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When you look at the horizon and see the sun setting, and say, “Wow, that is beautiful”, how do you measure that beauty?

If a tree falls in the woods, and no one is around, does it make a sound?

I think that we can all agree that it does, right, seems like it is common sense. 

Over the past year or so I have read many blogs and reports stating how important it is for a business to be involved in Social Media and how measurement is the most important aspect of any initiative. I do agree that having the ability to measure the ROI of a campaign is a key component, but some things you can just not measure.

Well the truth of the matter is that not everything can be measured. 

I did want to relate the way that you measure your initiative to the way that a certain credit card company runs their advertising campaign

Just think of Mastercard’s funny marketing campaigns:

Having time on your side…..priceless

Another more powerful display over what I am trying to point out is this great scene from the movie “Goodwill Hunting”:

Ok, I understand that many may find faults in my way of thinking and will quote reports which may go against what my thoughts are here. When it comes down to it, yes, it is about measurement and making $ for the business, but there are also things that happen that can not be measured based on your campaign.

When it comes down to it, some things (sometimes the most important things) can not be measured, and some things also fall into a “Common sense” category as well.

* Many thanks to Aaron Strout for assistance on this blog post

Last night I attended the #NashuaTweetup and sat down with @SteveMurthey at the bar. We were talking about Social Media experts and how there seems to be so many “self-appointed” individuals out there, as this seems to be the latest and greatest employment opportunity for many. During our discussion, I came up with this comparison. It is like in the movie Aladdin. You had the Genie, who was obviously good at what he did. He knew the rules and was able to guide Aladdin into making some good decisions, and had “thousands” of years of experience in his back pocket.

* namecartoons.blogspot.com

But on the other hand you had Jaffar, and his snake staff. The staff was an incredible tool which mesmerized people and forced them to make decisions that they would not have if they had a better understanding of the situation and were guided properly. He also made promises that he could not keep, and there was always a “hidden agenda.”

 

* disneyvillains.net

Next time you sit down with some who is assisting you in anything, it does not have to be strictly a Social Media campaign or strategy session, make sure that you are not being promised things that seem unreachable, and make sure that you partner with someone who has proven their worth and has the experience to back it up. Don’t forget, you generally get what you pay for. What are your thoughts?

Back in the day, you could run your business the way that you wanted to with little to no interruption from anything or anyone. Everyday you could get up, go to work, and status quo would rule your day. Or at least that seems to be the perception from what I have heard and observed from the “Walk-both-ways-uphill-in-driving-snow-to-school” generation.

As we all know, times have changed, and that way of running your business gets you into serious trouble. Customer’s now have the ability to voice their opinion in open forums where millions and millions of people can read their thoughts. The playing field has been leveled and businesses no longer have the control that they have held on to for many, many years. Those that have adopted new communication strategies and have engaged with their audience are surviving the current storm, while those who have rejected this communication change as a passing fad have come to pass.

Customers have the ability to really jump-start your business and get it back on track. If your employees seem to be struggling with what they should be doing, or where their next project to come from, they should look no further than what is happening online – both what is being said about your business as well as what is being said about your competition. There is so much information at your immediate disposal; so many great ideas that you can harness….it really is a great resource. I have also heard of some businesses offering their employees “free-time” during their work week in order to think of new ideas and ways to improve the current state of their company. What a great idea.

The Fountain of Success

Please drink up!

Ok, I had to share this. I tweeted a couple of times over the last week referring to this story, but wanted to go into more depth here.

Twitter is a great tool for people and businesses; I think that everyone will agree with that. It is also a great tool for local businesses, if used effectively, and I wanted to share this story with you.

Early last week I was traveling to Calgary, Canada from Boston via Dallas,( please don’t ask, it’s a long story). While in flight from Dallas to Calgary American Airlines offered Gogo in-flight wireless internet service so I decided to pay the $10 to have it for the 3+ hour flight. For those of you that have not traveled with internet access on your flight, I compare it to JetBlue and having TV at your seat, yes, it is that good and I don’t know how I could have ever lived without either, anyway…..

On my way North, while traveling over Yellowstone I sent the following tweets:

What was really cool was that within a half hour, the account @Morningglorycof replied to my tweet:

I replied with “ I wish that they delivered” with a smile and then that was that, or so I thought.

Or Friday, I ran across this tweet:

It was really nice of them to do this, as I have never met this person and we had only exchanged a handful of tweets. I also decided to follow them back just in case I was ever in Montana. But the story does not end there.

