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Archive for the ‘LikeMinds’ Category

I was digging through the vault yesterday, when I stumbled upon this fantastic post from Chris Brogan I had bookmarked almost a year ago:

I believe we’re going to shift back to thinking customer service and community management are the core and not the fringe. I believe we’re going to move our communications practices back in-house for lots of what is currently pushed out to agencies and organizations. I believe that integrity, reputation, skills, and personality are going to trump some of our previous measures of professional ability. I believe the web and our devices will continue to move into tighter friendships, and that we will continue to train our devices to interpret more of the world around us on our behalf.

Read the rest here.

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. In his post, Chris also talks about bringing value-add and core competencies together – which is a drum I have been beating for years.

This is by far the best piece of advice I’ve heard this decade, also from Chris:

Here’s a quick way to really turn around your clients: be helpful.

I know what you’re thinking: “Duh!” Right? But when was the last time you actually said those two words outloud during a strategy meeting or quarterly business review? When was the last time someone actually suggested this as a course of action? As a core competency? As a business objective? As a mantra?

And more importantly, with all the commotion around Social Media tools, platforms, channels, measurement, content and tactics, when was the last time you looked at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, etc. from the perspective of being helpful? Of providing assistance and value to customers – instead of merely promoting your wares? Best Buy has. So have Starbucks, The Home Depot, Virgin America, Comcast, UPS,and scores of companies gaining traction in the space AND converting these net new positive interactions into new business and increased loyalty.  So my question to you is this: As a company, what are you doing to be helpful TODAY? How are you using communications platforms to be helpful? Phones, email, mobile, web, Social, print, radio, etc.? Where are you scoring high marks? Where could you do better?

Is the “just be helpful” mantra so simple, so obvious that we might have forgotten to make it a cornerstone of every interaction we have with the public? I hope not, but I’m thinking yeah, probably.

I think I just gave you your assignment for this week.

😉

Note: Chris and I will be speaking, listening and being as helpful as we can at the Like Minds conference and summit in Exeter, UK on February 26 and 27. Look for #LikeMinds on Twitter if you want to follow the fun.

Then on March 4-5, I will be answering questions in Chicago in an “open mic” style event at a #SohoSeminar. This will be kind of cool: Usually, I spend more time presenting than answering questions in a live forum, so being able to devote ALL of my time to answering questions is something I look forward to.  Click here to register for the event now. It should be well worth it.

Cheers.

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Will the world’s best Social Media and P2P case studies of 2009 please stand up? The time to claim your place in the pantheon of business case studies has come.

I hate to call them Social Media case studies, because – well, they’re more than just Social Media. They’re word-of-mouth (WOM) case studies too. They’re Marketing case studies. They’re community case studies. (Dare I call them business case studies?) Qualifying anything as being solely “Social Media” seems so limiting, doesn’t it? At the core though, they’re all P2P case studies, really.

(No, not P2P as in Peer-to-peer. Rather, P2P as in People-to-People.)

The idea behind P2P is simple: Fostering connections (human connections) with your customers. Whether you used social media to rebuild your customer support department, community management to significantly improve customer loyalty, a WOM program to increase your net transacting customers or a series of community feedback vehicles to generate conversations and participation in your brand, program or cause, that’s P2P.

But feel free to call them Social Media case studies. We don’t mind. Whatever makes the most sense to you, to your boss, to your employees, to your customers. We know better than to get hung up on words, especially this early in the social media game.

What’s important here is is that whether you used Facebook, Twitter, blogs, email, Ning, flickr, youtube, neighborhood canvassing, special events, phone calls, face-to-face interactions, sky-writing or any combination thereof to create human to human connections around a program, campaign, cause or brand in the last year – and it worked, we want to hear about it.

If you got people to talk to people, if you earned attention instead of paying for it, if you increased sales or marketshare or share of voice using Social Media or P2P tools, we want to hear about it.

PR, customer support, community management, online reputation management, internal collaboration, co-creation: if any or all of these terms drove your projects in 2009 and you have one or more case studies to back up all that work, we want to read it.

Why? Because we are looking for the best case studies in the world. Plain and simple. And you only have a couple of weeks to get them to us if you want to make the list – and be invited to attend a summit designed specifically to bring the best social media professionals on the planet together in one place for a couple of days and talk shop.

And by that, I mean seriously talk shop. Like you never have before.

Q: What is the LikeMinds Summit?

First things first – Likeminds 2010 is divided into two distinct events. A conference, and a Summit.

