Media Influencer

helping people break out of pigeonholes since 2003

Letters to authorities

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By strange coincidence, this morning I came across two letters written to a bank manager and the UK passport office. They both where written as a response (by a real or imagined person) to inefficiency, disrespect and abuse of power that such entities exercise over the individual. As customers we have little, if any, redress for such treatment. And this shows in the letters, their humour based on shared frustration.

Dear Bank Manager,

I am writing to thank you for bouncing the cheque with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations some three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the cheque, and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honour it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire salary, an arrangement which, I admit, has only been in place for eight years.

You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account with $50 by way of penalty for the inconvenience I caused your bank. My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to re-think my errant financial ways.

You have set me on the path of fiscal righteousness. No more will our relationship be blighted by these unpleasant incidents, for I am restructuring my affairs in 2000, taking as my model the procedures, attitudes and conduct of your very own bank. I can think of no greater compliment, and I know you will be excited and proud to hear it. To this end, please be advised about the following:

First, I have noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to contact you I am confronted by the impersonal, ever-changing, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become. From now on I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh and blood person. My mortgage and loan repayments will, therefore and hereafter, no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by cheque, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee of your branch, whom you must nominate.

You will be aware that it is an offence under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Justice of the Peace, and that the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in all dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further by introducing you to my new telephone system, which you will notice, is very much like yours. My Authorised Contact at your bank, the only person with whom I will have any dealings, may call me at any time and will be answered by an automated voice. By pressing Buttons on the phone, he/she will be guided through an extensive set of menus:

1. To make an appointment to see me.

2. To query a missing repayment.

3. To make a general complaint or inquiry.

4. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there; Extension of living room to be communicated at the time the call is received.

5. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping; Extension of bedroom to be communicated at the time the call is received.

6. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature; Extension of toilet to be communicated at the time the call is received.

7. To transfer the call to my mobile phone in case I am not at home.

8. To leave a message on my computer. To leave a message a password to access my computer is required. Password will be communicated at a later date to the contact.

9. To return to the main menu and listen carefully to options 1
through 9.

The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service. While this may on occasion involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration. This month I’ve chosen a refrain from The Best Of Woody Guthrie:

…….”Oh, the banks are made of marble
With a guard at every door
And the vaults are filled with silver
That the miners sweated for”

After twenty minutes of that, our mutual contact will probably know it off by heart.

On a more serious note, we come to the matter of cost. As your bank has often pointed out, the ongoing drive for greater efficiency comes at a cost – a cost which you have always been quick to pass on to me. Let me repay your kindness by passing some costs back.

First, there is the matter of advertising material you send me. This I will read for a fee of $20/page. Enquiries from your nominated contact will be billed at $5 per minute of my time spent in response. Any debits to my account, as, for example, in the matter of the penalty for the dishonoured cheque, will be passed back to you. My new phone service runs at 75 cents a minute (even Woody Guthrie doesn’t come free), so you would be well advised to keep your enquiries brief and to the point.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever-so-slightly less prosperous New Year.

And this one:

Subject: Passport Application

Dear Minister, I’m in the process of renewing my passport but I am a total loss to understand or believe the hoops I am being asked to jump through.

How is it that Bert Smith of T.V. Rentals Basingstoke has my address and telephone number and knows that I bought a satellite dish from them back in 1994, and yet, the Government is still asking me where I was born and on what date?

How come that nice West African immigrant chappy who comes round every Thursday night with his DVD rentals van can tell me every film or video I have had out since he started his business up eleven years ago, yet you still want me to remind you of my last three jobs, two of which were with contractors working for the government?

How come the T.V. detector van can tell if my T.V. is on, what channel I am watching and whether I have paid my licence or not, and yet if I win the government run lottery they have no idea I have won or where I am and will keep the bloody money to themselves if I fail to claim in good time. Do you people do this by hand?

You have my birth date on numerous files you hold on me, including the one with all the income tax forms I’ve filed for the past 30-odd years. It’s on my health insurance card, my driver’s licence, on the last four passports I’ve had, on all those stupid customs declaration forms I’ve had to fill out before being allowed off the planes and boats over the last 30 years, and all those insufferable census forms that are done every ten years and the electoral registration forms I have to complete, by law, every time our lords and masters are up for re-election.

