social media topics, social networking, tools and development

ComStar, a Cross Functional Organization Model and Strategy for Social Media engagement

When companies begin to engage in social media they typically start in the marketing department with some rather tactical marketing campaigns. In those early models a large company either hired some social media “experts” to do the campaign or found some engaged people internally. The rest of the organization does “business as usual”. The problem quickly surfaces in sales “What are these guys talking to my customers”, on the service side “what are they promising to our clients”, and the product management team still doesn’t get any feedback how to better launch the next generation products. While it is obvious that social media is a key method to create a better customer experience, a better way to listen to the market, a faster way to react to needs and a less expensive way to become part of the market, the “social media marketing campaigns” alone can’t do the job. An isolated “campaign” is often counter productive and it would be better to just not engage at all.

Learning from the early experiences we developed a holistic approach, a cross functional organization model that is able to carry out a social media strategy. The so called ComStar model integrates all departments that have a touch point with the market into the social engagement strategy. Only a small core of social media trained and experienced people is necessary to help steer even large global enterprises into a new direction. An internal social media strategy and it’s leverage effect makes it possible.

At it’s core, the ComStar Model has one principle:
– Develop a social media service team (SMST) that supports all departments in the organization
The SMST members do not necessarily tweet, blog, comment themselves instead empowers others to do so.
Similar to IT team, finance support or HR that services an entire company, the SMST functions the same way.

With the ComStar Model, the SMST (Social Media Service Team) is the guardian angel of the social media strategy. The main objective is to inspire, motivate and service the strategy relevant departments such as marketing, sales, service, product management, HR and other. The departments in turn engage with the customer base, prospects and the market in a whole. In this model the SMST is the cordial spine for the engagement, while sales keeps the control and the relationship to their customers (even so in a different more social manner), marketing keeps being the creative part in the new engagement model “not pushing the message” but fueling the conversation, product managers get the tools and methods to better listen to needs of the market and service teams get the support to be better integrated in customer issues.

Behavioral changes of “the old guard” in particular on the sales side are as painful as necessary. Change has never been an easy task. But also change has never been more important and has never shown more successful results like today. Creating some fan pages and a few tweets don’t create a better customer experience – nor does it generate the often promised millions of additional revenue. But a great and ongoing trust building relationship with the market does, as we can see in cases like Zappos.

We will present the model in greater detail on
Fri, Aug 14, 2009 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM PDT
Leasdership Series Webinar
https://www2.gotomeeting.com/404589362

Agenda:
– Social media impact to our business operations
– ComStar, an organization model for social media strategies
– Comparing structural differences
– Implementation challenges
– Job description, work flow and responsibilities
– Motivation and compensation considerations
– Cross functional reporting models
– A holistic view to corporate social media

Registration:
https://www2.gotomeeting.com/404589362

Axel Schultze Axel Schultze MyXeeSM

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Silicon Valley Offline Social Get Together – July 21

Please join our friend Julie, who runs an awesome restaurant called Neumanalia in a less so obvious place for a great restaurant: Hayward, CA.
Next week Tuesday – July 21, 2009 | 7:30 – 10:00 PM
French / American Cuisine
!!!
Spoken Word
spotlightNeed a chance to express yourself?
Want to hear what others are doing, seeing, thinking?

What is Spoken Word?

Spoken Word is a form of literary art or artistic performance in which lyrics, poetry or stories are spoken rather than sung. “open mike”

Join us for an evening of fun and companionship in a great setting.
Special Bar Menu !!!
Wine $7.00
Premium Beer $4.00

742 B Street
Hayward, California 94541
510.583.9744

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Paypal was one of the first online payment services and had a great start but over time lost the edge. The company seems to struggle with their internal administration and adjusting their business processes to meet customer needs.

Company Background
Paypal has 160 million customers
Their support centers work shifts and deal with approximately 60,000 support cases every day.
Over 1,000 support people handle on average 60 calls per day.
You cannot email or use other ways of communication than phone, fax or post.

