Dear Pepsi: Stop Anointing and Start Listening

29 October, 2008 | | 3 Comments

I don’t really give a rat’s a** what your logo looks like, as long as you don’t change the taste of Diet Pepsi (by the way, I preferred the way it tasted last year, when the cans were light blue. It tastes funny now.) However, I would appreciate it if I could get Diet Pepsi at every fast food joint, restaurant and Movie Theater. My preferred soda is notably absent at AMC Theaters and Chik Fil-A.

It’s clear that you are not asking your customers what they want. If you had asked for MY feedback, instead of rebranding, I would have suggested you focus on improving your distribution.

Stop anointing people as “top 25” influencers. The other hundreds of top influencers are probably peeved that they weren’t chosen in your top 25. Remember that they all got to be “influencers” because, much like entertainers, they seek the approval and attention of the outside world (no offense to anyone, I’m in that category too.) This reminds me of Intel’s stunt with their “insiders” campaign. I’m sure those chosen ones are enjoying their new Macbook Airs. At least Intel used the pretense of asking social media experts for guidance. But YOUR lucky top 25 are getting packages full of old cans and bottles. Where’s the fun in that? I’d rather be an “Intel Insider” than a Pepsi “top 25-er”

Here is my “Pepsi Challenge.” If just ONE Pepsi employee responds to this post, I’ll be thrilled and will tell MY huge following of 200+ Twitterati that Pepsi “gets it.” If not, well then Pepsi will just join my list here on my blog of the companies that DON’T. But yeah, I’ll still drink Diet Pepsi anyway.

snapshot a day in the life of a socialmedialista

27 October, 2008 | | No Comment

Where does the time go? I decided to take a look…

11:32 AM: Check GMAIL and see that Geoff Livingston has sent me an invite to a Web seminar hosted by Network Solutions. Network Solutions? Wow, I guess their Social Media Swami, Shashi Bellamkonda is showing them the way.

11: 34 AM: A friend of mine wrote on my board ” You can get a $500 free Macy’s Shopping Card, really, it works!” Really? Those are always scams, aren’t they? But my friend Jill has a good head on her shoulders. Maybe this time it’s different.

11:45 AM: Have now signed up for some Reputation Monitoring service. OK, wait a minute, I have to sign up for 8 offers, and they all include inputting credit card info. This is a big pain in the butt.

11:50 AM: Britney Spears is on Twitter, I must check out her profile and see what her tweeters are saying.

12:00 PM talk to an old friend who recommends I check out Creative Genius.

What Roswell Taught Me about Social media

27 October, 2008 | | 3 Comments

As we walked through the Best Western in Roswell, I noticed that people sat in their rooms with their doors wide open. I thought, “Are they waiting for a pizza delivery? Why else would they just leave their doors open?” My husband, said “They are waiting for their friends to stop by.” I have never seen people do that. It turned out that the reason for the crowds was the Eastern New Mexico State Fair. I begged my husband to take me to the fair. He did not understand the fascination, but he indulged me.

I saw pretty much everything you’d expect to see at a state fair, but since I’d never been to one, the whole experience was pretty exciting for me.I saw a bunch of shorn sheep who were mournfully saying “baaaa.” I got to pet a cow, who tried to eat my belt. I was thinking I could put this image on some Moo cards…

I saw a New Mexican delicacy called “Frito Pie.”

Every time I visit this small town , I am struck by the friendliness and openness of the people. You sense it everywhere you go, just listening to conversations. People spend more time actually talking to each other. My father-in-law was an extraordinary man, and it seemed like half the town came to his funeral. Most of us don’t experience this type of strong family and community. Especially those of us who grew up in urban and suburban settings or come from fragmented families.

Human beings are social animals. We run in packs, like dogs (which is probably why we like them so much.) It’s that craving for human contact that compels me to get sucked into Facebook for hours, just to find out what acquaintances ate for dinner last night, or to dwell on random twitter posts and blogs. But I don’t consider social media a substitute for a “real” social life, probably because most of my friends are not “users.” They are starting to catch on, though, and when they do, the applications will become even more relevant to my life.

Steal This Social Media Plan!

21 October, 2008 | | No Comment

I recently put together a Social Media Program plan for 2009. My hope was to expand our existing blog program into a larger entity that would coordinate and oversee the social media efforts of our disparate business units. There is a need for proper processes and policies, and especially for education around the “dos and dont’s” of social media. I caught wind of some rogue marketers who plan to spam the blogosphere with their messages. I quickly pinged Amy Paquette of Cisco, who has been a great source of knowledge and advice. She advised that training and education should be a primary focus of any social media program. Well, here is my proposed plan. I’m not sure how well it has served my purposes, so I encourage everyone else to see if there is any value in it for them. Then at least I won’t feel like I have wasted my time.

