A New Title? Conversation Agent

Over the weekend I was catching up on some of the new thoughts in Social Meida and came across a note from Dee Fleming. She was commenting on a training seminar I did internally for the Super Women of IBM and she included a link to a cool article.

In the article, the woman called herself a Conversation Agent. How interesting! A title on her business card to let all know that she was about the dialogue, not a push message.

Have any of you seen any other interesting job titles and new roles created from the force of this new Markteing 2.0 world?

Let me know! I can't wait to see what you respond with!

Our Social Network Community - Supplement

The idea for SOAsocial.com came during the process of building our
Social Network.

The Smart SOA Social Network already encompassed existing SOA networking communities led by IBM and other 3rd parties. However, we realized that there was not one stand alone web destination where SOA enthusiasts could find the latest SOA news, share knowledge and discuss relevant issues.

We were fortunate to partner with InfoQ, a leading software development community that already had a strong SOA news and networking portal. InfoQ was already interested in building out the capabilities of their SOA community, as so we signed on as the key sponsor -- and thus SOAsocial was born.

SOAsocial is intended to fill an unmet need in the marketplace, not reinvent the wheel. For instance, it is not meant to replace the popular SOA groups that exist on mainstream social networking sites, but to supplement them with an additional source of focused knowledge from the worldwide community. SOAsocial's overarching goals are to maintain a dynamic stream of quality, focused content, and provide the venue in which that knowledge can develop. I am excited to announce that SOAsocial will continue to unveil new capabilities in the coming months that make it even easier to contribute and consume the information housed there.

Please stay tuned!

Mini Case Study #5: Communities in Marketing 2.0

Remember that all relationships have a set of common factors. First, all relationships require listening. Listening has become core to everything. Second, in the best relationships, there is a lot of active communication and dialogue. This dialogue is essential to growth in the relationship.

A lot of listening can be added to your marketing plan by adding communities from your social media toolbox.

What is a Community?
A community is a group of people that have a shared interest. Communities can be 2-3 people or thousands, in person, electronic or both. Wikipedia, a community in and of itself, define community marketing as a strategy to engage an audience in an active, non-intrusive prospect and customer conversation. Communities are a big mega trend. Everyone wants to be part of a group. Development of online communities has afforded us an opportunity to observe people interacting with one another, expressing their own opinion, forming relationships, breaking relationships, be they with other consumers or with just friends or with companies themselves or with products or logos, people form relationships with everything

A couple of case studies:
1) Nintendo: Building Market Share through Customer Collaboration and Relationship. In the early 1990s, Nintendo’s share of the game console market was 61 percent, but by the mid-2000s, it had fallen to 22 percent.[i] To regain its leadership position, Nintendo needed to find new ways to delight gamers – and to bring gaming to new audiences.

To do that, Nintendo went straight to the source – gamers themselves. The company established an online community by offering incentives in return for customer information. The company also selected a group of experienced gamers based on the value and frequency of their community contributions. These "Sages" as they were named were given exclusive rewards, like previews of new games, in exchange for helping new users and providing community support.[ii]

Through this community, Nintendo has gained valuable insights into market needs and preferences. This has influenced everything from game offeringslike an online library of "nostalgic" games that appeal to older gamers—to new product design—for example, the intuitive controls of the popular Nintendo Wii system, which have helped attract new, casual gamers.[iii]

By leveraging the loyalty and expertise of its core customer segment, Nintendo has successfully connected with two new ones—women and older men. This collaboration seems to have paid off: Nintendo is once again ahead of its competitors, with 44 percent market share

[i] IBM analysis.[ii] "Nintendo Rewards Its Customers with New Loyalty Program." Xbox Solution. December 11, 2003. http://talk.xboxsolution.com/showthread.php?t=1088 [iii] "Casual Gamers Help Nintendo Wii Take Lead in 2008, says iSuppli." Tekrati. February 14, 2008. http://ce.tekrati.com/research/10080/ [iv] "Worldwide Hardware Shipments." VGChartz.com, accessed March 27, 2008.

