Social Media Success Stories

Article from Top Rank: Online Marketing Blog – click here.

The success stories are of

1. American Express OPEN

2. HSBC

3. Microsoft

4. Archer

5. Cree

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Love, hate and the economics of meetings

‘I wish I did not have to come here next week again’, I murmured as I went through the door. It was the biggest meeting room we had in our office building. Yet, it was filled to the last square inch with attendees, some active and the remaining, fence sitters.

It just dawned on me that this weekly meeting was perhaps like one of those affairs I wish I never had. It inflicted pain, often deep, every time I met her and I walked in through this door.

Meetings, a lot like our relationships, offer themselves in all shapes and sizes. A few are short and sweet while most go on as repeated, cyclic affairs until we give in to their motions. We wish we never had some and we crave for others. We cling on to a few meaningless ones, as we fear losing all that we have already invested in those. Some give us that cherished sense of being “all important” and we love them. Like relationships, we can never get rid of these endless series of getting together, huddling up and often feeling good about being productive.

Yet, there are other times where I am more critical. I look for the value produced in those countless hours of ranting and analyse their cost to the last penny. Being in the business setting of the corporate headquarters, I expect everything to be efficient, rational and result oriented. The truth is, our organizations are inefficient by nature and are far from being rational bodies.

Too many meetings often indicate that we are not organized efficiently. Our resources are in the hands of wrong decision makers and the jobs are sitting in irrelevant departments. We meet for days, months and sometimes years, trying to overcome such impediments instead of consolidating the resources and jobs. Some meetings are held with the sole purpose of sharing information, because we are yet to figure out a tool to share information efficiently and near real-time.

There are still other meetings which are in the pretext of “delegating” work and later tracking how the delegation has worked. In all probabilities, non-performers, in the pretext of these meetings are enjoying their free rides!

These meetings are there to make up for the inefficiencies inherent in an organization. They are like subsidies our governments keep pumping in to keep an inefficient system ticking, a socialist way of doing things. Perhaps we set wrong expectations with ourselves by craving for fair competition and wanting information and resources to flow seamlessly to where it produces the greatest value. After all, organizations, like us, are social entities functioning in the backdrop of human societies – inherently inefficient and irrational.

Inspired by the book “The Efficient Executive” by Peter H. Drucker

Rewards and risks – and how they drive my behavior at work

It was midnight and I had a long day at work. The pangs of sleep were coming down heavy on me as I tried to finalize my next annual targets for my reporting authorities.
What was my challenge ? I created two versions of goals.
1. The first one was a set of conservative targets. I was fairly confident of meeting and exceeding them. But I knew that this was not the true me, inherently a risk taker and a lover of challenges  where I am equally poised for success and failure.
2. The second draft represented me more closely as a professional. It was big, hairy and audacious!
As I constantly pondered on which was the right set of goals, my mind wavered. I started thinking about the performance discussion for the last financial year. If any of my easy targets had ten percent of my variable pay tied to it, I received the entire amount for meeting or exceeding it. I lost points on those I missed, because I committed and missed. The only catch – the ones I missed were really difficult ones and we were anonymous about that during the performance review.
It didn’t (and still doesn’t) matter if we agree that the targets were not easy, we know we do not get rewarded for trying.We get paid for delivering, right ?
Wrong.
I believe we should get rewarded for even trying and partially achieving really difficult targets, let alone being penalized for missing the last five or ten percent. Because if I don’t, I am operating in my comfort zone; and in all probabilities, not doing the best I can for the business.
In a flash, I knew what my next set of goals are. And I think you know too, dear reader.
Mr. HR, your benefits policy will let me sleep like a baby, not only this night but every night for the rest of the year! I knew I will meet or exceed my targets.

Our society and the culture of ‘Thank You’

You must have read the article already:

HBR| How to give a meaningful Thank You

We have been thinking about it for last couple of months, and every time the logic is boiling down to the following

Behavior
Human Beings [Social Beings [Professionals [White Collar/ Blue Collar: Hierarchy]]]
So if you devise any policy/ rule or create a corporate DNA or do behavioral development etc, keeping the above Ideal logic in mind; this will ensure that things automatically fall in place..
Let me explain the Ideal logic:
First, we are human beings – Humanity needs to be there in behavior/ policy/ law/ action/ etc etc
Second, we are social beings (remember, we are human beings first, and then the social beings) – Social customs/ norms should get the required respect in every event
Third, we are professional (remember, we are social being first, and then the professionals) – Nothing to explain, maintain professionalism
Fourth is self explanatory
Point here is, we/ companies/ institutions etc follow the reverse order –
Generally Observed (and flawed):
People are first treated on the bases of their “Collar” or their “Hierarchical Position” in the organization. Accordingly, the respect is given and behavior is shown. Then, everyone gets the treatment as a professional; social stuff is considered irrelevant for the job…think deeply it is very important to satisfy the social needs. Anyhow, then the social treatment is received by human beings (I would say social constraints are received)…A human being wants to enjoy his favorite food, but it is impressed upon him that he follows the table manner…don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you don’t follow the table manners, but sometimes Desired is given preference over Required….surely, everybody needs to be with in the control points…..
The irony is, apparently the least important thing in the entire generally observed behavioral paradigm, is Human Beings getting treated as human beings!
So… how will you run your organization? Will you, like everyone else, give lip service to respect for co-employees? Remember this though: If you cannot be human to your co-workers, they will only respect your seat / your position, and never you.

