Are You Listening In The Right Place ?

Do-you-Practice-Active-Listening-In-The-Right-Place?

No matter what industry / which stage of the business you are in, the classic 5W+1H (Who/What/Where/When/Why/How) questions apply to every step of the way.  Before we continue, I am going to assume you already know the “Why“, if not, please go back to your business plan and find out why you started the business in the first place.

O.K., so here we go;

Who – you want to know who are/were your customers and who will most likely be your advocates for the products/services you are offering.  Have they always like it, or been referred by their family/friends to try it, or they are the gold mine — meaning they are haters-turned-lovers?

What — you want to know what people are mostly talking about; is it you as business owners, the products/services you offer, or they are talking with/about your competitors? What is the context, i.e. sentiment analysis?

Where — you know you have to start somewhere, you know you have to listen to your customers and clients and you know you have to do something if they say good/not so good thing about your business.  The question is, where (which channel)?  You should tailor your message to different channels depends on your market; only 13% of people online are on Twitter, most people won’t like/join Facebook Fan pages if asked to access their and their friends’ personal information, can be overwhelming sometimes, Tamara Littleton, CEO of eModeration, has a great post here which gives the reasons why Ten is the magic number.

When — this is not about the time of day, it is about when the event occurs that triggers people to talk.  Were they inquiring before making the decision? Did they have great experience and simply want to spread the words or they had unbearable encounter that maybe a better solution can be offered?  Can you avert the crisis and turn into opportunity?

And all the above goes back to the question of WHY, so does the cycle starts all over again.  WHY they want to talk about you and to continue the conversation?   WHY they buy your products/services and keep buying more?  WHY they prefer to talk on specific channels?  WHY they decide to talk at that moment?

So you ask, how do I start this listening?  What tools can I use?  Tool is just tool; you need a human mind to interpret the data and information you have collected.  But if you insist to know, given the cost of accessing legacy platforms providers (Radian6, Sysomos just to name a few) creates barrier for small business owners,  , I’d say DIY by using Google Alert and/or Social Mention;  the brilliant Jay Baer has great resource here , or a recent article from MarketingProfs5 Free & Easy-to-Use Listening Tools for Monitoring Social Media” can also help you.

Here are some sobering numbers about the real use of social media, from @jasonfalls. EVERYONE should read this http://izmy.us/uF1 . The DIY tools are good enough until your brand gets about 300 mentions per month, and then you’ll want some more analytics.

So, are you listening? In the right place ??

Why Facebook Is Like Chain Letter And You Still Love It

I don’t really like chain letters, not only it clogs up my inbox but most of time, they are quite boring and useless. It requires my action for insignificant things, forward it onto 10 people (sometimes 20!!) and good things will happen, or a chance to win this and that. The only times I will read AND TAKE ACTION is when it’s from the friends I know they care about me and I know them enough to trust them. Do you react the same way?

As an Information Professional by training, when I conduct in-depth business research, I tend to look at the information others don’t notice, or can’t find. It is my job to tell business decision makers “Don’t Just Google It”, with all the SEO and PageRank today, quite often the search results you get on the first page is being manipulated. I am a strong advocate about share the worth sharing, verify accurate information from credible sources; whatever I share in the social space I make sure the link is alive AND it’s not rumor, unless said so.

My friend, Robert Lavigne (@rlavigne42) has this brilliant insight about Facebook vs. Google:

We are shifting from a search model to a discovery model. The very nature of this terrifies Google who have made their fortune on search. Facebook on the other hand is based entirely on the discovery model. The discovery model taps into the 3 degrees of connectivity (friend, friend of friend, … ). As such, it allows us to become aware of things that we didn’t know about in the first place. Yes you can search on it, once you hear about it for more details, but how does new knowledge get discovered in the first place? Via a social network based on the concept of weak ties and disconnected interests. In a world where content is become so readily available, the real value is in the semantics of the content. As such, content is free and context is where the value is. The discovery model allows us to use our social network to put not only context on the content being acquired, but also exposes our insight to that of others. Simply put search cannot compete with the discovery model as you need to know what you don’t know first before learning something new.

