Think Your LinkedIn Profile is Strong? Prove it by measuring your E-R Score and Compare how you stack up amongst the LinkedIn Pros.

Think Your LinkedIn Profile is Strong?  Prove it by measuring your E-R Score and Compare how you stack up amongst the LinkedIn Pros.

Develop a Stronger LinkedIn E-R Score to blow Away Your Competition and Supercharge your LinkedIn Profile and Presence like the Pros

  • LinkedIn Says Your “Profile Strength” is the best and you are an “All-Star” – Is that Enough to be successful?

All Star LinkedIn Profile Strenght

  • What are the hidden metrics that determine whether you should be hired, know your ‘stuff’ professionally and are “connected”?

Get Hired On LinkedIn

You're Hired

  • What set of LinkedIn scores can really separate you from the masses on LinkedIn and have you stand out as a LinkedIn 1%’er?

Top 1%'er on LinkedIn

  • This blog introduces you to the LinkedIn E-R Score which is an entirely new metric to gauge the health of your LinkedIn Profile and your online brand.

Health of LinkedIn BrandHealth Of LinkedIn Brand

  • Is your LinkedIn E-R Score Healthy or On Life Support?

Healthy or Life Support?

Healthy or Life Support?

Healthy or Life Support?

62 Reccomendations

With the recent introduction of LinkedIn endorsements comes an entirely new metric which helps you better determine your LinkedIn Profile & Online Brand Health – This new metric is the LinkedIn E-R Score.  This article will illustrate what your E-R Score says about you including the following:

  • Whether you have enough connections on LinkedIn

Many LinkedIn Connection

  • Whether your profile and professional work is worthy of Recommendations and/or Endorsements

Endorsed 18 Times

  • Whether you can stand out among your competition and are perceived as a strong,  viable and recommendable/endorsable brand

Profile Endorsements

  • Whether your online brand can receive top billing (vs. your competitors) via LinkedIn Searches

Many LinkedIn Profile Views

Since the recent introduction of LinkedIn Endorsements, many people have been questioning the value of this new feature that many say is analogous to Facebook Likes.  Others say these endorsements are too easy to be of any value at all.

The following post will shed some light on these new LinkedIn Endorsements – their value, how to obtain them, how do they compare to LinkedIn Recommendations, etc.  All of this will help you determine the health of your on-line brand through a new brand quality metric I developed called your LinkedIn E-R Score.

LinkedInE-RE-R Score

1. What is your E-R Score & How DO you Calculate this New Metric? Simple – A LinkedIn E-R score is simply the combined total of your LinkedIn Endorsements + your LinkedIn Recommendations. My LinkedIn ER Score is 2,689 and is as follows –> 2,625 Endorsements + 64 Recommendations = 2,689 E-R Score.

E-R Calculations

    

2. Why is your E-R Score Important?  

A) Your E-R score is an indicator of how connected and active a brand you are on LinkedIn.

B) Your E-R score is an indicator of the quality of your capabilities and how dynamic you are

C) Recruiters use the number of Recommendations and Endorsements (your E-R score) you have as a proxy for determining how capable you are and how deep your skills are.

D) In general, the more interactive you are on LinkedIn and the higher quality your work, posts and relationship building efforts, the more Endorsements and Recommendations you will have vs. your competitors.

Use my LinkedIn inbound and outbound activity as an example of how endorsements have benefitted me:

My Outbound LinkedIn Activity:

  • I have now have over 20,000 LinkedIn connections and make 20-30 new connections per day;

20,000 Connections

  • I post updates every day of the year (365 days);

 

  • I respond to post comments and e-mails on a daily basis

 

My Inbound LinkedIn Activity:

  • I receive between 20-50 profile views per day

 

  • On average, I receive several likes and comments on my LinkedIn posts per day

 

  • I receive approximately 20-40 LinkedIn e-mails per day

 

  • I receive between 5-25 endorsement per day, sometimes more

 

Benefits from receiving LinkedIn endorsements:

Since receiving nearly 3,000 recent endorsements I have received the following benefits:

1) Calls from headhunters and companies seeking to hire me has increased to 5-10 calls and e-mails per week from about 1-2 per week.

