social media topics, social networking, tools and development

My LinkedIn account states: Member since: June 12, 2003
My LinkedIn ID is 8573

2003 – In My 2003 Konstantin Guerke, one of the LinkedIn co-founders asked me to join the network and give some feedback. His primary interest: Get some executives into the network, which so far was primarily consisting of engineers. To be honest, back then I had absolutely no idea what value it provided and where this could go.

2004 -I was searching for a VP Marketing and looking for candidates. Konstantin asked me to try LinkedIn to find what I’m looking for. I did. After some tips and modeling I got a pretty good search model and found the perfect candidate. Kathrine Hayes was VP Marketing, not looking and in most of the recruiters databases listed as VP Sales, her previous position. I would have never found here and  neither would our recruiters. We agreed to work together and not only I saved $30,000 recruiting cost, I got a perfect match. That was one of the key events when I realized that social networking would change everything. Not only the way we look for candidates but the way we sell, market, engage, service, promote, learn – simply every aspect of our business world.

2005 – I started my own blog and was considered one of the first executives blogging. I remember it was a bit of a debate in one of the board meetings as nobody could imagine what a blog is and why one would do that. I didn’t care. More so I tried to incorporate social media and social technology into our products. It was pretty clear to me that social technologies are the future life blood of any business application. Little did I know that it will still take years to get there.

2006 – Social networking was growing very fast within those early adopters and it proved helpful once one kind of understood how to use it to maintain existing contacts, develop new connections, get business introductions and even generate new leads. We all developed different techniques and had different opinion. And we all knew, that this is going to make a huge difference to sales and marketing. Yet we realized that most executives are still far away from recognizing the potential and the impact that social media already has on their businesses.

2007 – I heard about Twitter and the opinion that this is dumb and a total wast of time. In early 2007 I tried it out and agreed. This was really stupid. There was no way to form a meaningful sentence with 140 characters, let a lone a message for the public. But when I read in Wired Magazine that being forced to cram your thoughts into 140 characters and as a result we all will be less wordy, I looked at it again and signed up with a new account in June. I was surprised that the network has grown from roughly 50,000 just a few month ago to some hundred thousand users. I made new friends and began to really like it.

2008 – With the presidential campaign here in the US being massively using social media, many business executives woke up and were looking to explore its potential for their respective companies. A few business friends of mine, mostly CEOs from other Silicon Valley companies asked me to share my thoughts and experience about social media or just hired my as a consultant helping them develop a social media strategy. I have never been a consultant and didn’t really want to become one – but that was a lot of fun. The biggest problem was that nobody within those companies actually understood what I’m talking about.  I decided to provide executive level training to help managers not only make sense of Social Media but being able to create a strategy, create initiatives, define resource and budget plans and everything a corporate executive needs to make a decision. And of 2008 we started the Social Media Academy.

2009 – I continued to consult a few large enterprises to develop their social media engagement. What we did however was very different from what most social media agencies suggested. We did not run any fancy Facebook campaigns or moved the old coupon business to the new media. Instead we developed customer engagement strategies where parts of the sales teams or parts of the service teams strategically engaged with customers or even with customers of the company’s competitors. We couldn’t hope for more success. By now some executives realized that social media was no longer “just another arrow in the marketing quiver” it was a business strategy that focused on “Customer Experience Improvement”, “Near Real Time Market Research”, or “Online Reference Selling” and other similar business topics with either an objective to cut cost, create a competitive advantage or expand on certain markets. But the number of businesses who understood to benefit from those advantages is microscopic small.

2010 – One of the challenges we were facing by engaging with a large number of contacts was the lack of capabilities to get quickly and proactively to those accounts. Keeping them in a spreadsheet was not an option. And so we built an application on top of XeeMe a tool that we created for internal use. To us and our clients, 2010 was the year where social selling made some major turns. We were engaging with clients using this new tool we called “Flights!”. While still in an infant stage, we came to realization that sales people are the most social  beings in any business and giving them tools to engage online in addition to phone, email and face to face will make a significant difference in the future. The downside of the new social selling possibilities is that sales teams will want to re-structure their sales strategy, become socially engaged in a much grander way, which in turn requires to restructure sales processes and eventually the commission structure. We knew this will be a long, long way to go. Rather than exhausting us with a decade long evangelizing battle we decided to help one company at a time – whenever they are ready to make a change.

