MAD Perspectives Blog

Social Media Storytelling 201

Peggy Dau - Thursday, January 05, 2012

Every company has a story to tell.  There is the story about its creation and growth.  There are stories about its products and solutions.  There are insights about its impact on society, markets and individuals.  These stories are told through a wide variety of communication platforms. Social Media 101 would recommend defining a plan aligned with your strategy, then using the most popular social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogging) to fulfill that plan. As we enter 2012, lets look at some additional tools that will expand the audience for your business stories!

1. Slideshare - As the name indicates, share your presentations.  Not only can companies post presentations and whitepapers, they can create audio to complement the information in the presentations. Slideshare is great outlet for establishing your position in the market, sharing insights in a visual manner, promoting new products, providing "how to" content, and more.  Tell stories through graphics, pictures and key highlights.

2. LinkedIn Groups - Every LinkedIn pundit promotes the benefits of a good profile, increasing connections and gathering recommendations. They also encourage involvement in groups, yet many of the individuals that I talk to don't realize the value of groups. There is a group for just about any industry, technology, profession or interest.  Your company can create groups specific to product categories or market needs. It provides an alternative channel to promote your company's value. Groups allow members to ask and answer questions between themselves or the group moderator. Stories evolve through these interactions.

3. HootSuite or TweetDeck - Simplify your monitoring and posting of social commentary. Each platform allows users to establish multiple accounts (i.e., on behalf of clients), receive notifications, schedule updates and view multiple columns of content on a single screen. These tools provide a single destination for managing your posts on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress, Ping and others. They provide you with instant access to content to keep your story relevant.

4.  Apps - 2011 saw the rise of the app as a means of sharing content on mobile devices.  Given the restrictions of these devices, apps streamline user access and interaction. Without apps, smartphones and tablets would not be enjoying such high levels of success. The challenge for B2B companies is identifying and developing apps to address employee and customer needs. Apple launched its B2B App Store in late 2011, acknowledging the unique needs of this market segment.  Apps simplify how employees or customers can engage with your company while on the go.  Some broad ideas for relevant apps could be customer service FAQs, order management, product highlights and demos, need feeds incorporating corporate, industry and social content.  Apps help you interact in a new way and share your targeted elements of your story.

Coordinating cross channel communication efforts will be the 2012 challenge for sales, marketing and customer support. Creating and adapting content for use across multiple platforms takes time and talent. Companies will face resource challenges to manage content development and distribution. In parallel, social platforms continue to emerge and there are several technologies that all marketing strategists should be addressing. They include the use of mobile devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets), adoption of monitoring and analytics platforms and the importance of location based services.  

Be aware of how any platform can benefit your company's goals as well as increasing awareness and interaction. Use the same methodology you've been using to align and integrate your communications strategy. Define your audiences, the content they need and the best communication channels. Take your strategy to the next level -  testing and analyzing platforms relevant for your business and your customers.

What's your perspective?

Top 5 Blog Topics of 2011

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yes, it's that time of year to look back and reflect.  I took some time to see which blog topics garnered the most interest this year.  The list does not surprise me.  As B2B companies figure out their use of social media, they are facing questions of where and how to leverage social networks and interact with customers.  With no further ado, here are the top 5 MAD Perspectives blogs of 2012!

#1 - LinkedIn:  Companies are just beginning to realize that LinkedIn is more than a site for networking to find a job.  It is THE site for professional networking to find decision makers, engage in group discussion on industry topics and amplify your B2B brand.  Of course, it is also the site to represent your personal professional brand.  For enlightened companies who empower and value their employees, there is recognition that a powerful LinkedIn profile reflects positively on an employer.  Employees can provide links to key corporate sites.  A profile reflecting the value an employee provides to customers, reflects the culture embodied by the company.

#2 - Planning:  It is difficult to know if you're successful in any effort if you don't have a plan that defines goals, tactics and metrics.  Social media evolved from a individual consumer perspective.  The very nature of social media is immediate and authentic.  How can a company plan to engage socially without losing a sense of unaffected spontaneity?  It is a challenge for B2B companies as their messaging will always be related to their brand and products.  However, defining your audience and their needs will help in developing a plan to provide the right kind of content via the right communication channel.  Know your brand's voice and identify methods to share that voice.

