The problem of the internal story

Yesterday Edelman organized a breakfast event together with The Centre for which they had Steve Rubel as guest speaker as well as Patrick Bosteels and Ramon Suarez as specialists at the table for further discussion. Steve’s presentation was interesting (as usual), there’s a good write up about it on Steve’s Posterous.

What struck me most however during the discussion afterwards is how all businesses are struggling with social media, in particular how they were struggling to make it work on an organizational level. A recurring problem that I’ve also noticed plenty of times with some of our own clients. What happens today is that many in the communications department have discovered social media and wish to make use of it. Be it thanks to agency advice, because of their own interest, due to pressure from above, … whatever the reason you see there’s an ask for building solid presence on social media.

In many cases this presence will include telling real stories from real people inside the company, no better way to show authenticity right? And that’s where lies the problem in my opinion. The communication department sees the opportunity of becoming more social, realizes that it cannot do it by themselves for 2 reasons:

  1. It involves the whole company, or at least most departments in the company. Make social media 1% of 100 people’s job instead of 100% of 1 man’s job – dixit Steve.
  2. The real stories are not with the communication department, they are with the people building the products, selling the services, meeting the clients, …

And although they are interlinked, I believe that most of what we’re trying to do today is trying to fix the first problem. I do believe the challenge with the second problem is bigger though, it’s more difficult to tackle.

Steve talked about the necessity to look at what motivates people in the organization to get them involved. Is it money, internal recognition, reviews, … Which button to push to get people to participate. I think that’s very true, but wonder if it can help with that second challenge. I’ve experienced with some small to very large enterprises that and the gap between the comms department who recognized the opportunity and realizes there’s plenty of content within company to be used to actually surfacing that content in a way that is sustainable is too big to overcome.

So how do you overcome that gap? How do you surface the internal stories that matter to your company? What’s your take?

Where are the case studies that matter?

Or at least, where are the social media case studies that matter to me. The reason I’m calling for this is that most of the cases I see or hear about aren’t always that usable to me. There are learnings in every case, but most of the time those examples have one or a few things in common that make them difficult for me to use. I need other cases, other than the ones people keep sharing at the moment, so where are those cases that are:

  • NOT from an online business: Zappos is the first that comes to mind. If you’re in e-business it’s also easier to create and measure a valid social online presence. There’s an immediate link with your business to be made online, there’s an immediate link to be made with sales online, that’s not the case for everyone.
  • NOT from a tech company: Microsoft, DELL, … I’ve worked for Microsoft myself and even 4-5 years ago there were about 5.000 bloggers active within the company. The company was actually active in social media before The Company was active in social media (if you know what I mean). You got a whole bunch of tech savvy people together, I can tell you from my experience that is a very different starting point than when you try and set this up with your average FMCG brand for instance
  • NOT from the U.S.: Ford, Starbucks, … great brands moving the needle in social and proving that it makes a difference for the whole business. With someone like Scott Monty at Ford, they are able to test and build social web experiences and applications, monitor etc but don’t forget that most of the learnings from this only work for a market as big as the U.S. The team, the tools, the costs, … for a market in one main language and with something like 300 M people is quite different from any market in Europe for instance. And a Pan-European approach might have the same scale but also that still requires a pretty different approach. There is no Europe basically ;)
  • NOT from a social media company: Social Media Examiner, Hubspot, … their business is in social media, it would be kind of sad if they didn’t know how to make it work for themselves right?
  • NOT from an indivitual or a 2 person company: There are obviously plenty of examples around like this – Choqoa from a friend of mine is a great example of a case like this. But it’s different when the business is basically yours and when you’re passionate about social media and understands how things work versus getting things organized in your regular mid-sized or big companies. You just have to start, you’re convinced and there’s no-one else around, no steering committees or anything like that. And that makes a huge difference.
  • NOT initiated by a negative experience: DELL Hell, Kryptonite, … we’ve all seen and heard of these examples plenty of times. And it’s great to see the turnaround DELL did after all the negative buzz they got at the start. But when I want to show people the opportunity that is social media, not why it’s a good tool to set up your defense systems.
  • NOT just a link or a screenshot: Last but not least, it’s great to get a link of a nice example but I’m really looking for cases so I’d like to see more information, data or at least people’s opinions around why this is a good or a bad case.

So don’t get me wrong. We’ve probably all learned certain lessons from some of the examples mentioned above and we should have. But on a day to day basis I cannot use much of the learnings I ‘ve got from these examples given the nature of those cases versus the situations I think many of us are dealing with on a daily basis.

So if you know a good case that is none of the above, please let me know. And share my request with your friends if that’s not too much to ask ;)

Photo by Andy Ciordia

Facebook goes offline!

For real. So the site is still up and running (don’t worry about that!) but it is clearly becoming a trend to bring some of the key Facebook characteristics to the real world. The examples below are perfect proof of that.