2) Phone calls seeking my consulting expertise has increased at least 2x

3) People following me on social media has increased dramatically

Questions about these LinkedIn Endorsement Benefits:

1) Have my skills, abilities, knowledge increased dramatically to warrant this level of recent endorsements? – perhaps.  But more importantly, I am now perceived as the hot LinkedIn brand where few others have achieved this level of 3,000+ Endorsements – certainly not my competitors. It has been like a snowball effect, the more endorsements I receive, the more I am endorsed.

2) Does the fact that I also have 65+ Recommendations help obtain this level of interest? – Very Likely. This is another level of distinction for me and my online brand – few others have this level of LinkedIn credentials (recommendations) as well.

The following chart demonstrates the type of activity my LinkedIn profile (brand) receives EVERY DAY:

Numerous Daily Endorsement

  

3) Are Endorsements Equal or comparable in Weight to LinkedIn Recommendations? Short answer – no, not even close. Why…?

a)   LinkedIn Recommendations are at least 8-9x more important than LinkedIn endorsements according to recruiters I’ve spoken to recently.  Why – what was their reasoning…?

b)    These recruiters reasoned that LinkedIn endorsements are more impactful for the following reasons:

  • LinkedIn Recommendations take much longer to create and the process involves authoring, editing and then publishing content about who is being recommended.

 

  • LinkedIn Recommendations actually require the recommender to develop thoughtful content about the person they are recommending – why they are recommending this person, what make this person stand out, key qualities of the person they are recommending, etc. Endorsements, on the other hand, are easy to provide and do not require thoughtful content authoring and publishing.

 

c)    According to these same recruiters, the best recommendations are those being written by clients and/or previous bosses as these add the most credibility to your LinkedIn E-R Score.  

d)   These same recruiters also think that supervisor testimonials are worth 2-5x than those recommendations provided by friends, colleagues, associates. Here are some examples of my 65+ recommendations:

Macy's Director Recommendation

.

American Express Director Recommendation

.

Weight - Endorsements vs. Recommendations

e) Endorsements, on the other hand, are comparable to Facebook Likes – they can be generated easy and fast without a great deal of thought or effort.  In general though, the more connections you have and the more active you are on LinkedIn, the more endorsements you will have vs. your competitors.

4)    How do you Boost Your E-R Score?

a) Post updates regular updates as I do in the following examples:

LinkedIn Posting Activity

b)   Be an active connector and grow an extensive network as I do, shown in the following examples:

Numerous Daily New LinkedIn Connections

c)  Reply to likes or comments to your own post as shown by this example of mine below:

Reply to LinkedIn Posts

d)   Reply to viable and high priority LinkedIn e-mails as shown in my example below:

Respond To LinkedIn E-Mails

e)   Collect LinkedIn Recommendations for every great piece of work delivered soon after delivering it as I have shown above.

If you follow my advice, you will also start seeing these types of e-mails and LinkedIn activity on a daily basis:

24 LinkedIn Endorsements

Endorsement Levels:

Top Level LinkedIn Endorsements

Endorsement Levels:

LinkedIn Endorsements

Skills Endorsed:

CRM LinkedIn Endorsements

Skills Endorsed:

Endorsements for Marketing Strategy

Skills Endorsed:

Social Media Marketing Endorsements

Blow Away Your Competition by Replacing Your Old CRM Program with the New Customer Relevant Relationship Management (CRRM) Model – Part 2: The Necessary Components.

1) Introduction:

In my previous blog, I covered what the new Customer Relevant Relationship Model (CRRM) is and the benefits of adopting this new model. In this blog, I will cover the components of the new CRRM model and what you need to put in place to make this new model a reality.

Ever wonder why companies like ESPN, Apple, Google, Zynga, Amazon, and Marriott dominate their respective markets? The reason is that they are ‘Customer First’ organizations and are passionate about listening to, understanding and then delighting their customers based on leveraging true customer insights. They treat their customers as business partners vs. commodities and include them in many critical decision making processes. They get this new CRRM model. Why/how ? – Read the rest of this blog to find out…

The differences between the old CRM model and how these companies are embracing the newer CRRM model are depicted in the following chart:

The Old CRM Model vs. New CRRM Model – Customers as Business Partners

2) Customers are fed up with old Dictatorial Management Style & Want to be Empowered as Business Partners

Customers and stakeholders today are longing for a company to partner with them and include them in the corporate decision making process.  These same constituencies are sick and tired of political, corporate, and other organizations making unilateral decisions for them that are really not in-line with their needs,  wants, etc. The backlash from this unwanted dictatorial management style of some companies can be seen in the Bank of America fee customer rebellion, the customer backlash from Netflix deciding to  split their company without first consulting with their customers and HPs initial decision to exit the computer market.

