Tag Archives: Social Media

How to Transform Today’s Traditional Midsize Companies and Literally Drag Them Into Digital and Social 21st Century Transformation? (Part 2)

My favorite book (The Bible) states: without vision people perish: what a true statement and without vision many companies disappear such as this old-fashioned German Drugstore outlets Schlecker struggling to find an angel investor before the end of this very month! It is sometimes sad to be able to predict that some businesses won’t be around within the next 3 to 5 years if they do not drastically change their Modus Operandi! Often companies are way too busy with “business as usual” while not spending enough time on strategy! “If you do not know where you are going you will most likely end up somewhere else”: an old adage we all know!

Today many SME (if they have not done it yet) should heavily consider creating a new responsibility, which could be something like a “Business Facilitator”: a savvy strategic thinker, who ties up four main challenges companies are facing today!  An all-around talent, visionary, influential, inspirational and above all motivational! Some would name it a CIO but may be it should be a bit more like a CBF (Chief Business Facilitator)?

I came across some quotes from CEO leaders not only talking but walking the leadership walk and embracing the turbulent changes our networked society is forcing upon us!  In the social enterprise people and culture are the two driving forces and building blocks our Business Facilitator will increasingly have to take into account:

1. Social Culture

Creating a “Culture Is Your Brand” philosophy à la Zappos and studying Tony Hsieh’s culture book would certainly be a very good start! Without enterprise culture it is going to be tricky to create motivated employees to positively and actively participate in social media communication!  How many companies out there still use Twitter as an “Inbound” marketing tool or a pricelist Email alternative? Painful! Check out the Marketing Master Coca-Cola Content 2020:  CEO Muhtar Kent thinks that marketing is getting more and more data driven and “Coca-Cola needs to be part of Digital Marketing and IT closer to customers”.

2. Content or Inbound Marketing

How does one keep patrons drinking coffee?  By providing WIFI in all Starbuck outlets so that both business people and Twitter addicts may connect to their favorite social media accounts while sipping on their preferred coffee specialty. Or by starting a monthly campaign such as: “Global Month of Service”! How about letting customer pay in its U.S. stores with a smartphone app tied to their loyalty and payment cards? Social is important to Starbuck providing its Facebook fan page with an online suggestion box while letting fans send gift cards! Being sociable seems to be “a must” for Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz who is also upgrading his IT Infrastructure for point of sales inventory management, CRM and Labor Scheduling tools!  Desktop Virtualization is also a hot trends IT department are implementing in order to accommodate BYOD and the commercialization of smart phones and tablets.

3. Social Business

Social Media is constantly changing and the first three most visited platforms in March 2012 were Facebook, Twitter and surprisingly Pinterest overtaking layout-old-fashioned “veteran” LinkedIn! It is now impossible to do business without making Social Media full part of a Marketing Strategy: And this involves a lot more than sticking a Facebook and Twitter logo on a website!  Videos themselves are becoming an integral part of the social media portfolio and if you have not yet seen the 2012 Cartier Video, I recommend you watch it! To this day it has been viewed 14.586.933 times! Airlines are also beginning to use videos such as: “KLM Surprise” and “Air China in Sweden” as well the outstanding Mini Getaway Stockholm Case Study, which already took place a year ago in Sweden! Some funny campaigns also involving an entertaining “Dollar Shave Club” and the Guinness St Patrick’s Day Commercial 2012!

