Eyes wide open, the two IBM gentlemen look at me. They sit up right. Professional. Spot On. You can feel their enthusiasm, their expectations are high. Both are social collaboration leaders at IBM, evangelizing on the #newwaytowork. That’s how the software technology company hashtags their latest journey to the revolution of the email as they call the launch of their new inbox communication software „IBM Verse“. You can tell how excited the two managers in front of me are to talk about the IBM success story. The launch seemed to have gone well so far.
On my opening question both face each other, not sure who shall answer. They are professionals in communication, they are prepared. „The term Verse is historic for communication and conversation“, replies Dr. Peter Schuett, Leader Social Business Strategy at IBM. „In times of Goethe, when carriers brought people hand-written letters, all the communication that went to and fro was written in verse.“ The answer surprised me as IBM’s development sounds like a trip in the past.
It is not. For the first time, IBM has taken a new development approach. They made their customers think about the new software solution by inviting customer to their labs, by rethinking email, and by thinking design and customer experience first, based on real customer feedback, input and inspiration. Not the cheapest way to innovate. The product development cost 100 Mio. US Dollars according to them. It has got to be effective from a customer perspective.
For a long time, IBM has been a forerunner in terms of modern workplace technology. Their „Outside the Inbox“ evangelist Luis Suarez has already been preaching for a business world with less emails. We all know the reasons why he was addressing this. People get approximately 127 emails a day. This means emails kills 28% of our daily work-time, and thus of our daily productivity.
With IBM Verse the software technology company wants to shift productivity. Creating a more effective business culture is the aim. From Ed Brill’s perspective, he is IBM’s social business transformation specialist, email should function as a transmitter. Email today should be serving notes like a private letter what Goethe used to do in hand-written form: delivering private information.
„Email is the service forever. But it needs to be a personal service.“ Dr. Peter Schuett, IBM.
Focussing on the new software solution, I brought up the question in which way this is a revolution to email communication. Ed Brill emphasizes that IBM did not want to reinvent the email. IBM wished for a better email. However, IBM wanted to create a new intersection of email, calendar, social media and analytics. That’s what they have done with IBM Verse.
When I showed a bit of my disappointment around the new solution’s capabilities in terms of being an aggregation platform for direct messaging and functionality as an inbox management system in general, Ed Brill rearranges my expectations in bringing the metaphor on suits which might all look different in design but are in a sense all alike from the amount of innovation in style and structure. And by the way, the power users of enterprise email are still personal assistants.
True, sometimes people forget where they stand in the evolution of modern communication. With their „People“ and „Analytics“ functionality, the modern way of a more personalized communication approach seems to get in that social direction in the future. At least, when we compare IBM Verse and Facebook from a superficial point of view. With IBM Verse people also move into the centre of the communication universe which is meant to map the efficiency form content to people. IBM Verse „People“ learns to show the users dynamically who is important to their communication, by hour, meeting and topic of conversation. Obviously, users can also change that and arrange it according to their premises. The world of communication gets filtered more and more.
IBM Verse is definitely a big evolution step in email communication. Still, they could have made it a bit more of a revolution in delivering a multi-messaging and communication management platform in my eyes which integrates direct communication via Facebook, Twitter and others.
Brill agrees that when CEOs wanted to spread the word around some company, product or people changes in the company, IBM was about to use email for that communication. Today, via IBM Connections -the internal use of their own company community platform- gets 7 Mio. accesses a month, and the CEO messages will reach (and achieve more feedback) more people via internal social messaging than via email in the past.
Nevertheless, the two gentlemen did not want to commit to a statement whether IBM Verse and IBM Connections might become one platform in the future. But the approach to one collaborative workplace platform, serves the option to have fewer apps in the future. But hey, there is hope: „Rome was not build in one day!“ summarizes Schuett in the quick Snapshot video interview in the end of our interview, and smiles.
