The Mountaintop Insights, Inspiration and Perspective for Enlightened Marketers

April 18, 2010

The Struggle for Existence in Social Media Environments

The more I read Darwin’s Origin of the Species, the more I am amazed at how his work opens the mind to so many different perspectives on human nature, human society, human evolution and the environments we use to develop relationships. This is a man who had and still has a singularly unique perspective on the design of nature.

One of the more fascinating pieces of his work was how he viewed what he deems the struggle for existence, including “the dependence of one being on another, and including not only the life of the individual, but the success in leaving progeny”.

But how is this even remotely related to Social Media or farther still Large Enterprise in Social Media?

Well, try this out and see if you agree…

First, think of Social Media Environments like a living, breathing, ever changing ecosystem where millions of beings (of all shapes, sizes, and dispositions) co-exist and contribute to the ecosystem by consuming and creating food. Add to this another layer I’ll refer to as the food layer which is made of of ideas and conversations.

Second, let’s say that all beings within social media environments are dependent on one another; why else would we need followers? And that their progeny is their ideas and/or their brand; thus the need to attract followers who take on your idea and brand – metaphorically they become your offspring.

Here is where I’m going to throw a bit more Darwin at you.

“We behold the face of nature (read Social Media) bright with gladness, we often see superabundance of food (read ideas and opportunities); we do not see, or we forget, that the birds which are idly singing round us mostly live on insects or seeds and are constantly destroying life; or we forget how largely these songsters, or their eggs, or their nestlings, are destroyed by birds and beasts of prey; we do not always bear in mind, that though food may be now superabundant, it is not so at all seasons of each recurring year.”        – Charles Darwin

If we step out of our deeply rooted perspective of ourselves, our business, and our customers we can begin to see how his observations, even natural laws, begin to become relevant to a virtual ecosystem like Twitter or FaceBook.

To illustrate this, let’s look at a couple ways the struggle for existence manifests itself within social media environments.

The struggle of ideas.

Do ideas destroy other ideas? Most certainly.  An idea flourishes depending on its strength, relevancy, value and on the beings that promote them. The stronger or more plentiful the beings, the greater chance for the idea to flourish and to create difficulty for competing ideas to flourish. So how many ideas can an ecosystem maintain? Hard to say, but certainly as one idea becomes dominant, another struggles for existence.

The struggle of companies and brands.

Do companies actually compete against other companies within social media environments or do they struggle to exist against the environment? Much like plants at the edge of a desert struggle for moisture; never competing against other plants, insects or animals, but simply for existence. I would imagine much of this is because brands (and the businesses behind them) are so new to the concept of such an environment. From Darwin’s perspective, they may just be the weakest beings within social media environments – possessing few traits that actually contribute to social survival, let alone social dominance.

The struggle of beings.

While all beings within social ecosystems are dependent on others, the struggle between them is relentless. Gurus, both real and fake, compete by churning out ideas, conversations and opinions that vie for relevancy with followers. Followers compete for attention from those they follow and for relevancy and standing within their social circles. Progeny are created and destroyed as they take up ideas or replace them with new, better ones that are more attractive to them personally or attractive to their social circle, thus improving their own standing and dominance.

The struggle of virtual ecosystems.

Looking at social ecosystems from the 30,000 foot level, we can see how even ecosystems struggle for existence. An ecosystem’s survival depends on creating an attractive environment for beings to flourish, with the ability to produce plentiful, high quality food.  The more that ecosystem can evolve its attractive qualities, the more likely the chance it will flourish and dominate other virtual ecosystems. We see this in the struggle between the great social platforms of You Tube, Buzz, Twitter, FaceBook, and FourSquare even as we see the decay of MySpace.They can’t all dominate and the weaker ones will surely decay and cease to exist.

Does the struggle ever get easier?

Most certainly it does and in the same breath most certainly it does not. As both beings and brands evolve stronger, more socially dominant traits, they will have an easier time attracting followers and keeping them within these social media environments. Several things are clear though, the struggle for existence ensures balance by creating strong, adaptable beings (people, brands, and platforms) and winnows out the weaker versions of the same.

Agree? Disagree? Think I’m a lunatic? Let me know! I love the comments and debate.


Jeff – Sensei

April 14, 2010

Demand Generation and Social Media for B2B Enterprise

I had an interesting conversation with one of my clients last night and it is one, not just myself, but every consultant and marketing executive has been thinking about since Social Media has become the craze. How do we get the leads?

And by leads, we are talking qualified expressions of interest in doing business with you leads.

What is the Role of Social Media in a Demand Generation Program?