4. Modernize IT infrastructure and move to the cloud while embracing mobility

Legacy systems may sometimes be responsible for slowing down technology growth and we all know mobility demand is on the rise: it is now time to reconsider a more focused cloud outlook!  Lowe’s CEO Robert A. Niblock has understood Lowe’s need to zero in on modernizing IT infrastructure with faster internet connections and deploying a gigantic action to equip store personnel with 42.000 IPhones. He also recognizes the challenge of a multi channel strategy while planning to equip both call centers and retail outlets with better access to company’s 250.000 products, customers’ accounts as well as being able to close sales on Iphones! TJX’s CEO Carol Meyrowitz has similar priorities with a multi channel strategy: “We continue wanting to marry shop and web since Ecommerce gives TJX the opportunity to sell things, which are not carried in the physical shops”. Procter & Gamble’s CEO Bob Mc Donald plans to move accounting from traditional responsibilities to operational: “accounting systems aren’t designed today for operations–they tend to look backward–but we’re working on integrating our operational system with the financial system to move in that direction.”

The Business Facilitator’s challenge is immense but one thing is for sure silos have to be dismantled: Over are the days were company departments could allow themselves to work “independently” as a block almost against each other! Time has come to transform our work environment into a social networked place following the example of Apple and Starbucks with their IT helpdesk coffee shop allowing employees to choose IT smart phone & Tablet on display and directly bill them to their departments as well as technical support and suggestion on how to make IT run better!  

10 Fundamental Ways to Transform Your SMB, Promote Innovation and Optimize Your Sales Results (Part 1)

Social media or not, Customer Service is what is being added to customers’ purchase before and after the sale has been executed! B2C retailers and B2B platforms should heavily reconsider rewarding both regular customers and brand faithfulness with additional perks and special privileges! Customer loyalty cards are already a given and let’s be frank we all know that most of those are not adding much value anyhow! It is now time to harness your creativity and develop a state of the art Social Business Marketing Enterprise!

1. Ratify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition and Unique Selling Passion) in order to focus the targeted customer audience your business will want to reach! The more precise the better! Brainstorm and debate: If you are still not sure about your USP make a turnover hit-list of your top 30 to 50 (or more depending on your business size) best customers and ask them personally to give you some input into what they would love your business to communicate about and sell! This will be a great way of getting them involved right from the start.

2. Your first piece of real estate should be your blog before even starting a website! Create one right away if you do not have one already and start communicating with your clients, prospects, visitors by posting relevant information around your USP relating to your audience, business and core values by publishing the following information:

  • Own and guest posted articles
  • Own videos (think of Gary Vaynerchuk’s creativity and audacity)
  • Videos uploaded on your site relating to your audience
  • Interviews, Podcasts and Webcasts on specific topics of interest
  • E-books, White papers, E-articles
  • Pictures, Recipes (if you are in the food business)
  • Featured articles linked to other sites (it will help SEO)

3. Refine your Social Media portfolio by making sure you have accounts in the following areas narrowing it down to 10-12 platforms at the most:

4. Create a digital company newsletter, which should include blog content with some specific items reserved to your exclusive circle of contacts and personally delivered to their mailbox always including a call to action! Consider making this letter custom made according to their preferences and interests by adding personal perks and offers.

5. Customer Content Marketing: Communication goes both ways: Reserve plenty of space for your visitors to upload the same sort of material your company is uploading:

  • Customer articles and / or links.
  • Give them the freedom to build their community on your website: it will dramatically increase your traffic!
  • Customer videos, personal videos even if not relating to your business (be personal and social and grant them the freedom to communicate)
  • Personal pictures, anecdotes they would like to share with their peers
  • Events customers want to share with your business and their community
  • Trust them first, in return they will start trusting your business

6. Read, listen and consider what your customers are sharing with your business on your blog / website; it will definitely help you fine tuning and adapt your blog-menu to your audience’s tastes, needs and expectations.

7. Make it simple and easy for visitors to sign up and upload any media content (picture, sound, video & text) and please drop this annoying “Captcha” by facilitating the signing up process with most popular media sites Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or YouTube.

8. Transform all your written collaterals by physically including your customers’ most relevant Social Media Icons

  • Ad your company’s blog & website link(s)
  • Ad Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube and Pinterest logos to all your printed collateral including business cards
  • Facebook, Twitter logos and links should automatically be printed on your cash register receipts with a call to action changing on a regular basis
  • Make your inside signs with your blog address, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest discretely visible on both physical and virtual shop.

