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.
Every marketer makes the mistake of equating activity to value at some point in their career. You know what, it’s not just marketers: it’s everyone. “You left at 5:30? I work until 10 pm every night.”
The bottom line for the 10 pm people: if I can get similar or better quality work done by 5:30, I’m not working until 10.
When I was an entry level marketer focusing on social media, I had some really strong mentors who taught me how to create content that wasn’t boring. They helped me see that even though I was marketing B2B software, I could make the content interesting versus just having the ‘talking head’ videos that we’re all too familiar with. I was proud of myself. I was getting content created with little to no-budget that was garnering an audience of hundreds, or if I was lucky it’d get thousands, and for one product line of a non-consumer brand, that level of activity around content is not something to be scoffed at.
I also had a higher-level, executive mentor. He was this really well-respected, smart, hilarious man in the company who scared the ____ out of me and everyone who worked for him or around him. (Side note: being able to make people laugh until they cry, and at the same time have them genuinely fear you, is a legitimate skill. I’m still in awe of this person as you can see.)
So one day I was working from my former company’s headquarters and he calls me over the catch up. I was so proud of the work I’d done and as I told him about the content I’d created and the low-budget with high viewership, I was sure I was impressing him. I wasn’t. Instead he hit me with some business knowledge and took me down a peg. He asked, “so how many prospects were you able to pin point?” And I said, “well, none but…” And so he asked, “were you able to close any deals as a result of this?” And I said, “No but this cost us next to nothing and has thousands of views!” And he said, “we made a video the other day for $40,000. It has 30 views, but we closed a $3 million deal as a result of it. The ‘talking head’ helped us close a deal with his company.”
Duh. Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh. When you work in the social space, you end up getting so consumed with being creative and getting ‘hits’ that you often lose track of your true business purpose: make us money or save us money, either directly or indirectly. You can literally pay for ‘activity.’ $39 will get you 5,000 views on your YouTube video thanks to Socialkik.
When you’re building your social media strategy, including your social content strategy, consider your end game and act accordingly versus 2009 Jenny.
Another post in preparation for intern and I-need-to-find-a-job season…we bring you “the duck face…”
You know what I mean you iPhone users, you MySpace reformers, you Instagrammers…
One more from the little Kardashian…
Heck, my one colleague and I were just talking about how his teenager has started making the duck face and throwing down 2s (a sideways peace sign a la Drake, Charlize and little K) for the last couple of months now since she’s discovered how to take an iPhone selfie (you need long enough arms to make this work, it usually takes until 14 or so.)
No one wants to employ a duck face. Especially not one with a spray tan and a beer bottle in hand.
You’ve got to keep in mind young’ns and older folk that anything you put online, can and will be found: just ask Anthony Weiner.
So here is the simplest of advice for anyone raising a teenager, getting tipsy on the weekend, tweeting or posting to social media either personally or on behalf of their company…if you’re not okay with your post, with a giant picture of your face next to it, up on a billboard along the I-95 corridor or the 101 or wherever you are: DON’T POST IT.
You can not simply delete something from social media. Thousands of companies are capturing those feeds every second of every day and so while you think you have deleted something from Twitter or Facebook, someone else already has a copy of it. Not just one someone, hundreds of thousands of someones. Be smart. Hide your phone and your face when you’re under the influence.
Take a breather when you’re frustrated before posting something on social media.
And companies, know how to manage control of your social media accounts so the duck face doesn’t happen or this, this is worse.
Direct messages aren’t private, just ask your local congressman.
Let’s press play and turn on the speakers for this one because it’s nearly summer time and while our interns come to join us, we should listen to some relaxing music. Plus, your intern might look like Chad or Jeremy in ’64.
If you give an intern control of your Facebook page, one or two or three of many things could happen. He/she might…
Establish the customer-facing social media strategy you lack…
Get angry with you and post something inappropriate…
Build a foundation on which you can express your brand’s brand on social media…
Build a foundation for your brand that is not really your brand’s brand…
Flourish under your leadership and become a change agent and leader in your organization…
Go work for a competitor, while still having admin access to your Facebook page…
As intern season springs upon us and the doe-eyed young’ns enter our white-walled dwellings, let’s keep in mind that the tasks we assign them are tasks that have an impact on both the intern and the organization. When I was a wee intern, some of the folks at my former employer gave some of us a camera, they gave others the equipment to podcast, and others the opportunity to blog. That one day where someone believed in us and entrusted us to go out and express how we felt about the company we were working for changed our understanding of “career” and what we could do to impact a “stiff” organization.
But also keep in mind that these interns don’t know the history behind your brand. They don’t necessarily understand your industry and your competitors. They might not even understand your product. And worse, they will be gone at the end of the summer. Don’t have them start something you can’t carry on.
And with those few words of wisdom, everyone enjoy your summer
First, I know I haven’t been blogging as much as I “should.” I’m not the first person to have trouble finding time to blog. I am not the best at balancing my personal and professional life and time. I am not the only person who has ever made the “I’ve been too busy” excuse. I am not one of a kind, nor am I best in class.
Alright, I came clean: social application vendors, it is time that you do the same.
Gartner follows over 150 vendors in the social for CRM space. I alone have 152 files on vendors I have been briefed by, many of them multiple times over the past 2 years…and there are multiple products under each of those vendors, mind you. And the point is: the likelihood that the product I am being demo-ed is the first, the only or the best is very, very minimal.
Jennifer Lawrence's impression of any analyst who hears the words "first," "only" or "best."
And so now, the constructive part of this post.
Vendors: it is okay. You don’t need to be the first, only or best to be different. When you talk to an analyst and when you pitch potential clients, be cool. TELL ME WHAT YOU DO. Don’t give me marketing lingo. Tell me what you do and hopefully you know what you’re doing well and can hone in on it. If you don’t know what you do well, because you couldn’t possibly have an eye on an entire marketplace because that isn’t your day job, guess whose day job it is?
End users: I can only imagine how confused you are. I hear it every day from our clients. The irrational short lists. The pure confusion in people’s voices. If you look at any social application vendor’s web page, it’ll look like they all do the same thing. Sure there are some exceptions, but for the most part 80% of vendors are out there saying, “we’re a social media management system! We do it all. Marketing? Yes. Customer service? Sure. Sales? Of course, you can make millions in new revenue through social! Branding! Engagement! Analytics! Buzzzzzzzz” Here is the simplest advice I can give: know what you want and what you need. Shop around. If you’re a client, you can just call us. We’ve sat through a lot of briefings and talked to a lot of customer references (both happy and unhappy) so that we can let you know, what we know.
A message to all: know who you are as a vendor or an end user. Know what makes you unique. Understand that not everything is always going to be perfect and stay humble but emphasize your best features and where you are looking to grow.
Gartner clients, look at our vendor guides and top use cases research to gain a better understanding of what the differences between social use cases and the vendor’s that serve them. If you have some more questions, just set up an inquiry and we can talk through them.
Clients and non-clients: is there anything else that is confusing you that needs further definition? Tell me about it in the Comments section below. And now, because we all miss this…
Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.