Soundview Executive Book Summaries


A Little Bird Told Us

I saw a great commentary on Fast Company‘s Web site written in response to an article on Breitbart. Both articles deal with the use of Twitter by White House staffers to help spread the message of the Obama administration. Government, like business, is still attempting to discern the best use of social media as a means to both communicate with the public and raise awareness of its message. The author of the Fast Company article makes an interesting case that many of the individuals who intensely follow a social media conversation during a campaign may not continue with the same fervor once that elected official is in power. As the writer put it, “People just want the powers that be to roll up their sleeves and get on with the job of improving people’s lives.”

There are definite limits to the amount of interaction an audience wants with the content source. Your audience may want to hear from you in detail when your company is approaching a product launch or has an announcement about changes to an existing product or service. They may not want to hear about the new office furniture your company just acquired. However businesses have to be cautious to not stay offline for too long. The speed of change that occurs in the world of social media means that a two-day absence is the equivalent of two weeks in the minds of your customers. Stay in touch but be certain to provide information that is compelling enough to make followers want to stay tuned in.

How does your business use Twitter? Do you have a set number of posts you try to achieve during a day? I’d be interested to hear your feedback.

For an informative read on the way to use social media, check out Soundview’s summary of Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

And don’t forget, you can follow Soundview on Twitter by clicking on this link or looking for us at Twitter.com/businessbooks.

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Tapping into the Buzz

The arrival of Google’s new online tool Google Buzz is drawing a good deal of attention from technology watchers. Many are asking the same question asked by the blogger in this link: Is Google too late to market with this product? The questions raised by the Internet giant’s latest move are good fodder for discussion among executives. Google has traditionally relied on two components to help increase the use of its various Web tools: the strength of its brand and a zero-cost price tag.

However, Google is attempting to use its name as a battering ram to enter an established market. A mass audience can be a difficult beast to control, and Google may find that people are more comfortable with an established social media service. The blogger above is an example of the problem into which Google may run. He describes Google Buzz as “the same as Twitter — but integrated with your Gmail inbox, and a couple extra built-in features.” While this isn’t 100 percent accurate, it demonstrates the perception that an audience can form about a product. If this message spreads farther afield, Google may discover that the “Twitter clone” tag is impossible to lift, as consumers do little to no research to counter what they’ve been told by friends.

Whether you decide to try out Google Buzz or stick with your existing social media outlets, it’s what your business chooses to do with these sites that matters most. In that regard, I’d suggest taking a look at our summary of Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s book Trust Agents for a better understanding of how to make social media work for you. The authors have some great advice to allow your company to truly connect with customers online.



The Dawn of Social Commerce

If you read this blog with any frequency, you know that I’m a bit old fashioned. I still pay some of my bills by writing a check. My phone is mainly used to make phone calls. I even still enjoy dropping by people’s homes for a visit rather than viewing their photos on various Facebook pages. However, one area of modern life to which even I’ve taken quite a fancy is the ability to shop online. Not only is it a matter of convenience, but the “global mall” and all its treasures ensures that family members get exactly what they want for birthdays.

Yet for some people, the ability to shop in “real world” establishments is still an important social activity. The occasional trip to the mall is less about the products and more about spending time with others. The fun people have during these excursions helps associate positive feelings with shopping, making the process something that is likely to be repeated, a joy for retailers. By contrast, online shopping is a solo activity. People may occasionally e-mail product links to friends and seek opinions about a pair of shoes or a set of golf clubs, but the process isn’t the same as standing next to a friend in a store and saying, “I can’t in good conscience let you buy that!”

So where do we go from here? According to Online Media Daily, we may be on the verge of combining social interaction and online shopping. As the author of the article in the above link Dave Jackson indicates, some of the technology that companies are considering implementing has existed for years. We”ve had live chat functions and shared Web browsing capabilities for quite some time, but retailers had previously deemed this technology’s value less important than traditional strategies such as sending coupons via e-mail.

The benefits of sharing the online shopping experience could prove tremendous for companies currently struggling to get shoppers to buy. As I referred to earlier, people currently e-mail each other links or photos of items and wait for a response from the other person. By the time the other person replies, even if he or she says, “You have to buy that!” the potential buyer may have moved on. The trail, in essence, has gone cold and the sale is not made. A chat feature on a retailer’s Web site would allow instant feedback. The concepts of “impulse buying” and “peer pressure” have driven retailing for decades. This technology is a way to bring a real-time version of both of these ideas into the world of online buying.

Much of this discussion ties into the concepts in Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s book Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation and Earn Trust. There is a considerable lack of trust online and the authors note that the average online consumer is “cynical, savvy and informed.” One way the social commerce concept could play out is if a clothing retailer offered the option to chat with a store-appointed “fashion consultant” who could help gentlemen pair shirts and ties or give women advice on the right outfit for a particular event. Brogan and Smith would likely point out that the key to this interaction is sincerity on the part of the retailer. In Trust Agents, the authors discuss the need for businesses to cut back on the sledgehammer promotion tactics and instead be genuine in their efforts to help customers. I, for one, wouldn’t mind a little friendly advice now and again while trying to pick an outfit for my fashionable daughter.

In the meantime, it may interest you to know that Soundview will be featuring a summary of Trust Agents very soon. Stay tuned to this blog for more information.