I'm going to finish the book today. CRM at the Speed of Light, 4th edition will be done by the time that the day ends - though I suspect a lot sooner. It's going to be a 750 page tome - mostly print, some supplemented electronically, on CRM 2.0 - I hope a definitive work. In honor of me being able to devote much more time and effort to this blog and the rest of my life than I've been able to in the last few weeks, even months, I'm doing one last chapter excerpt from the upcoming book, pre-edited. Let me know what you think of the idea - This is on Outcome Based Social Networks. Again, this is unedited so it will be improved in final form. I have to edit it once before I send in, as I always do and then I send it in to be edited by my copy editor.
Outcome Based Social NetworksEven though the name, outcome based social networks (OSN) is of my own creation, I have to give credit for the concept and inspiration to Anthony Lye, Oracles CRM SVP, who you met in the electronic chapter on CRM leaders and will see more of in the chapter on Sales and Marketing. I had a conversation with him on the phone in 2008 and he said something very close to this:
"We shouldn't distinguish between corporate and consumer social networks. Social networks are containers for a series of activities by people - a container across social, geographic, company and other boundaries. They can exist for years - or for a few minutes, hours or days. It can be around a marketing event, a service request. Basically, a social network is a container that drives meaningful outcomes."
This is a really important concept. Most people see social networks as something that has permanence and at the same time involves investing in long term efforts to add to content or to increase membership. But that isn't necessarily the way that they always work. Motivations for the creation of the social networks are different and the benefits derived by business from the social networks can vary widely.
Outcome based social networks are often organized around an opportunity in sales, an engagement, or a particular transaction or interaction that has a limited lifespan. Lotus Connections (Chapter 6) provides their wiki-like functionality around what they call activities - which are not wikis with permanence but outcome based social networks that are used for a project and, when done, archived.
Don't underestimate the value of this kind of network. Bad thinking about how you are going to engage your employees or more germane to this book your customers leads to communities in a dead zone. For example, Ning has 700,000 communities of which 200,000 are active - which means 500,000 are either whimsical or unsustainable. I've built communities that had a specific purpose using wikis as the vehicle. One was for the definition of CRM 2.0. When that's defined to the community's satisfaction, the planned outcome will have been accomplished and the community members will disperse.
It's really no different than an audience at an event. I spent 72 hours at Woodstock in 1969 and listened to all 28 concerts. I suffered the rain, loved the music, didn't sleep (even without drugs) for a second, met all kinds of people, had excited discussions around the music being played, offered undying fealty to my new friends and vows of permanent friendship were made. Then when it ended, I went home, slept 14 hours and never saw anyone from there I didn't already know before, again. The outcome based social network of 600,000 at Max Yasgur's farm was archived in my memory.
These networks are very valuable to business if conceived strategically. They should be used to support a specific time-delimited occurrence that needs to have intensive structured conversations to improve the possibilities of the success of the outcome. The value of this network is that the data from the conversation becomes part of the permanent knowledgebase in addition to its efficacy while it exists. Plus it is part of a lasting record of that can be pointed to as an example of best practices and success.
YouTube SymphonyOne extraordinary example of an outcome based social network was the YouTube Symphony Orchestra (http://www.youtube.com/symphony). This was an effort sponsored by Google who worked with the Musical Director of the San Francisco Symphony Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra. Composer Tan Dun wrote an original piece to be performed for the occasion. The idea was to create an orchestra that would not only perform live at Carnegie Hall in NY, but also YouTube. The orchestra would be wholly recruited through YouTube auditions. Using a channel on YouTube for the aggregate community, videos of the potential members performing were uploaded; comments on everything from musical styles and technical aspects to the performance selections were posted. YTSO Artistic Coordinator Bill Williams, one of the critical on the ground drivers of this outcome based social network and a principal trumpeter with ensembles including the San Francisco Symphony and Santa Fe Opera, pointed out that until they did the physical dress rehearsals at Carnegie Hall in April 2009, they had never played together.
One unique feature of this OSN was a mashup of selected video entries of Tan Dun's musical piece into a single video ensemble piece which resides on the landing page of the symphony.
By June 2009, there were over 8.8 million views on the channel and nearly 40,000 subscribers. The interaction among the orchestra members and the subscriber/members was incredible and deep. For example one of the flautists, Nina Perlove wrote, along with a video:
"Nina Perlove looks at some of the places music was heard during the YouTube Symphony Summit...even after 8 hours of rehearsals! Please rate and subscribe and visit me at www.REALFLUTEproject.com."
She had 3,300 views and dozens of comments. Also note that this is linked to her own site/network. It uses rating tools and RSS feeds to expand the connectivity of this social network.
Often when you click on a subscriber's picture it takes you to the individual member's own YouTube channel or once in awhile MySpace page.
Even though the community continues to exist, its short term outcome was the April 2009 concert at Carnegie Hall. Its longer term strategy was to use contemporary tools to introduce an audience not predisposed to classical music to that music. On all fronts it has succeeded.
Now do you see the benefit of an outcome based community? These need to be a part of your strategic arsenal when it comes to a customer engagement strategy. The proof is in the strings, the winds, and the brass.