Archive for category Work

Of social business and sand castles

Posted by on Thursday, 13 March, 2014

sandcastle_xlibber Where do you find the value in social business?

It’s a common question, especially in the corporate world where every activity needs to show some tangible value to justify its continuance. But, tying direct value to every action isn’t an easy task. In fact, doing so is likely the most difficult task facing social strategists today. Why is this?

The answer, like the question, is both simple and utterly complex. You see, the value from social business is seen in the small connections and conversations we have over time, all of which are grains of sand in what will someday make up a castle. Some castles may be a simple overturned pail shape on a busy public beach, others may be expertly crafted life-sized versions like you see in competitions… but in all cases, it is the connections of each grain of sand which come together to build something bigger than themselves.

Each connection you make, each conversation you have, is another grain of sand in the castle of your social business presence. Like sand castles, the value in social business isn’t as quantifiable as counting the grains of sand that make up the whole. The value is in how they are connected and the view of what they build. Some sand castles are simple and effective at bringing value to the child who built it; providing a sense of accomplishment and purity of fun in the building. Others are built for competition and judged on particular criteria to determine the winner. Yet, neither of these examples nor any that fall in between can be considered to have innate value, or likewise a lack of value.  The value in each of these cases is fluid depending on the goals and purpose for each.

In social business, it is indeed the achievement of your defined goals which will show you the value. I’ve blogged before on the need to define your purpose/goals before setting out on a social business strategy. But, of course, even then not all goals are easily quantified. Increasing influence, building digital eminence, and thought leadership are lofty goals which come with very little in the way of reportable metrics for success, so what can we use instead to show the value with these goals in mind? How can we quantify the beauty of a sand castle?

Stories. It is the connection of each of these grains that work to build the beautiful sand castles, the larger picture if you will, and likewise it is the stories of successes reaped from social business connections which combine upon themselves to show the value inherent in social engagement. So, to that end, I’ll leave you with this story that I’ve posted previously and that I believe exemplifies one of the many benefits of blogging:

I had a practical lesson in the benefits of blogging on Friday morning. During a routine skip-level conversation with my program director, I was able to impress upon him some answers to his questions by referring to a few blog posts I’d published that week and prior in the past few months.

Even as I was pointing him to those entries did I realize the value of blogging: I had content available, on demand that I was able to quickly reuse to address a few questions in a relatively concise fashion. Not only did these posts immediately address his questions, but more so they showed that I was a step ahead of the game, that I’d already been thinking about the issue before he even asked.

In this way, blogging for me has become a source of reusable self-generated content I can rely upon to either provide solutions or supplement larger strategy conversations and stands as testament to my expertise around my job and is now working its way to being a solid piece to my resume.

See ;) Reusable, self-generated content to help show the value of efforts. Social business works. To thrive, adopt the role of story-teller and show your audience value rather than just telling them.

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image credit: (cc)  Some rights reserved by xlibber

 

Hiring ducks and eagles helps build a social business

Posted by on Wednesday, 26 February, 2014

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I posted in September, 2012 about Building a better business: Hiring ducks and eagles for the right jobs. In that post, I explored the personal experience and positive results of team hiring practices that focused on finding the right person for the right job. The net conclusion of that post being: “Hire to your needs, but also to the candidate’s strengths and abilities. It isn’t easy, but the rewards and your future success depend upon it.”

But, I’d like to take that conclusion a step further now, since “future success” is a bit too nebulous for my taste.

From the social business perspective, hiring the ducks and eagles is a critical portion of our success, as people in the right job tend to be more motivated and passionate about what they do. It is this increased level of passion that is such an important building block of success in social business. Without passion, social business just becomes activities that fall flat, and your audiences will pick up on that immediately. Social businesses with passionate employees, however, are thriving and forging new paths in the world around us. It is that passion which drives employees, either on their own or with slight urging, to get out in the social spaces and share their knowledge and excitement with others. While the passion IS infectious, it also needs to be cultivated.

That passion is either fostered or stifled long before the employee ever has opportunity to play in the social spaces. It begins during the hiring process: identifying and hiring to both your needs and the candidate’s abilities right from the get-go builds that foundation to grow your company into the motivated and passionate social business you need. But it also continues through career development as we adjust and shift in this ever-changing landscape of social business: balancing your changing needs with the talent you have can be the difference between stagnation and real business results. 

