Thursday, June 25, 2009

Challenges of "Marketing" Enterprise 2.0 Social Media

Attending this week’s Enterprise 2.0 Conference, revealed several things to me:
1) Social Media is real
2) Like any new space --- the pond is crowded
3) Listening, relevant engagement and communication are essential to introduce
and ensure the success of social media in the enterprise.

To put things in context. Let’s answer the question: “What is Enterprise 2.0?”
Here’s the conference’s own answer:
“new tools that enable contextual, agile and simplified information exchange and collaboration to distributed workforces and networks of partners and customers.”

Visiting the event’s Expo Pavillion I checked out the exhibits of circa 45 participating sponsors and exhibitors ranging from major players like Microsoft and IBM to companies I’d never heard about before: BlueKiwi and Yakabod.

My takeaways:

Reading over the signage and collateral literature of the exhibitors-- marketers in enterprise social media are big on words that start with “C”:
Connect, Collaborate, Content, Community.

Given the collision of like-sounding messages I heard and saw in the exhibitors’ booths— some other words that start with “C” sum up the state of social computing:
Change, Confusion, Competition, Choice, Chaos.

While I’m a huge proponent of social media and know that it can bring tangible and intangible benefits to any organization—what I saw was almost 50 vendors building and marketing mousetraps---before their prospects really know or care if they need one.

The extent of the crowded pond was dramatically shown by the London Underground-like graphic above from CMS Watch (an analyst firm that offers head-to-head comparisons of content oriented solutions)

Given that content is just one piece of the overall Enterprise 2.0 ecosphere, the business, IT and marketing C-level and VPs execs attending the show (in hopes of charting their company’s direction) must feel like Charlie on the MTA-- the man “who never returned…whose fate is still unlearned”

Four More C-Words: Challenge, Convince, Communicate, Continue

Beyond the cool factor of social media, and simplistic three.word.taglines (like Teligent’s “Listen. Engage. Measure”—vendors’ product managers and marketers in this massive space have a Herculean communications challenge before them in order to win over and get the initial and repeat business of Fortune 2000 companies.

What “marketers” of social media need to practice in order to engage their prospects:

Differentiation: What makes your company/product/service uniquely
and sustainably different and truly valuable?

What can you do for my unique organization?

Show me how social media will deliver bottom-line results.

Effective Communications—that let participants connect, interact, share, listen, learn, adapt (rinse and repeat) is more important than ever—to cut through the noise and FUD.

Enlightened PR, Marketing and Communications 2.0 along the lines of that advocated by Brian Solis is the new imperative.

Innovation and stability are often at odds. Great new ideas can turn into solid SaaS offerings… but will they scale and will the company still be in business?

Bottom Line:
Communications pros must evolve and themselves practice the inherent elements of Enterprise 2.0 if these potentially transformative technologies for information exchange and collaboration are to succeed. Let's work together to make that happen.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June 2009 is New England Innovation Month

There are so many reasons to live and work in New England. One thing that’s kept me here is our region’s commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship.

Where else in the world combines New England’s ecosphere of startups, capital, resources and talent, plus our unique quality of life: 4 seasons, lobsters, colleges, culcha and the Red Sox!

I had a chance to live in an Eichler in Silly Valley—no thanks!

A reminder to all that June 2009 is New England Innovation Month in which a slew ofawesome events are taking place. Check out what’s upcoming and what’s happened already at

While Innovation Month is a collaborative mashup--- the lion’s share of the idea and the hard work goes to “Mr. Innovation” himself Scott Kirsner as well as New England’s Future-Forward looking leading ladies in entrepreneurial events: Shayne Gilbert and Alyssa Stern--- producers of the spectacular Nantucket Conference and Convergence gatherings.

Spread the word about Innovation Month in New England using your networks:
Facebook, blogs, Twitter, e-mail – whatever it takes. (Use the hashtag #NEinno.)

To read more about Innovation Month, check out these recent stories in the Boston Globe, Xconomy, and Mass High Tech.

In addition to Xconomy, MITX, and MassNetComms, here are some other champions of supporters of Innovation Month who are running events:

Mass Technology Leadership Council (Tom Hopcroft, Heather Johnson, Ian McGuiness, et al)

The Mass Technology Collaborative’s John Adams Innovation Institute hosts Follow their the buzz on Twitter by searching the hashtag #innovateMAtech

Mass Innovation Nights (Bobbie Carlton & Dan Englander)

Pay it forward!