Website 101 for the creative types

You are a Musician. You are a Band. You are a Writer. And you want to set up a website for yourself; your book, your music, your life. Heck, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?

So I was speaking with this friend of mine from college, a musician. It surprises me that it took him this long to break away from the staid stable corporate job and chase his musical dream.

This post comes out of a couple of back-and-forth emails…. All you musicians, bands, writers: please take note.

The first point to understand is that the website is merely a tool, a medium. It’s a medium to reach out to your audience, to reach out to your would-be-sponsors, to get published, to be hired, to be loved (and your end-product to be purchased. And read / listened) by people. That’s why you are here, right? Or why are you here? Put your novel up on a blog. Put your music up on Myspace.

The second is that the website is just one of the many tools you use. An email is a tool. Your Facebook and Mypace pages are tools. Your tweets are tools. Your live gigs are tools. Your book-reading sessions are tools. Your Youtube video is a tool.

Third: What sets the website apart is that most often than not, it is the first thing that your would-be fan sees when (s)he types your name on the search page. It is first impression, and you would like to make a good one.

Okay? Now back to your website. First, answer these questions.

1.       What are you offering?

You have a band. You have had a couple successful gigs; a few fans; a stalker … You are on your way. Answer this, then. What does your band stand for? Not the simple ‘Avante-garde-pop with a bit of punk and some Ali Farka Toure influence” or the “A bildungsroman on growing up in the capital city of India”– that’s what you do. That’s what you have created. Who are you? What do you stand for? What is your promise to your audience? What should they expect from you?

2.       You are a brand. What’s that brand? What is your brand image?

You are a mystical sufi-influenced rock band. You are an anonymous writer. Then why do you want to make yourself public, like a frog? It’s self-defeating. If you are Where’s Fluffy, you should not have a twitter feed, leave alone a web-page. You understand what we are getting at?

3.       What do you want to achieve via the website? Why should you have a website? What purpose does it intend to serve you?

This is important. The first question should not be ‘why not a website too’, but rather ‘why a website’? My friend is, in my opinion, a genius; and I feel he needs to have a website. But I am a fan and a friend. He is the artiste; he is the one in charge of his image. If the website does not add to his image, then why invest the energy into it? If the website does not help in reaching out to the influencers (music producers, record labels, publishing houses et al) or the audience (readers, listeners); then why have a website?

4.       A one-liner.

Now write a one-liner about your offering to the world. Your world-view, your music, stems from that one-liner. Your website obviously is an extension. Think about the above three points, when you are getting at this. Speak with your agent if you have any. Ensure you are coherent and consistent; in all the media outlets.

Now fill in the gaps and create your website.

  • There are hundreds of places from where you can buy your domain. (GoDaddy etc are common ones)
  • There are myriad website templates that you can pick up online. Google them. Ensure that they mirror your image. A spartan wordsmith should not have an orange-and-red-and-green flames-and-popups, and a glam-rock band should not have a plain-white background, bare-details website.
  • Link all your other tools into the website.
  • Your twitter feeds into your website.
  • Your Facebook posts do the same.
  • I should, with one click, go to your Myspace page where your music could be listened to.
  • I should, with one click, read a sample story or an excerpt of your soon to be published novel.
  • You should have a homepage that gets the attention you want. And is brief.
  • You should have a page which mentions what other people are saying about you.
  • Normally, you should have a page which gives your detailed contact information.
  • If you have a blog, link to the website.

And that’s just the basic stuff.

But you are on your way already. You know what you are looking for; I don’t think you need any more advice from this uncreative old suit.

You are the creative mind. So show the creative.

Wow us!

Last Question: What is our pedigree? Why should you listen to us?

There is an option. Don’t. But we’d read through a bucket-load of information on this topic available on the internet, spoke on this to a few creative people we know, and this piece is well-researched. And well, we have been marketers. Not books, not music bands, but other things; companies, products and services.  Some of them were excellent companies, super services and mind-blowing products. Some of them were rank bad. Just like there are good and bad writers, and good and bad musicians…

And good and bad marketers.

So do some more of your own reading, and get at your website. Or don’t. But don’t go in blind, please…

I hope you are keeping track of the social media mayhem with the Applebee’s check that was posted online. Read this post from the ‘Single Minded Proposition’ blog. This should tell you almost everything you need to know about it.
How important keeping one’s reputation online has become! And most organizations (especially small-midsized Indian ones) haven’t quite figured out this monster yet.
Will, dear readers, write a post soon on one of my favorite topics, a company’s Glassdoor.com page.

single-minded proposition

Over a week ago, the social media world was buzzing about an incident at an Applebee’s restaurant in St. Louis.  Here’s what happened in a nutshell.  A patron at Applebee’s, who happened to be a local Pastor goes to dinner with a large group of people.  Applebee’s automatically adds 18% to large parties.  When the check comes, the Pastor stiffs waitress and writes an obnoxious message on the check saying “I give God 10%, why should I give you 18%?”

Another waitress sees the message on the check, takes a picture of it and posts it to Reddit.  Thus begins a social media firestorm leading to the firing of the waitress who posted the picture and making Applebees social media team pull all-nighters for several days.  

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