On Episode 9 of #SMACtalk we have a special co-host to talk digital and technology trends but ultimately the conversation is focused on trust and the community. Listen to the episode 9 below or subscribe on iTunes or use the RSS link here. As always the show notes below provide insights, links and background on the stories and conversation shared on this episode.
Bilal Jaffery joins Brian Fanzo on #SMACtalk as a special co-host while Daniel Newman was out making things happen on the road. Bilal and Brian have been long time social friends as they’ve engaged and built a relationship via twitter as both are passionate and have worked in the technology and b2b space. As you’ll see throughout the conversation the focus is understanding digital and technology trends but the foundation of all the stories and examples are trust and community.
Bilal share some of his early technology experiences and he explains how connecting dots with content and technology in the pre web 2.0 days was important especially before pay-per-click marketing was adopted. Bilal shares how although the web, technology and digital have transformed, the focus is still on community, providing value and building trust with the customer.
Bilal shares how sharing his story and insights on his own personal blog long before blogs were popular allowed him to stand out for his customers and relate with the customers pain points and create conversations in a market controlled by Microsoft. As brands look to technology to help engage these digital consumers and the millennial generation, the importance of finding ways to connect and relate with the audience has to be the focus.
Shouting and broadcasting wasn’t ok in the web 2.0 days and isn’t ok today but as Bilal stated connecting the data and having KPI’s with call to actions is important for an executives and leaders working in digital but not so much for the consumer. Bilal shares what he believes is the biggest challenge as a digital leader..
“Biggest challenge in digital is monetization while adding value, but not interrupting the consumer!” – @BilalJaffery
Data and Social are Innovative Game Changers!
As the conversation shifts to social and data both Brian and Bilal not only share a passion for both but believe they are both vital for a company to continue to innovate, attract new talent and build relationships with the community. Bilal explains that vanity metrics are important as it allows you to understand some actions and let’s you know that your community is paying attention. Data is important as we can use this to better understand if our consumers are gaining value and are we being considered against competitors
Social data Is important as it can be leveraged to understand if your feedback is positive or negative, or which influencer is talking about you and connecting the community to the customers. Providing social executives and influencers with social data and connecting it with community conversations empowers them to have stronger conversations and build trust with influencers. This helps understand influencers connections to the community allowing for brands to wieght influencers not on total number of followers, but the amount of followers that influencer has in the brands target customer community. With this data executives can often impact a customer’s journey and a prospects business decision with a single tweet or social conversation.
Bilal explains why big data is often considered boring and although it’s valuable to many brands and leaders until the tools add context and allow leaders to simplify the data, the data won’t be leveraged to make better business decisions.
Bilal and Brian talk about the value of social executives in brands today, Vala Afsfar CMO of Extreme Networks is not only a thought leader but a leading voice in the digital and technology space. Bilal explains the importance of having CIO, CFO, CSO and CMO at the same table empowering conversations and ultimately that united front not only builds trust but also attracts talent.
Technology and Social’s Role in Culture.
Everyone is doing social right now, everyone is reading the same books and listening to the same people. The brands that understand the importance of culture and hiring people with a digital mindset are the ones that will innovate faster and leverage these unique talents to become a social business. Extreme Networks isn’t afraid to think outside the box as you’ll hear, as Bilal explains how they leverage tools and social media to attract talent that is a culture fit by only accepting resumes for a social media manager position that are submitted via twitter.
Bilal explains how Extreme took the opportunity of re-branding to find a way to leverage social. Bilal and Vala felt the best way to do this was to crowdsource the new logo with a campaign that would incentivize their community as one person globally would win a Tesla.
This campaign ended up being far more valuable that just a new logo, as marketing gained feedback and insights on font and how their customers want to be engaged also providing great word of mouth marketing and building name recognition in a fun way. Because this campaign was global the data was also leveraged to gain insights and better understand the North America audience compared to the global market. As you’ll hear the campaign also built leadership trust in social and trust between the new brand and the community as they didn’t want to guess what logo the community would like most, rather they built the campaign so the community got to make the ultimate decision.
Brian explains that if thought leaders like Bilal & Vala feel crowdsourcing idea’s is the smartest way to get it right, there is no excuse for other brands and leaders to not do the same.
Importance of Building B2B Communities
Digital today is really about empowering and leveraging SMAC (Social Media Marketing, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) to connect and engage the community while linking these strategies to business needs and goals. Sadly many technology focused companies and b2b brands aren’t leveraging these technologies as their culture and communities are still stuck in their ways.
“In B2B it’s less about fluff and more about substance!” – Bilal Jaffery
Bial referenced CXOtalk, hosted by Vala Afshar and Michael Krigsman as a great example of how talking with customers and sharing their stories ultimately allows them to become a trusted advisor with their customers. Brian explains how CXOtalk inspired #SbizHour twitter hangout as it opened his eyes to the power in connecting with industry thought leaders and helping share their knowledge and insights without pushing brand message because the goal of great community events are about providing value, building relationships and helping, helping and helping more.
Bilal explains that Extreme Networks is focused on being the easiest to work with and being focused on community first their able to build trust, as they are focused on always being there when customers need them. Not only does this community engagement build trust but it also provides value to everyone involved across the business and throughout the value chain.
Business trust and leadership trust is required for brands to take full advantage of technology. Technology accelerates the message, capture data and then leverages data to make better business decisions. This conversation was about technology, digital marketing and emerging trends yet the entire podcast was focused more on culture, building trust and establishing relationships with the community.
Brand can’t continue to be innovative, leverage technology or ultimately become a social business, until they trust their employees, their customers and their community!
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More about Bilal Jaffery:
An award-winning industry-recognized strategist with a 10 year strong track record in successful digital transformation of tier 1 brands. Extensive background in holistic integration of digital with traditional marketing programs driving positive business results. Led IBM’s strategic transformation of the overall Web experience, Search, e-Commerce and development of Social Media Programs (internal corporate and external media).
Some of the work has been featured & awarded in media publications like Fast Company, Mashable, Forrester, SocialMediaToday, Tim O’Reilly Web 2.0, CIO Forum and academia; University of Toronto, University of Sydney, City University of New York & others.
Regular speaker at industry events and a strong advocate for new and innovative approaches to marketing and sales.