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Customer obsession: The next wave of competitive advantage

 

Last week, I was fortunate to attend a presentation by Kyle McNabb, VP of Research Strategy at Forrester. He spoke about how empowered customers have given rise to a new era. “The device is not the problem, the problem is what we can do with the device,” he said.

McNabb continued to tell the audience about how the connected consumer is impacting the way we do business. Here are my notes from the session:

 by Record TV (1)

Early adoption is becoming cheaper and easier

Ten years ago, early adoption meant you were willing to spend $2-5,000 on a plasma TV. You were willing to invest your hard earned money knowing that it might not work out, but it might be fun for a while.

Now that early adopter cost is negligible. The cost of innovation and the cost of consumers to adopt it has erroded to zero. That is what is changing the fundamental dynamics of how we engage with brands.
“Technology is impacting every piece of our lives.”

This isn’t about technology. This is about people and how we are changing.

Forrester has 20 years of history about how people are changing.
This is what’s keeping CIOs and CMOs up at night:
  • 53% of consumers agree that price is more important than brand.
  • 74% of B2B buyers start their research online
  • 41% of showroomers end up buying at another retailer
  • 35% of US adults are interested in digital wallets
  • 14% of US adults track their fitness

Customer-obsession is the next wave of competitive advantage.

Read the rest of this post »

Lessons from 2014: How to get more clicks on Facebook.

Merry Christmas!  As I have some time off at the end of the year, I’m looking back at information I have gathered in my reading list that I find interesting.  I came across the article We tested all the best advice to get more clicks on Facebook. Here’s what worked by Kevan Lee at Buffer’s Social blog.  As I re-read the article I had a funny feeling that I’d commented before on posts by Kevan Lee.  Sure enough, I found two other blogs posts from this year that contained information from Kevan.

What is intriguing to me about this article is that Buffer used a very methodical approach to testing each of their theories.  Too often I see companies just try things without really following a good scientific methodology.

First Buffer started with a baseline of how their Facebook page performed.  This is critical because you can’t measure what works without having a baseline.

Here are the seven techniques Kevan used to see which were the best at getting users to click on a Facebook post:

  1. Post to Facebook at non-peak times
  2. Post more frequently to Facebook – six times per day
  3. Post less frequently to Facebook – once per day
  4. Ask questions in the updates
  5. Change the style of the update
  6. Post only link updates
  7. Post different types of images with the links

That seems like a pretty good list of techniques. I won’t go through the results for each test here – you can read through Kevan’s blog post for the details.  However, here is an example of the results from the first test – posting at non peak times:

Source: https://blog.bufferapp.com/facebook-marketing

Here they found a big increase in clicks at 11:00 pm, even though they were posting less frequently at this time.  Very interesting.

Here are the three techniques that worked the best for Buffer:

  • Share link posts
  • Share in the evenings
  • Create a main image/graphic for your post

Of course this is data only for Facebook for Buffer.  You should follow a similar test regime to see what works best for you on Facebook and other social media sites.

Lessons from 2014: The Problem with Sentiment Analysis

As we wind down 2014, I’m taking a look back at some items in my reading list and bringing forward the ones I found important from a learning standpoint.  The article The Problem with Sentiment Analysis by Sarah Kessler at Fast Company in November 2014 qualifies as one of those “aha” articles.

Analyzing social media has been a hot topic in the past couple of years.  Ms. Keller points out that during the 2012 presidential election season USA Today had a daily story about President Obama’s “sentiment” score versus Mitt Romney’s score.  The score was calculated by analyzing social media posts about each candidate.  In theory, the analysis could show which candidate is getting more positive comments versus negative comments.  And, in theory again, this could tell us about public opinion for each candidate.

However, Ms. Keller interviewed Marc Smith who pointed out that this type of sentiment analysis is inherently flawed.  Marc Smith is a sociologist who specializes in the social organization of online communities.  He went so far as to say about the USA Today stories that “This is remarkably poor data. That this is borderline criminal.”  As Keenan Thompson says in Saturday Night Live, “What up with that?”

Tight Crowd Pattern Graph: NodeXL Graph Gallery

Mr. Smith argues that this type of sentiment analysis only reveals which group of supporters “shouted” the loudest that day. It really tells us nothing about public opinion of either candidate.

What I found really interesting is Mr. Smith’s work on how crowds form around a topic on social media in six different shapes:

  • Polarized crowd in which two groups form and rarely interact with each other.  This is akin to the political sentiment described above.  The Obama crowd did their thing and the Romney crowd did theirs independently.
  • Tight crowd where a small group of people cluster around a conference.  The image in this post shows a tight crowd pattern.
  • Brand cluster in which people talk about a brand, but rarely interact with each other in the crowd
  • Community cluster where multiple small groups form
  • Broadcast network in which many people connect with a media outlet, but not with each other
  • Support network where something like a service center connects with lots of people, but those people don’t really interact with each other.

