Scott Laningham has a pretty popular and respected blog on the IBM’s developerWorks blogs. So I was really excited when he asked me to join fellow IBM’ers Kate Motzer and Rawn Shah. We summarize our thoughts on SXSW and give some comments on the direction of social media. I hope you enjoy the podcast and feel free to comment. You can find the podcast here: http://ibm.co/gt3192
The following post is my initial thoughts and ideas as I develop our corporate strategy around real-time monitoring and engagement. While the team and I are still developing our discourse, we know that we also need to define our approach to social and what our needs are in the form of tools. For now, we have organized our social intelligence system into three parts: 1) Social Research 2) Real Time Monitoring and Engagement 3) Social Relationship Management. While real time monitoring is a stand along function, I believe it must be married to engagement.
These categories are not perfectly clear and there are definitely some gray areas and overlap. Regardless, I am confident that this is a good start to developing our framework. This system is not just about tools, posts and analytics, rather is it a way to define how IBM (as a brand) and IBM’ers make social media a part of our everyday business.
My current focus is on evaluation of real-time monitoring & engagement tools. The challenge for us has been understanding how people engage today, where our internal infrastructure gaps are, and what are the metrics and KPI’s we can standardize on. What complicates this is the diversity in features and functions of the tools on the market. This space is continuously evolving in terms of the behavior of the social media practitioner and how companies are developing tools.
People, Places, Posts
At IBM, we have a great internal group called BlueIQ. This is a core group of experts that don’t just look at social media (Twitter & Facebook) but take a holistic view of social, collaboration, and how companies can benefit from this emerging area. I sat through a presentations one day in which the presenter segmented social media into three categories: People, Please and Things. This presentation has always stuck with me. I think it continues to be the lens I use to view social media. However, I think I want to transform this into the three P’s of social media: People, Places and Posts. These three P’s is how I often approach our business and social. I’ll try to come back and expand this idea in the future.
Engaging creates a Feedback Loop
What we are looking to do is develop a process and find a tool (or set of tools) to facilitate the day-to-day interactions between IBM’ers and our constituency. The emphasis is less about tooling and more about interactions and scaling those interactions. The significance of our mission is to expose more IBM’ers experts to new ideas and people and equally expose the public to our thought leaders.
The focus and quality of engagement will create a feedback loops between IBM and the rest of the world. This isn’t new. Companies have been engaging and interacting with their customers, partners and prospective buyers from the early development of commerce. What social changes is the scale and volume of the interactions. More importantly it creates an environment where consumers can connect with other consumers and exchange comments and sentiment With the emphasis on experts engaging in their topics of expertise you also develop focal points of interaction between two people and or groups of people. This concentration of conversation can create the richest understanding of a topic and presents the greatest opportunity for thought leadership (Social Media 101, I know you already know this stuff). Many take this feedback loop for granted, and I believe it’s basic “blocking and tackling” that should never be overlooked. When I look at our experts and their influence, I find them in area’s of: research, product development, product marketing, support and consulting. A organizational map would become even more complicated when you consider the experts that focus on geographies world wide.
Through a series of conversations with people inside and outside the company about monitoring and engagement, I am coming to the conclusion that there are diverse approaches and perceptions that conflict with one another and then those that are just flat our wrong (not that I mine right).
IBM has always been a firm in which is brand equity I directly related to its employee’s success. Hence, the term the development of the term “IBM’er.” Over the past 100 years, IBM has taken great pride in the people. It’s the IBM’er that has helped the world solve big problems. These interactions have built the company and have given our customers a sense of credibility and reliability behind the brand. (Take a look at our “100 x 100 video” and our “They were There Video in my previous posts and our Twitter stream around #ibm100)
Today IBM adopts social as a natural extension of what we have been doing for the past 100 years. So as I look at our social intelligence system, I prioritize our ability for an IBM’ers to engage with our diverse constituents. Social Media Research and Listening are always the first way to place to start however, the heart of social media is in the everyday dialogue through posts on all platforms: Our own ibm.com communities & developerWorks Communities, 3rd party Forums, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn (Herein lies my idea of the first two P’s in my 3 P model: People and Places).
To enable and support these individuals demands that an engagement tool should not just help them post comments rather, empower, inspire and motivate them to be a part of a greater community. Our experts have tight schedules. Our constituents have tight schedules. Communication has to be easy and quick. Also, Twitter is not the only venue communication. While popular with the rest of the world, Twitter is not the primary venue for dialogue between IBM and our constituents. In fact, Twitter is often used as a tool to promote their ideas, and find others to network with. Most of the real content generated by our experts would have to be in a forum or a blog.
I hope that my next post will be about real-time monitoring. Looking forward to your comments.