#3 - Strategy:  You might find it interesting that strategy lagged slightly behind planning in interest.  Strategy and planning are closely related.  As we talked about strategy this year, we spoke specifically about how your social media strategy must be closely aligned with your brand strategy.  If a company does not understand its identity and does not have clear business goals, it is impossible to develop a social media strategy.  Your social strategy must be aligned with and support your company's business goals.  These could range from market awareness to customer support to product innovation.

#4 - Social Analytics:  This is a hot topic as we move into 2012.  This space is expanding beyond the ability to monitor and listen to what your customers are saying.  It is taking that data (and there is a LOT of data) and using it to drive planning.  Acting upon data collected is often the biggest challenge for any company.  The social universe gives companies unprecedented access to honest insight, opinions, and concerns.  Through their online activity on both search engines and social networks, customers are revealing their needs, being influenced by the opinions of others, sharing experiences and changing the entire purchasing process.  A critical part of any social media strategy, is defining how to monitor, capture and act upon social conversations.

#5 - Corporate Culture:  This is a carryover from 2010 and continues to be relevant.  Your company's culture directly impacts how employees will participate socially, if at all.  Command & control organizations who are leveraging social networks lack the authenticity of empowered organizations.  Social updates from hierarchical organization tend to revert to push marketing techniques of notifying customers of events, without inviting interaction.  In fact, this likely reflects fear of the unknown at the executive level.  Companies who empower their employees are creating strong customer communities through honest, ongoing interaction.  

2011 has seen more B2B companies adopting different forms of social media.  The pressure is on to show measurable results in 2012.  This  means that strategy, planning and analyzing will continue to be critical for success in this space.  Social media is useful for more than pure marketing, which seems to be the default entry point.  I'm curious to see if companies will utilize social networks for other purposes such as recruiting (Facebook and LinkedIn will fight to the death on this topic), customer support (in more than a consumer centric model) or product development (prioritizing roadmaps).  Broadening the use of social media may reveal the path to measuring its real success for B2B companies.

What's your perspective? 

Don't Forget the I in Social Media ROI!

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, December 07, 2011

It's that time of year where we take stock of our successes and failures in the past year.  The goal is that success always outweigh failure.  BTW, failure is OK as it is often how we gain the insight required for great success.  It is also the time of year where we are finalizing our plans and commitments for the coming year. In many cases you've probably won agreement to engage (or continue engaging) in social media.  But, there is probably increasing pressure to define the return on your social media investment.

There are a zillion blogs defining the various metrics you can use to measure return.  Here are a few of them:

Similar to other marketing efforts, there are a range of qualitative and quantitative metrics that can be measured.  In all cases, the metrics should be tied to goals which are tied to business objectives.  Nothing new here.  What's interesting to me is the lack of focus on the investment required to achieve those goals and capture defined metrics.  This is the I in ROI.

Social media is often perceived as "free".  However, this ignores real costs such as:

     - Staff - Your team, (e.g, marketing, customer support, management, etc.) must invest time to engage on social networks, write blogs, monitor customer feedback, etc.  As they say, time is money.

     - Technology - Yes, the leading social networks are free of individual use.  However, do you customize your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn pages, use a social media monitoring/analytics/measurement platform to capture conversations and measure influence, use a social media hub to simplify distribution of content across multiple social networks?  If so, these are investments that must be captured.

     - Creative - In order to make your brand stand out, it is often useful to customize your social network presence.  This can include specific images for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other outlets.  It can involve the creation of badges, infographics, slides, videos or other content specifically for social networks.

     - Agency - Large companies often outsource their social media efforts, content creation efforts to agencies.  These costs should be allocated accordingly.

Capturing a meaningful ROI requires attention to detail and an understanding of what it really takes to meet defined goals.  Altimeter Group has an excellent paper outlining a pragmatic path for analyzing social success. As always, strategy first, technology last - with measuring, listening, analyzing and responding always!