3) Components of the New CRRM Model:

In order to progress your organization from the old CRM model to the new CRRM  model, a few key essentials must be put in place and are as follows:

A. New CRRM Model that includes the 360° Cultivation of Customer & Market Insights.  This model enables a 360° view of all customer and market insights including customer feedback, preferences, likes, dislikes, social sentiment, competitor activity, etc. This new model takes your insights to an entirely new level whereby you are now enabled to delight customers, stakeholders and stockholders by having insights that are light-years ahead of insights provided by a traditional CRM model.

B. Customer First Culture driven by management that is passionate about their customers including a set of customer first principles and guidelines developed by company leaders

C. Customer Ratings & Feedback Structure that will identify areas where you will collect customer 360° feedback from customer and stakeholder interactions

D. Customer Feedback & Preferences Cultivation Process and corresponding infrastructure in order to allow your customers to continually rate how well you are serving them

E. Customer Health Scorecard that provides real-time insights on how well the customers, stakeholders and stockholders perceives you as serving them as well as insights into a Continuous Customer Improvement Process (CCIP) that enables you to continually improve your customer perceptions, satisfaction, brand loyalty, etc.

These components can apply to large enterprises as well as Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs).

The following graphics are all sample components from the list above (A-D) that need to be put in place to enable this new CRRM Model.

New CRRM Model – 360° Cultivation of Customer & Market Insights

 3A) The above chart “New CRRM Model – 360 Cultivation of Customer & Market Insights” demonstrates the new insights model that must be put in place to deliver world-class stakeholder and customer programs.

These enhanced insights will enable you to deliver products and services that delight your customers, stakeholders and stockholders as well as enable you to leapfrog the competition in terms of market share if they continue to rely on their antiquated CRM data and analytics insights only model. 

For Small to Medium sized Businesses (SMBs), some of the insights do not apply, but the following charts (3B-3E) most certainly apply and can be tracked via simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

CRRM Customer First Policies & Organizational Principles

3B) The above chart “CRRM Organizational Guiding Principles” demonstrates the principles that must be in-place to be customer first culture. This culture is driven by management that is passionate about their customers and governs the company around a set of customer first policies.

Sample Enterprise CRRM Customer Rating & Feedback Structure

3C) The above chart “Enterprise CRRM Customer Rating & Feedback Structure” illustrates a sample structure (will vary for each type of business) whereby customer feedback and preferences will be cultivated in order to develop 360° insights into customer needs, wants, likes, etc.

Enterprise CRRM Customer Feedback & Preferences Cultivation Process

3D) The above chart “CRRM Customer Ratings & Feedback Cultivation Process” illustrates a how customer feedback and preferences will be cultivated in order to develop 360° insights into customer needs, wants, likes, etc.

Sample Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard Ratings Visualization

3E) The above chart “Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard Ratings Visualization” illustrates a how customer feedback and preferences ratings will be visually represented in a scorecard. 

Sample Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard Metrics

3E-2) The above chart “Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard” illustrates a how customer feedback and preferences ratings will be rolled up into an analytical scorecard that provides insights into customer trends,  customer feedback, customer issues, core customer strengths and weaknesses, etc. 

This scorecard can also be used to manage a Continuous Customer Improvement Process (CCIP) that continually drives improvements to customer perceptions, ratings, satisfaction, etc. 

Sample Scorecard for “Shopping Experience”

The above depicts how analytics and metrics would be maintained for a business who had a retail or wholesale shopping function.

Sample Shopping Experience Scorecard – #2

Robust Scorecard Analytics and Metrics should support Customer Trend Identification and Root Cause Analysis for Customer Issues.

Sample Branding & Public Relations Scorecard

Sample Public Relations Scorecard Above gives you insights into how well your company and brands are perceived by customers, stakeholders, stockholders, etc.

Sample Customer Service Scorecard

Sample Customer Scorecard Above from Customer Service tells how well you are serving your customers.

Sample Marketing Scorecard

Sample Marketing Scorecard Above Gives you insights into how well your Marketing Efforts are resonating with your customers.

Sample Product Management Scorecard

The Sample Product Management Scorecard above gives you insights into how well perceived your products and services are with customers and prospects.

