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Spring Camping Begins!

I was just looking at my schedule and noticed I have a good deal of time on the road with Product Camps which is always fun.  I’m looking to be at 4 PCamps in the next 3 months.

ProductCamp Vancouver: This is next week already!  (Saturday, March 17) Looking forward to being out west and catching up with Stuart and team at the SFU Graduate School of Business in downtown Vancouver.

ProductCamp St. Louis: April 21, 2012.  This will be my first time to St. Louis in a really long time and I’m looking forward to it.   I also think this is the first one, if I’m correct.  It is nice to see Product Camps sprouting up all of over the place.

ProductCamp DC: I’m looking forward to attending at my second PCampDC on May 4 and catching up with folks like Pradheep Sampath, Shardul Mehta and the other folks I met last year.

ProductCamp Boston:  I’ve never been to PCamp Boston, but I’ve been watching them online via Twitter for couple of years, so definitely looking to be in Boston in the spring, which is one of the best times to be there. So with good weather, people and content this should be a good camp to attend as well.

Hope to see some of y’all on the road, cheers!



Social Slow Down: Ambiguity and Process Inhibits the Benefits of Social Media for Over 1/2 of Tech Marketers

Engaging and understanding the market is a critical set of activities that many marketers are presenting the results of their 2011 efforts to their management teams for 2012 plan finalization.   The final end of the year push is always a fun time and finalizing your next year’s budget and plan are just some of the things we all have to do.  For many, social media may be on the list of things to invest in for 2012.  Whether it’s putting together a listening station, putting formal programs in place for funding or just extending the efforts already in place there are some key items for consideration around process.

This post will focus on the returns from a mini-survey we put into the market in November.  There were several interesting insights from this survey and you can see all the returns as Paul Young has released them over at Product Beautiful, but I thought I would start a discussion around social media policies and how they impact the responsiveness and benefits of social media for businesses and individuals alike.

Process for some is seen as a constraint, but based on the 100’s of folks I’ve spoke to over the last 3 or 4 years at conferences, inside businesses I’ve worked at and during seminars I’ve lead, social media is an area of interest and concern for many and the lack of process or over engineered processes represent some of the most common items highlighted as inhibitors to participation for many.

Process Drives Interaction and Willingness to Participate

For many, corporate policies and alike are seen as not so positive, but absence of policy and clarity can be equally negative on employees.  Folks like clarity and context and policies for many provide a path forward and encourages folks to take the next steps which many won’t take without guidance or rules of engagement.

From the November survey of social media usage, 25% responded that no formal policy exists and another 8% being unsure of a policy.  That’s a fairly unclear path for many and this for some may mean that many don’t know what to do online as it relates to their business and their products.  Without a policy which sets forth acceptable use, many folks will just opt out since without a policy any engagement could be seen as positive or also negative.

So here are the policy results from the November survey on social media:

Just as no process can be an inhibitor for some, review processes can  impact/limit the benefits of social media initiatives.  Reviews minimally takes out the “real-time” element and according to the survey results 19% of the respondents have such a step in their process.

While I understand the concept of a review and the comfort it can provide some businesses, it just might be counter productive.

Why is this?  Reviews can impact the effectiveness of a company’s social initiative since time and speed to publication is critical component to whether or not a post is ranked high by a given search engine or gains traction in a given social network.  So time is one key factor which a review potentially could impact.

The other item which for some might be an issue is the very review itself.   For some a review is just not something which they appreciate, desire or have time to work through.  Depending on how the review step is implemented a review could be an iterative process which requires additional effort which some folks just don’t have time or patience for.

If there is one thing we know from the Pragmatic Marketing annual survey, time is a scarce resource for most marketers.  So time and effort could be extended, but you may also miss out on putting an authentic voice into the market on topical issues with a review process.  If a post goes through a review processes there just might be a generic voice which is overlaid on the original content which may not be as impactful to readers or folks in the discussion. The voice of your employees  represents a clear opportunity to put a human face on a brand or company and if you are reviewing content to edit, censure or in general MARCOM the message.

