SXSW 2010: Brian Solis – Organizations need to socialize

Social Media has changed the communication landscape and also the world of business has noticed that. But a Facebook group or a Twitter account is no guarantee for successful participation in the communities of your customers. To achieve that you need to do more. “You need to engage”, according to Brian Solis, Prinicpal at Futureworks and one of the prominent thought leaders in social media.

“As a company or as a brand you need to participate in the conversations in such manner that your not only of added value, but that you also involve your customers in your marketing and service activities.” Because of that social media will have an enormous impact in the organsational structure of a company. “Any division within an organization that is effected by outside influence is goiung to have to socialize”.  Eventually social media instruments will become aminstream as email is today, but before that organisations will need to go through a process of cultural change.

Brian was at SXSW to promote his latest book ‘Engage’, in his words the book that starts where the current scial media books stop. “There is not a single book that goes into this depth, that tells you how to apply social media to your job, how to get resources, how to measure it and how to get support.” We spoke with Brian about his book, about cultural change and about SXSW 2010.


SXSW 2010: Charlene Li: “Open Leadership and the upside of giving up control”

Meet Charlene Li, co-author of the Groundswell, a ‘must-read’ in Social Media. Li is close to publishing her latest book ‘Open Leadership’. SXSW has given her a stage to explain what it’s all about. The room is packed. With reason, because who didn’t get inspired by Groundswell.

In Open Leadership Li elaborates further on Social Media and how to use this as a professional organization. “The world around us has changed dramatically in only a few years time. Changed in the way we are sharing knowledge, experiences and emotions, online. It has influenced the way we communicate and collaborate with each other, and that is having a major influence in the way we build our relationships.”

However, only a handful of companies and other organizations embrace this change. Because ‘social’ within organizations seems to be hard. Why? Because it implies that you’ll give up control over your message, your product and your brand. And that is difficult. While, if you think about it, sharing and giving up control (which you don’t really have anyway), is the essence when building or maintaining a relationship. Within that relationship, you cannot control all the elements. Differences of opinion, misunderstandings and mistakes are inevitable. But in the end, that’s what makes the realtionship grow!

So, what you need, is sufficient confidence in your own strengths and capabilities and sufficient confidence in your customers (both internally and externally) to give up control. That’s Open Leadership. In her book Charlene demonstrates how you can achieve that as an organization.

In our interview, Charlene explains this further.

SXSW 2010: The future of Corporate culture at Southwest Airlines

‘Our employees are our number 1 customers’. How many CEO’s are saying that about their employees? Many, right? But how many truly live up to those words? In a way that their workers will acknowledge that? “Southwest Airlines”, according to Mallory Messina, Culture Ambassador at Southwest. “In SWA, we do things just a little different. And you’ll notice that in the behavior of all 35,000 employees. Our culture is what distinguishes ourselves from our competitors. SWA trusts us and empowers us.” Openness, transparancy and authenticity are key. Even long before the raise of New Media. The founders of the company have always strived to cherrish and nurture the culture, no matter the number of employees. And most, if not all, says Mallory, feel comfortable in this culture. “We’re happy people, and happy people make happy passengers”. Their out of the ordinary ‘Safety Instructions’ is an example of that.

Mallory brings the story with a lot of passion. For some even a bit over the top (really, is that possible here in the US?), referring to LampaGJ’s tweet: Abandoned Southwest Airlines cheerleadering #beyondbbqs panel for “how not to be a douchebag at sxsw.” But it is effective, cause SWA does have enthusiastic and driven employees, who get rewarded for their efforts and dedication. The core of the culture: ‘A Servant Heart, a Warrior Spirit and a Fun-Luving Attitude’, combined with an Employees Recognition Program. And it seems to work. Not even for the people of SWA, but this dedication seems to also affect their passengers, referring to SWA’a blog, their Facebook page (over 720,000 fans) and their Twitter account (more than 1 million followers). Still, things can go wrong, as it did with Kevin Smith (click here for full story). SWA made an attempt to acknowledge mistakes and be transparent about their policies (here and here), but the event backfired and cost them a number of customers in addition to a lot of negative publicity.

Funny enough, only now SWA is starting to implement Social Media for their internal communications. Very soon they will launch swalife, an internal blog for employees. While many of these employees are already active with the external tools. And surprisingly, without any ‘corporate guidelines’.  “Why hide if people had a bad day at work? Because that still happens at Southwest Airlines”, aldus Mallory.

