Tag Archives: social media

The Jury is Still Out on Digital Media Across Industries

Earlier this month I teamed up with former Booz Allen Hamilton colleague Scott Golas and staff writer Nancy Hala for a three-part interview on Dig-it-all media on the effectiveness of digital media and the need for social business outsourcing to build high growth companies and manage brands.  Based on some of the recent stories on effectiveness of Google Ads and Facebook advertising, some markets respond and others don’t regarding social media advertising for business.

“For products like consumer and durable goods, there are still a lot of questions about the effectiveness of buying ad space on Facebook. Some think it could be the right approach, particularly to attract younger buyers. The leader in this arena is clearly Apple, who focuses its brand and product line on digital media. But for businesses in other industries, for example those not specializing in technology or knowledge, the true power of digital remains to be seen.”

In working with high growth companies, the marketing function is often starved in terms of funding and resources.  This is self-defeating as in this digital age the adage “if you can’t link to it, it doesn’t exist” applies particularly to the new demographic of online  buyers and purchasing agents who build their bid lists by first checking Google in many cases.

“While there may be a marketing director providing overall management of activities, you still need people to develop content and place it appropriately in given markets. Since these skills are not typically found within a company – particularly in global companies operating in many different national markets – outsourcing can be an effective solution.”

Finally I look at the on-ramps to new industries, markets, segments and target customers where focused brand management can create a high-touch social experience.  In these cases, classical brick and mortar “hard” approaches may be by-passed altogether for an online user experience to education and build trust with the customer.

“Over the past two or three years, cooperation among third-party platforms and plug-ins has made it easier to coordinate messaging across multiple platforms,” Newman says. “Face-tweeting and in-tweeting – these bridges expand communication, and for businesses that means that social campaigns can be integrated with email marketing. Will we get to a place where there is one platform to rule them all? I don’t know, but that would be cool.”

Thanks again to Scott and Nancy for their work to publish the interview series which can be viewed on its entirety on Dig-it-all here.  To follow other Dig-it-all postings and interviews search on hashtag #digitallco or follow Scott on Twitter (@scott_golas).


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Filed under Cloud Readiness, Digital Content Strategy, Information Technology, Marketing and Social Business, Mobile Society, Operations, Technology

Using Social Business Tools to Increase Performance Management and Reporting in Sustainability Programs

Latest installment of my recent eBook series of articles on social media and social business practices supporting sustainability initiatives. In Part 1 of this article series, I introduced a framework for social media – including an information life cycle – used in sustainability programs.  In Part 2 of the series, I  address the strategic intent for reporting and green marketing of sustainability goals to outside audiences, what I call “Stage 1” activities.  In Part 3 of the series, I consider  the strategic messaging used to promote internal stakeholder adoption, what I call “Stage 3” activities.  In this installment – Part 4 of the series – I look at social business solutions available to report and monitor performance of sustainability programs, what is referred to as “Stage 3” activities of the information life cycle of sustainability programs.

A sustainability program, like any business initiative, is focused on the development of goals and objectives and tasks associated with achieving those goals and objectives.  The nature of triple bottom-line (3BL) activities creates both structure and duplicity in terms of measuring the performance of many of these goals and tasks.  Structure can be found in the regulatory nature of financial, environmental and social performance aspects of a sustainability program can be viewed prescriptively from a compliance context.  For example, certain greenhouse gas (GHG) targets are known and specific reduction goals suggest the end game.  However sustainability programs are susceptible to the duplicity nature of what to monitor and how to monitor key metrics which often times are not germane to the specific objectives of a program.  Strategic initiatives, such as creating green-inspired products and services, are also very difficult to measure in early start-up phases, as are many entrepreneurial activities.

Fortunately best practices and solutions have emerged which can lend themselves to the adequate tracking of the right metrics, at the right time, and in a proper manner so that accurate reporting against internally stated goals and objectives can occur.  Many of the large software platforms used in business – Microsoft, SAP and Oracle – maintain contextual databases of information which can be harvested, mined and represented.  In some cases these platforms also contain fully-capable performance management tools as well as social business platforms.  These can be integrated into project microsite environments, discussion board and messaging sites, with direct access to business intelligence (BI) and analytic capabilities.

