Cumulus Partners

1. March 2010 17:32

A good reason for rereading "The Tipping Point"

1. March 2010 17:32 by mike barlow | 5 Comments

Because the basic activities of social media strategy often play out in solitude -- lonely figures hunched over their laptops, typing furiously -- it's sometimes hard to remember that a core characteristic of all social media is multiple cycles of human interactions. In other words, social media is very social! Social media strategy doesn't work without lots of human beings -- their thoughts and emotions are the raw fuel that keeps the process going.

I thought of this as I considered a question being raised by some of the more farsighted executives I know. The question is: Does a person need special talent to succeed as a social media practitioner, or can just about anyone do it? Or more pointedly, they ask, will the organization have to go out and hire a bunch of specialists to develop, manage and execute successful social media campaigns?

The correct answer is probably yes, and no. Yes, some people with special talent will be required to staff an ongoing social media function. But some of these people can be recruited from the ranks of existing staff.

Anyone who is considering these questions seriously needs to reread "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. I know, you've already read it. That's what I thought when they asked us to read it for the class on social media strategy that I'm taking at SUNY Purchase. I thought, hey, I've read that book twice, and I thought it was kinda interesting, but obvious, shallow, pop culture, etc...

But I was hellbent on keeping a positive attitude, so I reread it. And I'm glad I did. Gladwell's take on the difference between Paul Revere and William Dawes contains some terrific insight that every manager needs to keep front and center when making hiring or staffing decisions for key social media positions. Basically, Gladwell notes that you need three kinds of influencers to make things happen: Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.

His observation applies to staffing up for social media initiatives; you'll need the right mix of talents to make it work. And before you start hiring, do yourself a favor and dig out your old copy of Gladwell's book.

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!


25. February 2010 13:58

You can still order copies of "Partnering with the CIO" from Amazon

25. February 2010 13:58 by mike barlow | 1 Comments

Yes, the long tail is still wagging the shaggy dog. How's that for a mixed techno-pop metaphor? At any rate, you can still order copies of "Partnering with the CIO" at Amazon. In some respects, it's more relevant today than when we wrote it four years ago.

25. February 2010 13:49

Taking a course at SUNY Purchase

25. February 2010 13:49 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Well, I signed up for a course called Social Media Marketing Strategy at SUNY Purchase. So far, it seems pretty good. It's got a B2C focus, which is understandable, but I think I can figure out how to translate the basic concepts into useful B2B strategies and tactics. I'll keep you posted on my progress!

25. February 2010 07:36

Recommended reading -- "The Practical CIO"

25. February 2010 07:36 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Have you all had a chance to visit the website for "The Practical CIO" ? I recommend it highly!

18. February 2010 07:36

Welcome to the Cumulus Blog

18. February 2010 07:36 by mike barlow | 0 Comments

Welcome to Cumulus Blog. I've been ghosting blogs for several of my clients, and I realized that it was kind of silly that I didn't have my own. I'm hoping this blog will become a sort of nexus for the thoughts generated -- or accumulated -- in conversations with many sources from a variety of industries and backgrounds.

One of the things I've noticed in my conversations with CIOs is that they tend to fall into two categories:

1. CIOs who "get it" and work closely with the business to deliver tangible value. In return they are valued by the organization.

2. CIOs who don't "get it" and devolve into highly paid techno-flunkies reporting to multiple VPs. This bunch seems to spend a lot of time on the phone with headhunters and friendly vendors.

Another trend I've noticed is that many of the really innovative IT strategies -- and the ones most closely aligned with pressing business objectives -- seem to be coming from markets in Latin America and China. I think it's fair to say that these emerging/developing markets are rewriting the IT rulebook. The CIOs and CEOs in these hypercompetitive markets are thinking, "how can I get this done fast, with mimimal support and no infrastructure?"

So if you're looking for exciting, inspirational stories about IT, you're more likely to find them in places like China, Brazil, Russia and Australia.