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I remember when I was a kid, at the end of every GI Joe episode, they ran a nice little segment that taught kids many different lessons, and then the characters would say, “…and knowing is half the Battle”. Now how am I going to relate this to Social Media you say, well here goes…….

knowing-is-half-the-battle

I love Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other Social Media/Networking applications and platforms because it helps me learn a lot. Within Facebook it is great to see what my friends are up to, living all across the World; Twitter allows for the immediate gratification fix; for LinkedIn, it is crazy to see where people are moving within their professional careers, and potential business/job opportunities that can spawn out of those contacts/networks…you get the picture.

Now, I am rather new within Ektron, and I do not know anyone here. My 1st order of business was to check out the Intranet. Now the intranet has the typical information that you may find on other sites, announcements, events, documentation, you get the picture. Low-and-behold though, Ektron is eating their own dogfood (or drinking their own champagne) within the Social Media/Networking aspects of online communities, as we should be. Immediately I was able to review profiles of all of the employees – think of Facebook (photo’s, Updates, Twitter feeds….) – but for the organization.

At first I was very selfish in thinking how great this was, I could get up to speed rather quickly – getting to know who else on staff liked the same TV shows or local dining establishments in the area. I was very focused on the personal aspects of my new landscape and not thinking about how this could be beneficial within my “job”.

The Ektron intranet:

  • offered me a comfort level that I have not felt when I was hired by any other company
  • provided me insight as to the projects that were happening, and their status
  • immediately informed me as to when documents were being changed, and allowed me insight into what those changes were, and who made them
  • let me know who was on vacation, where they were going/when they were coming back
  • provided me the tools that I am used to using in my personal life, in a professional manner

Think about the last time that you had to print out a employee contact list because it was too hard to find; not know that someone was on vacation because they forgot to put their OOO on within outlook and go weeks before you got an answer; sent an email with a document that had been updated but not had “track revisions” on it; there are many other situations that can be described here.

Here is the question:

How important to you is it to keep up to date with someone that you have not seen in the last 10 years, and become part of their Mafia vs. Awareness within the decisions and on-goings that happen on a daily basis within your professional career and being able to affect the results?  

From now on, I will do BOTH (except for the Mafia part). 

Have you had a similar experience or wish that you had? As always, thanks for reading

If you are in the Social Media space, whether it is on the client or vendor side of the equation, you have probably seen the following image published by Gartner, as well as many other vendors:

gartner-magic-quadrant-social-software-workplace

If you are on the Web Content Management side of the house, the following graph is probably familiar with you as well:

168694_0001

You probably know at least 1/2 of the companies listed in each of the 2 graphs, but what about the others? Why do you now know about them?   How great would it be if you could have a partner/vendor/provider with robust tools for both external and internal websites? To empower your members/customers to purchase more and create brand awareness, and/or to create efficiencies within your employees base to make your decision-making process faster and more effective? A single solution for your entire corporation….

I only see a few companies that are included on both graphs above, IBM, Microsoft and Ektron. Pretty good company eh? So to answer the question, that is why. 

*(update – I apologize for the oversite, but Open Text is also on both graphs. They did not contact me, I rechecked the graph)

Mike

When I think of Social Media and companies that are incorporating a strategy around it, I think of sailing. Now for all you true sailors out there, I will promise you that I will probably get some terminology incorrect, and will do my best to paint an accurate picture, hopefully  you all will get the picture.

I think of the boat as being your business; the Captain, as just that, your leader; his crew are the Exec’s, Board members and other that can directly influence the course; the sails that you sail under as the decisions that you make; the wind behind you as your employees, or your customers, basically anyone that interacts with your company, or helps it move forward.

