Infographic – Social Media Image Sizing Guide

BloomThink SocialMediaSizingGuide_Thumb Click the image for the full size PDF social media sizing guide.  All new for 2014.

Social media changes and improves with age.  Recently Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube have all updated their layout and image handling capabilities.  Now you can have larger, higher resolution and more adaptive images on your pages and profiles.  But hunting down all those aspect ratios  and dimensions can be a  challenge.

Download this free PDF Infographic from all of us here at BloomThink to keep as a guide for your profile updates and enhancements.

How To Align Business Executives and IT Strategists Along A Shared Vision

InfographicThumbnail-WhatInfoProsCareAboutInformation professionals are at the core of the digital transformation. Business leaders are increasingly relying on them to help define strategy and chart the course for the unrelenting progression of the digital transformation.

We outlined before how Scott Brinker of the ChiefMarTec blog and featured speaker at the forthcoming ConnectIT conference has written an eBook on the digital transformation and its impact on marketing. But it is not just marketing technology wonks that are chiming in.

Giovanni Piazza, head of information and knowledge management of Johnson & Johnson has distilled the transformation and unlocked the value of enterprise information. He will explain how at the ConnectIT conference (save $300 by registering here). Suzanne Carson of Philips Healthcare explains how they cracked the enterprise mobility challenge with BYOD, tablets and an “access anywhere” mentality. Others have figured out how to tap into predictive analytics and behavioral patterns to reduce customer churn.  They will each, along with Seth Earley and a host of other enterprise heavy hitters will be sharing their insider information with attendees at the ConnectIT conference.

This is the one conference you must attend to engage with IT leaders who “get” business technology and Business executives who have successfully tapped into the power and promise of information IT.

Meanwhile industry experts and analysts from Forrester, Gartner and IDC dig deep to uncover the trends and leaders in digital transformation across retail, manufacturing, collaboration and cloud sectors. Each of these speakers (and others) are gathering to share their experience and expertise at the ConnectIT conference in Greenwich, CT May 13-14.

Take insight and drive it to action. That is what business leaders do. The ConnectIT conference in Greenwich, CT May 13-14 is where business leaders go to compare notes, engage analysts and confirm their strategy. You can go and Earley & Associates will give you the VIP treatment with $300 off the conference cost. That’s like getting airfare for free. Either way, they’d love to meet with you there even as you meet with other leaders on the pathway to the digital transformation.  If you can’t make it to the conference, click the link to access the decision maker’s library and the other resources that Earley & Associates have assembled to help you through the coming shift.

pinterestThumbnailAs an added treat for those of you headed to Greenwich, CT May 13 – 14, we’ve assembled a neat Pinterest board of things to do while at the conference. From restaurants to museums to a local micro-brew festival, you’ll be able to make your own great connections through our shared digital transformation. Click Here for the Pinterest Board or search for “What To Do At Connect IT”

The Top 4 Key Concepts Driving Digital Transformation

DigitalTransformationMatrixInfographicThumbnailOrganizations from large enterprises to one-man shops are in the midst of a digital transformation.  Some gladly embrace the change. Others resist while still more are so busy keeping up with demand and duty that they risk missing it all together.

Nevertheless, it is happening and business leaders need to know what is happening and what to do about it.  Scott Brinker of the ChiefMarTec blog and Ion Interactive has written a wonderful eBook on how the digital transformation affects marketing technology. We have crafted a companion infographic entitled The Digital Transformation Matrix for leaders to download.

The first step is to understand what is happening. So we have combed the presentations, articles, thought leadership pieces, books and blogs and ConnectIT conference sessions to condense the results here.  The top four key concepts driving the digital transformation are outlined below

Key Concept 1: It’s the Attention Economy, Stupid.

We live in an attention economy. Amidst an abundance of options and opportunities our attention is the scarce commodity. People, brands, games and causes compete for a share of our attention. Getting it is not enough. They must hold it in order to get us to transact. We pay with our attention to receive insight, opportunity and information. This is a necessary but not sufficient precursor to a monetary or time or labor transaction. It’s an attention tax paid by enterprises for the opportunity to present you with a call to action. Therefore, enterprises must pay that attention tax in a way that gives customers, users and prospects a great experience and something of real value.

