For a panel discussion at the quarterly Silicon Valley Enterprise Social Media Council this June, I received the following request:

“Identify some of the major problems that you face as a leader of social media within your organization. I thought it’d be great for each of us to email our top 5 problems to see if there are consistent issues across our teams. It’s OK if you don’t have all of the solutions, that’s why we come together, right? Be honest!” (thanks, Alex Plant from NetApp :-))

After some thought, and reading what some of my peers had already listed, I sent the following response:

  • Myth #1: Social media is free
  • Myth #2: “2,000 Twitter followers” is a meaningful business goal
  • Myth #3: Social media is global
  • Myth #4: It’s easy to find content for social media
  • Myth #5: Marketing people have integrated social media into their tool kit

I could write a blog on each of these myths but let me give you the short rational behind each one:

Myth #1: Social Media is Free

  • It takes significant resources and time to develop social media objectives, find your target audience/build a community for your target audience, to engage, and measure your impact.
  • You always read that “content is king” in social media and that is true. You need subject matter experts who can write and communicate, as well as social media-ready content.

Read the full post here.



Last month I wrote this post sharing my views on how to achieve success in social media and one of the four key ingredients I had identified was the need to secure executive support.  I then saw this study that examined the social behaviors of the Fortune 100 CMOs. While the overall results did not appear too surprising, with only 15 out of the total 143 CMOs and Chief Communications Officers having active Twitter accounts, some of the companies on the list did surprise me.

I then decided to cross-reference these results with those of a 2009 Altimeter Group study that evaluated the overall ‘social’ score of the world’s top 100 brands, and this confirmed my suspicions.  Besides the fact that 8 of the 20 companies in the Fortune100 CMO study did not appear at all in the Altimeter Group study, the correlation of leadership in social business and whether your CMO is active on Twitter between the remaining 12 is quite low.  The most glaring outlier was Microsoft which ranked fifth (out of 100) in the Altimeter Group study, although their CMO appears to be dead last in the Fortune100 study.

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As a social media professional at SAP, I get many questions from colleagues who are new to social media and would like to add social media to their marketing mix. The learning curve on social media is still steep for most people, and in this blog, I have aggregated the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Many of my consulting engagements start with the sentence “My team wants to have a Twitter handle” or “I need to increase the number of fans for our Facebook page“.

 To that, there is only one answer: “Why”? And ,”Let’s take a step back”.

Before you get engaged in any kind of social media project, please ask yourself the following questions:

 Read the full blog here.

Groupon LinkedIn facebook Twitter RenRenLinkedIn started the latest round of Social Media IPO mania with a now $7.11B valuation, followed quickly by Groupon’s SEC announcement of its intent to raise $750M for their IPO.  2011 is the “Chinese Year of the Bull” with RenRen, Kaixin001, and several other social-media knockoff companies following suit. Twitter’s much anticipated IPO and the recent estimate of Facebook’s IPO to exceed $100B will occupy our attentions for months.  With the addition of several other technology companies (Pandora, Zillow, Avaya), will we be caught up in a buying frenzy or is this ultimately good for the sluggish economy? Will this be the “Great Social Media Bubble” or economic salvation?

Bubble History

First, a quick “bubble” history lesson (and we will keep the complex economic theory to a minimum, thank you).    In general, bubbles occur when high volumes of trade occur at values of an inflated nature.  The bubble rapidly inflates by the high volumes of trade, but is unable to sustain itself and collapses, also known as “boom and bust.” Bubbles are not a newly crafted phenomenon.  The term was coined from the South Sea Bubble in 1720, from the overvaluation and speculation of the South Sea Company. Most of us now know of Tulip Mania from the 1630s, where a single bulb was valued at roughly $37,000.  There has been a major bubble each century, with at least 3 major ones in the 20th century (ending with Dot-Com) and at least one major one (Real Estate) in this new century.  While there is great debate on how to predict bubbles, they – like visiting in-laws – can appear without warning, have damaging long term effects, and have the ability to baffle even rational, intelligent people.

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Are we setting ourselves up for another bubble or is this ultimately good for our economy?  There is little doubt that values of these companies are mathematically inflated, with LinkedIn trading as high as 31-times its annual sales.  Groupon’s intent to raise $750M comes under speculation (read Forrester Research Sucharita Mulpuru’s fantastic article) as the company still can’t reach profitability with its $644M in revenue in Q1.  RenRen was just recently stalled as they were given a Hold rating by underwriters Deutsche Bank, who helped lead their IPO to $14 and are now down to just under $9.  The others will rush to market prior to Facebook’s much anticipated 2012 IPO.

WWRHD: What Would Reid Hoffman Do?

A big piece of this is what do newly printed billionaires do with their money?  If you believe that Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn and now valued around $1.5B) will reinvest his newly minted money back into LinkedIn, new ventures and ultimately back into the economy, you probably fall into Jean-Baptiste Say’s camp, who said that buying power would only increase with more production. Namely, the way out of economic hardship is by reinvestment – that it is irrational to hoard it.  If you think Reid will stockpile his new found gains and wait until economic conditions favor it, you probably fall into John Maynard Keynes’ camp in which saving will ultimately lead to the bubble bursting. Lack of reinvestment – due to a myriad of reasons (unstable economy, for example) – keeps the bubble from sustaining itself and lends to its collapse.