2) Harley DavidsonThe Harley community is a fascinating one to me. Harley has had a viral social community for 25 years since 1983. The Harley Owners Group was started by the company as a way for riders to share the bonds between them and with the brand. While beginning in the US, their first international group started in England in 1991 and that globalness has only grown and improved over time. They are both online and in person with a focus on in person meetings facilitated through events and the joy and passion of riding together and doing things together. All of the groups exist around surrounding brick and mortar dealerships. All HOG chapters are sponsored by a dealership. Not all dealers sponsor HOG chapters, but a HOG chapter can only exist if a dealer sponsors

Harley Davidson - An Amazing CommunityHarley’s focus and philosophy for the groups is about interactions and obsession. In contrast to some of the other communities I investigated where they were about media plans and creative plans to sell things, but not about the aspect of the effect on people. The result is an increase in sales, but it comes secondarily. Their groups foster rich and deep social interactions. The Harley Owner’s Group is probably the strongest social network of any company anywhere. We’ve got more than a million members across the world. The Harley Owner's Group is probably the strongest first-hand social network of any company anywhere.

Let’s look at an example of a HOG member, Dan Powers. He joined the HOG community in 2003 when he got his new Harley 2003 Road King. When you buy a bike from Harley, they give you free membership to HOG for 1 year. Dan comments, "After that timeframe, it is apparent this is a community you want to be in every year and you sign up for your yearly membership." You can also pay one price for a "Lifetime Membership!" A famous tag-line from American Express is membership has its privileges, in Harley’s case once you have experienced this community and you know membership is fun and you can’t imagine not being part of HOG going forward.

Many times at motorcycle rallies you see members proudly displaying their HOG patches on their jackets going back many, many years. Some have chosen to be Lifetime Members. This is a badge of honor and branding all in one! Along with patches and membership pins, HOG sends a travel guide and map that includes the location of all the dealers in the world. And one of the reasons many HOG members renew or become life members is the free towing to the nearest Harley-Davidson Dealer should a member get stranded somewhere. This service is similar to AAA for motorcycles. HOG also has a terrific member magazine – HOG Tales - complete with user submitted content and pictures of their journeys. Many Dealers also provide discounts for members of the local HOG chapters. While all of these rational benefits are powerful, it is arguably the social and emotional benefit of being in the community that provides the most value.

The online web site is amazing. They focus on what riders want and need like mapping of routes, sharing of those maps with other riders going on those routes. They also have a list of all riding events coming up for the year, including links to help ship your bike to the event, hotel arrangements you can make on line, and links to others organizing the events for more information

On the Harley Davidson main web site, it is hard to find a link to the HOG website. For one thing most Harley riders have already bookmarked it separately, or they click on "Riders" and find the site in addition to many other great Harley happenings. Also the HOG website is tightly integrated into the entire Harley Davidson website to associate Harley from a look/feel and experience perspective with the community. You are part of Harley, you are part of HOG, it is a seamless experience and a seamless community.

The HOG community is a great example of not getting caught up in the buzz word of a community. But combining the power of in person meetings with the web creates a powerful community.

Mini Case #4: Social Media and Sales

Social media is a new channel.   Through real time social media techniques, like blogging, twitter or online chat, a channel of support or assistance can be focused on a particular topic.  It offers an opportunity to interact with a person in a non-threatening manner moving from B2B to P2P – person to person.



As an example, using its social chat capability, IBM increased its leads, improved customer satisfaction, and drove up sales productivity. From their ibm.com/soa web site, IBM leverages a set of pre-determined “qualifications” to pop up an online chat. In just the first 3 months of operation, IBM has seen over 2,845 chats with new customers, resulting in 182 validated leads and is now extending the online chat to Germany, China and Japan.


In addition, Dell Outlet came up with the idea that Twitter may be a solution to the challenges presented, by offering Twitter-specific promotions and featured products. The goals were: 1. To drive increased traffic, and thus increased demand for particular products for which Dell Outlet has inventory greater than desired levels and 2. To grow the pool of Dell Outlet's Twitter followers to the point where it is sizable enough to have an impact on specific demand-generation postings.


