Heading out to the USS Abraham Lincoln

“This e-mail/letter confirms your participation for the Distinguished
Visitor embark aboard USS Lincoln, from Sunday, April 25 to Monday, April


Whoa.  It’s happening.

Back in January, I was invited to to go on an embark aboard the USS
, on a trip similar
to this one taken by Guy Kawasaki and others
.  (Thank you, again, USNavy for the invitation,
and Andy Sernovitz for
facilitating.)  However, the storms hammering the West Coast changed the
plans, and that embark was canceled.

The trip is now back on, and a number of bloggers and other social media/community types are gearing up.  Our class consists of:

 Kevin Thornton (Walmart)

 Mark Yolton (SAP)

Screen shot 2010-04-23 at 4.45.59 PM Rob DeRobertis (Analog)

 Phil Nieman (Gaspedal)

  Scott Gulbransen (Intuit)

 Jake McKee (Ant’s Eye View)

  Len Devanna (EMC)

 Amanda Congdon (Sometimes Daily)

 Robert Coombs (CALCASA)

 Will Mayall (AllTop)

  Christopher Carfi (Cerado)

Am I stoked?  Yes.

A little intimidated?  Definitely.  (The thought of going 0-120mph in two seconds on the catapult launch on the deck on Monday has me both thrilled and adrenaline-addled at the same time.)

More soon.  Packing and rest tonight.  Tomorrow afternoon to San Diego.  Then out to the ship on Sunday and back on Monday.

Thanks again to Andy Sernovitz, Guy Kawasaki, and Dennis Hall for paving the way on this embark, and most significantly thanks to the US Navy for making it possible.

Here we go…

The Connection Between Social CRM (SCRM) and Vendor Relationship Management (VRM)

Some great thinking by Paul Greenberg.  The lede:

Ownership: Relationship? Conversation?
Simply Put. SCRM is not VRM. Simple Being the Operative Principle

is meant to be a simple post.  Flat out, I want to say that
there is a difference between “ the customer’s control of the
conversation” and “customer’s owning the relationship.”  Because there
is a discussion that I see looming on the “ownership of the
relationship” I’d like to clarify my thinking at the get go, if you’ll
be willing to listen.  Before I do that, so that there is no
misunderstanding on where I stand –

customer is
in control of the conversation. SCRM is the company’s response to the
customer’s control of the conversation. There is no joint ownership of
the conversation. But there is no control by one or the other of the
relationship between them. Though the “power balance” can lean toward
one or the other. Right now it leans to the customer.

He goes on to say…

why there is a difference between SCRM and VRM.  Vendor
Relationship Management is what the customer does to command their side
of the relationship.  SCRM is what the company does in response to the
customer’s control of the conversation – and all the other things
associated with that.  But the company still owns itself – meaning its
operational practices and its objectives and its records and its legal
status as a company. Speaking for myself, and maybe someone else
or some others, I’ve never said the customer owns the relationship. I
think that the customer is at the hub of business ecosystem – to the
point that you can call it a customer ecosystem. Meaning the customer
drives demand and the company is now forced to respond to that.

Rest of Paul's post is here:

Podcast: “Third Places” and Customer Service

Historically, customers had to dial in to call centers or go to vendor
websites (or to the vendor's physical location itself) for service and
support. With the rise of social business, this is no longer the
case…vendors and customers are now meeting on neutral ground, and
everything changes as a result.

How Social is “Too” Social?

BboardThumbnail I'm torn.

It would be so easy to pontificate a "right" answer, but,
pragmatically, I know there isn't one.

After finishing a re-read of Clay Shirky's prescient piece from 2000,
entititled R.I.P.
The Consumer (1900-1999)
, I found myself cheering.  So many
points in there were in sync with what had been written in Cluetrain, and so many of those
points were influential in what I had written in The
Social Customer Manifesto
back in 2004, that I found my head nodding
in agreement paragraph after paragraph of Clay's post.

"To profit from its symbiotic relationship with advertisers, the
mass media required two things from its consumers — size and silence."


"Silence…allowed the media's message to pass unchallenged by
the viewers themselves.  Marketers could broadcast synthetic consumer
reaction — 'Tastes Great!', 'Less Filling!'– without having to respond
to real customers' real reactions — 'Tastes bland', 'More expensive'. 
The enforced silence leaves the consumer with only binary
choices…mass media is one-way media."

Yes, again.

The "consumer" is dead.  We all now are, or have the opportunity to
be, "customers."  We have have the opportunity to be people,
and not just gullets that consume (to paraphrase Jerry Michalski).

The opportunity to be social comes up against a cold, hard reality,
however.  As Clive Thompson wrote earlier this year, in a piece entitled
Praise of Online Obscurity
, our technically-mediated social
interactions are outstripping our human ability to keep up.  Thompson
brings forth a great illustration:

"Consider the case of Maureen
. A grad student and poet, Evans got into Twitter at the very
beginning — back in 2006 — and soon built up almost 100 followers. Like
many users, she enjoyed the conversational nature of the medium. A
follower would respond to one of her posts, other followers would chime
in, and she’d respond back.

Then, in 2007, she began a nifty project: tweeting recipes, each condensed
to 140 characters. She soon amassed 3,000 followers, but her online life
still felt like a small town: Among the regulars, people knew each
other and enjoyed conversing. But as her audience grew and grew,
eventually cracking 13,000, the sense of community evaporated. People
stopped talking to one another or even talking to her. “It became dead
silence,” she marvels.

Why? Because socializing doesn’t scale."

We, as individuals, need to develop better strategies for dealing
with this increased sociality, with better filters, processes and
discipline to cull the wheat from the chaff.  If we don't, the era of
the social customer will be a
short-lived one, with "broadcast," and not conversation, again being
the dominant model.