Social Network Analysis: The Power of Informal Networks

9 September, 2008 | | 2 Comments

I attended the “Network Roundtable” conference here in Virginia.

Social Network Analysis (“SNA”), also known as Organizational Analysis “ONA” is an established field with many professionals who make their living doing this (who knew?) It was not a large conference but people came from across the country and around the globe to attend. This was an introduction to the concepts for me but I found it very interesting, as sort of the “real-world basis” for online Social Media. It provides the foundation and background I have been seeking for why Social Media is so compelling…because it’s based in basic human interactions.

Rob Cross is a professor of management at UVA. He is an excellent presenter with a great sense of humor and great energy. Everyone laughed when he described how the more scientific approach to Organizational Network Analysis can (and should) replace the “kumbaya off-sites with executives falling into each other’s arms.”

The conference offered a very academic approach. The goal is to diagnose issues within an organization, and the tactics are through surveys and interviews. What you usually see is a diagram that looks like a constellation, identifying the connections and relationships between individuals. You can see which individuals are highly connected or integrated, as well as those that are on the periphery.

SNA can be useful for onboarding new employees, as well as helping existing employees with their transitions. It can be used to identify “bottlenecks” such as an executive who does not have the time to approve all the requests that come their way. It helps with Operational efficiency. For me, the most compelling use of it is to find out who in your organization is most connected, and is adding value by acting as a “bridge” between disparate groups. Once these valuable people are identified, they can be rewarded / motivated to stay with the company. It is fairly scientific in that it is based on data gathering and I saw a lot of these types of “constellation” charts.

There were a lot of case studies presented, including Microsoft, 3M, IBM and Raytheon. But I’m still somehow at a loss for how this methodology might be applied to my own company. Maybe that is because I’m still new to the concepts, and I have no background in Organizational Development or HR. One strong message that was communicated is “forget about the tools.” That’s funny because I ended up at the conference because I was brought into an evaluation of Internal Collaboration Software because of my expertise in Social Media. I became involved in the issue of building internal community.

One favorite presentation was Larry Prusak, who drew upon historical and economic principles to make his point about the importance of knowledge and networks. He insists that online social networks can never replace those in the “real world.” I think that the next generation of Internet users will prove him wrong!

Personally I really appreciated Ted Smith, a marketing guy who pointed out that marketing and PR pros tend to focus only on those individuals who are “Most connected” (e.g., the uber bloggers / influencers) while in fact, there are more individuals who are PRETTY well connected, and they appreciate the same messages as the “ultra connected” folks. I asked him to send me some more concrete examples.

I also really enjoyed the presentation by Margaret Schweer, who referenced a lot of the Web 2.0 technologies, and explained what ONA is REALLY good for. She provided a good summary of how HR might be able to use these techniques.

On the first day of the conference, Peter Gloor left everyone buzzing when he showed us how analysis of online info (blogs and online forums) can predict the real world interactions, including stock prices!

Grady Bryant has given me a copy of Rob Cross’ book: “The Hidden Power of Social Networks: Understanding how Work Really Gets Done in Organizations” so now I’ll be able to brush up on some of the ideas that are new to me.

Tac Anderson: Measuring ROI, B-to-B Marketing, and the Role of the Strategist

19 August, 2008 | | No Comment

(Second of a two-part article).

Tac Anderson is a the Web 2.0 Strategic lead for HP’s Imaging and Printing group. We met through some Gia Lyons Twitter matchmaking.

We discussed a wide variety of topics, including the types of campaigns that HP has run. One successful campaign sponsored by HP was Project Direct, a contest on YouTube for aspiring directors to upload their movies. The subtle HP branding points users to HP Creative Studio, which allows users to create their own stickers and posters, in keeping with the “self expression” theme. I did not ask Tac what kind of metrics they used to measure the success of that campaign, but he did share some of his guidelines for measuring the ROI of a campaign.

Measuring the ROI of a Campaign

“Let’s face it: there are not many best practices for Social Media and very few benchmarks. We all need to be open to learning as we go.”
— Tac Anderson

Tac likes to experiment, interact with people and see where it goes. So far he has been pleasantly surprised by the response rates. One successful tactic he mentioned was to sponsor a prominent blog, by working with Federated Media. Here are Tac’s guiding principles for measuring the ROI of a campaign:
Determine the GOAL of the initiative. Tac repeatedly said how important it is to agree VERY early on on the purpose of the campaign, and to get buy-off on the stated goals. (He spoke with the conviction of someone who has been burned by this before.)

Once you’ve settled on your goal, stick with it and don’t waiver. For example, if a campaign’s stated and agreed-upon goal is to raise awareness, don’t allow it to be judged later on by its ability to generate leads.

Once you’ve agreed on the purpose of the campaign, and the desired outcome, you can figure out what you want to measure. For example, let’s say the goal of your campaign is to raise awareness.