On Friday we had friends that were going to Canobie Lake Park  up here in Salem NH. It is basically 6 Flags (www.sixflags.com), but on a much smaller scale (maybe 10% of 6 Flags). Anyway, we let our kids go during the day with our friends and met then at 5:30. Upon arrival at Canobie, I checked in on FourSquare and posted it to my Twitter account. Within a few minutes I received this tweet:

Is that a small world or what? Talk about chance encounters. I am sure that they also had a flood of memories outside of the one that they posted.

So with this post I wanted to bring about your Twitter stories. What are the “chance encounters” that you have heard of or actually been a part of? Please share.

The more and more discussions that I have around Social Media and Online Community building and strategies the more the discussions are had around the concept of “Social” having a presence within each and every department. While I totally agree with this concept and think that every department should have individuals that understand Social, I don’t think that the concept of spreading Community positions within each department is the appropriate way to go and believe that Community and Social Media teams deserve their own department.

Seat at the Table

What are your thoughts here? Do we, as Social evangelists within our respective businesses, have the right to our own departments, with a “seat at the table”? Has the time come?

In the current state of the economy, it is no longer about simply reaching out to your audience and hoping that they purchase your product – keeping your fingers crossed that they will become a “fan” of you. It is now about creating, building and extending relationships with your audience. Whether they are direct consumers, partners or employees – it does not make a difference. Your company is at the center of all of these relationships. Businesses need to understand the importance of these relationships and how the “little things” can make a big difference.

Note: I am married and have always been told that it is the little things that make a big difference, and I am also still trying to grasp this concept

Case-in-point – FourSquare

from the nydailynews.com

If you are not familiar with FourSquare, it is a location-based application for your phone where you can “log-in” to places that you visit. You can “friend” other people and you can also gain badges for certain activities – visiting and logging in to 5 different Starbucks for example will get you a Starbucks badge – but more on that later. You can also become what they call the “Mayor” of these locations, meaning that you have visited that specific area and have logged in more than anyone else. There is definitely a gaming component to FourSquare as you can try to gather as many badges as possible, and take the Mayor-ship from others who you may, or may not, know – which makes it a lot of fun.

Now there are other things to think about when leveraging Foursquare, including who you friend and where you post your status updates, but that is not what this post is about, it is about how a Business can create, build and extend the relationships with its audience and embrace new ways to communicate.

When I got into work today, I opened Twitter up to see what was going on. After about 10 minutes, I saw this post from a former colleague, good friend, and Social Media (I hate to say this but insert a descriptive here – guru, all-star, rock-star, evangelist……) Aaron Strout (@aaronstrout ):

local @Starbucks celebrated wife, @MelanieStrout’s @FourSquare mayorship w/ this sign & free gift bag. Nice! http://tweetphoto.com/17496680

FourSquare Mayorship

Welcome to Starbucks Mayor Melanie

Now can you imagine walking into your local Starbucks, and seeing that sign? Also, it was one thing for them to create the sign and to have their employees sign the banner, but it was another thing to put together a Gift Bag for her – likely related to her favorite drink, like one of those insulated plastic cups that they have (just a guess here).

I think that they key thing to think about is that this type of public recognition does not have to take part on a platform or technology like FourSquare – but it does need to happen in some way, shape or form to your customers, partners and employees in order to survive in this ever changing evolution of Social engagement. This is also another way to take online interactions and take them off-line, in the real world.

By the way, added benefits of their gesture – a Twitter post that easily reached tens of thousands of people instantly, and also encouraged this blog post.

Starbucks is a great example of a business that is embracing Social Media, between their FourSquare presence/partnership and the My Starbucks Idea that they have launched and continue to monitor, they are building their relationships and creating customers for life.

Have you seen other examples of this, and if you have, how has it changed your perception?

Creating Brand loyalty and leveraging feedback.

If you are reading this blog post, you probably also read my first Domino’s Pizza blog post – “What do Physics and Social Media have in common?” that I made a month or so ago. This was really a great example of how a business can leverage Social Media and consumer feedback in order to create a better product.

Domino’s held focus groups in order to directly gather feedback around their product, which they distributed internally so that the entire company could better understand their customers. Based on the feedback, Domino’s and their chefs immediately decided to make changes to their product. That in itself is a great step for any business and shows the dedication that Domino’s has to offering a superior product and differentiating their product from their competitors.

That was not the last step that Domino’s took, though.

A couple of days ago, Domino’s updated their Social site www.pizzaturnaround.com,  with a new video – “At the Door of Our Harshest Critics.” This is where they took their initiative to the next level. They visited three or four of the individuals that had provided gave some very direct and honest feedback to see what they now had to say.

Domino’s positioning:
“Because of your comments, it helped us create a new pizza.”
“Because of what you said, it helped us get better.”

