Cumulus Partners

5. May 2010 01:06

Great column by Andrew McAfee looks at why social media projects often fail

5. May 2010 01:06 by mike barlow | 2 Comments

I just finished reading a great column written by Andrew McAfee for about why social media pilot projects often fail. He's an advocate of social media, so I was interested in hearing his take on the subject. The column is definitely worth reading, especially if you are the manager of a corporate social media initiative. Here's my takeaway: Too many companies are treating social media like some new flavor of CRM, which is a serious mistake right off the bat. Next, it seems as though many executives expect social media pilot programs to show results after a couple of months. The best analogy I can think of would be if you were disappointed because your four-month-old child hadn't already been signed by a major league sports team or hadn't been admitted to Harvard. Imagine what it would sound like if you started complaining, "Hey, what's wrong with this kid? Maybe we should bring him back to the hospital and exchange him for a better model. Or maybe we should just rethink this whole kid thing and get a dog instead ..."

But sometimes I hear comments just as absurd by executives who ought to know better. Here is the stark reality: Social media is in its infancy. In fact, every aspect of information technology is in its infancy -- every platform out there is young! And social media is certainly one of the newest, and therefore one of the youngest. I think we need to give it a few more years before we begin judging the real "value" of social media to the enterprise.

12. April 2010 16:08

Useful perspective on obstacles to collaboration

12. April 2010 16:08 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

My friend Luis Suarez has done it again -- written a really useful post on the topic of collaboration, this time focusing on three common obstacles to adoption. I don't want to steal his thunder, so please click on through to his excellent blog, Thinking Outside the Inbox, and enjoy!

11. April 2010 03:33

I'm looking for some good examples of how Chatter or other social media software helped your business

11. April 2010 03:33 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

If anybody out there has a good story about how they used Chatter or any other social media program to improve or enhance a business process, or to improve internal collaboration or collaboration with business partners, please contact me and I will be absolutely delighted to include the story in my new book about how businesses use social media and social networking tools to improve existing business processes, or invent new ones! Social media is an exciting development in the history of business, and I would love to hear some real stories from the front lines. Thanks in advance!

22. March 2010 05:48

Writing a new book about corporate social computing strategy

22. March 2010 05:48 by mike barlow | 1 Comments

It's official. I'm writing a business book for John Wiley & Sons on the topic of corporate social computing strategy. Basically, it will examine the many ways in which smart companies use social media to encourage and support internal collaboration, innovation and communications. If you know people involved in corporate social media who would like to be interviewed, please ask them to contact me via email ( or phone (203-209-6061). Don't hesitate to contact me if you have suggestions, advice or ideas. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks in advance!

26. February 2010 06:58

Many to Many Marketing

26. February 2010 06:58 by mike barlow | 1 Comments

For a very long time -- basically between the invention of fire and the development of radio networks -- there was only one kind of marketing: "one to one" marketing. You told someone about the product or service you were promoting. If the product was good, and if you were lucky, maybe someone would tell someone else about it and, lo and behold, you had "word of mouth" marketing on your side as well. This was how marketing worked until the emergence of mass media created the age of "one to many" marketing.

"One to many" marketing was hugely successful, but you didn't have to be a genius to see that it left a lot of markets unexplored and untapped. This untapped potential led to the development of "direct" marketing and all of its various progeny. Pretty soon, however, it became obvious that all of the increasingly granularized forms of direct marketing were largely attempts to turn back the clock and recapture the glory days of "one to one" marketing as practiced by our common ancestors.

At the risk of offending my former colleagues at the Peppers & Rogers Group, I think it's time to ring down the curtain on "one to one" marketing. Unless you're promoting one-of-a-kind luxury yachts or high-end custom jewelry, "one to one" marketing will not deliver the ROI you need to justify its cost.

Today, and for the foreseeable future, smart marketers are adopting "many to many" marketing as the logical strategy for promoting products and services in an Internet-enabled global economy. "Many to many" marketing is actually closer to the original form of "one to one" marketing practiced by our predecessors, who went cave to cave with a great pitch. They knew their job was influencing people, entertaining people, educating people and talking them into buying stuff.

"Many to many' marketing takes the best of traditional marketing and cranks it into warp drive by relocating it from the physical world to the digital marketplace. "Many to many" marketing is empowered, enabled and fueled by social networks that live and thrive in rapidly expanding universe of digital social media platforms.

Social media, social networking, social computing -- it might look simple at first glance, but we're witnessing the evolution of a highly complex organism. It's so complex, in fact, that marketers will need increasingly sophisticated strategies and analytic tools to keep their heads above water. Let's face it, you can't just guess about how millions of people are thinking or feeling at a particular moment. Only they can tell you, and if you want to find out, you have to go where they live ... on social networks. It's actually very cool when you consider that all a good marketer needs today is a great idea, an Internet connection ... and a million friends. It's as easy as pie!