The questions we usually get from marketers are quite similar: What makes a good blog post? When is the best time to publish? How do questions in headlines perform? And so on. A recent report by TrackMaven analyzed 1.16 million posts from 4,618 blogs and 1.9 million social shares of those blog posts. The results were published in their Colossal Content Marketing Report. The analyzed content included blog posts from various publishers, like content marketers, individual bloggers, and media companies.
The report shows that Tuesday and Wednesday performed as the most popular days for publishing posts. Of the analyzed blog posts 87% were published during Monday and Friday (9 AM to 6 PM ET with a peak at 11 AM-12 PM). This does not say though that weekends don`t perform well. 13% of blog posts published on weekends got more social shares per post on average. Although just 6.3% of posts were published on Saturdays, these still received 18% of the total social shares.
As most marketers strive for engagement to justify their social business activities, one of the findings will be of best interest for them. The most social shares from blog posts came in the evenings around 9 PM-midnight ET (highest engagement 10-11 PM). Special peaks also occur when people get their coffee, meeting hours go down and after midnight TV shows (4-6 AM ET, 7-8 PM plus 1-2 AM).
Some more findings…
– Blog post titles of around 60 characters in length performed with most social shares (average was around 40 characters in length).
– Blog posts with question marks in their title had almost twice as many social shares that those without any punctuation.
– Blog posts with a mixture of capital and lowercase letters achieved most shares.
– Blog posts get most sharings via Twitter (Tweets shares got 38.6% of total social shares) and Facebook (Facebook shares 26.7% – Likes got 33.8% of engagement).
The headline definitely is a key element for blog posts being read and getting shares as on Twitter and Facebook there is not much more to see, and many people won’t even read but still share it the blog post. Although the magic headline might sound like a perfect tactic for blogging, there is more in blogging tactics than knowing when to publish or some rules around punctuation. Good content, relevant aspects, various point of views (interviews) and probably one of the main elements: continuity. Most blogs starts euphoric and die after some weeks. Blogging is a time-consuming challenge but with the right blogging tactics it is not rocket-science.
A recent survey from Wildfire by Google and AdAge asked 500 executives from large companies how they budget, staff and measure their social media business. Over half (50,7%) of the surveyed managers work for businesses with $1 billion or more in annual revenue. It shows that marketers in enterprises are increasingly investing in people for this business topic. 46,5% of companies with revenues over $1 billion have a team of 50 or more employees looking after the social business.
Furthermore, they are not afraid of asking for help when needed: 65,5% use a mixture of agencies and in-house personell to manage social media. This is different to smaller companies with revenues of less than $1 billion a year. These companies tend to have one to five employees for social challenges, and almost two out of three use 62,4% use own resources, and not agencies.
From all respondents, 45,6% of respondents see their social media spendings rising by 10% next year; 15,9% see even an increase by 11% to 30%. Just 29,1% of the managers have a „pure“ social media budget. Others managers seem to be getting their budgets from other marketing budgets like traditional media – 23.9% said their budgets are coming from print, television, and radio.
Keeping up the high level of audience engagement is the main issue for marketers. However, most managers are quite confident today about brand damage due to negative postings. This came in last in the concern list. This could have two reasons: Either shitstorms are not as problematic as some social media consultants define or describe them. Or all managers have a strategy in place how to handle these conversation issues.
Not surprisingly for us, finding tactics to effectively measure social media conversations is the second biggest concern for managers. Maintaining a consistent brand message came in third place probably as many companies have challenges in establishing a streamlined culture of social engagement in their company which we realize as one of the main management topics from top level management to „normal“ employee.
Retailers managers also see metrics tied to ROI more important than other managers. Still, most companies (58,4%) are tracking content shares as their „most important or important“ metric for measuring the ROI of social media. Counting followers comes in second (55,8%), number of page impressions (54,7%) finished third.
It is interesting to see that companies are still quite likely to put social media spendings under general brand marketing or digital media budgets. This obviously gives them more flexibility to shift budgets when needed. However, it also shows that the ROI in social media is not really proven in some companies. Predominantly retailers, followed by technology, media and entertainment companies, seem to be confident that there is a reason for social media budgets and have already dedicated budgets just for social.