Dell Outlet's Twitter strategy revolves around regularly posting Twitter-only offers.  When a new tweet is posted, it generally provides followers a coupon code to obtain a discount on that particular model in the Dell Outlet.   Typically, this coupon is exclusive to Twitter, so they are able to measure the redemptions and know that it was due to being posted on Twitter.  Twitter followers may share coupons easily with Twitter friends in a viral fashion


For Dell, Twitter represented a new way to reach customers.   Ricardo Guerrero, a key visionary for this work at Dell, claims that per their latest surveys, a significant portion of people who bought through Twitter were not aware of the Dell Outlet before Twitter. And by tracking the coupon code, in the first year utilizing Twitter as a promotional tool, Dell Outlet generated over $500,000 in revenue in sales of refurbished systems. 


The social media channel provides a way to respond “just in time”, not waiting in a reactive mode.  In fact, it allows a pre qualification process for new customers.  It gives you the ability to have a conversation with your prospects when they're most receptive -- while they are on your website or on your Twitter Channel actively gathering information. 


Guiding principles:

  • Skills matter.  The presence in front of prospects is very important, so you want your best and brightest reps doing the real time chats.  They need to be very knowledgeable about the products and services not simply communicating at a high level. 
  • Your mom taught you etiquette!  Use it online!   There is online etiquette for inviting people to chats, and for chatting with them once they accept.  For example, don't immediately pop up an invitation within the first 30 seconds that a person is on your site -- it's pushy. 

I’d love your comments on your best practices with Social Media and to see your thoughts on the online portions of the book!  See it in action – don’t just read the words! 

Mini Case #3: Lightly Branding

So this is our third case study of using social media in the real world!

For marketers, social media has shown how to drive opportunities in greater volumes into the pipeline. “Lightly branding”, which is having your customers and communities drive your brand, is happening all around us.  Companies today are custodians of their brand, not the owners.  In a global world, consumers are taking that brand equity and building their own stories.  It is these stories that are now at the heart of trust and relevance.


Social media is the toolset to allow pre-existing social networks to produce exponential increases in brand awareness and new customer leads.  It is more powerful than third-party advertising because it conveys an implied endorsement from a friend.  And it provides you with a way to personalize your brand. 

For example, EepyBird.com and the Coca Cola Company. The video of two “scientists”, 101 bottles of Diet Coke and hundreds of Mentos showed the reaction of the 2 products together in a huge fountain effect. It started as just a video for the fun of performance, but ultimately this “lightly” branding significantly drove up sales of both Mentos and 2-liter bottles of Dike Coke



With the YouTube generation, the internet is a media of social connectivity.  Differentiation is no longer about product/service but rather is based on the concept of engagement and long-term relationship.


For instance. In one of the book’s Online chapters, a small company in San Antonio Texas called RackSpace is highlighted because of their virtually 100% referral business. Driven by viral reference videos, and what they call “Fanatical Support”, they have co-branded their support as a competitive advantage. (http://www.ibmpressbooks.com/articles/article.asp?p=1273853)



Lightly branding is one way to start that long-term relationship and to drive new leads. It works both ways though!  Just recently, due to Twitter comments, Johnson and Johnson’s Motrin brand took a lightly branded approach by removing their new ad due to tweets about the ad’s impact on their “brand”.


Guiding principles:

  • Businesses no longer hold absolute sway over the decisions and behavior of consumers
  • The longer companies refuse to accept the influence of consumer-to-consumer communication a­nd perpetuate old ways of doing business, the more they will alienate and drive away their customers
  • To succeed in a world where consumers now control the conversation, and w­here satisfied customers tell three friends, while angry customers tell 3000, companies must achieve credibility on every front


I'd love to invite you to the Listrak webinar on March 4

Come and join me!!!  Sandy


Mini Case #2: Personal Branding in a Social Media

Personal Branding and Networking with Social Media:

One of the top issues that I see as I mentor a folks is in how they network. I started thinking about how my networking as changed, blending the in person with the online. Interesting note, from IDC study, more women than men use social media and networking for work and personal but from Time, 63% of Twitter users are male!! Interesting -- another blog on that later!!

I considered some examples on Networking through social meida to learn from what others do.