> Friday February 26 is the LikeMinds Conference – Open to all, (first come, first served, so get your tickets fast) interactive format with presenters, panels, Q&A, etc. The conference will be held in Exeter (Devon, UK) just like last time.Sa

> Saturday February 27 is the LikeMinds Summit at the spectacular (and Summit-friendly) Bovey Castle (just a short drive from Exeter). Unlike the conference, the Summit will be an invitation-only event. I repeat: Unlike the conference, the LikeMinds Summit will not be open to the general public. You must be invited to attend.

How do you get invited? I’ll get to that in a second. Let me tell you what the Summit is first:

1. An Open Dialogue and RoundTable about Social Media Best Practices

On Saturday February 27th, LikeMinds will welcome key CEOs, Directors, Trustees and global thought leaders to the first Like Minds Summit, where in the luxurious settings of Bovey Castle in the middle of Dartmoor National Park, we will be providing a roundtable platform for the worldʼs leading Social Media practitioners to enjoy an open dialogue about the future of social business innovation.

2. Strategic and Operational Training for Social Media Thought Leaders

In addition, the Summit will also include advanced executive Social Media program development training (strategy, integration, management and measurement) as well moderated collaborative sessions in which attending delegates will discuss successes, challenges, and lessons learned from their own experiences in developing and managing their programs.

3. The 2010 Global ‘Best In Class’ Report

Following the event, case studies selected for the summit will be outlined in a “Best in class” report, complete with lessons-learned, best practices, and a wealth of insights aimed at helping companies draw the best possible methodologies from the year’s most successful P2P and Social Media programs. For every company present at the LikeMinds Summit, the report will present an opportunity to have their hard work acknowledged globally. For anyone not invited to attend this time around, the report will present a unique reference guide from which to draw invaluable lessons for their own programs.

The LikeMinds Summit will convene every year in February to discuss, share and celebrate the previous year’s best P2P programs from around the world.

Q: Why a Summit? Isn’t the Friday LikeMinds Conference enough?

Define ‘enough.’ When is ‘enough’ ever enough? 😉

Two of the most frequent questions from LikeMinds 2009 attendees were “where can we go to find the best case studies,” and “where do we go to find social media best practices?” (This actually came up during the panel Q&A after my presentation on R.O.I., and again a number of times at the little social event held immediately after the close of the conference.) From the onset, the notion that no one seemed to be addressing these two questions properly bothered me. As far as I could tell, as much as case studies turned up at just about every conference from Los Angeles to Dubai, no one was really focusing on trying to a) collect the best Social Media case studies, b) evaluate them against less “solid” case studies, and c) make the best of them available – in a lessons learned format – to the scores of business and social media professionals asking for them.

All evening, I was distracted by this unanswered need. By the next morning, Trey Pennington, Drew Ellis, Scott Gould and I were already toying with the idea of creating some kind of mechanism through which that type of information might be organized and made available. Without formalizing anything, we started bouncing ideas off each other in passing… until we ended up in the spectacular hills of Dartmoor, which we wished we could have shared with all of our  peers in the Social Media world…

… And then at Bovey Castle for a bone-warming fire and proper afternoon tea (yes, with real scones – not the Starbucks stuff). It was there, at Bovey Castle, that the idea of going beyond the simple collection, evaluation and publishing of the best social media case studies first took hold. The venue was so perfect for the level of conversations necessary to properly create the framework for something like this that we started to discuss the possibility of putting on a Summit – a high level event that would bring the best minds in social media in one place to have the kinds of conversations about the space that no one had the opportunity to have:

Large conferences weren’t the ideal format because of the distractions, the noise, the constant flux of presentations, meetings, dinners, parties and running around.

Small conferences tended not to attract enough of the best minds to put more than five or six of them in the same room at the same time.

Conference calls, webinars, twitter and other remote options were nice, but hardly conducive to… well, getting anywhere.

But man, if we could get 15 or 20 of the world’s best in a place like Bovey Castle, especially after a full day at the LikeMinds Conference in Exeter, we could really get somewhere. We could spend an entire day sharing best practices, discussing what works and what doesn’t, talking about where to take Social Media and New Marketing next. We could conduct training sessions based on the attendees’ specific needs, have real Q&A discussions between people who do this better than anyone else on the planet, and focus on what matters. Not that I mind sifting through the junk to get to the gold at most conferences, but what if we eliminated the junk completely and replaced it with 100% gold? The value of that type of event – for everyone present – would be beyond measurement.

That was the idea behind the Summit.

The rest, as they say, is history. Within a few days, we had a concept. A few weeks later, we were planning the Conference, the Summit and the format of the report and other resources that would emerge from them both.