The management view of the future workplace is still not yet fully evolved to a real social workplace. The main concerns are still loss in productivity and security concerns which still don’t give employees access to social tools. This is the main findings of a new study commissioned by Microsoft. However, employees (40%) still believe that there isn’t enough collaboration in the workplace.
The question managers asking themselves remains whether social tools help foster better teamwork, or not. And whether here lies the disconnect between employees and the management, and where companies should have a look at when they want to detect the reason why employees brought their own technology and software to the modern workplace. Via social networks and testing them out, employees found tools to share content, communicate across business borders and grow business through networking.
The report with nearly 10,000 respondents in 32 countries states that 34% think their company underestimates the benefits of social technology. The misperception of management versus social tools becomes more obvious when 37% believe they could perform their jobs better if management gave access to the use of social tools.
„Freemium products let employees try new tools in small groups before the IT department even knows about them. Work is becoming more global and less routine. People are more dispersed than ever and there’s a stronger need to stay connected regardless of location. The workplace is changing, and that’s causing tension.“ Microsoft’s Brian Murray, Director Enterprise Strategy, Microsoft.
Although the perception of employees remains positive about the value of social networks, management stays resistent to change their attitude towards social workplace. Probably as they are backed up by Gartner reports concluding that 80% of enterprise social networks won’t deliver real business value. The Strategy Web would argue that most managers have never thought about getting a deeper insight in a social business strategy, hene the social workplace opportunity.
The question is whether it is just easier for managers staying away from a cultural change and all it’s implications like new technology, training and management coaching? But maybe some managers want to answer this question after reading through this infographic…
The value of such a quote is for some managers marginal and for others massive when using it to explain the transformation of the business into a digital community-centric company or brand. Take it for what it is, and for what it’s worth for you, or let’s discuss it.
For this year the quote will be about social business strategy…
Just before you start asking… By „business freestlye“, I address all departments in your company (like marketing, sales, customer service, HR, or other) that are responsible for planning, using, handling, and organizing the business tactics and strategy around the brand, product line or service offering of business relevance.
PS: If you do it right, your workforce will freak out like the guy in this post. Believe me…!
Many people might have heard about the EdgeRank that drives the Facebook algorithm. It is the basis for the relevance of accounts and status updates, and yes obviously the users. However, how does it work is still an unchallenged question…
The aim of the Facebook Edgerank is to detect the updates people are most likely to engage with. One of the reasons why we sometimes don’t see our friends but those who are sharing updates that other people might like a bit more than others.
Some social experts suggest different types of posts that generate most traffic and engagement. Some believe in video, some in photo, and again others think that pure text is driving the algorythm most. Or is it the color that drives the customer? So, what is right? The answer is, only some people inside Facebook probably know that. It appears to be one of the well-protected next „Coca-Cola-like“ secrets…
In the end, the only answer that we see is the quality of posts. They might be short or long, with or without audio-video content, and also might have a picture, or not. Not the type of post makes the difference. It’s the understanding of your audience, and there social media monitoring is the key to all social business strategy as these will lead to your success.
PostRocket just recently published a detailed infographic on the Edgerank topic. It is nicely explaining how this algorithm drives your Facebook marketing.
We had written about a Curata content marketing survey some months ago. Now, I came across another research which is making it’s way through the web, and I am glad as I have been asked at a University St. Gallen event for some new insights on the topic today.
The Content Marketing Institute’s 2013 benchmarks shows what the challenges for marketers are: producing enough content (64%), producing the kind of content that engages an audience (52%), or producing a variety of content (45%).
Sounds like we have heard that before, right…?
If you think lack of budget is still the issue, you might find yourself being in the wrong corner. Just 39% of the respondents said that they lack budget. Furthermore, traditional restrictions and limits like buy-in/vision (22%) or finding trained content marketers (14%) is falling out; not even senior level buy-in is their biggest challenge (7%).
