Agile Decision Making Framework is Flexible

The answer is Yes, you can! The question is, can you use the Agile Decision Making Framework for anything besides strategic planning?

Adapting the Agile Decision Making framework to social media planninggThe beauty of the Agile Decision Making Framework is that it can be applied to any type of project – even marketing and social media planning. The framework helps you focus your thinking by answering five strategic questions as you work your way around the template.

Many social media plans I’ve seen start with identifying your ideal customer and their specific needs. While this is important, it’s not the place to start.

Define your outcomes first

As with strategic planning, you need to start with your future outcomes. That way the actions you take are designed to help you achieve those outcomes. Otherwise, you’re just throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping some of it sticks.

Using the Agile Decision Making Framework, start with Phase A, answering the question, Where do we want to be?  What do you want to accomplish through social media marketing? They should support the higher level outcomes of your organization’s overall strategic plan. Once you’ve determined which social media outcomes can help support those, you can begin to focus on your ideal customers and their needs. In the process, you’ll need to also identify which social media platforms they use the most so you focus your efforts there when you’re ready to take action.

Once you’ve completed Phase A, move on the Phase E. This will help you identify the future external factors that could have an impact on the actions you take today.  These become your future Opportunities and / or Threats that you need to consider so you’re prepared to respond should any of them occur. Why look at the external environment you ask? Because your business doesn’t operate in a vacuum. What happens locally and even globally can have profound effects on your customers, their needs, and their desires for your products and services.

With social media, you have to continually be tracking these future trends because new platforms emerge and popular ones lose favor. You don’t want to be stuck on an island by stuck on an islandyourself after your customers have moved over to another platform. If you don’t periodically focus on Phase E, you could be missing the boat!

Once you’ve reviewed Phases A and E, you can move on to Phase B. This is where you identify the specific targets you want to reach and track through social media, answering the question, How will we know when we get there?

These may include the number of click throughs on your links, or a specific increase in customer engagement on your Facebook page, or a percentage increase in website traffic and/or subscribers to your email list. The more specific, the better, so you can track your efforts and see what progress you’re making.

Phase C comes next, answering the question, Where are we today?  The first three phases were focused on your future outcomes, your ideal customer’s needs, external trends, and specific goals. This phase looks at your current situation. What are your Strengths and Weaknesses related to social media? Are you just starting? Do you have a strong team working in this area? Do you need to hire a consultant to help? How well do you know the various platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc.? How well versed are you with Google Analytics and Google Adwords? Those are the kinds of skill sets you want to list under your Strengths and Weaknesses. You should also fill out the Opportunities and Threats areas, which came from the external scan you did in Phase E.

By now, you should begin to see some major themes evolving. These become your high level strategies which you list under Phase D, answering the question, How will we get there? These are the specific actions you need to implement to close the gap between your current situation and your future outcomes. Some high level strategies might be training, hiring external talent, creating a social media policy, and customer engagement. Under each strategy will be specific actions you need to take, such as finding online training webinars, advertising for talent, researching social media policies you might adapt to your organization, and creating a content calendar.

Using the Agile Decision Making Framework makes the process of creating your social media plan fairly simple and fast. The next step is to write it up and share it with your team. Then start to implement it!

Planning without action is just dreaming.

Top 10 Technology Trends for 2015

At their Orlando, FL IT/Expo last October, Gartner analysts identified the top 10 technology trends for 2015. Since the 2015 year is half over, let’s see if some of these trends are coming to pass.

  • Computing everywhere. Gartner predicts there will be a greater emphasis on serving mobile consumers. Yup!
    In April Google released an update to its algorithm to give extra focus on mobile-friendly websites. Called #mobilegeddon among other names, the update one of the more significant updates of the year. Search Engine Land offers a mobile-friendly test tool you can use to see if your website passes the Google mobile friendly test. Apple also released its Apple Watch which is basically a computer on your wrist. More wearable devices are on the way.
  • The internet of things. According to Gartner, “The combination of data streams and services created by digitizing everything creates four basic usage models — Manage, Monetize, Operate and Extend.”
    We’re already seeing these in operation with services like Square and Apple Pay, Uber car and bike services, Air BnB, and cloud services such as Google Drive, DropBox and MS OneDrive.
  • 3D printing. Gartner predicts “Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 98 percent in 2015, followed by a doubling of unit shipments in 2016.” Yup, again!
    Forgot your hairdryer in your rush to catch the plane? No problem! Just order a new one online and it will be waiting for you at the nearest Fed-Ex Kinkos in the city of your destination. We may even see 3D printing machines in places like Walmart and CVS similar to the instant photo and card machines today. Just put in your order, go do your shopping, and come back to collect your 3D object. Then pay with Square or your watch or your smart phone before walking out the door.

You can read about the rest of the trends in the gartner.com article online.

Social Media Apps Make Sharing Easy

Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Many social media apps exist to make content sharing easy.  Choose the right ones for you to stay connected with your audience and enhance customer engagement with your brand.

Are you using any of the smart phone apps to post while on the go? There probably are hundreds but you don’t need them all – Just the ones that make it easy to post, share and engage with your audience when the inspiration strikes.

Social media apps make sharing easyObviously, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, and Google+ have their own. So do Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare, which now switches you over to their new app, Swarm, for social location sharing.

