A wise woman once told me never to mistake activity for achievement and while I heard her, I never really understood her before I came to work for Gartner.
At Gartner, I have the opportunity to observe from afar, or in other cases from a bit too close, and recognize what is going right amongst our clients, and what is going wrong. And there is one thing that continues to go wrong within our client base, within “case studies,” and within media coverage of the business use of social media: the discussion of metrics.
Fans, followers, likes, comments, re-tweets, views, engagement rate, impressions…these things tell us nothing in isolation. There are activity metrics and they’re easy to measure. Easy to measure doesn’t mean that they’re bad, but alone they tell us nothing about our productivity towards a goal which impacts the business.
There is a way to make activity metrics more useful: make them relative. This doesn’t mean that saying in January you acquired 40 new fans and in February you increased that to 80 – metrics like that still don’t tell you much of anything. Instead, take a look at how many impressions you have from a Facebook ad as compared to the newsprint ad you bought. Compare impressions to cost. Is your cost per impression for equally targeted advertising less on social media than it is in traditional media?
Relative activity measurements help companies with things that matter like cost savings or increase in revenue generating opportunities, or even the ability to do predictive analysis when correlated to other data sets. And hey take it from someone who didn’t want to hear it, if you can do something to track conversions but you think it will minimize viewership or consumption of your content (like putting up a registration wall,) remember that unless YOU capture that lead via social media, you can’t prove that the lead came from work that YOU did. And so YOUR budget is going to get cut.
If you’re reading this post, I want you to take 10 minutes (block your calendar) and write out what you’re doing on social media and how it impacts your business. If you want to share, great, but if not keep in mind that this activity is for YOU to help YOU.
When I was a wee intern, building out social media pages for the products and campaigns I supported without rhyme or reason, I built an Orkut page for both myself and one of the campaigns. For the particular campaign, I was trying to reach developers and coders particularly in India and so I was exposed to the Facebook-esque network which was Google’s first run at social networking and gained some popularity in India and Brazil.
For those who don’t recall, the cupcake craze, as it’s called, started in the early-to-mid-2000’s, a similar time as the social media craze. Now I’m not saying that Google and Crumbs came together in 2003/2004 in an evil conspiracy to upset all Brazilians who are living in America a decade down the line by pummeling them with bad news (But come on, wouldn’t that have been crazy?) But I am saying that there is certainly a lesson to be learned here.
When a craze hits, we as business leaders jump!
We want to get involved. We want to make this craze into something we can capitalize on. We live on the hype and we ride its wave. But we need to start looking at the craze a little bit differently. What is the want/need behind a craze? With cupcakes we wanted something sweet, cute, delicious, and reminiscent of our childhood. With social networks we wanted a way to connect with people persistently even when we’re “offline” and we also wanted to brag about ourselves just a little bit.
Zach Galifianakis on “Between Two Ferns”
So if now we think of Crumbs and we think of Orkut (and we think of the Brazilian national soccer team,) can’t all of these businesses/products/things be replaced? Cupcakes can be replaced by donuts, Orkut can be replaced by Facebook, the Brazilian soccer team can be replaced by Germany, but it doesn’t just end with a single transition. If we assume a business can be run on those initial needs: sweet and reminiscent or persistent connection, why can’t something else just work its way to the forefront? Donuts become Dunk-a-roos, Facebook is replaced by a network exclusive to smart watches, and Germany loses to the Netherlands/Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final.
Build for the need, not the network, and no matter where the line of transition leads, you’ll be prepared.
It’s somewhat obvious that not all of today’s social networks, or yesterday’s for that matter, are going to make it in the biz, so in today’s post, I want us all to make some social network predictions based on what has happened to the members of N’Sync.
From L to R: Justin Timberlake, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick
Our five boy banders are:
Justin Timberlake – N’Sync’s number one member in terms of vocals, dancing and tween-heartthrob status, Timberlake has done well for himself as a solo artist collaborating with the likes of Timbaland and Jay-Z. Formerly attached to Britney Spears, Timberlake has had a series of high profile relationships before settling down with Jessica Biel. The hair and accessories were horrible, but they’ve gotten much better and I think they’ll continue to do so. Sometimes he let’s the other members of N’Sync hang out with him on stage at the MTV Music Video Awards, but not usually.
Sussin Score: LinkedIn
Lance Bass – I’m going to be transparent with you, he was my favorite in N’Sync’s glory days. Lance Bass was always unassuming and just did his thing. He got a lot of attention from the ladies and kind of just went with the flow. Years after dating Boy Meets World’s Topanga, he came out as gay. Lance isn’t popping up on random TV shows and we don’t hear of him making music, but he keeps just doing his thing and being himself.