Net-Net – Reviews, depending on how they are implemented, can effectively minimize the voice of your writers and potentially represents a missed opportunity just because of time it takes to review proposed content or responses online.

So while having a formal policy is critical for any corporate social media effort,  having a review policy can introduce a slow down and make you miss an opportunity in the market to learn, engage or assist folks in need of service.  It is also important to note, that much like no policy and policy of a review may discourage some to participate as well if additional effort is required.

No Policy Impacts Willingness to Engage

So reviews can impact participation, quality and timeliness of engagement much like no policy can.   Without a policy it becomes very unclear even in positive situations what an individual should do on behalf of their company.   Without a policy, no action is the preferred action for many and this issue has shown in the results of our November social media survey as well – with 18% of folks just ignoring even positive references for a given brand, company or product:

To reap the benefits of social in full, executives and businesses need to set forth a clearly understood policy which let’s everyone understand what is acceptable and what is not.   If a thoughtful policy is put in place, then a review process shouldn’t be necessary.   I’ve always told folks who worked for me – regardless of what you do online there are 3 things I think you need to remember:

1. The day you joined our company you signed all kinds of stuff – that is still in effect online (IP, Confidentiality, Product Plans, ect…)

2. Do good, be honest and be nice

3. Remember you only have your reputation and integrity

Most policies I’ve read basically cover these three items, but most do it in legalese and it takes 3-5 pages to cover these items which can be a little intimidating, but not as intimidating as ambiguity.  As I’ve noted, for some even a review process can be seen as a deterrent.

Full disclosure, if you are in a highly regulated industry such as Pharma or Financial Services then a review process may be legally necessary to ensure compliance and to mitigate any potential risk associated with online activities.    If this is the case, then I would challenge you to have content or scenario related triggers to minimize the review overhead.

The opportunity businesses have is to put all the resources which could benefit from social media engagement and content creation into the discussion and a policy is needed to get some of those folks off the fence.   Work with your leadership to get a formal social media policy as a priority in 2012 if you don’t have one.

There are plenty of policies online which you can scavenge from to start the discussion or to give legal a starting point.  Here is a pretty exhaustive list which includes all kinds of companies and entities from IBM, governmental agencies to non-profits:


Time to reflect: 100 Things I’m Thankful for in 2011

Thanksgiving already?!?!  There are lot’s of reasons this year flew, but mainly it’s been driven by family, friends and my career which has made 2011 fly by.  2011 has been fun and full of memories which I couldn’t have imagined would have taken place this year.

Since it’s Thanksgiving, that means I get the opportunity to do what my 5th 100 Things I’m thankful for post, which is my favorite post of the year.


