MAD Perspectives Blog

The Social Web - Empowering Customers

Peggy Dau - Monday, October 04, 2010

Last week, Nigel Fenwick, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester spoke in a joint Forrester/ NewsGator webinar.  The topic was Boosting IT Productivity with Social Technologies.  However, Nigel validated several thoughts that had been bouncing around in my brain. He speaks about the influence and shifts in mobile devices, social technologies, pervasive video and cloud computing.  Each of these converge to enable a more intelligent and influential customer, the empowered customer. I have been thinking about the shift from a focus on customer satisfaction to customer experience and how this has changed, dramatically, with the usage of social platforms.  While I often talk to clients about employee empowerment to use and leverage social technologies, I had not thought about the flip side – that of empowered customers.

Thanks to the social web, customers have access to more information than ever.  It is not just information developed and distributed by various corporate marketing teams.  It is information from individual employees, customers, business partners, competitors, supply chain vendors and anyone else who may interact with that company, its products or employees.  The online customer support forums of the early millennium have evolved to include live online discussions (by text or VoIP) with support staff and interactive chats with fellow customers.  If we are not satisfied with the support we receive, we tweet or Facebook immediately – and usually get some kind of attention from the company’s support team.

Thanks to the social web, prospective buyers can research, investigate and analyze products, services, reputations, ethics, roadmaps and competitors.  They come to you, the vendor providing their product or service of choice, armed with intelligent questions.  They are ready to make decision, but have perspectives based on the information that have gathered and interpreted.  These perspectives will influence their discussion with you (and others!) regarding features, functionality, delivery and pricing.

Thanks to the social web, your company and its employees can also be empowered. Your employees can access the same information as your customers.  As mentioned by Nigel in the aforementioned webinar, they use social technologies to get ideas for their job, to research key topics, to collaborate externally to solve a problem.  Your company may say that they already provide them with the tools to collaborate and investigate.  If they do, this is great, but are they using the tools and the platforms that your customers are accessing?  Can you as an employee gather the same kind of insights so that you can understand the customer’s perspective? Tthe ability for employees to understand a customer's motivation can only help them represent the company to its greatest advantage.

Companies used to control the message.  Subsequently the need for employees to participate and monitor online activities was limited to specific initiatives (i.e., customer support).  However, the social web has changed how information is shared.  It is still shared on websites, but customers are seeking authentic insights and finding them via blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn Groups, Slide Share, and Scribd.  If your company is just getting started with social technologies, empower your employees to learn in the same fashion as your already empowered customers.

What’s your perspective?



Broadcast Industry Lessons for Telling Your Corporate Stories

Peggy Dau - Monday, September 27, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot about the broadcast industry since my return from IBC2010 in Amsterdam, two weeks ago.  As I talk to companies about their use of online vide, social media and other digital media solutions there are many topics which heavily leverage the experience of the largest content owners, broadcasters.  Broadcasters are in the business of creating, managing and distributing content.  They are telling stories to inform, educate and entertain.

Corporations also have stories to tell and they have an increasing number of channels via which they can tell their stories.  The days of static brochures and websites are gone, or at the very least, rapidly disappearing.  Broadcasters have been forced to adopt ‘new media’ solutions to remain relevant.  These new media solutions include:

-          video-on-demand via their branded websites plus social sites such as YouTube

-          blogging to share another perspective on a story or to invite ongoing discussion

-          tweeting on Twitter and posting on Facebook to increase demographic, geographic or socio-graphic reach

-          distributing content via Internet, 3G/4G networks and Wi-Fi to devices of all types

These communication channels allow broadcasters to reach their customers in a new way, in a more interactive, personal and some would say, authentic, manner.  Do corporations in the manufacturing, financial services, healthcare or high tech industries, for example, need to be sharing content in the same way?  The answer is, YES!   Corporations have many stories to tell.  In addition to information about their products, they have insights on their industry and customers.  They can discuss company vision, history, philanthropy or culture, business challenges. They can train their customers, business partners or employees.  Companies have many stories to tell and many channels through which they can reach their customers.

