Haystack Networking Now Supports OpenID

HaystackopenidBig news today: As of this morning Haystack Networking now supports OpenID! We are entering an age where the users and customers (that’s us) are increasingly in control of our own information, at least when interacting with vendors who respect us. That means we’re moving away from the silo-oriented model of the industrial age (where the vendors have all the power, and we have none), and moving into a time where we are afforded increasing power and commensurate responsibility. The emergence of disciplines like VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) and CRM2.0 are the bellwethers that are pointing the way, and OpenID is one of the tools that will enable us to get further down the path toward that goal. We’ve been working on this for a while, and it’s important stuff.

What it means: Cerado’s support for OpenID means that professionals who use Haystack Networking are fully in control of their own online identity, and are able to better manage their online representation of their professional reputation. OpenID support also means that customers can now take advantage of “single sign-on” capabilities across a variety of complementary services that also support OpenID, including blogs, wikis and social bookmarking sites. This enables a single username and password to be used across a wide variety of sites that support the standard.

Why we did this: Cerado has a commitment to empowering customers of its Haystack business social networking service to control their own information and online identity.

Who else supports OpenID:
In addition to Cerado, other industry leaders such as Microsoft, Verisign, AOL and Symantec have also announced support of the OpenID standard for online digital identity management.

Haystack Networking home page: http://haystack.cerado.com

Related capabilities:
Cerado’s Haystack networking supports this philosophy of open-ness in a number of ways. These ways include:

* Export capabilities
* Import capabilities
* The Haystack social networking widget
* An open API

Export: You, at any time, can export your profile data. That means no lock-in. You’re free to take your information with you anywhere, anytime. Your profile information is exportable in both CSV (Excel comma separated value) and XML formats.

Import: Additionally, Haystack administrators can import CSV and Excel files to easily set up new Haystacks with a minimum of hassle.

The Haystack social networking widget: Organizations can create Haystack networks on their own websites or blogs using our widget (http://www.widgetbox.com/widget/haystack)

The Haystack open API: Cerado partners like SwapThing (http://www.swapthing.com) are using the Haystack networking API to integrate Haystack capabilities into their own offerings. Much, much more on the API here (http://haystack.cerado.com/html/sdk.php).

Related links: Much more background on the history of Cerado’s Haystack social networking system for businesses and associations can be found at: http://del.icio.us/Cerado.Haystack

2007 Social Media & CRM 2.0 Professional Certification Seminar

Drumroll, please…announcing:

What: 2007 Social Media & CRM 2.0 Professional Certification Seminar
Where: San Francisco, CA
When: March 27-28, 2007
Learn more: http://www.bptpartners.com/socialmedia_agenda.aspx

On March 27th and March 28th, I’ll be co-hosting a two-day professional seminar, “Social Media & CRM 2.0” along with Paul Greenberg (Author, “CRM at the Speed of Light” and principal at BPT Partners). This event will be held at the offices of our friends Fleishman-Hillard here in San Francisco. (Thanks, Fleishman!)

The 2007 Social Media & CRM 2.0 Professional Certification Seminar is endorsed by Rutgers University Center for CRM Research, CRMGuru.com, the National CRM Association, Greater China CRM and CRMA Japan.


Topics include:

Why the new social media: Communications and the era of the social customer — Traditional means of doing this through messaging marketing campaigns are no longer adequate. The new social media, blogging, user communities, podcasting and social networking are increasingly become tools of choice for businesses. Learn the why’s, where’s, and what’s in the segment on the strategic framework.

The Business Blog Field Guide — Every publication from Business Week, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal to online white papers warn businesses the blogging is not an optional endeavour. Those that don’t will not survive, so we are going to give you what you need to not just survive the on rush but prosper. This module will explain how to produce a blog, what the benefits are, and what conditions you need to make it a success.

Components of Blogging — You have the framework with the first 2 modules, now we’re going to get down. You’ve created the environment, time for you to get what you need to know to actually write the business blog in a consistent and timely way.

Customer Communities and Social Network Analysis — In this session, you will learn about the value of social networks, customer communities and the tools and practices to facilitate their creation and maintenance. If you do it right, your customers will be the advocates you desire and the business lifeblood you need for sustaining the kind of growth you’ve dreamed about – in collaboration with those customers you know to be important to your present and future.

The Theory and Practice of Podcasting — This module will not only explain what a podcast is, why it’s important to you as a business person, but how to actually produce a podcast. It will also bust some of the myths of podcasting that have already grown up around its young, explosive life. There is no form of social media that promises to meet the needs of the new generations of customers as well as this one – especially for those on the move. Imagine, having a good time creating something that can benefit your business – anytime, anywhere, any way you like? This module will give you the tools to do that.