2011 – This year the first partner channel organization thought about using social media to improve partner relationships, drive more partner engagement and help partners engage with their clients more than in the past. In particular in the tech space, VARs, Resellers, System Integrator are not exactly marketing machines. But they keep relationships with their existing clients. And the social web will not change this. But partner channels have a huge influence in the market and can be engaged perfectly to amplify a brand message. Also partners can leverage the social web to get grander exposure for their competencies and technical skills and capabilities. We are seeing the fist vendors including SAP to make a big step forward.

2012 – No question, businesses are moving fast now to leverage social media in their ongoing quest to create a competitive advantage and widen their gap to the competition. But the number of businesses doing so successfully remains to be small. Unlike any previous technology inception where a few leaders started and the followers came in with a year or two delay, the social media adoption is a slow process. Mainly because it is NOT a technology but a mind set and a way of doing business. Main topics remain to be “Customer Experience Improvements”, “”Widen Market Reach”, Improve Channel Partner Engagement” and so forth. Initiatives in those areas make the successful companies even more successful and the struggling companies remain struggling and focus on their business survival instead of customer happiness. In 2012 it was clearer than ever before: ignoring customer engagement opportunities will bring struggling businesses even further in trouble.

At the same time we were experimenting more and more with large scale social media buzz marketing. The largest initiative was for the annual tech conference of the European Commission, where we created a buzz campaign wit nearly 100 Million in reach.

2013 – We decided to focus our future business on the B2B space in here on three areas: High Impact Marketing, Customer Experience Management, Partner & Alliance Management. The launch of our Buzz product is a major milestone and goes hand in hand with the new Buzz Master Training.

Today the gap between online savvy and online illiteracy has widened to a frighting level. When I work with European customers I see the same behavior we saw her in the US in 2007 / 2008  – that means a six year gap between the US and Europe. Australia on the other hand is so close to the US it almost feels they are even a bit further developed in using the social web than in many regions in the US.

“It’s an age thing” – I hear this over and over again. Well – there is a correlation between age and online savvy but it isn’t the age – it is the inability to learn new things and evolve. We had people in its late 60’s in our classes delivering excellent results and others in their early 40’s just couldn’t let go what they learned and were almost incapable to adopt the new behavior.

Well – there is so much more to talk about but, I want to keep it at a Blog level – not a book :)

At this point I want to thank all the wonderful people who I met and made friends with in those extremely exciting 10 years. I’d love to list them all but since you will find them on my friends list on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn – I think it is much easier. THANK YOU my friends.

Axel
http://XeeMe.com/AxelS

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When you start your social media engagement you probably start on LinkedIn or Facebook. You explore Twitter and maybe have already an account on YoutTube or Flickr. As you get connected with people you hear about Foursquare, Yelp and Google+, maybe SlideShare and Quora. Others introduce you to LonkedIn Groups or Facebook group, maybe Focus and Plancast, Tumblr and WordPress. Over time you play with social bookmark tools such as Digg, Delicious or StumbleUpon. Then you get introduced to Klout, Posterous, PeerIndex and approximately 100 or more other tools.

Before you even started to make notes about all your profiles and accounts you have a bigger presence than you think. And now it’s getting messy.

Mistake No.1
You make the same big mistake many others did before you and probably many will make after you. You simply ignore where you think you don’t have time, you forgot or simply don’t care. Why is this a mistake?
Because people who see your dormant profile only see ‘a dormant profile’ which is not very compelling. If you lived in a shed and all people have is the address from the old shed, that is how they see you.

Mistake No.2
You create a new profile but all you do is add a link to another profile saying “you find my bio here”. It’s like joining a party telling everybody you are leaving soon because you go to another party. Not a good idea either.

Mistake No.3
You share only your primary networks i.e. LinkedIn and Facebook but ignore all the others which actually constitute your entire social presence.

And there is a long list of all the little mistakes, missteps and issues which would exceed the scope of this post.