Key Concept 2: Your Brand isn’t Your Brand. Customer Experience is Your Brand

Abundance of options plus anonymity plus ease of information mobility means bad experiences drive people away while great experiences are sticky.

While products and services can be commoditized, experiences are inherently individual. They are your automatic differentiator. They’re going to be great or poor, easy or difficult, valuable or worthless.

It all comes down to the fact that your brand, your organization, has been forcibly democratized and it has nothing to do with your manager.  The reality is that your users and customers are now, more than ever, your boss. They’re an extension of your organization. They’re your:

  • Evangelists through word of mouth recommendations
  • Sales people through referral networks
  • Marketing arm through ratings and reviews
  • Customer support through forums and user groups

So next time you’re reading a blog post or LinkedIn article or tweet about the importance of your company culture, remember that your users and customers are a huge part of that culture.  Make sure they’re a positive influence.

Key Concept 3: All Marketing is Interactive

If you don’t believe it; if you love your brochures, billboards and business cards, you’re simply wrong.  Today, businesses are either more or less interactive than their competition.  Interaction is how customers and users experience brands (see concept 1).

It’s not that brochures, billboards and business cards are bad because they’re static. It’s that they’ve lost their edge because they’re bad interaction mechanisms.

What is the measure of a billboard’s interaction? The number of cars that drive past it? How does it create engagement or establish a give and receive relationship. How does it cultivate a great culture? It doesn’t. Some things are important for announcements and awareness. But awareness is not relationship and awareness without interaction is quickly forgotten.

Key Concept 4: Increasing Technological Sophistication

The abundance of good experiences available to users drives increasing sophistication in technology. In a milieu of abundant experience options, enterprise increasingly rely on ever-improving technology to differentiate, stand out and gain a competitive edge.

This means that marketing has moved out of the arts and crafts closet and into the growth hacking corner of the data center. Finding and keeping the edge in the attention economy requires faster, deeper understanding of the audience and their motivations. Engaging the audience and staying top of mind means creating and delivering content of real utility and value to them (not you) before you ever ask for a purchase or registration.

In order to do that, businesses must understand who their audiences are (demographics data), what they desire (trend analysis), what they ought to desire (predictive analytics), how they prefer to be approached (channel metrics) and what their influences are (social proof).  For deep dives into each of these topics from industry specific perspectives, check out the ConnectIT conference May 13-14.


The digital transformation is overtaking all global organizations. Some are quick and agile in adaptation. Others will resist for a time while some will undoubtedly be broken just as Blockbuster was by Netflix.

The Digital Transformation Matrix (download here) outlines and expands upon the 4 key concepts outlined here:

  1. It’s The Attention Economy, Stupid
  2. Your Brand Isn’t Your Brand. Customer Experience is Your Brand
  3. All Marketing is Interactive
  4. Increasing technological sophistication

These are distilled from our reading of Scott Brinker’s free eBook “A New Brand of Marketing” (PDF). We invite you to join us at the ConnectIT conference to engage.

Shifts in Collaboration Mirror Shifts in SEO

BloomThink Outlines Changes in CollaborationCollaboration requires more than the people on your team. The future of collaboration has moved beyond top-down task assignment and required participation with set deliverables. Instead it increasingly relies upon two key items: the serendipity of finding content and expertise that is just right, right now, and the willingness of people to exchange their time for that expertise.

In short, collaboration is mirroring the shifts taking place in the world of SEO.

SEO used to be about keyword loading, link building and gaining likes by any means possible. With the advent of Google Hummingbird and the Google Semantic Search Graph in 2013, SEO has shifted back to being about the content and experience.

The results are dramatic and organizations who flaunt the new model in favor of old model keyword and link bombing have been severely punished (BMW, JCPenny and recently Rap Genius). In his book,“Google Semantic Search,” David Amerland wrote that the new SEO is based on five key factors that are measured, blended and delivered as the most relevant information for you at the time of your search, even if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. These are:

  1. Trust
  2. Authority
  3. Reputation
  4. Serendipity
  5. Citation

These factors provide important guidelines for the future of collaboration as well.

  • Trust means the established pattern of appropriate and correct information
  • Authority means the earned right to communicate definitively on the topic at hand
  • Reputation means the recognition of authority within the social context
  • Citation means the explicit connection to information and expertise

We’ll return to Serendipity in a moment.