Defining Your High Value Opportunities Using Social Media — Now, we get down and well, sorta dirty. How does this directly apply to your business? What industry you’re in, who your target markets are, will make a genuine difference in the approaches and applications of the social media tools. If you’re a B2B business v. a B2C business, there will be differences in approach. If you want to use the tools for co-creation of value with your customers or for feedback retrieval and customer conversations it will make a difference. The final module will examine what those specific applications can be for specific business situations and models.

Learn more: http://www.bptpartners.com/socialmedia_agenda.aspx

Enterprise Web 2.0 Efforts: How To Get To Critical Mass

In an earlier post, I put forth a checklist of things to think about before launching a business-oriented Web 2.0 effort (thanks, everyone).  Going to continue that discussion here and get down to some tactics.  In particular, going to look at a number of the things that one can do to help get a community on the path to critical mass and, more importantly, ongoing sustainability.

Readysetgo

Like offline communities, online business-oriented communities grow over time based on the interactions of their members. As such, growing an online community takes time and dedication; there’s no “just add water” silver bullet. (We’re people, not sea-monkeys.) That said, there are a few things that can be done to get things off on the right foot. These are host graciously, act as a catalyst, and help community participants to achieve their goals.

Host Graciously: This means exactly what it sounds like. The job of hosting any interactive effort does not end when the site goes “live.” Quite the contrary, actually. Some things that can be done:

  • Welcome newcomers
  • Make “virtual” introductions between members of the community
  • Start conversations
  • Keep things (relatively) on track (a little drift is actually good, however)
  • Highlight commonalities between members
  • Keep the dialog going
  • Thank others

Act as a catalyst: A host’s job is not to “be” the show. Instead, the host should start snowballs rolling and enable others to engage with each other. Particular things that can be done include:

  • Promoting others in the group
  • Posing questions to the group (can be open-ended, or polls)
  • Starting conversations by asking others “Why did you join?” — This is key to ensuring the group meets the needs of its members
  • Commenting on contributions that others have made

As anyone who has ever started any online group can tell you, getting things rolling can take a fair amount of effort. Some groups by their nature seems to have a sort of shyness with respect to individual contributions. While it’s easy to attribute this reticence to personality, it’s equally likely that it’s due to other factors. That’s why “ease of contribution” needs to be considered — the less friction there is in the participation process, the easier it is to engage. Augmenting online efforts with regular face-to-face interactions also makes it easier for folks to contribute online, since there is a certain je ne sais quoi to that first face-to-face meeting that seems to catalyze later online interactions. Regular, outbound reminders such as newsletters and mailers also aid in bringing participants into the fold.

Help community participants to achieve their goals: Kathy calls this “helping users to kick ass.” What this means is it’s all about the customer.

  • Enabling participants to connect with others working on similar problems
  • Connecting with others who do business in similar ways, and are going down similar roads
  • Facilitiating person-to-person information exchange

Especially in the business-oriented world, it’s critical to note that, while an online connection may initiate the interaction between individuals, the final exchanges of information are not always electronically mediated by the system. While forums and bulletin boards and comment threads make be the common means of interaction on Slashdot and Digg, many exchanges of business information already have well established paths, including email, phone and in-person conversation.

Prerequisites For Setting Up A Business-Driven Web 2.0 Effort

Since the beginning of the year, have been asked the following question (in various forms) time and time again: If we want to use this social media "stuff" to connect with customers, how do we get started?

At
this point, it seems that the natural inclination is to jump right in
and start prescribing technology (e.g. "well, let’s set up a WordPress
or TypePad blog and we’re done!" or "Let’s get the Haystack network up
this week!").  While the technology is an enabler, there are still the
basic questions that need to be answered in order to get things off on
the right path, and help to stack the deck in favor of success.  Today,
let’s concentrate on the fundamentals of what an organization needs to
think about before embarking on a social media activity.

Communityprereqscolor

#1) Why

Why do
this?  Why start a blog or a social network or other Web 2.0-oriented
effort?  Sometimes, the answer is simply "In order to connect."  And,
in the case of many, many blogs (and IM, and Plazes, and Twitter,
etc.), that answer is sufficient.  However, as is more often the case,
there are additional reasons to jump in:  better and more timely
feedback from customers, the ability to connect with others working on
similar problems, putting a human face on what had been historically a
sterile organization, creating a framework for communications, or, most
importantly, creating a platform for enabling better/broader/more
timely information exchange. 