Support team
To deal all day long with frustrated customers is not a very pleasant job, so fluctuation is rather high and the level of competency very low. It takes on average three calls to find a competent person. Some customers suggest you don’t use a case number as you don’t want to get back to the same person.
Most of the support calls are very low level issues with routine answers, nothing special, simply based on lack of user help and a pretty confusing system administration (a user voice nails it: “This is done by a bunch of engineers and never reviewed by business people”). Many functions are even unclear to the internal teams. Support staff admits it is not very intuitive if it is anything other than pushing the pay now button. Everybody can read that in great detail in thousands on public complains.

Customer Experience
People still really like the product. Some even donated a website like This Link Lots of discussions with thousands of valuable inputs that – as it appears- non of the paypal people ever read. Paypal instituted a feedback form that customers are asked to fill out after each and every support case. Even so many people probably are too angry to even bother, some do, I did. But that source of customer feedback evaporates in the dysfunctional organization.

More Market Research?
Now the latest hit was that I received an invitation to participate in a survey – yet I have to be “elected” to join. However I get $200 if I participate after I am elected. But it looks like I have to drive to Mountain View to do the in person interview. A “market research institute” actually is doing the gigg. I don’t want to know what that cost in total.

So here is a company that has free feedback from millions of users and thousands of cases but just doesn’t bother to care – instead pays a research institute to create yet another source of feedback?

Paypals Social Web Presence
There is a paypal account on twitter, mainly tweeting “please follow us so we can DM you” – 63 updates, following 123 people
There are hundreds of paypal groups on Facebook from paypal fans to paypal frustrated customers
There are 18 groups focusing on paypal on LinkedIn with over 3,000 members
There are paypal customers on MySpace and many other sites, the feedback is priceless.
Yet paypal seem just not to care.

Even internally people know what the issues are: A support person inside paypal (very nice and very professional) “…I know, we asked numerous times to fix those issues but nobody seem to listen”.

How to actually fix the problem
Social Media for Paypal could become a life saver. Not as a marketing gigg but to improve and fix a dysfunctional operation.
1) At first a company team would aggregate and distill the customer feedback using established assessment methods and available reporting tools.
2) Then develop a customer supported advisory board and rigorously execute – fixing the top issues.
3) Tackle more problems and just grind through the list from top to bottom.
4) Ask the folks from “paypal sucks” groups and sites to HELP.
5) Using the, by then established, processes to figure out how new features need to be developed (co-creation)
6) Get feedback in a structured way through groups and networks rather than through useless questionnaires
7) Create forums where customers help customers, supported by maybe even less but better educated paypal support people

Non of the above has anything to do with sales or marketing – just building a better company.

Who Is Responsible?
Is this the responsibility of Dickson Chu Vice President of Global Product and Experience? Or is it Ryan D. Downs Senior Vice President, Worldwide Operations? Or is it Scott Guilfoyle Senior Vice President, Platform Services? Or Barry Herstein Chief Marketing Officer? Philipp Justus Senior Vice President, Global Markets, responsible for growing the company? Everybody has his/her fair share.

But No, Scott Thompson, the President is the one who need to engage his executive team in a cross functional initiative to fix the dysfunctional organization.

Social media is not a cool marketing gigg – it is a strategic engagement to react to the major changes in our society reflected by changing customer behavior and an ever more demanding market.

Axel Schultze Axel Schultze MyXeeSM
Social Media Academy

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I get more and more of the very same question: “Axel, I finally decided to get into the social media thing, do you have some advice?”

OK – too long ago I started from scratch, so everybody please chime in and add to it.

1) Give your engagement a purpose (other than just trying it out or selling something). For instance: You may want to learn more about your customers, you may want to help others in an area of your expertise, you may want to know more about your partners, you may want to learn what issues your customers have, you may want to learn from others about an area where you feel you are rather weak… Again don’t sell and don’t be as boring as “expand my network”.

