Comcast Sees, but Will It Do? The Two Faces of Social Media Marketing

Here it is, in a nutshell, why social media marketing can be so effective, and where it so quickly can go off the rails:

Plowing through this morning’s long list of Twitter posts, I retweeted a sports journalist’s rave about the MLB Network, adding that it is so much more expensive to obtain on Cape Cod than it is in Waltham and, almost unconsciously, applying the hashtag #Comcast to my response.

A scant eight minutes later, a reply arrived from a member of the Comcast Cares Twitter Team: “I will share the feedback.”

While I am not sure what that means, exactly, I was surprised and pleased to discover that the cable giant – which is not especially well known for its customer service – is so actively using social media as a response mechanism. My own reaction to the experience is textbook confirmation of why the practice is so important, for I suddenly know that Comcast is listening, and I somehow feel good about that.

The problem – not (yet) in this case, but generally – is that many companies fail to follow up on this new variety of market outreach by engaging in any sort of action. Having proactively reached out to me in this way, Comcast has set an expectation that something good now will occur. While I’m not naïve enough to think the company will suddenly give me the MLB Network, I do find myself wondering what will happen next. I’m enough of a skeptic (and have enough experience as a Comcast customer) to believe that the answer will be “nothing,” and I’m disappointed at the prospect.

And that’s the kicker, isn’t it? Assuming I’m right and there is no further communication, Comcast will have lifted me up and then let me down, and will have lost loyalty points in my mind in the process. For them, the saving grace will be that they’re the only game in town, so there’s no place else for me to go. But should a competitor one day appear, I’ll bolt like a deer on the interstate – just as I did in Waltham, where there are three companies to choose from, and the MLB Network is available on a lesser tier.

The lesson here is that simply accessing new social media channels isn’t enough – you have to embrace them as part of your broader business processes (marketing, customer service, product development, etc.). Then you will have moved the loyalty rock further uphill and bettered your business accordingly. And that, after all, is the point.

Wanted: Common Sense in Records Management

If you’re one of those who thinks all the talk about privacy and records management disaster preparedness is merely a plot by consultants to rain on your parade, then consider this story from the New York Post of November 7, 2009:

Confetti-crazed Yankee fans in buildings along the parade route decided to use confidential financial documents in place of ticker tape – literally tossing common sense out the window.

While the Downtown Alliance distributed more than half a ton of recycled confetti to buildings, some office workers, in their enthusiasm, dumped entire files over the Canyon of Heroes.

“We’re finding pay stubs. We’re finding personal financial information. We found a balance sheet of someone’s trust fund showing $300,000 in stock,” said Damian Salo, 29, an internal auditor attending the parade with friends.

Just another reason to hate the Yankees, I know.

But it also points up the critical fact that nothing is as secure as you think it is, and nothing goes as far as a little common sense. There’s little doubt that the manager of the office from which the aforementioned balance sheet was flung was sure the documents in his or her control were protected. Like as not, they were signed out to a trusted employee, placed on a desk in a locked office suite, and probably marked “confidential” as well. Too bad the desk was near an open window facing the parade route.

Read the rest of this article in Infonomics magazine on the AIIM Web site at www.aiim.org/infonomics/Wanted-Common-Sense.aspx.

What Doesn’t Work: 5 Steps to Requirements Document Oblivion

AIIM’s Atle Skjekkeland recently listed five steps for producing an ECM requirements document. In the interests of full disclosure – and a small bit of fun – here’s my counterpoint to his solid recommendations, as drawn from the pages of the Big Book of ECM Blunders.

1. Avoid “paralysis by analysis” and charge full-steam ahead. Don’t do so totally without a plan, but don’t wait for every “t” to be crossed and “i” to be dotted, either. Time is money, after all, so get after it as quick as you can. And besides, people will let you know if you go off course.

2. Reality-check your suspicions as to what your ECM system should do by asking a few other people what they think too. Four or five should be plenty, especially if they come from different departments – and extra especially if they’re the department managers, who can represent the views and experiences of all the people who work for them.

3. Look at the answers you get and compare them to the ideas you already had. If they’re different, that means you’ll have to design the system to do more than you first thought, and thus will have to allow some extra time to finish the job. If they’re largely the same, that means you know exactly what’s to be done and probably don’t need any more outside input.

4. Write down everything you know about what the system needs to do and which functions are most important. Since you’re driving the project, don’t worry too much about how you structure the information or even what you call things – just be sure you know what you mean, and that you look at this document every so often to be sure you’re staying on track.

5. Now that you’ve talked to everybody and documented their input, you’re ready to start building the solution. Good luck!

Good luck, indeed. A recipe for disaster if ever there was one!

Write Once, Distribute Many: Part Deux

Reaching the people for whom documents are intended is no longer “merely” a matter of sending Word files to the right email addresses, putting books and magazines in the right stores, and/or mailing catalogs to the right houses.

Instead, it’s increasingly about making content available anywhere and everywhere a targeted reader might be – including places where printed material may not be handy or even preferred – and doing so without having to deal with multiple workflows to repurpose the content each time.

This issue is coming to the fore because of the accelerating acceptance of Web sites, smart phones, e-book readers, and the like, which are giving readers choices in terms of searchability, portability, and convenience that they can’t get from paper and are beginning to miss when reading printed works.

Thankfully, many software solutions now exist – most using tried-and-true ECM technologies of different sorts – to facilitate the kind of multichannel distribution options people want. Transforming a document’s content so it can be delivered to and displayed on multiple devices still isn’t fully automatic, but there are a sufficient number of technical standards on tap to make the process manageable. The technology also can be acquired either as a package or on a service basis, so it is now more accessible than ever.

The result is that the business case is now emerging to make multichannel delivery a reality. Savvy corporate and publishing industry executives are waking up to the operational efficiencies, environmental effects, and financial gains that can be achieved by embracing the multichannel model. The trick now is to embrace the changes quickly and willingly lest they lose competitive ground at a time they can least afford to do so.

(More to come, here and elsewhere … stay tuned!)