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Lee Odden

MiNterview: Enterprise Social Media Interview with Jim Cuene and Douglas Pollei

By Lee Odden     Interactive Marketing, MIMA Seminars, Online Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Smarts

Tonight interactive gurus from General Mills, Best Buy, Target, Fingerhut and Gage will convene at an event hosted by MIMA to discuss: Duality Reality: Who Controls Social Media in the Enterprise?

As a preview, I reached out to Douglas Pollei (left) of Social Media Club Minneapolis and VP of Internet Strategy and Corporate Development for IKANO Communications who helped get the panel created and panelist Jim Cuene (right), who is Director of Interactive at General Mills. to ask a few questions about tonight’s topic.

This dual interview offers everyman definitions of social media, common challenges in large organizations as well as tips and resources for companies trying to figure out how to get their arms around social media in their organizations. We also have reason for new nicknames: “Twitter Jim” and “Wiki Douglas”. Read on.

MIMA is having an upcoming event about social media in the enterprise, “Dual Reality: Who Controls Social Media in the Enterprise”. How did the event and your involvement with it come about? What are some key topics?

Pollei: The idea for the panel goes back to December when I had a discussion with Ken Kaplan at Intel in San Jose http://kenekaplan.wordpress.com. What he was experiencing is what many who are involved with social media deployment in large companies were up against, the duality reality. Since then I had heard it called by different names. Liz Strauss calls it the gap, Josh Bernoff calls it purists and corporatists, but it is about the bottom up groundswell and the top down control colliding.

Since that early discussion with Ken, I collaborated on the idea of a panel with Jim Cuene at General Mills. He introduced me to Matt Wilson at MIMA who agreed that the topic would be interesting. I figured the event, being co-produced with MIMA and Social Media Club, could help open up the conversation to a more national level. MIMA announced today that this will be the largest monthly event ever held.

Cuene: Doug Pollei and I were talking in January about the social media, how companies like General Mills were going to be changed by it, and how much we had to learn. At the same time, he was looking into starting up a local chapter of the Social Media Club. I though there was a clear synergy with MiMA, suggested he approach MiMA about a joint program. He’s a driver, and he made it happen. I’m happy to be part of it!

How would you define “social media” to someone not fluent in interactive or online marketing?

Cuene: I’m going to rip off Dan Zane’s definition of folk music: Social media is media for social people. Or, a slightly more complicated version: Social media is the online content left by people as a by-product of being social online. It’s the media that results when folks write, review, share, trade, connect, etc. online.

A lot of people define it by the tools: IM, twitter, Facebook, etc. It’s easy to look at the technology that delivers the media – like TV, radio, magazines. But, the key in this model is that the media is more associated with the behavior than with the tools.

Pollei: A online area where people can connect, share, and learn. In the early days of the Internet, this was done by newsgroups, email, or bulletin boards. Now there are large online spaces you can connect like Facebook, Myspace, or LinkedIn. Connections can be on these large sites or it can be in smaller sites as well with persons of likeminded interests. The whole point is to participate (connect and share) and not to be idle on the sidelines.

What are some of the common issues large organizations encounter when trying to evaluate and adopt social media technologies? Are you seeing more internal or external facing applications? (ex: building a private social network vs engaging in existing/public social networks)

Pollei: Social media is great for its potential for honesty and community involvement. This is an opportunity but also a risk. Groups like Marketing, Interactive, Product Management, Strategy, Legal, PR, IT, outside vendors, consultants, and advertising agencies are all part of the mix that must coordinate. All are groups who have a say in the struggle many large organizations are experiencing regarding control over social media.

Forces are oftentimes at odds with each other inside these groups due to top down control and bottom up innovation. So the idea of “control” really should not be part of the conversation inside a large organization. Rather the vocabulary and culture should shift.

I believe IT groups are starting to embrace social tools in their network. Many vendors are now building social tools for their existing software. BEA announced recently a series of social tools with innovators like BDG. In the future, companies will use a mix of private and public tools based upon the needs or their customers, employees, and community.

Cuene: The only stuff I care about right now is consumer facing. I don’t care too much about Enterprise 2.0 (though I know that I need the same tools for internal communications that I’m seeing take off in the consumer space).

The phenomenon is just getting started, even though to those of us who are on Twitter and compulsively reload Tec meme it feels like it’s been around a while. It’s still so early in the game! Big companies that have been historically reliant on mass media are just now beginning to realize the extent to which their worlds will change as a result of social media.