Now what?

With a new CNN poll suggesting that 48% of Americans believe an economic depression – not just a recession – will occur within the next 12 months, do we care? 44% of Americans in that same poll stated that they will NEVER buy stocks again, leaving the decisions up to the remaining 56% of us. What is great about bubble is they are totally unpredictable. What is not unpredictable, is that the economy and how to ultimately handle these future IPOs will be much debated for the 2012 election cycle. Until we figure this out . . . Reid, if you are reading this, I have this great idea for start-up. Call me!

Originally posted on Forbes.com

by Todd Wilms

It is not ironic in that the two business leaders that I most admire and have had the pleasure of working for were great storytellers.  It is also telling that both started out in the entertainment field – one in magic and then later representing “talent,” (he is awash of great dinner time stories about uncomfortable celebrity requests and of meeting some of the nicest people on the planet) and the other was trained in standup (more the how-to-tell-a-great-story type and not the one-liner type).   As I was given a heads-up that Forbes was compiling their Celebrity 100 list again this year, I reviewed their ranked list and found that once I filtered sports stars, teen pop, Charlie Sheen, and supermodels, that most of the remaining influencers were storytellers.  They fell nicely into several categories – Talk-Shows (Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, Ryan Seacrest, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and new comer Chelsea Handler), Movies and TV (James Cameron, Sandra Bullock, Johnny Depp, Steven Spielberg, Tyler Perry,  Michael Bay, George Lucas, etc), Music (Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Jay-Z,) and Comedy (Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey,  George Lopez, and my favorite –  Glenn Beck).  What they all have in common is that they each – in their own way – tell a really great story.  They engage us for that duration of time and transport us someplace else, but always where they want to take us.  That is leadership. Storytelling has taken on greater prominence and is “the new black” for leadership and influence today.

Storytelling filters out the noise

We are deluged with our popular media.  I am writing this on my Virgin Atlantic flight over the middle of the US, connected to in-flight WiFi, on my laptop, listening to my iPod, my blackberry and my Android phone tucked away in my backpack, next to my iPad awaiting to be opened for some Angry Birds or HBO GO streaming  of True Blood. It is too much “on,” all the time.  This is not the first you have heard this.  Great storytelling – through music or comedy or really great acting – helps us cut through that clutter, helps us clarify, and then capture the content.  Someone who can feed us that message and make it entertaining (or at least enjoyable) immediately gets to the top of my playlist.

Storytelling allows us to relate

Really great storytelling helps us connect to the others in the audience and share that experience. We are so often disconnected from the very channels that give us information.  E-mail can be so impersonal. But hearing someone lead you through a message or vision in a meeting or conference call – and us that channel effectively – can allow you to relate to your peers and the audience.  We have all sat through those calls with the monotone voice relating the news of the day or the new corporate objectives.  Now, get someone on those calls that leads us through the vision and helps us see the bigger picture, we all end up chatting over a cup of coffee about how we are going to execute that vision.

Storytelling inspires us

Think about really great orators in history – Churchill always comes to mind.  I recently downloaded an audio book of his speeches.  If you are not inspired to be a better person from listening to a voice from several generations ago, you need to visit a cardiologist.  Few are of his caliber, but a great storyteller gets us energized – tapping our toes to a great song, or laughing our heads off to a great comedic routine, or getting us to learn about another person and their personal story.  We feel empowered by a great story and now feel like we have been tapped on the shoulder to be a part of that story – that vision.

Business leaders have typically been built from some discipline – strong operational backgrounds, strong fiscal management, strong selling disciplines, etc.  These are all necessary skills and should not be overlooked in the cacophony of traits in our highest ranking leaders.  But, we often forgo storytelling as a “cheap parlor trick of charisma” that is fundamentally essential to our future influencers.  Storytelling should be a part of your repertoire.  It can be as easy as 1-2-3:

1: Start with the end, work backwards.  Where do you want to take people? Start at the end result, the journey starts to fill in itself.

2: Rinse and repeat.  Tell the story in your head and – more importantly – outloud to get it right.  Your dog can be your biggest fan for this exercise, but don’t skimp on saying it outloud.

3: Get personal. Don’t be afraid of letting a piece of “you” enter the story.  Audiences need relatability.  That little piece of why this story matters to you helps it matter to them.

I am interested in what you think, but try to tell it to me in an engaging way!  (wink)

While my highly scientific poll on what to call Twitter spam may not have yielded statistically significant results, the topic is still very relevant for everyone trying to figure out how to effectively use Twitter these days.

A couple of weeks ago a controversial, and not so nice, tweet from an influential blogger that follows my company sparked a lively conversation in one of our internal communities.

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I wrote this post last September, aptly titled: Social Media Marketing: Think marriage, not a one-night-stand.  In it, I listed some of the pitfalls and misconceptions surrounding social media.  Eight months later, and after many discussions with my peers in the industry and experiments at my own company, I wanted to share my thoughts on what I am seeing as the four key ingredients of success.

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