As some of you know by now, I am leaving Switzerland after three years and moving back to my original stomping ground in the NYC area. Noo Joyzee to be precise :) I’ll also be leaving my position as Social Media Strategist for Autodesk in the process.
There are several reasons for this. Not the least of which is a woman who understandably got tired of riding the Newark/Geneva/Newark pond shuttle every couple of months. I hope United stock doesn’t tank on this news :)
The other reason is a NYC company called Sprinklr. Sprinklr is a Social Media Management System (SMMS) vendor. And as they shepherd a community of enterprise social media practitioners, I gladly participated in the recent version of their Social@Scale best practices eBook.
I first met Sprinklr early last year in the context of an evaluation pilot my social service team was driving. I could tell you a bunch of stories about their efficiency, straight-talking, and relentless 24/7 support. I could go on about Sprinklr features, usability, metrics, and all the usual jazz. Yeah, they had all that. Most vendors in this category have a pretty extensive set of social bells and whistles.
But what really made a difference for me were two things. One, during a crisis point early on, their CEO Ragy Thomas got personally involved and gave me his private cell number to use anytime I needed. Then calmly, he made us a promise. And his team went out of their way to deliver on it, and on time. I don’t know too many CEOs who do this kind of stuff except this one of course :)
Second, Sprinklr listened to us from day one. I know this sounds like a “duh” moment, but it’s amazing how many vendors actually don’t. Many places talk up a lot of “partnership” benefits. But if you don’t listen well, and act on what you learn, you can’t become a true partner. And what I was looking for went beyond a feature-loaded tool. I was seeking a social media partner to evolve and grow with. Someone we could rely on. You help me out, we’ll help you out.
Because a really effective social-enablement partner in this business must have the right technology and features, the right listening culture, and the right vision for being - not just doing - social at enterprise scale. And in my book, Sprinklr has the magic three.
There’s a real proliferation of social platform vendors in the market right now. Picking and choosing is almost more art than science. And part gamble. Talking with peers on a regular basis, our community is almost always abuzz with asks and recommendations for the “right” social platform.
Confusion, uncertainty, and doubt are frequent. What works for one industry doesn’t necessarily work for another. Social channels proliferate then evolve and change almost weekly. Vendors get bought or taken out. What’s a social practitioner to do? Me, I tend to focus on the following things.
Adaptability: how quickly can a vendor handle change? Add features? Add channels? Languages? BRIC support? The next social channel API?
Versatility: Can the platform serve multiple corporate groups or is it geared towards a specific domain - like Marketing or Support? Can it listen, engage, and publish? At the same time? Will the platform help “glue” the business? A platform should drive internal unification and cooperation. And remain cost-effective. It’s what I call the “one umbrella” principle.
Ease of use: how long does it take to onboard the platform? Is flying it rocket science or can anyone drive? How intuitive is it? How fun is it to use? How customizable is the user interface? Is the design intuitive?
Performance: Velocity is key for social engagement. A slow or unreliable social platform is not useful.
Metrics: How customizable are they? And does the platform create the “illusion of simplicity” when it comes to generating and interpreting metrics for multiple business divisions?
Scale: Can the platform absorb massive growth in both traffic and internal users without a hitch? And within budget?
Failover: What’s the strategy - and technical implementation - for catastrophic fail over? Are real-time global network statuses reported?
Support: does the vendor provide 24/7 support? How quick are reaction and resolution times? Is support provided over social channels? - You’d be surprised :)
Over months of working with Sprinklr to fine-tune and tweak the product for our needs - both generic and specific - how many times did I think to myself, “Man, if I were building this thing, I’d sure love to have this and that feature. This or that capability. How cool would it be if…How unique if we could do this…Why didn’t anyone else ever think of that?” — Well now as Director of Product Management for Sprinklr, I’ll get to influence the product’s growth and evolution.
And short of going out and starting my own company to roll out what I consider a “perfect” social media management platform - the product I wanted to have! - this is about as good as it gets! :)
And that’s why helping a company like Sprinklr build the ultimate Social@Scale product for my peers and friends in the industry was an opportunity I couldn’t pass by.
Helping really large companies stay social my friends. And making a ding in the universe. That’s where it’s at! :)
I almost fell off my chair when reading this a few hours ago. I know, I know, but I get excited about this stuff!
I don’t know if it’s just a “gimmick” as a “retail expert” claims here, but to me it’s brilliant. This whole concept of automating robotic tasks - like taking orders, handling payments, or providing customer service (hint, hint) - is close to my heart for two reasons: scalability, and ROI.
On the customer service side, I’m convinced there is real ROI in what I call social bot services. Case in point would be this Twitter bot account run by Virgin Atlantic. It launched in 2011. You tweet your flight number and departure information at it, and within seconds it spits back flight status information! Look ma, no hands!
A long while ago, I suggested we do this at Autodesk. Why? Because in most large organizations, significant percentages of service requests are very “mechanical” ones — therefore “automatable” via software using web services.
And web services can of course be front-ended by social channels like Twitter via API. Or something like ifttt until recently when Twitter cut off their oxygen (I wept on that day).
Similarly, a large proportion of requests are repetitive “always the same answer” kind of requests. The same requests you get all the time, year-round. The same questions the same people respond to the same exact way time and time again. Business service questions (not tech support obviously) as in product keys, supported operating systems, or asset entitlements.
Not only is this mechanism relatively cheap to implement (design and development costs), but it’s also inherently scalable. Added bonus: it generates tons of precious 1:N content benefiting many people at the same time.