 Some Examples:

  • David Armano, creator of the Logic + Emotion blog, last week used Twitter to raise almost $15,000 within 24 hours for a friend in need. To me this story showed the power of his social currency through his social media connections
  • Jeremiah Owyang uses multiple tools to network with a set of social media thought leaders. This networking allowed him to use those contacts to do an inperson meeting in Silicon Valley to see what the next steps needed to be in this space with a set of vendors and brands that may never had gotten together in the past.    http://twitter.com/jowyang
  • Peter Shankman has used social media to form a network of reporters who need help, and a network of those of us who are willing to help the reporters out with questions. It is a great service that allows him to increase his network. Check it out! http://www.shankman.com
  • Jennifer Leggio posted an article about how folks are using Social Media to find jobs!   http://blogs.zdnet.com/feeds/?p=374
  • Support groups done through social media!   http://collective-thoughts.com/2009/01/13/using-social-media-as-a-support-group/
    • Top 10 for your Personal Brand and Social Media!

      1. Determine what personal brand is! Make sure your avatar, blog, words reflect that personal brand.
      2. Listen first. Use a set of listening tools to understand the area of domain of your personal brand. Follow the social media leaders in those domains whether that is Tim O'Reilly on technology or Obama on politics (he is no longer active! Disappointing!) For instance, the most popular technology blog is TechCrunch as of January 2009. If you are a technologist, this would be one to keep your eye on. If you are a dog lover, perhaps it is http://www.dogster.com/
      3. Determine your personel wheel of influence. Know who will personally be your tippers in influencing your brand. I recommended in my book on Marketing 2.0 to develop your Personal Wheel of Influence.
      4. Select your Tool Of Choice! Get started online based on your interest in the tool for you. You must be active, so to be active, you need to love the interactions! There are over 150M active users on Facebook in over 170 countries. Is your tool of choice MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Facebook or all of the above!
      5. Be interesting and relevant- open up on who you are! Always ask is what I am doing right now online consistent with what I want my personal brand to be.  To show relevance you really must keep up on the conversation.   In my last seminar, people asked how much time I spend on blogging, twittering, etc. What I do is to book time on the calendar to read and explore, and then twitter and blog throughout the day. Because I love it, I keep up even on the weekends!
      6. Be Bold. Ask people to follow your blog or your tweets. From a set of Social Media stats, the number of followers for a active twitterer is 86,000!!! Also drive your awareness by using the tools like Google reader, StumbleUpon, Digg, and Del.icio.us.
      7. Dialogue! Comment on other's blogs, tweets, The better your comments are, the better you domain and skills will be demonstrated, opening up networking opportunities.
      8. Think about others. My grandfather always told me "do unto others what you'd have them do to you" so thank those who help you, link to others on your site, tweets, etc. It will come back to you tenfold. For instance, Mike Moran has assisted me in several areas and I have repricoated as he left IBM. (Check him out .. an incredible guy http://www.mikemoran.com/biznology/blog/ 
      9. Use multi media. Videos of course can help your network get to know you in a different way than words can. YouTube has over 70M videos uploaded because people are inherently social creatures. Buy yourself a flip and get going!
      10. Start your own network! On LinkedIn for instance, I joined an author's group. I didn't start it but joined it! You can increase your networking via the tools you choose!

      Let me know what works for you.  Given the response, I'd like to study this one deeper!

      Mini Study 1: Social Sweet Spots

      I have been inundated with uses for social media .... how can you us it in analyzing your market, in service, in different industries, and the list goes on! Especially after yesterday's discussion with over 3300 women on Marketing 2.0!

      Mini Case Studies
      I decided to create mini case studies on 10 different uses of Social media -- some from my book and some are recent uses! Send me others that you want me to include ! Today's is a fun one! Social Sweet Spots!!!

      Here we go! Short and sweet!!!

      Typically, a simplified view of traditional marketing might starting with the articulation of new marketing requirements. Then marketing professionals would create new messages and images, which are then delivered via various media for consumption by the audience.

      But with Marketing 2.0, which features Social Media + Traditional Methds, new behaviors have the capability to 'short-circuit' the
      existing model. With 3.5B conversations occuring each day on social sites, and 1.2M blog conversations happening daily, more
      listening must be done to shape our views. Obviously, traditional marketing and media does not go away, but undoubtedly these
      changes are providing new opportunities for to research and engage our market.

      How we listen:
      So we have started listening and analzying the blogsphere and twittersphere. We research what the market is discussing and searching for, in or around a set of defined topic areas vs. Inside Out - we research what the market thinks of what we want to say. We look at the thousands of conversations around these topics and glean insight from that listening. This allows us to develop Social Sweet Spots!