The Five Keys to Future Collaboration

None of the first four items can be taken by a person. They cannot be established by fiat or rank or managerial title. They are all given by others.

Even the word “given” is inaccurate — for we exchange a grant of trust and authority for something of value. It might be expedited decision making (in the case of SEO). In the case of organizational collaboration, it is trust exchanged for efficient team leadership and expedited production of deliverables.

Authority is granted by the collaborating community in exchange for direction and focus (when dealing with teams) and as a proxy for assumed quality when dealing with inputs and deliverables. Citations are metadata that explicitly connect an implicit recognition of authority and trust with a resource like content or people who produce consistent, quality results.

In the world of human resource management systems, citations are recommendations and references. Anyone familiar with LinkedIn can see these kinds of citations and recommendations immediately. Over time, reputation is established and acts as a support to (or detractor from) trust and authority. None of these are given by a person or content collection to themselves; they are given by others.

Serendipity means the ability to deliver relevant information or expertise even when it was not directly sought. This is the only systemic, organizational and technological feature of the new SEO and new collaboration. It is the ability to discover inferential linkages to information and expertise that are not direct matches. Elsewhere, I have called this accidental collaboration. The future of collaboration, like the new SEO, relies heavily on the ability to discover and tap into information and expertise that is similar but not the same as what is asked for.

What About Technology?

It should be clear by now that the future of collaboration is less about the technology or the latest “real time” feature. At best, the tech can deliver incremental improvements on serendipitous delivery or discovery of content and expertise. But technology companies that focus mainly on the system are missing the bulk of what makes collaboration successful: the willing and excited exchange of information and expertise.

The real question for the future of collaboration is what are you going to offer that others are willing to trade their time, recommendations, insight and added wisdom for? Once organizations start realizing that they have to move from an authoritarian to a commercial posture where they offer and invite participation rather than mandate and compel it, they will expose the need to have content and expertise that is recognized as valuable to the intended collaboration partners. This should have many organizations running scared. The expectation of collaboration has just shifted to an invitation for participation. The invitation must be interesting and worthwhile if the guests are going to attend.

How to Prepare

Here are three ways you can prepare for the new collaboration:

1) Emotional IQ. Develop an organizational emotional IQ.   This helps establish trust.   You have to take the time to get to  know them, their needs, their areas of unique expertise, their availability, their competing interests And obligations.  Get to know what the people you invite want. People will trust that you’re not wasting their time and that their engagement and evangelism for the project will benefit them as well.

2) Recognize & Reward. Consistently recognize and reward achievement. This helps benchmark authority and reputation. Protect expertise and insight from frivolous requests, associations and projects as this is a net detractor from authority and reputation.  It is as damaging to content as it is to people. Gamification, leader boards, loyalty programs work well for people.  ratings reviews and active promotion of great content works well for information assets.  But even if your content & collaboration system has these features baked in (many do) make sure they’re used and consistently so.  Make it worthwhile for users to take the extra time to rate and review and reuse information.

3) Tally. Put into place Or improve current systems that automatically tally and promote the results of use. Make it worthwhile for people to “bother”.  Do this by building up the organizational muscles described above. But don’t over complicate systems with extra features.  No matter how sophisticated your system is there is a hard inverse proportion between use and perceived complexity.  Remember you’re engaged in an exchange with your users.  Their goal is not to use your expensive collaboration, ECM or portal. Their goal is to participate meaningfully in their projects.  Your expensive system is background.

The worlds of SEO and collaboration are emerging in parallel into a new era of value-driven engagement and exchange. The old brute force models that compelled high SEO ranks or team participation are insufficient to delivering meaningful results. By watching how the SEO leaders are driving into new realms of meaningfulness, we can see a clear pathway ahead for the future of collaboration.

this article originally appeared on Feb 5, 2014

Secrets to Social Media Marketing

Creative Commons: Attribution by flickr user Demion
Creative Commons: Attribution by flickr user Demion

