Businesses and Integrating Social Media

imageA year or so ago, I wrote this to help managers in mid-sized companies  understand the best ways to train employees on how to use social media to interact with customers.  Clearly, I suck at the subject so take it as a outsiders view point. 

Before using social media, most employees generally want training on how to engage customers, especially if they grew up pre-internet or don’t use it personally.  The most preferred way individual training.  Unfortunately, in most companies this scales poorly.  There is so much turnover that it is expensive to keep everyone up to date with newest networks, let alone how to use Facebook or Instagram.  It also limits the learner to established practices.  This limits their options and discourages them from exploring new ways to communicate with customers.

Many companies fallback to webinar training, but this is usually a terrible medium for learning complex ideas.  This type of training often take the worst aspects of traditional classroom learning such as being a passive listener and having to attend at a fixed time.  Add to that a student needs to stare at PowerPoint slides on a tiny 17” screen while listening through tinny speakers it a wonder that anyone would attend unless forced. 

There is still a place individualized training and webinars but other options work better.  Some of the best idea come from podcasters and YouTube video bloggers.  Many are entrepreneurs with their livelihoods at stake.  Therefore, most tend to be focused on increasing attendance.  Here is what they many successful ones do:

1. Keep the message short and focused. 

People find the best training sessions are up to 5 minutes long.  Studies show that people on phones watch training sessions for about 3 minutes and tablets/computers for 5 minutes. 

Short lengths help keep people’s attention.  More short content offers increases the likelihood of covering something people need simply by chance. 

Serialization provides more excuses to publicize content.  This is similar to how tweets aren’t often about the content.  They are about keeping the message in the front of the consumer.

The problem is that short content is often harder to do.  Instructors spend more working a 3-minute speech than an hour-long one.  This increases quality.

Percentage of video watchedviewingpercentageSource:

  1. Make highlight reels.

Take snippets the important ideas from long-form content and post it on the content intranet.  This is common in the public policy sphere.  A creator will make an hour-long video, take snippets out, and post the best parts as short form content.  Some will even create separate short pieces and condense the material still further (sort of like an ad or highlight reel.)  

  1. Practice just-in-time learning.

Because most businesses are cyclical, create and publicize content when learners need it, during peak times of the year.  For instance, at a bank, more employees will want to give savings advice during tax season.  

  1. Ask questions before producing content.

Participation is higher in session where employees know it will cover something they are interested in learning.  In a hour+ long training, few people ask questions.  Sessions cause mental fatigue, especially those in remote locations when the temptation to answer emails or play solitaire is strong.

Gathering feedback before production gives the trainer an idea of what people want to know.  It also gives time for people to think about what they want to learn.

  1. Market it.

Content is worthless if no one knows it exists, market it.  Ideally, there should be multiple posts per week about how to do things cycled on the intranet.  Even if it is a repeat, post it.  Few employees will know that it is a repeat and even if they do, there is no harm with a little refresh. 

  1. Build a community.

If the company is really serious about using the internet to communicate with customers, build a internal community.  Make it a one stop shop.  Start by adding all available training and links to corporate social media presences.  Next, have employees write about personal experiences.  Make this a user listening post.  Use forums, surveys, Q&A, and anything to keep interest.  This will also help trainers and experts by giving a single place for research.

  1. Be passionate.

Nothing is more boring than listening someone reading a script or going through the motions.  If it is boring to the poster, imagine what it like for others.  Training should be interesting to the trainer firstly.  Otherwise, it is not worth doing.

  1. Use multiple mediums.

People learn in different ways, so it is important to mix up training by using multiple mediums such as live training, audio, webinars, videos, blog post, LinkedIn requests, etc.  Together with many short pieces, this has several benefits:

  • Helps to track what works for the audience.
  • Risk of failure is lower, so it allows trainers more freedom to experiment. 
  • Allow for creation of meta-training.  This means creating categories of training based ideas and not on the content type.  Some of the better MOOCs do this.

Use video and live feeds and examples to liven the presentation.  When using video, produce audio and text versions of content.  Despite MTV mantra, video didn’t kill the radio star.  The great aspect of audio is learners can multitask (think audio books.)  Short posts are great to drive traffic to existing content and offer bite sized training to boot.  Post snippets from live training sessions can help reinforce ideas.

9.  Test your audience.

Short quizzes or surveys after the content can reinforce content.  Even if the content is short, ask questions after it to reinforce the material and to gather feedback on how well the content was conveyed.

10.  Be Committed

The weakest part of an social media strategy is management.  Most C-level executive want to engage customers online, but don’t put resources into help employee do it.  The results is lackluster with many employees jumping in at the start and two months in the effort is forgot about, to the detriment of the customer base. 

Nor do many engagement their employees or customers to provide an example.  Without this engagement, interest will wane.

