My takeaways from Blogwell and the SMBC meeting

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Last week I had the chance to attend Blogwell and the Social Media Business Council (SMBC) meeting in Austin, Texas.  I am not going to go into too much detail in this post, partly because Blogwell was more than adequately covered here, and partly because I can’t really talk about the SMBC meeting – as we were reminded multiple times ‘what gets discussed within the Council stays within the Council’.  SMBC is a community of social media leaders from 160 global brands, and last week’s event was hosted by Dell (and included a tour of Dell’s Social Media Listening Command Center).  Colleagues from companies such as 3M, AT&T, Cisco, Coca Cola, Fidelity Investments, General Mills, Hilton, McDonald’s, REI, RIM, SAP, Symantec, UPS, Wells Fargo and many others engaged in a very open and honest dialogue about the challenges we all face as we try to figure out this ‘social media thing’.

Here are my top four takeaways:

  • We are all facing the same challenges:  Despite the differences in maturity levels, industry, B2B vs. B2C, degree of regulatory restrictions, etc., I was surprised by the similarity of challenges we all face day-to-day. Talking to many of the colleagues attending, two key issues kept coming up: (i) how do we scale, and (ii) how do we measure success.
  • Executive leadership support is critical:  In our numerous conversations, one topic that came up over and over again is that you cannot succeed unless your executive team ‘gets it’.  During our discussions with Michael Dell and Karen Quintos (Dell’s CMO), it became abundantly clear to me that a large part of why Dell has been successful is because the executive leadership team actively supports the teams that are driving these initiatives.
  • Cross-functional alignment is key:  While many companies have (semi)-centralized functions, companies are quickly recognizing that in order to be successful they need to bring in all the relevant functions along to be successful.
  • Mobile and social media are inextricably connected for consumer brands:  This may be an obvious one to many, but I was quite surprised to the extent that B2C-focused companies link the two topics.  As a matter of fact, many of the colleagues in these companies had overall responsibility of both social media and mobile initiatives in their respective organizations.

During the opening session, I heard that this will be the year that social media moves past experimentation.  While I don’t necessarily agree, I am quite hopeful that through forums such as the SMBC we can all help each other in this exciting journey.

What do you think?  I am particularly interested in hearing from other colleagues that attended last week’s event.

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2 Responses to My takeaways from Blogwell and the SMBC meeting

  1. Tim Clark February 9, 2011 at 13:38 #

    Ted, I think you’re right in that there will still be a lot of experimentation this year. Your first two takeaways support this. And I don’t know about you, but I have a tough time finding common themes and best practices among all of the great use cases that have come out of Blogwell and elsewhere. Techiques and tactics vary wildly.

    • Ted Sapountzis February 10, 2011 at 16:51 #

      Tim, thanks, you are right techniques and tactics do indeed vary wildly, but as per my 1st point, they don’t need to be. At the most basic level, it’s the same set of issues we are all facing indeed. I think it is another indication of the maturity level of the space today.

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