The wind will always be there, whether it is strong or whether it slows down, it will always be there. The Captain is always there to make sure that you are heading in the right direction, and grabbing as much wind as possible. Most boats sail with the same number of sails, which makes the decision making process for the Captain really difficult and timely, as the winds could shift tremendously, and if you are not ready for the shift, you will be dead in the water. If another boat with the same amount of sails cuts across your bow and steals your wind, the race is over for you. The fact of the matter is that he WIND is what keeps you moving, and the Captain has to know when to listen to the Crew, and when to observe the wind and go with his Gut.

The Social Media sail, once drawn, can assist in many decisions that the Captain can make throughout the sail, while also grabbing additional wind in the process. Whether the “wind” is employee productivity and retention, additional sales and revenue, streamlining processes and procedures (efficiency)……the benefits of this sail can and will pay itself off over and over again. While this ROI is different dependant on the implementation it is there and can be measured.

When I hear companies discuss if they can afford to implement Social Media technologies or implement features and functionality within their website that will empower customers and employees to interact and provide feedback to each other as well as directly to the business, I think of this – “Can you afford not to”? Can you find yourself in this photo?

sailing

Where are you?

After 3 months of working out of my house as a contract employee for AAA Mid-Atlantic, I have made the decision to move on. Thanks to the AAA team for the opportunity.

During my time there, I feel that the social media team that is in place learned a lot from me, as I did from them. They have a lot of hurdles ahead of them, but then again don’t we all. I am confident that over time they will be able to execute a successful social media campaign, leveraging not only their own community tools, but also leveraging other platforms in order to create awareness around AAA and the company’s goals/programs/offerings. I wish the team best of luck, as they have some cool stuff coming up.

As they say, timing is everything, and I must say that I am in the right place at the right time. I have accepted the job of Social Media Strategist with Ektron, a Content Management System (CMS) company based out of Nashua, NH. They are more than a CMS though.  I think that their “tag-line” says it all,

ektron
 
Is that not the question that we should all be asking ourselves? Is that not the foundation of your strategy, where all conversations should begin? Talking about getting the ball rolling right away with any potential clients and shooting from the hip.

During the interview process, a lot of things became clear to me:

  1. They have a solid platform
  2. Their Management is experienced and dedicated
  3. They were selected as a “Visionary” within Gartners Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management (WOW)
  4. It demo’s like you would not believe
  5. Their client list is very impressive
  6. The management interface is simple
  7. They needed to increase their Social Media presence

Not to mention the fact that Ektron is in a unique position, they have an incredible CMS platform and are (have already) integrated Social Media components within the fabric of their platform (imagine how powerful this is – can be?) From experience, it is easier to have a CMS platform and integrate Social Media features and functionality then have the Social Media stuff without the CMS/learning stuff.

I could go on, but I think that you get the picture.

My last point (7) really struck me hard during the interview process. I used to drive past their office 2x a day on my way into a prior job, and did not even know who they were or what they did. When I was 1st contacted by a friend that works there, I had thought that they wanted to build their own community, not that they were already a CMS vendor. WOOPS. Glad that I did some research before I interviewed!

I am joining the Ektron team on November 2nd, in Orlando, Fl. at their yearly Customer conference. Talk about getting the ball rolling, Welcome aboard. If you are reading this and are a client of Ektron, please grab me during the conference and let’s talk Social Media.  I may not be entirely brought up to speed as it will be my 1st day on the job, but I do like to jump right into things.

Talk to you soon, and as always, thanks for reading.

Mike

Now I am choosing the NBA because I have heard that they are planning to ban players from tweeting during their games, but this could be associated with any sport.

Does anyone really have an issue with this? Do you think that it is really acceptable for professional athletes to take time out of their day to tweet that they just saw “____” (movie star) in the stands and wishes to be introduced to them? Or that they took a “Hard foul” from  player x and is planning to make formal introductions to them in the 2nd half? Can these updates not wait until the game is over, and they are in their locker room, either celebrating a win and drowning in a loss.