Align your social media strategy with your business objectives, integrate it with your marketing plan and figure out how your going to implement and pay for the strategy. Create a plan for social media success.  Figure out the plan to make sure others recognize the value it provides in achieve business goals.  And, don't forget the I in ROI, it's the key to earning the R!

What's your perspective?

What's your passion?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Think about the businesses that are most fascinating to you.  What do they offer that is appealing to you? Is it their financial statements? Probably not.  Is it their business model, product, marketing or customer service? Possibly. My guess is that it is the energy they put into their business. This energy, or passion, compels them to create a business that matters. The business may offer a product or service that simplifies daily life, alleviates health concerns, enables connectivity to others or enhances the way technology works.  Regardless of the solution provided, the business owner, managers and employees portray a passion that sets them apart from competitors.

Companies that exhibit passion on a daily basis, in my opinion, are Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, JetBlue and Whole Foods. These companies stand out because every employee consistently, and passionately, represents their core business values EVERY day. I've known several former HP colleagues who pursued opportunities at Microsoft.  I've been amazed at the Microsoft on-boarding process that I jokingly refer to as "drinking the kool-aid".  Each one of my colleagues has emerged from this process a staunch advocate of Microsoft and its technologies.  Of course, Microsoft understands how to optimize its software to simplify the daily business lives of its employees and by doing so, they understand the value to their customers.  However, they cannot force their employees to constantly and consistently rave about the benefits of Microsoft solutions - yet their employees do just that.  It's the same at Apple, LinkedIn and other companies who have a strongly held belief in the value their company provides.

This passion comes through in the way they communicate.  Think about images of Steve Ballmer leaping and jumping on the stage at Microsoft events, or Steve Jobs' compelling presence when announcing new products or Mark Zuckerberg's geeky intensity when explaining Facebook features.  These business leaders exude more than confidence or leadership.  They are the face of their companies.  Bill Gates represented the "evil empire" of the possibly monopolistic Microsoft, until, he went public about his philanthropic efforts.  By presenting an alternative view of himself, Microsoft's image improved. Employees maintained a passionate dedication to the value that Microsoft products could provide to their customers.

Whatever your business is and whatever product or service it provides should reflect a passion you enjoy.  In my career at HP i was drawn to emerging businesses.  I enjoyed the ability to create new business models, develop differentiating programs, communicate incremental value, learn about innovative technologies and provide customers with meaningful solutions.  Throughout my career at HP, I was always communicating with colleagues, management, partners and customers.  I was very aware of the value of clear communication and the emergence of technologies to enhance and improve interaction and collaboration.  

Passion fuels a clarity of intention, authenticity of voice and energy to succeed.  My last role at HP was in a vertical business unit with a passion for delivering innovative, meaningful solutions to customers.  The leader of this team exuded a level of energy and intensity that was infectious.  As a result, this globally distributed team consistently gave their best, exuded confidence in purpose and  maintained a customer centricity that bred interest, commitment and loyalty from customers.  

I came to realize that my passion is to help companies, and their employees, communicate their value.  With a desire for storytelling, I could help technology companies clarify their messaging, reminding them that they are sharing their story with humans first (technologists second!).  Thanks to my curiosity about emerging technologies I help companies prioritize and maximize the use of existing and emerging technologies for social communication, video conferencing and cross-company collaboration.  My passion is evident to my clients as we engage to develop strategies, gain alignment and create value.  I share this passion in my use of social networks to highlight solutions, methodologies, best practices and technologies relevant to my business.

Every company, be it large or small, needs to find their passion.  Their next challenge is to share it with their clients and the community within which they work.  This community can be local or virtual.  In either case, the company must develop a strategy and take advantage of the  communication solutions that allow them to inspire others.  Their passion for their product will compel action and win loyalty.  Isn't this what you want for your business?

What's your perspective?