Ensuring that you are using the right people, with the right skills, in the right places is a critical factor for business success. Leveraging employee skill sets for support calls versus forum engagement versus content creation will help with driving to this level of success. For example, some employees may be better at writing, some better at talking, others might be great in the limelight of virtual social environments, where some may prefer to work behind the scenes. Finding the skills, talents, and strengths within your existing staff and distributing those in the right spaces appropriate to both your needs and the employee’s passion not only motivates and encourages those passions, but enables the company and employee alike to see true results come from their work. Hire a duck for an eagle’s job (or vice versa) and you will stifle that passion. Likewise, put the duck in the right pond and enable the eagle to soar, and that same stifled passion now becomes a raging fire driving both to spread the excitement and achieve results. 

Your audiences can tell the difference between mere activity and authentic excitement, and they will treat your social business accordingly… Can you really afford to not  hire the ducks and eagles?

I’ll leave you once again with the video that inspired both post titles and over-arching topics: You Can’t Send A Duck To Eagle School:
http://play.simpletruths.com/movie/cant-send-a-duck-to-eagle-school/

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A business ethos that transcends industry

Posted by on Wednesday, 5 February, 2014

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I was recently listening to a podcast via Bet On You in which my friend Ted Pappas was interviewed about  Big Bottom Whiskey and what inspired him to start the business. In this 45 minute conversation (it’s an interview but has a deep conversational tone that Ted cultivates well), he discusses a lot of the early trials and difficulties in the path and choices for the business. But, while I believe early failures are good and critical to success, what I believe is even more important is the latter part of the conversation when he begins discussing more of the ethos and philosophy behind the respect, camaraderie, and cooperative efforts which Big Bottom Whiskey is leading in the industry. Which gives me an opportunity to talk about it from my own perspective not only as a tenant to Big Bottom Whiskey with my own company Tualatin Valley Distilling, but to also expand the ideas beyond just the alcohol industries.

Ted’s ethos is about mutual benefit, respect, and helping others succeed in their passions. It is a direct result of this attitude that Tualatin Valley Distilling is a possibility and as a result of this shared vision, we also strive to help as best we can. As an alternating proprietorship, our visions are aligned and keep us focused on what matters: making great products that we all believe in; working together towards common goals.

It was while listening to Ted in the interview above that I realized our shared ideals, philosophies, and vision wasn’t specific to just the whiskies world. Rather, I started thinking of some big “what-ifs”: What if social business wasn’t seen as a zero-sum game. What if we all worked cooperatively, with a shared ethos of respect and camaraderie as social business professionals, while seeing competition as positive drivers for improvement rather than negatives to be conquered or fought.

What does this look like to a social business professional?
First and foremost it means seeing social business as something other than a marketing tool. Social business is in itself an ethos as well as a tool.
Secondly, the guiding principle of being a social business means engaging in conversations and listening to your audience more than talking  AT  them. It is conversing WITH your audience and building relationships using the tools of social platforms like twitter, google plus, tumblr, Facebook, and others. It is more about relationship management than marketing, working with your clients more than selling to them. It’s about building that community and collective intelligence to move us all forward in our collective and individual goals.

This spirit of cooperation and mutual benefit is alive and well in the Oregon spirits industry, one in which the Oregon Distiller’s Guild is helping to drive the recognition of Oregon products to the benefit of all. It is this same focus, this same attitude which can help redefine what social business does and how we do it.  Ted has proven that the ethos within his business model works (as he touches upon in the podcast about listening to his consumer base), and I am hopeful that my own work in social business can help exemplify how collaborative knowledge sharing can also drive success in both my day job as a global social business strategist as well as a small business co-owner creating products for our local market.

Until that day when my own success stands as self-explanatory, I will continue to drive the open and transparent, collaborative, inclusive, and humanist ethos within all of my work; whether it is in strategy or production. I also hope you’ll jump on board and also adopt a strong collaborative ethos as well… after all, I can’t collaborate alone now can I?

 

image credit:  Some rights reserved by Gauravonomics