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Targeted listening informs business on social

About two months ago, I started a new role as head of strategic alliances for Hearsay Social, a company that provides social media management for sales and marketing teams. We particularly focus on financial services markets like insurance, and wealth management.

While there are other companies that focus on various aspects of social media management, Hearsay Social stands out for several reasons:

1)   Focus on using social for business: I teach a course on B2B social media and the one question I get time and time again is how to use social to support business goals. Many people understand the great value social provides communications, branding and customer support; but how to use social for other aspects of business is not well understood. Hearsay addresses that problem head-on.

2)   Industry expertise: Social is hard. It is a new industry, a new medium, and figuring it out can be tricky. Financial services is hard. It is a regulated environment and a couple of misplaces statements can land you in big trouble with regulators. Hearsay demystifies the complex web of social networks and makes them safe and useable for people in highly regulated environments.

3)   “Hear” is as important as “Say”: Before anyone goes out to market and sell using social, you need to be aware of what is going on in your social graph. At Hearsay, the “Hear” part is targeted social listening only on a user’s direct connections, and not the entire social universe. By being more targeted, Hearsay helps a user find a particular social signal that may trigger a customer call, which is the “Say” part

I’m really excited to be part of the Hearsay Social team and I’ll have more to update in the coming months. While Hearsay’s approach to social is somewhat different than what I teach about in Company is the Content, the two are very complimentary. So it will be interesting (for me anyway) to see how my work in one informs and influences my work in the other.

Four basic strategies for social media

Before jumping into the world of social media, let’s first try to figure out what we’re doing and why; the “what” is our strategy and the “why” are the metrics we’re going to measure.

When you think about it, there are really four basic things we can do on social. Figuring these out will help us figure out what we’re going to do. The four things are:

  • Brand awareness -> getting people to know and like your brand
  • Influence the market-> promoting a certain point-of-view in the market
  • Lead gen-> generating sales leads
  • Customer support-> responding to customer questions and problems

These are the four basic strategies of social media. Once we understand which strategy we’re going to follow, then everything else falls into place. Understanding these strategies means we can then figure out:

  • What to listen for
  • What to say
  • How we measure success

If we understand our strategy, which is to say what we’re going to do on social media, then we’ll know what to listen for in the social sphere, what we’ll want to say to people who find us in social media, and then how to gauge the success (or not!) of our social activities.

Understanding our strategy is a critical step in entering the social realm. It is worth spending a lot of time on this phase because when a group of people is in a room and someone says that we need to “go social,” everyone will undoubtedly immediately have a different idea of what that means. And that idea in their heads will then inform what each person thinks you should be doing on social.

And that is bad.

So spend the time to understand the various strategies. Talk with your co-workers and get them all on the same page. If you all agree on what your social strategy is, then you’re that much close to agreeing how you need to listen, talk and measure your social activities.

And that is good.

Social takes a bite out of fashion

Although the term kinda creeps me out, there is always a lot of talk of how software is eating the world, which in less carnivorous language means that everything is being changed by software.


I live is a subset of the software world called social and from my vantage point, social is definitely taking a bite out of all that is around us. In industries like insurance and financial services, social is fundamentally changing the way agents and advisers connect with their clients to discuss critical financial decisions.

But as rapid as these changes are, they are nothing compared to how social is changing consumer segments like fashion and retail.

In my time, to see and be seen you hung out in the food court and the video arcade. But now, just as everything from Fruit ninja to fruit delivery has moved to a smartphone, so too hanging out and talking fashion has moved from the malls to phones and social networks.

This is having a profound effect on traditional (decidedly non-social) retailers:


The changing shopping patterns in what Piper Jaffray Cos. estimates is a $30 billion market are providing fertile ground for upstarts such as Brandy Melville USA, which relies more on Instagram followers than television ads. They’re also causing a drain from the established chains that have been slow to turn away from their expansive stores and uniform, all-American style that worked so well for so long.

“Everything gets old,” Allen Adamson, a managing director at Landor Associates, a San Francisco-based brand consulting firm, said in an interview. “They stayed on their game, but the market shifted.”

Teens Flee Abercrombie for Upstarts as Phones Top Malls – Bloomberg.

Regulated industries joining social will drive innovation, ROI

In my B2B social media course, I explain how to use social to:

  • Listen to what is going on in the industry
  • Develop a strategy based on that listening
  • Articulate your messages according to the strategy
  • Measure your ROI  based on if you succeeded at your strategy and at what cost.

Pretty straight forward. I would even go so far as to say it is elegant in its simplicity.

That process seems to work well in unregulated markets. Indeed, all of the examples I talk through in my class come from technology or consumer goods.

But what I’m finding is that the world isn’t as simple as I like to portray, at least not in heavily regulated markets like financial services or life sciences.

The savvy, regulated companies know they need to follow the same listen/strategize/articulate/measure steps, but buried deep in that formula is a challenging variable called “compliance,” or put another way, the ability to use social effectively without running afoul of regulations or the law.

Compliance actually holds the potential to drive financial services, life sciences and other regulated industries to leap-frog lesser regulated industries in their use of social media.

Social is no longer seen as a fad or an emerging trend in sales and marketing, it is here to stay and is an intrinsic part of any marketing plan. Because of this, companies in regulated markets are realizing the need to leap the regulatory hurdles in order to have a solid presence in social.

But if these regulated companies are going to get into social, they are going to demand better payback than previously demanded by lower regulated companies where the entrée to social was easier.

In regulated markets, because the “I” is higher, companies will demand a higher “R” in the ROI equation.

Regulated companies can also benefit from the best practices that have been developed over time by their lesser regulated, but more social-experienced, counterparts.