The "why" is critical.  (And, as a point of note, "because we
want to explore this and get to understand it" may be the right
answer.  When that’s the case, make sure that expectations are set
accordingly.)


#2) Who

Web
2.0 is about people.  Period.  Who are the people involved?  Who will
be the primary contributors to the effort?  What are their
backgrounds?  Who are they as people?  In addition, who are the other
people who will be interacting with the environment, even if they don’t
initially contribute?  In a blog, the ratio of commenters-to-posters is
large; the ratio of readers-to-commenters is astronomical.  What’s in
it for each of those constituencies?  Does the environment support them
and provide what they need?  What value does each group derive from it?

Similarly, in a social network, there are typically a handful
of "power" users, a slightly larger group of sometimes-contributors,
and a huge group of people who may only be observing.  (Members of this
last group are commonly referred to as "lurkers.)  What’s in it for
them?

#3) Where

Online gathering places are examples of the "third place" as
defined by Oldenberg:  a "place" other than home or work, for
democracy, civil society, and social engagement.  Is what you are
putting together a destination, or a directory that sends people forth
on their journeys?  (Both are relevant.)  What does the place feel
like?  Is it open, or exclusive?  Is it part of a larger site, or a
stand-alone entity?  How will people find it?


#4) When

Is the activity that you are proposing using social media an
ongoing concern, or tied to a particular event?  Note that unless there
is a large, existing group of participants, it will oftentimes take a
few months, perhaps even a year, to achieve "critical mass."

It’s like planting a garden.

#5) How

"How"
is all about the norms of the place.  What’s the tenor of the
interaction?  Is it "strictly business," or relaxed?  Is it moderated,
or free-wheeling?  What will participants do if their contributions are
edited or deleted?  If there is a "topic," will off-topic discussions
be immediately squelched, or will the interactions be free-form, like a
lively dinner party?

Additionally, a key "how" item is thinking about how the
site’s members deal with "trolls" and spammers.  Will the be ignored?
Banned?  Given a warning?  Deleted without comment?  Sent to "time out"
for a period of time?

Much of the "how" derives from the "who."  The types of
individuals who collectively make up the constituency of the place are
the ones who will drive the "how."  Heavy-handed moderation will make
the place constricting, yet too lax a policy will rapidly devolve the
interactions into noise.

Want to see a guide that you can use to start conversations in your organization?  A template you can use, after the jump.

Continue reading “Prerequisites For Setting Up A Business-Driven Web 2.0 Effort”

Social Networking For Business

The following is an article from the current issue of CRMGuru, where I was asked for my thoughts on a trend that CxO’s should be thinking about in 2007. Would love your thoughts.


Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Social Networks

By Christopher Carfi, Cerado Inc.

Social networking was big in 2006. Really big. Really, really big. MySpace has more than 50 million members. Google bought YouTube, a video-sharing site with a heavy social component, for $1.65 billion. Facebook, a social networking site for college students, is rumored to be courting buyers with a price tag in the billions as well. However, most of the social networking action in 2006 was in the consumer space. I predict 2007 will be the year when social network becomes a critical part of the business landscape. Customer-facing executives—and CSOs and CMOs in particular—need to be aware of this fundamental shift that is on the horizon if they want their companies to succeed in the wake of this transition.

Deceptively simple, online social networks contain great power. They change the online space from one of static web pages and stale marketing messages to a live, vibrant network of connected individuals who share their abilities, expertise and interests.

Online migration
In both professional and personal life, human beings naturally form groups based on affinities and expertise. We gravitate to others with whom we share interests. These real-world networks form organically, and consist of our family, friends, colleagues, mentors and advisors. These networks have always formed in the "real world" and, not surprisingly, rapidly migrated to the online world.

Customers have lost trust in traditional sales, marketing and service (the three areas commonly referred to encompassed by CRM. According to the 2006 Edelman Trust Barometer, a survey of 2,000 opinion leaders in 11 countries, "the most credible source of information about a company is now ‘a person like me,’ which has risen dramatically to surpass doctors and academic experts for the first time." The survey relates that in the United States, trust in "a person like me" increased from 20 percent in 2003 to 68 percent today.

The connections enabled by social networks are the glue that put the humanity back into business to solve the trust problem. In other words, the organizations that will win are the ones that most easily enable individuals to build relationships and communities with people they trust.

