DoubleTree by Hilton: Using Social Media to Enhance Customer Experience

Social: IRL recently participated in Expion’s second social business summit, Smart Social 2013. This invitation-only event featured some of the largest brands and most respected agencies from across the U.S.

Over the course of the summit, Social: IRL had the opportunity of interviewing a number of the event’s speakers and attendees. One of those interviews was with Diana Plazas, Director of Global Brand Marketing for DoubleTree by Hilton.

In the interview, which is embedded below, Diana describes how social media allows DoubleTree to gain valuable insights on consumer needs and expectations, better connect with their customers, and enhance many aspects of customer experience.

Additional interviews will be shared over the coming days via Expion’s Google Plus Page. You can also visit Expion’s blog to read event recaps, featuring valuable social business insights from speakers and attendees.


Social Strategy Insights: #Expion13 Charlene Li Interview

Social: IRL recently participated in Expion’s second social business summit, Smart Social 2013. This invitation-only event featured some of the largest brands and most respected agencies from across the U.S.

Over the course of the summit, Social: IRL had the opportunity of interviewing a number of the event’s speakers and attendees. One of those interviews was with the event’s keynote speaker Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group and author of the critically acclaimed bestselling books Open Leadership and Groundswell.

In the interview, which is embedded below, Charlene shares valuable social business insights and discusses social media strategy vs. tactics, the importance of listening as a foundation for social activity, and ROI vs. business impacts.

Additional interviews will be shared over the coming days via Expion’s Google Plus Page. You can also visit Expion’s blog to read event recaps, featuring valuable social business insights from speakers and attendees.


The Social Business Textbook: A Valuable New Resource for Social Communications Professionals

Today, we share a guest post by Jordan Slabaugh, Director of Social Media at Social: IRL sponsor, Spredfast. We are grateful to Spredfast and each of our sponsors for their support, and enjoy sharing valuable resources they provide, such as this Social Business Textbook.  While social continues to grow and change, there are foundational concepts and best practices that all social practitioners should know and understand. Spredfast created this comprehensive 45 page textbook to be a resource that helps bring members of growing social teams up to speed and the go-to primer on the main elements of social programs for those already in the industry. In addition to providing a strategic discussion of each social topic, they include models to visualize each concept, brand action items to make concepts practicable, and brand examples to show each element in action. 

Spredfast Social Business TextbookThe world of social communications is exhilarating.  As consumers, social media offers us the ability to connect with brands, products, and topics we care most about. And for brands, social media has blown open the proverbial company doors to meet the communication expectations of these consumers, leaving seemingly endless opportunities to connect with, engage, and delight social customers.

In a rapidly evolving communication space, social professionals have had to become scholars of sorts, studying up on social business practices with one-off resources and examples. But now that social business is an established field, we at Spredfast saw the need for a foundational resource to serve as a primary guide for members of ever-increasing social teams, and an expansion of the fundamentals for those of us already in the field. And with that, we’re excited to introduce the Social Business Textbook.

For some social brands, identifying the keys to social business success can feel like gumshoeing it in a complicated mystery novel. But what if these practices were presented in familiar terms, like primary school subjects, to make them more relatable? We set out to standardize social concepts to help brands get back to basics.

What made it into the syllabus?

 Spredfast Social History conceptHistory [Social Listening]: Concerted listening efforts focused on the people, conversations, and relevant activity about your brand to yield valuable insights to understand past events, inform current decisions, and improve future outcomes.

 Government [Social Organization & Governance]: Combatting brand anarchy by defining internal structure and ensuring the right rules and guidance are in place to protect both the brand itself and the people behind the social activity.

Music [Orchestration]: Orchestrating multiple people having multiple conversations across multiple social media accounts and networks on behalf of your brand with planned workflows, approval paths, and coordinated content distribution.

Math [Measurement]: Embracing the measurement of social media metrics to perform goal-oriented analysis of social program performance.


English [Creating Social Content:] Creating and curating great content for social media distribution to increase engagement and action, and conversing with customers in ways that create value for your network and drive business outcomes.

Social Studies [Segmentation and Targeting Social Audiences]: Segmenting audiences based on demographic and technographic data provided by social networks and targeting tailored messages to individual segments.

