Back on April 13th, I lectured in Professor McCubbrey’s class on how a CIO could use Web 2.0 for their business. The focus of that lecture really how the social media landscape is evolving and then talk about how a CIO may utilize these changes. The reason for this method lies in that it’s too hard without specifying whether it’s a B2B/B2C model or a product/service. I covered some of that material in the longest post in history: Social media for the entrepreneur. In an effort NOT to do that lecture auctioneer style, I didn’t finish. Fortunately, I was asked back. This post is the second half of that lecture (first half here) and I’ll start right where I left off; LinkedIn. Specifically LinkedIn tools.
Since the economy imploded over two years ago, many of us have come to think of LinkedIn as a way to find new jobs through friends or LinkedIn’s job listings. While this is one of LinkedIn’s strengths, it’s best to think of it as a professional resource, specific to your title. If you’re a sales person, you can drive qualified leads, if you’re a COO you can share best practices with other COO’s in groups like the Chief Operating Officer (COO) Network. Groups are only one of the tools on LinkedIn. (I’ll confess that I don’t have a paid membership. If LinkedIn could tell me exactly who had looked at my profile, I’d sign up in a minute.) Below are some other tools of note:
- Profile Organizer – This video shows how this LinkedIn tool allows to you organize prospects or potential partnerships. Think Salesforce lite.
- Company Site – Make sure that create a profile for your business. If you can’t be found you don’t exist.
- Answers – This is LinkedIn’s user generated knowledge management system. Their answer for Wikipedia.
- Account types – This matrix clearly lists out the differences between account types.
- Network statistics – This link has some good information on understanding LinkedIn’s network statistics.
It’s worth your time to review LinkedIn and the tools they provide, thinking about how it can help your personal brand and your business.
No matter what your business model; B2B/B2C, product/service, your personal brand must be present. CIOs need to encourage those that work for them to keep their identities up to date and represent the company they work with. Everyone represents the company. Everyone is a sales person. Everyone is a marketer.
From there we talked about my favorite subject; the evolving mobile landscape. There are four forces at work on mobile, creating the perfect storm.
- Smartphones – The mobile Internet is finally happening and smartphones are one of the reasons. GigaOm’s, Stacey Higginbotham, just posted about the rise of the smartphone internationally. Mobile phones aren’t on the rise. Mobile computing is.
- Location – With GPS, Cell-ID and WiFi location, businesses know where you are and what you’re doing. Expect location to morph into product over the next 5 years.
- Social – 100 million Facebook users access Facebook via their mobile device. Migg33 sends twice as many messages (SMS) as Twitter. Mobile technology is more personal, so the social aspect is a natural fit. Businesses like Brightkite, Foursquare were in the game early and have specific differentiators. I also like Gowalla’s service.
- Advertising – This is going to be a multi-billion dollar market within several years. Apple and Google are battling it out with the latest acquisition going to Apple. They purchased Siri for its mobile search capability. (73% of mobile advertising is supposed to be search based by 2013.)
CIOs need to consider the fact that within 3 years there will be more smartphones than PCs and two years later, consumer behavior will favor the smartphone over the PC. (I’m currently working on a white paper outlining why businesses need to embrace mobile NOW. Stay tuned.) How should CIOs mobilize their business?
We then talked about social media monitoring. There are a number of services that I highly recommend, such as Radian6 and for those that can’t afford it, I’ll list out some things to watch out for and free tools to use.
- Quality vs. quantity – Unless your monetizing advertising (nice rhyme!), you’ll want to focus on quality. Social media is about creating deep relationships. 100 million views sounds great but as we move from a CPM model to a CPA model, transactions are the only thing that means anything. You need to know who you’re talking to and what they’re interested in.
- Resonance – You need to pay attention to what resonates with your prospective and existing customers. You can see this by how many comments you receive on your blog post, how many times you get retweeted, etc. When I posted about how to monetize web 2.0, my traffic went through the roof. This is a way of feedback and will help you know what you should be focusing on as a business.
