Researcher, personal brand and social media

I was just discussing with a group of researchers and asked how I have been creating my personal brand on the Internet. I have tried all kind of alternatives, satisfied with something and unsatisfied with others. At the moment I have a solution that I can recommend. I have created this blog to write about my research topics (in English), and thus make my knowledge visible and let people know what I am studying.

But how to reach the audience? How to get the right people to know how great blog posts I am having on my blog? Here I use social network services. After writing a blog post, I will tell about it on my professional Facebook page (sometimes also on my personal Facebook profile), on Twitter and on LinkedIn. This is like a triangle where blog is in the middle of a triangle and Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are located in the corners of the triangle.

I gathered my own experiences and ways to work in this presentation.

What are your tips for a researcher or specifically for me to strengthen the personal brand with social network services?

Social media objectives need connection to business

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It is great to notice that the companies are gradually moving from experimenting social media solutions to integrating it into their business. In order to create value, social media objectives need to be connected with business. 

I am currently writing an academic research paper about social media strategies and alignment between social media and business. There is lack of academic literature in this field so inspiration to own writings has to be acquired from the practitioners. Mark Smiciklas (@intersection1) has blogged about social media strategy framework in Social Media Explorer. This is one of the best frameworks related to social media strategies that I have seen because of the high importance of the business value in the framework.

This picture shows very clearly that the biggest values are achieved only after integrating the social media into the whole business. Mark Smiciklas writes:

“As your brand moves along this axis towards integration and, possibly, a social business model, value SHOULD increase.”

“Value will vary based on an organization’s definition. This may take the form of a tangible sales contribution, cost savings, service improvements or efficiencies related to internal communication, consumer advocacy, etc.”

“Value is predicated on the willingness and ability of a business to connect social media metrics to the achievement of organizational objectives. Without goals, analytics or a pattern of correlation, the value axis is assumptive at best.”

 The last sentence is the most important: value is created by connecting social media to organizational objectives.

Some companies proudly inform us about achieving the objective of 1.000 or 10.000 fans on Facebook. Is this a good objective or not? The answer is that it depends on the business and what you are measuring.

For those organizations that are, for example, aiming at increasing the market share in certain area by 20%, this is a good objective. They want to get more traffic from social media services to their web site, and have perhaps calculated that by increasing the Facebook fan amount in this area from 500 to 1.000 the objective will be better reached.

But what if your objective is to make the existing customers more satisfied with your service, can it be measured with 1.000 fans? I doubt that. In this case, you can support the objective for example by creating a closed LinkedIn Group for your key customers where they can discuss with you and with each other about business problems and how they could be solved with your products or services. In this case, a more proper way of measuring could be to measure customer satisfaction before and after launching this kind of VIP customer community.

Amber Naslund (@ambercadabra) from Radian6 says it well in her blog post How to create measurable objectives:

“If your goal is better customer service, you measure things that indicate customer satisfaction like reviews, sentiment, positive comments/feedback, decreased “incident” reports from the call center. If your goal is brand awareness, you measure things like website traffic, share of conversation, media placements, volume of online chatter, or even standard market survey results.”

Tac Anderson (@tacanderson) asks what are the most social media strategies missing, and the answer is:

“They are missing organizational alignment with the overall communications strategy which is often not in full alignment with the business strategy to begin with.”

What organizations can do to connect social media with business objectives? I suggest identifying the business objects and discussing with your people how social media can support these objectives or can it perhaps create new ways to do business. After this discussion, it is time to create metrics for measuring social media – such metrics that are connected with your business.

In the end, some public crowdsourcing: If you know academic papers related to this theme, please leave a comment about it – thanks!

IT and business – support and enable

Inspired by today’s meeting with two social media experts, I decided to re-start blogging. This time in English. The language has been a problem for me because I have wanted to share my thoughts in English but also in Finnish for Finnish companies. A complicated system developed by myself has made the blogging difficult, and it has been easier not to blog at all. But now, a fresh new start with an interesting topic: IT and business – support and enable. This is so crystal clear right now; why to write on every topic and research related to social media (tried this on Facebook, not working for me the way I want), why not write about the topics that interest me, and about which I have knowledge.

Most of you are aware of the Forrester’s POST method for creating a social media strategy. PeopleObjectStrategyTools. Companies are told to start by analyzing the target group, customers, and select the appropriate tool only in the last stage. This sounds good, but may not be the right way in every situation.

Do you remember BPR from 1990’s? The article by Davenport & Short (1990): The New Industrial Engineering: Information Technology and Business Process Redesign, and especially this picture has been on my mind all these years.

I am not a big fan of BPR and I am not missing it but now when we look at social media and business, this looks reasonable again. Social media can support business, but new social media tools or services can create totally new possibilities or even new competitive edges for business, too. Sometimes it’s wise to seize the opportunity with the new tool. In my opinion, selecting the tool only after people, object and strategies, may not be the right choice in every situation.

Another old framework supports this. Henderson and Venkatraman, the classic article from 1993 (pdf). H&V have developed a strategy alignment model, a framework consisting of four elements: business and IT being external or internal. Strategy can be based on any cell of the matrix, but it has to be aligned with others. If you start with IT, be aligned with business, and vice versa. I have an idea about extending the alignment to the customers  but this needs more thinking first.

What do you think about putting the technology first?