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Check out my new website

Check out my new website which integrates my blogs, my book and other information


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Updates on Grasping Social Media

Check out my new blog which includes regular updates only my book Grasping Social Media


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New book – Grasping Social Media

I wanted to draw your attention to the book I have just released titled Grasping Social Media.

As a baby boomer, I have been fascinated and excited by the enormous social change that social media is bringing to business and to society more broadly. It is re-shaping the way we behave, how we interact with each other and how we do business. Yet in some ways this is only the beginning, and there is so much more change to come in the future.

For some time now, I have participated in this journey and have collated my thoughts and experiences that have now culminated in this book.

This is not a “how to” manual of social media or the do’s and don’ts of using Facebook or Twitter. There are plenty of others who have gone before me on those themes. Rather this is my story and journey highlighting my experiences and perspectives in the social media space. Once a sceptic, I am now a strong advocate for social media to drive business and social change.

I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy both the book and your own experience of social media. Here are the links to the book – the hard copy version, the Kindle version and also to

You can also like the Facebook page.


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How do you use social media?

How people use social media is a frequent conversation that I seem to encounter. Some will say they just “love Facebook” or they are spending a “lot of time on Pinterest” and so on. But there is a broader perspective here beyond which social media sites are used, and I have found it helpful to consider user behaviour in social media along two dimensions.

One is the frequency of use recognizing that some people are casual or infrequent users, and may view social media to be somewhat incidental to their personal or business lives. At the other end of this scale, some people are very heavily involved in the use of social media, and may well be obsessed with it. For these people, it may be that they access social media in some form every hour of every day.

The other dimension relates to the type of use of social media. For some people, it may be they focus only on the personal side such as connections and contacts with friends, the sharing of photos of their travels and so on. Typically, this is more conversational and the main objective is the contact rather than the content. Others however will be more content focused and use social media to access a wide range of information and knowledge on their topics of interest whether it be news and current affairs, history or hobbies. Communities of interest on social media form an important part of information and content sharing. LinkedIn for example has well over 1 million different groups that have the ability to share information and content, and collaborate amongst the group members.

The figure below blends these two dimensions and highlights four major categories of how people use social media.


The first of these in the bottom left quadrant is the group we can label as the Social Media Butterflies. This behaviour is focused around personal and social use such as contact and conversations with friends, but with infrequent use. These users may access their social media sites on a very infrequent basis or may also be quite passive in the way they participate. In other words, they may have a burst of activity when they have some spare time or when they go on holidays for example.

Another group is also aligned to personal and social activity, but are high frequency users. These are the Social Media Fire Hoses shown in the bottom right quadrant of the matrix. Their activity on social media is not only highly visible, but is also very intense in terms of frequency and profile. They are heavy users of social media which forms and significant part of their daily lives. They will be active through their smartphones and tablets meaning they can and do participate whenever and wherever they are.

The top left quadrant of the matrix shows the so-called Social Media Pickers who are not frequent users of social media, but who will access particular information and knowledge when they require. Their focus is more on content rather than contact. For instance, they may access the social media sites for certain magazines or journals, or may go exploring for information on areas of interest such as sport.

Finally, the top right quadrant shows the position of the Social Media Sponges. These users are frequently engaged with social media, but with the major focus on accessing and sharing of content. They link themselves to various media sites, journals, thinks tanks, consultancies and so on, and spend considerable time on content by accessing information and knowledge across a range of topics and interests.

But there is no right or wrong positioning here. Everyone will work out their own positioning and balance, and this is likely to change over time. Those exploring social media for the first time may start tentatively as low-frequency users but over time they may find they become high frequency users because of contact with family and friends. Others may have a very different experience.

The pattern may also vary depending on the tools being used. A person may well be a Social Media Butterfly on Facebook and access photos or family contacts from time to time, but at the same time may be a Social Media Sponge on Twitter and follow many business and media sites that provide regular updates on articles of interests.

The richness of social media today provides immense variety for how people use it and to reap the benefits of participating in this fascinating medium.

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The Customer CEO imperative

Getting closer to customers and the customer-focused organisation are familiar themes, and have been extensively explored and developed over the years. But execution against these themes has not always been successful, and many stories abound of organisations simply not doing enough in this arena. Indeed, many just do not get what it means to be customer-focused.

But recently, I came across a most compelling book from Chuck Wall called the Customer CEO – how to profit from the power of your customers. This book provides a new dimension on how to look at the customer, and more importantly how organisations can practically manage some the challenges and opportunities. The thinking here is that the customer needs to be considered at the top of the organisation, effectively shaping and driving value, and not the other way around. This is about “customer pull”, not “product push”.

Prior to the information era, the power of the customer was somewhat limited. Organisations were able to present their products to the customer, but in the main they had far more knowledge of the product than the customers to whom they were selling.