Tips for small businesses looking to market themselves on social media: The cadence of your engagement on social media is important. Keep your posts, updates, and engagement regular and relevant.  To keep it regular I use a social media recipe that lists the social media channels we will target for a particular campaign (e.g. blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, LinkedIn Groups, Google+) as well as the quantity of posts, key terms to listen for in posts from others and expected outcomes (e.g. retweets, click-throughs, registrations, likes etc.).  Like any recipe, the ingredients change depending on what you’re making.  We have different recipes for small announcements, industry news and major campaigns.  Like any gourmet, the recipe can and should be changed when you need to create something unique and special.  To keep social media interaction relevant we are very active in social media listening.  We use social media monitoring tools (some free, some paid) as well as tools like Google alerts and a sizable list of news and blog sources we scan every day for the latest trends and breaking news.  We engage on interesting topics and share anything of value to our audience.  The results have been incredible.  With our regular cadence of relevant social media engagement our fans, followers and audience has grown by over 100% in the past year.  We’re looking for even speedier growth in 2014.

Mistakes to avoid: The biggest mistake I see is a gross under-estimating of the time it takes to properly engage and market via social media.  People think that because social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn are free it means that there is no investment required.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  It requires a dedicated time and focus each day to stay relevant and keep up a cadence that gains and keeps attention.

Networks on which to focus: This will always be governed by your own business and industry.  Many industries have their own social networks, forums and portals where communities naturally gather.  But I would always focus on the big 4; LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+.  Then add in the networks specific to your industry.

Answering the ‘So What’ Question

Social Competitive Intelligence From BloomThinkBlending BI and Social Competitive Intelligence for deep insight into your business.

Business intelligence tells you what happened at work. Good business intelligence tells you what is happening now.  Competitive intelligence tells you what your competitors and the market did.  Good competitive intelligence tells you where they’re headed.  Both BI and CI crunch big data to deliver answers to the questions, “what happened?” and “how did that happen?” Only a social and deep web competitive intelligence framework can answer the most important question, “so what?”

In order to be actionable, intelligence must answer the “so what?” question.  The answer to “so what?” describes the impact of the information.  It describes assumed and presupposed context.  It fills in the rest of the statement that starts out, “we care about this because…”

Social competitive intelligence is a new discipline.  It is emerging now and will continue to grow over the next decade.  Some solutions exist already. But they and their marketing cousins – social media management software – are still largely focused on listening to and tracking social mentions and sentiment activity.  While these are important, the solutions today are overly simplistic.  They can list changes to competitor websites, report on where competitor PPC (pay per click) ads are run and measure generic brand sentiment.  However, rather than exerting a contextualizing force on the already massive volumes of available business and social information, they add to the data tsunami.  When your cup is already running over, it makes little sense to put it under a faster faucet.

The better solution is to put into place a framework that gathers, filters, synthesizes and analyzes social competitive intelligence and deep-web analytics (i.e. the web beyond Google indexes).  Then use that framework as a lens through which to view your existing BI and CI data.  Then you will be able to answer the all-important, “so what?” question.

Here are several real-world examples and a free flowchart to the right to show you exactly how to locate and use your competitor’s social and web  postings.

Social Competitive Intelligence - WebIntel
click for larger social competitive intelligence image

The Call Center Cost Hole

BI reporting shows increasing costs and increasing churn in your call center; overall a bad trend.  If that were the only information you had, the “so what?” answer would be to kick up call center recruiting a fill the gaps and some stricter MBOs for call center managers on employee retention.  However, with a social competitive intelligence framework in place, it is revealed that social media, blogs and discussion boards are full with blistering criticism of your call center escalation processes.  The withering criticism is poisoning the work environment and making a tough job even more unpleasant.  Viewed through this lens, the correct answer to “so what?” is not to step up recruiting.  Rather, it is to fix the poison call center environment and re-engineer the escalation processes while empowering call center employees.

Not only does this save substantial time and money, it actually boosts net productivity by empowering knowledgeable employees and eliminating training and the ramp up to full productivity required for each new hire.

The Outside Expert

You are ready to launch a new product into an overseas market.  But there are a host of regulatory issues to navigate.  While you have plenty of “independent” research and case studies validating your approach, you still want an expert in your technology and the foreign market to help guide you through the approval process.  The regulators don’t look kindly on experts who are among your paid staff due to potential conflict of interest.  You want an external expert but you want to avoid someone who regularly works for your competitors or who has expressed harsh opinions of your company or product in the past.