2) Start on two places: let’s say LinkedIn and Facebook. Create your profile by:
– Adding a picture of yours, don’t make it too special amongst the 6 billion you are unique enough as you are
– Add your real name, your real background. No need to hide anything – it is out there anyway.
– Be open, the more information you provide the approachable you appear.

3) Social networking is about connections, conversations, exchanging experience… Invite all your friends from your address book to join you in your engagement. Don’t select only 5 or 10 – don’t be shy, you may be surprised who else is already there for years. So invite them all. If you are not comfortable to invite 1,000 – they only get an invitation from one – YOU. Don’t embarrass any of your friends, contacts or alliances by not connecting with them.

4) In the next few days you may be busy with confirming invitations, thanking them that they connect and asking them for their experience. They may have good tips for you as well. Keep the dialog over the next few weeks – make sure you leverage the connection for conversations – not just as yet another address book.

5) Now look for some groups with interesting topics or interesting people. Don’t forget your purpose by selecting the groups. Sign up with 2 or three, get familiar with the conversations. If you like it chime in, if not you may as well just leave the group. Once in the group: Don’t sell but just develop your skills and help others develop their skills with what ever expertise you may have. You will see others trying to sell something – don’t imitate (we’ll get to that later).

6) You are now a few weeks into it. You may wonder how much time you spend with no results. If that is the case: Your conversations or your network may have not been in line with your purpose. Or you may wonder how many wonderful and helpful people you met in such a short period of time – great – you are right on track.

7) The selling and doing business with those people almost reach the melting point. When can you go out and do business, sell something take orders….? Give it some more time. The social web is like a secret society you don’t get to the secret in the first few levels.

8) By now you may feel good about exploring other places and spaces. You may want to signup with Twitter and follow conversations that are in line with your purpose. Search for specific terms and check the people out. Also here, invite the people who are relevant to you and your purpose and follow them. Forget all the hype around getting thousands of followers. You are here for a reason – people who collected stamps in the past collect followers now – I guess you are not one of them.

9) Other places may be of interest: Create a little clip on your laptop and post it on YouTube, upload your presentations on SlideShare, store your bookmarks on Digg. You may find a few other interesting tools based on recommendations from friends. By now you do a lot of things and use a lot of tools based on recommendations from friends.

10) You are getting into the upper levels of the secret society. You learned a lot based on recommendations. You started tell others about your experience and recommend the tools to others. You retweet, write it to others on their wall… YOU NOTICE BY NOW: You never saw an advertising from LinkedIn or Twitter, you never received a cold call from any of the tools vendors you use. Nobody ever sold you something but you may already pay for some of the extras or reporting tools that help you follow your purpose. You may recognize: All it takes is recommendations. If somebody would have called you at home to use “Friends-or-Follower” you may have dropped it because thats the last thing you want.

11) As you join more groups you recognize the guys who ask hundreds of questions, answer the question right away and put a URL you should visit. Thousands of SEO and outsourcer try to sell you that way – and I’m sure like anybody else you just hate it. You reached an important point of understanding. Selling and advertising in the social web just doesn’t work. But you have this wonderful group of people who helped you and you helped them. And while you still want to do business, introduce your solutions and make a living you learned by now RECOMMENDATION is the currency in the business web. Recommendation = conversation, conducted by others. And maybe you experienced it already – other people recommend you and maybe even your business or products because what you produce or sell is helpful to somebody else.

12) You look back – probably 6 or more month passed by. You are proud that you made it through the maze of valuable and stupid information, through people you met and others you have known for many years. Your initial goals may be achieved and you feel good about the social web. Now you may take it to a whole new level – take your company and help the entire team to make sense out of all this. Make your team and your business partners a helpful hand to your customer base and your industry. Work with your customers and make them so happy that they RECOMMEND you. They can do that much better than you ever will in your life. When all the connections of all your team mates and partners recommend your products and services because they are helpful to others you become one of the top successful business person – without selling a thing.