What can they learn from broadcasters?  They can leverage an understanding of:

-          Who is your target customer or audience?  What kind of content do they want to see or read? Product information, customer support issues, competitive analysis, industry benchmarks are all possible topics.   Understanding the stories that need to be told can help you develop a content strategy addressing the needs of your customers.

 

-          What format does your content need to be in?  Various types of content such as audio, video, pictures or text will tell the story in different ways.  Often video is the most memorable, but it can also be the most expensive.   Text provides a way to analyze a situation from multiple perspectives and easily distributed and saved.  It is important to consider the content that format that will make the best impact for the target customer.

 

-          How and where will you distribute your content?    Where are you customers when you tell your story?  Will you need to re-purpose content for different uses?  For example, should an executive video be prepared for distribution to both and mobile?  Is it effective if consumed on a mobile phone?  Or, how about a product training video?  Is it useful for it to be posted on YouTube as well as your corporate website?

 

-          How will you manage your content?  How and where will you store it and find it when you need to access it?  There are metadata (the information about the content) and taxonomy (the hierarchical classification of content) issues to address early on.  Will you need access to the content on a regular basis or is it possible to store it remotely?

 

These are just a few questions that broadcasters address every day.  They seek to maximize impact while streamlining and managing costs related to the production and management of their content.  Content IS their business.  As your company considers its use of digital media solutions to communicate, consider the relevance of each channel for reaching your desired audience.   You also want to maximize your impact and differentiate your market offer.  Think like a broadcaster when telling your story and incorporating different types of media.  You’ll soon have a multi-channel strategy that expands your reach and improves interaction with your customers.  How do you tell your corporate story?

What’s your perspective?




3 is the magic number at IBC 2010

Peggy Dau - Monday, September 20, 2010

I've spent the last 10 years strategizing, defining, developing and enabling IT based digital media solutions for telecommunication, media & entertainment companies.  However, the solutions developed for and utilized by these industries are also relevant for companies in other industry segments, such as manufacturing, financial services, high tech, pharmaceutical, healthcare and more.  The International Broadcasting Conference is a excellent forum for checking out current and emerging solutions enabling creation, management and distribution of digital media.  So, what were the hot topics at IBC that we need to be watching?  It's all about the "3's.

3D - Sure, we've all seen the movies and enjoyed the interactive and immersive feeling that 3D provides.  It's highly entertaining and has certainly helped studio revenues.  But whey is this relevant for the rest of the world.  No, enterprise webcasts aren't going 3D.  However, they have already become more interactive thanks to embedded functionality enabling simultaneous chat streams and backchannels for Twitter and Facebook.  who knows what type of interactivity may follow.  This interactivity personalizes the enterprise, enables customers to communicate more easily with each other and allows the enterprise to get instant feedback (just like the movide producer & director gets to hear the oohs and aughs of their theater audiences).  CAD design requirements for animated features have also benefited engineering design for car parts, buildings and pharmaceutical products.  the investments made by the media industry, open doors, trickle down and facilitate advancements in other industries.  They raise our individual expectations for how we can visualize and develop new products.

3 Screens - Content owners and content distributors have been talking about enabling consumers to access entertainment content on 3 screens, TV, PC and mobile device, for ages.  The visionary demos were fascinating.  However, we have not reached the point of reality where network equipment providers, like Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, are delivering the solutions to telecommunication providers to simplify the viewing of content on any device.  The process is seamless for the consumer, yet extremely complex for the telecommunications provider. 

Why is this relevant for the enterprise?  Every company wants to achieve as many customer touch points as possible.  Enterprise content needs to be as easily accessible as entertainment content.  The 3 screens may not be the same.  For enterprise we may consider PC, mobile and social networks or apps.  Companies have been managing corporate websites for ages but are now facing the dual challenge of how to share content on social platforms and mobile devices.  Knowing that the telecommunication infrastructure is in place to manage content distribution adresses one critical element of the value chain.

Were you at IBC?  I'd love to understand your take aways and perspectives on the relvance of media centric solution for the enterprise.