Since I can’t seem to get enough of social in my day job, I have joined forces with founder/CEO of the popular Bollywood Entertainment website DesiYou. Ash Kumra and I are working together to launch a new user generated video website. IndyaVids will be a site dedicated to help ALL PEOPLE learn how to bring what they love about the Indian Culture into their own lives. This could be trying to cook their favorite Indian dish from their local Indian restaurant, or practice and fine tune their Yoga moves. The site will host videos that will help connect users with others that want to share their expertise in several areas that are rooted to the South Asian Diaspora.
We have come a long way and on February 28, 2011 IndyaVids will be presenting our business plan at the 2nd annual Irvine Entrepreneur Forum. I will personally present our plan….wish me luck! You can learn more about the competition here: http://bit.ly/fWo0lk
Below is what is motivating me to take on this project. While I will always share updates on my personal handle’s, you can also follow our progress here from our office sites:
I call this a passion project because I have always wanted to build a company that could bring to two cultural worlds together. My American identity (I was born in the US) with my Indian heritage.
During my senior year at UCLA, my parents thought it was a good idea to take to me India. I had not been since I was child, and I was threatening (that’s how they took it) to go on my own after I graduated. Fearful, that all the people in India would see that I have “America” written all over me and would thus somehow take advantage of me, my mom decided to plan a trip.
The three of us went to New Delhi, Agra, Amritsar, Beas, and Jaipur. I have plenty of stories about this memorable trip, but the one thing that really mattered was the choice I made to enter the corporate world and to no longer pursue of my PhD in Sociology. My desire to research the South Asian diaspora was strong, but I realized that now was not the time for me to pursue this goal. The choice was difficult and complicated. Whatever my reasons I promised myself that I would some how return to my goal of understanding and promoting the South Asian Diaspora. Through this I would help to build a bridge between people from different backgrounds.
I had first met Ash Kumra from a mutual friend. We met in 2010 during the NBA playoffs and bonded over beer and chicken wings. He told me about his company DesiYou and I was really excited to meet an entrepreneur that was trying to marry the South Asian culture with a profitable business (without exploited the culture). We both loved our work and loved our heritage.
After several conversations over the next few months Ash asked me to join his team and help launch this company. I am confident that we will build some that people will enjoy and benefit from. So get your camera’s ready, and get your Yoga pants on…..it’s time for you to make your videos and get them on IndyaVids!
Reflecting on 2010, I have noticed that Social Media aggregators have become a popular tool for many social media marketers. They come in many different shapes and forms, but essentially these tools help brands bring together disparate conversations across multiple platforms. Through aggregation brand are looking to demonstrate to their audience the volume of conversations around their products or services. The idea is that aggregating multiple streams of conversation into a single view will give the general public a holistic view of a conversation and thus the impression that their products or services are popular. It will also provide a single, easy to find location to allow new consumers to engage with an existing conversation. Brands are looking to use an aggregated page as a launch pad for existing influencers to engage with new advocates. Thus, aggregation will bring in fresh thoughts, opinions, and feedback to the broader conversation. I believe this is still an important component of a healthy community.
IBM and other companies have made attempts to use content aggregators across several events and programs. For IBM the initial use of social media aggregators has been around our large conferences around our 5 major software brands (Lotus, Information Management, Rational, Tivoli, WebSphere). We look to leverage the existing crowd at the conferences. Our attendee’s come together and have a great deal of stimulating content and face to face interactions that will prompt them to share and post their thoughts and ideas around our products and solutions. Perfectly sound logic. Yet, I do not believe that the tools I have seen thus far have done enough. Content aggregators need to evolve and develop beyond pulling content into a single view.
Media has always been a way to organize and rally people together. Radio, TV and the web have all been a way for a message to reach a broad audience. Aggregators are missing this very important process. What I want to see from an aggregator is the ability to help a reader find people relevant to what they are looking for. When I say “finding” you may think I mean search, but I think its more than just search. An aggregator must help a reader “discover” new people that are relevant to them. Relevant people can be subject matter experts, customer support, analysts or advocates. There is a person behind all of those status updates and posts.
Social media aggregators do a respectable job aggregating from the main social venues (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube). However, for a company like IBM, most of our customers are posting and engaging in forums specific to their industry or domain of expertise. Such forums can be found on our own developerWorks sites, but many of them are run and managed independently. These are great sites for our customers. People can easily connect with others like them and find the support and guidance that they need. I believe that the current generation of social media aggregators are limited because they do not capture these sites. More importantly, they require that marketers be aware of the sites and must manually aggregate content from these sites. As sated before, I don’t just want to be able to search and find content on these sites, as a reader, I want to quickly find the content and people that are experts. I want to know more about them and understand the contributions they make to the discussions.
Basically, aggregators do what they say they do….big deal! We need more. We need them to be effective, meaningful and to help the reading see the big picture.
I think I can go on about how aggregators need to do more. So I will stop here. However, I think the right thing to do is explain more about my approach. My next post will be on the 3 P’s of social media. This will help give some more context.