According to Mr. Smith, looking at the shape of the network lets you see that not all social media posts can be treated the same.  He argues that you should report on the size, volume and content of each major cluster over time.

This makes a lot of sense to me.  If you are measuring sentiment for a particular brand, event or anything else, you should be interested in how the network aligns with your goals.  Say you are hosting a conference – you’d want to see the social network form into a “tight crowd” pattern.  If it doesn’t then something is probably not working right.  Likewise if you are a brand and see the “brand cluster” pattern emerge, you may want to take steps to encourage your followers to interact more with each other, if that is a goal.

If you are involved in sentiment analysis or any social media analysis, I encourage you to follow the links here and take a look at Marc Smith’s research in this area.  Let me know what you think.

G2 Crowd scores Salesforce Chatter top social collaboration tool

I saw the following tweet from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff:

Image of tweet from Marc Benioff

This was interesting enough for me to follow the link to see why Salesforce Chatter was rated the best social collaboration system.  Barry Levine at Venture Beat had a nice article about G2 Crowd’s grid on social collaboration.  Here are the first two paragraphs:

Salesforce’s Chatter is the social collaboration tool with the highest customer satisfaction.

That’s a key takeaway from G2 Crowd’s new Grid for Social Collaboration tools, the first Grid report for this category. It scored 14 business products based on G2 Crowd’s customary metrics of customer satisfaction and business presence, in this case based on over 325 reviews from business professionals.

This was really interesting to me.  G2 Crowd allows people to rate these systems and then translates those ratings into a 2×2 grid similar to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant.  Venture Beat also mentions the 325 reviews used to generate the ratings.

While the G2 Crowd rating system looks good and in theory produces crowd-based results, when you dig a little deeper, you find that G2 ratings are really based on much smaller sample sizes. For example, here is the latest grid as of today:

G2-Social Collaboration

In looking at the Leaders Quadrant, you find that Chatter had 97 reviews and Microsoft Lync had only 11 reviews.  You can click on an icon to see the number of reviews:

g2-lync

I don’t dispute that Chatter is an excellent social collaboration tool and Salesforce should be proud to share these kinds of results.

However its hard to rank these tools on customer satisfaction alone from such small numbers of reviews. First, I imagine you could easily get 11 reviewers to enter lower scores for any product. Likewise, I’m sure you can ask 11 people to go rate a product very high.  I’m not suggesting anybody is doing this on the G2 Crowd site to impact the rankings, its just a possibility.

Second, and more importantly, assume that the total population of users for all these tools were 1,000,000 users.  That’s probably very low, but its a nice round number.  To have any confidence in our survey, we’d need a sample size of over 1,000 users responding to the G2 Crowd reviews. And that would be 1,000 random users.  With only 11 reviews or only 97 reviews, statistics tell us that we should not be very confident in the results.

The G2 Crowd information is interesting and it would be great if we could get the right number of reviewers to make the data statistically meaningful.  But, really, don’t rely on this information alone to make your purchasing decisions.  That’s why Gartner, Forrester and Perficient use a variety of factors when rating these systems.

 

 

A Day in the Life of a Social Media Manager

In the BufferSocial blog, Kevan Lee posted an article for Social Media Managers.  The post takes a look a “typical” social media manager’s day and breaks down that day into many different activities, represented in the info graphic here.   

Mr. Lee also provides several different views on how other people spend their days managing social media.  One person, Finola Howard, manages to compress all her daily activities into just one hour per day. Her tasks include:

  • Use SocialOomph to figure out which new twitter followers to accept
  • Measure which posts are performing the best so you can take advantage of them
  • Schedule tweets and posts for the day.  She uses Buffer for this, other use tools like Hootsuite.
  • Find content
  • Respond to others
  • Monitor engagement of fans and followers

In general, the post identifies 12 tasks of a social media manager.  The twelve tasks are shown here and the article does a great job of explaining each of them.

If you manage social networking within your company, say using IBM Connections, Yammer, Jive or others, you should also pay attention to the tasks.  Each of these 12 tasks apply to internal as well as external social managers.

In addition, Mr. Lee provides a series of checklists for the social media manager.  These lists come from places like Mindbrew Creative, HeroX, Hootsuite and others.  Even by itself, the various checklists are well worth your time to understand.

Overall, A day in the Life of a Social Media Manager is extremely valuable and full of great information.