This is assuming you will take the initiative and look for that event and validate it. What if people don’t even Google anymore? What if people only Facebook it because it’s from their friends, their circle of trust, they’ll just spread the word automatically?

The famous Facebook cartoon character campaign. It started at the end of November, a week later the children’s charity, the NSPCC, claimed it had no involvement in it. You can read more here and here.

In my business, we Researchers have to be sleuthed. We piece puzzles together to solve mysteries and find meanings in unanswered questions, with analysis skills. 90,000 fans in just a week, enough buzz and hype for who ever created the fan page, smart marketing I must say, but somehow I felt the real value is missing. Is this how Brand or Marketer monitor, measure the campaign and the ROI? I am not sure. I’m not a marketer.

I didn’t change my profile picture, some people say I’m too rigid, just have fun. Do you react the same way?

When It Comes to Business, Something Hasn’t Changed, or Has it?

I recently dug out the following article I wrote about a year ago, comparing the differences of conducting research between business and recruiting. I have no doubt in my mind that, information is power and how you use it can and will decide the success of your business. I’ve said it before “Information is not free at all“, especially the valuable insights that has helped in decision making. Why? Because it’s a systematic process that (a) it takes smart people to create content and share it (b) it takes people time to access the right information (c) it takes intelligence to analyze, to “make sense” of it.

With the hype of social media and internet evolution making information access easier than ever before, I don’t see much has changed in terms of performing business research and obtaining business information.

Do you have different experience? If you are a business owner, how do you go about finding the information you need to make your next decision a smart one, one with no regrets? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

The original article is posted on The Source Newsletter here

….. Being an Information Professional for over 17 years, I have been taught and trained to always looking for authoritative, creditable sources when it comes to business and competitive intelligence.

I started my career with McKinsey & Company where valuable information is critical to client’s success; I spoke to associations sharing industry insights, I searched high & low on commercial databases (Lexis, Factiva, EBSCO to name a few) for valid facts, and I networked with internal consultants to seek their expertise. After that I went to work for a major bank here in Canada, again supporting research for Investment Banking and Enterprise-wide initiatives.

Reputable resources are never fully accessible on the net for free, ….. Since I am a trained Information Professional who works best with visualization, I have drafted a simple diagram here to exhibit in business and recruiting worlds, the ultimate information we are looking for are as follows:

In business, investigation is a ‘must’ process during CI information gathering, “Good Researchers are investigators” someone once told me. After we researchers exercised our curiosity practice and did it in a MutuallyExclusiveCollectiveExhaustive way, it’s really up to the management/business owner to decide whether, and how, to use the information, because behind every good business decision is an information professional.

So, Research is Research, No Matter What. I’ve said it and I am glad I did. This is just my two cents of being a newbie Recruiting Researcher and an experienced Business Researcher.

Share your opinion here and I thank you for doing so.

IBM Has Just Wrote The Elevator Speech For Me

My head is spinning, in a good way.  Given the way how internet and technology have evolved, everybody is overwhelmed by data and information overload, need to tackle this critical issue quickly, staffed with IT guys, however not much talk on how Information Professionals play the important roles in this whole process.  Then I heard the IBM  commercial on the radio, even though it’s still selling the system to midsized businesses, what it does is “basically turn data into new intelligence, uncover insight and take action, set you apart and outsmart competitor“.  Bingo !!

A recent McK Quarterly article “The Internet of Things” mentioned by putting the internet of things to work, we monitor the behavior of persons, things, or data through space and time with all the information and analysis; another special report from The Economist touched on managing information “Data, data everywhere” discloses the shock (maybe not surprised?) fact : the business of information management — helping organisations to make sense of their proliferating data — is growing by leaps and bounds. In recent years Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and SAP between them have spent more than $15 billion on buying software firms specialising in data management and analytics. This industry is estimated to be worth more than $100 billion and growing at almost 10% a year, roughly twice as fast as the software business as a whole.