We had a short interview with Mallory after her talk where she elaborates further on the corporate culture at SWA.

SXSW 2010: Congress of congresses

24 Hours and 3 flights later we’ve arrived in Austin, Texas. Where the tempereature has a comfortable 25 centigrades (77 F), the streets continously smell like BBQ with the sounds of countryrock. Austin, home to 50.000 students, center of modern technology and host of one of the largest events of music, film and interactive media: South by Southwest. An event like no other: with more than 10,000 participants larger than ever. We will make various video-reports in co-operation with Marketingfacts (one of the largest online marketingblogs in The Netherlands) covering SXSW interactive. Check our intro-video (but beware, it’s in Dutch):

SXSW is truly a huge festival: as said above, 10,000 participants atending over 350 sessions with more than 1,250 speakers. And don’t forget the numurous parties at night. Downside of this size of an event is that it’s hard to pick your session. Or a party. It’s almost too much! And you would love to be everywhere. Then again, it’s thrilling to be here. We hope to bring a bit of that feeling to you.

Up next is an interview (don’t worry, it’s in English) with Mallory Messina of Southwest Airlines about the future of Corporate Culture. Stay tuned.

Twitter + Video Broadcasting = TwitCasting

“Late last year, Ustream and qik launched iPhone applications that let you stream videos from the iPhone to the web and allow others to watch them as they’re being recorded. And now there is an iPhone app called TwitCasting Live (iTunes link), which offers the same basic functionality, but is – as the name suggests – much more deeply integrated into Twitter”, writes Serkan Toto in an article on MobileCrunch.

“When the recording begins, you can automatically tweet out a specific URL for the broadcast (“I’m live on Twitcasting!”) to your followers who just need to hit the link to watch the live stream on the web or even on their iPhones (iPhone users won’t hear sound though). The app comes in especially handy during events, for example. After the broadcast, you can choose to save and archive the recording on the TwitCasting website.”

Original article here.


Sure, it’s hard work during these congresses. All that information you have to sponge, notes to take, tweets to make. Fortunately there’s also time to relax and have a good time after the day program. Now, the only problem is: where to go?

South by Southwest Partylist:

  • Nokia Party Posse
  • Mix at Six
  • Tocquigny
  • TechSet Party
  • Pastries and Pasties
  • Film Opening Hosted by KICK ASS
  • Mobile Social
  • Survey Gizmo
  • Small Business Big Party!
  • Dorkbot
  • Mozilla Happy Hour (1st 250 only)
  • Razorfish happy hour
  • Spiderwood Studios
  • IA Opening by Frog Design
  • Shutterstock Snappy Hour
  • AMODA Digital Showcase
  • Happy Cog’aoke 2
  • Kodak Brunch
  • Adobe Brunch
  • Block Party
  • Canaan Venture Party
  • Web Awards Pre-Party
  • Florida Fish Fry
  • The Popbox Party: Play Nice
  • FrayCafe 10
  • Microsoft TECH party
  • Barbarian Group
  • PBS Party
  • Mashable
  • Man on a Mission Party
  • MIMA Karaoke
  • Nuclear Taco
  • Beer Camp
  • Microsoft
  • Rackspace
  • TECHKaraoke
  • Geeky Beach Party
  • DANCE WITH THE ONE Premiere Party
  • Gowalla
  • NOLA
  • Chronicle Film Bash
  • Hip Hop Social: The Platinum Life
  • Convio
  • Brit Bash
  • Film Awards Reception
  • Couch Professor Entertainment
  • IA Closing
  • Film Closing/Music Opening Party
  • Billboard
  • Canadian Blast BBQ
  • SonyMusic
  • Canada House
  • Fontana
  • GHS Unwound
  • Gibson Guitar
  • Louisiana
  • Wunderbar
  • Sax, Clogs & Rock-n-Rol
  • Block Party
  • Sounds form Spain
  • New Zealand
  • Full Irish Breakfast
  • Sonicbids
  • D’addario
  • Music Stimulus
  • Make Waves not War
  • Bootleg BBQ
  • Mpress Records
  • Aussie BBQ
  • Hague

Enterprise 2.0 – Not if, but when do you start?