Q: Where is the 2010 LikeMinds Summit being held? (And why?)

At Bovey Castle. Yes, THE Bovey Castle we just talked about. In England. Don’t worry, it just looks extravagant. It’s really just an old English house with a lot of really cool meeting rooms, a big back yard, and a forest all around it.

Why here? Three reasons: Convenience, awesomeness and the fact that the idea for the Summit came to us there for a good reason: It’s perfect for it.

We could have decided to hold the Summit anywhere: A hotel conference room in London, an office suite in New York, a cool space in San Fransisco… The possibilities are endless.  (The content of the Summit, its relevance, its format and even the cost to attend would be exactly the same, regardless of the venue.) Since the LikeMinds conference is already taking place just a short drive from Bovey Castle, it would have been a shame not to take advantage of its proximity.  😉

You can find out more about Bovey Castle here.

Q: If the Summit is by invitation only, how do I get invited?

Submit your case study.

Your submission can be in almost any format: a video, slide deck or document that is either emailed to the Summit staff, or even a simple hyperlink if your case study already exists online.

Invitation to the Summit will be based on the submission of that case study along with the following  qualifying elements. These elements are intended to prove the successful use of Social Media by documenting:

– Before and after overviews of the organization, with accurate measurement (Benchmarking)
– The research that backed the program
– The breakdown of strategy, integration, management and measurement
– How teamwork was guided, across departments, organizations and with the end user
– What were the most valuable lessons learned
– The frameworks that have been created from the experience

A jury will select the top 15-20 case studies from all received submissions and will send out invitations by the end of January.

Submissions for the Like Mind Summit may be sent to summit@wearelikeminds.com

Q: When are Summit submissions due?

Closing date for application submissions is Friday 22nd January.

Q: What is the cost of attending the Summit?

1. Getting to Exeter is up to you: Car, train, bicycle, horseback, steam ship, aeroplane, rocket, teleporter… If you’re in the UK already, it’s pretty simple. If you’re flying in, I suggest Heathrow or Gatwick airport, then either renting a car (don’t forget to stop at Stonehenge on your way to Exeter) or hopping on a train. Super simple. Once in Exeter, we’ll take care of shuttling you to Bovey on Saturday morning.

2. Hotels: The LikeMinds team is pretty well connected in Devon, so hooking you up with a hotel shouldn’t be a problem. (And yes, you can actually stay at Bovey Castle. We’ve negotiated a special rate of £150 per night – which is phenomenal.*)

* Last time I was in London, I found myself paying that much for horrible little economy hotels in the worst parts of town. £150 per night at Bovey is pretty mind-blowing.

3. The events: If you are invited to attend the summit, you’re automatically comped for the LikeMinds conference on Friday, including the V.I.P dinner Friday night. The Summit will also take care of your breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea on Saturday, as well as getting you back to Exeter once the Summit adjourns. You’ll be looking at two full days with some of the brightest, most forward thinking social media thought leaders and practitioners in the world. Not just in the same room, but at the same table. With a common purpose.

4. Inclusion in the ‘Best In Class’ report: If you get selected to attend the Summit, your case study will be featured in the LikeMinds report as one of the world’s best Social Media/P2P programs of 2009.  Those of you with a few Public Relations 101 credits in college might recognize the value of that kind of exposure. (Global exposure, I might add. This dog is going to have some pretty serious legs.)

Okay, enough with the pitch already: The price of admission is £1,500. (Sorry, the Gold Ticket isn’t free.)

I could make a joke about $2,995 social media certification programs right about now, but I won’t. Oh wait.. Doh!

Submitting your case study, however, is free. Just understand that if you are serious about attending the event upon being selected, the fee will be due fairly quickly. More details on that at a later date.

Q: Where can I get more information about the event?

You can download the PDF information kit here.

You can access the (Saturday) LikeMinds Summit website here.

You can check out the (Friday) LikeMinds Conference website here.

You can surf through the 2009 LikeMinds Conference archive here.

Q: What else is there?

I don’t know. You tell me.

If you’ve worked your tail off to develop, launch, manage and get the most out of a social media or P2P program in 2009, it would be silly to blow this off. Think of submitting your case study as that final 1% effort. Not even that. More like the final 0.01% effort.

