In the comments of last week's post titled 100 thoughts on marketing, Tom Asacker asked me: since just about everyone who reads this list agrees with it, in principle, what's holding organizations back? This is a pretty difficult question because I'm looking at it from the inside out.
For those not familiar with Gizmodo, this is a blog about gadgets and technology started by Gawker Media in 2002. The blog's traffic is now upwards of 100 million page views a month.
Gawker Media's founder Nick Denton believes in content, and given that comments play a really important role in social media, I found what the organization shared as reported by The Blog Herald interesting:
The favored commenters will be silent; and the illiterate ones will rant, well, illiterately. But we’ll be able to encourage the kind of discussion that *we* want — not one that is dominated merely by the most prolific of our commenters. It’s our party; we get to decide who comes.
This is an important step to note. Gizmodo is doing it to balance the conversation. Would you like to bet that if a company had taken such a step there would have been chatter all over the 'sphere? Blogs are so old compared to other social media, yet behaviors do not seem to mature. I'd say this example gives companies that are thinking about starting a blog something to think about.
Anna at Jezebel expands:
Stars will no longer be given out – or retained – based on the number of followers a commenter has. Instead, they will be granted to readers who have proven themselves to be engaged, intelligent, humorous, fair-minded, thoughtful, rational, etc.
I hope companies take a look at the whole post. High traffic and profile blogs that expand to the level of full online publications, need comment policies to help facilitate that traffic and flow. Does your company blog need to implement such a policy?
Back to the inter blog exchange between Judge and Frucci.
After Frucci posted about the seven types of employees you meet at Best Buy, Judge (and team) responded with the one type of Gizmodo blogger. Frucci got back in the discussion with another post - this time the post is about Best Buy's response. The fact alone that a company blog by a C-level executive would engage in a humorous exchange is remarkable (although I agree with some in the comments who pointed out that the revised post is confusing).
You cannot have it both ways. If you've been out there talking about organizations and criticizing their lack of involvement you cannot criticize them when they join. This is something I shared at SxSWi during the BlogTalk Radio show. Comparing comments at the time of writing this post, Frucci's got 129, Judge's 158. Both got two kinds of comments:
(1) by people who were constructive and provided a thought-out opinion;
(2) by people who were disappointed and not so thoughtful in exposing their case.
Dissenting and arguing is good, but it's an art. If you're going to do that, you might consider staying professional and poised while you share a piece of your mind. Also, you might check your spelling and grammar for good measure. I read and liked the comments from those who were able to strike the balance - well done. Your points will travel further that way.
One of the reasons why organizations have been able to brush off criticism has been poor delivery. My mother taught me that getting angry and bursting out in frustration makes me less effective at actually fixing the issue, helping someone do that, or making my voice heard.
Who likes a company blog that looks like a Web site with corporate messaging or product releases and discount coupons? Right, so can we all respect each other and navigate social media together while we iron out the issues?
It was Oscar Wilde who wrote something like if you've spent your whole life pretending to be good when instead you wanted to be bad, you're a hypocrite. Customers are sending mixed signals. This is one of the reasons why organizations have been held back. They/we say one thing, then do another.
However, in this case, there is a next step. If I were Best Buy, my next step after the humorous response would be to take a hard look at the reason for the first Gizmodo post and engage the customers among the readers who found truth in that. There is always some truth in comedy, isn't there? Given that customer service and interaction is the new marketing, this needs to be addressed.
The whole reason to join the conversation, the reason to have one in the first place, is that you can take lessons back to your business and change it (and the way you look at it) for the better. Otherwise, it's just an academic exercise (no offense meant), isn't it?
Some ideas I could think about (some of which exclude others):
- tier prices and service levels - cheap price comes with self-service
- expand your vision of customer - this goes hand in hand with tiering prices and service levels
- consolidate who you want to sell to and go for that - the trouble comes when companies try to be all things to all people...
- take another look at work practices - there's an amazing story in results-only work environment. Is it just a story?
- consider who you want working at your stores - this goes hand in hand with tiered prices and services
- build accountability at every level - and give people power to make things happen
- think about what your business stands for and understand that your execution needs to deliver on that
Three could work for many businesses.
There is a lot more to it.
John Hagel, the Co-Chair of the Center For the Edge at Deloitte and one of my new favorite thinkers, just rolled out a new report called The Shift Index, that suggests the current recession is masking long-term competitive challenges for U.S. businesses. [hat tip Francois Gossieaux]
Among the key findings, U.S. companies’ return on assets (ROA) have progressively dropped 75 percent from their 1965 level despite rising labor productivity. Even the highest-performing companies are struggling to maintain their ROA rates and increasingly losing market leadership positions. What can companies do in this fast-cycle world? I know the hard nosed won't like some of the answers:
- increase unexpected encounters that are valuable and generate pleasure when you encounter them. We can shape serendipity - both by increasing quality and quantity of unexpected encounters, for example by being in the right location
- shift from a push model to a pull model - one in which you attract partners, customers and talent, instead of pushing out products and messages. Attract, assist and affiliate customers and prospects
- build communities if around the needs of the members, engaged around three types of cultures - content, social interactions, and economic business models
I agree with Hagel, you cannot participate in knowledge flows for very long if you are only a “taker”. Also, check out the collaboration curve.
I'm thinking that the Best Buy exchange example is a manifestation of this shift. Companies are having a hard time with the diminishing return on assets. Joining the
conversation is the tip of the iceberg. There needs to be a lot more in place with marketing, public relations and
business practices. This is what's holding organizations back.
What else do you think is holding organizations back?