As usual, there is a time and place for everything. Yes, players are make millions of dollars playing a “sport” and providing entertainment for those that are willing to spend hours and/or hundreds of $’s to attend a game, I understand that. But is it really acceptable to you, as a fan, to receive a tweet from one of your favorite players during a game, when they should be focused on the game and beating their opponent.

Shaq

Shaq

Thoughts? Am I off here, or do you think that they take time before and after the games, and wait in-between to post anything?

Mike

Tools vs. Humans – Content management

This is a topic that will always be debated and discussed around Moderation services.

“Can’t we just allow our members to moderate themselves?” While this may be an ok tactic within some communities, it can be a cause of disaster in others. You will always have groups of people within an online community that become friends (like High school). Whether it is based on demographic, likes/dislikes or whatever, this can cause an unwelcome feeling for “Newbies” within your community. Members may/will end up removing content based on the fact that they do not like what is being said, and you may/will end up with a community with no content. There always needs to be some form of Governance within online communities – an “Over-seeing” authority to assist. Imagine a football game without any Ref’s, a baseball game without any Umps……..I think that you get the picture.

star

vs.

“The tools should be advanced enough to not need any human intervention.” Tools can only capture so much, and “false positives” can ruin a community. Filters can only catch what they are told to catch. Words and phrases can be taken out of context and removed incorrectly. Having a system where content is removed after “x” number of people report it is not an effective tool as well. Members will figure out how the system works and game it – not to mention, tools are only as effective as their owners 😉

tool

Obviously those are the most extreme statements on either side of the fence, but these types of thoughts do still exist within online community management and moderation. As I have posted time and time again across many of my blog posts, there needs to be a balance between tools and humans. Tools can not catch 100% of content that may fall outside of your stated policies, nor can humans. Allowing your members to report content that they believe falls outside of your policies is very effective and should be included in every community. This allows your members to feel that they have an “individual” say in what is/not allowed to be posted. Not to mention, that when your members report something, and you end up removing it, they will recognize the removal and it will encourage them to report other items as well, assisting in the Management and moderation of your community. This balance between appropriate tools and Human interaction and oversight is key to the success of every Online Community. Thoughts?

I cannot believe that it has been over a month since my last post, so much for keeping up with my responsibilities.

The last month has been full of everything, traveling, interviewing and landing a great opportunity. First, let me tell you about my travels over the last month……….then again, what the heck am I thinking, let me tell you about the opportunity that I landed 3 weeks ago.

Thanks to Heather Strout, I was able to get my foot into the door at AAA, working with their Mid-Atlantic division (DE, MD, PA, DC, VA, and NJ). They had launched new communities (blogs, message boards, profiles, recommendations) around Cars & Driving and Travel. Through their strategy phases with Mzinga, they realized the importance of having someone Manage the area and become the internal evangelist for their community and its members. After a couple of meetings, I was offered a Contract position with AAA Mid-Atlantic. This is a very exciting opportunity for me, as I am getting back to my roots of Social Media/Online Community management – building an online community and developing a Social Media strategy around it to increase customer satisfaction, brand awareness, membership, visibility and all of the other things that come along with a successful plan.

I have just begun my 2nd week and am already in the depths of the Metrics and Measurement side of things, so that I have a holistic view of what can/not be accomplished. Granted the “anything is possible” saying comes to mind, but I like to be a little more realistic.

As for my travels, they were all New England based, some Vermont, some NH and some MA. Nice to do a little bit of camping and hiking while the weather is nice.

As I have promised in the past, I will try to update my blog as much as possible; you may notice a slight change in the “Voice” as it may come on less of the Moderation side of things, and more of the Management side of things.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mike

Last month, I was on the phone with Comcast. The Support lady was very friendly, tried to resolve the issue on the phone, and when she was unable to, she set up an appointment for between the hours of 9-11 that same day. Being that it was already 9:15, I was shocked that she quoted those hours, and highly doubtful. Little to my surprise, before  9:30 was here, there was a van in my driveway, and before 10, the problem was resolved and the technician was on his way. I tell you this story, because I really do like Comcast.