Would somebody please take note, once and for all, I was born in Maidenhead on the 4th of March 1957, my mother’s name is Mary, her maiden name was Reynolds, my father’s name is Robert, and I’d be absolutely astounded if that ever changed between now and the day I die!

I apologise Minister. I’m obviously not myself this morning. But between you and me, I have simply had enough! You mail the application to my house, then you ask me for my address. What is going on? Do you have a gang of Neanderthals working there? Look at my damn picture. Do I look like Bin Laden? I don’t want to activate the Fifth Reich for God’s sake! I just want to go and park my weary backside on a sunny, sandy beach for a couple of week’s well-earned rest away from all this crap.

Well, I have to go now, because I have to go to back to Salisbury and get another copy of my birth certificate because you lost the last one. AND to the tune of 60 quid! What a racket THAT is!! Would it be so complicated to have all the services in the same spot to assist in the issuance of a new passport the same day? But nooooo, that’d be too damn easy and maybe make sense. You’d rather have us running all over the place like chickens with our heads cut off, then find some tosser to confirm that it’s really me on the goddamn picture – you know… the one where we’re not allowed to smile in in case we look as if we are enjoying the process! Hey, you know why we can’t smile? ‘Cause we’re totally jacked off!

I served in the armed forces for more than 25 years including over ten years at the Ministry of Defence in London. I have had security clearances which allowed me to sit in the Cabinet Office, five seats away from the Prime Minister while he was being briefed on the first Gulf War and I have been doing volunteer work for the British Red Cross ever since I left the Services. However, I have to get someone ‘important’ to verify who I am—you know, someone like my doctor… who, before he got his medical degree 6 months ago WAS LIVING IN PAKISTAN…

Yours sincerely, An Irate British Citizen

On CRM being the right answer to the wrong question and on camera lenses

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Tomas Kohl is on the roll:

The real question was, indeed, how do we as a company manage to treat our customers with some sense of dignity without actually bothering to zoom in on them from the extreme wide angle (customer base, segments) to telephoto (households, individuals). Hence the effort to power up the operational CRM with capabilities of analytical CRM (that is, building some sort of number-based insight into the scary X-gigabyte swarm of operational data).

But the analytical CRM cannot build any meaningful “insight” into who your customers really are while treating the customer data as any other kind of transactional data. We humans are made of shape-shifting bits. We don’t stay transactional very long.

One of the reasons VRM may not be the best term (although there is good logic behind it) is that VRM is not just ‘flipping’ CRM but refocusing companies to a picture bigger than the transaction.

fisheyedog.jpg closeupdog.JPG Companies look at the world around them, their markets and customers as if through a camera lens, their focus firmly set to macro or fish-eye. They only care about a narrow shot, zooming close, thinking pixels with replace understanding. (cp demographics, data harvesting, analytics etc) or receding far away from it (market research, analyst reports, industry-wide papers etc). The resulting distortion is familiar to anyone dealing with business.

foff_cameralens.jpg The bigger (and richer) the company, the more expensive lens it can afford – one of those large long ones on professional cameras – the more distance from the object of their focus. Small companies have ‘cheaper’ cameras and end up being closer to what surrounds them although the camera makes sure they are not part of the picture.

To push the analogy even further, cameras are now widely available and affordable. Everyone can buy one and use it with reasonable competence. Amateurs can occasionally achieve good results with little digital cameras too and so photography is no longer the domain of the professionals. It is the same with tools that capture data and understanding of trends and behaviours – online simple, modular but effective tools match and outperform the lumbering business IT systems.

So companies are not the only ones capable of taking photos, we all can do that, often better than them.

The camera analogy brings out another aspect of companies’ interaction with the world – at arms length, from behind the camera. In my view, they should be part of the picture, swapping the camera with other photo snappers.

Creative destruction?

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There is a backlash happening against Creative, a company that:

told programmer Daniel_K to stop writing his own drivers for their X-Fi sound cards. The cards still won’t work on Vista over a year after the OS was released, because Creative hasn’t released drivers for them—but by Mr. O’Shaughnessy’s account, Daniel_K is “stealing” from Creative by making the cards work.