Social sales and marketing is heating up because

  • It is no longer is seen as a fad
  • There is a body of best-practices already established
  • Industries that previously avoided social because of regulations are getting into the game.

The new industries that are joining social are massive. Their participation holds the potential to drive more innovation in social, and demand that social directly drive top line dollars in addition to providing significant branding and communications benefits.

Tech and the Fortune 500: Building Sustainable Businesses

In the fast changing tech world, some values remain constant across all successful companies: Loyalty, Leadership and Longevity, so says a former Cisco colleague of mine Sandhya Venkatachalam.

Tech's Common Good

I was reading an article recently on how Wal-Mart re-took the top spot in the Fortune 500. I clicked to see the latest ranking


Seems like just yesterday that Apple was the biggest company in the world, leading many of us in Silicon Valley to mentally pat ourselves on the back. Finally, everyone could see what we already knew – tech was king. Yet here we are a year later and Apple isn’t even in the top 5. Scroll through and you see that there is only 1 tech company in the top 10, 3 in the top 20, and 5 in the top 50. We can argue all day long about what the right metrics are to measure “big”, but the fact remains that the last 40 years of exceptional innovation and growth in technology as a sector has only resulted in a handful of sustainable companies. Why?


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Philosophy of business development

I really love my job. What I do is make partnerships between the company I work for (ex Firefox, now Hearsay Social) and all the other relevant companies out there.

It is cool because to do this job well (as I hope I do!) you need to know what is important to your company, but more importantly, you need to know what is important to the companies around you.

I treat my partners as customers and I do my best to ensure they get top-notch customer service. I found this really nice quote from the VP of Business Development at HootSuite that sums up my views pretty well.

Here he’s talking about why HootSuite survived when a bunch of other Twitter clients got shut down. His company didn’t just mooch off the success of Twitter, they knew how to create innovative ways to drive value back to them.


HootSuite’s customers include PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) and Sony Music, and the company is helping Twitter by getting more brands to spend ad dollars there, said Gregory Gunn, vice president of business development.

“You have to make sure you’re putting money in their pocket and understand what’s of value to them,” Gunn said.

Twitter Go-It-Alone App Strategy Boosts Costs Before IPO – Bloomberg.

Swipe: Content marketing around apps

It has been about a month since I left Mozilla and settled in to Hearsay Social. My last project at Mozilla, and probably one of the most fun, was helping to produce an original content series on mobile app culture called “Swipe.”

Swipe was an experiment in original programming and content marketing. The idea for the show is rooted in the thought that to be relevant to your audience, you have to engage them in a unique way. You need to show them or give them something new.

So we created a web series with high production values that moved the conversation about apps away from geek and geek-culture and tried to bring it more into the mainstream. We looked to brands like Wired or (early) MTV that brought entertainment and technology to the masses. With Swipe, we didn’t want to get into the nitty-gritty of app production, but rather focus on what made mobile apps so fun.

There was also a content marketing side as well. While at Mozilla, I led the content BD team and was responsible for bringing innovative app and content producers to the various Firefox platforms. Swipe was a calling card to show that we weren’t just a technology company, but we were also fun, hip and knew how to talk the language of the mainstream.

Our BD messages were mainly around HTML5 web app production and distribution, but Swipe ditched the technology and talked about what made mobile apps so fun, regardless of the platform.

Here’s the entire series:
Swipe Promo

Episode 1 Trailer: Games

Episode 1: Game Apps

Episode 2: Social Apps

Episode 3: Sports Apps

Top score sports apps on Swipe!

Whether you’re into playing sports or just hanging out and watching them, mobile apps are totally changing the sporting world. Don’t believe us? Just ask Mike Zigomanis of the Toronto Maple Leafs on his favorite app (we did…. and hint, it isn’t a hockey app)

In this episode of Swipe, follow the “I’d rather be smoking” crew as they challenge each other to run more and more often using the Nike+ app, and keep track of the exciting world of Brazilian football on SporTV.

And what better way to get the story behind the sports story than with InstaGram? We’ll give you the low-down on who are the top athletes to follow to get all the greatest behind-the-scoreboard images.

Whoo! Tired already? But this is just the beginning of the mobile app work-out on Swipe!

The limitless ways we’re social: Swipe Eps. 2

We’re social. That’s it, hands down, no debate…when it comes to online activity, we’re social.

Social networking is the single most popular online activity.

We seem to have an almost limitless appetite for new social experiences and new ways to engage each other online, no mater where we are.

SoundCloud lets us share sound. Twitter lets us debate in 140 character thoughts. Vine turns our world into six second video experiences.

In this episode of Swipe we take a look into the crazy world of social and see how we’re using voice, video and chat to communicate (for free) over Line and Viber, how the most fashionable of fashionistas love InstaGram and answer the question of who really has the most Twitter followers.

Check out the episode and c’mon, be social! Let us know what you think in the YouTube comments, blog comments, or on Twitter @firefoxapps


Apps original series presented by Firefox Marketplace

Sometimes you get so caught up in the technology and the “value-proposition” you forget how fun apps can be. That is why it was totally fun to work on Swipe!, an exclusive three-part series on apps and app culture.

Presented by Firefox Marketplace, the show gives the back-story on some of your favorite big-name apps and also introduce you to apps you’ve never heard of, but shouldn’t live without! There’s even a Swipe app!

First up is Swipe’s! look at games and gaming.

Take a look behind the scenes at the future of games at EA. Meet the fantastically fun couple behind the fantastically popular Temple Run.  And find out how mobile phones are making us all game addicts!!

Swipe is fast, fun and has a fresh new take on apps. We’ll be releasing two new episodes soon.

Check it out and let me know your thoughts! Do you like it???

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