Last week, I had the chance to do a quick tour around Europe with Ed Thompson talking to over 300 people about social media in London, Utrecht, Zurich, Milan, and Frankfurt. I talked about developing strategy, and Ed covered social CRM.
While five cities in five days is a quick pace, it’s not out of the ordinary. I really enjoy these tours. As well as eating some great food, seeing (briefly) some nice places (the train trip from Zurich to Milan is stunning), I get a chance to talk to lots of people about what they are doing. It is always a great source of research, as I hear about the questions people are asking.
Here are the top three questions that I heard on this trip:
- How do we introduce social software into a skeptical organization?
Although social media is hot, it ain’t hot everywhere.Some organizations are more conservative, or have been around for a very long time and aren’t too eager to adopt new technologies. In these cases, people won’t use it because it is cool or because Gartner says they should.
- Should we start our own customer community or build onto one that already exists?
After hearing all the reasons why customer communities are good for you, this issue comes from those who have not yet really started. They face the dilemma of going where their customers already are (like on Facebook or a more specialized site), or trying to draw them to a site associated directly with their own brand.
- How do we handle privacy? Our users and customers find this stuff creepy.
This is a huge issue in Germany, where attitudes towards personal and professional privacy are very highly developed, but was a hot issue across Europe this tour. Importantly, the questions were not about legal restrictions and requirements on privacy, but about how social media makes people feel. Many are not comfortable with sharing too much in their professional lives, and social techniques make them uneasy.
I’ve got some ideas about how to answer these questions, and will work them out in formal research notes in the coming weeks. I also will be talking about some of these (especially the first one) at Gartner Symposium in Cannes. Carol Rozwell will cover this in Orlando. There are also sessions on privacy in Europe, and social CRM.
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