During summer Coca-Cola in Israel introduced “The Real Life Like. Together with Publicis E-dologic they figured out a way to embed user data in IDF bracelets, and thus allow people to “Like” real world objects, places and events spreading the word about it on their facebook accounts.

“The implemented these facebook-bracelets at the Coca Cola Village, a watersport, sunbathing, gameplaying amusement park activity-thing for teenagers. When the guests arrive, they are given a ‏ bracelet ID which transmits an RFID signal, which they program with their facebook login. They can then “like” activities and places in the real village, and their actions show up on facebook. Teenagers are driven by vanity like everyone else, so there was a photographer present as well, if you wanted to tag yourself in any given image all you had to do was wave your ID bracelet to the photographer.”

colalike

Probably sometime during the same period, Diesel introduced Facepark aka The Analog Version of Facebook as part of the Be Stupid campaign. Go outside, speak with actual humans ;) Definitely my favorite of all these examples btw, just watch the clip if you haven’t seen it before:

As part of that they also invented the Facebook Ass Status, no sign of that being used within my network yet though :)

The last example to pop up onto my screen is this one from Saatchi & Saatchi in Budapest: Taking Facebook to the streets for T-Mobile:

“At a busy downtown square in Budapest, they painted a Facebook wall(it was not an LCD screen). when users update messages on the online, they will manually place the messages with caricatures on this street wall.”

t-mobile-facebook

Not the most brilliant example if you ask me. Anyway, if you’ve seen other examples that would fit this trend, let me know in the comments.

What the F**k?

What the f**ck is Social Media: one year later. A presentation I suppose a lot of you have seen right now, as it was posted about 2 months ago and pretty much every blog on social media posted it by now. So why am I still posting it now then? Because only recently someone made me aware of the those 2 lovely kids on slide 5… those are mine :).

The photo was taken for the Age of Conversation ebook project.

The egg and the eggplant

Found this via Helge Tenno’s blog – quote on media vs social media from my friend Kevin Slavin (Area/Code):

“One way to think about it. It’s like the relationship between media and social media is like the relationship between egg and eggplant. They share just a couple of letters but they’re not in the same taxonomy. That it’s a fundamentally different experience. And that it used to be when you where storytelling, that what you were competing for attention against where other stories. It’s sort of a story competition. And the attention we are competing for now is the attention to each other.”

I didn’t get the chance to meet Helge in person yet, but I find both him and Kevin very inspiring so check them out.

Marketer’s view on 2009

Mid December last year Peter Kim released his Social Media Predictions for 2009, for which he collected the thoughts of some 14 thought leaders in one nice little document. There’s a lot of good ideas and feedback in there, although I cannot resist thinking some of it is wishful thinking, hoping that some things will change or improve which probably won’t happen. Anyway, worth checking out.

SocialMedia09

Charlene Li (who was part of the people inputting in Peter’s document) added some extra thoughts on it later on her own blog and also ReadWriteWeb weighted in on the predictions.

More recently Valeria Maltoni asked a dozen marketing bloggers about their thoughts for 2009, and as Valeria puts it: “More than predictions, which is hard to do, we focused on direction. This eBook is the result of our collective energy and execution experience”.

marketing2009

Both documents collect the thoughts of marketing professionals in the field and are definitely worth reading so download the PDFs here: Social Media 2009 (Peter Kim)Marketing 2009 (Valeria Maltoni)

Moving on…

… to a new role at Microsoft. During my 4 years at Microsoft, first as the Belgian Consumer Marketing Manager for MSN and later as the Marcom Lead for MSN and Windows Live in EMEA, I’ve been experimenting with social media. Remember the Windows Live Sessions we did all over Europe (e.g. Brussels, London, …), inviting bloggers to events such as MIX, sponsoring and attending Barcamps or Girl Geek Dinners and bigger events such as Le Web for instance, the adventures with Steve and Hugh around the Blue Monster, speaking at events, getting the word out on ‘Bring The Love Back‘, engaging on blogs and twitter, etc… Although it was only a small part of my job (the main part was setting up online marketing campaigns), I’ve always been very passionate about it.

Since October 1st that has all changed. Since then I’ve started working in a new role as Digital Media Communications Manager for all Windows Consumer brands – PC, mobile and online – as well as MSN and Live Search in EMEA. I got to say, it’s like getting paid to do your hobby just like Steve seems to think about his job as well. And it’s also the reason why this blog has gone silent for a bit, as I’m still transitioning stuff from my old job to other people. Also our fiscal year started on July 1st so I got to get my new plans ready asap, expect more about that here soon.

Anyway, I’ve been waiting for the moment I could tell you all this, wish me luck and if ever you have ideas on how you think I should run this… let me know in the comments.