Tactics Without Strategy

A couple months ago I asked if your organization was acting like a circus.  Now I want to tell you why it’s not so funny.

Let’s warm up with the words of one famous 8pm Warrior, Sun Tzu, and his best selling book The Art of War:

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

Why is it that you can have success following a strategy without tactics, but not tactics without strategy?

People like knowing there is an intelligent master plan behind everything.

It keeps them comfortable, it keeps them focused, it builds trust, and it’s never been more important than now.  With the arrival of social media and the expectation of transparent organizations, you can’t hide it so well when you don’t have a strategy.

(Side note:  Hiring talented people and getting out of their way is not a real strategy)

You might have talented people and great tactics, but if your team is not coordinating on decision-making, marketing, and communications, it looks like no one is at the wheel.

Ultimately, it leads to failure.

No one likes to work for, buy from, or partner with a leaderless organization.  It just doesn’t feel safe.

My advice?

No matter how painful or time consuming it might be, it is time to get the whole team together, come up with your master plan, and stick to it unless you all shift together.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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6 Ways to Efficiently Consume Social Media

(This post is the 3nd in a five part series about participation in the world of Social Media)

So you’ve decided to dive into the world of Social Media?

Welcome!

Now comes the hard part.  Just check out these stats:

  • 30,000,000,000 items are shared each month on Facebook (official Facebook stats)
  • 2,890,000,000 tweets are posted on Twitter each month (official Twitter stats)
  • 200,000,000+ blogs had been started by 2009, with many more added each day (Technorati)
  • More written information was created in the last 48 hours than from the beginning of time to the year 2000 combined (Google)

So what is a social media consumer to do?

Below are some of the great tools out there to efficiently organize and screen information that’s flying at you.

1) Flipboard

If you have an iPad, you need Flipboard.  If you don’t have an iPad, you need to get one.  This app is that great!

Basically it takes your news feed from Twitter or Facebook and turns it into your very own social magazine!  It adds visual appeal and is easy to get right to the good stuff.  Apple named it their app of the year, and it is my #1 tool for consuming (and curating) great content

2) Summify

No matter what way you read social media posts, Summify can help you.  Lisa Sunbury has been using it and absolutely loves  how you’re able to have up to four emails sent per day, containing the top 5 stories in your main areas of interest.

3) Paper.li

Twice a day I publish the 8pm Warrior Digest of content shared by my favorite leaders.  You can subscribe to it and it will send the digest to your email.  I know that others have similar papers too.

4) Curators

I recommend that you seek out and follow Curators who will help filter the good stuff and share it with you.  There are literally thousands of people who spend much of their day sharing the best content that they can find.  If you are looking for some great ones, check with Robert Caruso for his recommendations.  His Bundlepost technology allows people to share even more content in a well organized way, so he knows the best curators on Earth.

5) Google Reader

If you like to read blogs, but have a hard time organizing them, then RSS and Google Reader might be for you.  Many people still don’t know what RSS is, so here’s a good guide to both Google Reader and RSS.

If you’re using a different reader, check out other options here on the 8pm Warrior RSS feed.

6) Social Bookmarking Sites:

These top sites use the collective power of many curators to help you find the best content on the internet.

I hope these 6 methods of screening and consuming information will help you efficiently wade through the thousands of social media updates flying your way each day.  If you have any that I missed, post a comment below.

Have a great night!

Aaron@Biebert

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Social Comatose? Time for Sleeping Leaders to Awake!

(This post is the 2nd in a five part series about participation in the world of Social Media)

Any leader who hasn’t embraced the social web by now must be near retirement or in a coma.

Either that, or they’re in China.

I don’t have a problem with 90 year old retirees ignoring Social Media.  However, the rest of us will have to learn to live in a world that gets its news and information from the internet and the millions of blogs, tweets, updates, and posts that are shared each day.  They are the mail, magazines, and conferences of a new age.

The rise of Social Media cannot be ignored.

Last year I volunteered to form the social media program for a large healthcare association. The goal was to engage the membership, improve communication, spark collaboration, and let non-members know what they were missing.

As part of the plan we began discussing upcoming conferences, sharing pictures, and sharing ideas and best practices.  All good things.

However, there is always someone who doesn’t get it.

The CFO of a large healthcare system informed me that he was irritated about this change.  His entire group of employees (thousands of people) was not able to access the association’s information on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter, but then he eagerly defended his policy of blocking all social media sites.  He didn’t want his employees wasting time.

He didn’t get it.

In reality, what he must have not wanted was informed employees, cutting edge information, reduced consulting costs, and free advertising or recruiting.  He was too afraid of letting go.

It looks like he’s in good company.

According to the the annual PwC CEO survey, only 57% of  CEOs indicate they will not “significantly change” their strategies to meet new realities of social media usage by their customers.  Even more disturbing, 10% of marketing leaders (the most educated on this topic) still indicate that social media is not important to their company.