What you may consider is a more thoughtful Social Presence Management

Step 1
Create a list of all the networks you ever signed up for. Include the groups and communities. Add all the profile URLs to it so you can quickly go there.

Step 2
Make a very short note for you – and later for others what that network is about or why you like it. You may also want to make a note for yourself whether it is an A-Place that is important to you or a B-Place that is of less importance (just keep it simple)

Step 3
Now let everybody and his dog know where you all are. I’m on 58 networks and places right now. Yes, it’s a lot but it is what it is.

Step 4
Make sure that you have a pointer on each and every profile to all the other networks and profiles. Mainly because you want ‘cross pollination’ of your networks. That enriches your networks, makes it easier to communicate and propels your presence.

Step 5
At this stage you probably noticed that most of the above is almost impossible without a professional tool.  How can you add 58 of your networks and groups to Twitter for instance – it is not possible. And even if it would be possible, you don;t want to manage 58 different places with all that information and if you add or remove a network go back to 57 remaining profiles and update them.

Therefor you need a tool like XeeMe, where you keep all your social presences, manage them in one place, point from every network to that one place and use it to share your entire presence with all your contacts and those who should become your contacts.

From here on you can start to professionally manage and monitor your social presence.

http://XeeMe.com/AxelS

 

 

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Empire Avenue has become very popular just recently. It’s a game that plays on ‘social capital’. It allows you to trade based on social capital by buying and selling shares of friends that are active in the social web.  The ‘market value’ or connection score of players is determined by the value they’re contributing to their social web including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, their blog and the engagement on the empire avenue site. Read more

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Dick Lee asked recently in LinkedIn: “We rarely see people as enthused as they are over social media. Among those recent rare times are: when the high-tech balloon popped; at the height of the housing bubble; just before the market crashed; and when Sarah Palin was nominated for VP. Hey, exuberance can be headiest just before the fall.”

I’d say YES – the social media bubble is about to burst. People are recognizing already that the endless hours of watching the incoming streams from Twitter and Facebook or all the status updates on LinkedIn are hours wasted. All the paid tweets and people or agencies, who have been hired to tweet are not going to contribute to the bottom line. And the fan pages people build to get “fans, followers, connections” are just hopes that it will do something for the business – but it won’t.

Yet, there are businesses who not only survived during the economic down turn but actually showed significant growth. What did they do differently as most are also associated with the rise of social media? The answer is SO SIMPLE that most people will reject the truth and continue to look for the hole grail. The answer is “The become more social with their customers”. Socializing is work, it takes time and focus, discipline and a clear understanding what to do and what not to do. And as 80% of humans continue to look for getting the job done automatically and get rich instantly, they will leave the social web because they just learned again and again – there is no free lunch.

Is that bad? Not at all – the Internet continued to thrive after the bubble burst. The housing bubble burst in the US – and today the US has the cheapest real estate in the developed world – it is only a matter of time when it goes back to normal (you get a mansion in California when you sell your 1 bedroom apartment in Nagasaki).

The biggest benefit of social media is to do more business with more people in a grander geography and in less time than ever before. But it comes at a price. And the price you pay is to be more open, more social, more connected, more interactive, more helpful and more conversational than ever before. And that means you cannot much longer be busy just slicing and dicing your data and aggregate information for even more knowledge about your demographics or aggregate more information to even better target your mail shots and advertising – NO you got to get out there and have a dialog with your customers. No time to do that? You will have a lot of time to think about it when you are fired or your business ceased operations. Being social is work – one customer at a time.

Can you automate?
Automation is sand in the social gearbox.

Axel
http://xeesm.com/AxelS

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“Seven years ago, in spring 2003,  Konstantin Guerke, one of the LinkedIn co-founders invited me to join LinkedIn. I had no idea what he was talking about – but my instinct told me: “go – this is interesting”. My LinkedIn ID: 8573.  I wasn’t too embarrassed not understanding the full scope because he didn’t either! But after a few exploratory meetings with Konstantin I got it. This was the birth of a new era. It was so much more than a new technology – we were on the verge of a new society. A year later I was quoted in Forbes Magazin as we started to hire people via the new media instead of expensive recruiter; I saved approximately $50,000, $30,000 on one search alone. Read more

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I am finally replacing my old website and merge my personal Blog that resided on Blogger.com since 2005 with my Social Relationship blog I recently started.