Let’s say you have all the infrastructure, i.e. technology, software, and IT staff in place, but where is that smart trend spotter or dot connector who can turn all these beautiful information into something that’s meaningful and actionable to make impact to the bottom line?  We can teach people very easily where to look for these tools and how to use them, the trendspotters/dotconnetors are people who are intuitive, always on the hunt to satisfy their curiosity.  I really like this website, Information Is Beautiful, the question is then, how do you optimize them to have long lasting, sustainable results?

My head is spinning fast and furious, happily.  You can have all the data and information available, and at the end of day you still need someone to press the button.

Social Media Hires For Passion — Are We There Yet?

I first joined social media to find a job with very specific criteria in mind, and am still sticking to them.  Then I discover (oh well, was distracted by :)) so many beauties of it — get to know different people, make new and good friends, dig into the information gold mine and, last but not least, learn things interest you anywhere if you can’t make it physically.  Don’t get me wrong, face to face relationship is far more important than what you build online, but sometime life is too busy to fit everything and social media is here for you.

Last Thursday I attended “Social Media Starter Kit: Enterprise Edition” webinar, a chat with Amber Naslund and Mark Sylvester, hosted by introNetworks. Lots of good discussions, you can find the slides here.  An interesting tweet from @haveAwonderful about company hiring social media people based on qualification and experience, my thoughts are since social media hype is relatively new, companies are still trying to figure out besides PR, Marketing and Customer Services, what other untapped talents out there can they bring in to help the business in various function hubs, and this will take a while to get into company HR and recrutires’ head before reach the peak of cycle.

I did not make it to PodCamp Toronto 2010 over the weekend but I was happy to (1) learn from the live streams and (2) not have to make the tough decisions of which session to go to as they were all excellent.  The Ah-ha moment for me was “Work Life Blending”,  companies have been saying work life balance for years and quite often promote what solutions they provide to the employees to pursuit this balance. 

Come to think of it, you are committed if you are passionate about what you do, then work is not work anymore; it doesn’t confine to business hours, or physical office space, or even job descriptions, because you will do everything and anything to make it work.  With that, I am confident social media is a land of opportunities for Information Professional like me.  :)

Group Hugs #FollowFriday

I am doing my #FollowFriday differently this week.  My friend, @UnMarketing set out this #UnRule on Twitter that gives people reasons to follow good tweeps.  Here it goes.

Intelligent

10 months ago when I first join Twitter, like most of us I didn’t know what to do or who to follow, so I reached out to  people in my profession; they are Information Professionals specialized in competitive insights or business intelligence; they welcomed me into this big family and made me feel warm to stay, they provide guidance when I was confused and answer stupid questions I asked, I so appreciate their big hearts.

They are @InfoSourcer @EllenNaylor @ArikJohnson @8of12 @PGiblett @CharleneBurke

Informative

Last summer, few acquaintances came to me and asked if I could help with their recruitment research needs.  As newbie in this field I am fortunate to discover these amazing kind and selfishless talents out there,  teaching me the drills and skills for what I was seeking, and they are not getting paid to do it !  Thank you @ResearchGoddess @DorothyBeach @BooleanBlackBlt @RadicalRecruit @Animal

Interactive

Without a doubt, these special individuals are social media maven demonstrate what is this really all about: responsive and engaging.  I have the pleasure to meet funny and crazy @DannyBrown @RandyMatheson @UnMarketing, elegant @AmberCadabra and @CherylMcKinnon are next on the list :)

Incredible

Three months ago, I jumped on the fun-filled wagon with some fantastic moms.  I am fortunate there was time when I’m in need, I have extra ears to listen to, petit shoulders to lean on, someone to laugh with.   I feel more and more blessed everyday that I have little persons to tend, to worry, to cheer and to love; I can share the ups and downs, sweetness and bitterness with these moms and really no explanation required. XOXO to @YummyMummyClub @YMCBuzz @SharonDV @WonderMoms @optimom @KathyBuckworth @MississaugaKids @JoanneWallace @nummiesbras

So, this is me, a social media addicted Information Specialist, trying to find a career opportunity that balances the life of being a busy mom.  I thank you all for spending time engaging me at this fun filled cocktail party in Twitterville so far, let’s rock and roll !