“My products have hashtags”, as Ramon de Leon -the brilliant pizza baker from Domino’s Pizza indicated. Ramon was the true rock star who shook up the congress “Enterprise 2.0 – RIP or ROI” in Amsterdam on January 27 and 28. But there were more oneliners on this congress we attended:

“Know what ROI means? Return on Ignoring”,
“You’re best Social Media tool is as good as the person sitting behind the keyboard”,
“I have a click-and-kill behavior against newsletters per email”,
“To whisper works better in social media than to shout”,
“Let people love you, that’s all you gotta do”,
but the best remains: “My products have hashtags.”

With an audience of about 50 people and on stage quiet a few remarkable names (i.e. Google, Vodafone, Philips, Airbus, SWIFT, SAP, Lego, Nokia, Kodak, Roger Smith Hotel). A small but intimate setting with a promising program. And they delivered the promise. The intention of this event wat to give insight in new and innovative strategies for better performance within the organization by using social media engagement.These strategies, not only focussed on the external customer or as part of the promotion of product, but also for communication internally.

Vodafone kicked off with a presentation by Eva Buschkrei (VP Entertainment, Communications and E-Commerce) about the social media campaign around their new service Vodafone 360. At the introduction Vodafone first aimed for users via Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, causing the initiation of the conversation. “It’s more about the people, than about the products”, said Eva, embracing the importance of Word of Mouth for Vodafone.

Mobile is going to play an increasing role, as Eva indicated. Georges Edouard Dias (L’Oreal) adds later: “If you don’t use mobile, then you’re an idiot! Use mobile in your brand conversations and you’ll find the way to the heart of the customer. It’s as close as you can get!”. Vodafone still has no clue about how to measure the ROI of Social Media (wow, where did we hear that before?) and has thus introduced Social Media Currency. Five questions which should offer immediate answers on why you are recommended by other people:

  • Social Authority – who is talking about you?
  • Social Conversations – with whom do they talk about you?
  • Social Sentiment – how do they talk about you?
  • Social Network Valuation – positive versus negative?
  • Social Conversation and Referral – how can you benefit from that?

In my view this provides a rather good insight into ROI, especially if your goal is to bring your product or service under a broad attention.

Return on Investment. Each and every congress it’s a topic. And never somebody was able to answer the ultimate question satisfactory.ROI is difficult, especially for communication-activities. “What you really shouldn’t do is looking at the number of HITS”, said Matteo Rizzi from SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication). “HITS means ‘How Idiots Track Success'”. For SWIFT the use of Social Media is more aimed at reducing costs than to increase revenues. The value is also much more in teh ‘intangible benefits’ and much less in the ‘tangible’. Last year SWIFT has introduced their platform for innovative collaboration, Innotribe. Innotribe makes use of the power of the community by bringing together customers, vendors and partners to share knowledge and ideas. Innotribe makes this possible by facilitating in crowd-sourcing, mash-ups and cloud computing. “It made the dinosaur move”, according to Matteo. As we speak Innotribe has 1,712 members. That doesn’t seem a lot but in this industry it’s certainly an indication that there is a need for collaboration. It has also resulted in the development of Mindtagger, a nonpublic concept, by which people with the right expertise connected through tags.

Kees Mulder prefers to speak about Return On Ignoring. He hints to the more than 1 billion active users on social networks which an not be ignored anymore. Kodak, almost had to shut down themselves (revenues in traditional photofilm from $15 billion to $300 million in 10 years!) just realized the changes on time. They appointed a ‘Chief Listener’ which had the task to listen to what was said about Kodak online, as a kind of airtraffic controller. Based on that, ways were sought do profile the new Kodak – especially through these new media. An example of this was the ‘eyecamera’ which created a lot of buzz – not in the last place because it was an April’s Fool-joke. “It’s all about the 4 Social Media E’s: Engage, Educate, Excite and Evangelize. Key here is to use OPM; Other People’s Money. That has saved Kodak from a certain death and since then the brand went through quiet a shift.

Co-creation Classic
Lego already understood end of last century how important it sis to listen to your customers. In 1998 one of the robots of the just launched Midstorms was hacked by a few students from Standford University, to ‘improve the product’, sort to speak. Lego had two choices; sue or listen. They chose the latter. “We knew we owned the trademark, but we realized that we didn’t own the brand. Our customers do”, said Tormid Askilsen who was working for the company around that time. Lego realised that there are many users feeling connected to the brand which are more than willing to help designing new stuff. The essence of Lego is: ‘being able to express something that I see in my head so that other people can see it.’ The story of Lego obviously is well-known, but still nice to hear from first hand.