Sussin Score: Pinterest
Joey Fatone – he was the bad boy of the group as you can see by his spiked red hair and accessories. Often times he wore no shirt sleeves, and other times they were there and mesh, but one thing we all know is that he was a big Superman fan (the 90’s cat video.) Fatone shows up randomly on broadway or pulling cameos on TV shows or even appearing in hair loss commercials. The guy has little shame but seems to have staying power.
Sussin Score: YouTube
JC Chasez – formerly a top 2 N’Sync member in terms of vocal ability, notoriety, and 12 yr old girl crushes, JC left N’Sync while still in some control of his career. He dated Tara Reid when that was popular and he had a few singles. He made some bad hair and wardrobe choices over the years and after becoming somewhat unimportant, he does do some behind-the-scenes work now.
Sussin Score: Facebook
Chris Kirkpatrick – Crazy hair. No one knows if he has a good voice but he fit a role. Perhaps he danced well? Anyway, a couple years back Chris was interviewed and said that he thinks N’Sync will definitely get back together some day. He’s slightly delusional but I think if a 90’s tween saw him, they’d still be excited from a reminiscent perspective.
Sussin Score: Friendster
Here’s the thing: we don’t get rid of boy bands. They come back for reunion tours and we wish they wouldn’t sometimes but guess what? Even Chris Kirkpatrick has fan sites to this day. Social networks are in flux, but that doesn’t mean the networks/boys won’t still show up in some way, shape, or form from time-to-time.
So let’s do a Pac-man and Dot table for market re-cap thus far…
Keep in mind some of those big deals, were for the purchase of more than a social app, but a broader set of apps. Now, the argument could be made for something being more a dot or a sub-dot than a Pac-man, but we’re not here to argue those things. We’re here to see what has happened to these acquisitions, objectively. For the sake of including meat for dinner, let’s only talk about acquisitions that have marinated for nine months+ (I figure if it’s long enough to grow a baby, it’s long enough to make some progress.)
So what’s the point? It’s the same point we’ve been making for the last two years (seriously, look at the old blog posts.) Pac-man eats the dot and hopefully it uses it as the fuel needed to beat out the ghosts, aka competitors. Or in other situations, it’s the end user who has hunger pains after the acquisition.
There are so many things about social media engagement that are deemed to simple to write about anymore. Well ladies and gentlemen, let’s get tacky!
Tacky, or weird?
I know people are struggling with developing their individual social networks and their organization’s social networks and so in my first blog post of 2014, let’s talk about one of those things that everyone is afraid to ask about: how to organically build out your social network. What do I mean by organic? I mean not buying followers, not following people in hopes that they’ll follow you back in a move of courtesy.
You might say, “hey lady, you only have 1,800 followers.” And I might say, “I’m cool with that,” because for me, it’s okay to only have 1,800 followers. If 1,800 people are interested in what I have to say, that is enough pressure for an individual person. I’m not trying to sell anything via social media. I’m trying to meet and bond with cool people and for such an objective, a pot of 1,800 people ensures I am always amused.
But if your objective is a business objective – how do you even get to 1,800? Here is my rule of 3 for individuals and organizations looking to build out their social networks: for everyone one original post you create, you must retweet/share something someone else said, and comment on something someone else said. And here is why:
Create an original post because you want to show you have a mind – and that mind can come up with something unique. Maybe something unique is something about your business, maybe it is something you’re thinking of, the bottom line is this is your post to do what you want with.
Retweet or share to show you’re the kind of person who is willing to proliferate someone else’s message, if you think that message is a good one. This is the whole “you scratch my back, I scratch yours,” concept. We’re all a littler narcissistic folks. Pet an ego.
Comment on someone else’s post to engage with them. Building a real, meaningful network means you need to have a reciprocal feeling of relationship. So talk to the person! Start up a dialogue. Ask a question, make an observation. Encourage people to communicate with you, not at you. Set expectations that when someone enters into a relationship with you, you engage.
It’s quick, it’s easy, and now you don’t need to be embarrassed about asking. The truth is, we talk to clients about this a couple of times a week.
You don’t need to comment here if you don’t want to admit you looked at this – afterall, we are being tacky. But do, do me a favor: come find me at an upcoming event I’ll be at and let me know if you found this valuable. I promise not to rat you out Here is where I’ll be:
by Jenny Sussin | December 18, 2013 | Comments Off
Almost 18 months back, I wrote a blog post on the pac-manning of the social application market. The big vendors were gobbling up the small vendors and trying to outsmart their competitors. Yadda, yadda, yadda, it hasn’t stopped. And so while the mega vendors cobble together their social offerings and the entrepreneurs stay on as GMs or leave to start new companies, the people left in the lurch are the customers.
I know this isn’t a new story. M&A has been around since the beginning of business-time and changes in business performance have been a result ever since.