“How do we measure awareness? Are we going to measure online share of voice? Count hits? How about the level of engagement? What does ‘engagement’ mean to you? Comments? Links? Mentions? Pick a metric to use and then stick with it”

Tips for B-to-B Marketers
Tac said it’s important to remind people that marketing (whether it’s “b-to-b” or “b-to-c”) is driven by consumer examples.

1. Figure out what you are trying to say and then figure out what your target audience cares about Ask yourself honestly “Does this makes sense?” Do your homework. Don’t get distracted by the latest “shiny object,” which may not be the right medium for your message. A basic blog might serve your needs fine.

2. Do research on your audience: how do they like to get their information. Is it e-mail? Do they read blogs? Use Facebook? Watch video on YouTube? Feed them the information in their preferred format.

3. Conduct Yourself Appropriately, whether you host the community or join someone else’s:

“You can choose to host your own party — even be exclusive with your invite list. But if you decide to join someone ELSE’S party, be polite. Don’t get drunk and out of line.

4. Don’t think like a big Corporation. Even if you have a big budget, don’t be afraid to leverage the free social media tools like Yahoo Pipes and Feedburner.

And of course we talked about our own jobs. This is a topic that I also discussed with Kelly Feller and Jeff Moriarty of Intel:

The Role of the Social Media Strategist:

Education: For many of your colleagues, you may be their only resource into the world of social meda. Post questions and case studies internally — and translate that information into actionable intelligence for project managers and product managers.

Internal consulting: serve as a resource for people so they can come and ask specific questions.

Be the Periscope: Feed ideas to people, and keep them informed on what is happening in the world of Social Media. (e.g., “Company ‘x’ did this, here is what happened and how they responded.)

Thanks again to Tac for all of your time. You are one cool dude. I hope we get a chance to chat again soon!

Company Culture at HP creates an Integrated Social Media Program

8 August, 2008 | | 5 Comments

Part one of an “interview” with HP’s Tac Anderson

Tac Anderson is a the Web 2.0 Strategic lead for HP’s Imaging and Printing group. HP is one of the brands that I benchmarked for blogging best practices in 2005, so I was curious to find out what they are doing today with social media. Tac has been a student of social media since back in the 90s when we used to call this stuff “Community.” He truly loves his work, saying:

If I wasn’t getting paid to do this, I’d be getting in trouble for doing it too much at work.
– Tac Anderson

Does HP have the Three “Success Indicators” For Social Media?
As I have previously blogged, there are three factors that are present in Enterprise Companies that are successful in the use of social media:
1. A top-down driven approach
2. A robust internal community
3. A company culture that encourages openness and trust.

At HP the hierarchy is flat, with small, empowered work teams and managers who control their own budget. There are 3 business units, Tac works in Imaging and Printing (IPG). Tac’s BU is advanced in their use use of social media, mostly because their executive Vice President was a key driver of Web 2.0 technologies inside HP. So, just like we saw at Cisco, Intel and SAP, there was a top-down driven approach at HP

Tac described a strong internal community at HP, with hundreds of blogs, and an Internal Wiki called “Pligg” (like “Digg.) There are many more social media tools used internally than externally.

The motivated, empowered workforce at HP creates a culture that is conducive to embracing social media. The business units are independent of each other; there is no Corporate Social Media Team. There is a lot of social-media-related activity at HP, but it’s more about integrating Social Media into existing Corporate Communications or product launches.

A Comparison to Dell’s Unified Corporate Approach
It’s critical to understand this company culture if you want to understand HP’s approach to Social Media. It’s different than — for example — Dell, which has a unified approach to marketing and social media. (All the Tweeters use “@Dell” as part of their name.) But let’s remember that at Dell, someone wrote a blank check to get the company out of “Dell Hell.” And Comcast, now the darling of every Social Media presentation, had to do something to erase the memory of the technician sleeping on the couch, didn’t they? Does it really take a major Brand Disaster to get Enterprise companies on the Social Media bandwagon?

How Did Social Media at HP Evolve?
HP’s social media program was originally driven out of marketing, and began with a handful of corporate blogs. HP Communities
Seems to be the “official” HP Community, complete with employee-contributed video that you can vote on, podcasts, a link to the idea lab and to the “Wet Paint” wiki, which is a community for members to show off their creativity. And 50 “official” corporate blogs.

Then there are 60 HP “Employee Business Blogs” that are hosted on HP Platform, written by various business groups. A few executives even have their personal blogs. The number of blogs is growing weekly, recently they launched their first foreign language blog.

But the real jaw dropper is that there are links off to the employee’s PERSONAL blogs. I love this! My legal team would keel over if we tried to do this. But HP’s Legal team was apparently satisfied with the following disclaimer.

