After three years of exploring how B2B companies can use social media, this blog has reached the clearing at the end of the path. It's not that there isn't more to say (it certainly continues to be a big part of my daily work) but a couple of other topics have caught my fancy and they're developing enough that they'll need their own channels soon.
For the curious, the #1 most read post was "44 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Flickr." My favorite was "Sun-Tzu For Social Media," which looked at how lessons of war from 500 BCE are applicable to today's online skirmishes for leadership.
Thank you for your time, and especially for your comments. I have learned so much from them. I invite you to read the latest on B2B and social media from the brilliant minds that write the blogs listed in the blogroll ===>
I know I will.
@davidhrosen and Google+
Animated gifs have become a mainstream part of the social media experience. Often used to provoke laughter, communicate sarcasm or convey an emotion like grief, it's hard to imaging how they could be used to convey serious corporate content.
Over at the Corporate Social Media Zone, I've offered up seven ways this tool could be used to impart information to anyone from investors to activists to customers. They work equally well for B2Bs as well as B2Cs. Enjoy Seven Ways Animated Gifs Will Become the Corporate Communicator's New BFF.
Don't miss this HBR piece by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychoogy at University of College London, where he explains the imporance of branding for today's executives. He notes:
"Welcome to the new era of work, where your future depends on being a signal in the noisy universe of human capital. In order to achieve this, you will need to master three things: self-branding, entrepreneurship, and hyperconnectivity."
No doubt this will have many executives Googling themselves to see what their online brand says about them.
Full article here. (Tip of the hat to Jon Ferrara for surfacing.)
Casey Meraz has a great post on How to Use Google+ Hangouts for SEO. Following some experimentation, he found that you can rank relatively easy by creating a video through a Google Hangout, placing the keywords into the title and then broadcasting it through YouTube. His eight-step process is now posted on my wall, and it provokes the thought: what kind of litmus test should be applied before using this for B2B companies? Here are three questions to ask:
1. Is this content right for video? Sure, this technique will make your content rise higher and faster in SERPs, but is video the best format to convey the content's meaning? If not, it will deliver an inferior user experience and fall in ranking as people navigate to competing text, pictures, audio or whatever medium they find most convenient.
2. Does the content lend itself better to a hangout than to your average interview video? Frankly, a hangout with a bunch of people talking, interupting and taking time for honorifics might veer over the line from authentic to annoying. So in what cases will these added people bring added value? How about when they're thought leaders the viewers will already know, such as those with large social media followings? Or those that are well respected given industry credentials? Or where the group offers a unique combination of expertise? (You rarely go wrong adding an economist, an attorney or a regulator to a B2B chat.)
3. Is the content searched enough? A hangout video will likely require more time to set up than your typical interview-style broadcast. You'll have to research and recruit the right attendees, and the more people you have on the line (up to 10) the longer it will take to sync schedules. That added time means added cost, so if your keyword is too far down the long tail, the costs will exceed the benefits.
What other factors are good to consider for B2B Hangouts?
CommProBiz has started up a new channel called the Corporate Social Media Zone! I'll be contributing a few pieces per month on the topic, with thoughts on B2B continuing right here.
Check out today's post on the social media questions that we're saying goodbye to in 2012, and the new ones our industry will tackle in 2013.
Recent commentary you may find useful include icebreakers for Twitter and an update on the relationship between Wikipedia and public relations.
MIT's Center for Digital Business is trying to quantify the economic impact of digitization. Sure, we have measures like the price of tech stocks, but what about the value of the free material we consume online, like Wikipedia entries and TED talks? Their solution:
"Consumers pay with time, not just money…our research is calculating a demand curve for time and estimaing how much consumers implicitly value free goods based on use of their time, not in dollars, spent on the internet."
Based on this approach, researchers found $139b in value, which comes to more than 1% of GDP (2010).
All of which takes us to the CFO's balance sheet. We can accurately project the costs of giving employees bandwidth to use social networks. (This is a big expense for companies with tens of thousands of workers, especially when many are in emerging markets with limited infrastructure.) We can then measure the time spent by those employees using social media. Those figures can be taken a step further, matching up the time spent to salaries in order to express how much social media "costs" the company in dollars. But nowhere in there do we measure the productivity gains that free, high quality content delivers to those workers and ultimately the botttom line.
Let's assume for the moment that we'll never be able to track the ripple effects that a single useful fact learned online has across an enterprise. We could still see its impact by tracking everything else and looking at the unaccountable variances. If 99 out of 100 other components of work could be tracked, then that which remains — the value of all this free information — could then be said to be the cause of the productivity change. Or as Sherlock Holmes said more elegantly a century ago, "eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth."
Something to aim for in 2013 :)
Well now, THIS has potential. Imagine taking your CEO's YouTube speech and overlaying it with curated tweets, images of schematics or charts, links to traditional media clips with more info and even maps. And it's super easy to embed the result into blog posts. You've won our gratitude, Mozilla.
Social media data shows where a company's ideas appear online and network analysis reveals how they got there. But neither tool explains why an idea goes viral, dies or mixes with others to create something new. Enter memetics. Memetics posits that ideas — referred to as "memes" — behave like genes. They're subject to Darwinian forces, competing for resources and evolving so that they can propagate as widely as possible. In "Virus of the Mind," Richard Brodie dissects what memes are, how they work and the ways in which they can be applied to communications. As he explains:
"They are infectious pieces of our culture that spread rapidly throughout a population, altering people's thoughts and lives in their wake. Mind viruses include everything from the relatively harmless examples, such as miniskirts and slang phrases, to those that seriously derail people's lives, such as the cycle of unwed mothers on welfare, the Crips and Bloods youth gangs, and the Branch Davidian religious cult."
Where to begin with an idea that encompasses every idea ever? Brodie offers three buckets to put memes in:
Distinctions: Help people categorize their world (i.e. the difference beween a slice of cake and a muffin)
Strategies: Rules of thumb that we follow; mental short cuts that help us make our way in the world (i.e. rules of driving)
Associations: Link two or more memes together (i.e. a memory associated with a location)
This framework gets you set for the rest of the book, which delves into how real viruses work and the modern principles of evolution. Like any tool, memetics can be used to good or bad ends. On the dark arts side, the author explores neurolinguistic programming, the use of fear in political discourse and how cults work. He concludes with the many benefits that an understanding of memetics provides, such as the ability to "deprogram" yourself in order to see the world in new ways and solve its problems.
If you work in communications, and especially if you work in social media, Virus of the Mind is something you definitely want to catch.
I just logged into LinkedIn and got a preview screen of their new profile section. It. Looks. Sharp.
Here's the link to sign up for an invitation.
New features include:
Bigger, cleaner headdshot/title section
An "Activity Section" where you post what you're up to (larger and prettier than the current blank bar)
A section called "Tell your professional story" which has icons that signify where you worked
Your connections in tille format to make it easier to engage in conversation
What may be the most useful section: a new analytics bar that lets you "Learn about your network and how you're found"