Student Council [Social Engagement & Community]: Creating meaningful experiences on social channels that engage audiences, inspire action, and build brand awareness and loyalty.

Chemistry [Paid/Owned/Earned]: Combining owned assets with earned audience interactions and paid advertising to optimize social efforts and business impact.


“Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.” – Edmund Burke

The most insightful and applicable textbooks don’t just present concepts and theories – they show them in action. You may understand as a brand that engagement increases loyalty, but what does that look like? And who can you learn from? From the successful social initiatives of brands like REI and its engaging “REI 1440 Project” campaign to the stellar mathematical measurement efforts AT&T has implemented, the Social Business Textbook takes strategy and highlights what it looks like in practice.

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

A glance at any scholarly work will show multiple sources, citations, and perspectives of subject matter experts. With so many great minds leading discussion and research around social media innovation and success, we realized that hearing from people like David ArmanoJeremiah OwyangJay BaerMichael BritoAnn HandleyChuck HemannBrian Solis and Rebecca Lieb in their own words provides powerful support to concepts presented in Textbook. We sought out some of the most insightful thoughts and guidance published by our favorite thought leaders and included them in the Social Business Textbook to provide additional perspective from leading scholars of social.

“A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.” – Khalil Gibran

While putting together Textbook, we asked: “what are words without action?” Combining the strategy behind imperative social business subjects with real world applications, each chapter presents actionable steps for brands to begin, mature, or optimize their social programs.

From our classroom to yours, we hope the Social Business Textbook will help kickstart [or grow] great social activities in your organization.


Click here to download your free copy of the Social Business Textbook.

Win a free copy of the soon-to-be-published book by Brian Solis: What’s The Future of Business

Rethink your business model to incorporate the power of “user” experiences.

Whats the Future of BusinessBrian Solis is a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, and is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Brian has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture. His book Engage! is regarded as the industry reference guide to building and measuring success in the social web. His most recent book, The End Of Business As Usual, looked at the changing consumer landscape, it’s impact on business & what companies can do to adapt & lead.

Publishing on March 11, Brian’s new book What’s the Future of Business will galvanize a new movement that aligns the tenets of user experience with the vision of innovative leadership to improve business performance, engagement, and relationships for a new generation of consumerism. It will provide an overview of real-world experiences versus “user” experiences in relation to products, services, mobile, social media, and commerce, among others. This new book:

  • Explains why experience is everything and how the future of business will come down to shared experiences.
  • Aligns the tenets of user experience with the concepts of innovative leadership to improve business performance and engagement and to motivate readers to rethink business models and customer and employee relationships.
  • Motivates readers to rethink business models, products and services, marketing, and customer and employee relationships with desired experiences in mind.

To mark the publication of Brian’s new book, Social: IRL is giving away a free copy of What’s The Future of Business, each Friday from now until March 8.

Learn more and enter to win at

You can also catch our recent video interview of Brian Solis for SMCKC, which features valuable social business insights and personal backstory

Brian Solis Interview: Social Business Insights and Personal Backstory

More than 150 people attended the Social Media Club of Kansas City’s January breakfast, featuring a special conversation with Altimeter Group analyst and Engage!and The End of Business as Usual author, Brian Solis. Hosted at Google Fiber Space in Kansas City, the conversation took place via a specially orchestrated Hangout, with Brian being interviewed by Social: IRL principal, Ben Smith.

We previously shared a Storify recap of attendee Tweets from the event. The full video of the conversation is now available and is embedded below.

In it’s entirety, the conversation runs for close to an hour, during which time Brian shares many valuable social business insights, as well as more personal insights and backstory.

Video originally shared on the Social Media Club of Kansas City website.

Top Ten Social Media Links and Resources and Upcoming Social Media Events

Top TenWe’re pleased to share our latest “Top Ten” social media links and resources.

Scroll down for upcoming events Social: IRL is hosting or supporting.

If you would like additional resources sent direct to your inbox, you can subscribe to our free email newsletter.

