Members of the Social Media ReInvention Blog Community understand I'm an enthusiastic student and fan of David Meerman Scott. In numerous posts, I've referenced David and his latest book, Real Time Marketing & PR.
1. The New Competitive Advantage is Speed & Agility
Leverage and Respond to Real-Time News Events. Companies and individuals who leverage current news events to instantaneously communicate with customers (as these events unfold) hold a distinct competitive advantage over larger, bigger budget rivals. These larger rivals value size and scale (not speed). And, that distinction provides significant opportunity for competitive differentiation.
Real-Time Responsiveness Differentiates Important Service Capabilities. Applications of real-time competitive differentiation include:
- Using direct and swift communications in customer service
- Preparing for and moving quickly in crisis communications (aka disaster recovery situations)
- Developing and testing new products / service offerings
- Creating an organizational culture valuing speed and open communications
The Link to Important Business Objectives. All of the aforementioned capabilities achieve one or several of the following business objectives:
- Driving sales revenues
- Saving money (i.e., lower customer acquistion costs)
- Acquiring new customers (e.g., enabiling additional lead generation)
- Strengthening existing customer relationships
2. A Mindset of Real-Time Competitiveness
The Real-Time Mindset Means Thinking Differently. Here's my graphical interpretation of David's description of the real-time mindset (page 34):
Blink and You've Lost the Advantage. Gaining (or losing) the competitive advantage depends on WHEN you react/respond to breaking news events. Pages 29 thru 31 explain why ultra-fast, first movers win in real-time deployment:
- The Real-Time Marketing & PR Power Law
- The Real-Time Law of Law of Normal Distribution
3. Select Your Real-Time Platforms Carefully
Real-Time Differentiation and Capability Isn't Always Obvious - Just Ask Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams. I conducted a back-of-the-envelope analysis of the real-time tools most often cited in Real-Time Marketing & PR. Hands-down, the real-time winner is Twitter.
But, Twitter's differentiating niche wasn't always obvious from its beginnings in July 2006. From FastCompany.com in November 2010, I Want My Twitter TV! (by Ellen McGirt), Evan Williams says on page 3:
"We didn't know what we were at first. I think it's pretty clear now that Twitter is a real-time information network (e.g., any previous confusion about Twitter being a social network or Facebook is now over)."
- Monitoring conversations
- Responding directly to current customers or new, potential customers
- Directing Twitter audience members to long form channels (i.e., the company blog or YouTube) for more details
The New Media Life Cycle Helps in Evaluating the Right Real-Time Platforms (and Avoiding the Wrong Ones). Pages 131 to 135 highlight input and data from Andrew Davis, Chief Strategy Officer at Tippingpoint Labs. Davis explains the New Media Life Cycle as the adoption of any platform (blogging, microblogging, photo sharing, or live video streaming) or content distribution channel (YouTube.com, Slideshare.com, Flickr.com, or Twitter.com).
The New Media Life Cycle openly tracks and analyzes an online platform's current life cycle phase in seven (7) distinct phases:
Early Adopters / First Movers Win. Early adopters understand The New Media Life Cycle, and exploit it to their competitive advantage. They know participating early in an emerging social network matters. Page 134 expains the secret to becoming well known on a social media network is to participate in one that's growing quickly, but is still in the early stage. A perfect example is the fast-growing Empire Avenue - The Social Media Exchange.
Remember Second Life? They're not a Real-Time Player (but Twitter is). Tippingpoint Labs and Google Insights provide data driven examples showing why Second Life is already past its prime (page 134). But, Twitter continues growing and is an outstanding real-time platform (page 135).
4. Managing Crisis Communications Means Real-Time Speed
The Money Insights of Real-Time Marketing & PR. The insights shared on crisis communications and disaster recovery are worth the purchase price alone. Why? The situations described in the book can happen to all of us. No one is immune in a digital age.
In my opinion, these sections require careful study:
- Chapter 7: Crisis Communications and the Media (pages 71-81)
- Chapter 8: What are People Saying About You This Instant? (pages 92-94)
- Chapter 10: Real-Time Customer Connection (pages 124-126)
Build Your Media and Journalist Contacts NOW. David explains how too few organizations (particularly the larger ones) fail to build media and journalist relationships before they need them (i.e., contacts with analysts, editors, and reporters).
Credibility and Trust with Media Contacts Requires Time. A communications crisis requires speed and focus (so you have little to no time). In addition, you compound risk by introducing yourself to your media contacts for the first time.
Five Ways to Build Media and Journalist Relationships. Build your media and journalist relationships before you need them. David provides the following suggestions:
- Follow the Publications and Its Journalists
- Comment on Their Stories and Blog Posts
- Introduce Yourself Via Email
- Follow Journalists on Twitter and Engage Them in Conversation
- Earn Their Respect by Providing Valuable Content and Information (e.g. No Spam)
When Disaster Strikes, Refer to the Real-Time Communications Checklist. David provides a 9-Point Crisis Communications Checklist. All of his suggestions should be implemented before the crisis hits:
- Assigning a crisis communications team
- Gathering and storing key contact information inside and outside your organization
- Delegating who's the organization's lead communicator
- Responding through multiple real-time, online channels (i.e., company blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
IMPORTANT: Respond in the same online medium spawning the crisis. If the event happened in YouTube, respond with your own YouTube video.
5. Real-Time Organizations Have Communication Guidelines
Developing Real-Time Communications Guidelines and Roles in Your Organization. Pages 171 -172 provide an 8-Step Checklist for creating and implementing guidelines. In addition on pages 175 - 176, David introduces his take on a new senior executive position: Chief Real Time Communications Officer. On page 176, he explains the job description in a 14-point bulleted list.
IBM, The U.S. Air Force, and Telstra Succeed as Real-Time Communicators. Pages 161 - 173 describe how each organization uses real-time communications, empowers their employees, and publicly shares their guidelines. IBM's guidelines are shared on pages 162 - 170.
Here are hyperlinks and titles of the communications guidelines for these organizations:
- IBM: Social Computing Guidelines
- U.S. Air Force: New Media and the Air Force
- Telstra (Australia's largest telecom company): Telstra's 3Rs of Social Media Engagement
Telstra even created YouTube Videos introducing their 3R's of Social Media Engagement to their employees: Representation, Responsibility, and Respect:
BONUS SECTION. Here are additional resources for social media guidelines:
Fortune 500 Executives Please Read This Book. Real-Time Marketing & PR is essential and required reading for C-Level executives, communications, marketing, and public relations professionals. As stated earlier, the disaster recovery and crisis communications advice shared makes it a worthwhile investment (especially if you hold that responsibility for a Fortune 500 organization).
Leaders of Small or Medium-Sized Can Outflank the Fortune 500. David describes how small and medium-sized businesses are practicing real-time communications and ringing their respective cash registers. Their commitment to real-time marketing and PR is how they're outflanking their larger Fortune 500 competitors.
Have You Read This Important Book? If you haven't, you're at a key disadvantage relative to competitors. If you have, I'd love to read your comments. Please let me know what you learned (especially the points I failed to capture in this review -- there are so many)!
Real Time Mindset: Photo Credit 1 by dirk schaefer via Flickr
iPhone Stopwatch: Photo Credit 3 by dyobmti via Flickr