Geeky? You bet. Important? See what people say, the intensity and their actions and watch the ‘consumer‘ breaking out of neat demographics and managed spin.

The interesting aspect of this is that the company didn’t do anything that wasn’t their right to do. Copyright, IP, products, support and yet, what they have done stinks to high heaven of arrogance, complacency and of doing something very stupid in the age of the demand side can supplying itself – trying to reclaim their position of old where they are the only ones able to supply what they sell…

As a commenter on the Creative forum thread about this puts it:

Daniel may very well have stepped on some copyright rules, and Creative had the lawful option of doing what they did. Score 100 on the law, score minus several millions for not doing the job themselves in the first place, and putting someone like Daniel in a position where he had to do what he did, just to get the customers of this company happy.

The distinction between supply and demand, especially in the technology/software industry, is fuzzy. You want a community of developers helping your product or market or industry? Watch the edges of your kingdom stretch and flex until there is a kingdom no more and your best chance is to become the first among equals. And understand that is Good Thing.

Obviously, with the likes of Microsoft and Apple we are certainly not there yet. So let me just point out that if your business behaviour gets so glaringly overwritten by common sense, you have a problem.

The communications aspect of this case is equally interesting if not new:

Rule of thumb for bad news in the mainstream media: release it Friday so it’s buried over the weekend. Rule of thumb for the web: don’t infuriate thousands of your customers right before you decide to tune out for 48 hours.

damage-control.jpg
this is
now on the back of my business card as a useful reminder..

via dropsafe

Musings on social media, enterprise, wine-making and terroir

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Most of my recorded experience with social software revolves around the ‘hard’ issues like people and shifting their minds and corporate culture, so in my conversations with David Tebbutt and Angela Ashenden of Macehiter Ward-Dutton earlier this week I wanted to offer a useful perspective on social software in the enterprise that takes a broader view than just focusing on individual employees. I came up with an analogy based on the wine industry.

First a brief background on what has happened to the wine industry globally in the last 30 years. Before 1970s French wine used to be considered the pinnacle of all wines. It was the great French tradition, the noble grapes (despite Phylloxera wiping out most of the original vines in 19th century), but mainly it was the unrivalled terroirs of Bordeaux and Burgundy. (Loosely translated as “a sense of place” which is embodied in certain qualities, and the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the manufacture of the product).

In 1976, the (in)famous wine tasting of Californian wines next to top French wines in Paris has shifted that world view*. This is because the Californian wines beat the French ones in a blind tasting on their own territory and in their own game – by tasting the way it was believed impossible to achieve without the magic of the terroir. The fallout over the next few decades was profound – once wine-makers all over the world realised that it is possible to produce wine a la Bordeaux or Burgundy in other countries, the experimentation and eventually production of quality wines from other countries has exploded. Thanks to that we now have some superb Californian, Argentinian, Italian, Spanish, Australian, Chilean, South African and Lebanese wines capable of matching the French ones in quality. There are purists who’d disagree and for a long time I have been amongst them but I am not enough of a wine snob to persist in that view in the face of considerable (and very enjoyable) evidence.

Before 1976 tasting, there seemed no point in producing quality wine aimed at the same market that the French wine-makers so successfully monopolised for centuries. Even if you had the same grapes and same techniques, you couldn’t replace the terroir… or could you? A few mad wine aficionados, with burning love of wine, innovator’s zeal, insane persistence and a big dose of luck spend years experimenting with wine-making techniques that would bring their brews close to their beloved Grand Crus. They have changed the balance between the three elements that makes wine – soil, grape and wine-making – and demonstrated that it is possible to compensate for the lack of the terroir magic with carefully applied wine-making techniques. It was no longer imitation of the ingredients or methods but an entirely new mix of components still designed to produce the same highly desirable outcome.

And this is how it is with social media/social software. There is no point in planting the vines of social web in the enterprise and expecting them to produce the same as they do outside in the open web. The soil is not the same, the terroir wildly different. If you want to achieve an outcome of similar quality and impact – better communication, more transparency, faster information exchange, more skilled and engaged employees, more and rewarding involvement with the outside world – you will have to take the grapes (the social media tools and software) and make sure that your ‘wine-making’ balances out what your environment lacks.

