Social media bloggers who hit it out of the park

Once in a while you read a blog post and think, now that was great … this blogger REALLY hit it out of the park!  I thought I’d share a few of the most outstanding posts I’ve read over the past few months.

By the way, none of these posts are tied to favors, affiliate links or any other kind of kick-back. In fact, a few of these people I’ve never even interacted with so I’m sure this post will be a complete surprise to them!  Here we go …

Kelli Schmith offers so many great posts on her Dig Deep Thinker blog but I found this one extraordinarily useful.  Here are some great resources to turn the head of even the toughest, most stubborn executive social media skeptic:

Advice for execs and social media hype

Kent Huffman provides this gem of a post: Do you need a social media policy?  I know this is a well-worn topic but Kent provides the definitive article on this important subject, courtesy of The Social CMO. If this is a subject in your company (and it should be), save this important post!

A corporate social media policy: Do you really need one?

The merging digital divide has been a personal interest of mine and Anthropologist Krystal D’Costa hits the nail on the head with her excellent post.  She declares that “having the means to access information on the Internet goes just beyond access to the hardware; it also depends on the individual’s ability to understand how to use the tools at her disposal.” That’s an important perspective many people miss. Her blog Anthropology in Practice is on my daily reading list.

Digging into the Digital Divide

Occasionally you come across a post that takes your breath away. This one starts “I am 12 years old, sitting in my father’s apartment.”  This beautiful, personal reflection by Elizabeth Sosnow of Bliss PR made me think about on my own relationship with my father … and frankly, feel some regret. Elizabeth is a gifted writer.

Why did I choose to work for my father for twenty years?

Size does matter. Somebody had to say it and Sidney Eve Matrix, one of the most consistently excellent social observers on the scene, finally did.  She compares sheer size of your audience versus authenticity in this thought-provoking Cyber Pop post:

Size matters

Autom Tagsa doesn’t blog very often but when he does, my blog reader starts to rumble. Autom consistently offers up different ways to present the issues of the social web.  This post is a good example of his creativity.  I like the way he literally turned the microphone to his audience.

Organic minds: Notes from the social front

Apps, apps, apps. But why?  Neicole Creapeau is one of the very best thinkers on the social media scene and I never miss her posts. In this article, she looks at the real business models and strategies behind the creation of creating mobile apps for your business:

Business Model Principles: iPhone, iPad, and Web

There are so many tremendous writers on the web today that it would be difficult to name them all. I hope I’ve at least introduced you to a few new bloggers who weren’t on your radar screen before. I’m thinking of doing a post like this every six months or so. Let me know what you think!

An interesting interview with SAP’s social media director

I pleased to present today an interview with William Robb, Director, Social Media Marketing for SAP.

SAP is the world’s largest provider of business software and the social media role is extremely complex. In addition to being a true B2B company, the many software users within these client companies act as consumers of the software and are essentially a B2C audience.  Although a global powerhouse, more than two-thirds of SAP customers are classified as small businesses and midsize enterprises (fewer than 2,500 employees).

If you want to see the social web serving communities in a powerful way, I’d encourage you to visit their site.  In my recent corporate blogging webinar, I cited SAP as best practice and the company is also a pioneer in user-driven training and support videos and the establishment of diverse and vibrant  user communities. Here’s Bill:

Bill, you hold a premier social media marketing position with one of the world’s largest companies. What’s your background and how did it prepare you for this role?

I worked at a full-service interactive agency for many years. We excelled in online direct marketing especially in B2B tech (Oracle & Sun were my main clients). I took a position at Cisco in 2005 in Global Demand Generation but while my colleagues were building traditional direct marketing programs, I was tasked with building the case that we could get greater return if our direct marketing was more customer-centric.

One of the guiding principles was to put our customers in control of our marketing. I built Relationship Email Marketing program that was more personalized, targeted, and often 20 times more effective than our traditional efforts.

With that guiding principle in mind, it’s not difficult to figure out how I ended up in social media marketing when a small team was assembled in 2007. Brand listening, crowdsourcing, etc. are all manifestations of that same idea. It didn’t hurt that personally I was a (relatively) early adopter and active participant in the social web. It’s much easier to understand your customers’ experiences when you’re familiar with the environment yourself.

You could connect to so many possible constituents through the social web. Customers, obviously, but also developers, partners, suppliers. How do you focus your efforts?