Corporate Culture & Communication - The Keys to Success

Peggy Dau - Thursday, November 17, 2011

I've been talking with a colleague about companies investigating transformation.  It seems to be present at all types of companies and at all levels within the company, although most companies seem to focus on the technology.  My colleague has led a global consulting practice enabling business transformation for telecommunications operators around the world.  Their focus is business process and organization structure first, before any discussion about technology needs or solutions.  As we've discussed the challenges companies face when they consider transformations to drive new revenue or to reduce operational costs, I've raised the importance of communication during this transformation.

I asked my colleague about her communications as she built her practice.  While she had not thought about a formal communication plan, she did in fact have regularly scheduled discussions with each set of stakeholders. These discussions reinforced goals and progress and provided opportunities for issues to be raised and addressed.  Why were these conversations so important?  Because they gave stakeholders the opportunity to understand the strategy while also giving voice to perceived challenges.  While her desire was to develop a practice focused on systematic change to enable clients to better serve customers, this foundation may not have been sufficient without development of a culture that led to ultimate success.

The culture as embodied by every practice member reflects confident leadership, an empowered team and consistent communication.  The result is trusted client relationships, a team dedicated to facilitating client transitions to build and offer new services, camaraderie enabling rapid solution definition, and commitment to mutual success.  The team shares challenges and success in equal parts, understanding that communication opens the door for insight, acknowledgement and and problem resolutions (if needed). The team uses existing corporate communication tools such as conference calls, email and Sharepoint.

However, successful communication is not about the tool itself, it's about defining what needs to be communicated, understanding the concerns of all stakeholders and addressing those concerns.  As I've spoken to various members of this practice, I've recognized a common thread.  Each consultant is uniquely focused on understanding how the defined transformation will impact each business group involved.  While they may not acknowledge it themselves, their open communication as they work with clients is a key factor in their success.  Each of them develop strategies and goals with senior management, yet they work across all levels of individuals to understand impact, identify existing and perceived challenges and reinforce business benefit.  

It is through a culture of inclusiveness, awareness, innovation and empowerment that organizations can transform for greater business success.  Transformation is not possible without persistent, consistent, two-way communication.   Does your culture empower individuals to communicate openly?  Do your employees really understand the reasons behind organizational change?  Have you shared the business benefits of new initiatives at a micro level, rather than at a corporate level?  Even if your current culture doesn't seem to support open communication, it is possible to change.  

Think about the companies you most admire.  It is likely that they clearly communicate goals and impact to all levels.  It is likely that they empower individuals to make decisions AND make mistakes.  It is likely that they enable employees to easily communicate with each other AND with senior management.  Corporate culture and effective communication go hand in hand. Is it ready to enjoy the positive, productivity inducing energy that effective, interactive communication can provide?

What's your perspective?

What's in a Word?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Social Media.  Social Networks.  Social Technologies. We hear these words bantered about and used interchangeably as they have become an integral part of our cultural lexicon. As I communicate using these words (and many others) every day, I began thinking about how and why I use these words. I also pondered the evolution of words and how new words and definitions are added to dictionaries each year. As you communicate, do you think about how words are going to be interpreted by the reader or listener?

We talked about the importance of context last month. Of course, understanding the context in which a word is used influences the way it is understood. For example, the word pimp evokes the unfortunate image of a person managing and selling the services of a prostitute. However, the expression "pimp my ride" has emerged reflecting a definition for pimp as "showy or impressive". It reflects a cultural interpretation of a car a pimp might drive (at least as interpreted in the movies).

The definition of words have become broader, narrower, weaker or stronger based on similarity of concepts, specialization of meaning or generalization of understanding (or misunderstanding). Words evolve to reflect psychological, societal and cultural influences.  Think about the word propaganda.  The original meaning was to share information, the common understanding today is the proliferation of false data.  With these thoughts in mind, how has the understanding of the terms social media, social network or social technologies shifted?

Social Media has a commonly understood definition as "the web, internet or mobile used technologies enabling interactive dialogue and sharing of user generated content".  In general, media is the channel or tools to store and deliver information or data. Social media is all about interaction whereas other forms of media (broadcast, electronic or print) push content to the user and do not allow real-time feedback.  Social networks are the platforms that combine elements of media and technology to create a destination for interaction.  Prevalent examples of social networks are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.  Each of these terms, is still relatively new and our understanding of these terms has expanded over time.  Not only do more people understand what social media is, the scope of what is considered social media has widened.