They’re sleeping and won’t see the iceberg ahead!

Of the four types of participation on the social web, acting like you’re in a coma is the only one that I believe is wrong.

Here’s why:

So much information is available on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin to help organizations be quicker, smarter, and faster.  Ignoring this information amounts to leadership malpractice.  Using healthcare as an example, just look at these Social Media tools that are available for:

No matter what industry you work in, there are similar resources.  If you know someone who is asleep at the wheel of a department, division, or organization, it’s time to wake them up.

The world has changed.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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The 4 C’s in Social Media Participation

There are only four ways of participating on the social web. You can choose to be:

Some people are Comotose, and will be shocked when they wake up to see what the world has become. Unfortunately, they may also be unemployed, uneducated, and behind the curve.

Consumers spend most of their time reading, watching, and consuming the materials that are made by the Creators and shared by the Curators. All three work together and are necessary.

Most have more than one role.

As part of my own development (and those I work with), I’m going to begin a series about each of these participation methods and how they fit together.  My first article will be a call for action to those in a coma.

It’s time to wake up!

Stay tuned!

Aaron@Biebert

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3 Examples of MS Tags (not QR Codes) in Marketing

After my last article (3 Reasons to Use MS Tags) I got to hear from a lot of naysayers in the QR Code industry that had made up their mind already.  They didn’t care much for my post.

Others were supportive and felt like they found a leapfrog technology over QR Codes. I’m glad I could help.  This sort of healthy discourse is why I started the 8pm Warrior blog.

Since this has been a very hot topic lately (almost a thousand views the last couple days), I wanted to do a follow up post sharing a couple pieces that I’ve had designed using MS Tags.  One of my fellow 8pm Warriors (Mary Fitzgerald) asked to see ways that my team has used MS Tags before.

Here are some examples:

First, grab the MS Tag reader for your smart phone at http://gettag.mobi (you should test it to see how it works).

The MS Tag size is nice for business cards.  We were able to go slightly below the 0.75 inch size that is recommended.  That helped us keep the type of design we wanted when designing a card on clear plastic.

As you can see (below), it didn’t have much room for a massive 1×1 inch QR Code.  With the use of an MS Tag, we could have our cake and eat it too.

In the Clear Medical Network poster below, we started off using QR Codes.  However, many people thought they were bar codes and that we were selling the posters.

Since they are free for college guidance counselors, that was obviously a problem. Our fix? Use a colorful and fun MS Tag.  (See below)

Again, here we used an MS Tag to bring this fun Insider Show video series to life with a colorful tag.  Nothing says fun like lively colors.

It was nice that the free online MS Tag creator made the tag and the instruction box. Obviously most 8pm Warriors don’t have a lot of time, so this is a nice feature.  Since just about anyone can make one, it also leads to lower design costs.  Simple, colorful, fun.  (See below)

After looking at some real world examples, check out the MS Tag showcase site to see what other great organizations have been using them.

The good news is that the 2D tag industry is still in its infancy, and you can choose whichever method you want.  Don’t always listen to everything you hear.  I was told that many designers hate Microsoft, so they will always oppose MS Tags over QR Codes.

Try both (QR Codes and MS Tags) for yourself to see what you like.

Have a great night

Aaron@Biebert

3 Reasons to use MS Tags (not QR Codes)

“QR Codes are so 2010!”

That’s what I tried explaining to Jimmy Fallon tonight when he used a giant QR (Quick Response) Code in Stephen Colbert’s spoof of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” song.

It’s time to advance.

In the era of $49 iPhones, smart phone usage is skyrocketing and leaders are trying to connect clients to their digital presence through traditional offline marketing materials.  In the past, QR Codes were the way.

(Not familiar with QR Codes?  Check out the black & white image to the right.)

If you’ve never used QR Codes before, don’t worry.  As far as I’m concerned, there is no reason to use them in a marketing campaign ever again (they are going the way of the VHS tape, floppy disk, or land line phone).

It is time to start using MS (Microsoft) Tags in any offline marketing you are doing that asks customers to call a number, take your contact information, or go to a website.  Why not make it easy for your customers to call you, connect with you, or find your site without typing anything?

Here’s why MS Tags are better than QR Codes:

1) MS Tags can be 44% smaller.

When designing beautiful and effective marketing pieces, space is valuable.  MS Tags offers us a smaller option.

Here is the minimum dimensions for each:

  • MS Tag (color):  0.75 inch
  • MS Tag (b&w):  0.875 inch
  • QR Code:  1 inch

Note:  QR Codes get bigger as you add more information to them (longer message, number, or URL)

2) MS Tags offer flexibility.