I sit in Marketing so end customers are the priority but “customers” at a company like SAP can comprise a variety of audiences (from CxO’s to developers). Depending on the product, audience, and objectives, we might focus efforts in technical forums for developers or build a thought leadership blog for a business audience.

The lame but honest answer is: it depends. Partners are also hugely important in B2B tech. Marketing’s role is typically in partner enablement, but at Cisco I developed a partner influencer program for a product group as a way to help amplify their launches.

Measurement is always a hot topic when it comes to social media. How are you held accountable for results at SAP?

We’re in Corporate so we’re responsible for the SAP brand in social. Our team is ultimately accountable for risk management so we’re doing our job well when there are 0 crises (i.e. detecting problems early and making sure they are addressed).

Otherwise, our objectives tend to be at the top of the funnel so we look at a variety of brand metrics such as competitive share of conversation in key solution areas and brand sentiment as a proxy for customer satisfaction.

At a more tactical level, our team manages the SAP brand social sites (e.g. www.facebook.com/SAPSoftware) where we track the typical interaction levels and drive-to-SAP metrics. On that front, we’re launching a pilot with a social media management tool (Sprinklr) that allows us to aggregate metrics for all SAP social sites and social media interactions. I envision this opening the door for some new measures that we’ll track.

Our bigger task is to measure more of the business impact of social and we are working on a unified view of measurement across three of the major groups engaged in SAP social strategy internally (Marketing, PR, and Communities). Stay tuned.

What has you most excited about your job right now?

Social CRM has some fascinating implications for marketing, sales, and service. As a social marketer, I enjoy thinking about how we need to organize and build processes to support it especially across departments. It’s a challenging but very rewarding part of my job. Working for a company that’s a player in the SCRM space adds yet another dimension to my interest.

You told me you really liked my recent post on busting social media myths. What myth would YOU like to bust?

It’s very popular for Social Media Directors at various companies to say this: “If we do this right, I won’t have a job in a year or so.”

OK, I can appreciate the idealism—social media is so important in so many areas of the business (internal and external) that it’s just going to be part of everyone’s job and having a social media “silo” is counter-productive to that end.  My career in marketing has shadowed the rise of the web and its offspring (email, search, social, mobile). These have fragmented the marketing mix to a level that requires deep specialization. And they evolve at such speed that it’s hard even for specialized practitioners to keep up.

Many marcoms still struggle with the complexity of online & email yet we’re expecting them to be social media strategists in 12-18 months too. I just don’t see it. You can build social DNA into every employee (and the business itself) yet still require a team of social media specialists who have deep expertise in the discipline — not to mention a more critical eye for bad behavior. I think roles like mine are going to be necessary for the foreseeable future.

Bill can be found on Twitter at @BillRobbSAP and on LinkedIn.

Twitter time-savers: Tweet success in just 20 minutes a day

“How much time should I spend on Twitter?” is a question I get asked repeatedly. And last week one person upped the game by asking, “But what if I only have 20 minutes a day?”

OK, I accept the challenge!  Here are my thoughts on being an effective Twitter-er in only 20 minutes a day. I’ve divided this into two categories — 20 minutes a day for beginners and then experienced folks.

The 20-minute challenge for beginners

In a world focused on “engagement” and “conversation” I’m going to give some unconventional advice — Forget about it for a few weeks. If you’re a beginner and can only spend 20 minutes a day on Twitter, concentrate on building a relevant tribe of followers. Two reasons for this:

  • You’ll become disheartened trying to engage with people if there is nobody interesting to engage with and
  • Twitter is simply boring if you’re only following 12 people and you’ll probably quit. Critical mass means following at least 150 active tweeters.

So in the first two months, tweet at least once a day so people see that you’re active, but spend half of your time finding and following interesting people.  Don’t worry if they follow back or not. That will come in time.

In this related post on building influence through Twitter, I’ve listed some easy ways to identify and follow interesting people who are relevant to your business and interests. And if you’re just starting out and need some advice on what to tweet about, here is some help on that topic.

Now for the other half of your time, spend it reading, and occasionally responding to, tweets from your new friends.  This will give you the chance to see what kind of tweets you like, which is instructive when you start tweeting more heavily yourself.  If you’re unfamiliar with the quirky language of Twitter, do a search for one of the many tutorials that are out there. Most people quit in the first two weeks, so hang in there and get help if you need it!