Axel Schultze Axel Schultze MyXeeSM

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How Teenagers Consume Media
the report that shook the City | Business | guardian.co.uk” ( This Link )

What is shocking to me: What pretty much everybody is talking about finally shook the British Guardian.

More shocking: There is no way to comment on this report. It is electronically “printed” with no way to interact. I have to admit I haven’t been on a news paper site for quite a long time and recognized that this seems still to be the standard.

At the New York Times you have to sign in to “recommend” an article. But also wait until all adds are loaded.

However on SF Chronicle you can provide a comment on pretty much everything. So why spend $200 Million on a new printing press?

Axel

Axel Schultze Axel Schultze MyXeeSM

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Too many people wonder why their followership doesn’t work too well, get unfollowed or not followed in the first place. Starting with a good profile seems to be essential:

1) Give your account your real name

2) Have a photo up – any photo as long as it is YOU

3) Point people to your main URL (check http://xeesm.com)

4) Mix your profile well (not your resume, not some funky info – just what is your main concern

5) Custom wallpaper is nice but definitely the last thing I improve

6) Your location is more than a courtesy – people look for others in their vicinity

7) Don’t "protect" your profile – protected means "don’t touch me" and many including me just never even ask to get in touch.

8) Understand that 3 values are part of your profile: Followers, Following, Updates

9) UPDATES is a big influencer of your profile – some people check older tweets as well. Tweet what you think makes sense to your network – mix personal and business aspects in a healthy way.

10) Let pretty much everybody know that you are on Twitter – trust me it helps a lot.. Thought I share this with the group.

Axel

http://xeesm.com/AxelS

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We are starting a new service today: XeeSM.com

Share all your social network locations through a single URL. Try it for free: Http://xeesm.com/ Get a low user ID

Did you ever had these issues:
– Like to get more than one URL into Twitter?
– Wonder how many places to list on your email signature?
– Need to decide what to list on your business card?
– Need to make a change and update 25 different places?

You only need one URL: XeeSM.com/yourname

In XeeSM you have all your most current social networks, blog, communities. Such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, SlideShare, Blog, Website, Wiki… And if you have to change something, you do it one time in XeeSM and don’t need to update all the other places.

Please check it out and let us know what you think

Axel

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The social web has been explored and rapidly taken over by the business world. What was limited to a social marketing campaign just a year ago to make some cool noise for coffee, skittles or a new blender is today strategically dissected.

The social media rock stars who do a few campaign masterpieces are finding new competition from business process savvy consultants who take social media way beyond the campaign level on the marketing side.

Social Media in product marketing and product design plays a wildly important role. Co-creation is the known buzzword, listening to customers and building the right next-generation product the executable part of it. Social media empowered support organizations leverage engaged users and support the “user support user” paradigm through social media in a whole new way.

Logistics and procurement departments conquer old supply chain problems such as customer buying trends and customer purchase behavior with social media where social web analytics serve as a much more precise early warning systems than anything we had in the past.

While LinkedIn is the prototype for job hunters and recruiters – HR or better said HT (Human Talents) has gone way beyond search techniques and use social media for skill identification beyond the profile, team communication, project qualification and much more.

The social media marketing campaign is only one piece of the cross functional social media puzzle. And today it is actually one of the last pieces to be put in place. Even before developing a social media strategy a comprehensive assessment – assessing customers, brand, partners and competitors – is typically the starting point. Following a traditional SWOT analysis, a social media strategy is developed based on components such as Purpose, Objectives, Benefits Actions, and a sound reporting framework. Resource allocation management and funds allocation including ROI calculations are standard elements in a professional social media tool box.