A couple key issues:

  • Efficiency is elusive/It’s hard to execute social media efficiently- Large companies have made a science out of finding efficiencies in media, and have been pretty successful squeezing most of the fat out of production budgets. But, social media, in a lot of ways, is the exact opposite of mass: Labor intensive, highly involved, non-standardized.
  • Who to Turn to – Big companies are critically dependent on their agencies as a way to run lean internally. But 90% of ad agencies are still trying to figure out how to deal with display and SEM. Social media is going to be a total mind- f*** for them. And a lot of the “social media agencies” are making it up everyday, as they go along. No one has this figured out, and big companies aren’t really staffed right to figure it out themselves.
  • Evaluating success – What’s a good result? We all know home runs when we see them in other media, but what does a a successful social media campaign look like? How big does that success have to be to drive the business?
  • Velocity -By it’s nature, social media is slower than Mass. The Blendtec guys were at it for a while, before “Will it Blend” went big. Viral hits like “elf-yourself” don’t just happen overnight in most cases, even if it seems like it to us. Tv-centric companies are used to turning on the ad (or dropping the FSI, or starting the promotion) and seeing the results immediately. For companies that are used to the velocity of impact that comes from “mass” media, the slow, steady approach may be frustrating

For me, the scariest thing is the tension between wanting to move fast on this stuff, and not wanting to make a major commitment too soon. I think the idea of “first move advantage” is mostly bullshit in this space. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, or because my brands have more to lose, but I’m really getting comfortable with the idea of being the smart follower.

Social media is creating whole new communication patterns, consumers are learning new habits and they’re inventing new ways of taking in information. And the technology to make it all go is literally being invented right now. As an entrepreneur, I’d want to be right in the middle, creating the change. As a marketer, I’m comfortable with the idea of watching things evolve for a while

Can you share a few high level tips for companies that are in discovery mode when it comes to tasks such as deciding on social platforms and applications, internal management and success measurement?

Cuene: I’m an unreliable source here. We’re still sorting out this stuff, but I’ll let you know when I’m confident enough that we’ve been successful. Here are principles we’re working from:

  • Fail fast and small
  • Pull the trigger slowly
  • Manage experimentation like a portfolio. Assume that out of 10 experiments, you’ll get one smash, 2-3 qualified wins, one or two that seem like noble failures, and the rest will probably wash out.

One piece of advice that I would give is, work really closely with the companies. Facebook, Myspace, Google, Yahoo, Cafemom, Videoegg, have all been very willing to work with us to create successes.

Pollei: First you have to find out what kind of participation levels you community is at before you decide on a platform or application. You could potentially invest large dollars in something no one is using yet in the social media adoption curve.

Participate in webinars with many of the social media vendors to see if they have products that meet you community criteria. Awareness Networks is very active in this area of Enterprise 2.0. I would also seek analysts who have performed reviews of social tools. Jeremiah Owyang’s list of White Label Social Media Vendors is a good place to start. Connie Benson, a community manager located here in Minnesota, has helped compile some further questions on these topics at http://dualityreality.pbwiki.com

What are some of the resources (sites, blogs, books, events, networks, applications, etc) that you rely on for information on social media best practices?

Pollei: This is a hard one but I can list what I am currently reading or attending.

Academic Sites:

  • http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/
  • http://blog.hbs.edu/faculty/amcafee/index.php/ – Andrew McAfee@Harvard

Great Thoughts

  • http://www.conversationsmatter.org/
  • http://www.webguild.org/
  • http://iinnovate.blogspot.com/
  • http://avc.blogs.com/
  • http://www.chrisbrogan.com
  • http://www.providentpartners.net/blog/
  • http://www.web-strategist.com

Events:

  • http://upcoming.yahoo.com/group/16/ – This is the master list for what to attend
  • http://conversation.eventbrite.com/
  • I always liked the Cluetrain Manefesto and it will be celebrating the 10 year anniversary at this event with Doc Searls, co-author of “The Cluetrain Manifesto” and fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Institute.
  • http://code.google.com/events/io/ – Google Developer Conference
  • http://smbmsp.ning.com/ Twin Cities Social Media Breakfast – Hosted by Rick Mahn

Books Currently in my Bag: The Big Switch and Groundswell

Cuene: My reading list is much more narrow than both it should be and it used to be. I don’t think I’ve got anything unique to share here…

I asked this question of Charlene Li in a previous interview about Groundswell, so you can’t use her answer (RSS). If you were a social technology, which one would you be?

Cuene: Twitter? Short attention span, limited capabilities, impulsive, compulsive, omnivorous

Pollei: How about being a wiki. It is similar to a “mi casa su casa” attitude. You don’t have to know somebody at the door to get in or have to bribe the bouncer. Simply share your information and thoughts and people will do the same. Collective thoughts and community. It is not about who owns the brand or channel but about problem solving.

READER BONUS! What question should I really be asking you? (and the answer of course)

Cuene: How are you making decisions about where to invest energy and time in social media?

  • Where are you placing your long term bets? (not telling)
  • Is Facebook the next AOL? (yes)
  • Is the web page dead? (Not yet, but it’s dying)
  • What comes after the webpage? (the feed)
  • Is professional, quality content dead? (it’s not nearly as valuable as it used to be)

Thanks guys!

[Be sure to visit Jim’s blog where he elaborates on his answers “Questions about Social Media/ Implications for Marketers.]

Meet Jim, Doug and the rest of the panel, Brad Smith, VP of eCommerce & Digital Marketing, Fingerhut Direct Marketing, Gary Koelling, Creative Director, Social Technology, Best Buy, Jason Kleckner, Manager, Information Architecture, Target Corporation, and Moderator: Michael Kraabel, Group Creative Director, Gage this evening at Solera.

Registration is currently only available at the event at 5:15. Space is limited so get there early. Presentations start at 6:00pm. More info on the MIMA site.


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