Finally, we have the term social technologies.  This term has been in existence since the late 1800s.  Charles Richard Henderson, at the University of Chicago, defined social technology as "a system of conscious and purposeful organization of persons in which every actual, natural social organization finds its true place, and all factors in harmony cooperate to realize an increasing aggregate and better proportions of the “health, wealth, beauty, knowledge, sociability, and rightness” desires.".  It's amazing that over 100 years later, the use and intent of social technologies remains the same. 

The volumed of technologies continues to explode as tools to inform, capture, share, influence, measure and analyze come to market.  Given the inclusive, interactive nature of social media it will be interesting to see how the definition and understanding evolves over the next 10-20 years.  How do you think it will change?  Will the way we use social media change the way we define it? What cultural factors will shift our interpretation or our use of social media, networks and technologies?

What's your perspective?

Communication Requires Consistency

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, November 02, 2011

When it comes to making a good roux (pronounced "roo"), it is all about consistency.  it is about combining the right proportions of flour and oil (you pick the oil needed) to create a thickening agent, used in sauces and soups.  A good roux has a silky smooth body, but this is only achieved through patient attention to the process.  That said, each chef may use the ingredients of his choice to create the roux.  Consistency in communication requires the same focus to ingredients, proportion and patience.

In these days of instant and broad communication, using social networks, the internet and email, a focus on consistency is often overlooked.  In fact, it seems that the information shared in the daily news cycle shifts from moment to moment as incremental data is collected and analyzed.  This begs the question as to how any business can create a meaningful communication strategy, that still fulfills the need for authenticity and transparency.

It's all about integration.  Each communication outlet (e.g., website, collateral, events, online, email, social network) serves a different purpose.  Some audiences are unique and many overlap.  However, the representation of your brand and what it stands for must be consistent across each of these outlets.  This means your logo, your voice and your culture must look, sound and feel the same.  It does not mean that the words used to communicate are identical.  It is possible to maintain a consistent voice while communicating in the direct, un-scripted manner expected in social communities.

For example, HP (my favorite target since I worked for them for 24 years) is lacking consistency at the moment.  Their roux is a mess.  There external communications as it relates to corporate strategy has confused shareholders and employees.  Competitors love it when a vendor loses its way, it's an opportunity for them to capitalize on the confused messaging.  Each of HP's CEOs of the last 10 years, has tried to put their personal stamp on the HP logo, strategy and culture.  As a result, the culture, that was bred by its founders, fostered by employees dedicated to innovation and customer satisfaction, and appreciated by the industry, has been lost.

In addition, HP's identity (see our guest blog on Corporate Identity) is unclear.  Are they an enterprise company or a consumer company.  While I understand, and even agree with, the announcements to retain the PSG business (which is where PCs and WebOS reside), this extends the identity crisis.  HP needs to clearly communicate who they are to each of their constituencies and clarify the benefits of providing value to both enterprise and consumer customers.

This benefit of using different communication outlets is to reach a broader set of customers who are interested in your company and its products.  Aligning your communication with their needs is critical.  Continuing to use HP as an example, HP needs to communicate with its enterprise customers via face to face, website, industry specific  communities, industry analysts and online influencers/bloggers.  Regardless of the outlet, they need to reflect consistent value and commitment.  HP's consumer customers are leveraging the social networks to understand HP's commitment to various product lines and future direction for this segment of HP's business. 

HP uses social networks broadly and will, I'm sure, leverage them to respond to customer concerns, reinforce strategic goals and augment communications through other channels.  They use different Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels to reflect each business.  Each of the customers for these businesses have different expectations for what content is communicated.  HP successfully provides the most relevant content to each channel, but perhaps misses the mark when representing the holistic company.  As they work through their current strategic challenges, I only hope they exhibit patience is achieving a level of consistent communication about their goals and the overall benefit to each constituency.

Clarity of goals, consistency of communication, relevant use of communication channels - its a recipe for success. Like a good roux, when developed with patience the results are tasty!

What's your perspective?