Now – to do all that – professionally trained business consultants may join the “Social media rock stars” with their 100,000 Twitter followers. In my experience – if all you want to do is a cool social media campaign and get a ton of followers – you are not much further along than the ones who hope to get 100 Million eye balls through sponsored links – no matter what the value of those are. But if you honestly care about your customers and try to develop a profoundly better customer experience – then think beyond the “cool” and start building a holistic cross-functional strategy – so that service, support, product design and sales are a homogeneous force and the customer experience is something your customer recognizes.
Some of the consultants who are working more strategically may be less visible in the social web – but does that mean they are less effective in their work? Are the pros working in the background the ones who really spin the web – way beyond the “cool”?

@AxelS

Social Media Academy

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We are conducting a project to empower partners to participate in social media. The funding is done through MDF. The details are here:

Purpose:
=======
Social media is a place where customers hang out and converse over products, best practices, service tips and more. The purpose to get partners involved in those conversations is a) to intensify or win back customer relationships and b) connect with new potential customers who are discussing and dealing with the same topics.

Benefit:
======
The benefit to the dealers and reseller to engage is an obvious business benefit in increasing sales and gaining back market share.

Challenges:
=========
A) Channel partners have neither a good plan, nor the resources nor the education to launch such a social media engagement. It is not so much an investment in tools or equipment but in knowledge and time. More so channel partners don’t have the content they want like attractive video clips, white papers, ongoing new blog posts and more.
B) Channel partners are scared to death to expose any customer data. So what we needed to do is build a technology that allows partners to have a private customer community (with no access for vendors, unless wanted) but still provide vendors with relevant meta data to see that the communities are actually active and growing.

Solution:
=======
Vendors “sponsor” the partners social media engagement including three components:
a) The base education for the partners
b) Some vendor side resource allocation to feed content to the partners
c) An online community system that allows the partner to build their own social community, which in turn is connected to the vendors who feed content straight into all the connected partner communities (in our case 3,500 connected partner communities)

Funding:
========
The whole project is funded through MDF – and it cost less than the typical but less effective local marketing events. The initial funds allocation is $800 per partner for training, a few dollars for the online community and more but only if successful for community engagement (see below)

Reporting and justification
===================
The MDF funds per partner grow with the activities and engagement in the communities. In other words if a partner does not engage with their market – no more money. If the partner engages and their community grows – additional money. If a partner is REALLY active constantly grows the ecosystem and develops a vibrant community – even more MDF cash. The reporting system provides activity level that in turn controls the MDF flow.

So at the end of the day – social media and its transparency provides an even deeper insight into the effectiveness of the partner activities. Probably a bid hard to explain in words but once you see it you will get the idea.

It is a multi million dollar project but simply because the channel is a global channel. Cost is less than 0.5% of the revenue through the channel.

However the concept is scalable and will work with channels as small as 100 partners for around $25,000 to start with.

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There is an interesting dynamic at friendfeed. I joined the service about a year ago. And used it as feeds aggregator. That was helpful so I could track less people than I have in my various networks but all together.

Now FriendFeed has grown – big time. I can now use it as Microblog and get the posts back to Twitter. I can aggregate more services and actually consolidate multiple identities such as my uwn and my company’s.

But what is most interesting is the stability and speed. While Twitter engineers have a hard time to keep up with their super simple tool, FriendFeed has a much richer system with way less technical issues.

So all in all I highly recommend checking it out.

Here is what you do:
1) Go to this URL to register: https://friendfeed.com/account/create
2) Get to friend recommendation and add all your friends that may be on Twitter, Facebook etc.
3) Complete your profile (photo, bio, you know the drill)
4) start posting…

This may come in particulart handy when Twitter is slow, down, maintenace one other reasons.

See your feeds….

friendfeed.com/AxelS

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Cisco, IBM, Walmart, Wholefoods, Starbucks and others invest millions in their social web presence. The investment is more on the human resource side than on systems. They don’t advertise what they are doing but they are moving fast.

