Charlene Li and Revolutionaries at SXSW

Charlene Li about the changing  of corporations and social media.

  • Examples of the change: the HD DVD key and Digg. Jericho and the peanuts.
  • Shaun Daly was a fan of Jericho drove the change – you had to have something physical that CBS could not ignore. They bought it back, and it’s doing OK. CBS had nothing to lose.
  • New book – the Groundswell. A social trend in which people use tech to get things from each other, rather than traditional institutions like corporations.
  • This has been going on for a while, we have been talking about the revolution for ages and finally corporations are getting it. It’s too easy for people to feel they need to get involved..but they do not know how.
  • we are at a new stage, so are you going to be a radical like Thomas Paine, a founding spark for the US revolution.  Or a revolutionary like Thomas Jefferson. Instead of railing against the problem, he went to solve it, pushing the problem to solve it. The first had hte vision but could not deliver, the second had the process and framework to pull it together.
  • To make revolution stick you need to have frameworks and process.  There are many corporations that want to be part of the revolution but don’t know how. It’s up to us, he have been living it.
  • So going to look at the processes, who are the revolutionaries and some case studies
  • Use POST
  • PEOPLE – who is it, and what are the activities
  • OBJECTIVES – what are you trying to accomplish
  • STRATEGY – plan for how relationships will go
  • TECHNOLOGY – what are you using. this is last.
  • People – we think about a ladder of participation. Inactives. Spectators. Joiners. Collectors. Critics. Creators.

    • Joiners – in the networks, with their friends etc
    • Collectors – collect the good stuff, collate
    • Critics – comment and assess
    • Creators – create the content
  • People – It’s a different mindset between the types. 48% are spectators, 18% are creators. These are categories, not a split. People can do different things in different place. With youth, 39% are creators, 43% are critics. 58% are joiners.
  • People – Age is a major driver of adoption.  (see the data on Slideshare). As people get older, they get less active – it takes them longer to adopt and the content is not necessarily geared for them. But that is changing.  39% of 51-61 adults are spectators though, and they will move to critics or creators. Not everyone participates in all areas and it changes. but you need to know the roles your audience have.
  • Objs – what do you want?  Research can be a lot of listening in the Groundswell. Marketing will change from shouting to talking.  Sales can change to energising, to getting people involved. Support needs to carry on supporting, to listen. Development may change from closed to open. Embrace the customers in the process.
  • Objs: the Talking Objective.  example is Blendtec. Videos on YT, viewers responded. Blendtec have increased sales by 25% to consumer market.  it was George Wright, VP of Marketing, spent $50 on first video.  He had started thinking about how to show people.  Dan Black, Director of Campus recruiting for Ernst and Young. Uses Facebook to recruit college students. Created the page, students were asking questions on the wall. He went to answer them back, in public. He is the head of Recruitment, not staff, not agency. He realised that this is one of the few channels he could have a direct conversation.  There are few people doing this – having a real conversation.  Next. Best Buy Gary Koelling and Steve Bendt. They started to connect with people on the front line.  They found it was not great for creating insights for their marketing, but great for understanding the people,, for helping staff.  It has enabled customers and employees to support themselves. Josh Bancroft, at Intel, a geek blogger. They were looking at doing their own wikipedia – corporate were delaying, think it would take a long time. He just went and did it. Got the server and started the process.   Steve Fisher, VP of platform at They wanted to get customers of salesforce to contribute in how to improve the system. In the system, they had banners that announced marketing stuff. They got 6000 people to say they hate it, which gave them the drive to remove the thing that was not liked.
  • So how to start the change?  Follow the process
  • Case Study – Lionel Menchaca. At Dell. Started off as a product technician, became part of product review PR team. connected with everyone at Dell. Then Dell Hell happened, he started the blog resolution team – to solve the problems, to connect the people. Dell then started the blog and lionel led the team.  Initially it did not go well, lots of issues. But Michael Dell supported him, and Lionel decided to change the way they were doing the blog.   He talked about the flaming laptops, in a real way, sorting it out. this is when it started transforming itself.  Slowly, change happened in the company, looking at what people were saying.  Lionel did not keep it isolated, spread the mindset through the organisation. IdeaStorm was another change – getting feedback into products and innovation. They also have a blog for their investor relationship teams.
  • So how do you find and support the revolutionaries?

    • Find the people who are the most passionate about developing the relationships
    • Educate the executives. What it is, what are the benefits
    • Put someone in charge. It has to have priority, has to someone to be accountable.
    • Define the box with process and policies.
    • make it safe to fail.
  • So you need a framework and policies; start small but think big; make social strategy the responsibility of all; be patient – cultural change takes time.

Audience Questions

  • Q: what are your recommendations about success and assessing impact?  A: we get asked this. you can use a blog to do any of the objectives. make the measures based on the objectives.   Is it supporting, is it energising, is it talking. what are you doing?
  • Q: any pointers for regulated industries?  A: some of the most active clients we work with are pharma and financial. the people who are writing it are the ones who know exactly what they can say
  • Q: how about smaller companies A: B2B is also there. it is more focused, that is an advantage.
  • Q: what about virtual worlds? should companies explore them?  A: it should be avoided, but large marketing spends. it’s a unique environment. there are some great uses inside corporates. 
  • Q: you said that change comes slowly. You showed stealth adoption and education as two methods. Any others?  A: I have a whole bunch of tips (in the books). Executive input, get all involved. you have to communicate and get people to live it every day.  It can be easier internally, marketing has a lot of culture to get through, they want to keep the message pristine, customers do messy stuff which causes issues with marketing.  you need to feel uncomfortable, if not then it won’t move forward.
  • Q: Internal to companies, how do you convince internal leaders. What are you seeing other people do?  A: they can all happen internally.  You have to focus on the benefits. What are you afraid of with information flowing. start small.
  • Q: How do you get people to contribute. A: the companies give feedback about what has been implemented. it shows that they are listening. You have to close the loop.
  • Q: you have mentioned benefits for SEO? Can you expand?  A: search engines weight inbound links. Simple tools are out there. Do it on the main domain
  • Q: all these platforms and tools, what are other things. Q: Buzzlogic, visible technologies to monitor. Forums and bulletins are best – really good and robust tool. It’s not about the technologies but it is how you use them.

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