JPMorgan Realizes Too Late Brand Reputation Important on Social Media

If there is one thing that you don’t want to do in social media when you have a poorly regarded brand name is ask people to send questions for a online event.

JPMorgan found this out the hard way yesterday with their #ASKJPM.

2013-11-14 07_20_14-Relentless Twitter Mockery Forces JPM To Kill #AskJPM Q&A Session _ Zero Hedge

Originally, it was suppose to be an answer session for one of the their Board members and soon be leader Jimmy Lee.  Instead, it was it became a litany of complaints on the bank recent illegal dealings and its lack of compassion for those going through foreclosure and loan modification processes.

The Inevitable Twitter vs Facebook IPO Post

Source: TwitterWith a big bang, Twitter is now a public company.  It is up 73% to about $45/share.  Now pundits, myself included, are comparing it to the other large social media IPO of recent memory, Facebook.  Most know that Facebook’s IPO was bad.  Glitches, insider sales and hype drove the stock price lower through May 2012.

My hunch that Twitter would be big.  Not because of any technical reason, or the promise that it will be profitable in the near-term, but a simple fact: people like things they use.

Just like has Apple its fanbois and Twitter has a strong following on Wall Street’s trading community because it is a rich source of breaking news.  This means most people who have the ability to buy stock were already familiar with how it works.  Many companies even build tweets into their trading algorithms, which causes panic from time-to-time.  Since it is a service they like, it is easier to bid up rather than short the stock.  Why hate on something needed for your job?

This is unlike Facebook.  Its model is built around local networks that spread gossip, fads and local news.  While important to individuals, much of what is posted cannot be used for financial gain.  It is unlikely that many people in finance even use Facebook regularly. 

I think Facebook’s model is more profitable than what Twitter built mid-term.  It is difficult to see great profit as much of what Twitter relies on is advertising.  Outside Asian languages that use hanzi, It is hard to advertise in 140 characters.  Maybe picture and Vine will help, though I am skeptical.

Intimacy Model of Social Networking Sites

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I was bored a few weeks ago and created this framework of a few social networking sites. They sites seem to be the next stage in the progression of how people interact on the Internet. It is just another thing people came up with the mimics how the real world works. This article is not the end all since it only it analyzes only three popular sites. However, like Google, they will become dominate in the US because of their critical mass.

No one site will have the lock on people’s time since we have alternate egos throughout the net. I expect people join these as their “Public” personas but you will find many on more targeted sites that interest them in a more personal ways to find people of like interests.




Like the real world, social site users interact with the people they are closest to in real life. Most spend 66 – 85% of their time communicating or looking at the profiles of the 4 to 11 people they are closest.

On these sites, people spend time sending small communications to one another that update each other’s pages or if they are online at the same time, they will engage in mini-applications such as quiz games or use in site chat programs. Traditionally, this communication has taken the place via phone calls, text messages, instant messages and face-to-face meetings.


Outside of the intimate group of contacts, people keep track of their casual acquaintances much like the real world. These contacts are people they know, but do not interact with on a daily basis such as former work mates, high school and college friends, and people they interact with in online and offline groups they engage in such as church groups or gamer clans.

While people have varying number of these people connected to their profiles, there seems to be an upper bound of 150 – 200 people in this category. After that point, the user cannot keep up with their social network.

If a user has a strong civic or brand relationship, these groups may also be in this category. Such as being a member of a Ford car club or softball team.


Groups or people in the group give the user’s profile color and uniqueness. Many sites have small add-ons that users allow users go give each other gives or compete in games and quizzes. People find these apps based on affinity to a brand or take part because they see it in another users’ profile. Users may also use these mini-applications to foster social activities or just to break the ice. Examples such as giving a friend a Budweiser or completing a Family Guy quiz that displays the number of points they received.


This is the entire social ecosystem of the site. Depending on what companies do, users may or may not venture into this space. For example, MySpace focuses on entertainment and users will often look around to see what their friend are into to find new music and shows to watch. Where as a site like Mixi is an invite only site that focuses on intimate relationships and does not have a strong public component that allows deep interconnections.

Site Differences


MySpace is focused more on media and entertainment. People use this site to find out what their friends participate in such as music or TV shows. It also has great flexibility and allows users to personalize their profiles and give it an individual look and feel. This ability makes the user focus more finding new connections rather than fostering their more intimate groups.


LinkedIn is seen as a more business like site that offers networking opportunities to find new business or meet acquaintances in a particular line of business. It nature fosters more causal relationships based on mutual interests much like traditional settings such as the Chamber of Commerce or trade associations.


With its rather plain shell, Facebook looks to foster communication between users. Unlike other sites, it is stripped down and simple to navigate offering a consistent look and feel for it users. The site is setup around small comities such as the year someone graduated from a high school or college to work groups. From there people branch out to other groups based on their preferences. It nature allows users to interact with their friends and colleagues easily and is set up so people can maintain their offline relationships.