So in the spirit of the holiday season, let me present a seasonal take: a Christmas tale for each of our three characters: the acquirer, the acquiree, and the customer.
You are the modern day Santa Claus and you’ve earned it. What you’ve provided your customers over the years are gifts that help them keep their companies alive (and sometimes coal, but hey!) You’ve cobbled together a rag-tag bunch of reindeer to help you deliver your “gifts” via sleigh over the years but you’ve just found this new reindeer with a bright red nose to help light your way to a successful Christmas. As you bring this new reindeer, Rudolph, on board you need to keep one very important thing in mind. If you break Rudolph’s helpful, holiday spirit or if you are too busy teaching Rudolph how to guide your sleigh, to actually let him guide your sleigh, your customers who would ordinarily receive your gifts are going to be displeased and might stop believing in Santa Claus.
Rudolph with your nose so bright, everyone is going to want you to guide their sleigh tonight. At first the other reindeer laughed at you but the customers found you to be so interesting, useful, shiny and new that the other reindeer had to pay attention. Now Santa has courted you and you’re heading to the North Pole, the envy of all of your peers. Don’t forget it was the customers who got you there. You might have a shiny nose, but they figured out how to use it and they were so ecstatic about your nose that Santa took notice. When Santa brought you to the North Pole, you weren’t you anymore…and that is okay because you’re working toward a greater cause…but don’t lose emphasis on who helped you get where you are in an attempt to fit in or trump Santa’s other reindeer.
Sorry bro, you’re just a kid and life is a nightmare. We can hope Santa does the right thing, but sometimes Santa is just in the bright-nose collection business and doesn’t recognize Rudolph for anything but his good looks. But if you’re patient and give Rudolph, Santa and the other reindeer time to get to know each other, you may get more gifts, better gifts, coordinated gifts with no repeats. The question you have to ask yourself is do you have the time to wait for that dream to become a reality or should you start looking for a new reindeer?
There have been a lot of news articles and a lot of blog posts about Twitter’s change to it’s direct messaging rules – gist is, you can set your Twitter profile to allow people to direct message (DM) you even if you don’t follow them.
I’m not trying to repeat anything anyone has already said, so I’ll link to a couple of articles right now that will explain more if you want more:
Instead what I want to let our clients and readers of the Gartner blogs know that there are 5 quick things to keep in mind regarding this change and how it impacts your business.
This won’t stop customers from complaining publicly. People aren’t going to DM you instead of tweeting your transgressions out loud. That isn’t nearly as satisfying for them.
If someone complains publicly, you need to at a minimum begin your response publicly. If you need to take something to a DM or offline, you should, but you should also recognize that the Twittersphere doesn’t know you just called that menace @jsussin who complained about her lost luggage unless you tell them you’re going to call her.
You’re still going to need a multichannel customer service strategy. DMs don’t take the place of email and people will never view them as, as secure as email. And they’re not. You still need to work on that customer engagement center.
Individuals don’t need to open up their DM box to you, even though you open it up to them…but even if they do, don’t abuse it. Links aren’t the only thing you can send in a DM that can be spammy and you don’t want to get yourself a bad reputation, do you?
The DM should still be used lightly. In a world where we’re hell-bent on personalization, we’re going to want to send coupon codes and individualized messages to our customers. There are still times you want to shout from the rooftops that you love someone and propose to them on the jumbotron. He/she may still want to show off that affection to their friends. Keep that in mind.
And with that my friends, do your thing. If you have some more quick tips that you want to share, or if you have any comments or questions, use the comment thread!
There’s nothing I love more than a good pop culture reference and it’s time we take our tweets and turn them into bows and arrows. (If you’re unfamiliar with The Hunger Games, you’re going to have a really hard time with this blog post.)
I have spent the last four days at Gartner’s US Symposium and in that time, I’ve taken 40+ 1:1 meetings where I’ve spoken with clients about social media and its application to their business. Coupled with around 300 clients inquiries I’ve taken on the topic thus far this year, that makes almost about 400 social media problems that just I, myself, have worked with businesses to troubleshoot. Keep in mind, I’m not the only person at Gartner who covers social business so if we extrapolate a bit I’d venture to guess that Gartner has taken between 2,000 and 3,000 inquiries on social business topics this year.
Yet market pundits try to say it’s become less important, having the staying power of District 11 in the Games. CIOs look for reasons why social media is irrelevant to their company in an attempt to prioritize Districts 1 and 2. So why does the underfunded, undernourished District 12, Katniss Everdeen, continue to be a force of such impact that the Capitol is forced to pay attention?
You have to consider what the Capitol wants. They’re comfortable with what they know, what they can control, traditional strategy, traditional approaches, and traditional technologies. Katniss/Social represents all that the Capitol has neglected: essentially customer and employee feedback…for years.