All lies? Well, seems like that… And when just 14% say, they are having problems hiring in this field, i would suggest some clever journalists or PR managers have found a way to market themselves.
So, a questions arises that also came up today in my moderation: What is the real issue, why marketers don’t challenge the content marketing business?
We have probably all heard what Outbrain told us today in their speech that push is the new pull, advertising becomes marketing, creation the modern editorial, campaigns are the always-on of tomorrow which makes sprints the new marathons. Still, the question is whether marketers understand why this should become the new budget engine for a change in an emerging shift towards content marketing and away from advertising?! Maybe marketers need to understand what makes them a media-house? Content curation, distribution and measurement might be more of a big bang theory to address…
The challenge might actually arise in the definition where content marketing gets propelled. Many marketers see still search engine advertising (SEA) their wholly grail. If companies get turned around into SEO engines, the whole result-driven aspect of the fluid content marketing world would not be questioned any longer. It just depends on getting the right people engaged inside the office and to find the commitment that lets the formerly outsourced world stand in the shade. And have companies ever understood the value of content? Content is not a test budget! It is an attitude towards business, towards communication, towards social business. Or have you ever put into question why you send out newsletters, flyers, whitepapers, or even company brochures? Blogs, status updates, tweets… written in an intelligent way, is increasing the way your conversations will arise…
Are you really hiding in the content marketing fields, marketers – or is it a real challenge…?
Year after year, Edelman is publishing their Edelman Trust Barometer. The 2013 version just came out and it is offering some helpful findings, pictures and illustrations how C-level managers, employees and brands can build trust. Edelman polled 31,000 people in 26 countries and as they have the comparison of the last three year (2011-2013), it is interesting to see the changes in the „Edelman Trust Index“. From a global perspective, the positive signs are that the global trust index goes back to normal after some bad development in 2012.
Definitely, one of the main messages the report gives, is that the general public and better „educated citizens“ don’t really trust government officials (13%) and business CEOs (18%) to tell the truth. Business CEOs ended up second to last with 43% only. So, it is not only the marketers that lack credibility in the eyes of their CEOs internally – externally the CEOs seem to be the people – employees, customers and partners – just the human brand economy CEOs need to become successful with their business. The most trustworthy people seem to be academics and experts, followed by technical experts.
The study offers an interesting list of 16-trust building attributes (named „trust performance clusters“) every organization should pay attention to, and live and breath. All points make sense and every single one seems worth-while being considered and double-checked with your own organization.
Leadership seems to face a crisis at the moment. The study makes clear that people distrust their company leaders, or don’t seem to get what they want from their bosses. Globally, the employees expectations in the areas business performance, integrity, products, purpose, and services always score low numbers and don’t hit public’s expectations. Especially under engagement, when it comes to how leaders are taking care and treating their employees, the leaders fall short in their ratings: just 24% feel that businesses do what ever they can to meet the employees‘ demands.
„We’re clearly experiencing a crisis in leadership. Business and governmental leaders must change their management approach and become more inclusive… They must also pass the test of radical transparency.“ Richard Edelman, President & CEO, Edelman
From an industry sector’s point of view technology wins in building trust (77%). Banks and financial services (50%) as well as media (53%%) rank lowest in trust scores. Edelman thinks that transparency in their business processes might help. Also, the way these economies are explaining their businesses could improve trust building as shareholders want to know how these companies operate and make money. Social Media could play an important role.
As long as people don’t understand how organizations operate, what companies and brands do with the money they invest in their products and services, they will doubt that they really get best value and service for their money. Even more, when companies don’t take their responsibility to open communication serious which most companies do when they don’t respond internal and external comments through social platforms. The more companies become social businesses and open up their communication, the more they create an atmosphere of transparency and collaboration, the more customers will engage with their community centers, the more people trust that companies really do whatever they can – WITH the help of employees, partners and customers.
„This confirms the democratizing trend of recent years with influence and authority moving away from CEOs and government leaders to experts and peers,“ finds Edelman. And we agree with them.