Then there’s Instagram, which Facebook owns, to make it easy to snap photos and videos and share with your friends. And Twitter has Vine which makes it easy to record and share short videos. Snapchat and Whatsapp are two popular apps for instant messaging with friends.

Beyond these are others which make it easy to share from your smart phone across multiple social sites. These are some of my favorites:

Pulse – now owned by LinkedIn, the app on your phone makes it possible to customize just the news sources you want, browse current stories and trends, and share them across multiple sites.

Bitly – primarily a url shortener, it also lets you connect a variety of social profiles to share your shortened links. Set up your account from your desktop, connecting your social profiles. Then download the app to your smartphone so you can share those shortened links while on the go.

Buffer – This is an app which installs in your browser enabling you to share content as you’re visiting various sites online. You can either share instantly or use Buffer’s robust algorithms to choose the right time to share on the various social sites you’ve connected. Buffer lets you connect two sites for free.

Hootsuite – useful on desktop computers, this app connects up to five of your social profiles for free letting you schedule messages for times you choose. You can share, comment, message, and interact on all those sites just using the one app. No need to visit each social profile to see what’s trending. It all shows up within Hootsuite, and it uses its own ow.ly url shortener.

LinkedIn Connected – have you seen this app? It makes it easy to stay in touch with your connections, congratulate them on recent job anniversaries or new promotions, send them messages, etc.

What are some of your favorite apps for social sharing and customer engagement on the go?

Google Glass is the New Fashion Trend

Jeri Denniston, Denner Group International  January 29, 2014

Takeaways: Google Glass eyeglass frames trending towards fashion statement, making wearing glasses a popular trend for personal expression. Wearable connectivity is the future.

Google’s latest innovation, Google Glass, may have unintended consequences. I foresee mainstream people adopting glasses as a fashion statement and for personal expression, not for need.

How Isabelle Olsson made Google Glass Beautiful

Isabelle Olsson shows off one of the designs

Isabelle Olsson’s latest designs released earlier in January have changed the look of Google Glass to timeless, fashionable frames. No longer will Google Glass adopters look like something out of a science fiction movie. Now with the purchase of the Google frames for $225, you can look powerful or hip or trendy, depending on your mood.

According to the article in Fast Company by Rebecca Greenfield, Olsson’s team of designers intend to have them available for any optometrist or frame reseller to easily fit as they would any other lenses. Google Glass frames can be fitted for prescription lenses, making them usable for anyone.

We should all invest in eyeglass frame manufacturing and Google Glass stock. With this trend towards wearable internet products, society is moving towards 24/7 connectivity everywhere. This is not a fad that will go the way of the Pet Rock. It’s a trend of the future.

Watch this video to see how you might make your own fashion statement.

Social Networking High Among Internet Users

By Jeri Denniston, Denner Group International, November 11, 2013

Takeaways: Social networking is most popular among adult internet users. Those who use social networks are most likely to shop online. Facebook users have a high trust level. Social ties are stronger among social networking users than those who don’t use social networks.

A May 2013 research study by Pew Internet on Social Networking generated some interesting facts and implications for business. According to  the study, 72% of  all online adults use social networking and 18% use Twitter. This is split almost equally between men and women. While the large majority are between the ages of 18-29 (89%) and 30-49 (78%), 60% of internet users aged 50-64 also use social networking sites.

Most are college educated and earn more than $50,00 annually. 71% earn more than $75,000 a year.  Accessing social media sites via mobile phones is highest among the 18-49 age groups and also among Blacks and Hispanics. These individuals also tend to be college educated with annual household incomes of more than $50,000.

Most adults use social networking sites to keep up with close social ties. According to the study, they have more close ties and are half as likely to be socially isolated as the average American. So that debunks the idea that social media tends to isolate people. In reality, internet users, and social networking users in particular get more support from their social ties than non internet users, according to the study.This is especially true with those who use Facebook.

What does this mean for businesses?

The majority of online adults have the discretionary income to purchase products and services. Most do their shopping online….or at least their comparison shopping online. They also ask their friends on social networks for their input and check out online reviews on sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor and Google+.

As a business owner or senior executive, you need to ensure all employees are trained in how to use social media for your company and what information is OK to share. Consumers want to talk to the people at the business who can answer their questions or solve their problems. So it’s more important that everyone in the organization be equipped to respond, rather than relegating social media to the IT or Marketing department. Customer service people need to be trained in how to respond to customer inquiries. Product managers should be responsive to customer suggestions and queries about products and services. CEOs and division heads need to be aware of what their staffs are saying on social networking sites. They also should be sharing with their peers about company innovations, promotions and successes to engage them and generate interest. Marketing and IT don’t have all the answers.

This means HR needs to include social media training as part of the new hire and ongoing employee training programs. Learning how to respond to consumer questions or complaints, understanding how consumers will interact with your brands and services, and creating effective marketing strategies that include social media promotions to engage the public are more important than ever.
And managers need to understand how social media can impact the bottom line – either positively or negatively.

Social media is evolving into a powerful tool that enables companies to get closer to their customer. The businesses that embrace social networking and create programs and policies to manage it smartly will be the winners in the new social networking age.