10 Years Social Media — Anniversary

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.


2020 and beyond

I was recently asked by members of the European Commission about my thoughts when looking beyond 2020. And since I love thinking about long term development, I felt I should share, at least an extract, publicly.

2020 and beyond

Going beyond 2020 I see three plus one major developments. Two are already quite apparent one not so much. You may say there is no way to predict the future that far out. Well it isn’t actually that difficult. The foundation for Personal Computers were laid in 1973 – 10 years before IBM introduced the IBM PC which was revolutionizing the computer world. Internet was created in the 60’s with arpa net even longer before the launch of the public Internet as we know it. Social Media started with groups and forums long before 2003/2004 when LinkedIn and Facebook opened their doors. Cell phones gained huge popularity in the 90’s but my father had a mobile phone already in the late 70’s. In other words nothing that comes “out of the blue” and changed the world actually came out of the blue – but was invented at least 10 years earlier. The art is to identify those and predict the development of those existing technologies and their impact on the world.

Now – I don’t mention energy or environmental development in here because that is one of the challenges we are going through already today and it’s evolution is too obvious and will be a mainstream topic by 2020 – if it isn’t already today.


1) Democratization of influence

Our society is undergoing a massive change – probably bigger than any other change in history. With tools like social media but also and more importantly an urge to more individualism and more autonomy our society is influencing itself across all levels and traditional influence from industry or government leaders is rapidly diminishing. Co-creation of our future like co-creation of products today will have a significant impact on our political and economic landscape. The fear of creating an anarchy is pretty unsubstantiated – but the fear of missteps, failure in the experimentation phase is quite realistic. Governments will be challenged to stay involved in the democratization of influence and actually leverage the evolutionary development rather than fighting it in fear of loosing “control”. Governments, more than ever, need to be very clear about their responsibility as a function FOR the public and not a power in itself. By 2020 the democratization of influence will be in full swing and in the following decade democracy will be re-invented. There will be nations benefiting from this development and others will fail to create an integrated democratic model where the government’s role is more of a conductor orchestrating a societies development than leading it or even worst, controlling it.


2) Distributed Production & Service Networks

In several keynotes I described a “New Enterprise”. Already today we see the evolutionary development of distributed and rather “linking independent businesses” then “owning a complete process”. For instance: Code is developed by a software shop in India, a reception maybe managed by a “virtual assistance” who could work in Ireland, some of the production is in China and so forth. More and more of those functions get outsources to third parties. The antenna design of most cell phones was created and even patented by a small and creative shop. More and more start-ups and emerging businesses are leveraging those high energy, highly creative and highly productive small businesses, integrating them into their own product strategy. Reseller channels is an old technique to sell but in today’a age even more relevant than ever before. A company like Nokia could be as agile as a company like Apple if they would focus on market needs and designs and not on their own, old and very traditional company structure. A cellphone company doesn’t need to be more than 5,000 employees – Apple has approximately 10,000 in their iPhone group – Nokia has over 100,000. Running a business as a distributed production network means selecting the most creative people – most of them are not employable anyway, selecting teams when they are needed, selecting resources that are required while a project or a product is in high demand and needing to “keep people busy” because you have them on your payroll. It’s part of the human nature that we are thriving towards more individualism, autonomy, independence and freedom.  Significant growth in entrepreneurship is just one facet of that trend. All indications are there that in the next decades Distributed Production & Service Networks will dominate our industries. Businesses and governments should be prepared for that evolution.


3) Age Revolution

Fact is that our live expectancy is notably accelerating since around 1900. Fact is that within the last 50 years the acceleration level actually doubled – creating a hockey stick effect. It is more likely than not, that we are on our way to get significantly older than any previous generation. There is a good likelihood that in the next 20 to 50 years we may expect people turning 140 or 150. If average live expectancy continues to grow at current rates – we will see a growth from 80 to 120 years in the next 50 years. The implications are enormous. Somebody retiring at age of 65 would have possibly another 55 years to live – which is longer than the live expectancy 150 years ago. 2020 and beyond Age will be one of the most challenging topics our society, economy and government is facing. While people may say I don’t want to become that old – the trend shows a different development and we just will get much older.

This will change the way we work, we live, we get educated, we adopt changes and the way we think. It may allow much longer term projects, will create a massive experience pool we could not develop in the past but equally a massive problem as much of the experience from the past is no longer relevant. It will change retirement planning, work live cycles, age care and many other things.


The next big thing on Technology

Things like social media, Internet, smart phones, TV, Radio, Automobile never came with a big bang. It took years to create the base for the technology, years for making early market entrants successful and than finally we are talking about the big thing. The next big thing can be considered as such when three things are happening: A larger part of the population declares it as a hype that will go away, large consulting firms caution industry leaders that companies will loose billions of dollars because of it and one group of people get very laud about the security risks.

Continue reading “2020 and beyond”

Social Presence Management

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.




The next facebook

Facebook will become the next Google which is the next Microsoft.

Microsoft never innovated any product. Windows was innovated by Xerox PARC, and so was the mouse. Word was invented by Wordstar and Excel like PowerPoint was acquired. Google didn’t invent anything anything either but built the most robust business model of advertising distribution, displacing traditional media. By accident it happened around a search engine. Also Facebook didn’t invent anything but took whats out there to the next lever, very similar to Microsoft or Google.

The next non inventor is probably 12 – 16 years old today and will build something on a technology that is out already but in an infant stage.

Like most others, it’s probably a high school drop off, a crazy guy, a nerd, whatever.

By the time Facebook is celebrating it’s 1 Billion’th user – probably in 2 years or so – Facebook will be the single most active software application ever built. By then open graph will help to make the Facebook ID the ultimate person identifyer to login anywhere and replace email as username. In five years from now people who argue about security breaches and privacy issues will be retired and no longer discussing things that an openly connected world just doesn’t find that relevant.

Microsoft wanted to be on every desktop. Check – done.

Google wants to distribute every conceivable bit of advertising. Pretty close.

Facebook wants to be the utility for every networker on the planet. Getting there

???  will be the application every human being is using from birth to death

What will it be? I have no clue, so we will see. But the pattern is already there. When will we see it? 2020 isch – I guess.

When the social media bubble burst

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.


7 Years Social Media

“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. Continue reading “7 Years Social Media”

The split image of sCRM

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

(my social map)