The Importance of Understanding Context

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When we communicate we typically consider the needs of our audience and then create content to fulfill that need.  We are more capable now, than ever, of gaining insight into those needs through the use of social media monitoring/listening tools and business analytics.  Platforms such as incorporate social elements to bring greater perspective in understanding customers.  However, the challenge that still remains is that of understanding the context in which comments are made.

Social media monitoring platforms claim to be able to gauge customer sentiment.  This is a start, but I would argue that they still have room for improvement.  When a customer makes a positive or negative comment (the typical gauge for sentiment barometers) it is helpful to understand not only the reason for the comment but other attitudes, people or environments influencing the comment.  This is the context in which the comment was shared.

We have all suffered from taking a comment out of context or having one of our own statements out of context.  We understand that sometimes we just blurt something out in the heat of the moment.  We may be stressed by work or family pressures.  Conversely, we may have just won a new contract and be overly enthusiastic or generous when considering a new proposal.

The challenge in communicating in B2B environments is creating content that fulfills the audience need.  That need could be to understand more about a product relative to its function or purpose, company go-to-market strategy and partners, customer support access and process, company success in key industries and more. The method of sharing the content varies greatly based on audience, geography, industry and intent.  For example, imagine Nokia's launch today of their new Microsoft OS based smartphone, Lumia.  Remember, that Microsoft's code name for this OS is Mango.  In the context of talking about Mango, do we know that it is an OS and not a fruit?  Yes, because it is discussed relative to Microsoft and mobile technology.

It's all about context.  As buyers are becoming more self-directed in there acquisition journey, they are accessing content online via websites, forums and social communities.  They are forming opinions based on product briefs, industry analyst opinions, colleague recommendations and social commentary - all before they ever have a live conversation with the vendor.  Their opinions are formed in the context of the type of information received and perceived level of influence of the content source.  They are gathering content while in the office and while on the go - using their smartphones and tablets.  I have an opinion on Nokia's new smartphone and I have not even seen it yet.  My opinion is based in my limited knowledge of Mango, past experience with Nokia phones and a desire for a broader set of viable smartphone alternatives.  The context of my opinion stems from experience and emotion.

As your communicating, internally or externally, consider the context in how your are informing your audience and the context of how they may receive that information.  Where will they be physically.  Where have they been spending time, virtually, that may influence their opinion.  As social intelligence gathering continues to evolve, this question will be addressed.  In the meantime, deep consideration of customer needs is driving variations in how we communicate a core message - simply to meet the needs of a diverse audience.  

What's your perspective?

Who Are You?

Peggy Dau - Thursday, October 20, 2011

There has been a lot of discussion this week at the Web 2.0 Summit, in San Francisco, around identity.  It is a continuation of the debate that started in August when Google+ launched requiring users to use theirreal names – no pseudonyms allowed.  The argument is about associating all that you say on social networks with your real identity.  This is uncomfortable for many of us.  Not that we don’t own what we say, but we may not want it saved in perpetuity in the online world.

I’m wondering about the impact of identity when it comes to corporations.  Earlier this year, we discussed corporate identity with our friends at Taylor O’Brien.  As brands define their identity and take that identity into the social arena, we advise a consistency in how they represent themselves.  The question that is puzzling me now, is if I work for a major corporation, am I Peggy Dau or am I Peggy from Company X?  If I am socializing as a business professional, my employer would argue that I am a representative of the company.  Since they provide me with a paycheck, I would agree.

However, in the social arena, Peggy Dau is a unique individual with profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social places.  I tweet as MADPerspectives, which is my consulting business, because Twitter allows pseudonyms.  But, I could argue that MAD Perspectives is a real name – for my business.  The content I tweet as MADPerspectives, is content related to my business and the industries I serve.  It’s an interesting conundrum, isn’t it?!

