Selling the value of Social Networks to the Silos

“Wait a moment, here I have it. This: ‘Most men will not swim before they are able to.’ Is not that witty? Naturally, they won’t swim! They are born for the solid earth, not for the water. And naturally they won’t think. They are made for life, not for thought. Yes, and he who thinks, what’s more, he who makes thought his business, he may go far in it, but he has bartered the solid earth for the water all the same, and one day he will drown.” ~Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf

THOSE WHO KNOW HOW TO SWIM MUST TEACH: We live in times when mankind has bartered solid earth for water. Those who know how to swim, must swim and teach. And those that would survive must be willing to learn and adapt. Such is the case for those learning social networks. Social networks are an outer manifestation in the form of text, photos, video, news and music OF OUR inner lives. Whereas before we heard thoughts from another person over a telephone line or experienced a director’s vision on the television or silver screen, we now have an environment (social networks) where we live WITHIN a constant stream of thought, vision and communication. To speak plainly: those who can find business intelligence, set up on-the-fly networks and aggregate customers quickly WITHIN social networks provide value to traditional businesses seeking to enter these same networks.


THE MEDIUM HAS CHANGED: Sifting through this stream, filtering it, is the primary and initial task that those who work in social networks must do via social media monitoring and community management. And those who introduce corporations and brands to the use of social networks must simplify and translate all of the lexicon that has ballooned around social networks into an easy to grasp language. Many, like Peter Economides of FelixBNI, state firmly that nothing has changed EXCEPT the medium or channel. While this is very true, there is also the reality that a new medium often changes the user or participant. We communicate at the speed of thought now and our “PCs, the Internet, mobile phones, GPS have come together to enable a vast distributed data network of collective memory…a collective stream of intelligence” (PeopleBrowsr). To speak plainly: social networks now provide a new, faster means to create connections, sales and business relationships.

CONVINCING DUTCH UNCLES: So how does one convince a businessman in his 60’s who is used to using the telephone and maybe a fax machine to communicate…how does one convince such a man to use Facebook to see photos and read stories of his grandchildren, to see Twitter as a scope into powerful business intelligence, to view photos of family and peers at Flickr and video of family at YouTube? How does one convince him to look for the breaking news at Reddit or discover the latest market trends at StumbleUpon? How does one convince him to read what his competitors’ team is presenting at Slideshare or Scrib’d? How does one convince him to catch up with his granddaughter’s music at her channel or to create his own radio station at Pandora and listen to this on the drive to work? How does one reveal that vital conversations related to the brands he founded are taking place within Disqus communities (communities built around the comment-threads from blogs)? How does one convince him that Wikipedia is a faster route to information on many subjects than Britannica? How does one convince him that Yelp will “save the night” in a new town if that top restaurant is fully booked? To speak plainly: there is a network for every market and many networks contain a slice devoted to specific markets. Use these free venues for connection to your customer and for making sales!

SELLING CRONIES ON SOCIAL NETWORKS: Selling the crustiest, saltiest critics on the power and speed of social networks is rooted in psychology. Changing anyone’s mind, accessing a heart, really depends upon getting to know that person. What motivates him or her? What goals does he or she have? Doing a little homework USING social networks PRIOR to such meetings is one route to engaging in a convincing conversation. When I know what 10 competitors to a brand are doing RIGHT NOW (social monitoring tools) and six months from now (Recorded Future), that can be a great conversation starter. When I know where 50 new clients/customers for a product or service are located and what they are saying, this can lead to some exciting plans for the corporation. When I can show what events led to a shift in consumer behavior that either helped or hurt a brand, that can lead to some important adjustments to the supply chain and perhaps product identity. When I create a simple infographic that visualizes EXACTLY where that gentleman’s customers are conversing in social networks, what they are saying, when they are saying it and to whom they are talking, well, we hope he will see pools of new business opportunity. Will this businessman want his regional sales teams to know about new businesses expected to enter an area during the next 3 years? How would the CEO of a major automaker like to see alliances, business relations, company affiliates or joint ventures related to top global automakers? To speak plainly: When normal business processes are augmented or enhanced by social network data, we can make informed and calculated decisions on where, to whom, when and how to sell online. More effectively, with less expense and faster response time!

TEACHING LEVERAGE: But the next part is sticky, in more ways than one. Because after this classic businessman has paid for market intelligence and a plan to access these pools of customers, his first action is often incorrect. He wants to blast these customers with the digital equivalent of direct-marketing mail pieces from a neighborhood souvlaki joint. He wants to buy TV ads and slap a Facebook icon at the end. He wants to get on the bullhorn and round ’em up to the lot for those shiny new vehicles. And so now we have to show him examples of how brands have leveraged the inexpensive and free social networks to harness the collective strength of employees and customers alike. We have to show him how Best Buy raised up its entire staff via TwelpForce and solved thousands of customer service issues via Twitter. We have to show him how NewEgg put up lots of videos to teach customers how to fix or use electronics purchased at their stores. We have to show him how Starbucks gave their customers a chance to change anything about the stores or products or service through My Starbucks Idea. And even if we heard about these great methods of leveraging social networks years ago at conferences or through friends running those social communities, we have to keep telling the story because it is still so new to so many. Especially the crusty cronies. To speak plainly: Do not assume when selling social network ideas to CEOs that he/she has seen or “gets” what you are talking about. Spell it out WITH examples that include simple math and clear lists of benefits.

SELLING COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT AND CONTENT-MARKETING TO MARKETING MANAGERS: Another tough sell is convincing the Marketing Manager and the General Manager that a new position of Community Manager or Social Media Manager WITHIN the corporation is essential. And that this person will be creating LOTS of regular content and engaging in relationship with the customers and stakeholders of the brand. As Jeremiah Owyang, of Altimeter Group, says, “Agencies should teach their clients how to ‘fish’ rather than do it for them as strategic advisors.” Or as Steve Woodruff writes, “The companies who advance with real personality in their social media endeavors will likely do best.” Content and relationship that works in social networks is born from customers who are passionate about the brand and a Community Manager or Social Media Manager who takes this content and distributes it throughout the social networks to the advantage of BOTH the customer and the brand. Read more on Great Community Management in this interview with Eleftherios Hatziioannou, former Social Media Manager at Mercedes-Benz Global and current Social Media Director at s.Oliver.

It all goes back to psychology and knowing what each person WITHIN the organization wants, what they need, and what the company is ready for now. And then showing how some simple first steps involving Listening, Planning and Executing can lead to great things. As Peter Economides of FelixBNI writes, “It’s about social psychology, not economics.”


“You need someone who can read into the data and say “this is telling me…” ” richmeyer

There are way too many analytic solutions out there & not enough people to analyze the data and turn it into actionable data. richmeyer

Organizations need individuals/teams within to leverage analytics into actionable items that can help meet brand objectives. richmeyer

A “spot-on” CSV of 100 Key Influencers w/social links + a summation of these Influencers’ latest messages + a graph of who follows them. Nat_Hansen


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