How Does HP Mitigate the Risks of Blogging?
1. The HP Blogging Code of Conduct is posted front and center on the Community site.
2. HP has an organization called the “Core Community Council” that reviews blog applications and approves them. But they don’t follow up or monitor the bloggers in any way.
3. Legal advises bloggers on how to protect themselves from risk, but unless it’s an obvious violation, they don’t interfere.

So, in other words, employees are trusted to not act like idiots. As Tac puts it:

“We hire the right people and we let them do their job”
— Tac Anderson

Nicely done, HP. Your unique company culture seems to work pretty well.

Thou Shalt Blog and Tweet and Google Thyself

3 August, 2008 | | 5 Comments

And the Lord of Social Media said “Go forth and blog and tweet and link to others, and ye shall rise from certain obscurity.” And I did. And it was good.

I’ve been googling myself for eight years with very little satisfaction. I never ranked above the fourth or fifth page in Google. In fact, if any old friends tried to Google me, they probably thought that I ended up as a motivational speaker.

I don’t run marathons or do anything newsworthy. The other Karen Snyders have outshone me in every way: I get their email, I’m given their prescription glasses, my address is never the first one listed at the pharmacy and the local health club.


“What has changed?” you might ask. Well, I started this blog a couple of months ago. That bumped me up a bit (maybe page three?) But then, my Twitter friend Jeff Moriarty from Intel linked to my blog from his.

And lo, and behold, when you search on “Karen Snyder” it is I who appear on the first page of Google Results. If I wasn’t a believer before in the power of social media, I am now.

Cardio or Weight Training? Social Media is a Lot of Hard Work…

26 July, 2008 | | 2 Comments

After meeting with other Social Media professionals at Cisco, Intel and SAP, I have noticed three distinct characteristics that appear to contribute to the success of Social Media programs:

1. Social Media Initiatives came from “the Top:”
At Cisco, John Chambers’ blog post about the iPhone lawsuit set off an avalanche of external blogging. At SAP, the CMO requested a social media strategy.

2. Internal Community Helps: Both Cisco and Intel have a robust internal community that allows potential bloggers to try out the medium and find their voice.

3. Company Culture:
Cisco and Intel (especially Intel) both have an internal environment that is receptive to social media. Here is what I wrote about their cultures: “Social Media at Intel” and “The Evolution of Social Media at Cisco.

I just spent a week at our corporate headquarters where I met with execs who are supportive of social media initiatives for our company. As I think about how we should move forward, I am working with a PR agency that specializes in Social Media. They have lots of good ideas for me. But I still have a lot of work to do on my own…

As I vividly recollect how hard it was to drag my butt in to the gym this morning, this analogy of Social Media to personal training by Jim Durbin reminds me that we still have a lot of “heavy lifting” to do internally — and the agency can’t do these things for us:

Paying Sven to do your workout for you isn’t going to help you, it’s only going to enrich Sven. And for far too many of us, purchasing a 3 year membership at the 24 Hour Fitness of Social Media hotspot is a subsitute for actually exercising.

So, while our agency (a.k.a “Sven”) can help with some efforts (like monitoring the blogosphere), we have to continue to lay the groundwork of a social media program. I still need to persuade legal to open up the blog program, and update our policies so that employees won’t feel scared to start a blog. And finally, there are our marketing folks, whose favorite phrase is “viral video.” : – )

Am I a Social Media Martyr?

14 July, 2008 | | No Comment

I am determined to show my company “the light.” I believe that it’s in our best interest to plan and strategize around a social media program. How do I balance that with needing a “quick win” to gain executive support of our program? Something that justifies my job title?

I met Steve Mann of SAP thanks to Gia Lyons. We scheduled a call (all using direct messaging on Twitter, it was cool). I was expecting to converse on the usual topics, like how many blogs SAP has, or the struggle to get legal on board.

Instead what I got was a revelation. Steve described the process he went through to set in motion a long-term Social Media strategy for SAP. He was asked “Why do we need a Social Media Program?” One big reason “There are already pockets of activity throughout the company, potentially incompatible technologies, cost to standardize.”

It’s time to stop looking for quick wins that “show the value of social media.” It’s time to take ownership and build a strategy for company for the long term (even if that’s only a year.) If I don’t act now to satisfy the needs of our stakeholders, the more advanced folks will move on and find their own resources. A year from now we’ll have a variety of tools and platforms that may be incompatible. I need to do research around what each stakeholder can benefit from social media. And that’s not just marketing and external communications, social media can add value for other stakeholders as well.

Here are the departments that could benefit from Social Media:

  • Customer Support
  • Internal Community
  • Product Innovation / Research Community
  • Human Resources / Recruiting
  • I think that Jeff Moriarty missed a title in his list of social media titles:
    The “Social Media Martyr: s/he who sacrifices job security for the greater good of the company.” : )