I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Francois Gossieaux, Partner at Beeline Labs, is one of the people I hold chiefly responsible for teaching me the true meaning of Marketing 2.0. I bring this up because Francois was the conference chair for the event, Community 2.0, that we kicked off when my former company, Mzinga, was still Shared Insights. I was the CMO at Shared Insights and relatively new to the way of tapping social media/social networking to generate leads, create awareness and help drive attendance. Francois was instrumental in not only teaching me how to successfully engage in social/community to accomplish these goals, he also introduced me to a boatload of smart people like Jake McKee, Mukund Mohan and Bill Johnston.
As a side note (reinforcing my point of Francois’ influence on my career), yesterday I realized that he was one of the first people I followed on Twitter. With that as our backdrop, let’s see how the master of Marketing 2.0 answered the five questions in the Experts in the Industry series:
In one sentence, please describe what you do and why you’re good at it.
I am first and foremost a passionate marketer, a product innovation enthusiast and a customer advocate with a deep understanding of how social media transformed all those disciplines.
How did you get into the world of online community, social media or social marketing?
In the early 90’s I built a partner community on Compuserve at Agfa, a division of Bayer. In 1996 I organized InterAct ’96, an online trade show and conference which attracted 40,000 attendees and exhibitors like Time Magazine, Infoworld, Microsoft, Netscape, DEC and many others.
I was the CMO at eRoom Technology for 5 years, where we helped companies build collaborative environments – or work communities. In early 2003, I founded a software company that focused on leveraging internal and external communities for the front end of the product lifecycle. After that I joined Corante, the first blog-based publishing company, which led to the founding of Beeline Labs, a marketing innovation consulting firm focused on helping companies create new customers by humanizing themselves and their brands.
I also used blogs and online petitions for grassroots local political issues in early 2000’s, created a worldwide community around the chasm that exists between haves and have not’s after 9/11, and finally started blogging frequently on Emergence Marketing in 2005.
If you had $10 million to invest in one company and one company only based on their use of “social,” which company would it be and why?
I would invest it in my own company. Our approach to helping clients is very different from other consulting firms and I believe that we could scale that faster with extra funding. I am also still a firm believer that there is an opportunity to build a software platform based on social media principles that is designed to better align with existing business processes like product innovation.
Which business leader, politician or public figure do you most respect?
Without a doubt – Barrack Obama. He leveraged the power of the crowd by empowering his volunteers, he understands how to influence the message while letting go of trying to control it, and he is embracing transparency in ways that go way beyond the lip service that most business leaders and politicians give it. He truly has the leadership skills required for a web 2.0 world – and many business leaders could learn a lesson or two from how he managed his campaign and how he is now managing his early administration.
Would you join a toothpaste community? Why?
I would if it had something in it for me and if it were not centered on toothpaste.
Freeform – here’s where you can riff on anyone or anything – good or bad. Or just share a pearl of wisdom.
We have seen an evolution from a production economy to a service economy to an experience economy and now we are witnessing a move to a participatory economy.
Social media based business is not about doing business using social media; it’s about allowing the social, with all its messiness, to penetrate all of our business processes. And whether companies like it or not, this social messiness will infiltrate everything we touch. In many cases customers already gained an equal share of voice with or without companies’ help, and with employees bringing their own tools to work (think 3G phones), they too will increasingly bypass organizational hierarchies and behave the way they were hardwired to behave in the first place – tribally, humanly.
Those business leaders who can live with this social messiness and provide leadership to harness the unbelievable power that can emerge from all this will be the true winners.