      How do we do it? From the "New Langauage of Marketing 2.0", we document the steps to doing this Social Sweet Spot work!

      • Identify key sites and blogs where conversations are happening - use tools to get the biggest bang -- like TweetLater, StumbleUpon, AllTop, TweetDeck, etc.
      • Translate the content into needs and preferences that inform your offerings and messages - you will find core topics like economic changes show interest in different topics, etc.
      • Identify the best opportunities to participate
      • Develop a repeatable, systematic and focused process!   We use Banter a process from 2 business partners to do this so that we can compare results week to week.


      Listening and learning to me is one of the most valuable assets of social media.  It complements my market intelligence and helps me to make better decisions.  For example, I have used it to gather market requirements for new products, for message and positioning tweaks, and for new offerings!

      A Kid's View of Social Media

      Well tonight I was working on Twitter and my daugther came up and wanted to learn about it. She had such fun -- that I pulled out my flip and filmed her!

      This was her perspective on marketing 2.0!

      Tell me what you think of Cassie's Views!! She is dying to hear@!

      Gaming as part of Marketing 2.0?!#

      Playing Video Games Isn’t a Waste of Time, After All

      This past holiday season, parents who buy Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3, Nintendo Co.'s Wii, Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 or the latest online game need not feel guilty. Turns out that young people – and adults – aren’t wasting time when they’re playing video games. We got the Wii!!!

      Whether they’re tapping away on video game controllers or the keys of their computers in increasingly popular online games, today’s game players are acquiring the skills that companies increasingly value as the gaming generation enters the workforce.

      In fact, the skills needed to succeed in gaming can help young people “to be more sociable, develop strategic thinking and become better leaders in life,” according to a book, “The Kids are Alright: How the Gamer Generation is Changing the Workplace.” The authors, John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade, say that games “deserve” a role in helping young people grow into adults because they require them to use different mental and social skills, often simultaneously.

      With that in mind, thousands of universities around the world now have access to Innov8, IBM's new "serious game," available at no charge. We developed the game to help university students and young professionals develop a combination of business and information IT skills, important attributes needed to compete in a global economy.

      Over the past two decades, IT professionals have had to break out of their comfort with proprietary systems as the industry moved to client-server computing and then to open computing. Today’s move to Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is asking both IT and line of business professionals to acquire cross-over skills in each other’s domains. That’s why the game stresses learning activities that combine IT acumen with business skills.

      Much like pilots who use flight simulators to learn how to fly airplanes, students of IT management studies who grew up playing video games can benefit from engaging in learning activities in the way they like to learn.

      By interacting with the video game, students can make decisions about real-life business situations, such as re-designing a call center process. They can see the results of their decisions right away, and if they make a mistake, it’s much more private than “failing” in front of a classroom of their colleagues. Because a love of gaming is shared around the world, professors have told us the game can help to bridge cultural barriers.

      The trend is spreading.

      According to The Apply Group, a marketing consultant, at least 100 of the Global Fortune 500 will use gaming to educate their employees by 2012, with the United States, United Kingdom and Germany leading the way.

      While it’s too soon to measure the full implications, there’s a new business environment emerging. If hundreds of thousands of players organize themselves to successfully complete specific endeavors during their “play” time, will they be content during work hours in organizational structures used since the Industrial Revolution, with central command and control? Chances are they’re more likely to want to work on virtual teams distributed around the world, undertaking multiple endeavors, taking advantage of the thought processes that succeeded for them in online gaming.

      As employers, we cannot ignore the changing group dynamics. In fact, we should tap into the most innovative ideas to redefine the fundamental nature of computing. Just as games present us with situations that invite players to make choices, consider the advantage of using graphics and decision-making steps of games in business. Supply chain software and customer relationship software could allow decision makers to immerse themselves in the real-world simulations, judging cause and effect before making decisions.

      The possibilities are huge -- and not just for business.

      The application of serious gaming techniques in science, medicine and other industries could help us solve some of the world's biggest challenges.

      The term “serious gaming” no longer is an oxymoron. Not just competition for employees’ attention, there’s endless opportunity if we harness the power of games to get work done.

      Who else is going Gaming? Check out what we are doing!