16th December 2008

Stammtisch II: Now it’s a trend…

Ok, ok, two points is only a line and not a curve so maybe too soon to call it a trend, but it certainly feels like one.  Awhile back I blogged on something called a Stammtisch.  I won’t re-explore the history and context on what a stammtisch is, but feel free to follow the link to the former post for some of the details.  The short version is this:   It’s an informal gathering focused on connections and conversations.  Despite my online life and my more recent role as a consultant, I still believe in the following two things:  Face to face connections are still critically important and networking with your corporate practitioner peers is uniquely valuable. 

With that in mind, I’ve started this Stammtisch series in the Silicon Valley.  My goal is simple. 4-6 times per year, invite a group of 10-20 community and social media corporate practitioners to a casual dinner gathering and then step back and let them talk and socialize.  At Stammtisch I, we had 9 of us from 7 companies including:  , , EBay, , EMC, Adaptive Planning and Cisco.  This time around, we had 15 attendees from:  , , , EMC, Cisco, SAP, Intuit, Wells Fargo and Synopsis.  We met at the Blue Chalk in Palo Alto and a couple of us stayed long enough to demonstrate our horrible pool playing skills. 

Thinking back on the conversations they ranged pretty broadly, including:

  • Where in the organization is your social/community strategy driven from?
  • How is the recession impacting your strategy and approach?
  • What platforms and tools are you using, and what do you think?
  • What’s your most "interesting" travel story?
  • What are the key challenges you’re facing right now?
  • What kind of beer would you like next?

It was a great use of time for me, and I think for all the attendees.  My continued advice is simple.  If you are a vendor/consultant, find ways to get your clients in the same room with one another - it’s a great way to learn and share.  If you’re a corporate practitioner, find ways to connect with your peers and "encourage" your vendors to help make those introductions if necessary. 

Looking forward to Stammtisch III!  For an invite, drop me a note () - but sorry, this event is only for corporate practitioners - I barely invite myself!


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11th December 2008

WOM or Weird…or maybe both :)

I recently stayed at the Cypress Hotel in Cupertino, California for a week while working with a few silicon valley clients.  It’s a Kimpton property which overall I really like.  They have a nice boutique feel and given the corporate rate are no more expensive than any other local properties.  The thing that stands out at this hotel when you arrive at your room is the sort of "African Savannah" theme.  Not overdone in my opinion, just enough to be unique.  Here’s a photo from the Kimpton website to give you the vibe:



I spend a lot of time in hotels - maybe 80 or so nights per year wouldn’t surprise me.  Often times I’m only staying a night or two, but this time I was in town for a week, so I actually unpacked to hang my clothes in the closet.  Like other nice hotels, there were hotel provided robes hanging in the closet - kinda cool, but not generally noteworthy.  At least not until now.  When I opened the closet I saw this robe hanging to the right:


Shwanky!! Leopard print!  Hmmm.  Should I throw this bad boy on and head down to the bar!!  This was memorable and alone worth telling a few people about the next day as I thought it was pretty odd and different.  It was second night when I opened the closet that I looked to the left and saw something else hanging that I had missed on day 1.


Whoa!  I don’t think I’m putting THAT on and heading down to the bar.  This little number had a tag and price on it ($30 per piece)….my first mini-bar "nightware."  Needless to say, this really added to the story the next day when everyone wanted to know just what kinda hotel I was staying in.  I don’t know if my stories will end in any new guests, but in this case, kinda weird did lead to Word of Mouth. 

And for the record, there are no pictures of me wearing the robe….OR THE OTHER LITTLE NUMBER!!!!

A trip to the Kimpton web site and I learned you can buy these items if you are so inspired: Robe and the Cami.


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6th December 2008

Jet Fuel for your community: Finding, thanking and engaging Influencers

On December 10, I’ll be doing a webcast on this topic for Lithium along with good friend, Joe Cothrel who in addition to being the VP of Community Management Services at Lithium is one smart dude on community.  I thought I’d preview the session here in advance and afterwards add a linked to the recorded content.  If you’re interested in attending the webcast, you can register here.

This session will build upon the Influencer Handbook work recently published by WOMMA, for which I was a co-chair and contributing author.  In this handbook, the following definitions were offered relative to influencers:

What is an Influencer:  A person of greater than average reach or impact through word of mouth in a relevant marketplace.

What is Influencer Marketing:  When a marketer identifies, seeks out, and engages with influencers in support of a business objective.

While I was a contributor to these definitions, I’ll be the first to admit they are pretty high level!  And therefore, maybe a little too high level to assert prescriptive guidance.  To augment this, I’m in the process of authoring an influencer handbook that articulates the end to end steps required in defining, developing and sustaining an influencer program.  More on this at a later date, but if you have experience managing a program like this, I’d love to interview you as part of the information gathering process. 

So, in the webcast, I’ll be focusing on a set of key questions that these definitions raise that help enable taking first steps towards building a successful influencer program.  Here are the questions:

  • What is the strategy?  What business problem are you trying to solve?  To me, these should generally be expressed in one or more (but not all and forced priority) of the following:  Reach, Engagement, Adoption, Loyalty, Efficacy or Quality.
  • What are the business objectives?  Specific improvements your going to make to deliver on the strategy.
  • What is the "relevant marketplace"? A question of audience, segmentation and scope.
  • How do you define "greater than average reach or impact"?  What is the multiplier benefit being contributed by the influencer?
  • How do you find or "seek out" these influencers?  What’s the desired behavior pattern and how do you find those who exhibit the pattern.
  • How do you measure "impact"?  Ah yes, we do need to measure the value in ways that tie back to the strategy and objectives.

While there are many potential benefits of an influencer strategy, I see them as uniquely valuable for catalyzing changes (evidence, early warning and feedback)in overall customer experience.  With this in mind, I’ll use parts of a presentation I gave at WOMMA 2008 regarding the customer experience challenges inherent in organizations that have been optimized against their functional silos (Product Development, Sales & Marketing, and Service & Support).   While communities and social media can offer tremendous insight to these functions, the breadth and depth of the conversations makes "Joining the Conversation" pretty hollow advice.  So I’ll explore an approach for "Deconstructing the conversation cloud" depicted here:


I’ll use this model to dive specifically into the "learning cloud" to illustrate the conversations happening in this space, the business value, the connection to business goals and finally the influencers that are the cornerstone of the the activity.

Lastly, I’ll utilize the Microsoft MVP Award program as a case study to review this in action - a program I was responsible for from 2002-2007 - during which it grew from approximately 800 recognized influencers to over 4000 individuals.  In looking at this case study, we’ll talk about the fundamental pillars of finding, thanking and engaging as well as answers to the questions posed above to illustrate the model.

So, please join us for the webcast or watch later on demand.  I’d love to hear your experiences, questions and ideas around influencer programs.  And of course, if your organization is considering such a program and interested in outside guidance, advice and or assistance, I’d love to talk ().


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