The Ideal Length of every Tweet, Facebook Post and Headline

I think every writer at one time or another has thought about how long is too long for a post, tweet or headline.

WordPress Title Length

As I typed my headline into WordPress, it was kind enough to tell me that my headline is 59 of 65 characters. I never understood if WordPress thought 65 was the max or the ideal size for my headline.

Reading through Zite (soon to be Flipboard) today, I came across this article by Kevan Lee at Fast Company: The Proven Ideal Length of Every Tweet, Facebook Post, and Headline Online.  Mr. Lee did the research to find out best practices and here is what he came up with.

Twitter

100 Characters.  This is according to Twitter’s best practices.  Twitter found that there was spike in retweets for tweets between 71 and 100 characters. So if you want your tweets sent around by others, don’t take up all 140 available characters and don’t send short tweets.

Facebook Posts

Remember seeing a Facebook post that takes up the entire screen?  Unlike Twitter, the ideal Facebook post size is only 40 characters!  What?  You have so much more room to type in Facebook.

Ideal Facebook Post Size

Jeff Bullas found that posts of 40 characters received 86% higher engagement. Since Bullas’ sample of Facebook posts of 40 characters was a small sample, Facebook suggests 80 characters or less is good too. At 80 characters, Bullas found those posts has 66% higher engagement.

Google+ Headline

On Google, you have a headline and the body of your message.  If people only look at headlines, how long should they be?  How about 60 characters or less!  So maybe WordPress’ suggestion of 65 or less is not so bad.   Why 60 for Google?  Demian Farnworth found that more than 60 characters will likely split your headline into two lines in Ideal Google+ Headline SizeGoogle+.  Mr. Farnworth says that if you can’t get your headline under 60 characters, then make sure your first sentence draws the reader in quickly.

Headlines

So what about headlines in general.  This blog post has a headline that WordPress suggested I limit to 65 characters or less.  According to Mr. Lee, 6 words is the ideal length.  Rats – his headline and my copy of it are both more than 6 words.  This number comes from research done by KISSMetrics.

What about Blog Post Length?

According to WordPress my post is 367 words long right now.  Mr. Lee says that my post is too short!  The ideal post length – according to Medium – is 7 minutes.  That is, people pay attention for about 7 minutes.  Anything longer and they stop reading.  It turns out that 7 minutes is about 1,600 words long, or about 4 times the size of this blog post.  Ideal Post Size

I hope you enjoyed reading this since I kept it under 7 minutes.  Have a look at all the links I included because they all have additional information that you may find interesting.  If you made it this far into my post, tweet a link, post a message on Facebook or leave a comment to let me know what you think about ideal tweet, post and headline size.

 

Has the Knowledge Worker finally arrived?

IBM has a fantastic explainer video this succiently explains what a connected knowledge worker (to borrow from the late Peter Drucker) is. Check it out.

Infusing Social into Digital Experiences

Adding social capabilities to your digital experience site can bring some nice benefits. One benefit that is often overlooked is the multiplier effect of social sharing.  If you can can get people to promote your brand or product, you can reach larger audiences and save advertising costs as well.  A single “Like” on your product page can translate into millions of people seeing that someone they know endorses you.

Infusing Social Into Digital ExperiencesIBM spoke about combining WebSphere Portal and IBM Connections into a Social Digital Experience.  Traditionally, IBM Connections has been seen as an internal social tool that works on the intranet.  But, in fact, Connections can be useful on your external site as well.

  • Support communities are often a way to engage with customers and then direct them to your other sites.
  • Blogs on your external site can attract visitors
  • Innovation or ideation capabilities let people give you input and can cause those people who engage to reach out on other social platforms.  On twitter:  “Hey Perficient is looking for ideas about enhancing X, go to their site and weigh in…”

WebSphere Portal now exposes and seamlessly integrates all IBM Connections features making it easy to infuse social capabilities in your Digital Experience site.  Portal also has the ability to publish content directly to social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and internal Connections.  You see a video of these capabilities here:www-10.lotus.com/ldd/portalwiki.nsf/dx/TECH-D06_Social_Renderingcol_Combine_IBM_Web_Content_Manager_with_IBM_Connections_to_Render_Social_Data_on_Your_Portal_Pages

What’s coming in WebSphere Portal and WCM

Rob Will, Chief Architect at IBM, presented the future vision for Portal and WCM today.   He started out talking about how the concept of customer experience has been evolving over the past few years.  A core shift has been to enable non-technical users to do more and more with less reliance on IT.