The first part of the challenge is that we are looking at Social Media to deliver leads, and while this can happen, it is more likely that social media is an integrated part of an ongoing demand generation program working at the beginning of the cycle and supporting throughout.

The pivotal role of Social Media for Demand Generation is to attract and engage influencers, not decision-makers. To do this, you need to:

  • Research your target markets and understand their current needs and issues
  • Create an editorial schedule that accomplishes two things:
    • Discusses the issues/needs
    • Discusses the solutions to those issues and needs
  • Do it without shamelessly promoting yourself. It’s not about you.
  • The rest of the best practices around Social Media engagement apply


How do we Integrate Social Media into Demand Generation?

Integration requires an understanding of the Demand Generation process and the decision-making process of the influencer community you are targeting. Some critical things to remember:

  1. Align the Demand Generation process with the decision-making process
  2. Ensure your content is available in many forms (pod casts, pdfs, videos, webinars, presentations, etc.) to appeal to many personal preferences for acquiring knowledge
  3. Create a “Swiss cheese” type model of engagement allowing them to pop in and out of the process or different media options anytime, anywhere while staying within an overall demand generation framework.
  4. This is a marathon not a sprint. Think long term, but plan by quarter. A huge mistake is to think that these people are ready to buy based on your quarterly financial schedule. The Social Media component allows continual engagement so that when they are ready (6, 9, or 18 months down the road) you are still engaged and top of mind.

The Social Media Take-away for Influencers

The net result of the social media component within demand generation should be to build rapport, confidence and comfort in your audience. Comfort that allows them to begin to take further steps within the Demand Generation process. This will often lead them to commitment for additional steps such as attending events or webinars, signing up for newsletters, or booking  1on1 calls or meetings with your experts or Account Executives.

Emotional Stages of Commitment

Finally, your Demand Generation program should be walking them through 4 key areas of emotional commitment, each stage built by a combination of marketing tactics and personal interactions with your people.

  • Rapport – Your ability to quickly engage in a meaningful way that meets their immediate needs
  • Confidence – Increasing credibility through timely, relevant, valuable content and dialogue. Prove you know what you are talking about.
  • Comfort – Increasing seriousness in commitment to not just the process, but the relationship
  • Trust – You become a confidante and information, insights, and perspective become freely shared

Done right, Social Media becomes a lynch pin in not just ongoing intellectual engagement but also to gauge audience receptivity to your brand and their emotional attachment to your people.

This is where the rubber meets the road on developing long term, meaningful relationships that turn into customers.

Agree? Disagree? Think I’m a lunatic?

Let me know. I love the discussions and look forward to the journey of discovery with you!


Jeff – Sensei

April 5, 2010

Nice Guys Finish First – Natural Selection in Social Media

Oh the irony.

For centuries, the bad business guy has perceivably won every encounter. He has manipulated and lied and under delivered and gotten away with it every time because we were all kept in the dark. With marketing on their side, we were lured into the spider’s web only to be caught in contracts, given poor service and saddled with products that didnt meet expectations. This was the natural way of things. We were prey, they were predators.

The good guy suffered, sometimes achieved great things, sometimes not. He suffered, not by his own hand, but because we had no trust anymore – a shared fate resulting from the bad guy’s destruction of consumer faith. And really, don’t all companies look and sound the same? Not anymore. Social Media has finally given the nice guys a way to prove themselves; a way to show through listening and action that they are indeed different and worthy like my beloved Starbucks.

I look at it as karmic revenge. Social Media has given nice guys the ultimate tool to win the hearts and minds of customers. It is an evolutionary cycle in the making between companies that only take and companies that give and take equally.

How would Darwin have seen it?

I think that the best example I could find was how Darwin looked at the selection of favourable traits over injurious traits. In new environments such as Social Media, old corporate traits like greed and not listening would be considered injurious; a factor that leads invariably to extinction. Whereas a trait such as listening and reacting (in a reasonable amount of time) is a favourable trait in Social Media; a factor that contributes to dominance in nature and the expansion of the species, or the brand as the case may be.

Is it possible to evolve or take on these favourable traits? Of course, but not many companies today can do it easily, if at all. To those nice guy companies though, Social Media has ushered in the dawning of a new era in business – an era where nice guys finish first.

How big does the apple have to be?

Now all we have to do as customers is wake up and get over our own self-limiting behaviour of being in abusive relationships to realize that there are nice guys out there who want to earn our business and not take advantage of us at every step. A company that will love us and hold us figuratively close.

What is the business equivalent of spooning anyway?


Jeff – Sensei

Powered by WordPress