4) Company & Customer Benefits of Adopting the CRRM Model:

By treating customers as business partners (vs. commodities) and including them in the corporate decision making process, as well as allowing them to rate how well you are serving them from an array of customer facing areas, companies can reap huge rewards including the following:

1. Better insights into the types of products and services customers want & need

2. Fiercely loyal customers who feel part of the corporate team

3. Customers who are most likely to spend more, be retained longer and purchase at premium prices with higher profit margins

4. Customers who are very likely to be brand advocates and refer others to your company, brands, and services.

5. Customers who feel connected to the company and empowered to improve company operations

The following are actual customer comments from those who have participated in a customer feedback program to help shape products & services:

“I feel like xyz company cares about me since they ask my opinion”

“Finally a company that listens to us”

“It is so refreshing to have a company ask you your opinions on products and services vs. ramming something down our throats that we don’t like”

“Wow – this is fun. I enjoy providing my opinion”

“As silly as this might sound, xyz company is the only company that ever asked me what I wanted”

“In my opinion, xyz company is much more progressive than their competitors by seeking consumer opinions, what matters to them, etc.

 5) Conclusion:

More dynamic companies like Goodle, Zynga, Amazon, etc. are inviting customers to become part of the corporate decision making process and empowering them to provide feedback, insights and rate company operations in order to drive continous customer improvements. Companies who adopt this new CRRM model whereby company management is democratized by including stakeholders and customers into the decision making process will reap the rewards of ever higher customer acquisition, retention and spend – leading to ever higher profits and share price.

HOTEL SOLD OUT ?? – SOCIAL NETWORK YOUR WAY IN

When Persistency & Social Connections intersect with a World Class Hotel General Manager – anything is possible…

A story of how a very persistent and well connected social media expert was able to network his way into an otherwise sold out hotel by socially connecting with the hotel’s world-class general manager…

Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing

Date: July 1st, 2011, Situation – Hotel Sold Out on 1st of 2 day Planned Stay – Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing is the best hotel for my upcoming & out-of-town meetings, but I can only book Thursday July 14th, not Wednesday July 13th which is completely booked – no luck in booking 2 consecutive nights at this same hotel. The hotel showing booked for 7/13 for many days. Call hotel – they say the hotel is oversold. I obtain Hotel General Manager’s name from front desk agent – his name is Mike Costello.

Date: July 10th, Action PlanFind Mike Costello on LinkedIn, Send Him an Invite, Ask to Connect due to ‘upcoming stay at hotel’

LinkedIn Invite to Hotel General Manager

Date: July 9th – Connect & Correspond to the Hotel General Manager – Mike Costello, General Manager from the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing Connects with me. I send him an e-mail based on his e-mail address being available on his LinkedIn profile:

Accepted LinkedIn Invitation by Hotel General Manager

E-mail to Hotel General Manager After Connecting on LinkedIn

Date: July 11th, Update, Receive Response E-mail From Hotel General Manager: Mike Costello e-mails me indicating the 13th is completely sold out and suggests that I drop my bags off early on Wednesday so I could proceed to my planned meetings. Mike Promised to “review our status tomorrow for any changes due to cancellations or people not showing up without indicating so.”

Date: July 11th, Update, Send Response E-mail To Hotel General Manager:

Letter to Hotel General Manager - Thanks for Following Up

Date: July 12th, 9:30 AM, Update, Receive a “Reservation Change” E-mail from Hyatt indicating my reservation for the 13th had been made.

13th Opens Up, Reservation Changed, I'M IN ! :)

13th Opens Up, Reservation Changed, I'M IN ! 🙂

Date: July 12th, 11:24 AM, Update, Receive an E-mail from Hotel General Manager. Mike Costello indicates I am I am “Set for Wednesday “ (the 13th) and wishes me “Safe Travels”. I write back immediately indicating “Thank you so much!”

Date: July 14th, 9AM, The last day of my stay. I make it a point to visit the hotel Administrative offices to thank Mike, but unfortunately he is a meeting. I convey my “Thank you” to his Administrative assistant. She Promises to relay the message to him.