Top Ten Links:

1. Customers Reveal All: Why Brands Need to Pay Attention to Social Media – New study highlights how “brand connected consumers” are using social media to engage with brands, the power of these consumers to influence reputation and drive sales, and the significance of brand response via social channels.  READ MORE

2. What Happens Every 60 Seconds In Social Media? – Did you know that each and every minute an average of 347,000 tweets are sent, 1.87 million Facebook Likes are generated, 4,320 minutes of video are uploaded to YouTube, and 3,472 images are posted to Instagram. This infographic takes a closer look at what happens every sixty seconds across key social networks. READ MORE

3. The State of Social Marketing 2012-2013 -Valuable insights in this new report released by The Pivot Conference. Each year, Pivot takes the pulse of professionals leading social initiatives for major organizations to see their current attitudes and to get a sense of what will impel their decisions in the year ahead. READ MORE

4. 13 Resources to Help Brands “Stay Social” in 2013 – Great collection of whitepapers, webinars, guides & reports from Spredfast, covering social business strategy, social marketing, consumer engagement, brand insights, and more. READ MORE

5. 12 Principles for Responding to Negative Online Comments – A good set of guidelines for handling difficult or negative questions and statements on the social web.  READ MORE

6. What Your Business Needs to Know About Facebook’s EdgeRank – Whether you’re leading a paid, earned, or owned strategy, making informed decisions about goals and proper metrics starts with knowing the real challenges and opportunities. In this post, Brian Solis addresses recent controversy around changes to Facebook EdgeRank and its impact on post reach, and provides a good summary of how EdgeRank actually works. READ MORE

7. Three Corporate Social Media Trends That Should Die in 2013 – Forcing Facebook users to spam their friends in order to participate in sweepstakes or deals, holding charities hostage in return for Facebook likes, pandering for meaningless engagements.  Augie Ray discusses three popular social media trends that would be better left for dead as we head in to the new year.  READ MORE

8. 2013 Social Media Predictions for Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and More– Rooted in experience of working with hundreds of brands and leading social platforms, Expion CEO Peter Heffring provides valuable insights with his 10 key predictions for the coming year.  READ MORE

9. Closing the Gap Between Social and ROI: Speaking the Language of Your CEO – Companies need to be able to prove that their social media efforts are paying off in a business sense. They need to be able to go beyond surface-value metrics and correlate their social media and web presence with tangible business metrics. The problem is that ROI is a financial metric and social media metrics are decidedly non-financial. So what approach do you take? READ MORE

10. The Meaning of Conversation in an Age of Information Overload – Twitter’s Ev Williams and Biz Stone in conversation with Charlie Rose as part of Fast Company’s Creative Conversations series. READ MORE

Connect with Social: IRL – While many of you are connected with us on Facebook and Twitter, you can also find us on Pinterest and Google+, and join our Facebook Groups for Nonprofits and for Kansas Educators.

Upcoming Social Media Events:.

“Behind the Brand” with KU Athletics: Join Social: IRL for this special evening at legendary Allen Fieldhouse on the University of Kansas campus. We’ll hear from the KU Athletics marketing department and learn how they use social and digital media to connect with fans. We’ll see behind the scenes at Allen Fieldhouse. Then we’ll experience game night as KU Women’s Basketball take on Iowa State. READ MORE

Links include content identified as being from our sponsors Spredfast, Expion, and Spiral16. We are grateful to these sponsors for their support and enjoy sharing content and webinar opportunities they provide which we consider to be valuable to the Social: IRL community.

Why Some Sales Stall While Others Cruise Through Darwin’s Social Funnel

Guest post by Mark Fidelman, CEO of Evolve! Capital, Inc., and author of Socialized!  How the World’s Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social.

FunnelYou’ve probably seen a traditional marketing or sales funnel where leads sources appear at the top of the funnel and customers are at the bottom. In between, the funnel has been segmented into linear steps, and at each stage a percentage of leads makes it through to the next stage.

This traditional marketing approach presupposes a solution for customers without ever understanding their problem. Some leads mysteriously make it through and become customers while others do not. Smart companies compensate by A/B split testing content and messaging to gauge what positively impacts moving prospects through the funnel, but these methods do not properly engage prospects or show you what the new information means for their decision- making process.