What's Coming in WebSphere Portal and WCMA slight change with profound implications has been the change from a Web experience to a Digital experience, which implies support many more devices and output streams.   Portal and WCM has always been about web sites, not mobile applications.  Portal is now in the mobile web site business to enable multi-channel web site business.  Portal is still the integrating platform for content, applications, etc.  Everything done in Portal and WCM is now done with mobile in mind.

IBM Worklight is the hybrid application platform that integrates with Portal and WCM.   Worklight enables access to all the mobile device features through portlets.  Its easy to create a Worklight adapter to grab content from WCM to display in a native application.  WCM’s personalization engine can also be leveraged from Worklight so you see the same promotions on the web as you see in the mobile app.

Mobile Directions

  • Improving integration to support device classes
  • Fine tuning seamlessness of the theme integration
  • Co-deploy Worklight on Portal

Content and Rich Media

  • More and more convergence between portal and content management
  • Projects and Templates (in Portal 8) are heavily relied on in future releases
  • Content Template Catalog 4.1.2 came out last week – uses latest CKEditor for inline editing
  • Vanity URLs- in beta now.  You can completely control the URL.  URLs are stored in WCM to support Syndication.  This feature will deprecate URL Mappings in Portal.
  • WCM Content Security is more seamless with Portal.
  • Attribute based security means you can control access to content based on Attributes.
  • Project templates make it easier to set up projects, including predefined workflow
  • Now everyone is entitled to EditLive! Enterprise version
  • Customers on 8.0.0.1 have entitlement to WebRadar which is content reporting and analytics
  • Cross Version syndication is supported to ease content migration.  You can syndicate from WCM 7.0.0.2 CF26 or higher to WCM 8.0.0.1 CF09 or higher
  • Syndication – improvements in error messaging, error handling, more retry capabilities.  Also in the Authoring UI, you can see a status of each object’s syndication.
  • Rich Media Edition seamlessly integrates with MediaBeacon.
  • Deliver and Stream HD Videos – this includes integration with BrightCove

Personalization and Targeting

  • In 8.0 IBM added in-context rules editing.  New minor enhancements are coming here.
  • Marketing Management is more of a focus for a richer experience, including Unica Marketing Center and IBM Interact.
  • New Portlet allows user to enter a few details about the spot and the portlets does all the work to bring in offers from Interact.  This reduces the rules that you have to write in portal.

WCM and Commerce

  • This is available now.
  • You can link content from WCM directly into a commerce site.  This also includes preview capability

Social

  • Social rendering in 8.0.0.1 takes content from connections and delivers them inside portal mixed with other content and applications. WCM presentation templates are used to make the social content look like other content on the page.
  • In the next version, IBM provides a bunch of enhancements.  Discussion threads hosted on IBM Connections, but linked to WCM content.   Here the visual experience of the discussion is controlled by WCM.
  • Now you can Like, create posts, comment, etc right in line.
  • Dynamic filters for social lists – these lists cooperate with other page components to filter content and drilling down in lists.
  • This is all available in mobile web too.

For a sample of how well Portal, WCM and Connections are integrated together, take a look at the Connect 2014 Site:

  • News and updates are blogs in Connections
  • Events are in WCM.
  • Session info is in WCM,
  • Speaker profile is in Connections.
  • Downloads are in Connections Files.
  • Session add is a DB2 application

Digital Data Connector (DDC) – this is a new concept and we’ll more information on this shortly.

  • Extends social rendering and WCM to any type of data source.
  • Can take most data source and bring into Portal through social rendering

I had to leave this session early, so I will follow up with another post on the rest of the new features coming in the future.

A beta version of Portal is now available if you want to try out some of these features.

 

 

 

Kudos introduces innovative Kudos Boards for IBM Connections

Kudos is best known for providing add-ons to IBM Connections that help with and encourage adoption of the social media platform. Kudos Badges is a gamification system that includes missions, rewards, ranking and leaderboards.

Just ahead of IBM Connect 2014, Kudos has announced a new product called Kudos Boards. Boards is targeted at the Activities feature of IBM Connections. Activities is a key project management feature that allows teams to create tasks, share content, track progress, and so on. If you get involved in many projects or even one big project, you can end up with long lists of activities to track. Just as with a long list in your inbox, you may start to ignore tasks further down the list. The image below shows a typical Activities screen with lots of tasks.
20140112-104011.jpg

Kudos Boards aims to help you stay on top of your activities by visually organizing Activities into boards. Kudos describes their boards as being like Kanban boards. I also liken them to Agile story boards.

20140112-104311.jpg

In addition to displaying the Activity Board, you will be able to drag and drop activities around on the board, create new activities, and instantly update when other people work with their activities. Kudos Boards can be linked together.

Kudos is going to be announce more information on January 21, 2014 and you will be able to see Kudos Boards at IBM Connect.