If you end up being selected, yeah, there’s a bit of cost attached to it, especially if you aren’t based in Europe. I hear ya. Budgets are tight and £1,500 outside of travel expenses is nothing to sneeze at. But do the math:

1. You’ve probably thrown away more than that on conferences last year that didn’t really didn’t yield a whole lot of value, and for some strange reason, you may be contemplating doing it again this year, just in case they get it right this time (fat chance). Flying to Vegas, to Boston, to Orlando or New York or LA, going from session to session, wondering why you even bother attending half of the presentations? Hanging out at parties with your Twitter friends? Having dinner with a few “big names?” Hindsight being 20/20, if you could go back and skip those disappointments and trade them for something solid, something like this, wouldn’t that be a better use of your budget?

I can’t answer that for you.

2. The level of access you will have at the LikeMinds Summit – assuming you are selected to attend – is unheard of. You will spend a day (two if you attend the conference as well) with people whose individual consulting time is worth more than twice the price of admission. Multiply that by all 12 or 15 or 20 of them (depending on how many companies make the cut), and you atsrt to get the picture. These are people you will be engaging with, not just sitting next to in a conference room. Not to mention me, Trey Pennington, Drew Ellis, Scott Gould and a few other brainiacs yet to be announced.

3. Inclusion in the Summit’s report/master case study/white paper even without the summit’s value is worth ten times the £1,500 fee. From exposure to recognition, it’s a no-brainer. Your company probably spends that on branded pens and keychains at trade shows. On low tier print ads if you’re a small company. Heck, for most organizations with over 100 employees, you’re talking petty cash.

How much did you spend on PR last month? How much press did that get you? I rest my case.

4. Do you know why we set the price at £1,500 instead of, say, £800? (It would have been that even if we held this thing at the Holiday Inn, by the way. Not that we would.) It isn’t greed. It’s to weed out companies and individuals who aren’t serious about what they’re doing in this space. Some companies will choose to spend that on gimmicks.  Others will invest in the future of their social media programs. We’re only interested in the latter. The price of admission, quite simply, is commitment.  😉

So if you feel that you belong in that second category:

If you’re an agency or firm, submit your case studies.

If you’re an organization with a story to tell, submit your case study.

If you’re a service provider, tell your clients to submit their case studies.

Spread the word. Give it your best shot. Big brands, small businesses, NGOs, Non-profits, Universities… All are welcome. This event and report only come once a year, so don’t let all of your hard work in 2009 go to waste.

You have until the 22nd of January to submit your case studies.

May the best and brightest win.

Cheers. 🙂

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Conferences are great. You learn stuff, you meet people, you go back to work all jazzed up and energized… But let’s be honest: There are some things you just can’t get from a conference, like real training and “how to” knowledge.

From my perspective no matter how much clarity I bring to topics like R.O.I. and social media measurement, building and managing social media programs, brand management in the era of the Social web, etc. at conferences, there is only so much I can teach you in an hour, or thirty minutes (and even 10 minutes, in some cases).

Based on feedback from a pretty big number of conference attendees over the last year, it became clear that something was missing from the picture: Think of it as a gap between the short conference format presentations and high-commitment 3-8-month long consulting engagements.

That’s when my mind flashed back to the courses I used to take from the American Management Association (AMA): Full day trainings on just about anything you might need to increase your value to your organization, from Best Practices in to “how to” courses. The format was simple: One day out of the office, learn everything you need to learn from an expert in the field, come back with copious notes, and get back to work with a valuable new skill.

Bonus: The playbook you bring back with you in the form of notes and course content. That’s yours to keep. Forever.

I loved those things. They made me smarter about the world, better at my job, and payed off in major ways – both for me and my employers… which is probably why they didn’t mind paying for them several times per year.

The single-day AMA trainings I was sent to typically used to cost my employers about $2,000 between registration, airfare, hotel and food (about the cost of going to a conference these days), which I always thought was a little steep. (Multi-day trainings went up from there.) Different value than attending a conference, sure, but in the back of my mind, I always knew the model could be streamlined and the costs made more accessible.

Long story short: It’s obvious that business managers increasingly need real social media operational training, not just neat case studies and presentations about social media tools, so I am launching a series of AMA-style trainings to address that need.  If you’re a business manager or social media practitioner and you need to learn how to better develop, integrate, manage and measure social media programs, this is for you. Though the official launch will take place in early 2010, the very first of these trainings will take place in London on December 4th:

Event Number One: Red Chair London

The course I will teach in London is designed for C-level business executives, Marketing and PR directors, Agency honchos and Social Media managers wishing to deepen their operational understanding of Social Media.

The course is designed for decision-makers and managers looking for real training on how to actually plug social media into their organizations and make it work. Not just from a strategic angle, but also from operational, tactical, and analytical standpoint. (Yes, this is what you guys have been asking for. I am finally bringing it to you.)

