Social and Visual Leadership

The paradigm has shifted, and the learning curve is steep. Some will rise and some will fall. Social media marketing is only a small piece of the picture. Understanding that social is people, and people are not just our customers is a start to the journey.

Organizations are made up of people in many different roles. Their jobs require people both internally in the organization and externally in partners, product & service providers, new hires, investors, and so on. Relationships are what count whether business to business or business to consumer, it comes down to people.

Each person has a story that contains knowledge, experience, passions, interests, skills, and people.  Each individual is a unique part of the whole organizations and defines its collective story.  It is this story we share and grow in social technologies.  Leadership must take active part in the story for an organization to succeed in this new paradigm.

Social Optimization, the building and maintaining of MUTUALLY beneficial and effective relationships, is a key behavioral shift when mastering the Art of Social Strategy.  This does not come simply from balancing the gives and takes by counting interactions.  The behavior change must be a result of recognizing the value of all relationships as part of the whole.  It comes from understanding who we are (as individuals and organizations), what we have to offer and what/who we need and how to reach it/them.

Social technologies are tools that help us optimize this change in behavior when we learn how to best apply them.  They simplify our processes for supporting our networks and communities, receiving that support in return.  Sharing knowledge globally through different sensory stimulus has never been easier. It has evolved beyond text.  It is visual, interactive, musical and memorable. Language and time are no longer limitations for creating a global community of advocates.

Understanding who we are and who is part of our story is the first step of the journey.  How you apply social optimization is what will determine your success over the long haul.

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Social Implications of Mobile Apps

Sometimes it is important to dig deeper into how things work.  As children we disassemble things or dissect them for better understanding of what we are really dealing with.  Last week I chose to immerse myself in such an experience provided by the Big Nerd Ranch’s Europe campus at Kloster Eberbach.  Okay, so the name speaks for itself, and the class was iOS programming (iPhone/iPad Apps). Having become a true adopter of both devices, my curiosity got the best of me. I re-discovered my inner geek, and renewed my respect for programming, after 15 years of strategy.

You may wonder what this has to do with social strategy.  A lot, is my answer, and here is why.  Social has to do with people, how they communicate, the tools they use, what results from their interaction, and impact from engagement. Quite rapidly the device of choice for communication is becoming the mobile handset.  Executives who were previously computer shy are now carrying around tablets and entering the world of electronic communication that way.  We teach using these devices as tools for sharing, for exploring, for deepening knowledge and for innovating.  It is important to understand what it takes to make these tools effective and how. Understanding the opportunities they present and barriers to entry from both creation and adoption of these tools is critical for strategic usage. Who are we trying to reach, how do they use the tools and what can we expect in the future are all critical questions to ask.

The capabilities of these tools are very exciting. Many things that before were challenges now are simplified and friendly to the computer lover and computer averse alike. Being a teacher at heart I must say the prospect of using devices like the iPad makes me enthusiastic for the future. I had the same feeling back in the mid-90’s when working with the Virtual High School and seeing the opportunity for global collaboration through the Internet. Yet, then we were challenged by access to computers for schools, even in developed countries.

I am very aware of barriers that this evolution creates.  Apps designed as communications whether for customer service, team building or partner engagement, the requirement for entry is access to a smart phone, in most cases.  Like early mainstream social media tools, there is a heavy balance on Apps for their own sake and some task simplifiers (electronic boarding passes, ability to customize pizza and then submit orders,…).  Strategically, buy in of App development requires ROI rationalization for reaching a portion of the audience intended. iPhone, Android or Windows7 use by audience may be sufficient, otherwise they must be prepared to provide alternatives.

Yes, smart phones are on the rise and futurists talk of $10 iPhones in 2020. But certainly there are still a large population of business professionals using Symbian (Blackberry) devices and professionals and non-professionals alike using “simple” mobiles which are limited to a numeric keyboard. Not to mention the social society issue.  Consider the vast population to whom these smart phone devices are inaccessible due to their cost.   Are we creating a wider gap of the rich get richer and poor get poorer, until they get access too?

Okay, so I will get off my “half empty” soapbox. Are Apps an important element of social strategy? My take is Absolutely when Apps fit strategically with who you are communicating with. They can simplify and add value to your interaction with stakeholders. Caution to note, make sure they are aligned with your vision. As with any social tools, they have enormous potential, and are constantly evolving. Simple, functional and fun Apps can add value when aligned well. For complex functionality, unless new media tools/App creation is your business, let others do the new iterations, license it and don’t recreate the wheel. Apps for smart phones, especially iPhones (okay so that is a personal bias) have an amazingly dynamic future that we have to look forward to. I hope they spread faster than predicted and I look forward to seeing where they go. What is your take?

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Global Trends for Small Businesses for 2009

This is a great article by Laura Delaney on the top 10 Global Trends for Small Business for 2009. Although it is focused on the US looking outward, most of the rest of 10 apply globally. The .mobi may not be the platform, but I do believe mobile technology will be the connection between the developing and developed markets. I hope that we are not reduced to Twitters, but I have been wrong before.

1. Disruptive innovation will be both the coolest and hottest new growth strategy in 2009 because it will transcend all boundaries and transform businesses.
2. dotMobi will take global root in 2009.
3. Diverse global business partnerships will shine and outperform those businesses that don’t make these critical alliances.
4. Exporting (from the USA) will prevail in the first quarter of ‘09 and might start to strengthen later in the year.
5. Twitter will replace the “call me” statement with “Twitter me” due to technology, convenience and time constraints.
6. Entrepreneurs and small businesses will learn, if they haven’t already, everything there is to know about how to take a business global.
7. Optimism will fuel global small businesses that have the guts to press on, even in the face of insurmountable obstacles.
8. Women entrepreneurs will rule the global marketplace.
Women are already starting businesses at twice the rate of men and their efforts to expand a business internationally will be a force to reckon with in the coming years due to social entrepreneurship, social media and social networking platforms that make it so much easier to do good things collaboratively – which women are naturals at – while growing a business global.

9. Trusted crowds will become profitable clouds.
10. Green and global are a marriage made in heaven because everyone wants to save the world.
Top 10 Global Trends for Small Businesses for 2009 from Laura Delaney of GlobeTrade

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