Why “End of Automation”?

No I don’t envision moving back to caves or living in trees (nice idea though) – No, I’m taking tangible business results. I’m talking about the consequences we suffer from an overly automated business relationship development.

Since 2003 I’m on LinkedIn, blog since 2005, tweet since 2007 and do this all while running a business as a CEO. I’m neither a blogger nor a twitterholic. But what I learned from the past experience of 5 years social media – businesses alienated their most important assets: CUSTOMERS – through total automation.

The day we may tell our family: “Sorry I can’t go on vacation but I outsourced my role as father and here is a friendly guy joining you…” that day I trust is the right time to outsource your customer engagement to call centers, automated voice systems, email blasts….

I’m the first to admit I’m as guilty as everybody else. The only difference, I had the opportunity to learn for the past 5 years how much different and at the same time more effective it is to stop automation and find smart ways to personally engage with an even larger number of people.

So under the new umbrella

The end of Automation – The beginning or Relationships

I will continue to post about thoughts, experience and my vision on Social CRM, Social Relationship Management and Customer Experience.

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Social CRM has two major and very different aspects:

1) The sCRM Product Solution Aspect

As CRM is under huge pressure from the open and collaborative social media space, CRM vendors (first was Oracle) decided to promote the idea of “Social CRM”. Even so there is no real product and no real product definition, it is the vendors interest to close the gap between the wide open social space and the very close enterprise software space. Other than integrating twitter streams and other social chatter, nothing has materialized, where an enterprise sales or marketing organization would fall in love with.

2) The Philosophical Aspect

Consultants in the sales and marketing field understood the need for a change. Not just an upgrade but a significant shift in the customer interaction model. sCRM sounded like the bridge between those tangential drifting continents. As such the definition is eroding more and more every day. To some it is a future product solution, to others it is Twitter, Groups and communities done right, yet to others it is just a “strategy” and again others see multiple facets of the above – and then there are groups who see it emerging without being able to exactly articulate what it may be in the future.

My personal opinion:

If $100 Billion in aggregate (SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Salesforce.com and about 20 other CRM vendors) now promote sCRM and do nothing but bolting the “s” in front of the CRM – the vision of the SCRM strategists will be overshadowed and no way of creating a more social business relationship with customers, prospects and partners will remain a dream.

If instead we work with a new vision, new business processes and as a result completely new products, we may see where the new world leads us to.

SRM – social relationship Management is an attempt to make that shift. As we define SRM and build SRM products, we also define new business processes. Not driven by efficiency or automation but driven by customer requests for a better business relationship with their respective vendors.

See the Definition of SRMAxel

http://xeesm.com/AxelS
(my social map)

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I just read a few articles about sCRM. One was a post on a blog where the blog doesn’t allow comments (very social). The other was talking about Ajax enabled technology that revolutionizes CRM (OMG) and yet another one described the advantage of getting Twitter streams and Facebook wall entrances all feed into the CRM system for better customer information (yes more data). Another system suggest that it takes everything a sales person ever needs so they never have to leave their CRM system (wow – how about leaving the company to actually deal with the customer?). The worst are the ones who still promote the “low touch sales model”. Automation is still the big word. Didn’t we automate already to death so that the customer doesn’t want to speak with us any longer?

NOW – CRM was always a hard nut to crack. Mostly beloved by executives to get data and hated by sales people who (in my personal opinion rightfully) prefer to deal with customers not with data administration and data analysis. I joined – really just for the fun of it – three sCRM and related presentations and was shocked what a sales or marketing person would have to do to “leverage” all the wonderful options of triggers, automated nurture programs, forecast granularity adjustments and a gazillion other options. Social CRM now feeds even more data to an already overwhelmed sales person. There is no word about the actual customer relationship – zero – nada – nothing. Is that how we bring the economy back?