The end result in many of these scenarios is scorecards and dashboards – renderings of metrics and measures at either the strategic or tactical levels, respectively. Scorecards and dashboards can be drilled into deep, contextual levels, to determine the underlying causes of why an organization is or is not meeting its sustainability targets.  For example, a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) can review scorecards and dashboards in the SAP performance management environment, and then notify specific project or department heads of an issue in one of the implementation projects – such as not meeting environmental health and safety goals – by integrated email.

Click here to read the complete article on Sustainable Business Forum.  The final article in the series I will consider how companies take performance management information of sustainability programs and promote this information outward into its internal supply chain, so-called “Stage 4” activities of the information life cycle.

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Filed under Business Analytics, Change Management and Leadership, Compliance, Enterprise Performance Management, Information Technology, Operations, Procurement, Program Management, Risk Management, Strategy, Supply Chain Management, Sustainability, Technology

Using Social Media for Inbound Strategic Messaging of Sustainability Programs

As part of my exclusive series on social media for sustainability programs for Sustainable Business Forum, I look at the strategic messaging used to promote internal stakeholder adoption, what we call Stage 2 activities.  In Part 1 of the series, we defined an information and program life cycle for social media and social business tool use in sustainability programs.  In Part 2 of the series, we looked at examples of how businesses are using social media platforms to “declare to the world” their objectives and intentions of their sustainability programs.

As social media platforms mature, organizations are looking to leverage social and informal communications internally for business programs.  These social business tools, available now as both extensions to proprietary environments and as open source, stand-alone platforms, create new opportunities for executives and program managers to “hone their strategic message” platform and to gain adoption for sustainability efforts inside the organization.

Relative position of Internal Communications and Marketing – sustainability programs should delineate between the two in terms of purpose and focus. (source: Booz & Company as modified by Newport Consulting Group)

With so many emerging platforms to choose from – everything from internally-focused Facebook groups, YouTube, and Google+ “hang outs” to more sophisticated project based platforms such as Microsoft SharePoint and Jive Software – it’s tough to get a handle on where to begin.  With so many new social business platforms emerging every week,  the question becomes: does the platform work for sustainability programs and is one platform better than another?

Indeed one of the first issues to address is the role of communication inside the organization.  Key to this issue is who is going to own internal communications and who will build this capability, particularly in the area of content creation, for the sustainability program.   This can be tightly integrated with outbound, conventional marketing communications.  Indeed there is a “hand and glove” role between the two – however therein also lies the danger.  “If internal communications starts to sound like it is selling rather than to inform or build consensus, employees may feel as though the sustainability program is ‘green washing’ the company,” explained Newport Consulting Group’s Cindy Jennings, Principal for Sustainability Management services.  “The focus of the sustainability program is to share information and company objectives to build support inside the organization and to select supplier partners.  Leave sales communications for the sales teams.”

Many large corporations, such as Texas Instruments, use internal intranet sites to facilitate sustainability information and program communication. TI’s “INFOLINK” uses standard web-based platforms including polls, blogs and wikis related to their sustainability program.

The importance of getting the employees on-board with sustainability programs should never be under-estimated.  “Our employees are the most important stakeholders in our program since they make our objectives possible,” recounts Lara Hussain, Sustainability Director of Texas Instruments (TI).  Story-telling can be key to the success of internal communications used to promote sustainability programs.  Sustainability teams can provide providing engaging content in blogs, articles or news feeds shared through social business tools.

Hussain recalls that at first the TI approach was simply sharing relevant articles on what was happening in the area of sustainability for education and awareness. “We started with a sustainability website internally, with articles that focused on sustainability use both in the company and at home.  Then we added an open discussion thread on how and why sustainability is important.” Soon this led to animated videos, short and simple, produced internally.  “We experiment every year to find new ways to engage and inspire employees and maintain our focus on sustainability,” explains Hussain.

To read the full story, please visit SustainableBusinessForum.com.  Many thanks to Lara Hussain from Texas Instruments who contributed to this article with her outstanding program example.

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Filed under Audit and Oversight, Change Management and Leadership, Communication Planning, Compliance, Mobile Society, Program Management, Risk Management, Sustainability, Technology

Strategic Intent for Green Marketing and Disclosure Using Social Media

In part 2 of my exclusive series on social media use for sustainability programs for Sustainable Business Forum, we look at the strategic outbound communications mode of the information life cycle presented in part 1.  In this mode, organizations “declare to the world” their findings and intent regarding their sustainability program in an attempt to engage stakeholders (citizens, investors, partners, customers, and other external actors to the organization).  I offer examples from City of Beaverton, County of Oakland (Michigan), IKEA, SAP, and Starbucks Coffee.