What's your perspective?



Introduction to B2B Blogging

Peggy Dau - Monday, September 06, 2010

Your company has just put a social media plan in place and blogging is one of the key elements.  You’re excited about the opportunity to interact with readers, but nervous about content.  How do you get started? How do you create content that resonates with customers and helps you attract new customers?  Here are just a few tips.  I invite readers to provide more!


1. Figure out your identity:  Blogging is a great forum to share your thoughts and and B2B decision makers are reading blogs to learn about products, services, companies and people.  What is your company identity?  How do you want to be known?  Do you consider yourselves the innovative technology leader?  If so, your blog may want to focus on your lead engineers and how they work together?  Or you may want to comments on emerging technology trends. 

Or, perhaps you a commercial real estate broker who wants to be known as brokerage with their finger on the pulse of their market.  Your blog may highlight new construction projects, tax benefits, demographic trends, or new office space concepts.  Sharing your insights may attract businesses you have done business with in another city or attract new clients impressed by your insights about their city.

2. Get comfortable writing:  Not everyone who starts blogging has a natural affinity for writing.  That is OK!  The more you write, the more comfortable you get.  Don’t be afraid to share personal insights or anecdotes.  This helps your readers understand the context of your position.  I’ve started writing many blogs and left them for a few days to mull over my thoughts.  Other times, I’ve been inspired by an article, a bit of news or a customer interaction.

3. Create an editorial calendar:  You already have a marketing calendar mapping out events/trade shows, product releases, collateral development, webinars, earnings announcements, etc.  In this calendar you are also identifying the various communication channels.  Blogging is another channel.  It is the channel that allows you to add personal insight to the topic. 

Establishing a calendar helps organize your thoughts and identify resources (see next tip!).  I’ve heard many clients comment on their fear of the time commitment related to blogging.    I won’t lie, it does require a commitment.  However, if you can develop a calendar with some topics aligned with other events, it simplifies the process.

4. Identify potential bloggers (besides you!):  Owning the blog responsibility can be daunting.  Every company has natural spokespeople from its various business groups.  These may be folks that have driven you crazy in meetings because they have so much to say.  Blogging gives them an outlet for their thoughts as long as they are related to your overall goals.

If you have a hard time gathering company bloggers, you may consider interviewing key members of different work teams.  A simple Q&A can be meaningful to readers as it shares the flow of a conversation and its natural ebb and flow.  Another option is to invite guest bloggers to share insights around key trends or industry announcements.  This also provides another benefit of increasing your following through appealing to the followers of that blogger.

5. Repurpose content:  Your company has already created scads of content.  However, most of that content has been vetted by marketing experts and/or legal.  Blogs are more casual and serve to share content in a more personal manner.  You may consider extracting a few thoughts from a white paper and adding personal insights on the benefits or practical use of that topic.  Or, you may provide insight into the process through which your company developed a product or service.  Another avenue for content may be provided by your readers.  Your blog should enable comments.  Those comments can become a great source for further content.

6.  Promote your blog!:  Now that you've gotten comfortable with content, writing and resources, make sure somebody is reading it!  To draw more attention to your blog tweet about it; comment on it in LinkedIn or Facebook; enable readers to subscribe to a RSS feed of your blog; share it on industry sites.  You want to create a following that is broader than the casual visitor to your company website.  While most B2B blogs exist within the corporate site, you can alert your audience as to its presence and topics being discussed.

The bottom line is that blogging is your voice for sharing thoughts in a less structured manner than traditional marketing channels.  While your company blog(s) should be aligned with your company goals, they should also allow your company’s personality to shine through.  I have found, many times, that the blog sometimes requires looking a familiar topic from a different perspective.

What’s your perspective?



Does B2B need a new app?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Many years ago a technology industry CEO distributed a poster throughout its various corporate, sales and manufacturing offices stating something like “Technology is always changing, if you cannot keep up with the pace of change then you are in the wrong industry.”  This was before Unix, before the internet and long before social media was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye.  The technology industry IS constantly changing and at pace unimagined more than 20 years ago.

