Forget B2B and B2C; Hello, E2E

(Tune your Software Layer)

Forget B2B. Forget B2C. Embrace E2E: Everyone to Everyone.  Business and consumers alike are voting with their wallets and making mobile, tablet and personal 2-in-1 devices the “first screen” – relegating laptops, desktop PCs and wall-mounted flat screen TVs to “second screen” status.  They are messaging one another.  And they are talking about you. Are you listening?  Hello?

A few organizations have adopted the playbook to address this shift.   It seems, however, that most are not even thinking about the user-centric, user-generated, user-driven, mobile-first, E2E experience.  That makes it a huge opportunity, if you set your mind to it.

Aaron Shapiro, blogging for the Harvard Business Review, cited the “Software Layer” as an area of focus for optimizing this E2E User experience, no matter what business you are in.  I have incorporated some of his thoughts into the following 20-page storybook.  It’s a quick read (lots of pictures), and it outlines a framework for how Users interact with your Business through a Software Layer. Enjoy!

Who Uses You cover shot
Enjoy the brief SlideShare preso

I hope you find it useful in framing your thoughts on how to compete and excel.

Suffice to say, the race is on, and competing is not optional.

Make this the year you embrace the Software Layer of your business to drive User engagement, new opportunity, and new levels of success.

How is your organization adapting to the “Everyone to Everyone” world?   Love to hear your stories.

Cheers, Ed

@fanfoundry

8 Facebook #FAILS We Can Do Without

Is Facebook doomed?

Facebook #FAIL fanfoundry icon

The bloom is off.  Aside from FB’s business results, such as their abysmal financials and their ads’ anemic, low-end response rates, there are some basic usability issues I have found.  Neither I, nor my post-teen children, nor the new teeners, can figure out why these issues persist and, frankly, we can do without them. Maybe some of these things can be fixed within the platform, but many of the issues are user/behavior based.

1. Zero Privacy – Bill Joy said it over 20 years ago: you have zero privacy, get over it. What happens in Vegas stays on YouTube.  If you don’t want people to know something, don’t say it, don’t video it, don’t post it, don’t comment.

2.  Snooping Parents – at any age, there are just certain things you don’t even tell the fam.

3. Peer Pressure – How many times lately have you clicked the Like button based on guilt, pity, sarcasm, or some promise of reward?  What, then, is the value of a “like”, once we’ve polluted the Likestream with insincerity?

4.  Tasteless junk – sometimes I just don’t want to know about others’ nasty habits. And not everyone has the same sense of humor.  Xenophobia runs rampant.  Look it up.

5.  Career suicide – Hiring and prescreening include Facebook reviews. ‘Nuf said.

6.  Filter failure – This is arguably an umbrella issue in that it touches upon some of the other #fails listed here.  And, yet, it is separate: You can’t selectively filter your friends’ feeds.  Not everything in your friend feeds is relevant or even interesting, and it can’t be filtered to show only what’s interesting to you.

7.  Plummeting cool factor – All of the above factors feed a sense of disillusionment. Or is it just me?

8.  Alternatives – Tumbler, Instagram and Twitter are just as capable of perfoming the essentials.  Tomorrow: who knows?

I’ve only listed 8.  I’m sure there are a couple more.   Chime in!

Other Resources

“Are Teenagers Beginning to Prefer Twitter Over Facebook?”  (Mashable)

“Guess What’s Hot with Teens?  Tumblr, Not Facebook” (Huffington Post)

Viral Marketing Backlash

A slight departure from the usual scholarly tone

~ ~ ~

Viral, Schmiral.

Every occupation seems to have its share of humorous, derogatory pet names.  Lawyers, for example, are often depicted as sharks.  Similarly, marketing professionals have been depicted as snake oil merchants who peddle snappy-labeled bottles of an elixir that promises to cure whatever ails you.  The seller conveniently skips town with our gullible buyers’ money before we can all compare notes and discover the hoax.

This brings me to the subject of the phrase “viral marketing“.

Origin of the term “Snake Oil”

In truth, what often masquerades as viral marketing is merely the ability to reach an initial audience of online influencers in hopes of stimulating broader audience-generated distribution.   More often than not, the hoped-for result doesn’t materialize, and we all know hope is not a strategy.  You could no sooner engage in viral marketing than you could instruct a real virus who to infect next.  We’d all like our marketing messages to take on a life of their own and become distributed to an exponentially larger audience we couldn’t possibly reach on our own.  But to promise your client you can deliver viruslike results?  I’d like a slice, please.  Oh, and I also have this twitch in my neck I’d like you to examine.

The deception is that any business that professes to specialize in Viral Marketing is in fact promising something they cannot deliver.  I recommend we not profess to offer viral marketing as a service that can be packaged.  ROI projections, anyone?

What Viral Is – and Isn’t

If viral marketing were something you could package and market, complete with its list of features and exact processes you could carry out successfully every time, resulting in a marketing message that predictably, reliably spreads exponentially beyond its original audience, then I’d like to shake your hand, personally apologize, retract this article and become your reseller, if you’ll have me.  If you can’t do those things, however, then stop giving your profession a black eye by promising what you can’t deliver.  And get out of town.  After you give back my money.  On the contrary, if Viral Marketing were so successful, more of us would be doing it — which, ironically, would only saturate online channels with so much content that our short attention spans would be challenged to digest any of it.

I have sounded out this issue with a number of other professionals – marketers and non-marketers alike – and visited with real and imaginary people who profess to offer “viral marketing” solutions, to try to figure out this “viral marketing” thing.  So far, I have found nothing new under the sun.  What passes for viral marketing is at best an ability to address a large audience, or perhaps a few influential people.  Hmmm…I thought viral meant able to spread on its own beyond your immediate audience, altruistically, without further intervention from you.  Being able to blog, tweet, Friend, Link, broadcast, narrowcast or influence someone at the outset hardly seems to match the concept of viral.