Direct Testimonials
“I am so impressed. I can’t believe that you guys listened. I can’t believe that a company would do that. I can’t believe that you guys took that seriously.”
“I didn’t know that you were listening.”
“I’m back, I’m in.”
“This is what I was talking about.”
“That is the way that a pizza should be.”

Now you can say that these people said that the pizza was good because the camera was on them. But then again, they had a camera on them when they first provided feedback to Domino’s. You can also say that the pizza is fresh because the head chef made it and that it will probably not taste like that in all the Domino’s franchises around the country. But is that really the point?

This video displays the fact that Domino’s cares about their product, they listen to what is being said, and they make decisions that will have a tremendous impact on brand loyalty, awareness, satisfaction, advocacy, conversion…..you add in your own “buzz-word”.

Are you ready to hear what you customers or employees have to say within the Social Media landscape? Will you be able to harness their feedback in order to make the necessary changes to improve who you are?

*cross-posted to www.ektron.com/mikepascucciblog

A quick note:

In the past, Social Media and Online Community initiatives have been pushed and pushed from week to week and have become an after thought, a necessary evil or even worse, a check box. When it comes to discussing Social media and online communities, it seems that most prioritize their time around it. Something always has seemed to take precedence. While it is a frustrating feeling to have to reschedule, I feel that the time has come where individuals are beginning to recognize that these conversations can not wait, and need to happen sooner rather than later. More and more people are being tasked with implementations and strategies that can not wait.

The time has come. Are you embracing the changes that are afoot and making the necessary changes?

I am sure that you all remember the good old cartoon from Bugs Bunny, the Tortoise vs. the Hare:

 

During the entire race, Bugs Bunny is trying to cheat, cut corners and sabotage the Tortoise in order to win the race. The Tortoise on the other hand just runs the race and stays the course. When all is said and done, the Tortoise wins and proves the point, Slow and Steady wins the race.

Social Media implementations are very similar in this approach, or at least successful ones are.

In the more recent past, companies were getting involved in Social Media and launching online communities because their competition was, or because it was the ‘Thing to do, and they followed the concept of “if-you-build-it-they-will-come”. While that approach may have worked in the past, it most certainly does not work now.

People have so many place that they can go to converse and interact with others, that they have their pick-of-the-litter when it comes to Social Media. Have you done your research ahead of time, or have you rushed into the space, hoping that by cutting corners you will beat your competition?

Which do you think that you are at the moment? Have you built your application or Strategy? Are you reviewing other applications (Twitter, Facebook) and doing your research up front before you jump into the game, analyzing your audience ahead of time? Are you setting yourself up for failure before you even begin?

Has Social Media spoiled us? It is a corporations responsibility to reply to every mention on Twitter or every video complaint on You Tube? I am torn with these questions and am curious how others feel.

I understand that corporations should be interacting in some way/shape/form online. Some are building their own communities and others are creating a strategy so diverse that they are on Twitter, Facebook, You Tube and other Social sites in order to reach their audiences. Some are also conducting focus groups and including their feedback within internal processes. I say good for them. Great for them! They may have the manpower and bandwidth in order to execute such a robust strategy. But what about those that do not? Are we to discredit a company because they do not reply to us on Twitter? What if I post a question on Twitter (my choice) rather than go through their support forms? Maybe I am doing it on purpose because I know that I will get an answer quicker. Is that fair to the other members with questions in the Support queue, since they will have to wait longer while the company re-assigns resources? What if they do not have a Twitter process, am I to assume that they do not care?

Don’t get me wrong, I am a Social Media guy through and through, but I do not expect corporations to bend over to my individual needs, based on my choices. If a company has a webform, then I would expect that they have a process in place to reply and track the form with their support tools. They track the issues and make any necessary changes based upon sheer numbers. If I circumvent the system, how can they track my issue and make any necessary changes to their processes to resolve the situation? We work through processes on a daily basis, some work and some do not. For the ones that work, why should they change for ME (I may be the only one that thinks they need changing)? Should I assume that they do not care because they are not on Twitter?

Don’t forget about what they say about the word A-S-S-U-M-E.

I realize that there are situations where Twitter can be the first line of defense for a company, and there are benefits of participation and interaction. But we should not condemn those that are not, or expect those to interact because that is where “I” am.

The truth of the matter is that we should work directly with those companies to help them understand their deficiency. Write to them, let them know what they are missing, rather than condemn them initially saying that they do not care (and tweeting that to your 1,000 friends). By condemning, you are in fact prolonging their acceptance of Twitter as a communication channel and are scaring them away. Not what you were trying to do is it?

Think before you Tweet ;)

Thoughts?

Mike

Employment

I am currently employed at Autodesk as a Senior Manager of Online Community and Social Engagement. My team is responsible for the Customer Support initiatives across all of our Social channels.

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