Today however, the tables have been turned in the most dramatic fashion. Wall takes us through the massive changes that have occurred and which are continuing at an even faster pace. The customer today has information that is far more ubiquitous than ever imagined – and free. Knowledge gleaned from fellow customers, from colleagues or from friends all mean that the real pressure is back onto organisations to deliver differently. The power is truly with the customer. How do organisations respond in this environment, and what does customer focus really mean are key questions faced by the C-suite today.

In his book, Wall takes us through a fascinating journey of the nine powers or core needs of the customer. He highlights each of these with some really interesting case studies where organisations ranging from fast food to industrial machinery have successfully ensured that the customer is really driving the organisation to deliver value. This is a key point right through his book.

At the end of each chapter on the nine powers, Wall has practical advice on what organisations can do to address these issues, and he also has a short diagnostic tool that can be downloaded.

The nine powers of customers are about the powers of people, rather than the broader market. In this context, Wall highlights a great  quote from Stanley Marcus, the former chairman of retailer Neiman Marcus:

“Consumers are statistics, but customers are people”.

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A business endurance test – the teleconference

About twenty years ago, I was introduced to a newfangled business tool called the teleconference. Here was a way of talking to a team of people in multiple locations by using just the one dial-in number, and it could be managed very simply from the desk phone (not many mobiles at that time). For my initiation, we had a team of about twelve people across three cities in conversation, and we were all very excited. The wonder of modern technology never ceases to amaze.

The teleconference has now evolved, and become a normal part of doing business. It is a common and essential tool for many organizations, and executives and managers can be involved in multiple calls each day. Indeed, some complain of a day of “back-to-back calls”. Over time, the teleconference will give way more and more to the video conference, but for the moment the teleconference is a tool that is used extensively across all levels in business.

Whilst the teleconference has brought much benefit at low direct cost, there are some serious productivity traps. Indeed in some situations, the teleconference is often seen as a chore which adds little value. Here are some of the ways that value can be compromised on a teleconference:

1. The race to multi-process

Too many conference calls involve significant multi-processing by participants which can be a major distraction from the subject at hand or the decision to be made. Chat room conversations are the worst offenders, and often these generate multiple exchanges between people on the teleconference that are totally peripheral to the subject. Worse still is the habit of people setting the call to mute, and then conducting an entirely separate conversation in the background. How this helps to make better decisions or conversations defies belief.

2. The straggler co-efficient

Over the years, I have come to learn that the more frequent the teleconference, the greater the percentage of latecomers. This applies in particular to daily or weekly calls. Teleconferences that occur less frequently, such as monthly or quarterly, have the effect of bringing people to the call more or less on time lest they miss key but infrequent messages. Put another way, the number of latecomers or stragglers is in direct proportion to the frequency of the calls. Stragglers can seriously impact the flow and quality of the call for everyone.

3. “Sorry – I was on mute”

The mute button on a phone is a powerful tool in itself. Unfortunately, some participants will hit the mute button, and carry on a totally separate discussion or activity. This is a frequent occurrence. In extreme cases, participants may actually leave the call completely to quickly grab a coffee. The mute button can also be used as a means of privately venting some emotion or anger at comments being made. Occasionally, the mute button is overlooked in error, and the resulting public comments can add a somewhat entertaining dimension to the call. The mute button is important to shut out extraneous noise, but using it to effectively opt out of the teleconference would seem to compromise the quality of the call.

4. The dreaded mobile phone participant

Some years ago a senior colleague of mine had two very simple rules for teleconferences – no mobiles and no speaker phones. Whilst this sounds a bit draconian, his point was a good one highlighting the need for everyone on the call to be able to hear all participants clearly and without distraction. There will always be good reason for someone to be on a mobile, but doing so from the train station or near a nosy road is not exactly conducive to a good teleconference.

But all is not lost. Here are some simple guidelines that can help shape more productive teleconferences:

  1. Clearly articulate the purpose of the call. Be clear on whether the call must result in a decision or whether it is just information sharing or discussion.
  2. Outline and follow an agenda with some structure. This is so simple yet so often ignored.
  3. Gather the right people for the call, and avoid the rent-a-crowd syndrome.
  4. A good teleconference starts on time and finishes on time.
  5. An even better teleconference is a short one. Many calendar systems default to a 60 minute time slot, but some calls should be set for a more suitable shorter duration.

With some focus and adherence to the above guidelines, much can be done to ensure the teleconference does not degenerate into an endurance test.

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SocialSteve's Blog

Way back when I got my master’s degree in Marketing they used to teach the four Ps of marketing – product, place, promotion, and price. While I think there is still some validity in this model, the digital age has caused a need to revamp marketing executive’s approach. This was covered in last week’s post “The New Customer Demands New Marketing.” Use this approach to yield social marketing success and consider the four Ps of content and social marketing.

Content marketing and social marketing go hand-in-hand … you cannot have one without the other. When developing your content strategy to reinforce what your brand stands for, consider People, Publishers, Producers, and Passing-on. These are your four Ps of Content and Social Marketing.

4 Ps

People – as always, you must start with an understanding of the people you are talking to and engaging with. Forget about the content you…

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