I was recently invited to guest lecture by Professor McCubbrey of the Daniels Information Technology and eCommerce department about the implications Web 2.0 has for CIOs. I put together a list of topics that I feel most CIOs (B2B vs. B2C/ product vs. service) need to consider when developing technology/business strategies.

The outline for the lecture was as follows:

  1. Deep Relationships
  2. Twitter
  3. LinkedIn
  4. Facebook
  5. Evolving Mobile
  6. Social Media Monitoring
  7. Knowledge Management
  8. Blogging and Ning

We ran out of time and only got to the first three items and I was graciously asked to return on the 27th to finish the lecture. I’ll go down the list and review what was covered.

Deep Relationships -I walked the class through the conceptual model I developed to help people understand the types of relationships that businesses can have with their customers/potential customers, online. There are four levels and they were covered in the the first posts I did, 2 1/2 years ago. The first level is findable. If you can’t be found you don’t exist. This is why SEO, SEM, affiliate marketing and advertising (that works) are so important. Build it and no one will come.  Build it and market it intelligently, you have a chance. The second level is recommendable. Is your product/service worthy of being recommended? Remember, your product/service must be market driven. Unless you’re the target market, it really doesn’t mean much if you like the product. Figure out what the key differentiators are for offering; according to your target market and then make sure your product is excellent or “good enough”. The next level is transparent. This is personal decision as to how much you’re willing to share as a business person. In the new economy every person in the organization can represent the business. They need to do this from their own perspective and with their own sense of what they’re willing to share. You don’t want employees sharing IP and you can’t stop them from talking about work. (Unless of course you let them go and that maybe a bigger issue than dealing with what they said.) One of the best things I’ve seen businesses do is admit when their product/service needs work. Once an company embraces their short comings, the next level is possible; Collaboration. This level, as with all levels, is dependent on your business model. For some online businesses this is natural. How do you get your fans involved with growing your business? Karmaloop does it. Lego does it. How can you?

As a CIO, it will be vital to realize what your current corporate culture is and to what level you can help your business get to. Deep relationships are the goal not masses of shallow ones. Deciding what strategy to embrace that empowers your employees to participate in an evolving social landscape will depend on what your current business model is and what you’d like your business to evolve into. Microsoft’s open blogging policy is renowned for turning the tide of online opinion until they shot both of their feet off with Vista. There are risks. It is important to determine what those are and what you’re not willing to do before proceeding.

Twitter – We then launched into Twitter. This past week was the first annual Twitter conference called Chirp. During this conference we found out some interesting statistics. Twitter now has slightly over 105 million members (1/4th of Facebook) with 75% of those members using third party applications, like TweetDeck to send out Tweets, retweet, etc. They also had 180 million unique visitors in March. It was also announced that the ads, known as promoted tweets, were coming to Twitter. Would have been nice to be there.

These announcements came after I lectured and it would have been nice to talk about in class. Instead we talked about Twitter essentials such as:

  • The 140 character limit. Get to the point and let your personality show through.
  • The retweet (RT) as way of building rapport with those that you respect and showing those that follow you what you’re interested in without having to create content.
  • The hashtag (#) can be used to search for trends and to brand your tweets. Include your brand with a hashtag (#CRUCES) in your tweets and potential customers can get a sense of your perspective. For me, Twitter is a combination of business and personal and I don’t brand all my tweets because they may have nothing to do with business.
  • Lists are a great way to organize people that you follow by subject matter. People can then follow a list instead of following by user. How do you find people that share your interests? Below are two methods for finding those valuable resources.
  • Search – Twitter has search built in and allows you to search on anything that may be of interest to you. Once you find those that are tweeting about what you find interesting, you can follow them. Be sure to look at the rest of their tweet stream to insure they’re consistently talking about what you’re interested in.
  • WeFollow – This site shows you who is tweeting about various subjects. You only need search for the subject matter and the results will be broken out into who is the most influential vs. who is the most popular. Great tool to get find those that share your interests.
  • Trending – We talked about trends on Twitter and the latest addition, trending by location. (Nope. I doesn’t exist for Denver.)
  • URL shorteners and the negative impact it can have on SEO. When you’re linking to blog posts on your site, if you can fit it in, it’s best to use your URL without a shortener such as bit.ly. (Twitter also released this past week, its own URL shortener.)