QR Codes are permanently linked to whatever is programed into the code.  MS Tags can be switched to whatever message, website, phone number, or vCard (electronic business card) you want, whenever you want.   By using an MS Tag, you don’t have to switch the tag you use on your business card, marketing flyer, etc. every time you switch messages or strategies.

It makes sense in a fast paced world.

3)  MS Tags build in tracking.

Every time someone scans your MS tag, it is tracked and made available to you in a report.  QR Codes do not offer any sort of tracking ability.  This is a huge advantage, since metrics should be the basis for all marketing decisions.  ROI is key and MS Tags can help adjust your strategy on the fly.

In addition to the above three reasons, there are other advantages such as faster scanning, more supported languages (6),  location based GPS campaign customization, and tag design customization (you can design the tag to look more like a picture).  I personally have used QR Codes & MS Tags in marketing campaigns and from personal experience I can confidently recommend the MS Tag to my fellow 8pm Warriors.

If you’re curious how they work, grab your smart phone and try scanning the two pictures on the upper right or check out “3 Examples of MS Tags in Marketing“.  Let me know what you think.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Don’t be Cheap, Offer Value (A Lesson from McDonald’s)

Sometimes leaders go too far when trying to increase sales or cut costs.  Here is one example:

To reduce caloric intake (and my weight), I only drink water when eating fast food.  I simply request a cup for ice water and then fill it up at the soda fountain.  Just like clockwork.

Until today.

I went to a McDonald’s with my wife and kids so they could eat and play on the PlayPlace with their cousins.  Not only did this particular McDonald’s refuse to give (or sell) me a cup for water, but they don’t even have a water option on their soda fountain for my own bottle.

What a foolish way to increase soft drink sales and cut costs!

Instead of our group discussing the great salads, tasty coffee, giant playground, and healthy side items in the kids’ happy meals, we were focused on why the heck they don’t offer water or two cent cups.  One of the mothers ended up using the bathroom faucet. I drank nothing.

I doubt that was McDonald’s corporate plan.

Just check out the #McDonalds hashtag on Twitter, and you’ll see that my experience is not unique.  At a glance, I saw that one restaurant doesn’t offer free refills on soft drinks.  Another didn’t feel like doing Shamrock Shakes this year.

This McDonald’s didn’t offer water.

Be careful when cutting costs that you don’t cut customers too.   The world is too connected.  Cups are too cheap.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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3 Behaviors that are “Social Selfish”

Yesterday I wrote that “Caring is Sharing” on the social web.

But what about someone who doesn’t share, like, or add to the discussions we all depend on?  What do you call it when someone takes in everything on the web, but doesn’t give back?

I call it being “Social Selfish” and I believe that it hurts everyone.

For the record, I think that we are all self centered sometimes when it comes to social media.  With too much to do and too little time to do it, something must get pushed to the side.  

Sometimes that means less give, and more take.

This post is not about those situations, but rather for those who have never commented or appropriately shared anything that someone else created.

Even though I believe that being “Social Selfish” is bad for everyone, I’m not convinced that people know that they’re doing it.  After all, Web 2.0 and Social Media are still gaining mainstream usage, and people may not truly understand what they’re doing.

To help explain these behaviors and how they hurt us all, here are three “Social Selfish” actions to think about:

1)      They see something amazing and don’t comment.

By not commenting or adding anything, they’re also not helping the material develop.

If a person doesn’t have anything great to add, a simple encouragement or acknowledgement is nearly as helpful.  It takes a lot of time to prepare material, and it’s nice to have encouragement.

For those of us who don’t advertise or promote products on our blogs, these thoughts we write or record are not-for-profit.  We’re spending our time sharing thoughts and ideas for different reasons.

For me, I love hearing new ideas, growing, sharing, and learning.  This community was built for that.  Your comments are payment for the hours I spend each week doing this.

2)      They see something amazing and don’t “Like” or share it (assuming it’s easy to share).

By not sharing, liking, retweeting, or similar action (validating what they think is great), they’re not helping it spread.

Not helping a great idea spread hurts everyone.  In many ways, Web 2.0 is like an information democracy where the best ideas are identified by how many times people share, like, or comment on the idea.  Not liking or sharing is similar to not voting for a leader you believe in.

If you like it, “Like” it!

3)      They take someone’s material and use it without giving others a chance to find the originator.

I frequently see people quoting other people in tweets or emails without crediting the originator’s name.  This hurts the advancement of good ideas and great thinkers, and makes it hard for people to collaborate with the originator.

One of the ways great ideas (and thinkers) advance is through discussions and interaction amongst those “in the room”.  Sharing a great idea allows that idea to gain momentum.  However, sharing the idea without giving credit makes it hard for real collaboration to take place.

We are all pioneers in the Web 2.0 world, and I humbly submit these thoughts for your consideration.  Since I personally have a lot to learn, I welcome any suggested additions or subtractions for the list (let’s discuss below).

Have a selfless night,

Aaron@Biebert

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