Think about purchasing a new car. Most people go through a decision-making process in which their opinions change as they learn new information. For example, let’s imagine a prospective car buyer named Bill is in the market for a new electric vehicle. Bill has heard about how these cars help protect the environment and save on fuel, but he doesn’t know many people who have experience with them. So he decides to ask his friends and contacts on his social networks for feedback by sending a request on Twitter and Google+. A few people on Twitter respond and give their opinions about how great it is that Bill is going green. But one current owner of an electric car on Google+ claims that owning an electric vehicle is extremely difficult because there are too few recharging stations and recharging the vehicle at home is not practical. The owner also claims the car lacks acceleration and doesn’t climb hills well.

Those possibilities obviously raise some new questions about the efficacy of electric vehicles for a potential buyer, so Bill visits the car manufacturer’s website hoping for some more information. The website has some high- level content about recharging options and a six-month-old map of vehicle recharging stations, but nothing about acceleration or hill climbing. So, Bill decides to e‑mail the car manufacturer to get more information. Luckily, the manufacturer responds, but gives him the phone number of a dealer located one hundred miles away. At this point Bill is ready to give up, but he decides to place the call anyway. After ten minutes on hold with the dealership, Bill is passed to a waiting salesperson. The salesperson seems knowledgeable but can’t answer Bill’s specific questions about fueling stations in his area or why his social network contact was having trouble accelerating and climbing hills. The salesperson asks him to drive a hundred miles to test drive the vehicle and see for himself. But Bill’s had enough. He likes the idea of an all- electric car but he’s already spent too much time trying to get basic information. As a result, he stops in the middle of the car manufacturer’s traditional marketing funnel and doesn’t become a customer.

If the electric car manufacturer’s executive team learned about this experience, they’d be justifiably upset.

Yet this scenario plays out every day across multiple products and services both in the B2C and B2B spaces. So what’s the solution? The traditional marketing funnel needs an upgrade to support the social era by integrating adaptive, real- time feedback into what I call Darwin’s Social Funnel.

Think of Darwin’s Funnel as a series of small improvements that make the organization more effective by learning to be very efficient in adapting to its surroundings.   Adding Darwin’s Funnel allows an organization to make real-time adjustments based on real-time feedback. No longer do you need to wait months for the results to trickle in while sales pass you by; you can take a proactive, social approach that enables you to fine-tune the funnel so that it is faster and more fluid.

To illustrate how this works, let’s go back to the electric car example. Once Bill made his request for information about the car on Twitter and Google+, a company that is tuned in to certain keywords like “electric car” or “fuel economy” would be instantly alerted to a potential opportunity. At this point, it may make sense for the company to test out a few short messages (using Twitter) or a lengthier response via Google+. The key is to follow and watch Bill’s reaction. If he responds positively, then the company recognizes that this type of engagement was successful in moving Bill to the next stage. If he didn’t respond positively, then the company can either reach out to him directly to ask him a question or try another approach. These small wins and losses become institutional knowledge and make the organization more effective over time. It also prepares the company for the next prospect who displays similar needs.

So when Bill receives the bad news from one of his contacts on Google+, the company can decide if it makes sense to jump in and respond to the objection. Perhaps Bill’s contact lives in a city that doesn’t have a lot of recharging stations and has found owning a car in that city impractical. Furthermore, Bill’s source may have bought a model that was underpowered for his needs and should have bought a more powerful electric car. The point is that the company is ready to respond to objections or engage in context with a personal message for the prospect. This creates trust and desirability.

Because the company is now engaging prospects through social channels and content, it can better affect potential customers’ actions. I call this the “social impact effect.”  The benefit of this phenomenon is that you can learn right away how different methods of engagement affect your prospects. As a result, you acquire five benefits:

  1. You gain deeper insight into whether the prospect intends to buy your product.
  2. By having short conversations with prospects on social networks, you gain valuable knowledge that can help you modify your product messaging.
  3. Just engaging a prospect via social channels may be the deciding factor in whether or not he buys from you.
  4. If the prospect is charmed by your organization, he most likely will refer you to a few of his friends or relatives, thus adding prequalified prospects to the funnel without the company spending large sums of money to do so.
  5. Because the most popular social networks (especially Twitter) are open, new potential prospects may begin to inquire about your products and services because they admire how you handle existing prospects.

