social media arena. I read their blogs or follow them on Twitter because I'm interested in what they have to say and want to be influenced by their thoughts. But, I'm also doing my own thinking about the gray areas. I absolutely feel that the 'answers' to social media can come from anywhere and I want to be a part of that.
 
If you could construct your own job who would you be working with? For whom? On what problems?

Moving to Austin was a conscious choice for me. I came down here before I had found a job in the area. (I was fortunate enough to keep my job back in Boston.) One of the main reasons I decided to come to this area was because of the industry in the area. Austin has its share of large companies (Dell anyone?) but it's also got a significant number of smaller companies and start-ups.

I want to work for a small- to mid-sized company that is looking to improve its marketing program. When I look at job postings, I don't take them literally. I make sure I meet the requirements (I don't want to waste my time or theirs). Then I look at the essential functions but I read them as the starting point for what I could do. What ideas are sparked when I look at what they're hiring for? What improvements can I make in the areas that I'd be responsible for?
 
Let me get back on track here. I don't see this as an "if" question. I take it as an imperative that if I get hired by a company, I am going to construct my job role in such a way that will push both myself and the company to learn new things and do them better. With that reference, it makes it very easy to answer the rest.

I would be working with a company that has a solid business model with objectives that marketing can support. I would be working in a department, or for a manager, that respects my ability to perform my responsibilities but also supports my initiative to branch out beyond those. And I would be solving problems related to demand generation, measuring marketing results, developing effective lead nurturing -- in other words closing the marketing loop.

Since you can't always make up a job that will support you - what are you looking for next?

Hmm. I think I wrote myself into a corner with the answer above. Maybe I can side-track again. I've had a wandering path through the realms of marketing. I began my career with a PR degree and a position at a PR agency. I've explored direct mail, project management, web design, webinar production, email, search, web analytics, marketing communications, and social media. Up to about a year ago, I probably would have considered myself an Internet Marketer because I'd been taking more of a focus on online tools. But, I don't agree with all the connotations that Internet Marketing conjures.

What I've realized is that I can use another handy marketing label: Demand Generation. I've been responsible for bringing in leads, in the B2B space, for about 5 years, so I think it's a reasonable space for me to continue looking.

What project/activity from past jobs gave you the most joy?

I had a wonderful opportunity back in Boston to roll up my sleeves straighten out the online marketing for Snowbound Software.

One of the first projects I took on was a major re-focus of the newsletter. Rather than using it to re-hash our press releases, I began writing in-depth articles related to our industry (document imaging and viewing).

From there I took a serious look at our Google AdWords account and discovered a significant amount of spending on keywords that were unproductive for us as a business. I took drastic measures in the short-term to cut our spending by nearly 40%. Then spent the next two years tweaking the campaigns and was able to bring in more qualified leads from SEM while keeping our spending down.

I also implemented and monitored Google Analytics for our site. I learned so much about the value (and limitations) of web analytics. We were able to shift our focus off the pages we thought we should be spending time on and started making improvements where our visitors were spending their time.

And, finally, I researched marketing automation systems and implemented Marketo for use with lead qualification and nurturing. This was also the spark that triggered my passion for lead nurturing. I believe that it's going to have a major impact on marketing and, again, I want to be part of that answer.

Now, I know that sounds pretty self-aggrandizing but what brought me joy in my role was seeing how my projects were affecting the business. It wasn't just that I got the newsletter out on time (which I did) but that customers were telling my CEO how much value they received from it. That's hard to beat.

What non-work related activities make you the happiest?

The ocean. Seriously, the ocean makes me happy. I grew up near the Pacific, it's a major factor in my childhood narrative. I could be quite happy going swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving on a daily basis. 

When an ocean is not available, I like to read. Most of what I read is fiction or science fiction, it's engaging and easy. But when I have time, I enjoy picking up a real piece of literature. My most recent read in that genre is probably East of Eden by Steinbeck. And if I can carve out some time, I've got my sights on One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
 
What's your most amusing work-related story?

My wife is a big proponent of looking professional. When I know that I'm going to be doing a job search, she always makes sure that I have a nice suit to interview with and wear to work if appropriate. Each time that I've bought a new suit at the beginning of a job search, I've ended up working at an office with a casual dress code.

At one company, when I was making sure to get an explicit definition to bring back to my wife, I asked what the dress code was. The HR person told me, "No Speedos."
 
Needless to say, I was always in compliance with that one.

What are your thoughts about the US economy and what is going on?

I don't think that the economy is a surprise. The market is righting itself and because it's been bolstered artificially (sub-prime loans, I'm looking at you) for so long, it's going to be messy before it gets fixed. 

But, if you want me to use this as a soap box, I think that this is also a good time for individuals. The lay-offs that are happening are shaking people out of the mindset of "I belong to the company." People are recognizing that they can, or may need to, create value themselves. The rise of social media is helping facilitate the concept of individual value. This series by Rachel is a great example of creating individual value, it's useful to me as a job searcher, it's useful to Rachel's readers to get perspective from others in the social media space, and it's valuable to Rachel because she becomes a hub.

That's where I see the economy going. We're getting so connected these days that it's increasingly unnecessary to take risks on people we don't know . If you're hoping to just find a quiet desk to sit behind until someone hands you a gold watch... well, good luck with that.

Anything else?

