Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lessons Learned At #Blogwell

I attended #Blogwell as a live blogger! Read my posts:
InterContinental Hotels Group: Inside Out: How Private Communities Catalyzed Our Social Media Efforts and Intel: Listening, Learning, and Changing.

Things I learned at #Blogwell:

1. Start somewhere. Marketing execs at Kaiser, Chevron, IHG and Intel all shared that they picked one platform and did it well. Chevron chose LinkedIn and excelled in connecting with energy industry people. Kaiser responded well to negative compalints on Twitter. IHG started private online communities to get deep feedback. Intel collapsed 250 Facebook pages into one in order to have control of their FB presence. Each company began listening to their customers and responding through a platform that worked for them.

2. Even the huge companies don't have giant social media marketing teams, rather they grow as they find they have need. These big companies use trial and error too. Social media is changing and growing so fast that the even marketing pros are setting goals and seeing how it goes.

3. Big brands have found a hard truth: integrity matters. I was surprised how often phrases like "integrity" came up at a marketing conference. Speakers openly admitted the temptation of cooking reviews or offering promotion programs without proper disclosure. I can see the lure: a fake buzz can be measured by numbers (albeit very shallow numbers). But the point was driven home: be honest because it actually works, which leads to point 6:

6. Find better ways to measure engagement, such as benefit to customer or company, or feedback channels. Numbers don't always tell a lasting story and it's important to stay on to of what's out there about your brand. Speakers spoke about actually reading through posts or tweets, even laboriously. Execs at Intel were reading 200 blog posts per hour to understand what was being said about a product recall. Kaiser discouraged only monitoring by keywords by showing an example of two tweets with keyword fails. They were something like:

Been waiting at Kaiser for an hour. Awesome.
They are so quick at taking blood at Kaiser they could be blood burglers.

Only a human reader could understand the sarcastic "awesome" in the first tweet and the positive remark about "burglers" in the second. :) Marketers must read to understand!

4. All these companies proved one thing: make your job easier by enlisting the customers. You already know they are social and talking about your brand, but given opportunity, your customers will be more than willing to give feedback, content and pictures. IHG got rid of generic stock photos and collected customers' own pictures instead. Customers were excited to share. That's what community is all about, right?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Does Virtual Work Save Businesses Tons Of Money?

Hiring someone to work for you remotely can be scary at first, but fears can be eased once you understand the value your consultant or virtual assistant (VA) brings.

Bloomberg Businessweek found the number of self-employed who work exclusively from home increased from 3.47 million in 1999 to 4.34 million in 2005 (from the latest U.S. Census data available). More folks than ever are working from their home offices and that means more businesses are hiring these workers for jobs that used to be based on-site.

My curiosity on this topic peaked when I read this tweet:

 Irene Koehler 

Irene was questioning this chart, found on VAnetworking- a community of 10,000+ people who work online:

Virtual Assistant
Hourly Rate of Pay
Fringe Benefits @ 35%
(Health/Dental/Life Insurance, Retirement Plans)
Overhead Rate @ 50%
(Office Space, Equipment & Office Supply expense, UI Insurance, Worker's Compensation, Overtime Pay, Administration Costs)
Total Effective Rate of Pay
**Hours Per Year
2,080 hrs.
480 hrs.
TOTAL Annual Labour Cost


Is it too good to be true? Can you really save $60,000 by hiring a virtual worker?

My thought: While it's hard to put a value on good work, at some point numbers must be a metric to evaluate value. The chart points to the value of not paying virtual workers benefits or overhead, but the more important value isn't in the cash difference-- it's in the hours. Anyone can get more work done for less money, but getting more work done in less time is valuable.

"No more paying for socializing, hour long lunches or frequent trips to the washroom. Your employee's 8 hour day can be crunched into 3-4 hours with a Virtual Assistant," the VAnetworking article goes on to say.

Virtual workers are held to a strict standard of completing tasks. Once a solid contract is composed, the business can know if the virtual worker is meeting expectations. Virtual workers should have detailed assignments and noted deadlines so they can know what is expected and just do it, thereby saving money and time.

Many virtual workers are skilled in the work they offer and enjoy it, equaling fewer disgruntled workers. Virtual workers also enjoy their flexible hours and home offices, so they are happier and more productive.
My answer is yes, I think virtual workers can save businesses tons of money, but more importantly, they get your work done in a quick, professional and happy way.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I'll Be At #BlogWell

BlogWell San Francisco

I'll be live blogging from BlogWell on June 20. The conference brings together some of the biggest brands excelling in social media. The featuring companies at this event will be Adobe, Semantic, Chevron, Sears Holdings, Intel, Kaiser Permanente, Mattel, and SAP. They will share how they adopted social media and their success stories.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Brain Mush

One my largest inhibitors to blogging is the mush inside my head. I don't have writer's block, in fact, I have the opposite problem. A blog that couldn't include different topics and their woven patterns in my mind wouldn't be very indicative of me.

I managed to categorize the main things I think about and think about blogging about:

  • doing GOOD

  • A heart-warming instinct that is largely blocked out by selfish, survival thoughts. In cases of good, selfish voices are silenced in favor of the other half of human nature: giving.

  • the social in social media

  • What followed my formative years was the blending of and then disappearance of public and private life. What purposes do my actions serve and who do they subsequently influence through my networks?

  • the experience of women

  • It's staggering that so much of my experience as an American woman in the 21st century is unrelatable to my grandmother and mother, not to mention unpalatable to most other cultures across time. I wonder what kind of responsibility such freedom costs...

  • thoughts in the new world

  • Information overload! I'm interested in this conundrum I'm finding: the billions of pieces of information my brain processes daily- much more than in any other generation- does all this knowledge serve a purpose?

    These are the topics I'll (hopefully) be blogging about. Hopefully as I pen the swirling thoughts they will become clear conversation starters.