Of course, social business is still business, so you’ll need to measure its performance and its value to your organization. You need to prove the value of any initiative, especially an enterprise-wide transformation. Few executives will make such a move on faith.

Adapt or Die Roundup: Who Got Social Media Right and Who Got it Very Wrong in 2012

Guest post by Mark Fidelman, CEO of Evolve! Capital, Inc., and author of Socialized!  How the World’s Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social.

Goodbye 2012Today’s socially savvy, constantly connected consumers expect more from brands, and organizations that rely on traditional arm’s-length relationships with customers and who try to dictate the relationship rather than participate in it will find it increasingly difficult to succeed. The increased use of social technologies over the past few years has forever changed the relationship between customer and brand. Now, individuals can create viral videos that reach millions, blog posts that embarrass corporations, and Facebook pages that organize citizens to oust dictators.

Some companies have already recognized these trends and are capitalizing on them in a big way; others haven’t figured out how to be social smartly and stumbled publicly on the social stage.  As the examples in my new book Socialized!  show, the best way for people to learn about social media is through real life examples. In that spirit, here are a handful of organizations that got social media right and those who got it wrong in 2012..

Who Got it Right in 2012

The jump heard round the world:  Red Bull. Red Bull brought new meaning to its tagline, “Red Bull gives you wings,” when, on October 14, the company sponsored Felix Baumgartner’s sound-barrier breaking, record-breaking free fall from space. Using social media, the company successfully built up huge buzz around the event and weeks before the jump, Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels were ablaze with interest.  Traditional media chimed in just days prior to the jump and covered it live.

What companies should take away from Red Bull’s space jump is the magic of choosing the perfect event for their brand, making it easy for people to connect with it.  Of course, not every company can afford to sponsor someone’s jump from space, but you can as a brand sponsor something related to your product or service and see a huge impact.

The twist: Oreo. To celebrate Oreo’s 100th anniversary, Nabisco launched a brilliant social media campaign called the 100-Day “Daily Twist” in which a different Oreo cookie design was featured every day for 100 days. It kicked off the campaign with a seven-layered, rainbow cookie in honor of gay pride, which quickly went viral. Other cookies included designs commemorating the Mars rover landing, Elvis Week, the Dark Knight premier, tennis, and so on, brilliantly providing the company with a way to target a wide variety of consumers they hadn’t been able to reasonably directly approach in the past.

This campaign was a great way for Nabisco to turn their Oreo cookie into a brand that really stood for something meaningful.  It was a great way to help many different groups of people create an emotional connection with the product. As a result, the company saw a significant increase in fan interaction via social media.

The bright idea: Domino’s ThinkOven. Domino’s ThinkOven was an effort to encourage customers to submit their “best Domino’s ideas” to the company. Whether it was an idea for a new uniform, a new dish or something for the restaurant, Domino’s opened the door wide to its customers’ ideas. Domino’s then rewarded their best idea-generators.

The more you involve your customers in the development of a product or service, the more emotionally invested they’ll be in your company.   And also, the more likely you are to get that product or service exactly right. Before social media, it was much more costly and difficult to get customer input using focus groups.  With social media, research can be ongoing.

The Wrong Way

Not that “Happy”: McDonald’s. In mid-January, McDonalds launched a Twitter campaign using the hashtag, #McDStories, asking users to post nostalgic stories about Happy Meals. However, this campaign quickly took on a whole different meaning, as Tweets using the hashtag came pouring in about horror experiences and shocking tales.   From poor work conditions to appalling food quality, McDonald’s campaign turned negative attention back to itself.

McDonald’s should have been more careful about groups like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) that would react negatively. They also showed a lack of knowledge about what the best social medium to use for this type of campaign was. McDonald’s chose to use Twitter, but really Twitter is far too wide open for a campaign where this kind of feedback is likely. Next time, they should use a moderated forum such as Facebook.

Not that into you: Toyota. During the Super Bowl, Toyota planned a major Twitter campaign meant to promote the Camry.   But instead of creating their own hashtag, the Camry Twitter accounts started tweeting at anyone using the #Giants or #Patriots hashtags. As you may have guessed, even with a potential prize in play, not everyone cheering for a team wanted to be spammed by a Toyota Camry.