I think I've said too much already. ;-)

Want more? You can find John at Original Comment or on Twitter
Want to help? Please re-post on your blog or RT - #deepbench




Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My $0.02 about the good and bad in the Skittles SM efforts


Adding my commentary to many others that have chimed in regarding the skittles.com social media efforts driven by Agency.Com

Pro
  • Bravo for the valiant effort; I am sure it took a lot to convince the Skittles brand to “dare to go there”. 
  • I do believe the concept of a “brand site” versus a distributed presence has a lot of merit; though I will not say I think this is the best execution I have seen on the space. 
Not sure: 
  • Is there such thing as bad publicity? Skittles got a lot of buzz with this effort; and they have surely increased their presence in the mind of many. 
Con
  • As you may gather from my blog name I believe in Social Media as a relationship channel / opportunity; where is the relationship effort here? Was this a “one night stand?” (I do recognize the Facebook Skittle moderator has been active; but doesn’t seem there is a programmatic effort behind that); who were they targeting and where was this suppose to go? I actually think they missed a great opportunity to use this as a beginning point to engage with, and invite engagement among, skittles fans. 
  • What were they offering as value? All of this seemed to have been set up to have people reflect on their own comments/content, but: to what effect? There has to be something to be accomplished in an effort like this; even if only entertainment (which I consider highly important) but even that seems to have been missed here; what was the point? 
  • The user experience itself was very confusing; and demanding a lot from the user (how many normal individuals can be dropped in the Twitter search page and figure out what is happening and what to do next?); once again: who were they targeting? And how do they think this was going to work for that target audience? 

What do you think? 

Filiberto Selvas
Filiberto.selvas@Gmail.Com

Monday, March 2, 2009

DEEP BENCH PROFILE 2: HEATHER STROUT


In that unique way that is characteristic of the true believers of the Social Media Rachel Happe, herself affected by the job crisis we all know about, is publishing a series of blog posts titled "The Deep Bench Series". These posts present profiles of people interconnected through Rachel that have been affected by the same crisis and, in her words, “… have a ton of experience in operational roles but also understand the new media and marketing worlds. This makes them rare and valuable given the direction business will need to go to keep up with changing expectations of communications and transparency.” I was published as profile # 1

Doing my part I am re-publishing Profile # 2; Heather Strout. I don’t have the pleasure of knowing Heather personally but if Rachel trusts her I do as well, to see the original post for this profile go here


The Strout name may ring bells for some of you in social media/enterprise community circles but you may or may not know that there are two heavy hitting Strouts out there. While Heather is a little less 'out there' than Aaron, she is equally experienced and has done some incredible work with customers to get them going in the right direction.  She is dedicated and passionate and takes a true partnership approach to the companies with whom she has worked. I've heard many a customer rave about her and seen first hand how well she acts as a customer advocate - both fighting for them and often telling them what they needed to hear in a way they could appreciate it.

Here are her answers to my questions:

What part of the social web world are you most fascinated by and why?

I look forward to seeing the change in the way businesses are run by using social media, online communities and knowledge sharing.  Using new tools to communicate to and with customers is a start but to see that bleed further into other areas of the organization such as customer service, R&D, knowledge sharing, innovation etc. is really what I’m looking forward to.
What are you passionate about and what motivates that passion?
I am passionate about helping people understand the value of social media in a way that affects how they think about personal and business relationships.

If you could construct your own job who would you be working with? For whom? On what problems?

I know that creating online communities can fundamentally change the way that companies do business, employees interact, and stakeholders find value in an organization. The challenge is that it’s difficult to get organizations to change. I’d love to help companies recognize the value and fundamentally change the way that their employees exchange information with each other, and with the company stakeholders.

Since you can't always make up a job that will support you - what are you looking for next?

I am interested in a job at a company that consults businesses in building social media strategy or a job where the hiring company is looking for someone to build a social media strategy and then execute on that strategy for their own organization.

What project/activity from past jobs gave you the most joy?

Seeing EDR’s commonground hit its stride in the summer of last year was really exciting. The employees that I worked with at EDR understood the affect the community could have on their business. I felt that they had poured their soul into the community, as I had. It was exciting to see all our hard work really come to fruition. I still visit the community on a regular basis and it’s really going gangbusters.

What non-work related activities make you the happiest?

I’m blessed with an extended family and all of them work really hard to stay connected. Being with them is awesome.  Also, traveling is a huge passion of mine. Learning how other people live in other cultures and eating their food is something I’ll never get enough of.Sitting down to a meal with my husband is my daily joy.

What's your most amusing work-related story?

Sitting in a San Jose, CA motel parking lot and working through business strategy with Barry Libert. Driving with him is a hoot also. He always wanted to hire a driver or get in a taxi when we traveled for business together and I always insisted on renting a car and being the navigator. That was always exciting.  He’s very enthusiastic. He’d be in the middle of a thought, and I’d be yelling, Left, here, now!

What are your thoughts about the US economy and what is going on?

It’s frustrating to lose your job but I’m hopeful that these difficult times bring individuals a deeper understanding of what’s important to them. I also hope it helps businesses shift to become more efficient, sustainable and valuable to employees and customers.
I think we’re going to see an uptick in jobs in social media in the next few months. I think our field can’t sustain this contraction and companies will start hiring in our field as well as in other white collar high-tech jobs. 

Anything else?

Thank you to my family and friends who have been so supportive this past month. So many people have offered to help in a variety of ways. Everyone’s support has really helped me land on my feet and focus on my next move. I am confident that my next job will be a great fit for me and it will allow me to progress in my career.

Check out her blog, Social Media Building Blocks or find her on Twitter.