Traditional competitive intelligence will not provide expertise location like this.  Traditional BI only tells you that your new market has a lot of potential. If that were the only information you had, the “so what?” answer would be to get some internal recommendations and do a Google search and hope the person is available and credible.  But hope makes for a poor strategy, especially with something as big as a new foreign market launch.

With a social competitive intelligence framework in place, you are able to perform a social network analysis to first locate the influencers on the topic area, measure their credibility and influence relative to one another, and finally screen them for competitor interaction and engagement.  This approach yields not only a deeper, more highly qualified “short list” of available experts, it also reveals a large and rich set of topic influencers who your team can target for engagement and awareness of your new product.  Ultimately, this delivers not only the help navigating new regulatory processes in new markets, it also identifies a new set of up and coming influencers who will help your product remain successful after the initial splash.

The Competitor Customer List

Your internal BI tells you that sales are plateauing despite the fact that you have a better product with more features and a better history of quality.  Your competitive intelligence tells you that competitors are facing similar slow-growth periods.  It looks like the market is reaching saturation and new opportunities are small.  If that were all the information you had, the answer to the “so what?” question would be to switch over your sales strategy from a hunting to a farming operation.  Marketing would shift to promoting small incremental improvements and the grind of upgrades/maintenance/renewal would become the core of your revenue model.

However, with a social competitive intelligence framework in place you would reveal a gold mine of new accounts that you can hunt while dramatically boosting your competitive advantage.  The framework would reveal your competitor’s customer lists.  First, realize that all customers – yours and your competitors – are interested first in solving a business problem and only secondarily staying with a particular vendor or service provider.  Staying with a particular provider tends to be more a matter of convenience and trust than inherent and continued ability to deliver value.  This means there is opportunity to knock out your competitor or at least to come alongside them and establish a beach head; but only if you know who they are and how to approach them.  This is what a social competitive intelligence framework delivers.

That they are your competitor’s customer means that at one time in the past, they got a better deal or had a better recommendation or were simply aware of your competitor at the time they needed a solution. In the B2B world, there are few things that lock in customer.  Sure, they exist; big computing platform and enterprise application decisions tend to have at least a 7 year life cycle.  Similarly, being a Mac, Windows or Linux shop tend to be about corporate culture.  But as the recent Samsung mobile vs Apple iPhone campaigns demonstrate, even the most loyal customers can switch to a completely different platform if the reason to switch is compelling.

A social competitive intelligence framework makes developing a target list of your competitor’s customers easy.  First, perform a social network analysis of your competitor.  See who is commenting, following, liking and (re)tweeting about your competitor.  Then filter that list by companies and contacts you’d like to target.  Perform this analysis again around the time of your competitor’s big events like conferences and trade shows.  The cadence of social activity spikes during those times.  Additionally, your competitor will trot out their favorite case studies and customer testimonials during that time to add credibility to their pitch.  What they’re doing for you is validating the customer need, interest and ability to pay.  You just need to get them to switch or try out your product too.  Finally, mine your competitor’s website for their customer information.  Companies routinely post logos and ROI or case studies online.  Even if competitor brag sheets use unnamed customers, there will generally be enough information to make a very educated guess and narrow it down to only one or two possible companies (your potential customers!) in the area.

My company, BloomThink, recently performed a social competitive intelligence engagement designed to create a competitor customer list.  During one trade show, the target competitor was demonstrating an unbranded intranet system.  However, the layout, color scheme and look/feel of their demo perfectly matched an educational YouTube video posted at about the same time by a large local health care organization.  The health care company was added to the “competitor customer target list”.  Only a social competitive intelligence framework and strategy could have revealed the connection that was publicly available but buried in a mountain of previously unrelated social data.


As the old saying goes, “text without context becomes pretext”.  No matter how good your BI data is alone, without the contextualizing force of a social competitive intelligence framework, it becomes justification for gut feelings, political games-playing and flights of fancy. That is no way to run a business.

Enterprises and especially CIOs, CMOs and Sales EVPs need to implement a social competitive intelligence framework that understands how to do the following:

  1. Collect & Gather deep web and social information
  2. Filter & Categorize information to keep what matters and cull what doesn’t
  3. Analyze & Synthesize that information with existing BI & CI data
  4. Report & Act so that actionable intelligence can deliver meaningful business impact

BloomThink stands ready to assist.