The challenge for companies is to define their identity and set clear guidelines for how their employees who are representing the company in social networking, understand the voice, culture, image that the brand wants to reflect.  Companies by their very nature are somewhat anonymous.  Sure, we understand what Apple, Coca Cola and Proctor & Gamble stand for, but do we really associate with individual employees?  Do we want to?  Do employees want to be recognized and associated with their employer as the engage in social networking.  For social media mavens, representing their respective companies, this is an opportunity to build their personal brand as they represent the corporate brand.  However, customer support teams may prefer some protection of their identity – not because they don’t provide excellent customer support, but for reasons of safety or career aspirations.

Corporate identity has taken on new meaning in the authentic, transparent and spontaneous social community.  Can a corporation be transparent if it doesn’t reveal the real names of its social networkers?  It is authentic when tweets come from @BronxZoosCobra?  Are “push” marketing tweets from consumer and high tech brands really spontaneous?  In fact, they are an extension of an overall marketing plan to increase brand and product awareness – reinforcing brand identity and consistent messaging, but perhaps losing authenticity.

It’s a new world and our identities are tied to the context in which our networks know us and the perspectives they have of our personal and corporate identities.

What’s your perspective?

The Power of Connectivity

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We all live and work in an increasingly connected world.  Our smartphones and tablets connect us to information and people in ways that barely allow us any quiet time.  How do we measure the value of this connectedness?  Is there value to having thousands of Twitter followers, Facebook fans or LinkedIn connections?  Obviously the social media community believes in the power of connectivity, but do businesses? 

Connectivity is an interesting topic.  As humans we like to be connected to family, friends and colleagues.  We have more options than even to stay in contact.  I use Facebook to keep up with friends who scattered around the globe.  I use LinkedIn to manage my network of business colleagues.  Both Twitter and LinkedIn are my conduits for promoting my blog, sharing thoughts on current events and listening to what others are saying as it relates to business.  In addition, I still email (yes, i understand it may be considered a dying technology).  Why do I use all of these tools?  Because I want to be connected.

I want to learn from others.  I want to understand what is interesting to my colleagues.  I want to gain insights into new technologies.  I want to share my knowledge.  Anyone who follows my blog or my business, knows that I am a huge fan of LinkedIn.  I did not become an advocate until I had time to realize the power of the connectivity it provides.  While i was still employed by corporate America, it was simply a tool to augment or replace my rolodex.    Since leaving the corporate world, I'm exposed to a wider set of contacts.  I thought i had a good network working at HP.  It included fellow employees and business partners.  Since leaving HP, i have added contacts from a wider range of industries and roles.

Last year I was seeking information about a topic I had been invited to investigate for a client.  It was a topic where I only had high level knowledge.  I used LinkedIn Groups to post a question with hopes of getting more in depth information.  Not only did I get greater insight, I received invites for phone conversations and a face to face meeting, which resulted in a fantastic white board session.  The power of the connectivity provided by LinkedIn, in this case, was phenomenal and positioned me for greater success in my project.

I've used LinkedIn, again, recently to request introductions from my connections to some of their connections. I was seeking access to decision makers to discuss their needs and priorities around a specific topic.  Again, my colleagues responded favorably, happy to introduce me to the specific contacts I had defined.  As a result I have been able to gather a global view of this topic, again on behalf of a client.

As businesses and as individuals, social technologies are enabling us to connect more quickly and effectively. We've all networked on behalf of business in the past.  I remember scrolling through the rolodex to find the name of the contact who knew the guy who could help me close a deal.  Social technologies reduce the manual effort and time to achieve connectivity.  So, is this connectivity meaningful?  I would argue, YES it is!

Even a casual connection can lead to meaningful business.  It's all about staying in touch and reinforcing the value of the connection.  Businesses using social media should remember this.  Social networking is not just about pushing your content out via another channel.  it is about identifying the value your customers seek from you - and then providing that value.  Customer support is an excellent example.  Your customers seek answers to frequently and infrequently asked questions.  Social conversations via all of the big networks can help you understand the their needs, get ahead of critical issues and recognized trends that may impact product sales.

Connectivity is about more than the actual connection.  it's about the conversation.  It's about providing and receiving value.  This is where the power emerges.  I don't mean power from a control perspective, I mean power to move forward, make a difference, achieve a goal.  Think about the power of your connections.  What value do you see in them?

What's your perspective?