Not just kids
And don’t discount social networks as something just for young people. Although social networks such as MySpace (known for being an online hangout for the high schoolers) and FaceBook (which targets the college crowd) have garnered much press in the social networking space in 2006, other professionally-focused online networks are being used in many ways in the business and association realms, and social networking is poised for growth in 2007 in a number of areas. A few of these areas are:

  • Customer and member relationship development. Customer satisfaction is at an all-time low, perhaps as a result of reduced business focus on actual relationships and an increased business focus on CRM systems that emphasize the management of data, rather than personal connections. Online social networks allow a prospective customer or prospective member to easily facilitate a real, human-level connection with individuals within an organization. This enables genuine business relationships to form and puts an authentic human face on the interaction, changing the external perception of an organization from a sterile, faceless behemoth into a collection of individuals who are ready to help.
  • The use of the network to find experts or locate knowledge to better support customers. Only a fraction of an organization’s "knowledge" exists in databases. Another fraction exists in the form of explicit documents and reports that may be found on an organizational intranet. The vast majority of organizational knowledge, however, exists only in the heads of its members. Inside an organization, online networks with even basic profiles of its individuals’ experience, location and interests can greatly reduce the time required for organizational problem-solving, through enabling faster connection between a questioner and the person who has solved similar problems in the past.
  • Better service by providing customers with the "whole product." It is rare that a single organization can provide all the pieces needed to meet and create an entire solution. For example, even though a real estate agent aids in the process of buying a home, the customer must have an entire network of other service providers, such as title company, bank, insurance agents and contractors to complete the purchase. By creating a strong network of complementary providers with similar philosophies and business practices, a single service provider can provide a much greater proposition to a prospective customer than an individual working without the benefit of the network.
  • Creation of "all-star" teams that are right for each customer. Especially in service organizations, creating both the right set of skills and the right culture are key to creating a connection with a prospective customer. An internal social networking system enables the individuals responsible to creating relationships with prospects to pull together the "right" team to meet the prospective customer’s needs and, at the same time, pull together the unique group of individuals who will resonate with the prospect at a personal level.

As technology has progressed at an ever-increasing rate, the things that are actually beginning to bring customers closer to an organization are not technical at all. It’s an interesting bit of irony. And it’s inevitable.

IBM Announces Enterprise Social Networking Offerings

Big Blue has announced that they are working on a new product called “Lotus Connections,” which is targeted for a late 2007 release. From the IHT:

“IBM is planning to introduce a set of social software tools Monday that will bring the kind of blogging, idea-sharing and war-story-swapping typically associated with sites like MySpace to the corporate world.

And you thought social networking was all about, well, social networking — and mostly among bored teenagers.

Called Lotus Connections, the new software, which should be available to companies this year, will let employees set up virtual worlds in which they can meet like-minded colleagues within the company and exchange ideas with them, all in the name of improving productivity.

The idea, said the IBM vice president for social software, Jeff Schick, is to “unlock the latent expertise in an organization.”

This is fantastic validation of this market.

(In related news, we have been seeing a ton a traffic here and on the Haystack network from the Lotusphere2007 domain today. Welcome!)

Bonus e-Book link:
Social Networking for Businesses and Associations (12 page PDF) (online slideshow)

Bonus list:
The Top Ten Ways Businesses, Associations and Organizations Can Use Social Networking

A Little To The Left…

Carolyn Manning: “As important as concrete goals and fluid plans, strong community relationships are indispensable to every business. Those relationships are the cornerstones and building blocks to a complete social network. The builders won’t simply survive, they’ll thrive.”

Executive Briefing: Social Networking For Businesses And Associations

SnbrochurecoversmallWe’ve just made available a new Executive Briefing e-book that pragmatically introduces the idea of social networking for businesses and associations. Interested in introducing social networking to the exec staff at your organization? Included are answers to the common questions of:

  • What is social networking?
  • Why does this matter? Isn’t “social networking” just for high school kids?
  • How can my organization get closer to customers or members using social networking?

Excerpt: Why should our organization care about social networking?

“Customers have lost trust in traditional sales, marketing and service (the three areas commonly referred to as “CRM,” or Customer Relationship Management). According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, “the most credible source of information about a company is now ‘a person like me,’ which has risen dramatically to surpass doctors and academic experts for the first time.” The survey relates that in the U.S., trust in “a person like me” increased from 20% in 2003 to 68% today.

The connections enabled by social networks are the glue that put the humanity back into business to solve the trust problem. In other words, the organizations that will win are the ones that most easily enable individuals to build relationships and communities with people they trust.”

Download the entire 12 page e-book here. Then talk about it, forward it, print it, casually drop a copy on your co-worker’s desk…