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Well another chapter is about to begin. Next week I officially start my new job at Zynga, working as the Sr. Community Manager for their Boston studio. I will be managing all of the Social aspects of the games which come out of that studio. It is a very exciting move for me.

Over the last couple of years I have learned a lot here at Ektron, but when all is said and done, I really wanted to get back into the Management aspect of online communities, leveraging my experience on the strategic side of things to  implement, build & develop an online community.

On a side note, I 1st began online community management for Fogdog Sports. I also worked at Mzinga. Now I work for Zynga, who has a dog as their logo. Coincidence…I don’t think so ;)

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

 I am pretty excited to be running a session at this years SXSW  Conference with Jim Storer, Mark Wallace and Heather Strout. The session is titled “Lurkers: Your most important Community Members”. This session is going to be very valuable for many different reasons:

  1. The panel members have significant experience in managing, moderating, strategizing and marketing of online communities
  2. The topic is one that is not heavily discussed, but it one of importance within any online community
  3. We will be discussing everything from measurement, engagement and strategies in how to accomplish your community goals

That is by no means an all-inclusive list of topics and points that we will cover, as with the experience that we have on the panel, you never know where the discussion may lead.

Please join us on Saturday at 5pm at SXSW this year for our panel. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in advance, and we will do our best to address them during the session.

Mark has already written a blog post concerning lurkers on his blog – http://commonground.edrnet.com/posts/0490906d9a so please check him out as well. I look forward to the discussion and meeting you all at SXSW this year.

Wow, Yelp, FourSquare, Gowalla and now Facebook gets involved in location-based services (lbs).

I don’t like it and do not think that I will use it (outside of my initial test). Why you ask? Well here goes.

I am a member of numerous Social Networks for a reason. Facebook for my friends and to keep in touch with others acquaintances, LinkedIn for my professional relationships, Twitter to keep up with industry information…the list goes on. Now there may be overlap between my friends, my co-workers and my business friends among these channels, but in general, there are distinct reasons why I keep them separate.

FourSquare is my tightest network, meaning that I do not friend people who I do not know, or have never met. I have only “friended” 57 people. While I have 600 “friends” on Facebook, some that I have not seen since grammar school/high school, I do not see the need to allow them to see my each and every move. I have ignored requests from people who I am connected with on Facebook and on LinkedIn when they request to be friends on FourSquare.

I really wonder what the adoption rate will be on Facebook. Now if I could put specific people within my Facebook Network into a group, and only share my “Place” with those people………What do you think, Will you use Facebook Places? Which way will you go?

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!

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?

When we talk to our clients about Social Media, we talk a lot about creating, building and growing relationships for the long haul. While you definitely need to retain your current audience (whether it is your partners, customers or employees, it does not matter), you also need to figure out how to engage with a new audience, or those who may not be aware of who you are and what you do and acquire new individuals. This is not specific in the B2B or B2C world; it is about business in general. When I was at eBay, we went by the rule of the 3 A’s – Acquisition, Activation and Activity. This is a good framework to think about when you are thinking about Social Media. How do you plan to acquire a new audience, activate them and get them involved, while at the same time engaging with your current audience? How busy is your website? Are you doing the right SEO steps to place higher on the result pages? Are you engaging with your audience and putting a personality behind the brand? Are you providing a compelling and interactive experience once your audience visits your site? Does your audience on your website know that you have a Twitter or Facebook account and vice-versa? How are you communicating on these platforms and broadcasting messages to them? I came across the following graphic a few months ago, and modified it slightly to update it with current Social platforms:

* original viewed on www.socialmediavision.com/social-media/

Now when we describe Social media and how it relates to your website, we envision this concept of the wheel. Your website is at the center of it all. You control the content of your site and the organization of that content – now granted user generated content (UGC) you may not control, but you do have the right to enforce policies so that you can remove specific pieces of content if they violate those policies.

You can leverage SEO techniques in order to get your ranking higher on the search results pages for the larger search engines (I realize that YouTube is one of the largest search engines, but I place them in the Social aspect for this purpose).

You can also leverage these external Social Networks in order to create brand awareness and drive an audience back to your website – after all, is that really not the reason to have a presence on an external network – to drive people back to your website and increase your brand awareness? As I mentioned on a follow up blog post from my webinar a few months ago, leveraging these external networks are only 1 aspect of a Social strategy, you should not put all of your eggs in 1 basket.

Once you are able to drive people back to your website, what are they looking for, and how can you provide them with a pervasive web experience (I also borrowed that term from @rustyw who I believe coined the phrase).

Whether it is Blogs, reviews, ratings, forums, profiles, testimonials… you could go on and on with the different ways to provide your audience with a great interactive experience on your website. But the key is finding the right way to do it.

*cross-posted on Ektron.com and eBizq.net

New Domino’s pizza recipe double quarterly profits

Wow, I am shocked. While I am not a Domino’s regular customer, I have obviously been following their Social Media strategy as you can see from prior posts, Domino’s Part 1 and Domino’s Part 2. Because of what they have gone through, and what they are currently doing, I actually ordered a few pizza’s last week from Domino’s – it was the 1st time that I had their pizza in probably 10 years, honest ABE.

It was good and I was happily surprised with the results as were the 6 nine year-olds that also ate it.

Now is it because of this new recipe that they doubled their profits? Is it because of the way that they communicated this change via Social Networks? Is it because of their commercials? Is it because of the way that they gathered direct feedback from their customers in order to create a better product? Is it because of the fact that they took the direct and honest feedback and distributed it to the powers that be, and they took action to improve their product? Was it because of their new webpage, http://www.pizzaturnaround.com/?

Was Domino’s ready for this? Were they ready, really ready to listen to the feedback and take action depending on what the feedback was? Obviously they were, and not only were they ready, they were also unified in their approach and in their communication methods, from start to finish.

This is really a great business case for integrating Social aspects into your Marketing channels in order to build for success. While it is one piece of the puzzle, it is a significant piece that can generate significant results. What do you think of Domino’s, have you tried it recently? Maybe you should ;)

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

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.

Community Roundtable

Recent Tweets

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