A friend of my (a sales person): “Axel, that is today’s reality. We are customer data admins, not customer relationship managers. We manage the theoretic aspects of the relationship but I am about 10-20% of my business hours with a customer – at best.” What do you do all day long? “I try to reach customers based on a suggestion list, call and call and typically leave 10 voice mails – I know nobody will listen to, in many cases don’t even get to voice mail and one or two people I may be able to talk directly. If I’m on the road I prepare my trip, travel optimization, planning, arranging meetings which is a just an enormous task in itself and so forth. Weekly forecast review, weekly planning for the review meeting, again data into and out of the CRM system – the whole nine yard.” OK and 1 out of 8 hours a day with customers? – “As you can see now – AT BEST. Other activities are reviewing the lead process, the nurturing process, we have very sophisticated processes and it takes a lot to actually go through them every day”.

Bolting an “S” onto the CRM seem to make it harder not better. Of course in the days of Social Media companies need to do something. But sCRM seems to be the opposite direction. sCRM seems to be accelerating the disaster we have on the sales side. Not only because if the incremental information flow but also because of the farther automation instead of the social engagement. Living in a CRM system – that’s what CRM vendors like to see. But don’t you want to see the sales person be with the customer and spend only a fraction of the time with ANY system?

I love Brian Solis statement: “Take the C out of the sCRM”. As our networks grow exponentially, we also may need a good tool, but we need a tool that helps us with the actual relationship – not with the data we aggregate.

Social Relationship Management as it is is currently defined may be a solution to the problem as it focuses on the relationship – not at the data.

Axel
http://xeesm.com/AxelS

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I started Twitter early 2007 see my first tweets. Like many I had no clue – stopped using it for a few weeks, came back, liked it a lot and people laughed at me “Axel, are you out of your mind”.
In the coming two years I followed probably 20,000 people on and off and got to 53,000 something follower over all – now down to about 5,000 after I did some twitter hygiene.

I used Twitter to converse, get news, chat, inform, provoke…

Twitter is evolving. It is going to be the world’s most important NEWS platform. Twitter already became the leading publishing company – without being a publishing company.
And as such I will continue to tweet, but not about how my sailing trip was or that I have lunch with another CEO (well maybe once in a while) – but rather changes that may be of interest to more people just than my inner circle.

Like many things in our social media industry is evolving. People who hate change, don;t want change, will be disappointed – others will sour with the evolution. “Fly with the eagles or scratch with the chickens.”

That’s why in 2010 you will no longer see me tweeting every day.
Axel
XeeSM.com/AxelS

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After discussing and consulting with probably 100 executives in all industries the number one reaction has been:
“I get it, I know we gotta do something – but where do we begin?”
It can’t be “Hey everybody go on Twitter” – or “Lets quickly do a fan page” or any of the other helpless social media marketing tactics. This is NOT going to work in an enterprise.
So what is it then?

The answer: “Find out what your customers do in the social web”.
The biggest fear: “They are probably NOT using social media”.
The response: “Find it out”.

Two simpler steps:
1) Make the first move to more openness and tell your customers where YOU are in the social web. You can leverage a free tool called XeeSM and share your LinkedIn, Facebook, Youtube, website, and other groups or networks. Tell your customers: “Hey this is where you can find me – would be great if you could let me know where you are”. The key word: APPROACHABILITY

2) Now ask your customers again to share their social networks, groups, sites with YOU. Ask them to put it up on their XeeSM (which they will like for themselves) and share it with you. Now you know.

Effect:
Total surprise 1: “I had no idea that they are all over the map”
Total surprise 2: “I get to know them so much better and faster”
Total surprise 3: “We can chit chat without them feel being “sold” or “marketed”

OK where do you go from here?
1) You know first hnad that this “social media thing” is for real
2) You experienced the relationship building with your customers, prospects and partners for yourself
3) You recognize the importance of getting way beyond a brush up of your profile.

You no longer ask “Where do I begin…” Instead, you will ask “help me focus, I have so many ideas”. Trust me – it’s like a 3 year old enters Toys-R-Us for the first time.