The Social Media Academy provides some insight in this week’s complimentary webinar http://www.socialmedia-academy.com/html/introwebinar.cfm

– The impact of social media on businesses across all industries

– Identifying the largest pool of business opportunities

– Assessment of a company’s social ecosystem http://xeeurl.com/A0848

– Developing a comprehensive social media strategy

– Creating a social media plan

– Reporting and analytics in social media – over 100 reporting tools

– ROI, resources and budget considerations

– Social media as a cross functional business accelerator

– Competing for mind, – and market share

– Building a successful social media practice

This Friday 4/24 – 9:00AM (PDT) Online conference (no charge)

http://www.socialmedia-academy.com/html/introwebinar.cfm

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As sad as it is, industrial media killed itself. It is NOT the Internet or technology for that matter that killed publishers it is the change of their business model from independent content circulation to advertising distribution.

A publisher used to make money by providing a given audience latest news, well researched and easy to consume. Readers paid for the news and publishers made a profit by balancing cost of news gathering and distribution with newspaper revenue. Rather simple model.

I explaind the shift in process here a few weeks ago:

http://www.customerthink.com/blog/what_publishers_killed_may_kill_blogger_too

@AxelS
About Newspapers
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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We started a new Facebook page for Social Media Academy. Introducing webinars and educational events. Please join the groups and become fan.

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The social networking company is looking for money – lots of money. How many do they really need and what then?

2007 estimated headcount 450

2008 estimated headcount 800
2008 estimated cash flow negative $150MM
Above numbers reported by TechCrunch

2009 estimated headcount 1,200
That translates to a cost structure of roughly $200,000,000 (200MM)
With revenues (I don’t see more than 100MM) this is $100MM under.
Now add the enormous cost of data centers that need to stream the videos, the photos and the rest of the application.

The clock is ticking. So what options has Facebook?
1) Cut Cost / Layoff
Either cut staff in half to get to break even
That’s possible but hard to do. But better saving 50% than losing all.
It would also mean the company is getting profitable and may do an IPO in a year or two.
2) Double revenue
But with advertising? That’s so much harder when even advertising machine Google admits that ad revenue is flat – meaning it’s probably going down. After all, the world is beginning to realize that the advertising model is not a business model after all.
3) Additional Funding
Get $500 Million to survive 5 more years, freeze hiring and use the time to develop a product/service value based business model – probably the hardest but still possible. In MHO the only way to keep current investors happy. Remember Jack Walsh: “Shareholder value is the dumbest thing in the world:”
4) Sell
OK then there is the option to sell the whole package – better now than never. Maybe for a billion or two – again remember Jack Welsh.

Then there is competition (possible acquirer):
1) Google with $16B cash in the bank has some nice little wiggle room
2) Less aggressive but more stable LinkedIn could weak up (I know hard to believe) and with just a few smart tactical moves get really dangerous.
3) MySpace – don’t underestimate those guys. They are less strategic more like a news paper driven network – but they have 3 things: a) Huge momentum, b) Financial backing c) the option to break into business (they are just a bid sleepy in that regard)
4) Microsoft? Not really. No vision, totally a-social DNA, no momentum… just money and then we could list any other company with money.
5) The SAP / Oracle world. Hmm interesting. Unlike Microsoft, they haven’t burned their name in social media yet. Just two massive companies but may become an interesting contender in the game in the next two years.

Disclosure: The above numbers are just rough estimates.
But you get the idea

@AxelS

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After focusing my blogging on Xeequa and lately on Social Media Academy I decided to to do some personal blogging once in a while. And as such I revitalize this blog here at Blogger.

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Social media has been an interesting ride. Unlike technology that was pushed into the market and a lot of ad dollars made it well known – it was the opposite. The market picked it up and then many asked – what happened?

Every once in a while things change at speed of light and many still didn’t even know. Why? Because 1 billion of the 6 billion people on earth communicate amongst each other (like the 15 – 25 year old) without letting the rest participate in the conversation. Then once we all know it we lokk back and just wonder ;-)

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