9. If your business owns a physical shop give your customer the flexibility to sign up on site (with a touch screen computer) to your blog, Facebook Fan page or follow you on Twitter: Reward them on the spot with some free goodies and thank them with a smile.

10. Embrace mobile devices (Smart phones & Tablets) Please do your company a favor and organize smart phones for your sales and marketing people ASAP! It is not a toy it is a modern marketing tool you cannot afford not to have! Make also sure that the same web / blog content is readable on any platform and remember BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is not a buzz word anymore it is reality! Welcome to the 21st century “tradigital” business!

It is extremely important to keep up communicating with customers while delivering content in real-time! In future posts we shall review more items on how to make SMBs more competitive in this thriving mobile social media environment!

5 Keys Areas to Proactively Manage Your Business

Today’s corporations are working hard to keep up! Is this a wonder? Strategy curation just like content and information, is crucial for the development of (y)our corporate vision! Vision 2020 challenges your present accomplishments in order to increase turnover, reduce costs, improve efficiencies and set up action plans while ratifying priorities! In this “hyperlinked” and hyper-connected society both existing businesses and “start-ups” have to rapidly adapt! Every mobile user is not only a potential buyer but a reporter having the power to promote or demote!

Vision 2020 assists you into developing your hyperlinked corporate strategy with the utmost priority of increasing sales, productivity and real time communication while concentrating on 5 key areas:

1. Social Culture: Establishing a social culture in a 21st century company is obligatory! Social Media dialogue with engaging customers or prospects (positive or negative) ought to be monitored and answered in real time! US Business Think Geek promotes a “one head one heart” social culture but also states: “We need to hire for passion and train for skills” because it is impossible to have a board meeting every time a negative comment pops up on Facebook or Google+. Zappos exemplifies social culture in a remarkable way with CEO Tony Hsieh Zappos’ Culture Book and how Tony defines branding: “Your Culture Is Your Brand”!

2. Social Media Strategy: in the 1870s Graham bell developed the Telephone; the Facsimile was invented by Giovanni Caselli in 1865 before the telephone even existed! Email came in the early 1980s. Mobile phone was invented by Motorola in 1973 and first commercialized in 1983. Social Media as a web-based and mobile technology has literally transformed our daily communication into an interactive dialogue also promoting “user-generated-content including (micro) blogging (twitter), content community sites (Vimeo YouTube), social networking sites (Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest) and finally location-based social networking (Foursquare or Pinwheel). Social Media demands to be fully integrated into the marketing strategy of a company! It is a business prerequisite to properly roll out inbound marketing tools, foster brand awareness and develop communication between brand, prospects and customers and transform followers into passionate brand advocates.

3. Inbound Marketing: Over are the days where companies could blast marketing emails, brochures and fliers to prospects and customers! Traditional outbound marketing (buy, pay & bug) is in the process of being replaced by inbound or content marketing. Sharing resources, vlogging, blogging, EBooks, Earticles, whitepapers and all together relevant curated information not only attracts customers but promotes, develops and solidifies brand loyalty.

4. Cloud Computing (IaaS): As wireless devices (smart phones & tablets) commercialization becomes a pressing IT issue, mobile technology (Dropbox, Box) and mobile payment systems (Square & Paypal) develop, IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and SaaS (Software as a Service: SAP, Oracle, IBM or Salesforce) become a matter of speed if IT wants to timely react in our dynamic cloud environments! Modern CIO needs to budget these areas if companies want to keep afloat and compete with Internet Cloud Giants such as Amazon!