So, how do we keep up?  Social media has changed the face of communication forever and who knows what’s next.  While it is possible to imagine that IT hardware will continue to see improvements related to performance, price, environmental impact and size, it is more difficult to forsee how applications will evolve.  An articled on Wired.com recently debated the death of the web while the internet lives on.  Regardless of your point of view, the commentary regarding the implication of an app based future is intriguing

Thanks to Apple and its ubiquitous devices, there seems to be an app for everything from reading our favorite publications to comparison shopping to bouncing penguins off the wall.  Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, Groupon have led or leveraged the growing social mentality to share, communicate, and interact based on interests and now location.  Whereas 20 years ago we spoke of Big Brother’ and our fear of anyone having any visibility of comings and goings, now we have left “1984” behind and voluntarily share our likes, dislikes, and destinations.

Do we need to adopt all forms of social media and start developing apps for fear of being considered a ‘neo-luddite’? The term “social media” is becoming all encompassing.  Any application that creates some sort of community experience is considered social.  A community could be moms against peanut butter or customers interested in new storage technologies or individual investors trying to navigate the financial markets.  The challenge is in how any of these tools can provide solutions that are aligned with strategic business goals.

B2B Companies are using or experimenting with social networks to:

  • - understand customer opinion -> to increase customer satisfaction, customer retention, modify product features/functionality, maintain customer loyalty
  • - invite customers to events or webinars -> to  increase customer knowledge, increase customer touch points, qualify customer interest, increase quantity of leads
  • - provide product updates ->to  increase customer knowledge, invite customer input, increase customer loyalty
  • - share industry insight -> to show thought leadership, educate customers,  improve competitive differentiation
  • - offer special discounts or deals -> to drive short term revenue, create awareness,  reward community members
  • - create communities -> to understand trends, drive discussions on select topics, recruit new employees, crowdsource to solutions to simple and/or complex challenges

As long as these activities support higher level goals for sales, innovation, operational efficiency or other needs, the investment in social media is beneficial.

With the increased focus on apps, should companies be developing apps as well as using social networks?  Perhaps apps can help companies address these same goals.  If an app can be distributed on multiple devices, does that make it social?  Personally, I don’t think so.  Being social is about interaction and community.  So, if that app enables customers to easily interact with each other in some kind of semi-private walled garden, then perhaps it is social. 

I can envision B2B apps focused on addressing frequently asked customer questions.  As a long time HP employee in my past life, I can image HP apps to troubleshoot printing problems, a SMB focused app to configure servers, or an app to easily locate your nearest value added reseller (VAR). Other companies could leverage the data associated with calls coming into their 800 numbers to develop apps that easily and quickly address frequently asked customer questions.  By using social networks to inform their constituents that these apps exist and are available for download to defined devices, these companies leverage the two hottest trends (other than cloud computing), apps and social media to enrich their customer’s experiences.

Perhaps we need an app to help us keep up with all the new technologies that are emerging.  Ooops, perhaps that is the new Mashable app!

What’s your perspective?



Overcoming Internal Social Media Hurdles

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 23, 2010

Are you afraid that your corporate culture and/or hierarchical organization structure are stifling your attempts at social media?  Then you need to take a step back and consider how to leverage social media in a way that balances culture, organization and open communication.

If your hurdle is related to culture, you must accept that it is not easy to change the corporate culture.  But, you can adapt.  For example, if your culture is one that struggles in the adoption of new technology, you probably haven’t even started using social media yet.  Your first goal should be to gain executive commitment for the use of social networking platforms as an additional communication channel.  You should be clear in your goals for using social media (i.e., thought leadership, market awareness, lead generation, etc.).  You could also find examples of other companies in your industry that are using social media.  You will want to have a clear, measurable strategy that will demonstrate clear benefits for adopting social media.