Watch their video summary and then start checking on your own trust building tactics. And let us know if you experience the leadership issue in some way as well, or not…?!
Most professors might answer in a diplomatic manner: „There is always two sides of the coin!“ Smart bloggers love to look into the future and prefer outlooks to reviews. However, those always rely on findings and insights which bring them to life in the end.
So, I have dared to head for an outlook in 2015, into the future of web strategy. As many managers are not quite familiar with the term „web strategy“, let me define it our way. In 2012, we have often realized that there is quite some misunderstanding what web strategy really means:
„Web Strategy translates the organisational targets and values in roadmaps for the top management and their teams in terms of all generated and doable business processes via the Web. Web Strategy creates a picture of the future of client communication which connects the networking trends of the Internet and the tools of modern web development with the individual business tactics of a cooperation in order to develop a superior company vision. ©The Strategy Web GmbH 2012“
Bearing this in mind, I have written a blog post that defines a futuristic view on some new job titles. It shall illustrate which old job roles might become critical as well as which new challenges arise in companies when changing or restructuring organisational frameworks in companies. So, let me define some new job roles that clever managers should be thinking about. Each top management should be thinking carefully whether or not they will need one of these job roles in their company. I am quite sure that these job roles will become important in the future on web strategy.
And don’t be surprised when I give those job roles kind of a hierarchy. The formula behind it is quite simple…Knowledge x Data x Content x Culture x Clients = Company Success
a.) Corporate Knowledge Officer
The main challenge for any HR department is to tie the pearls of the corporate value chain long-term. These employees are the knowledge of the company, the pillars of productivity. If one of those pillars leaves the company behind, the person takes the knowledge with them, and often all of their knowledge gets lost. But what if employees understand that the feeding hand of a company offers less pension protection by 2025? What if by 2020, Millennials, the generation that will make up almost 50% of the global workforce, will deny the traditional workplace mentality and start making their knowldge available more on a project basis? What if knowledge workers stop working for one company but prefer to share their knowldge in a „buy-my-brain“ mode?
Leaders who believe in Social Business, those who want to secure knowledge and make it „always-on“ available shall consider the position of a Corporate Knowledge Officer. They are game changers for analysts, market researchers and leading consulting corporations.
b.) Corporate Data Scientist
The world speaks Big Data. Buzzword or biz value? There were not many words you could hear in 2012 at web events, where „web stategy“ still often is a foreign word. Why Big Data rules? Well, just look at how much data is being generated in 60-Minuten on the web, or how fast reactions and conversations evolve. That’s why data is becoming a challenge for the whole value chain of the company. However, which business is able to accomplish a job role which is said to become one of the sexiest in the future according to Harvard Business Review? Where is this person located in the excel sheets of businesses that unites the capabilities of a logician, explorer and mathematician in one person? There are not many avalaible yet. Corporate Data Scientists are those brains who know how to turn the process of 0 and 1 upside down in order to draw some conclusions for new content and values.
Leaders that don’t want to stop at data mining or business intelligence processes should figure out the value of the Corporate Data Scientist. They are challengers for PR and marketing decision makers who need to prove their credibility by showing facts to their CEOs.
c.) Corporate Content Officer
Content forms data. The problem? Content is the weakest production department of companies. In most cases PR experts or publishing houses have taken over the content production. Although most media companies are struggling themselves with unique content generation. But who is meant to do the content research? Who is able to write and schedule stories? Who can prioritize, aggregate and curate content? And where will companies find the publishing expertise to become a media company? If content marketing is the future, who will pioneer on the path from PR and marketing to the journalistic hybrid of corporate publishing and community management in the company?
Leaders who see conversations as an opportunity and understand the sense of integrated communities in websites will evaluate the position of Corporate Content Officers. They are the media coaches and editors-in-chief of businesses who bring all company departments to produce content for their special business area.
d.) Chief Culture Officer
The modern development in content and data generation as well as a new understatement for knowledge management is walking on the stage of change management. A stage that Grant McCracken featured in his book. Employees need to find the deeper sense in the evolution of new platforms in business processes. Employees need to understand the complete benefit of tools and tactics before they will be forced to make use of them. Especially, for those employees who do not like email communication but shall start working with communication streams and updates all of a sudden. Stream-Working is a culture of openness and transparency which is not everybody’s friend. And sometimes the best lighthouses might not embrace those changes.