5. Mobile Technology: Tablets & Smartphone including the broadband development have both created a Networked Society. Wearable computing is already here; connecting home to adjust temperature via your smart phone is a given! In 2012 windows will sell tablets while 4G networks will develop and grow! Companies like Square & Paypal already compete for mobile payment systems market shares! Commercialization of mobile computing hardware will merge private and professional life into each other whereby workforce won’t have to physically be at work in order to produce and connect. This is a nightmare for IT leaders as they strive to move additional parts of the traditional IT to IaaS (cloud computing) while constantly worrying about data safety!

Social Media Stress

ARE YOU Sometimes  OVERWHELMED BY SOCIAL MEDIA?

It has been a long day and I have to admit technology is overwhelming! Social media does not make our lives easier but more complex and time consuming than ever before even if tools like Buffer or Hootsuite and Shareaholic are made available to us! How to keep up with Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Facebook, YouTube, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Hsieh. Paperli and now Pinterest and by the way what the heck is Pinterest? Their icons do not even match the rest of the squad? Have you noticed? Are you keeping up with Geotagging? Have you opened an account with Four Square? Do you keep up with Groupon and the best way to keep your people interested on your blogs with info-graphics and know about the tools on how to make them?

How about learning a foreign language while turning off your twitter account and may be even talk more to our kids and spouses? Time is so squeezed that it is becoming scary and at times I feel a bit of guilt for going to bed because of potentially missing out on some new juicy piece of high-tech info or from my favorite fifty blogs I try to keep up with! And my personal as well as professional life! How about cooking? So dear to so many of us, at least for me! I read now about social media leaders eating their foods in front of their monitor? What a pity! The Babel tower of information is here! Who is going to confuse our languages and force us to  s l o w   d o w n  ? The obvious and real dichotomy of what I like to coin “progress and regress” is a solid description of our modern connected world! Hurray Google + and video-mail, which is going to grow exponentially in the coming 24 months as well as the modern way of reporting with info-graphics because we all have so less time to spare! Are we going insane?

Let us S T O P and let us BREATHE!..

I find it soothing to turn on the artificial “cricket sound recording” on my YouTube profile to soothe my soul and get my Provence peace of mind back to myself in the middle of stressed out and freezing Northern Germany! Oh I forgot how about international mayhem within the Middle East: Syria, Israel and Iran  threatening world’s peace endeavors? How about our €uro currency and a restless Germany back on the geopolitical world map? Did you catch that or did you miss out on one of the most important European developments of the last 10 years? Halas we could be headed towards speed, faster than we probably can cope with! No rest for the “stressed out” as the bible mentions! Remember the prophet Daniel and the brilliant macroeconomic statement he made with very simple words? “…Even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (Daniel 12:2 KJV). Does this rings a bell to you or may be even “several ones”? By the way how do you regain peace of mind, tranquility, serenity and calmness? Drop me a note and let’s avoid the social media daily stress for now because the day of rest (Saturday) has finally arrived!…

Social Media & Real Time Communication within Virtual Geopolitical Communities

What seemed impossible only ten years ago has become reality! Finding like minded people without leaving our homes has become reality. Internet, blogosphere, Twitter, Facebook, chat rooms allow citizen from remote places of our planet to meet, communicate and fathom the most amazing ideas and ideologies.  Genius minds do meet as much as lawlessness begets dangers and threats! Real on time communication is here; Twitter, Facebook and Social Media were being used to report on last year’s Egyptian turmoil and demonstrations.  Joseph Goebbels once said “The effective propagandist must be a master of the art of speech, of writing, or journalism, of the poster and of the leaflet. He must have the gift to use the major methods of influencing public opinion such as the press, film and radio to serve his ideas and goals, above all in an age of advancing technology. . .   It may be good to have power based on weapons. It is better and longer lasting, however, to win and hold the heart of a nation”.
Let’s imagine the present technological availability to create “niche” threats to the peace and harmony peaceful and democratic nations of this world are struggling to maintain and uphold.  Real time “propagandists” could get hold of social media networks, create fan pages instantly, rally forces and fans from all over the planet without geographical boundaries creating a “virtual” threat none of us can truly envision! Let’s imagine what could have happened if Joseph Goebbels would have had the availability of Internet and social media with instant free blogging and vlogging amenities such as YouTube?  Joseph Goebbels could have had a global entourage, rallying not only his own people but people from all over the world, He could have downloaded videos on YouTube and create all sorts of groups and sub-group meeting around the clock and without any boundaries in time or space.  Virtual communities possess now the technology to foster any sort of ideas or ideologies with any form of imaginable or unimaginable objectives. It seemed only yesterday when eight years (now nine) old little Saudi girl Juju’s message was aired to Egyptian President Osni Mubarak! Follow Mr. & Mrs. “Anybody”’s speech on YouTube, Flickr or Vimeo!  The virtual world may very well be the door to reality and the training ground for ideologies to come and to spread them instantly, globally and viral thanks to instant modern communication technology.