Axel
http://xeesm.com/AxelS

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Andrew Baker, a fellow XeeSM user inspired me to do that. I thought it’s interesting enough to share it:

Wordle: Axel's Bio Cloud

Axel
http://xeesm.com/AxelS

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I blogged about it a few weeks ago in a different context. But I’d like to shed more light on the dieing email technology. Yes, yes, yes, It will live on for a long time – but it’s the end of it’s relevance – and therefor eventually die.

My email account receives on average 36,000 emails a month. About 30,000+ are filtered by the server based spam filter. I don’t even notice those 30,000 – other than in a mail server log file saying – deleted 31,074 spam emails.
From the remaining 6,000 email about 5,000 get filtered by my local spam filter. So I end up with about 35 emails per day of which 50% I still care less, 15 – 20 may be informative and 5-10 are real important.
In other words 0.5% of the email volume is important.
Or: 99.5% of emails are a waste of bandwidth, wast of money as I need to buy and maintain spam filters. It’s a sad illusion for customers who trust marketers that they can “deliver the message”.
OK – I get more than 5-10 important messages a day – much more but I get them through different ways. People contact me via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter direct messages, text me, skype me and so forth. Only 20% of what is relevant to me comes through email – and steadily declining. Friends, customers and peers know – if something is REALLY important they skype me.

Now – you may say but if 5-10 are very important you can’t throw it over board. Right ! But it tells me that there will (hopefully soon) somebody come up with a cool new idea to get those 10 important messages to me without all the overhead of spam and filters.

I look forward to the day I can announce that I no longer use email – which I predict will happen within the next 18 month.

Axel
http://xeesm.com/AxelS

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It’s been messy to put all your social sites on your blog, your website, your email signature and worst of all – your business card. If you have a twitter account, you have only one URL to tell your friends where else they can connect with you. On your blog the same.

Check out http://xeesm.com you see it here on my blog as an embedded script. You see it on my website as an embedded script, you see it on my email signature and many more places.

Change one – changed all others
The neat thing is: If I add or remove a site, like I recently added imeem, it appears on all sites and anywhere I use my XeeSM automatically. Check the XeeSM fan page, quite some more cool blog posts from other users.

A natural connection booster
The most surprising effect however was that so many of my friends and contacts connect on other places simply because they just didn’t know I have a presence there too. And that drove their friends to connect with me too.

Axel
http://xeesm.com/AxelS

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Where is the expected added business?

Social media appears to be a new marketing tool. It looks like a new way to get closer to customers, win some more deals, creating a new communication channel. But where is the new business?

How can I turn it into an $800 Million business?
It was just a little bit too simple. And like anywhere else, there is no free lunch. But social media has a huge potential. It wasn’t just for fun that Zappos, an online shoe retailer was acquired for $800 Million dollar by Amazon. So what is it that makes social media work for some and not for others?

It is actually only one tiny difference:
For some social media is a new marketing channel, get done with it and go on with business as usual. Honestly, how could that work? For others social media is a whole new way of doing business with existing customers, partners and the rest of the market across all departments. Yes, it needs some thinking – but again, there is no free lunch. The latter ones are the winner.

Customers across all industries complain that the vendors, channels and suppliers they deal with provide a mediocre to lousy service, the companies are not approachable and nobody seem to listen. Businesses are so busy with themselves fighting the “business climate” that they seem to oversee that the most important aspect of getting business up are happy customers. Obviously even the coolest social media campaign won’t help at all – if the rest of the company does business as usual. If Customers complain about approachability social media can help to get the team more approachable. If service is a weakness, social relationships between service team and customer would be a great deal of improvement. If products lack functionality requested by users, social media is a great way to connect product management with the market. Interestingly enough, in none of the above scenarios a “cool social media marketing campaign” is the weakness or even required to engage.

How to solve the problem:
1) Understand that social media is a cross functional engagement
2) Don’t hire an external social media team but create a social culture internally
3) Keep sales in charge of customer relationships – but in a more social way
4) Make product development more approachable and listen to the market by being part of the social web
5) Ask marketing to help gather data and reports from the social web and escalate alerts inside the organization
6) Develop a strategy based on a thorough social media assessment
7) Engage in the social web with the goal to increase customer advocacy
8) Have a small team well educated and professionally execute the strategy

The Social Media Academy conducts a complimentary webinar this Friday Aug 14, with further details on the topic.

