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Changing the Social Channel

I’ve been asked to speak at three different social media related events over the next few months and in each case I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the future of social media.

But here’s the thing. I don’t plan to talk about social media – not much at least.

What I plan to talk about is the future of business as I see it, now that social behavior has infiltrated every aspect of our lives.

I plan to challenge the thinking that social networks are really channels and, in fact, make a case for things like clarity, culture, content and method as the most important channels of a social business.

And finally, I plan to introduce how a vibrant community, perhaps the highest objective of any business today, is built not through social media, but through the confluence of a specific set of socially assisted practices.

I’ve always been attracted to word confluence. It’s a word most commonly used to describe the point at which two rivers come together. My hometown, Kansas City, was founded at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers and the visual of these two powerful channels coming together, to form something even more potent, suggests the perfect metaphor for how community prospers and grows.

I believe that community can only form around a business when the focus of a business is on cultivating and merging the following six practices or what I would like to propose are the genuine channel opportunities.

The graphic below lays out this path of thinking. The first three channels are decidedly internal while the remaining three determine how a community experiences a business from an external view.

confluence of channels

Clarity

Clarity is something I wrote about extensively in my last book, The Commitment Engine. What I discovered is that most organizations that foster loyal and engaged communities also have a single-minded active purpose for why they exist. Quite often the reason that drives them has little do with the actual products and services. This is a crucial starting point and one that’s buried in any discussion about channels, but I think it’s the kindling that starts the community fire.

Culture

Culture, or lack of, is simply clarity, or lack of, amplified. With all the talk about authenticity in social circles, it’s easy to forget that you don’t make this up. People that are attracted to purpose join the cause and strengthen it. Without a set of beliefs and corresponding guiding principles clarity becomes directionless. If I am to stick to my river metaphor this would explain the formation of many an oxbow lake. (A lake like body of water formed when a river changes course leaving behind a standing body in the old channel.)

Method

This is probably the hardest element to explain but it’s the catalyst for the energy required to gain something that feels like momentum. Communities don’t generally form around, products, services or companies. They form around ideas, methodologies and processes that allow them to have something in common with others. To me this suggests the vital importance of creating and communicating “unique methods” and “points of view” that help people figure out how to think about their problems in ways that no one else is. When you can do this, and you give your way of thinking a name and set of steps, you create the potential for a shared language around an idea and that is fuel for creating a cause. All of a sudden you’ve given your staff and your customers a way to evangelize in a common tongue.

Content

This is the place where internal and external streams come together and alter each other’s path in essential ways. Content is essentially the story that communicates purpose, culture, trust and method to the outside world. It’s the tool that gives the community a growing voice, for good or bad, and it is how you build a body of work that ultimately communicates a much bigger story.

Presence

There are many access points to a business and its offerings. Social media has certainly increased that number and perhaps simultaneously diluted it, but know this; your story must unfold in a total presence online and off. You must open up access points in social networks, email, advertising, and PR. You must create a culture of listening and responding. You must facilitate and collaborate at every turn. People will discover and join your community in ways that you’ll never consider on paper. Sometimes initiation is simply a matter of being there.

Touchpoints

I have written numerous times about something I call The Marketing Hourglass. For me all the intention of the above channels is lost if you don’t also plan a logical way to move members of the community to act, buy and refer others. The framework above helps engage and attract members to your community, but you still must draw the map that allows them to engage at the highest possible level. This is how you turn a community into a direct revenue stream, but it’s also how you allow members to sort, sift and determine their roles. A community member that doesn’t purchase can, and quite often does, influence other. By creating levels of engagement you allow your community members to define the role that makes sense in their world and cultivate the complete ecosystem needed to foster complete community.

For now I’ve only scratched the surface of the implications of this line of thinking and certainly each convergent stream I’ve described will require its own action plan. It is, however, thinking about channels and communities in this big picture view that will allow you create the vision for a socially enabled business.

Clarity Makes the Best Strategy

I’ve made a bit of a career out of talking with, listening to and understanding entrepreneurs and small business owners. I’ve worked with thousands of you over the past twenty plus years or so and at some point most of the discussion I’ve had center on the idea of strategy.

It’s something I’m absolutely fascinated with and it’s something I’ve been on a quest over last 18 months to understand more fully.

I firmly believe that strategy, success and happiness are strangely intertwined when it comes to growing a business and I’ve deposited many of my thoughts on this subject in my new release – The Commitment Engine: Making Work Worth It shipping this month.

In order for clarity to become strategy you must remove all doubt about what your organization believes and you must be crystal clear about what that looks, sounds and feels like in the simplest way possible. Once you do that everything else just follows form – it’s clarity amplified.

Below is a very short presentation of one of the key ideas contained in the book that I gave at this summer’s TEDxKC event. The title of the talk is Rethinking Commitment and in it I introduce Tony and Mary Miller – I also share their story in my upcoming release, because the Jancoa story is a brilliant illustration of the power of clarity as a business strategy

I hope you draw inspiration from the Miller’s as I have and check out additional stories on What Makes Worth It at www.makingworkworthit.com (Download a free chapter and grab 6 audio interviews I captured from some amazing thought leader and authors such as Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Derek Sivers, Nancy Duarte, Chris Guillebeau and Steven Pressfield.)

