Cumulus Partners

7. January 2011 22:40

The golden age of free social media

7. January 2011 22:40 by mike barlow | 2 Comments

Now reading The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu, who makes a good case for the cyclical nature of communication markets. First you have invention, followed by anarchy, followed by increased control, followed by even more control, followed by monopolies, followed by new inventions that overturn the monopolies and launch the next cycle. I routinely tell my clients that now is the time to leverage the potential of social media -- not because social media has reached a perfect state, but because it's still virtually free. Give the network providers another couple of years and they'll figure out how to charge you for blogging. Now is the golden age of free social media -- make the most of it while it lasts.

9. September 2010 03:15

The new name game ... CRM, VRM, SCRM, etc ...

9. September 2010 03:15 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Don Peppers and Martha Rogers wrote a post the other day about CRM, SCRM and VRM. The gist of their argument is that SCRM (social customer relationship management) is an oxymoron, and that VRM (vendor relationship management) is the next big thing in the expanding universe of relationship management.

It's a great post, but lots of us still have faith in the basic idea that SCRM is the logical extension of CRM. I think you can make a pretty good case that the convergence of cloud, mobile and social computing is simply enabling the "next generation" of CRM, and that some of us are calling that next generation "SCRM," perhaps for lack of a better term.

Then again, maybe the term "SCRM" is too silly, and we should just call it "CRM II." 

5. August 2010 15:11

Put a fork in it ...

5. August 2010 15:11 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

OK, we've finished writing THE BOOK! Yes, the manuscript for "The Executive's Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy" has been submitted to our wonderful editors at John Wiley & Sons, and they are checking it now to make sure we didn't sneak any bad words into the text! But seriously, it's moving through the editing process and that means it's on schedule! Whoopeee!!!

22. May 2010 07:16

Updated Social Media Revolution is worth watching!

22. May 2010 07:16 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Erik Qualman has updated Social Media Revolution. It's definitely worth watching. And for anyone who thinks the battle is already won ... well, I just returned from a high-level, invite-only CIO conference in Chicago, and there didn't seem to be a lot of genuine understanding about the potential business value of social media. Believe me, there are still lots of people out there in the corporate universe who still don't get it. But then again, there were also people at this event who were arguing over the value of cloud computing. If I think hard enough, I can remember similar arguments when client-server systems replaced mainframe computers, when PCs replaced dumb terminals and when email replaced the inter-office memo! Stay tuned -- and don't touch that dial!

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!

9. April 2010 17:05

Enjoyed Cloudforce 2 event at the Sheraton; Chatter will be huge success

9. April 2010 17:05 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Here's something I don't usually say about vendor events: I really enjoyed it! The Cloudforce 2 "roadshow" at the Sheraton in Manhattan last week was both entertaining and educational. OK, it was basically one long sales pitch for, but it was still extremely useful and very interesting. I think that Chatter, which is's social media platform for business, is absolutely fantastic. I'm a major fan of Marc Benioff, one of the first software geeks to envision "the cloud." I'm also impressed by the way he hasn't lost his contempt for enterprise software and the whole philosophy behind it. At any rate, I predict that Chatter will be a huge success. And no, I don't work for Benioff and I own no shares of stock.

Apart from the cool technology ideas, three things about the event struck me:

1. Excellent finger food -- lots of raw veggies, chocolate chip cookies and some very tasty micro-cheeseburgers. Everything a writer needs to stay healthy and alert.

2. Unusually high level of rapport between the presenters and the audience. The presenters really knew their audience, and the audience seemed genuinely appreciative.

3. Did anyone else notice the absence of senior IT people in the audience, or was it just my imagination?

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!