The most important things missing from the enterprise terroir is the individual autonomy. It is a sad and indisputable fact that anyone can do a lot more online outside their work than in the office. If companies want to get close to the social web magic, they will need to include this crucial ingredient into their approach. Treat your employees with respect and trust. Give them space to play and experiment. They will reward you with creativity and innovation. And if you do it right, with more respect and trust in return.

Ultimately, as every company has its own mixture of systems, culture and employees drive and skills, here are some tips for companies:

  • the best wines tend to be made by people who grow the plant the vines, harvest the grapes and then make the wine with love and care – the best use of social media comes from within the company, your own people who can combine understanding of social media/social software with your business, customers and processes. they can also look for new grapes, new ways to improve your techniques.

  • vineyards and winemakers often get experts in but these are invariably very accomplished practitioners with reputation that proceeds them. If you need external expertise make sure those you bring in have a proven record as well as understanding and respect for your terroir and know how to adjust their approach to it.
  • wine-makers share their experience, results of experiments, collaborate, even help each other practically – reach out to your peers, to exchange and compare notes, don’t just copy case studies or methodologies, respect your own terroir.
  • enjoy your experiments, they might actually be palatable, if not right now, then in the future. :)

*Judgement of Paris is a wonderful book written for 30th anniversary of the 1976 wine tasting by the reporter present at the event. Highly recommended.

Quote to remember

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Why does listening to your customers sound like a web 2.0 idea? It should be a business 1.0 necessity.
- Jeff Jarvis in Starbucks listens – at last

Quote to remember

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The openness of the Internet is what made Google — and Yahoo! — possible. A good idea that users find useful spreads quickly. Businesses can be created around the idea. Users benefit from constant innovation. It’s what makes the Internet such an exciting place.

- Yahoo! and the future of the internet, The official Google blog. via Doc

There’s something wrong in the trends business…

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A brilliant and taking-no-prisoners analysis of the trend peddling agencies by Piers Fawkes.

He talks about arrogance and control, the long time favourite pastime of the media and ‘creative’ business, death of creativity (ouch), lack of critical judgement and of organisational change. All heartening observations for a devout disruptor like me, all the more noteworthy as they come from an insider. Anyone working or dealing with agencies could identify those, but it takes some courage and time to spell them out. I share those views, of course, but they do not keep me awake at night in the slightest. My focus are companies and more importantly the people inside those companies.

One of the frustrations I have with the ‘creative’ industry is the appropriation of what’s freely available and accessible and passing it for their own expertise or judgement. And very badly at that. So bloggers become ‘influentials’ to be showered with press releases, gimmicks and offers of participation for trinkets. Teenagers are superficially described and pigeon-holed faster than you can say ‘demographic’. Or ‘youf culture’ if you are one of the new trendy agencies. Geeks get conveniently ignored, definitely to their benefit. Sayz Piers:

We’re in a digital world where conversations are free – but trends services aren’t willing to be honest about where they got their judgments from. Too many companies and their ad agencies are cut and pasting their unchecked judgments into their powerpoint documents to make significant strategic decisions.

Another of my gripes is the number of agency pitches and presentations to clients promising social media nirvana, without anyone in the room having actually seen a blog/feed reader/bookmarking tool/widget etc etc. Alright, it’s 2008 so by now they have probably seen them. And signed up for Facebook/MySpace/LinkedIn/SocNet-de-jour. Or went to a workshop, a training session or asked the in-house geek to show them – but hardly used them, let alone immersed themselves in the ‘userland’ on a daily basis. Why, of course? These are consumers, demographics, markets and ultimately trends to package and sell. So it’s work, not a way of life or, god forbid, fun! The upshot is that if you don’t know what you are talking about but have to sell it, this is what happens:

In Summary, the trends business is a walled business that uses smoke and mirrors to protect it. It preaches from on high what the trends are without much transparency about what their recommendations were based on. In an era of Google inspired freedom of information, these businesses surely can’t continue to hide data that is already in the public domain.

via Mark Earls

update: How clients like it…

Sound recommendations for business

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From an interview with Mitchell Baker [free registration needed], former CEO and now Chairman of Mozilla Corporation and a director of Mozilla Foundation:

The Quarterly: What can other leaders learn from the Mozilla project about running an innovative company?

