Dave Michels
Dave Michels is a Principal Analyst at TalkingPointz. His unique perspective on unified communications comes from a career involving telecommunications...
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Dave Michels | February 26, 2013 |


Power of the People

Power of the People The media isn't as powerful as it once was. Its power is diluted and now lies in the hands of brands, consumers, and even governments.

The media isn't as powerful as it once was. Its power is diluted and now lies in the hands of brands, consumers, and even governments.

The media isn't as powerful as it once was. Its power is diluted and now lies in the hands of brands, consumers, and even governments. Every major brand, including UC vendors, has its own Twitter profile and many of them host online communities. Some are geared toward customers, and some attempt to develop an independent community of subject matter experts. Regardless, the messaging has been at the cost of mass media's influence.

Consider the case of Tesla, purveyor of electric cars. The company didn't agree with a negative review in the New York Times earlier this month, so offered up a fact-based rebuttal. The public dispute spread across social media and other newspapers. The battle was really between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and NY Times columnist John Broder--and it appears Musk won. Repeat: Many believe a company blog had broader exposure and impact than a popular New York Times column.

CBS also lost two very public recent battles this year to social media. The first involved the DISH Hopper satellite receiver which CBS's web brand CNET initially identified as the Best of Show at CES in January. CBS advised CNET to pick a different product due to current litigation between CBS and DISH. CNET complied, but the true selection of the Hopper leaked. The outcome: Untold publicity value for DISH, far more than the original prize would have provided. CEA (the parent organization that owns the CES event) issued a belated Best of Show Award to DISH, and will replace CNET as its official Best of Show Partner.

CBS also refused a Super Bowl advertisement for Soda Stream that poked fun at two of its biggest advertisers for the game; Coke and Pepsi. Soda Stream instead ran a replacement ad that poked at plastic bottle waste less directly--it was viewed during the game by an estimated several hundred thousand people. The publicity of the censored unaired ad earned it nearly 5 million views on YouTube.

Social media is cheap and effective, but there's a hitch: It's possible to lose control. With traditional one-way media there wasn't much risk, but social audiences contribute to the message. Problems do arise with unwanted conversations or outbursts in a forum, or the hijacking of sites and brands. Just last week Burger King's Twitter account was hacked.

UC and social media have an odd overlapping arrangement, but remain separate. Advanced call center solutions include social media tools for monitoring and engaging. The messaging around collaboration includes the importance of multiple communication tools, but social media remains un-integrated for the most part. IBM, Cisco, Esna, and Jive are integrating UC and social, but most of the industry isn't there yet. However, it does seem most of the vendors are engaging in social media to interact with partners, customers, and prospects.

Social marketing involves listening to the communities and establishing relationships with them. However, a social presence is not enough--there needs to be a clear goal or strategy: eyeballs, conversations, brand loyalty, lead generation? An Internet presence is increasingly critical as traditional marketing efforts are less effective than they once were. There are far more channels consuming mindshare, and consumer trust in traditional messaging has declined.

Sometimes goals change. For example, in the past, Cisco executives had little to say about competitive products, but that's the old playbook. Rowan Trollope, Senior Vice President and current General Manager of Cisco's Collaboration Technology Group probably figured a revised strategy was necessary, as his position has been subject to recent high turnover. He posted What Really Matters in Collaboration, directly highlighting areas that he considers deficient for Microsoft Lync. The post got a lot of attention in social media.

Avaya responded on its blog. "Unlike some UC players that have gone on a major offensive against Microsoft, we aren't troubled by this boost to Lync. Not everyone knows this, but Avaya offers a Lync plug-in..." It seems that it's the responsibility of each brand to directly engage and influence conversations. Many UC brands leverage branded blogs and communities to discuss the latest releases and enhancements, or participate in subject matter areas on public sites such as LinkedIn. The result is blogs are replacing press releases as a direct means to reach the public.

Dave Michels is a Contributing Editor and Principal Analyst at TalkingPointz

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