Why “Personal” Matters for Companies and Associations

David Brazeal: "Social networks allow us to treat people like people. Y’know, build relationships and understand them and offer them something valuable to them.  The
reason so many small organizations are ahead in the social network
space is that they’ve been conditioned to operate on the level of
personal relationships. Doing that online is a natural extension of
their modus operandi."
(emphasis David’s)

Social Networks and Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

AdAge: "For all the talk about how much money Facebook and MySpace are making
off ads — and whether or not those ads work — there’s a growing sense
of concern that the promise of social networking as a marketing vehicle
is getting lost. Some marketing execs are suggesting the space should
be used less like a paid media vehicle and more like a
customer-relationship-management tool
(emphasis added)

Bonus quote from Debra Aho Williamson: "[Display advertising] is the ‘low-hanging fruit’ and the real potential of social networks has yet to be tapped."


Scoble: Right Idea, Keep Going…

17326Robert Scoble writes:

"Think about how a business would change if it knew every one of its customers had a Facebook account.

I was thinking of a hotel/casino where when I walked in the iPod in
the room was playing the music that I had set as my favorite on my
Facebook profile. The digital screens in my room had all my photos and
some random photos from my friends. My favorite movies and TV shows
were on the video device. The bar knew my favorite drink and how I
liked it made.

That got me thinking about how Iā€™d change my business after I knew everything about my customers."

In some ways, Robert’s point is spot-on.  As customers, we need the capability to store our preferences, interests and relationships in a sharable, digital form, should we decide to.  But we also have the need to only disclose that information to the vendors with whom we want it shared.  In the hypothetical example above, if I don’t want that particular establishment to have access to my information, they can’t have access to it.

Most importantly, until we can control our own personal information at any time, and move it to the information providers we choose (which will likely NOT be a single, centralized entity like Facebook), these types of efforts will be stunted.

Now, let’s imagine a place where not only can we store our information online and only share it with those we choose, but the vendors with whom we have shared that information do intelligent things with it, such as tailor our experience and our true "customer relationship" with their organization based on our individual preferences, needs and interpersonal affinities.  NOW we’re talking…

Bonus question:  What is the object pictured in the photo above, and why is it relevant to this post?

Opening Up Social Networks

  Open and Closed 
  Originally uploaded by Maulleigh.

Nice piece from Wired: Slap in the Facebook: It’s Time For Social Networks To Open Up

The key part of the article, and one that seems to be the focus of a number of other recent writings, such as Brad Fitzpatrick and David Recordon’s "Thoughts on the Social Graph," is the explicit exposition of the relationships between the individuals in the network. 

In the Wired article, Scott Gilbertson writes:

"The web still lacks a generalized way to convey relationships between
people’s identities on the internet. The absence of this secret sauce
— an underlying framework that connects "friends" and establishes
trust relationships between peers — is what gave rise to social
networks in the first place. While we’ve largely outgrown the
limitations of closed platforms (take e-mail or the web itself), no one
has stepped forward with an open solution to managing your friends on
the internet at large."

I agree with Gilbertson’s statement, as well as Fitzpatrick’s call to "make the social graph [ed. – in other words, the information on relationship connections and their types] a community asset." This means that there is a call for an open, interoperable infrastructure to communicate "friend" relationships for public statements of connection.

This is another piece of the puzzle that is being put together with respect to managing one’s own information, for example in the case of the "red dot" personal data store in the VRM discussion.  Just like all other pieces of our personal information as customers / individuals, we should be able to manage this relationship information as we see fit, and not have it be yet another asset of ours that is wrested from us and stored in vendor silos.

The conversations linked above are a good start.  But they only go part of the way. (Yes, we do need to crawl before we can walk before we can run, but we also need to keep an eye on the longer view.)  Three other key questions that need to be kept in mind are the following:

1) How do we separate "public" statements of relationship, from those we wish to keep private, or only share with certain classes of other contacts?

2) More importantly, how do we universally store not only information about our relationships, but also that profile information about ourselves?

3) Similar to (1), how do we also share our personal information on a trusted basis?

These are the early, pioneering days of these discussions.  Looking forward to connecting with lots of folks on this, and continuing to work on creating answers that work for everyone – both customers and vendors.

N.B. Cerado Haystack is committed to openness on many levels

The Business Blogging Field Guide

A small part of the two-day Social Media Workshop (encompassing business blogging, podcasting and business social networking) that we do from Cerado is The Business Blogging Field Guide.  This is the most-requested presentation I’ve been giving over the past year or so, and it’s gratifying that it’s held the test of time and still holds relevant as business blogging is moving squarely from the early adopters and into the mainstream. 

Bonus link:  Just got this great comment from Kevin Bright, who attended the CIO workshop last week.

thanks for the great presentation and the follow-up materials. You
really got my sparks flying. I’ve decide to go live with a "lab" to
experience blogging as a form of social media. I need to experience
before I can evangelize at work. If you have a moment, check out www.thedigitalkeyboard.com . It’s early but let me know what you think.

Thanks again."

Check out his blog and let him know what you think?

Heading To Pittsburgh

Off to Pittsburgh today to speak to the Greater Pittsburgh CIO Group on the topics of social networking for business, business blogging and social media.  Interestingly, was in Pittsburgh last week as well visiting a client.  (That trip was made particularly interesting by the tornado drill in the middle of a meeting that required us to high-tail it down to the basement until the all-clear was sounded about 15min later; that was the same storm that Doc writes so eloquently about here.)  I love visiting the City of Bridges.

So, off to another one of my old stomping grounds for a couple of days. (I went to grad school in the ‘Burgh in the ealy 90’s.)  Seeya there.

Clue Unit #23 – Communities and Food – August 10. 2007

(iTunes) (MP3) (click here to subscribe)

Today’s Topics:

  •     The role of food in customer relationships
  •     Food Service Storys: Portillos in Chicago

    •       The Varsity in Atlanta
    •       Dicks Drive-In in Seattle
    •       Texas De Brazil in Dallas
    •       Dick’s Last Resort
  •     Focus on Food for Events
  •     Satisfaction Scores Based on Food
  •     Food as Cross-Cultural Connector
  •     Multiple Channels of Online Communities
  •     Remembering Names as Customer Service
  •     Phoning it in Vs. Doing the Right Thing

Related Links:

in Chicago

Bauer Simply Recipes

Mike Arrington BBQs

Hugh Mcleod
Blogger Dinner
Social Networking and Dining Reviews
Gut Check
– Twitter as Food
Wears Prada

Edwards at Blogher Chicago


Democracy Forum

Clue Unit #22 – An Introduction to Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) – August 1. 2007

(iTunes) (MP3) (click here to subscribe)

Today’s Topics:

  •     What is VRM?
  •     Will businesses get it?
  •     What are the mechanics of the system?
  •     Microformats?
  •     The employee experience

Related Links:

– Vendor Relationship Management

Center at Harvard

Identity Workshops


Open ID
for Service Innovation

X-Drive Experiment

Enterprise Immune System

and VRM