Friday, January 30, 2015

Still On the Prowl for Thought Leadership, Falling off of the Curve Part 2

Social Media Thought Leadership

Way back in August of 2011 I authored the popular post: On the Prowl for thought Leadership, Falling off the Curve.

Denis Pombrant (LinkedIn profile) quoted Marc Benioff (LinkedIn profile) right after a 500+ point Dow drop – at a time when the universe was collapsing and paradigms were shifting more than paradigms are supposed to shift. So we took a few minutes to consider their thoughts. 

Three curves served as examples for the discussion:  the Gartner Hype Curve dated August 2010, Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Adoption Curve, and the Rogers’ Bell Curve from DesignDamage’s article: When to Adopt Social Media for Your Business

Start at the Beginning

Here is the Gartner Hype Curve from 2010 and the updated version as of July 2014 (click on either of the images for a larger view).

2010 Gartner Hype Curve

2014 Gartner Hype Curve

Significant additions to the 2014 version include mobile innovations: mobile advertising, mobile ticketing, and mobile marketing analytics. In the Marketing space a full gamut of new items: real-time marketing, marketing talent communities, marketing technology integrators, data-driven marketing, and social marketing. Who knew that social marketing would become an innovation? A couple of interesting additions: privacy management tools and crowdsourcing. A surprise miss: mobile payments.

Where the 2010 Hype Curve was about infrastructure, tools, and technology, the new curve is about connecting with your customer via marketing and advertising, with the heaviest emphasis on mobile.

The DesignDamage Curve has not been updated.

But a new question might be: Do you really (really?) need more tools?

Where do Instagram, Pinterest, and SnapChat get placed on the curve? What about Yelp!? Has Facebook moved from Early Majority, to Laggards – with grey hairs becoming their key user demographic? Should you be concerned about WeChat and QZone? IS that a MySpace logo on the chart?  Is MySpace still alive?

Forbes reports about traffic declines at Facebook (Article: January 2015): “A new comprehensive survey shows that out of the eight biggest social networks, Facebook was the only one to see a decline in the rate of people actively using the site per month over 2014 — a pattern that was consistent in regions across the world …” Is Facebook dead, dying, or merely catching it's breath? Is Blackberry still alive? Are Blogs dead? Is YouTube the platform for my business? Does YouTube favor Flash or HTML5? 

Each is a serious question. Mobile, short form content, and video content are touted as the preferred media for reaching the consumer. If you make a heavy investment into a platform that goes stale, how do you recover? 

Click for larger image.
Text and Tweets - Character Limits
Blogs and Stories on a rough scale (plenty of examples smaller and lager). 

Are Tweets and text messages (140 to 160 characters) enough to build relationships? Can your business support the continuous need for fresh blog posts (500-1500 words)? How many words and creative savvy does it take to put together a five minute podcast or YouTube video? Is any of this relevant to the product or service you are actually trying to sell? 

Fish, or Cut Bait?

Xolotech asked five questions in 2011 which still merit the small business owners’ consideration. They are still relevant because they are the roadblocks that must be smoothed:

  1. Are you and your company prepared for "collaboration, openness, sharing, integrity and interdependence"?
  2. Have you worked through the details of "innovation, communication channels, time, and social system" (or market)?
  3. Are you moving your customers through key phases of "knowledge, persuasion, decision, implementation, and confirmation"?
  4. Have you adopted the proper technology to achieve your goals?
  5. Bonus question: Is any of this even necessary/achievable for small business?

Small business must overcome the hurdles of regulatory barriers, financial barriers and political barriers. Consider the trials and tribulations of Uber: Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, Example... heck there are a Google of examples).  

Success brings competition and alerts entrenched competitors and regulators (sigh).

Search results for recent articles “When to Adopt Social Media” are surprisingly thin and many were old and the content stale. Search results for Social Media Tools provide a smorgasbord of options, and experts are at hand to explain precisely why one method, technique, tool, is the best for your business. Why not read a book? Amazon has 57,000+ on the topic.

The Bottom Line:

Tools have matured. Many have moved from Early Adoption into the Mainstream. Some tools have reached the laggards and may have moved into stages of decline. New tools are available – dozens of them, but longevity and effectiveness are not assured (can Google+ serve as the example?).

We were overly optimistic in our previous post. Three years later thought leadership is still missing – possibly because the wrong questions are being answered by the experts.

What your business NEEDS to do is create customers. The experts are willing to show you dozens of ways to do that. You just need to be able to afford (read: pay for) their evolving expertise.

Until the field starts shedding the poor players, and raising up real winners, we will stay on the prowl.