If your culture is one of privacy and protection of intellectual property, there is still a place for social media.  Employee use of social networking platforms is not an automatic disclosure of corporate secrets!  However, your overall social media plan should include definition of a social media policy that provides guidelines forwhat platforms the company will use, how employees use thesesocial networks, what kind of information can be shared (or not), and ramifications for violating these guidelines.  Innovative companies often create market shifting technology and want to protect this technology.  However, these same companies often have unique perspectives on the industry or intriguing histories of bringing products to market.  Social media provides a forum for sharing perspectives, without giving away IP, and inviting conversation that may lead to the next big innovation.

If your challenge is related to organizational structure, it is likely that the primary concern is one of employee empowerment.  Employees that do not feel empowered are unlikely to be comfortable with the open communication style required.  While the marketing department could be empowered to lead the effort, there are other options.  An option that will begin to build cross-company employee interest is to gain executive support and sponsorship.  Once you gain that support, work with your executive sponsor to develop an internal communication plan regarding the company’s development of a social media strategy.  This will provide employees with an ongoing view of the goals of the strategy and executive support for it.  By the time it is time to implement the strategy, some employees will be eager to participate thus alleviating the pressure on the marketing department.

These are just a few examples of overcoming cultural or organizational challenges before implementing a social media strategy.  Social media provides many benefits that make it well worth the effort to knock down internal hurdles.  What are the hurdles your company is facing?

What’s your perspective?



Does Your Organizational Structure Inhibit Social Networking?

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, August 17, 2010

As marketers plan their social media strategy, they usually focus on content, resources and platforms.  I rarely hear anyone discuss organizational structure.  Yet, a company’s organizational model can reveal a lot about how they will use social networking platforms.  The structure of an organization impacts processes and behaviors that will reflect company and employee comfort with the openness and interactivity of social media. 

The primary organization structures are:

Structure

Characteristics

Adoption of Social Media

Functional

-          Employees perform a specific set of tasks (i.e., marketing, engineering, sales, etc.)

-          Focus on operational efficiency and economies of scale

-          Fosters technical expertise

-          Creates silos

-          Communication across silos is difficult

-          Focus on process, hierarchy and control

-          Pursuit of social media  will require planning of  strategy, policy, clear metrics and employee training

-          Social media most likely to be pursued by marketing department only

-          Employees may not feel empowered to communicate socially  

-          Social media primarily used to reinforce outbound marketing messaging

Divisional

-          Employees organized by product or geography

-          Employees perform specific functions within the divisional structure

-          High accountability for achieving goals

-          Communication encouraged across function to achieve goals

-          Little interaction between divisions

-          Hierarchical within the division

-          Pursuit of social media  will require planning of  strategy, policy, clear metrics and employee training

-          Social media effort led by marketing with intent to include other functions

-          Strong interest in gaining external feedback

Matrix

-          Employees organized by function and product

-          Structure reinforces and broadens employee expertise

-          Reduces organizational silos

-          Requires clear communication of goals, objectives and metrics

-          Poor communication can create confusion and/or stress

-          Focus on communication will foster interest in use of social networks as extension of communication model

-          Multi-tasking employees will easily adapt

-          Requires clarity in how social media will support goals & objectives

-          Collaborative environment will easily adapt to interactive nature of social media

 

The focus here is primarily around structure and does not take into account culture or communication style, which was discussed in a previous posting.  The level of bureaucracy in a company may impact willingness to communicate effectively internally, externally or on social networks. You may want to consider the impact of social media on existing organizational structures, business processes and communication methods.  While full scale reorganization is not the goal, education and training may help management and/or employees understand how the use of social media influences the existing business model.

While organizational theory segments company structures into the simple models referenced above, it is likely that your company reflects some mix of the models noted.  Your company’s approach to social media will reflect a combination of cultural and organizational influences.  It is important to recognize the challenges they may represent when building and implementing a B2B social media strategy.

What’s your perspective?



HP, Culture Shock & Social Networks

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 09, 2010

Last week I began a discussion about the impact of corporate culture on a company’s level of comfort with social media.  While I was thinking about this week’s continuation of this discussion, the CEO of my former employer, HP, resigned due to allegations of misconduct.   This news hit the social airwaves like tsunami last Friday. I enjoyed a 24 year career of Hewlett-Packard Company, which means I was lucky enough to have learned from the founders, Bill and Dave, what it means to be open, ethical, moral and to do business with integrity.   One of the key elements of HP’s Standards of Business Conduct is to “think about how your decision or behavior would look in a press article”.  This is a good foundation for us to consider when we think about how a company’s culture and organizational model impact the company’s use of social media.