Berlin’s physical hidden city of the 40s with more than twenty five miles of tunnels may now be built virtually and faster than ever! Digital tunnels longer than ever, well hidden and providing instant communication and meeting rooms located in any part of the internet galaxy with real time communication and meeting opportunities regardless of geography!
Let’s remember how Twitter and Facebook were instrumental into staging the January the 25th of 2010 demonstrations on Cairo’s Tahrir square.  A resentful Egyptian population, fed up of being abused by ruthless leadership, was ready to explode and social media technology was supporting such “popular movements” or may be not so “popular and democratic” at all as we now fear the Egyptian ultra conservative election-results! It is nowadays technically and virtually possible for helping or non-helping forces to rally regardless of a good or evil intend! Some for the best intend of the people concerned but some for the sake of using the moment to gain control and seize power!

Follow me at   http://twitter.com/BrunoGebarski or at http://linkedin.com/in/brunogebarski

Social Media Integrity: Forging ourselves a good name

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

A few days ago I was reading Joel Comm: Where is the integrity in Internet Marketing and could not avoid reflecting on how important it is for human beings to show character, integrity and treat others the same way they desire themselves to be treated and considered. In this busy digital world where everybody is “connected” one way or the other using for the most of us three to five main social media platforms, it has become even more important to forge ourselves a solid reputation and communicate content instead of rubbish! I really mean rubbish and do not think we should clutter our beloved twitter followers’ Ipads or Iphones mailboxes with non-sense unless we are Hollywood stars sipping on a hot drink at the next door coffee shop corner. Relevancy and respect within the message we pass on will remain and as the bible admonishes us in Pro 22:1, seek for yourself a good name: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold”. It becomes increasingly tedious in this digitally over-wired 21rst century information age to juggle around all the information we get and zero in on relevant content! Even Twits can be now automatically delivered to your Outlook mailbox by using Twinbox and there you have it: Countless daily twits roaring into your mailbox! Being selective becomes then mandatory; spammers, cheap marketers and internet fast lane fortune seekers will be avoided and revoked by intelligent and sensible people striving to bring contribution and content. I can only praise people like Jay Baer or Michael Stelzner, who bring input and show a deep and high degree of professionalism in what they take pride in doing. It is refreshing to know that some do care and want to serve and help their community before being concerned about making heaps of money. We all know bills have to be paid but greed and selfishness will not survive, short gain and fast acquired riches will not withstand the test of character and integrity. Social Media will sift them out. Patrons are not silly when the food they are served is not good enough they usually never return. Social Media savvy and adept digital-citizens prefer to be fed gourmet food with fine delicacy and tasty drinks. It has also to be affordable and bring results. Selecting whom to follow is important but pondering on who is following us is also a bit of a mirror showing us how we do come across in our ongoing “public media campaign”. The old proverb admonishes us that we do reap what we sow or scatter, some are spreading an awful lot of non-sense out there and yes I will join the ranks of leaders like Joel Comm, Jay Baer and Michael Stelzner in fostering quality and content because every single word we write remains and a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.