Let’s please call Viral Marketing something else, something that says what it does.  How about simply calling it Social Marketing or, maybe, Advertising? What am I missing?   Holla back.

Social Media ROI, a Case Study (Tech Event)

Many of the social media success stories kicking around the interwebs these days are indeed inspirational, yet I get frequent client comments along the lines of: “Oh, sure, Dell and Cisco can do it, but what about my small to mid-size enterprise?  What is realistically achievable? Our experimental budget is limited.”

The following true story may offer some insight as to how one small organization leveraged its existing relationships creatively.  I have withheld names by request, however if you contact me for specifics, I can share more.  It is told from the point of view of my experience with a start-up software company.  In this story, everybody wins, and social media makes it possible.  No, it’s not a multi-million dollar landslide victory, but it’s an important demonstration of how incremental change yields great results.
~

Today’s Featured Post:

Social Media ROI, a Case Study

Case study: Executive Summit event

The Players:  
1. Startup Software company
2. Online community
3. Executive Summit (event management organization)
4. Industry portals

Their needs:
1. Software company – customers, inbound prospects, PR
2. Online community  – affordable professional development
3. Executive Summit – speakers, tuition, attendee satisfaction
4. Industry portals – enrichment, community, reputation

PART 1 – THE CAMPAIGN

Software company purchases speaker/sponsor role at Executive Summit, and negotiates with summit management to discount* sponsor/speaker fee for every attendee the software company recruits.

*Note: discount arrangement was only possible because the Summit management company and the Software company had previously exchanged value by partnering on other successful events that similarly enriched their communities.

PART 2 – THE COMMUNITY

Software company announces Summit registration discount:
– via email to precisely targeted clients and prospects in its enriched database
– on industry portals, professional organization sites, and communities such as LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

Announcement goes “somewhat” viral – LinkedIn, re-Tweeted, blogged.  Event website, SW firm site and community portals are linked back from those sources – expanding the community’s resources and increasing brand value for all involved web properties.
PART 3 – THE ROI

Discount code announcement combined with viral circulation results in increased event revenue sufficient to WIPE OUT entire speaker/sponsor fee (over ten thousand dollars) for Software company while significantly increasing the value of the event for all.

Community members’ recent referral activity, combined with additional Profiles of affiliations, interests, networks, corporate roles etc., leads to refined lead scoring and fast identification of previously unknown high potential prospects

THE RESULT

Everybody wins – as stated earlier:
1. Software company – customers, prospects, PR
2. Online community – affordable professional development
3. Executive Summit – speakers, tuition, attendee satisfaction
4. Industry portals – enrichment, community, reputation

~

Commentary:

This success story has no precise ending, because we have agreed to continue the partnership.  One thing seems reasonably certain at this juncture: there is no going back.  Heightened audience expectations must be nurtured to keep bringing the mutual benefits to this enriched community.   Once you have built a community, it requires care and feeding to thrive.

How have your community building efforts fared?  Do you have a story to share?  Love to hear your comments.

‘ Til soon,

~Ed

~

Subscribe to get blog updates via the Subscribe box (above right) .

Share this post with others via the Share link (above right).

Comment (below).

The Customer has Spoken – twice: 2 reports on social media business benefits

For the organization still trying to decide whether social media is a trend or a fad and therefore useful for business, consider the following two studies.

From Business.com: The 2009 Business Social Media Benchmarking Study

Ben Hanna, Ph.D. recently authored and published via http://www.business.com this 45-page study, which provides insights into business social media usage provided by nearly 3,000 North American business professionals.  The report covers utilization by individuals as well as adoption by companies.  Here are a few of its observations.

1. Nearly half of all US adults now participate in social networks, and regularly use these networks to find business-relevant information such as product information, peer reviews, and product support.  So many people regularly use social networks that it is impractical to pigeon-hole them demographically and therefore imprudent to dismiss your customers and prospects as not likely users.

The top 3 most popular social networking sites, not surprisingly, are FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Ironically, according to Robert Half International, 54% of company CIOs surveyed ban the use of Facebook and Twitter at work – similar to how they once banned Internet surfing and personal email.

2.  Nearly 65% of respondents reported using social media as part of their normal work routine, including reading blogs, visiting business profiles, or using Twitter to find information and communicate about business related matters.

3.  The most popular use of social media resources for business are:

a – accessing product and service information

  • attending webinars or listening to podcasts (69%)
  • reading ratings/reviews for business products or services (62%)
  • visiting company or product profile pages on social media sites (61%)

b – communicating about product and service information

  • participating in online business communities or forums (51%)
  • reading or downloading business related content on 3rd party content sharing sites (50%)
  • asking questions on Q&A sites (49%)
  • subscribing to RSS feeds of business related news or information sites (35%)
  • Participating in discussions on 3rd party sites (29%)
  • Using Twitter to find or request business related information (29%)

One interesting statistic ought to pop out above: over half of all survey respondents participate in online business communities or forums.   In other words, it is highly likely that your customers and prospects are talking about you, your customers and your competition right now.
 

From MarketingProfs.com: 11 Twitter Success Stories

This paper, available at http://www.marketingprofs.com , provides detailed case studies on 11 companies who measurably achieved their ROI objectives using Twitter as a communications channel.

Examples include building community, managing customer services, selling, prospecting, raising branding and awareness, and fund raising.

The paper is prefaced with a very useful how-to guide called “Essential Twitter Tools” for making use of Twitter-related tools, gadgets and resources to get the most out of Twitter.

~

Have you read these studies?  Are you attaining business benefits through social media?  What results are you getting?   Reply / comment below.

~Ed