And once we empower Katniss, give her the bows and arrows she needs to thrive, allow her to tweet or blog or post to the Web and be seen by all of Panem, she becomes dangerous. She becomes something we can no longer control because we’ve never spent the time to nurture her strengths and teach her where to aim the arrows.
This is where the enterprise still has a chance. The enterprise needs to stop ignoring social, stop trying to repress it, and instead embrace it and give it a target. If the Capitol can channel Katniss and get her fighting for their cause, a real business impact, then it gets its power back. But as those who’ve read the books know the fate of the Capitol, they can only hope enterprises see a better fate.
*The grammatical errors in this blog post are gratuitous.
SMMS supposedly stands for social media management system. I’ve said it once, and I will say it again – there is no such thing as A social media management system.
Using the term “SMMS” proliferates the complete misconception that businesses work with one application versus the, at minimum, 3 to 5 they’re actually working with. I’ve spoken with companies using at least 8 different social media applications to support CRM – and this isn’t rare! There is not one all-in-one application in the market right now. How could there be?! Is there one “Customer” team in an organization? That customer team does marketing, customer service and sales from within the same reporting structure? They all use the same legacy application to do their day-to-day jobs? So how could there be one social solution to plug into one tool which, quite frankly, doesn’t exist.
It’s the same problem that has happened with the word, “social.” Sure we’re collectively moving past the hump, but you know how many people still confusedly think all “social” is the same thing? Do you know how many people parallel Radian 6 with Facebook? It’s scary and yet, it isn’t their fault. It’s the market’s fault for feeding into a hyped up misnomer and not clarifying which aspect of “social” they meant. Everyone just wanted to fit in – but that led end user organizations into this giant jumble of a world where HootSuite, Yammer, and Bazaarvoice are on the same shortlist.
Social solutions are not just social solutions, they’re solutions which complement a business process. Social solutions for marketing, social solutions for customer service, social solutions for sales, etc. So sure, if you want to #smms you can go for it, I’m not stopping you. At least do me a solid and say what you’re actually looking at, purpose wise, when it comes to “managing” social media.
Gartner clients, we’ve got a reading list for you:
By this point, everyone has seen the donut analogy regarding what social networks are used for what.
Facebook – I like donuts
Twitter – I am eating a donut
LinkedIn – My skills include: donut eating
Pinterest – Here is a recipe for a donut
Foursquare – This is where I eat donuts
The creators and the audience of this analogy find it witty and interesting because there is a difference between social networks, and there is a difference in how you conduct yourself on each network. For an example, we can use what I do personally:
Facebook – I “friend” my friends, classmates, family and co-workers who I talk about things other than work with
Twitter – I “follow” friends, comedians, colleagues, industry experts, companies, news outlets, and anyone or anything else that interests me with no expectation they will follow me back
LinkedIn – I “connect” with friends, classmates, family, co-workers, clients and anyone I can personally or professionally vouch for – good or bad
Pinterest – I “follow” friends from Facebook with interesting pins, cooking magazines, DIY-ers
Foursquare – I “friend” people who are local, and people I’m uncomfortable turning down, but people I know
The faux verbs: to “friend”, to “follow” and to “connect,” all carry weight. But there is even more weight in the verbs, the actions you can take, once you’ve looped someone into your network on these sites.
So why bring this up now? The other day I had turned down four LinkedIn connection requests, all from people I didn’t know. One was even someone from Gartner who I just haven’t ever worked with. Anyway, I took to Twitter, as I tend to do when this sort of thing happens, and I said something along the lines of “if I don’t know you, don’t bother requesting to connect with me on LinkedIn. The answer is no.” Nice and obnoxious, but you can see the frustration, me having repeated this time and time again. Last night I got a tweet back asking, “don’t you see the value in connecting with people and broadening your network?”
OF COURSE I DO! But LinkedIn isn’t the place for that: it’s all in the verbs.
On LinkedIn you’re asked to “introduce” connections to one another, “recommend” connections, and “endorse” connections. How can I possibly introduce one person to another if I haven’t met either of them myself? How can I recommend someone for a position when I have no idea who they are? How can I endorse a person when the only thing I know about them is they have the search skills to find me on LinkedIn? If you were hiring someone and came to me asking about one of these people and I made this face…
…who looks stupid?
If I were to “connect” with every stranger (because even an introductory message via InMail still makes us strangers,) then it would ruin the integrity of my word as it pertains to my entire LinkedIn connections network, which then benefits no one. Each social network needs to be recognized what it is, and businesses aren’t the only ones guilty of social media faux pas. It’s important that we as individual mind social cues and network verbs to keep the integrity of the sites many of us have grown to rely on intact.
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