Toyota intended to engage users by directly tweeting them.  However, this had the opposite effect: users accused Toyota of bombarding and spamming them with unsolicited messages.

Toyota made the mistake of focusing too much on themselves rather than the Super Bowl and fans, and while they quickly suspended the accounts, this campaign still resonates as an example of a failed, large-scale endeavor.   The key in these social campaigns is to promote the initiative, not to talk about yourself.  When you try to make it all about you from the get go, you’ll only succeed at alienating people.

Not that smooth: Belvedere Vodka. A picture says a thousand words, and as Belvedere Vodka discovered, sometimes pictures insinuate far too much. The company would often put up cute and/or humorous ads on its Facebook and Twitter pages. It hit a snag; however, when it put up an ad that seemed to promote sexual violence.  The company received a significant amount of negative feedback, had to apologize for the ad, and made a hefty donation to RAINN (an anti-sexual violence organization).

With social media campaigns, because the messaging can spread so quickly and there’s no censorship board to screen it, you have to be very careful about what image or message you put out there. Especially if you’re trying to convey humor or use an overly aggressive visual, you better be certain that it cannot be misconstrued. The message needs to be crystal clear, and you need to make sure that it is absolutely the message you want to be sending. Sometimes companies want to just throw up a message or an image because social media makes it so easy to put content out quickly. But you must carefully vet these messages. Rest assured, they will live on forever. Case and point, Belvedere took the ad down from its social networking pages, but with a simple Google search, you can still easily find the ad and learn about the controversy that surrounded it.

Bottom line:  adapt or die

We’re drawing ever closer to a business environment where simply relying on traditional media and one-way communications to reach customers is going to leave you well-behind your socialized competition.  Like it or not, the moment of truth is upon us.  Adapt or die. 

Socialized!Win a free copy of Socialized!

Head over to Social: IRL’s Facebook page for a chance to win your free copy of Socialized!

Two winners will be drawn at random. Deadline for entry is 8pm CST on January 4, 2013.


Note – If you entered last week’s drawing, you’re automatically re-entered this week, no need to enter again.

“From Social Brand to Social Business” – Pivot Sessions Now Available Online

Over two days in October, 500 of the top media minds in the business came together in New York City, for Pivot Conference 2012.  With the theme “From Social Brand to Social Business,” attendees explored the blueprint for a social construct to transform business, earn a significant competitive advantage, and improve customer relationships.

Curated by Brian Solis, the conference agenda featured thought leaders and innovators representing a diverse lineup of major brands, startups, agencies, media organizations, the entertainment industry, social technology companies, and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Attendees were privy to many valuable insights and perspectives,  leaving not just inspired but empowered to serve as catalysts for social business transformation.

These same insights are now available online after Pivot recently released videos of all conference sessions, a  few of which are highlighted below.

All sessions are available through the Video Library on the Pivot Conference website, and serve as a valuable resource for those seeking to define and implement new models for social business success.


Top Ten Social Media Links and Resources and Upcoming Social Media Events

We’re pleased to share our latest “Top Ten” social media links and resources.

Scroll down for upcoming events Social: IRL is hosting or supporting.

If you would like additional resources sent direct to your inbox, you can subscribe to our free email newsletter.

Top Ten Links:

1. Myth-Busting Social Media Marketing – Social vs. search, ROI, and B2B… Lee Odden gives a valuable reality check on three common social media marketing myths. READ MORE

2. Five Key Lessons Learned: Social Media’s Impact on CFCA Marketing Strategies – In this guest post in the Social: IRL blog, the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging share some key insights on how social media helps them better connect with supporters and enhances their ability to serve more than 300,000 children, youth, and aging friends worldwide. READ MORE

3. Does “Liking” A Bulldozer Help Sell More Of Them? – It makes sense for consumer-facing companies to leverage social media, but how’s it working out for B2B companies? READ MORE

4. “Put The Bullhorn Down” – You don’t have to go viral to be successful on social media. GE is proving that with what it calls “micro-media”—communications efforts that target small communities and facilitate discussion within them rather than trumpet to huge audiences. READ MORE

