Tag Archives: IdeaStorm

“Yahoo’s Jerry Yang Doesn’t Understand Blogging”

Jerry YangThis weekend, all eyes turned to the blogosphere to watch as the Microhoo deal fell through. Jerry Yang, CEO of Yahoo, also turned to blogging to plead his case. Sadly, the blog became a PR mechanism and one-sided message delivery system. Take a look at a few quotes:

“Our first quarter was probably one of the most exciting quarters in our history in terms of delivering innovative products and services that really move the needle and make a difference for our users and customers: Acquiring Maven Networks. Launching Buzz, OneSearch 2.0, voice-activated mobile search, video on Flickr, Shine….”

“So, what’s next? With Microsoft’s withdrawal, we’ll be better able to focus our energy on growing our industry leadership and maximizing value for stockholders. We’ll continue to execute on our plan — making your Internet experience as personal, relevant, open and social as possible, serving advertisers so well they insist on working with us, and opening up Yahoo! in a way that developers dream of.”

It’s a great letter to shareholders–or a press release–but it’s not a blog post. As we’ve mentioned before, a blog is a conversation. If Jerry wants to use it to put out company messages, that’s fine, but what’s the point. He’s losing a chance to re-energize the Yahoo user base.

Take a look at sampling of some of the comments:

A user named Jive sums it up best: “Above all, listen to us, your consumer, because we use your products and have specific wants, habits, usage etc.”

Wanna make it back on top, Jerry? Here are some suggestions:

  • First off, read and respond to some of the comments on this post. There are a lot of people with great ideas. You also need to think about the harsh criticism and respond thoughtfully.
  • Ask questions and listen.
  • Set up an Ideastorm type forum for people to leave suggestions and then close the feedback loop. Let users know they are being listened to and that their ideas are gaining traction. You want people to know that Yahoo! has changed? Show them by letting them get involved in product development.
  • Set up a community manager and go address the concerns in the blogosphere head on. Let them know that Yahoo wants to embrace the Internet again. Stop thinking 1.0 and start embracing your users and their voices.

Jerry, I love Yahoo. You guys have so many great properties, but they are all disconnected. If you read the comments on your post, you’ll see many users feel the same way. You’ll also see that most of them still love Yahoo. Give them something to get excited about. Your users make or break the company. If you listen to them–and interact with them–they will welcome you back with open arms. I guarantee it.

What do you think? Did Jerry’s post legitimately address user concerns? What do you think Yahoo should do to reengage its user base?

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Filed under Community Manager, It's A Conversation, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media

“iPrez.TV: A Utopian Vision of Democracy?”

Max HeadroomWith presidential primary season picking up steam, we bloggers have started contemplating the effects of social media on the primaries. Some candidates are using ustream.tv to have live videochats with voters. Other candidates have put up flickr streams or delved into Twitter. The forerunner among younger voters even sends mobile alerts and provides mobile wallpaper and ringtone downloads. Exciting times, but what if this social media frenzy went past the elections and carried over into the presidency.

Imagine if you will, a world where government is fully transparent. The president videocasts his life live, turning off the cam only when discussing matters of national security. He polls the populous Twitter-style to get feedback on upcoming proposals. Cut the weekly radio address–Radio? What’s that?–the president of the Social Age does a weekly Seesmic post.

New Media President meet your new staff member: Director of Community Relations. The Director and his underlings are responsible for all outreach and relations with the populous. Just like any good community manager, he follows all online dialog and responds thoughtfully. This doesn’t mean spitting out spin at negative postings. Instead, he actually listens to and addresses the concerns of the populous-at-large.

Doctor WhoThe Director of Community Relations is also responsible for maintaining and tracking feedback. Like Dell’s Ideastorm, the web community can post ideas to the appropriate department and also vote digg-style on submitted ideas. All ideas get tracked through completion. A idea/policy development wiki will also be set-up, allowing interaction between thought leaders, academics and government agencies.

As long as it’s not top-secret, all government employees will be encouraged to blog. As much as the Social Age president would like to blog daily, he simply can’t. His style is more micro-blogging through Twitter or Utterz. Instead, his full cabinet will blog, each member responsible for content every two weeks. Supreme Court justices and Senators will blog in the style of TechCrunch’s CrunchNotes, allowing the world to see the back story behind or reasons for decisions and opinions.

What’s the public thinking? Instant polling and voting through SocNets get immediate response on hot topics. Voting in elections may also be done through cell phones. OpenID coupled with YouService-like security prevents voter fraud.

Finally, forget having to go to DC to see the National Archive. The New Media National Archive (lovingly dubbed Archive 2.0) stores the Prez’s videocast and flickr stream. All government documents will be able to be searched and accessed from anyone’s home computer.