Mitchell Baker: Turning people loose is really valuable. You have to figure out what space and what range, but you get a lot more than you would expect out of them, because they’re not you.

Second, figure out where you want input. There are different varieties of input and user-generated content. Figuring out what you really want is very important because you can get benefits out of any of those things. But if you’re doing one thing and sending out a message that you’re doing another, I think you’re dead.

Third, look hard at whether there are areas where you can give up some control, because the returns are great.

The curse of the platform or advertising is not a business model

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I must agree with Alec’s post Twitter Business Models / Calacanis is Bonkers? where he calls Calacanis barking mad crazy for talking about in feed advertising and SMS advertising for Twitter. I am surprised that in this day and age anyone would consider advertising a long term, or even medium term, way of making money online. I can only hope that Hugh was being deeply sarcastic.

Sayz Alec:

At best they may maintain some control over their half-life – how long it will take to lose half of their users, and then half of what remains – but decay is inevitable and will be rapid. Maybe they could milk some cash out of it on the way down, whilst they are pissing-off their userbase? Not a good plan for growth…

Indeed, especially as Calacanis believes in scale and this underscores his recommendations to Twitter.

It’s about scale. When you’re playing in the big leagues with unlimited access to capital you shouldn’t worry about revenue BEFORE you have critical mass.

Here is industrial age thinking translated into online environment. And true enough, to the extent that the mindset still rules our behaviour online. But there may be another way, in the ‘channel world’ scale is in aggregation. In the networked world, scale is in distribution. That is why people from the former build platforms, people from the latter build applications that help distribution. It is not platforms that are bringing the media industry to its business model knees but P2P-eed teenagers, networked bloggers and applications that increase the individual’s ability to produce, share and distribute.

The curse of the platform is that although it may initially bring users value, as time goes on it is hard to sustain, let alone make money as the cognitive dissonance about who your real customers are increases with time. At the start, when building a platform, the platform owners consider themselves, or at least behave as if, serving the users. But the moment they decide to start placing adverts or otherwise ‘monetise the eyeballs’, their real customers are the advertisers. There’s not many of them wot gets it:

Craigslist had been approached about placing text ads on the site. “We’ve had the numbers crunched for us,” he said. “The numbers are quite staggering.” But, no, the site wasn’t interested. “No users have been requesting that we run text ads, so for us, that’s the end of the story,” he said to the befuddlement of the crowd. “If users start calling out for text ads, we’ll listen.”

Another unspoken question presents itself – Is making x gazillion $$$ within a finite amount of time a business model? Or is an exit strategy with $$$ in the bank a business model? Both are certainly a way of making money but a business model is something more fundamental. It is about creating a way to create value, to maintain and grow it. The aims is to make enough money to keep doing just that. I don’t see much of that in Web 1.0/2.0. But I may be old-fashioned like that.

799px-sydney_opera_house_in_sand.JPG One of the statements that made my heart leap last year is: Advertising is a form of censorship. The Web of 2007 is a house built upon sand. But more about that later…

Work – play, play – work, even for CEOs

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Tom Glocer is a CEO who’ll make it to the round. :)

Over the past several years, some in the British media have suggested that I should have better things to do than spend my time on Facebook or other social networking or web services. …I believe it is a very worthy investment of my “free” time to explore the latest interactions of media and technology, or indeed to write this blog when I feel I have something worthwhile to say.

Innovation is non-linear – perhaps that is why all that networked stuff works rather well. What doesn’t work is the traditional command and control but that’s another conversation. Lateral thinking is rewarded in this day and age (actually, I believe it always has been) and a good way to get cracking when thinking about new business models. So, Amazon’s ‘unique proposition’ is reader book reviews, although it makes money on selling books, eBay ’sells’ reputation, makes money on auctions, Google’s offering is reach, though it makes money on text ads. Behind every new-ish business model is lateral monetisation struggling to get out.