5. Marketing Your Business on LinkedIn -Although your company may have a presence on LinkedIn, have you fully incorporated LinkedIn into your multichannel social media marketing strategy by incorporating all of the features LinkedIn has to offer? This new whitepaper from Spredfast dives into four key areas brands have an opportunity to harness to build a stronger, more engaging LinkedIn presence. READ MORE

6. Reintroducing Relevancy in the Age of Empowered and Connected Consumers – Stop for a minute and reflect upon the situation facing your company today. Digital & mobile technology…social media…empowered and connected consumers…you’ve heard it all before. But have you moved your brand in the right direction in response?  READ MORE

7. Successful Social Business Starts From Within – Can a business be smart socially on the outside, without being social on the inside? In this first in a series of Social: IRL guest posts, Socialized! author Mark Fidelman discusses why the journey to being a successful social business must start with internal transformation.  READ MORE

Bonus: Win a free copy of Socialized! – Head over to Social: IRL’s Facebook Page and enter our drawing for a free copy of  “Socialized! How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social.”

8. Top 25 Retailers Ranked By Facebook Fan Actions – Expion infographic highlighting the retailers generating the most fan actions on Facebook, both by overall volume and per post.  READ MORE

9. How Nonprofit Social Media Can Connect Supporters To The Cause – Danielle Brigida has done wonders running the social media at the National Wildlife Federation, providing a model for how organizations can use new communications technology to inspire their supporters. READ MORE

Bonus: Social Giving – The Integral Role of Social Media in Fundraising and Donations – From the most popular platforms and profitable tactics, to the growth of online movements and the rise of the crowdfunding culture, this infographic highlights how social giving is really paying off. READ MORE

10. New 2012 Internet Trends Report Highlights Opportunities – Spiral16 recap highlights of Mary Meeker’s much anticipated annual Internet Trends research report. READ MORE

Connect with Social: IRL – While many of you are connected with us on Facebook and Twitter, you can also find us on Pinterest and Google+, and join our Facebook Groups for Nonprofits and for Kansas Educators.

Upcoming Social Media Events:.

Social Media for Nonprofits – St.Louis MO, January 22: Join Social: IRL for this special workshop dedicated to educating and empowering non-profit organizations in using social media as a powerful marketing, communications, and relationships platform, and a tool to drive positive action from supporters. Free nonprofit registration. READ MORE

Social Media Club of Kansas City, Breakfast Hangout with Brian Solis – Kansas City MO, January 4: Join SMCKC for their January 4 breakfast – it’s going to be something very special! It’s taking place at Google Fiber Space, and attendees are participating in a live Hangout with Social: IRL’s good friend Brian Solis. Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions to Brian in advance and drive the discussion around issues they want his perspectives on. Thanks to H&R Block sponsoring the breakfast, first 100 registrations receive a free copy of Brian’s book, The End of Business As Usual. READ MORE

Links include content identified as being from our sponsors Spredfast, Expion, and Spiral16. We are grateful to these sponsors for their support and enjoy sharing content and webinar opportunities they provide which we consider to be valuable to the Social: IRL community.

Successful Social Business Starts From Within

Guest post by Mark Fidelman, CEO of Evolve! Capital, Inc., and author of Socialized!  How the World’s Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social.

History is littered with innumerable organizations that failed to adapt to changing market conditions. Industry leaders Polaroid, Kodak, Commodore International, F.W. Woolworth Company, Montgomery Ward, Tower Records, Tribune Media, Circuit City, Blockbuster Inc., and Borders Group did not adequately respond to changing market conditions and either filed for bankruptcy or went out of business. Each had a different reason for its demise, but each failed to adapt to circumstances despite having superior financial and human capital.

To make matters worse, the business dynamics in play today are far more difficult to navigate.

Markets are incredibly fluid, dissatisfied customers can disrupt any business on the planet, and executives who build shrines to themselves are far less powerful.  That’s why the popular command-and-control culture, with a top-down information control and little tolerance for contrarian views, is dead.  It’s well suited for yesterday’s business climate, where customers had little broadcast influence, and executives became powerful by building walled gardens around themselves.  Today, it’s a surefire path to employee demotivation and, I would argue, a threat to a company’s very survival.