HP’s culture and what became known as the “HP Way” focused on innovation, integrity and collaboration.   This culture was a natural match for social media.  The predecessor to today’s social networks was “MBWA" or management by walking around.  In HP, this meant an ability to learn from others in your office.  Employees would mix and mingle and share experiences.  Many careers grew through discovery and learning from peers.   HP’s founders would have been cautious about protecting HP’s Intellectual Property but they would have loved the ability to crowd source innovative concepts. However, over the past decade or so, the culture at HP changed.  This was a result of both external and internal forces.

External forces include the internet and the rampant availability of information.  They also include the increased demands from the financial services sector for all companies to provide and meet quarterly estimates.  This kind of instant gratification will change the way any company works.  Internal forces took the shape of CEOs and managers hired to lead change (defined in many diverse ways) but who each also had personal agendas.  In all cases the “HP Way” was deemed out dated and the collaboration of old gave way to siloed, hierarchical organizations with formerly empowered employees fearful of making even the smallest mistake.  Could Mark Hurd's HP, with a culture of cost containment, hierarchical decision making and limited employee empowerment, succeed in social media?

Interestingly, the answer is yes.  Consistent with its current command and control model, HP has a well defined, publically available, blogging policy.  They even have a digital media council, which includes representatives from all business units, that sets the policy for how HP will participate in social networks.  Any employee that will represent the company on a social network must take the requisite training.  So, HP empowers its employees with guidelines of expected behavior.  Is that really empowerment? I check on various HP blogs from time to time and follow several twitter feeds.  I find them interesting but cautious.  I think that HP could use social media as more than another PR channel.  I believe this is indicative of the internal culture.  That said, HP is number 22 on the NetPropex Social Index, which measures the social network activity of the largest U.S. corporations across a variety of social platforms.  Imagine what HP's score would be if the former culture of openness and collaboration was prevalent.

As a former HP employee and current HP shareholder, I hope HP’s next CEO balances innovation and operational excellence.  I hope they remember that their 300,000+ employees are the company’s biggest asset.  I hope they empower them to connect, communicate and collaborate, using social media, with their peers both inside and outside the company to create and innovate market changing solutions.

What’s your perspective?



Company Culture and Adoption of Social Networking

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 02, 2010

You’re thinking about social media.  You’re convinced you need to have a plan to add social media to your existing marketing and/or communication strategy.  You’re thinking, well, we’ll just tiptoe into this effort, participate in a few social networks and see what happens.  There is nothing wrong with this plan, except you should think about  your corporate culture.  Of course, there are other details you also need to consider, but for the sake of this conversation, let’s focus on corporate culture.

Does your culture inhibit executive or employee adoption of social networking tools?  Do employees feel empowered to publically communicate on behalf of the company?  Do executives understand the openness of social conversations?

I’ve had comments to several of my blogs related to B2B social media, emphasizing the importance of culture.  So, I’ve done some thinking on this and refreshed my memory as to the different types of corporate cultures (it’s been a long time since those undergrad and MBA courses on organizational theory).  Culture is a combination of shared values, attitudes, assumptions, beliefs and behaviors.  Culture is grounded in the assumptions about how people interact.

A successful social media strategy is best achieved when there is a corporate culture that balances tops down direction with bottoms up initiative with external (customer) facing communication.  However, existing corporate cultures can inhibit this balance and subsequently the success of a social media strategy.  Which of these cultures best reflects your company?

Adaptive – just like it sounds, this company tries new processes, solutions, business models to see what works best.  This company is usually very externally focused and will adopt solutions that help them communicate effectively and efficiently.  This culture will easily adapt to social networks for business use.