- Google analytics – It’s free and continues to grow into a robust product. Sign-up. Copy the code into the bottom of your site and do the training! (Every analytics package provides different numbers. I would also sign-up with Compete and Quantcast if you can afford it.)
- Facebook analytics – It’s free and includes users who use “pirate English” as their primary language; how could you miss?!?!? Also, expect this service to get better since they have partnered with Omniture and Webtrends.
- Twitter search is also a good way to determine how people view your brand, product, service, etc. Just go to Twitter and . . . well. . . you know how to search. Also, seeing the ‘#’ symbol may be indicative of some terms trending. More on hashtags here.
- Referrals and recommendations are another good way to see how your business is performing. You can find these on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Finding an “avoid at all costs” is just as important (if not more) than finding a positive recommendation. Work to turn that relationship around and you’ll have a fan for life.
- Inbound links are obviously important. Where are you getting your traffic from? Who are they? Are there strategic partnership opportunities from those that are sending you inbound links. Are existing partnerships working?
- Is your brand present on social media bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon? These are important social venues and is there a way to build deeper relationships to those that bookmark you?
- What kind of traffic are you getting from URL shorteners like bit.ly? This may be indicative of your fan base and where they’re viewing your site from.
- Revenue. How much revenue are you making off of your site through ecommerce, mcommerce or qualified leads? Enough said.
- Customer service is one of the most natural things for social media. What kind of feedback are you getting on your customer service forum? What are people saying about you on Twitter? (@comcastcares has shown us the way!)
One of the defining characteristics of the Internet is knowing what is going on right now. Services like chartbeat (demo here) make the Internet an invaluable tool for marketers, CIOs, etc. CIOs need to make sure their company is monitoring everything including social media. Most companies spend the right money on the right tools to monitor their online business. Where they fail is in configuration. Someone needs to own monitoring from a strategic standpoint and one or more need to own the execution.
Next, we reviewed the concept of knowledge management online and naturally the name Wikipedia came up. Wikipedia is made up of many components (listed here because this is turning into yet another marathon post) and when we talk about knowledge management we need to keep in mind that there are many different learning styles. People need to contribute in a medium that they are comfortable with. Audio, video, images, etc. All of Wikipedia’s components, listed in that post I just linked to, embody the different ways people process information. Since wikis are a social medium, make sure you focus on communicating to multiple audiences.
The nature of social media is sharing information. This makes wikis an essential element to web 2.0. CIOs can use wikis to tie the internal teams together with a common cause – the business and social objects – the processes/tools that enable the business. It’s vital to get all business units to contribute. This creates empathy.
The last slide in the PPT covered blogging and niche. Blogging is the best medium for some, while microblogging (Twitter) works for others. Companies like NewsgGator and Yammer enable companies to utilize social media built for businesses. (CIO – how can you socialize your business?) WordPress is the most popular blogging software and WordPress.com made the conversion to a social network in 2008. It’s main competitor Typepad has changed its model since WordPress won the war but it’s still a viable alternative.
When we talk about blogging, most think of web sites. Blogging has become more of a methodology with the concept of venue becoming more loose. People blog on Facebook and microblog on Twitter; neither of which is a website in the traditional sense. Also, the idea of niche has been evolving as rapidly as the technology. At its core, a niche is a group that subscribes to the same passion and perspective. For years the thought was that niche social networks would live on the web. Now, because of their overwhelming popularity Facebook with their fan pages and groups, LinkedIn with their groups and Twitter with their lists, the niche is being defined in these social mechanisms. There is of course always the potential of creating your own niche social network by using a product like Ning and if I was starting a B2C based business, I would use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as “my site” to start.
CIOs definitely need to consider treating their business as a niche social network and decide on what the best tools may be. Yammer is great for communication. NewsGator is great for community building. Your business is a niche. It all depends on the culture you have and the culture you want.