This all means you can offload a good proportion of all these “daily grind” questions to your Twitter bot. And have your CSRs focus on other more important things. You might even give your service bot a hip tone and voice!
Why every large company with a social presence doesn’t invest a little time and effort in setting these up escapes me.
I’m sure there are other automated service bots like Virgin’s out there but I’ve never found one. Then again, it’s Richard :)
But hey, if you know of another, please share the love. In the meantime, do remember to fasten your seat belts and stay social my friends :)
Influence is a hotly-debated topic in my line of work. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately watching our Advocacy program unfold at Autodesk. It’s one of the most fascinating subjects in the industry. Unfortunately, as evidenced in reports like this, it would appear not too many people truly grasp what social influence is about.
I don’t claim to have any more brilliant social reputation insight than someone like Brian Solis, to say the least. But I do believe that in this case, once again, we tend to over-complicate things. That happens a lot in our industry :)
Influencers in real-life communities have certain traits, namely they are:
- known and respected in the community
- good communicators
- prolific value content producers
Applying these to social media, you’ll be looking at followership, reach, and virality (RTs, comments, shares etc.). Then publishing frequencies, and content quality/relevance. Finally, evidence of being a “mensch”, and living and breathing one’s domain of expertise. All of which can be measured digitally.
Several times in past years, I had to quickly pinpoint influencers in different industries. And every time I started with blogs. Influencers always have blogs. Generally, their blogs reference other influencers’ blogs. Short of that, a simple technique is to simply ask them who their peers are! Influencers always boost their peers.
Some influencers specialize in a given media. For example, forums rather than Twitter of Facebook. It’s a mistake to assume influencers are present on every channel known to man. Some are. Some aren’t.
Influencers always communicate quickly. They answer emails and tweets in near real time. They never bill themselves as “experts” either. They tend to be very humble.
Influencers love to help others. They prefer giving over receiving. And I’ve never met one without a good sense of humor. They tend to be prolific writers. They comment on other people’s content. Their community participation is orders of magnitude above others in terms of monthly activity. This directly correlates with passion.
Their influence is not based on always being right, or smarter, or more “Liked” on Facebook than others. It’s based on simple trust. And truth be told, no one can exert influence unless he or she is “loved”. People don’t trust those they don’t like to begin with.
I know “love” is a big mushy word too often thrown around. But what I mean by that is if you were devastated to hear that someone in your industry passed away, then you e-love him. You can count him among your influencers.
So go ahead and use Klout, PeerIndex, Kred, and all these influence gauging tools. Nothing wrong with them. They will give you an idea of someone’s social “juice” for sure. But finding digital influencers is no different than finding them in our daily lives and communities. And then applying the same criteria to their online behavior. You can’t change a leopard’s spots :)
“Eat shit and die” - we’re all familiar with this common place insult. But amazingly enough, it’s what half the world spends its life doing. And the other half? Well they’re busy starving. So what’s my point?
You know me. I’m far from being a tree hugger. I love a noisy V8. I grok mass consumption, and the need to scale food production to feed hundreds of millions at a time. I’m a huge Target and Walmart fan (although convinced these places are more about show business than retail). I love shopping Sam’s Club and Costco.
And I don’t think people should “go back to their roots”, organize in communes, parade around half naked, and start growing carrots for a living. Our “roots” involve fighting saber tooth tigers for a weekly meal. So thank you very much. I’d rather call in for reservations.
That being said, I hate mass chicken “farms”, fast food chains, industrial wines, bio-engineered meats, mercury-loaded fish, and pesticide-washed vegetables and fruit that taste like stale cardboard - cancer included. Just add water. Our mass-produced foods are an aberration of the above. What to do?
Enter New York City-based Farmigo. A startup I’ve been following for a while now. These guys are building a connected social network of consumers (you and me) and food producers (local farmers) meeting at dedicated exchange points (businesses). Right now they only function in selected US major cities. But they’re out to scale this thing globally. By building a social networked community. Sounds funky enough - some would say idealistic - but I’m pretty sure these ex-SAP dudes are on to something pretty significant. Here’s why.
We live in an age of uncertainty and danger - insert doh moment - bobbing in very unstable and choppy seas. And two solid anchors remain: family and land. The only “genuine” staples left. Social media can help connect both.
The strength of the “clan”. And the life-sustaining safety of land. Family, food, and water. Whoever owns, controls, influences, and connects these is assured success and longevity. Not to mention riches. It’s that simple.
It wasn’t possible to pull this off before the age of social. And the Con Agras and Frank Purdues of the world ruled the land. Rightly so. But it’s a different ballgame now.
In 2005, I was telling anyone who’d listen that the future wasn’t in bonds, sub-primes, or other Wall Street hokus pokus of the day. I was preaching about people owning their own chunks of land to farm and then distribute locally. At one point I sought out acres in the Coachella valley, around the Salton Sea, and in Idaho (great wine-growing dirt out there).
Maybe it came from living in the California desert for several years. But I learned something really important back there. Whoever owns the means of food production and water rights rules the world. One day, fresh food, water and rights to it will be more precious than diamonds.
So I’m pretty big on farmers. Some of my best friends are farmers. Farmers are wealthy. Real wealth. Most wouldn’t know it. The guy in the picture above is Arthur Wilson. He owned a bean farm in Yellow Jacket, CO. I spent some of the most precious moments of my childhood on his land. I discovered farming there. And what real food meant and tasted like. I was barely 10 years old. Starry eyed kid from NYC thinking food came from Dagostino’s :)
And I’m pretty jazzed at the concept of connecting these unsung heroes with regular folks. And saving countless colons in the process.