Because more people can get involved, disenchantment is low and voter turn out is high. Yes, the government of the Social Age will create a more true, transparent democracy where politicians and citizens interact.

How do you think social media could be used in government? Would it create a government for the people, by the people? Or would it create a 1984 nightmare?

[All you Sci-Fi Buffs should check out Vengeance on Varos, a Doctor Who episode where citizen vote instantly by touching the TV!]

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Filed under Citizen Reporter, Community Manager, Community Relations, Democracy and Media, Future of Media, New Media, Social Media, Social Networking

“Dell Hell Freezes Over: A Great Example of Turning Lemons into Lemonade”

Last week, BuzzMachine‘s Jeff Jarvis wrote an article in BusinessWeek discussing Dell’s reversal from social media nightmare to social media maven. It’s been a pretty amazing adventure and, to me, it feels like the last chapter has finally been writtern. Let’s take a look at a few of the practices Dell has put into place to turn around its online image.

[For the full “Dell Hell” archives in reverse chronological order, click here.]

It all started on June 21st, 2005, when Jeff published a post entitled “Dell Lies. Dell Sucks.” To Jeff’s surprise, he amassed hundred of sympathetic comments and thousands(?) of trackbacks. Not necessarily a good form of publicity, but Dell’s “look, but don’t touch” policy didn’t respond to bloggers.

This interview with a Dell spokesperson from 2005 really represents the old notion of one-sided communication that still exists in most big companies today. Houston Chronicle Tech Blogger Dwight Silverman caught the contradiction:

“With our direct model, we feel like we already have a good, two-way communications channel with our customers,” Davis said.

Of course, it depends on what you do with the incoming communication. A two-way conversation only has value if you take action on the problems you’re hearing about.

Finally, Davis asked an interesting question: Did I know of any companies that do actively go out and respond to blog and forum postings?

In 2005, it was rare. Today, the idea of corporate blogs is not so innovative, but companies still have a hard time with blogger/community relations.

In April of 2006, Dell reached out to disgruntled bloggers in an effort to resolve their issues. In July 2006, Dell launched its Direct2Dell blog. These words from a post in November of 2006 on the Dell blog starkly contrast the above comments:

Every day, we receive reports from a search string in Technorati and other blog search engines, and we meticulously analyze the results. When we find someone who has an unresolved issue with their Dell computer or our services, we reach out to offer assistance.

Ok, great, a corporate blog and customer service people who listen. Where’s the innovation? Well, it gets better. Last April, Dell launched the IdeamStorm community.

IdeaStorm allows users to make suggestions and then vote (in a digg like manner) whether to “promote” or “delete” an idea. But this voting isn’t hollow. Dell then provides results, closing the loop with consumers by informing them what user-initiated ideas have been executed and what suggested items are forthcoming. One major result of the IdeaStorm community was the decision to package Linux on consumer desktops and laptops. I know of few companies that allow such active consumer input.

The biggest success, to me, was a change in corporate thinking. Look at these words from CEO Michael Dell:

“These conversations are going to occur whether you like it or not, O.K.? Well, do you want to be part of that or not? My argument is you absolutely do. You can learn from that. You can improve your reaction time. And you can be a better company by listening and being involved in that conversation.”

Yup, that pretty much sums it up. The conversation is going on without you. People are tired of not having a voice. Now that they have quick and easy tools through which they communicate, they are gonna make their own messages. Isn’t it better to be a part of that discussion and perhaps steer it, rather than let it explode into a “Dell Hell”-type wildfire?

Lessons learned:

  • Read and Respond
    • Know what is being said and thoughtfully reply in a timely manner, especially to complaints
  • Talk to your customers as a real person speaking to other real people
    • It might not hurt to have a full-time blogger-relations person
  • Create a forum through which customer’s can provide idea/feedback
    • They are gonna do it somewhere, why not on your site?
  • Allow customers to vote on feedback
    • Collaboration and democracy increase loyalty
  • Report on results that come from feedback
    • Show them their voice has been heard and that their input is utilized

In the future, Dell plans on creating wikis that users can edit together [not sure if these are more techinical, knowledge-base type wikis or more customer-comments style wikis, both will be interesting to watch]. I’d also love to see a page that aggregates everything that is being said about Dell in the blogosphere. Maybe it could be tagged and then quickly sorted so that customers could see the full-spectrum of the discussion.

What do you guys think? Did Dell pull it off? Do you know of any other companies that user similar collaborative techniques? What could Dell do now to improve/enhance its current social media campaign?

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Filed under Citizen Reporter, Marketing, New Media, New Media Masters., Public Relations 2.0