Phillips is still struggling to implement social media in their marketing activities. Hugo Raaijmakers and Marco Roncaglio gave a surprisingly smooth presentation about the development of a Social Media strategy within Philips. The current initiatives such as for example Facebook are too fragmented, too much ad hoc and inconsistent to be effective. Especially if you compare it with competitor Samsung. Besides that, there are no guidelines and there’s not team directly responsible for Social Media. Time for a strategic plan, Hub & Spoke, which is strongly based on Forrester’s POST method. Philips has chosen for a combination of ‘bottom-up support’ and a ‘top-down steering’. This means that local social media activities are being stimulated but streamlined through guidelines and at the same time creating awareness at senior management level. Especially the latter is important because without this support each social media activity is doomed to fail. What was surprising however was that Philips only focussed on social media for external activities and not at all for internal usage (they later wrote us an e-mail explaining that they do have internal activities)

First internally, then externally
Not starting internally is a missed chance according to us, because a company devoted to external use only may oversee crucial parts or -even worse- damage itself severely. Next to that, in many organizations little attention is given to the communication with the internal customer, the employee. Especially when compared to external communication. An interactive platform for internal communication is a win-win:one gets experience with social media and improves internal communication.
“If you don’t have an Internal Communications Department, start one tomorrow”, said Sean MacNives van SAP. Sean has followed this principle, with success. Within a year SAP developed a strategy and a social media platform which is used intensively by the employees. Guidelines were desgned and adapted according to the dynamics of the platform. In this case a lot of experience is gained which can be utilized externally as well. “When you start Social Media internal before external you’re as authentic and real as possible.”

The mouse that roared
That there’s no need being a multinational to be successful with Social Media proved Adam Wallace from the Roger Smith Hotel. This hotel based in New York used to be small and unknown. But now it has grown to a hotel with true fans which make the Waldorf and The Four Seasons look at it with envies eyes. How did they achieved that? By being open and transparent showing people what’s happening around the hotel. By being active on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube. By speaking to potential customers directly. Because they will start talking about you, such as Chris Brogan and iJustine. No smushbags in the Social Media space. “The biggest ROI is to look back and look at everything as if we were the customer”, said Adam Wallace, head New Media Marketing. Also the employees of the hotel play an important role. “The people that provide our service are the ones creating our brand, not me”, outlining the authenticity of the Roger Smith Hotel.

A congress needs to end with a big bang. Something sticky, something impressive. More often than not this doesn’t happen, and many congresses fade away in the darkness of our day to day business. Intentionally planned or not, Ramon DeLeon was that big bang. Franchise entrepeneur from Domino’s Pizza in downtown Chicago knew how to turn

the audience upside-down. With a overwhelming presentation he showed the audience how he, as an owner of 6 pizza shops, knows how to deal with Social Media. Just before his presentation he placed this on his Facebook wall:

“AWESOME Pizza Deal!! To the 1st person who responds to this status update, how ever many minutes it took you to answer “ME”, that is the price you pay for Two Large Pizzas with anything on it plus any Two Side Items (my stores only).”

Within two minutes people responded. Nice deal for $2. This is Ramon. Ramon ‘gets it’. “We need customers to tell a friend about us. We want to wow our customers”. And the proof is in eating the pizza ..eehh.. pudding. When a rather distasteful video is placed on YouTube by two (now former) employees of Domino’s negative publicity takes over.Everywhere in the US Domino’s sees revenues falling. Except in downtown Chicago. On teh contrary, more pizzas were sold! “That doesn’t happen at Ramon’s”, said his fans, and continue eating truckloads of pizzas. What is his secret? “Passion”, Ramon told us afterwards, “passion and love for my customers. I don’t have to promote my pizzas. I make contact with my customers and they will find out I make pizzas”.

After two days it’s clear to us. For companies it’s not the question if, but when are they going to start with Social Media. Start with a sound strategic plan, convince management and start internally to gain experience. Then go play outside. Doing so might provide yet another advantage: loyalty from young employees. This is the way they communicate, and providing these possibilities for them might become important in a time where switching jobs is getting easy again. Because after we crawl out of the misery called Recession and after all those babyboomers are spending their hard-earned money on their retirement activities, who’s gonna work, still?

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