We then went on to talk about third party applications that sit on top of Twitter that provide excellent offerings. The first and most important is oneforty. Oneforty is a search engine for all things Twitter. It recommends the best applications such as TweetDeck, WeFollow, FriendorFollow and Klout to name a few.

We finished up with Twitter case studies. Ive listed the focus of the case study and then the case itself.

  • Community – Kogi is a Korean BBQ company that operates out of trucks and had issues with getting a consistent customer base. This was purely a logistical problem as they could not sell from the same location everyday. They were forced to go to different locations throughout the week. On any given night, there would be about 10-20 people in line. Soon there were 80-100 people in line and the owner was unsure of how this was happening. He asked some people in line how they had heard about them and more importantly, how did they find out where they were going to be. Several people told him that people had tweeted their location. The owner had no idea what a tweet/Twitter was but soon joined and was tweeting the next location of the truck(s). Soon the line was up to 1000 and there are numerous videos on YouTube of people waiting in line; creating a cultural phenomenon.
  • Customer Service – One day Frank Eliason of Comcast, who had recently heard of Twitter, decided he would search term ‘comcast’ and see what came back. He went to search.twitter.com and was not surprised to see a lot of negative feedback. Frank then decided to sign up and respond to peoples questions and complaints. Word traveled quickly through Twitter and soon, Frank was receiving hundreds of requests/questions. To date, Frank’s Twitter team has grown and Comcast Cares is a model for online customer service.
  • Sales – The Dell outlet on Twitter has sold over $7 million in refurbished hardware to date. (Twitter can be simply a distribution channel.)
  • Brand – Melanie Notkin, CEO and founder of Savvy Auntie runs an awesome site that helps those that don’t have kids buy toys for their family members that have children. She was contacted by Disney to see if she would be interested in promoting the 70th anniversary release of Pinocchio. Melanie already had a loyal following and Disney wanted to leverage her following and her brand, to drive sales. She agreed to do it as long as she was allowed to be transparent about being paid to talk about the Pinocchio release. She was not allowed to share the exact number of additional sales that Disney attributes to her tweeting about the DVD release, but they do say that the campaign was a success. Along with increased sales, Melanie increased her Twitter following by a little over 1000.

CIOs need to review Twitter’s impacts on other businesses with similar models and determine if there is a fit for Twitter for their business. (Looking outside of their vertical is also recommended.)  If there is an opportunity, the CIO will need to champion Twitter and help educate each group internally how it can be used.

LinkedIn – We then moved on to LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the most important part of your personal brand and building the brand of the business. These two concepts are now inextricably linked. Web 2.0 has pushed the fact that businesses are comprised of people to the forefront of everyone’s mind. Now, when businesses are hiring a vendor, for instance, people will review the profiles of the individuals working for that business to get a sense of the level of expertise/experience. Along with this, people have also come to know that your network is your brand. Imagine reviewing someone’s profile and they only have two connections and no recommendations. Week brand. LinkedIn is the essential key to building your personal brand and you need to be conscious of the image you use, the groups you join, your profile URL, etc. Take this seriously. Think of LinkedIn as the profile that you’d want your grandmother or HR to see.

We also talked about the fact that you can feed your tweets into your LinkedIn profile. There is an option to only pull in Tweets that include the #in. This is recommended as I only want business related tweets to make it into LinkedIn. After that we reviewed Guy Kawasaki’s recommendations on using LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a valuable tool for CIOs and the business they support. Each team member should have a robust profile to highlight the level of professionalism the business maintains. Unlike Twitter, LinkedIn is a must; no matter what industry. To ignore it is to ignore the most forward thinking portion of the corporate spectrum. According to Fortune Magazine, the average member is 43 years old and makes $103,000.

The next class we will finish talking about LinkedIn and some of its tools and then finish up 4 – 8. I’m looking forward to it!