Leaders who know about the challenges of working with multiple project platforms will appreciate the additional benefit of a Chief Culture Officer. This job role will be the prolonged arm of the management team, the „personified culture geek“ and at the same time working very close with the HR team.
e.) Chief Customer Officer
Customer change the rules of the game via open communication, praise and critic. What was top-down is now bottom-up. Customers are kings. A sentence that made people cry some years ago. Today, the 3R’s of the social customer -Rating, Review, Recommendation- make managers and leaders start crying. They let whole revenue streams start shaking at times. Those managers who get their experience from digital conversations with customers, who appreciate when data becomes content, and who create a culture of cooperation and collaboration, then you live and breathe the values of empathy that customers are longing for. Then companies create the right fascination for brands, products and their own company.
Leaders who accept the community of customers as the ecosystem of perception, and who believe in brand advocates, critics and moaners as equal process partners will think about integrating a Chief Customer Officer as an institution that is meant to drive business growth. They will be game changers for sales people and customer service employees.
Never before have I spoken about and discussed so much about new job definitions and job roles in my life like in 2012. On congresses as a moderator, on B2B events as speaker, or as a rebellious start-up panelist.
Will one or some of these job roles become reality? You decide…
Social Business still far away for companies? B2B Execs see Social Media reputation as a corporate blind spot
Is Social Media really so far behind in the mindset of executives, especially in B2B? Well, according to the Zeno’s Digital Readiness Survey conducted by Harris Interactive it is. The poll asked 300 U.S. corporate executives of various industries and titles of VP or higher, including C-suite executives (primarily B2B) with annual revenues of at least $1 billion. The study comes to a conclusion that surprises us: Many executives fail to consider Social Media reputation when making business decisions. Over one-third of executives (36%) stated that the CEO of their company does not care or cares little about the company’s reputation in Social Media.
Although many companies out there like us advice the leading management how to work with Social Media and how to turn the company into a Social Business, the findings show that still 10% of organizations do not take any action at all to engage with audiences online to address a damaging article or Social Media post. And when it claims that managers would at least take some action to respond to an online crisis, it tells me that Social Media is still not a hotspot for companies and brands.
The main findings of the survey…
– B2B executives (43%) say their CEO largely ignores their company’s online reputation (B2C only 30%) when making business-decisions.
– B2B executives are slower in response. Only 45% of business executives see their company can respond to a negative online post within 24 hours (B2C 63%)
– B2B executives are twice as likely (13%) to say that their firm would not engage an audience online at all to defend their reputation (B2C 6%)
– Executives in larger firms (10,000 employees+) are more likely to say their CEO always or sometimes considers their company’s Social Media reputation versus those in smaller companies (71% versus 55%).
– Executives in smaller firms ignore Social Media reputation when considered business decision-making more than larger firms (45% versus 29%)
„Given the explosive growth of today’s digital platforms, the Zeno Digital Readiness Survey shows a much larger percentage of companies than one would expect turning a blind eye to valuable customer views and insights. (…) These businesses, regardless of sector, risk serious reputational damage, as well as miss out on important stakeholder feedback, when they ignore social media conversations about their companies and their industries.“ Mark Shadle, Managing Director, Zeno Corporate Practise
The study claims that Social Media is a „corporate reputation blind spot,“ especially for B2B companies. From our work in 2012 we can only agree with these findings. Although this is surprising when considering that Social Media accounts for almost 25% of people’s time spent online, and that consumers allow companies and brands a response time of 60 minutes for customer service. Companies that don’t want to ignore their online reputation, meaning their business community from clients to partners to employees, should think about the 5Cs of Social Business and how to turn their companies around in order not to put their business reputation at risk.