Billy Cripe’s BoomThink is at the forefront of this new social competitive intelligence wave.  By not simply focusing on competitor marketing, but rather on internal BI and CI, competitor behavior, deep web (beyond Google) and social media streams, BloomThink’s social web intelligence framework and tactics – SWIFT – program delivers deep insight with actionable results.

Help IT Understand The Business Impact Of Back End Work To Drive Business Value

wile_businesscardA Business Impact Example from the World of Business Intelligence

Whether you’re a DBA Wizard or a business user who relies on some mysterious back end where the heavy lifting of computing gets done you are swimming in data.  But all too often the data wranglers we rely upon to keep systems performing under peak loads and at peak capacity are left in the dark as to why the systems they manage do what they do.

The result is that updates, upgrades and capacity expansions become their own justifications.  Context is lost.  Eventually an executive asks the simplistic question; why are we spending so much to update these systems? The results are predictable; answers are devoid of business impact and budget cuts and even layoffs are the result.  Unfortunately, this is an all too common a scenario and it does not have to be this way.

There is a wealth of value and insight trapped inside the data that is being processed and stored every second.  The challenge for those who manage the data systems is to both understand the business impact of that data and make it readily available.

To some extent Business Intelligence systems and fancy reporting dashboards have helped expose the value hidden in large amounts of work-a-day data.  These can display efficiencies, machine and network monitoring statistics and regional sales activities at a glance.  But even those findings are still missing the core point about exposing the value inherent in the data.

It is vital that data practitioners understand how to explain why the dashboard data is important.  For instance, operational efficiency charts show through-put from physical processes and business workflows.  Spotting clogs in the process is as valuable as having real-time traffic maps when you decide your daily commute route.  It lets you advise the decision makers on how best to rout your products, services or information so that it gets to its destination on time.  While a traffic jam may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for why you are late to an appointment, it is always better if you can get there on time by taking an alternate route.  This is the business impact that operational efficiency reporting delivers.

Machine and network monitoring have similar values.  These display much data from load to processor heat to the health of network pathways that our critical business systems rely upon.  But the biggest business value is not in simply being able to see when a node is down and then reacting to it.  Rather the value is in spotting trends that suggest something new is happening.  The ability to predict load and health and then respond appropriately is the entire premise behind the cloud and elastic buzzwords so prevalent in technology today.  But why is elasticity so important?  Why should we take for granted that it is a good worth thousands of dollars a year?  Elasticity of compute systems allow organizations to consume (and therefore pay) for only what the system needs at the time.  Rather than staying reactive and buying more bandwidth or new nodes after a spike occurs, machine and network monitoring data combine over time to illustrate trends that are graphed and displayed.  Automated elastic compute triggers are configured to free up or obtain necessary compute and network resources ahead of a demand spike.  The end result and the impact is that there are no dropped transactions (whether buying/selling transactions in the case of e-commerce or internal processing transactions in the case of back office/back end operations).  No dropped transactions means no lost business (aka revenue) and no drops in efficiency (which impacts on the business operations intelligence you read about earlier).

Most BI systems also have a roll up dashboard view of sales activities. At first glance these will illustrate the performance of different sales regions.  Managers and executives can get an idea of how revenue is flowing against the backdrop of quarterly expectations.  Sales managers can see geographic regions where demand is strong or weak and then use that insight to redeploy account managers to areas where they’ll be most effective. This data relies upon integrated and normalized schemas between a host of systems that back end data wizards manage.  From CRM to Help Desk to HCM and IDM, they’re all integrated in order to display the easily digestible heat maps and speed dials that are popular on reporting dashboards.  But in order for those systems to first be integrated, the network health and compute capacity must first be available.  Business transactions and operational efficiency must be operating correctly.  Otherwise the sales reporting might be incorrect, incomplete or showing old information.  That would be a disaster for intelligent decision making.  The impact of a sales BI dashboard is most easily observed.  The relationship between the deployment of sales assets and business revenue is one of the most direct.  Better sales means more revenue.

When IT data wizards understand how their back end world helps drive better sales, better business operations and better health of business technology systems, they can feel a better sense of ownership in the workings of the entire organization rather than just the databases, warehouses and portal systems they manage.