The day will be divided into four sessions:

  1. 9:00am – 10:30am           Social Media Program Development (Strategy)
  2. 10:45am – noon                 Social Media Program Integration (Operations and Planning)
  3. 12:45 pm – 2:45pm          Social Media Program Management (Execution)
  4. 3:00pm – 4:30pm             Social Media Program Measurement (Data analysis, benchmarking, ROI, etc.)

We will break for morning tea/coffee, lunch, and again for afternoon tea/coffee. (All included with your registration.)

Red Chair London is being kept purposely small (20 seats)  to foster a roundtable-style atmosphere for participants in which all questions will be answered, no matter how technical or complicated. I can handle it.

Registration is only £650 per person (about $999 US), and we have created some pretty awesome group discounts to make it easier for companies to send more than one manager (or client) to the event. (My advice: Pool your resources and buy group tickets instead of just individual ones.)

The best part is that attendees don’t have to fly anywhere or book a hotel. If you work in and around London, you can swing by your office early that morning, spend the rest of the day with us, and go home when we adjourn.  No flying, no hotels, no extra expenses. Simple, painless, convenient.

Although seats should go fast (we’re limited to only 20 seats), I am all about treating my readers well, so here’s a treat for you. (This isn’t on the eventbrite registration page.) The first 6 people to register using the keyword “paddington” will enjoy a special BrandBuilder discount off their ticket price.

Red Chair London will be held at the posh One Alfred Place business Club, which is the perfect venue: centrally located, beautiful meeting rooms, awesome food, providing just the right mix of business focus and comfort. If you aren’t familiar with One Alfred yet, you’re in for a treat.

All that’s left for you to do now is either register or pass the information along to your peers, bosses, colleagues, friends and clients. (Or your marketing, PR and ad agency partners if they don’t seem to know how to take your social media presence to the next level.)

Seriously, if you know someone who should attend, be their hero and send them this post’s hyperlink. Red Chair may not come back to London for quite a while. We have a lot of cities to cover in the next 12 months. Get a jump on the competition.

While we’re still putting the finishing touches on the Red Chair website, you can go register for the London training here.

Event Number 2: Like Minds Immersive

If you can’t make it  to Red Chair London or prefer a lighter version of that type of training, check out December 3rds’ Like Minds Immersive instead. (Hey, not everyone wants or needs to get a Masters in Social Media Operational Management just yet. Baby steps, right?)

Some differences:

  1. It’s in Exeter, not London.
  2. It’s on Thursday December 3rd (the day before Red Chair London)
  3. It only lasts 3 hours
  4. It’s a little easier on the finances (Only £200)
  5. The content is designed to be more accessible to junior managers and folks not yet fluent in Social Media management than Red Chair London.

Who should attend Like Minds Immersive?

  • Devon area business people who can’t make it to London on the 4th.
  • Anyone looking to advance their strategic and operational Social Media management skills but isn’t ready for a full day of advanced training yet.
  • Managers and business owners looking for structured, step-by-step how-to social media training they will be able to apply to their business right away.

You can register for Like Minds Immersive here.

Now spread the world, ye of internet fame, and help me finally bring real Social Media wisdom, best practices and savoir-faire to the world.

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Answering questions at #LikeMinds -Exter, Devon, UK

If you’ve missed seeing videos on the blog these past last few weeks, you’re in luck: I have some video for you today.

By now, you’ve probably seen the full version of the “intro to Social Media R.O.I.” deck I presented at SoFresh this summer, right? (If not, go check it out here.) You can also browse through most of the videos from my F.R.Y. and R.O.I. blog posts on www.smroi.net (which puts everything in one convenient place for you). And then there’s this recent piece by Mashable on the subject (which I highly recommend, by the way).

So what’s the latest? My presentation and ensuing panel discussion at the inaugural LikeMinds conference in Exeter, Devon, UK on October 16th.  We’ll be talking a lot more about Like Minds in the coming days (and weeks, and months) but for now, let’s focus on these two videos, which are essentially captures of the live feed provided during the conference. In these videos, the panel and I clarify what Social Media R.O.I. is and isn’t, and answer well crafted and at times difficult questions from the crowd.

Catch Part 1 here.

Catch Part 2 here. (That’s the one with the panel discussion. Very good stuff from the crowd and panelists.)

I also recommend that you take the time to watch Scott Gould’s intro, Trey Pennington’s keynote and Maz Nadjm’s presentation among other solid video content from #LikeMinds.

Cheers,

Olivier

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