  1. My family which just keeps getting bigger – kids, parents, brothers, cousins, nieces, nephews and my wife
  2. Watching all my kids grow closer as friends
  3. My automagic coffee maker which greets me everyday with fresh coffee when I’m home
  4. That kids provide a consistent reality check
  5. Breakfast at Chompies
  6. A crisp sunny fall morning.
  7. A block of time just to curl up with the kids and catch up on Umizoomi
  8. The way Hadrian slowly wakes up every morning
  9. That Kevren and Dijouri are setting goals already
  10. Catching up with Friends when on the road
  11. A morning walk
  12. A house full of dogs and kids with the BBQ going
  13. The day I realized that I really don’t have to respond to a given email in real-time
  14. Netflix, regardless of their price increase make my life easy – let’s watch Pocoyo again!
  15. Catching up on TV on a dreary day
  16. When I actually get time to use my iPad when I home
  17. Watching Hadrian try and swipe at the TV like an iPad
  18. The day I realized that gravity always wins
  19. The weekend I just lost to Cut the Rope
  20. A user interface that doesn’t require any documentation
  21. That I still believe most people are kind and mean well.
  22. Free Wireless in the airports
  23. Every time I get asked to be a mentor
  24. Opportunities to talk metrics
  25. The Georgia climate, I know it’s hot in August, but it all is forgotten on a sunny day in February
  26. Steamed asparagus
  27. Every time I get the opportunity time to read to my kids
  28. Instagram
  29. The folks that read spatially relevant
  30. Layovers I can actually enjoy
  31. Sunrises cresting over mountains
  32. Ideas that work
  33. Ideas that don’t work and learning from them
  34. Small businesses
  35. Any opportunity where I can teach someone something
  36. Going out to dinner with the kids at the local diner.
  37. Sleeping in to 6:00 am – it keeps getting earlier every year!!!!
  38. The day I realized most of the things that pop up in life are just noise
  39. Going to an aquarium
  40. Every chance I get the time to enjoy a city when I’m on the road
  41. That I was able go do fun stuff on Halloween this year with the family
  42. Walking on a beach
  43. Sunsets over the ocean
  44. Going the High Museum of Art on a weekend morning
  45. Being home and having nothing to do but chill
  46. Every meeting which starts on time
  47. GoGo Inflight wireless
  48. That everyday I have the opportunity to help solve problems
  49. Sunny Days with big fluffy clouds where I can imagine shapes with my kids
  50. The day I just decided to have an omelette this year for the first time
  51. Watching live music with friends
  52. My dogs – Lilly and Tewsy, plus the neighborhood dog Lucy which hangs out 16 hours a day.
  53. Every time I am reminded that history is important.
  54. Taking the time to walk to all my flights at hartsfield jackson
  55. Naps
  56. Watching my teenagers grow up, learn and become responsible.
  57. Any chance I get to catch a baseball game.
  58. A good bottle of random wine.
  59. That all my kids take every opportunity to learn new things
  60. Every chance I get to blog
  61. Playing Plants vs. Zombies
  62. Engaging discussions with the folks I work with
  63. 2 week long Words with Friends games.
  64. That Atlanta has such an active product management community with TAG PM and ProductCamp ATL
  65. The team at Pragmatic Marketing
  66. Traveling to new places
  67. That I’m able on most days to wake up excited and go to bed fulfilled.
  68. Everyday I have the opportunity to learn something new
  69. Every time I don’t forget stuff in a rental car – glasses again!
  70. Not having to travel for Thanksgiving this year – four years in a ROW!
  71. Each time I read a quote which just makes me think
  72. Every time I get the opportunity to have a thoughtful discussion
  73. Every time I get an amazing meal when I least expect it – that Marriott in Colorado has amazing catering
  74. Dinner with friends
  75. That most days I have no surprises and when I do, I’m up for them
  76. On time departures
  77. Cooking dinner with Emily for friends and family
  78. Desert bacon – thick cut bacon with brown sugar and orange zest – mmmm
  79. Finding that zone when writing a blog post.
  80. Shark week
  81. When the coffee maker in my hotel room actually works.
  82. Every chance to catch up with those folks I’ve been hanging out with for the last decade
  83. A good book which I can put down.
  84. 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep where I wake up on my own volition.
  85. When I don’t leave my coat in my car before I fly north
  86. Volunteering with my kids in the community on a Saturday
  87. Farmers Market – Phay does amazing crepes at the Alpharetta Farmer’s market –
  88. Listening to talk radio on my way to the airport
  89. The rare occasion of watching live TV, instead of DVR content.
  90. All the people that help me along the way in life
  91. When I find a nugget of information I wouldn’t have thanks to folks I follow on Twitter
  92. Anita who kindly volunteers to watch our kids so Em and I can have a life
  93. Catching up with folks IRL who I only know online when I’m on the road
  94. Any chance to take a ride in the country side
  95. That my mom understands when I forgot to give her a call on her birthday because I was on the road. Thx mom!
  96. Every time we random into a small town festival and have time to just stop and mill around
  97. Any opportunity to share a happy moment with friends or family.
  98. Google Maps
  99. That I can get most of my holiday shopping done online without issue
  100. Any chance I get to tell a story which can help someone improve or avoid a pitfall I’ve hit before

Hopefully you are spending time with people you care about and sharing a great day with others!  If you are one of the randoms that show up thanks to Bing and Google, welcome and thanks for stopping by.

Have a great and safe Thanksgiving!


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