Would You Donate For Prizes? or Could You ?

I need not say more about the disaster in Haiti, since it happened on January 12, the story evolves day by day, you can get full coverage of Canada’s reaction and the international aid effort stories by day from CBC’s and the most updated situation here.

As a Canadian, it’s wonderful to see people I know or meet through social media are doing fantastic jobs.  Craig Kielburge, Co-Founder of Free the Children, is one of first few people got to Haiti shortly after the disaster.  12for12k, a charity aims to combine social media awareness and fund-raising to change the lives of millions worldwide, started by Danny Brown, has already raised over $6,000.   Every time I watch the news, hear it on radio or see the pictures, I still reach down to my pocket and see how I can help.  It feels good and proud to know real people do care, for those in need.

Last week, I heard there are several elementary schools in my area (Mississauga, Brampton and Oakville) that has set prizes for specific amount of donation.  For example, donate $20 get stickers, donate $50 get a recorder, whole class donate over $150 will have pizza party.  In my opinion as a parent, I think this is so fundamentally wrong.  Setting the goal is fine but the motivation has got skewed during the process.  Think about kids coming home and telling you to donate $20 so s/he can get stickers?  One parent even asked me, “It’s for good cause, what’s the difference of those celebrity or people donate millions of dollars?”   My response?  They can decide how much they are willing to donate for whatever reasons (good cause, tax saving, or fame, yeah, I know I’ll get slap for saying it) but for our children, we need to teach them about compassion, how to help the needs and give back to community, and every penny counts, definitely not for prizes.

Certainly this is not the reason why schools encourage donation  but unfortunately the messages got twisted during the communication.  I’m just glad the school my girls go to didn’t ask donation this way, and both girls proudly gave money out from their piggy banks knowing got nothing in return except sense of accomplishment.

Do you agree?  What was the message your child(ren) bring home about donation?  Keep my fingers crossed the three cases I heard are the odds.

Please, Information Is Not Free At All

Seth Godin’s post about “The Future of the Library” has sparked interesting conversations by two groups; general public and librarians.  I know the centre of discussion is about public library in the states, and I am not a librarian, nor do I want to challenge Seth; cause really why would I stand up against the guru who when he speaks half of the world listen?  However, as an Information Professional, I have strong reaction when Seth claimed “The information is free now”.  Such a bold statement coming from expert as Seth, in my mind, not only it has overlooked several areas but could also have some significant impacts in our society, net society to be exact.

  • Where — Seth said it on the net, to the audience who we can safely assume has fairly high level of computer literacy
  • Who — Because of their high computer literacy level, they are most likely the knowledge workers spread out among the corporations
  • How — With the impression that information is free and out there somewhere, any one can and should find it hence everyone can do the research

Potential impact ?

This leads to the danger of  misconception about finding information and doing research. InfoPros verify and validate the sources, try to be as comprehensive and authoritative as possible; but with the convenience and explosion of internet and social media, no one seems to care so much any more.  Google is the fast food to internet search, social media just completes the ordering process.  How so?  You google the information, ask your social network if you want to know more, then it’s done !

Maybe I am biased given my profession, but saying information is free is like saying, your time is free cause it does take time to make information available and useful.   I do hope people value business research as much as medical research, science research or academic research, it is equally important if not more, after all, the decision you make is based on the information you get.

I like what my friend Naomi Dunford (@IttyBiz) said here “How stupid people get attention”, I may just be the down-to-earth stupid person trying to produce useful content :-)