Okay, and now for some final pandering to my readers – you truly make work worth it for me and I feel blessed that I get to do what I do particularly when something I’ve shared or experienced offers a fellow entrepreneur and business owner some measure of comfort, control and insight.

Peace!

Introducing The Commitment Engine

The Commitment Engine

Introducing The Commitment Engine

As you can see from the image here, my third book – The Commitment Engine – Making Work Worth It is just about ready to go.

And, I would like to give you a free copy!

A bit more on that in a minute, but first, what’s the book about?

This book is undoubtedly the riskiest thing I’ve ever written, but it contains a message that I think needs to be spread and shared. In this book I share a lot of personal thoughts and feelings about why I do what I do and what I’m passionate about when it comes to work.

I share tons of stories from entrepreneurs that have discovered a higher purpose their business serves and how they found the clarity to build a business that brings them joy as well as success.

I map out a system for building a business that people want to commit to.

I also use words like love and grace in the context of business and talk a great deal about building a culture and community based on these concepts and for some that’s just not that comfortable.

So, while I fully expect there will be those that won’t find this book as relevant as my past offerings, I also fully expect that many will find this book brave, important and thought provoking – and that’s who I wrote this book for.

You’ll find important lessons about clarity, culture and community from a software developer in Chicago, a janitorial service in Ohio, a telephone answering service in Delaware and a skylight manufacturer in Iowa as well as my take on living and breathing business ownership every day for over twenty-five years.

Here’s what my friend Guy Kawasaki had to say about The Commitment Engine:

“Not often enough, a book comes along and injects a breath of fresh air into the world of business. This is one of those books.”

Want to get a taste? You can download the table of contents, Introduction and first chapter here:

Now, about that free copy.

The Commitment Engine hits the shelves Oct 11. In an effort to get the ball rolling on some pre-orders I will ship the first 400 people who pre-order a copy a second copy free! My publisher will even pay the shipping and you’ll get your free copy before anyone else can even buy one. (Sorry, publisher says U.S. addresses only)

All you have to do is buy a copy using one of the links below and then return to the form listed below and submit your order details so we can ship your free book right away. (Your purchase can be Kindle version or hardback)

Don’t wait – the last time I did this the free copies were gone in a day!

Order links:

Form link: (Come back here and submit your receipt details)

https://ducttapemarketing.wufoo.com/forms/buy-one-get-one-promotion/

Thanks for your continued and overwhelming support all these years!

 

How and Why I Use the Facebook Comments Plugin

Over the last few years I’ve mentioned in positive ways the various Facebook Social Plugins, such as the “Like” button, which has really become a pretty standard feature on my sites these days.

Facebook Comments Plugin

Using the Facebook Comments Plugin on Making Work Worth It

I have not always been as positive about the Facebook Comments plugin. The Comments plugin can be added to any web page or blog and provide a method for logged in Facebook users to add comments to a page much like any blog commenting system.

My concerns relate specifically to the use of this tool to supplant the commenting system on your the central web site and blog for your organizaion as I believe your comments are a valuable content asset that shouldn’t be subject to Facebook’s Terms of Service, which basically says they can do whatever they want with them.

On the other hand, and this is why we put up with Facebook in the first place, there are some benefits to be found in using the Facebook Comments plugin. Most of the comments made are immediately posted to the Facebook timeline of the person making the comment creating a potentially viral and engaging thread for millions to see.

Many marketers have found that, as content has become such an essential element of marketing, there is a place for multiple web sites and side content projects that can benefit the overall business objectives.

For example, some businesses are creating properties to house significant product or service offerings. Most authors these days, including myself, create individual sites in support of individual book titles.

In my experience, these side projects are a great place to take advantage of the benefits of the Facebook Comments plugin as the value of spreading the comments throughout the network probably outweigh the long term benefit of owning the comments. In fact, some of these side projects, say for an event, may be temporary in nature.

I recently launched a WordPress site for my next book – The Commitment Engine – Making Work Worth It and added the WordPress plugin created by Facebook to enable the Facebook Comments function.

This, I believe, is a great example of a use where it makes sense and will benefit the overall sharing objectives of the site greatly.

How to install Comments function

  • Install the WordPress plugin for Facebook
  • Create a Facebook app that allows your site to interact with Facebook
  • Configure your plugin with your app settings
  • Enable the Comment function on WordPress plugin
  • Tweak the app setting for look and feel
  • Start sharing and engaging.

The WordPress plugin install is pretty straightforward if you’ve install one plugin you know how to do that. Once installed and activated it will ask you to configure the plugin.

The Facebook app creation sounds scary but it’s really pretty simple.

While logged in to Facebook go to the app center and hit create new app. You’ll them be promoted to give it a name – this name shows up on Facebook when people use the comments so make sure it relates to your site. Add the URL of the site and save the app. You’ll then be taken to a screen where you’ll see your app ID and secret key needed to complete your WordPress set-up and you’ll also want to add the integration with Facebook by entering the exact URL of your site to two boxes: Website with Facebook Login and Mobile Web. (See below)

Once you’ve successfully created your Facebook application, you need to copy your App ID, App Secret key and App Namespace to use with your WordPress configuration.

Click the comments function in the WordPress set up

The WordPress plugin can interact in many ways with Facebook, but for this post the only one I’m really concerned with is the Comments, so make sure you check that function in the final set up on WordPress