Inert – this type of company is very internally focused and struggles to deal with new ideas.  In technology parlance, they are a laggard when it comes to adopting new technology.  This culture will be one of the last companies to adopt social networking.

Networked – this is a sociable company, but employees exhibit little company loyalty.  This company may lag a bit in adopting new ideas solely due to high employee turnover.  Once this company has decided to use social networks, employees will take advantage of it and it may foster employee retention.

Mercenary - this culture is ruthless and highly competitive.  If the new solution doesn’t fulfill the goal to win, it is not considered.  Without a strong ROI argument, this kind of company will not leverage social networks at the business level.

Fragmented – this company is a loose alliance of independent workers (i.e., law firm).  If a solution can be easily adopted by these workers and help them achieve their goals, it’s a winner, but it is unlikely that all workers will utilize the solution at the same level.

I’ll be writing more about company cultures and organizational dynamics as it relates to B2B social networks over the next few weeks.  Do these cultures resonate with you?  What kind of culture does your company exhibit? 

What’s your perspective?



Tips for Incorporating Online Video into Your Communications Strategy

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 19, 2010

I recently read an IDC Whitepaper about the 360º Approach to Video.  I've written about companies using a 360º approach to define marketing strategies  and was definitely interested in IDC's opinion on video.  I consider video one of many tools that any company can use to connect and communicate with customers, partner or employees.  Video is memorable and is used for executive communications, customer education, employee training, product demos, customer testimonials and more.  Video is personal and can be consumed live or on-demand in the form of streaming media, webinar or teleconference.

The IDC whitepaper, which is sponsored by Online Video Platfrom vendor Kyte, primarily highlight features of privately funded Kyte.  However, it also touches on some relevants shifts in the market place:

1. Websites have become more interactive.  The days of one-way communication are gone and customers or consumers have an expecation for enticing, visually appealing, interactive sites.

2.  Video is everywhere.  This means video is on your website, on YouTube or Vimeo channels, on Facebook,on mobile devices and many other locations or devices.

3.  Content comes from many sources.  While companies produce a lot of their own content (i.e., executive communications, product training, ads, customer testimonials, etc.), they also invite customers to submit their own user-generated content

If you are thinking about how to incorporate video into your communications strategy.  Consider the following tips:

1.  PurposeWhat are you communicating with the video?  Are you educating, informing, inviting, or sharing?  These are all different types of stories and each story may be best told using different styles.  For example, if your video is to share your quarterly financial status, this is likely a professionally produced event with a well structured script.  However, if your are sharing information about an upcoming event or new product, you might decide that authenticity and personality are more important.  While you still have a script the style of the video may be more casual.  Alternatively, you may invite customers to share their experiences at an event or training.  They thoughts could be capture live and in person or via video uploads to a defined site.  If you define your goals for using video, it will make it easier to make decisions about what kind of content to create. Tip:  Align purpose and video style.

2.  CustomerWhere and how will your customers consume your video?  Are they in an office, at home or on the go?  Will they access content using their PC or a mobile device?  What operating system, browser, video player or video codecs will these devices use?  Is there an expection for live or social network interaction?  Understanding the answers to these questions, will help define the requirements for any online video solutions that you consider.  Tip:  Undertanding your target audience and their communication needs will drive business and technical requirements.

2. InfrastructureHow will you handle video content?  Will you produce and manage your video assets on an in-house system or will you leverage an online service?  In either case, consider its features and functionalities (i.e., codecs supported, bitrates, end user interface, ease of use, server requirements, metadata model, social/community features, digital rights management, analytics and reporting, etc.) related to your goals.  In addition, consider how it will integrate with other enterprise applications, impact on corporate network, level of expertise required and support models.  Tip:  Align infrastructure requirements to your goals to identify the relevant solution.

Content is valuable.  Video is memorable.  Create a valuable and memorable online video strategy thinking about who your customers are, where they are and how will you need to be able to share video content with them.  For a list of leading online video platform vendors check out:  www.streamingmedia.com, www.onlinevideo.net ir www.vidcompare.com

How are you using video to communicate your story? 

What's your perspective?