Growth requires innovation, and, unfortunately, innovation is not a linear process. When Columbus “discovered” the New World, he had actually set out to find a new route to India. The much admired Google similarly did not set out to invent the dominant ad monetization engine. Too much idle experimentation in the executive suite leads to a failure to execute on any plan; however, the total absence of imagination leads to plans that lead nowhere.

And now for the personal touch. Tom Glocer is spot on about the nature of expertise. Recently I noticed how people in business are starting to approach learning about social media second-hand, listening to the self-proclaimed experts* rather than jumping straight in themselves.

I believe that unless one interacts with and plays with the leading technology of the age, it is impossible to dream the big dreams, and difficult to create an environment in which creative individuals will feel at home. This does not mean that the ceo needs to program a third-party app on Facebook, but I believe it is ultimately more useful in understanding business concepts like viral marketing, crowd-sourcing or federated development to use a live example rather than wait for the Harvard Business Review article to appear in three years time.

We should all feel comfortable to follow our own paths. What counts is the results, not living-up to some outdated view of what “work” looks like in the 21st century.

Indeed. This is an area of exploration that no CEO or other executive should leave to others. If part of the job of a business leader is to see the big picture, well, there is no more distinct big picture out there than what is happening at the crossroads of the web, technology, media and human interactions within networks and outside traditional organisations and institutions.

*For the record, rather than consider myself an expert on social media or Web 2.0 or [fill in the web buzzword du jour], I’d prefer to be an ‘expert’ at shifting people’s mindset and helping them understand what is the web and what’s possible on the web.

Workers misuse the internet

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The poor abused internet!

According to a study conducted by the Guardian, since 2004, 132 workers have been sacked, 41 resigned, 868 received formal warnings and 686 received other forms of punishment (such as fines) for internet and email-related issues.

The money quote, emphasis mine:

According to research released recently by Proudfoot Consulting, companies in the UK lose a total of £80 billion a year through the inefficient use of labour.

This is not about doing your bit for the salary they pay you and anyway you signed a contract… most contracts are not detailed enough and let’s be honest, the negotiating position for most employee is not in their favour. It is about treating people who for a company as collaborators who work with you, not as more or less forced labour that needs to be ‘managed’ and coerced to some degree to do what they are told. Just like the term ‘consumer’, ‘labour’ also betrays a mindset that prevents any relationships other than adversarial, abusive and enforced by power. And that’s not a relationship anyway.

Dell made up with bloggers

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Jeff Jarvis on the end of Dell Hell.

They reached out to bloggers; they blogged; they found ways to listen to and follow the advice of their customers. They joined the conversation. That’s all we asked.

Absolutely. I particularly like this:

…note Dell’s compliance with the manifesto’s first three theses:

1. Markets are conversations.
2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.

Had I not have my blog(s) to say this, I have gone hoarse from repeating this over the last 4 years. And this is just one of the many benefits of listening:

Dell realized that engaging in the conversation wasn’t just a way to stop blogging customers like me from harming the brand. We, the customers, bring them great value besides our money: We alert them to problem. We will tell them what products we want. We share our knowledge about their products. We help fellow customers solve problems. We will sell their products. But this happens only if you have a decent product and service and only if you listen to us.

I also agree with Stuart Henshall’s interpretation:

If you want a conversation to really take hold in a company you have to teach the CEO how to listen. Today it’s never been easier to innovate in this area. From my perspective every VP Marketing should be enabling a social media listening program.

Businesses are such a top down organisations that even if you manage to start conversations inside the company, there comes a point where those people run into a wall. The organisation reacts to new ways and there is a clash of cultures, if not more. And without a clear understanding and support from the CEO, it is unlikely to be resolved. Sun Microsystem’s Jonathan Schwartz had to line up the lawyers and the comms people and tell them in no uncertain terms that blogging is going to happen within and outside Sun. I am told that without such a push, the company would have never grown such a powerful and dynamic blogging community.

So it is foolish to assume that one blog makes a conversation, just like one swallow does not makes a summer. But it just may inform people about a change of season…

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