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Since I started Twitter in 2007 I followed all kinds of people and over 25,000 followed and unfollowed me over time. I used other tools to get through the noise and a few weeks ago I started to unfollow. I am down at around 1,500 right now. Why 1,500? See further down – let me first say who and how.

Who did I unfollow?
1) People who have “I make you rich” or “follow me I follow you” in their bio.
2) People who still today have no photo up
3) People who have their dog or cat instead of their own photo. I understand you love your dog – but I’m not tweeting with your dog
4) People with over 10,000 followers and still follow more than they have followers. People collect all kinds of things, stamps, photos tinker toys – and today: Connections. Not my cup of tea.
5) If you didn’t tweet in the last 90 days – tell me when you are back – happy to re-follow if it’s interesting
6) People who basically RT all day long to stay in the game, I check carefully – some are actually very nice – others I just don’t care.
7) Random noise & Bandwidth eater. Now if you read so far, please read this carefully: I don’t follow if it is all about walking your dog. I LOVE people talking about there personal life as well – what they had for dinner and so forth but only if that is not ALL I read. I like the complexity of business, family, fun, personal, and what ever constitutes you. We humans are complex anumals and can assemble a social picture in seconds – challenge my ability to do that.

How did I grind through thousands of connections? I used a cool tool called refollow.com. It does it all. You can filter and slice and dice and then mass unfollow.

Who should NOT do this?
If you are follower collector, you shouldn’t do that because your followers will go down right away. Many who auto follow (that’s how you get many followers in the first place) have their tools also do auto un-follow – so you would loose all those who followed you automatically. In other words if Twitter is your follower game platform – it ruins your game ;-)

Now why down to 1,500?.
In accordance to Dunbar, an average human being is limited to about 150 social relationships as a meaningfull number. The limitation is our neocortex. But just a few hundred years ago we couldn’t fly, we couldnet lift much more than our own body weight and had many other limitations. What the industrial revolution did to our physical productivity – the social revolution does to our social productivity – So my “Axel-Factor” is to be able to socialize with 10 times as many as Dunbar’s number is – or about 1,500 people thanks to the social tools we have.

@AxelS
http://xeesm.com/AxelS
(XeeSM is my approachability utility)

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The best way to prevent social media flops is to create a sound strategy in the first place. It sounds a lot of work and too much for many small businesses but this model has proven to work even in small organizations:

* ASSESSMENT
Social Media Assessment (4 quadrant assessment model) find out where your customers are, where they hang out and what is on their mind. Takes you a week or two to make it right. But you learn more than ever before. If you feel you know already – this is your first red flag to a social media flop. Check your customers presence, research how your brand is seen in the market, research your partners and your competitors.

* SWOT
The assessment leads you to a good ol’ SWOT analysis. You will find out what your (brand, product, service) strengths and weaknesses are from a market point of view – develop your opportunity and threat profile. You do that in a few hours.


* STRATEGY

Now since you know more about your market from a social connection and conversation point of view develop your strategy: Goals objectives, value to the market, major activities to achieve your goals, resources, budgets. Develop a strategy team that includes some of your customers (the X-Team) – that is the most magic difference to old world strategies. May take a few days and online conference calls. But if you do it without your customers – you flop – guaranteed.

* PROGRAMS
Once the strategy is sealed, you construct and execute your programs together with your X-Team. Instead of the old model of blowing something into the market you work with the market. May take a week or two to develop. The key to successful programs is PARTICIPATION and CONTRIBUTION. Each program need to be designed that your eco system contributes and other participates. Otherwise it is just yet another marketing splash – random noise. But your X-Team will prevent you from that type of campaigns anyway.

* REPORTING
The key like in any other business project: Measure, Model and Tune your activities until they are truly successful. Select the right tools and monitor your activities daily – some in real time.

So all in all it may take a few weeks – but you have a wonder weapon – versus yet another boring marketing campaign nobody is listening to.

Make a difference WITH your market!

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