Now, when it comes to being a Customer Support Rep, there are a couple of traits that you need to project when in discussion with customers: apathy* empathy, forgiveness, coolness……I am sure that you get the picture. In the 15 minutes that I was on the phone with the support rep, she must have apologized to me at least 25 times. That is an average of almost 2 times per minute. By the end of the call, I could not believe how many times that she said that she was sorry. It got to the point, where at the end of the call, I was really wondering if she was really sorry. I believed her for maybe the 1st 5 or 10 times that she said it, but there was definitely overkill (like the famous story below) during my call.

UntitledToday, I went into my Nissan dealership for an oil change. I walked in and a service guy asked me what I needed, and was very friendly to me. Said that he was going to try to get the car serviced as fast as possible, asked me if I wanted anything to drink, and asked me to take a seat. 20 minutes later, my car was serviced, he came over and let me know that the car was done, told me to have a nice day, then stopped himself before he walked away, and said, have a nice 4th. I told him to do the same, and he said thanks, and walked away.

There are definitely many different factors that may have had an effect on each of the situations – in person vs. on the phone, technology vs. automotive….the list is endless. I just wanted to point out that it is very easy for a customer to read through the lines within the Services industry, and be able to tell those that are real vs. those that are fake.

* updated 7/7 to change apathy to empathy, thanks Tim – my bad

real_versus_fake_louis_vuitton_bags

Over the years, I have been a part of many conversations over being genuine. Whether they happen online or during meetings, some think that they can get away with trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes, thinking that they can “get away” with it.

I think that we are all familiar with the infamous tale below, as written by Hans Christian Anderson.

New ClothsIf you are in that school of thought, then all you are really doing is playing the role of  the tailors that fooled the King. But please be sure to remember that someone will always “call you out” and set things straight.

My previous post focused on transparency, and I tried to ensure that people think about when and where they need to share any and all information. There are times and places for everything.

But being genuine though is something that is very different. Being genuine shows that you really care and have a vested interest in growing and nurturing a successful “thing”  (business, online community, friendship…..)

Being genuine is also just like trust in the fact that it is earned, and once it is lost, it is hard to gain back. If you are not genuine 100% of the time, then no one will believe what you say and you will discredit yourself time and time again.

Being genuine is something that needs to happen 100% of the time.

Wow, it has almost been a month since my last post, I have to apologize for that. I guess that “too much” moderation with blog posts can be detrimental to your readership ;).

transparency-holler

With this post, I would like to focus on transparency. It seems to be a pretty hot topic that comes up when some one, or some company is not open and up front with their membership or following, and I can understand that. At the same time, I believe that there are times and places where transparency can have a very negative reaction.

In one of my last jobs, we let the community know that we would be as up front and honest about most anything that they would ask us, but there was 1 topic that was off limits. If we discussed this topic in an open fashion with the community members, they would not understand, more questions would be had than answers given, and it would have created a mad-house.

There are always times and places where transparency is the key to success, but you need to remember the potential downfalls of being so open and honest. There are times in all of our lives where we have taken the liberty to “hide the truth” or to not be 100% honest with one another. The key thing to remember is to make sure that you choose those opportunities wisely, and to know your audience.

I can think of something that I asked my parents (most kids do), and my kids have asked me that I would rather have not known the answer to. At the time, they (as I) had not been 100% clear and concise with me. There was no lying going on, but there was also no distinct answer given. It is probably one of the hardest things to tell a child, because you are well aware of the reaction that it will bring.

There are so many other situations and instances where being transparent is good/bad. I am just trying to point out that there is a time and a place, and if you are following a 100% of the time policy, you need to be careful.

Employment

I am currently employed at Bose as the Digital Platform Manager, leveraging Ratings & Reviews and Community content to increase customer acquisition and retention

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