Perspectives on Connected Innovation and Collaboration

Don Smith’s Sabbatical Insights

Posts Tagged ‘social media

Search Insights with Lee Odden

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photoI had the honor of meeting Lee Odden yesterday at a local Wayzata restaurant for lunch. Lee is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and a thought leader in the spaces of search and social media. His blog, TopRankBlog, is  highly regarded and considered one of the best in web-tech.

Lee and I talked about the true value of search. Its predictive qualities, and rich data flows. Lee’s using search in new ways to strengthen his business model and keep ahead of the competition. I’d like to learn more about search’s role in identifying knowledge gaps and how organizations can use search to strengthen collective intelligence.

I tapped Lee as a consumer/customer and asked his thoughts on the use of social media in the food industry. What would he like to see in the space? Lee’s response touched on crowdsourcing a la MyStarbucksIdea but really honed in on trusted on-line spaces for kids. Lee mentioned a need for parents to trust social sites for kids and that trusted brands could provide parents that needed comfort and security.

As a parent of two children who will soon engage in web 2.0, I couldn’t agree with Lee more.


Written by Donald Smith

February 12, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Social Media: Now on McDonald’s Value Menu.

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mcd1I had a chance today to talk with Joe Curry, Global Web Communications at McDonald’s, about their current social media efforts – Mindshare and Station M.

Mindshare was started at McDonald’s in 2005 as a blog forum, where avid employee bloggers would write on topics of interest. Over time the zeal faded and only a few bloggers remained. Today, Mindshare is a vibrant internal web 2.0 community that allows employees to share  knowledge and best practices. Part Facebook and part discussion boards, Mindshare fills the communication voids created by org silos and barriers.

McDonald’s built Station M exclusively for the restaurants to communicate with each other. Joe told a story of how a particular store manager was able to improve his drive-thru times by engaging with colleagues on Station M.

Platform adoption has not been without its challenges though. Like many other organizations adopting social technologies, McDonald’s learned how to tweak their platform and culture in concert for improved outcomes.

Driving traffic to each site required internal promotional marketing. Joe and his team also made sure to celebrate and promote success stories conceived within the platform. The more people can see and feel the value of participation in social platforms like Station M and Mindshare, the more  interactions take place on the platform. As these interactions grow, McDonald’s will realize even more value returned on their investment.

I hope to re-connect with Joe on-site at McDonald’s later this spring for a deeper download. Until then, I’ll take a #4 meal, with a side of social media please.

Written by Donald Smith

February 11, 2009 at 9:16 pm

2009: The Year of Web Analytics

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“Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.” – Galileo Galilei

I never thought I would quote Galileo while working on social media, but his words speak of its potential.  On Tuesday, I had an engaging conversation with my new colleague, Steve Borsch from Minnov8, about where social media is headed in 2009.  In a brisk 30 minutes we covered Twitter, blogging, my sabbatical, and other web activities.  Steve made a bold prediction, one that still rings in my ears:

2009 will be the year of web analytics.

Why are web analytics important?

Web analytics paint a picture of user participation, engagement, and activity on a given website. In the context of social media, analytics provide community managers  clear visibility of participation in conversations. This data can then be used to glean insights and note trends not otherwise detectable by off-line means. One can identify lead users, and influencers quite easily inside a social space.

Why 2009?

The competencies and platforms required for reliable web analytics are hitting the market with force this year.

Data Creates Markets

Innovation is often challenging to quantify and define.  But, innovation processes that are pushed onto a social media platforms can, in theory, be measured using web analytics. The resulting data creates new markets for discovery, or innovation markets. Conversely, innovation platforms that are not well measured, suffer from lack of data.

Connected Innovation

Social media facilitates connections between people. Innovation processes pushed through social platforms leverage network effects that optimize outcomes. Think crowdsourcing. Markets that function at greater human scale think faster, act faster, and learn faster than non-social markets. Connected markets create high volumes of reliable data, making the innovation organization smarter and better informed.

Galileo’s thinking was profound in many ways. His measurements of the cosmos with regard to time and space created a paradigm shift in the field of physics and created a new innovation marketplace – classical mechanics.

What can you make measurable? It will surely lead to new markets and innovations.

A final thought from a recent Tweet that I stumbled upon:

Innovators who fail fast learn faster. Innovators who learn faster master faster markets. – Jim Carroll

Written by Donald Smith

February 4, 2009 at 5:06 am

Blogwell Chicago Recap

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In action at Blogwell

I had the opportunity to attend Blogwell in my home town of Chicago on January 22.  Hosted by Blog Council, Blogwell is a forum for industry practitioners of social media to share insights and stories. The audience was diverse and energetic. Actually, the crowd was downright passionate about social media.

Stan Joosten, Holistic Communications Manager at Proctor and Gamble, offered a succinct perspective defining why social media is an important growth strategy at P&G:

Social media allows P&G to reach more people, more intimately, at lower cost.

I enjoyed more stories from Home Depot, Allstate, and Molson with one main thread – “Try something, but make sure you have a specific objective.” Each presenter told a story about starting small with social media, maybe a corporate Twitter account or blog, demonstrating worthwhile interactions with consumers, and then scaling to reach broader audiences.

  • Home Depot (@thehomedepot)  uses Twitter as a communication channel to customers during significant weather events, like hurricanes. How else do you inform a hurricane threatened community that their local Home Depot will be open through the storm? Amazing idea.
  • Allstate employs an on-line community that allows their customers to interact, ask questions, and learn about insurance related life events.
  • Molson (@molsonmoffat) capitalized on the inherent social aspect of beer drinking by engaging with the consumers on-line.  Molson used social channels to engage with their consumers, ultimately inviting them to private events at their breweries.  This model smacks of consumer co-creation and is one I’ll be watching.

The best product placement of the day went to Molson, who kindly threw some Canadian on ice for the finale. It was my first Molson in years – they won me over. Kudos to Sharpie for the Barack Obama signed pens, but I didn’t make that presentation.


Written by Donald Smith

January 28, 2009 at 10:09 pm