The 20-minute challenge for pros

Let’s face it, if you’re really immersed in Twitter, the challenge is probably how to not spend ALL your time on this addictive little channel!  Once you have surrounded yourself with an interesting tribe, it’s easy to “go down the rabbit hole” and follow link after interesting link.

Now that you have built up a critical mass of followers, it’s time to take advantage of this amazing resource and engage and build meaningful connections.  Here are a few time-saving corner-cutters:

1) Get in the habit of sharing. You’re constantly reading on the Internet any way, right?  It’s so easy to share an article, post or video these days by clicking on that little Twitter “share” icon.  Don’t worry what it’s about. If it’s interesting to you, it will probably be interesting to your Twitter friends, too.  Just be yourself and let your Twitter audience find YOU!

2) If you’re only spending 20 minutes a day, do it at different times of the day so you have the chance to interact with a broader range of people.

3) By now you’re using some kind of an organizing tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, right?  It’s an excellent way to improve your efficiency by helping you focus on those who are actively connecting with you.

4) One of the most time-efficient Twitter strategies is to look for opportunities to re-tweet posts. This has two important benefits. First, you’re providing interesting and meaningful content to your followers with little time investment on your part. Second it is a way to connect with somebody and compliment them with a tweet.  And don’t just re-tweet the same people all the time.  When you can, glance through the whole Twitterstream and look for opportunities to connect to new folks.

5) Another great time-saver is using a Twitter app for a smart phone. Use those idle minutes waiting to pick up the kids at school!

Can you keep up with everything going on? No way. Not even if you spent 10 hours a day!  Being effective in 20 minutes a day means knowing how to use these time-saving tips and then having the discipline to prioritize. Here’s what works for me:

  • My first priority is to see who has mentioned me in tweets.  I don’t take that for granted. People are reaching out to me and trying to connect, so I want to engage with them, even if it is a simple “thank you.”
  • Next, I look at direct messages and quickly sift through the spam to make sure I don’t miss something important from a friend.
  • I have my TweetDeck set up with columns with marketing thought leaders, people who are active on my blog, local friends, and other topics.  I scan through each column to see what some of my favorite people are saying and look for opportunities to engage and re-tweet.
  • I’m constantly reading throughout the day and clicking the “tweet button” to share interesting articles. One problem I have is that I tend to share in chunks, so I will be inactive for most of the day and then send a flurry of tweets because I’m in reading mode. That may be annoying to some followers. Of course it is possible to schedule tweets to even things out through various services including HootSuite but that takes a little more time and the idea of “scheduling” tweets seems fake to me. A personal choice.
  • Don’t forget to show you’re human. If you’re in a queue some place, write a quick tweet to let people know what’s going on in your day.

Those are a few of my ideas for saving time and still being an effective citizen of the Twitterverse. What’s working for you? How do you spend your time most efficiently on Twitter?

This is what happens when Barbie joins Twitter

This week Mattel announced a new video Barbie that has a tiny camera embedded in her chest (YouBoob?).  The iconic doll has fully joined the social media movement by leading her fans through a Foursquare scavenger hunt, Facebook puzzles and YouTube adventures.  She even has a Twitter account. Check out her tweet stream:

So here I am laying in a pile of naked Barbies again.  Feeling a strange tingly sensation. : p

@Skipper Of course I’m bitchy.  My boyfriend’s a eunuch.

Have you heard about new Blogger Barbie?  Sits at the computer all day. WTF?

Just got back from set of  Toy Story 3.  Potato Head was wasted again. #douchebag

@Ken No, no honey. Eunuch is Spanish word for HOT!  Luv U baby!

Let’s dress up!  I want to be Lady Gaga and shoot fire from my boobs!

Sitting at the Dream House watching #OldSpice on YouTube.  Yeah, well my man smells like polychlorates.

I would give anything to be able to take a good crap.

@mattel  So sick of pink I could hurl. Am I being sponsored by Pepto Bismol or what? #newcontract

Head just popped off again.  Not easy texting with nose.

@Ken LOL!  Polychlorates is the Spanish word for cinnamon silly!  Luv U baby!

I have now been under this damn couch for a week.  Need to get my drink on.

Being chewed up by the dog. Later!

For my friends around the world who are unfamiliar with Barbie, this was not real. It is supposed to be funny.

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