The most successful social businesses like IBM,, and Yammer (now Microsoft), are highly adaptive and hypercompetitive because they’ve adopted the philosophy and strategy of using social tools to create more adaptive businesses.  Their business cultures encourage new ideas and feedback, leverage the wisdom of crowds and operate with a great deal of transparency.  In each of these examples, innovation is connected to every facet of the business. From product development, customer support, and marketing to employee career development, these empowered workers care less about the financial impacts of failed innovation experiments (while of course learning from them) and more about developing high-performing cultures that drive customer value over time.

According to a McKinsey & Company study, the value of creating a digital village is a 20 percent increase in customer satisfaction, a 20 percent decrease in the time it takes to bring products to market, a 30 percent cost reduction in talent management, and a 30 percent reduction in the time it takes to find knowledge experts. From my experience, this is just a short list of the benefits.

In Socialized! How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social, I elaborate on the infrastructure for a digital village, or internal social network, where employees can go to connect, share, collaborate and receive help from colleagues within the company.  The village metaphor is appropriate because you’re creating an online location that over time will become a rich, vibrant community that will be the core of your social business.  I also lay out eight internal social business requirements that executives can follow to both build and jump-start their company’s internal growth engines.  For example:

Get the Right Team and Budget in Place.  It’s difficult to create a social business with executive support. It’s nearly impossible without it. Find the directors who really wanted us to become more social, and ask them to pay for the social platform.  Then identify stakeholders with the greatest support, influence, and need to get the big picture on the rest of the organization. Don’t wait for your mid-level and frontline employees to push for change. Find the right team and change agents to build and carry out a program of change. I’ve never met an executive who thought social business was not a priority, but I’ve met many who limit the budget and restrict their involvement to seeing that it happens. Worse, most of them were not monitoring progress against a set of objectives set by the team.

Create a Digital Village Code of Conduct.  In any township or city, the citizens are governed by a set of laws and rights. In your digital township, you will create the same— but yours will be better suited to a digital environment.  For example: read and abide by the company’s social computing policy; endeavor to contribute quality content or participate in quality discussions; and be interesting or be invisible.  Create your own code of conduct, but remember to update it as the village evolves.

Realign the village to create a social environment.  Knock down silos to make way for cross-department employee communications.  It can be difficult to knock down entrenched interests, but you have to do so.  Recruit early adopters in each to shape the organization’s future technology platform.  They’ll begin collaborating on the new platform and invite others to do the same.

Senior leaders who have implemented these policies, systems, and workflows have created opportunities for growth that were never before possible given the constraints of a command-and-control business model. In my experience, companies can surpass the benefits identified by McKinsey, while preparing the business to adapt to future challenges.

What do you think? Can a business be smart socially on the outside, without being social on the inside?  Why are why not.

Win a free copy of Socialized!

Head over to Social: IRL’s Facebook page for a chance to win your free copy of Socialized!

Two winners will be drawn at random. Deadline for entry is 8pm CST on December 27, 2012.

Ideas, Strategies and Tactics for Smart Social Programs

Ideas, strategies and tactics for smart social programs shared by attendees at the inaugural Spredfast Social Summit, which took place last month in Spredfast’s home town of Austin, Texas.

In this first video, you’ll hear valuable insights from event attendees including Natanya Anderson and Michael Bepko of Whole Foods, Lauran Driver of Twitter, Kristen Piquette of Discover Financial Services, and Sean Valderas of Nokia.  Ideas discussed include content strategy and publishing to delight social customers, and using social media and SMMS for community management, to provide social care to online customers, and to help brands build loyal online communities.

In this second video, Spredfast asked attendees to take a look ahead at where social business might be in five years. You’ll hear from social strategists like Tom Carusona of Aramark, Rebecca Lieb of Altimeter Group, Jodi Gersh of Gannett, Michael Brito of Edelman Digital, Chuck Hemann of WCG, and Rohit Bharghava of Ogilvy. Some of their predictions include content becoming a bigger part of brand’s social strategies, integration of social at every business and media touchpoint, hyperlocal social business efforts and the use of data to help uncover trends and better target activity..