Disclosure forms can range from simple to very complex

In my work with the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accounts (MACPA, www.michcpa.org) I have briefed hundreds of accountants and financial managers on the two purposes of sustainability reporting.  The first is a strategic intent to communicate to the public at large – shareholders, customers, and other stakeholders – the good things that the organization is pursuing across a triple bottom-line (3BL) scorecard. The second is a responsive measure based on the need to report on business performance to this same audience. These differences suggest as well the nature of the information to be presented as well as the different social media approaches – called channels – that would best be used to reach the target audience to best accomplish communications objectives in sustainability programs.

What a company or organization decides to promote is just as if not more important than how a company or organization decides to communicate the message across social media.  There are a number of basic to very complex reporting disclosures, each ranging from very formal to informal basis.  Simple disclosures might involve sharing information – from statements of direction, to activities and accomplishments – across simple social media such as websites, podcasts, and YouTube channels.  More complex disclosures, such as the Dow Jones Sustainability IndexIntegrated Reporting with financial statements, or Global Reporting Initiative (G3) filings can be demanding and elaborate, with multiple interactive layers of drill-down click-through metrics, requiring dedicated sites or pages.

Read the full article here.  In the next article in our series we will look at how companies translate the strategic messaging from outward to the public audience now inward to the enterprise in order to motivate, engage and excite employees and executives to execute sustainability program activities. This is a process deeply rooted in organization change management techniques, where messaging channel and content is an important key ingredient to change personal behavior.


Filed under Change Management and Leadership, Community and Municipal Outreach, Compliance, Mobile Society, Operations, Program Management, Risk Management, Strategy, Sustainability, Technology

A Framework for Social Media in Sustainability Programs

Over the next several months I will be contributing to the Sustainable Business Forum and Social Media Today on the topic of social business (aka “SocBiz”) and how these tools, methods and approaches can be used to address sustainability programs.  The first article in the series outlines a framework – a cycle – of how private and public sector organizations typically adopt these approaches through four phases of the information life cycle of sustainability efforts.

In my work with companies looking to promote their outbound market and internal communications messages, I have looked at a number of “socialbiz” tools and methods that seem to be resonating in the workplace particularly with those that are members of the Millennial Generation who find messaging platforms are more preferable than corporate or personal email systems. In addition there has been an explosion over the past three years in the use of business analytic platforms and how these platforms render real-time information related to business performance against key targets and metrics. Combine this with the need for greater and more detailed communication regarding sustainability initiatives – including the bounce that mobility and social tools bring to program funding – and you find the convergence point.

Use of Social Media tools during sustainability effort should support the information life cycle.

As I pointed out recently in an Institute of Management Consulting webinar series on the topic, using social business tools is not child’s play. In fact one of the key success factors in using socialbiz platforms is to keep it relevant, timely and focused. I use the expression SAFTK (“stay away from the kids”) for business leaders and IT managers to know that there is a deep well of lost productivity if the tools are used for the wrong purposes across the wrong channels of communication. For example while news and media streams are helpful to keep general knowledge current and to see what the marketplace is communicating about your products and services, the use of socialbiz tools should be business-driven. For sustainability efforts, this means driving market objectives, internal consensus, and developing the requisite information to show the world you really are doing what you say you are.

In the framework I have developed to illustrate this life-cycle for sustainability programs, the axes are based on both the outbound and inbound direction of the communication as well as the strategic or operational context of the messaging. Based on this framework, organizations typically begin in the northeast (upper-right hand) quadrant and work counter-clockwise in their use of social media and socialbiz tools to address the activities of each stage of the life cycle.

For more information on this approach, including a discussion on the four phases of information use in sustainability programs, please read the entire post on Sustainable Business Forum.  Many thanks to editor Carissa Wodehouse  (twitter @CWhoa and Google+ Carissa Wodehouse) for her work on bringing this article series to light.


Filed under Change Management and Leadership, Community and Municipal Outreach, Compliance, Operations, Supply Chain Management, Sustainability