Date: July 14th, 4PM, Call from Hotel GM while on the train on my way home. Receive a phone call on my cell phone from the hotel GM (Mike Costello) indicating he was glad to be able to help me and appreciated the fact that I told him that his hotel was top-notch and that I really enjoyed my stay. Mike then said to please consider coming back to his hotel when I am in the area again. I told him I would now consider no other hotel except the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing to stay when in the area due to the following:

1) His world-class customer service and going above and beyond to assist guests

2) The way the hotel was run as a model of hospitality from the excellent level of guest service and the excellent staff that was always willing to help at every instance.

Bottom line – Persistence and connections do pay off (I seldom take no for an answer and always ‘figure out how to get to the goal line’ no matter what – my nickname was “tank” in college days for being so persistent and always getting the job/task done), but only if this persistency is met by a savvy and World-Class Hotel General Manager like Mike Costello from Hyatt.

If you are in the Philadelphia area, I urge you to seriously consider the Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing – the staff, the management and accommodations are world-class and 5-star all around.

Social Media LIFT Defined. My LIFT Score = 42,347. What is Your Score and/or Your Organization’s Score?

Question 1: What specifically is Social Media LIFT (a.k.a. Reach)? 

Answer 1  The calculation is simply as follows: LinkedIn{Connections}+Facebook{Friends}+Twitter{Followers}.

My Social Media Reach (LIFT) total social is as follows = LinkedIn “Connections” (7,078)+ Facebook “Friends” (4,727)+Twitter  “Followers”(30,542)+ This means I have access to communicate my message directly to 42,000+ individuals who have opted-in to receive (follow) my messages.  Charts 1 & 2 clearly depict what social MediaLift is and how I derived at my score:

This chart (#1) speaks to the definition of what a social media reach (LIFT) score is as follows:

Chart 1 – Social Media Lift Definition

This chart (#2) speaks to what my specific social media reach (LIFT) score is and how it is calculated:


Chart 2 – Social Media Lift Calculation

Ever notice firms claiming to be experts in social media, yet have relatively low Social Media Reach and Lift Scores?  I have seen global consulting, database management, direct marketing and even advertising agency firms with paltry scores  under 10,000, all claiming to be able to help you develop ‘world-class social media programs’. My question to you is, if they are unable to develop decent reach (LIFT) for their own firms (i.e. earn a high social media lift score), then how in the world will they be able to help you and your organization? Social Media Lift loosely translates to Database Size in traditional marketing & CRM terms.

WHY IS LIFT SO IMPORTANT?

Let’s reveal the root of the problem with a set of simple questions as follows:

Question 2: What will most social media & traditional media firms try to sell you so that THEY make the most $$?

Answer 2: Setting up Facebook fan pages, developing new websites, setting up infrastructure and establishing your presence in social media, the web, etc. While these get you established in social media or the web, they do little to provide bottom line value to your business. Building social media infrastructure without adding effective lift is like having a gun with just a few bullets – Looks impressive, but will enable you to only hit a very few targets with limited results.

Question 3: What will provide you with the highest business value from social media?

Answer 3: Having a large social media LIFT Score (a.k.a. social media reach), bigger than your competitors, so that you may communicate, sell, brand and influence your followers. Without effect LIFT you are limited by how widespread you can leverage your message to the world.

Of course having high quality contacts and building relationships with them is equally important, but if you don’t have a decent lift score or social media following, you can’t get do either of these next steps.  I, for example, have screened each of my friends/connections/follows to ensure they are of high quality and are of the type that can help my business grow.  In this case, Reach Quality = Correlation of Lift contact Needs/profile to your brand messaging/content.

HOW DO I ACHIEVE A HIGH LIFT SCORE?

Question 4: How do you attain a high social media lift score?

Answer 4:  By running effective social media follower, friend, connection campaigns to increase your lift score. There are many examples of these campaigns by organizations such as ‘help us reach 100,000 Facebook fans and we’ll donate to $x to charity’, ‘when we reach 50,000 followers, we’ll host a fan appreciation party’, please connect to me for important news on topic x’, etc. It is surprising how many organizations establish themselves in social media (‘hey, I’m now here’), but then do nothing do increase their fan bases, reach, etc. The web is littered with firms that have taken the first step in getting into social media, but have done very little to expand their presence and LIFT scores. This last step is the most important in ‘getting real’ in terms of social media.  I have developed a very unique cross-platform campaign system that is highly effective in gaining connections, friends, followers – hence my high LIFT score.

HOW CAN I MONITOR & MANAGE MY OWN LIFT SCORE?

If you really want to determine your score, your firm’s score or that of a social media company you want to hire, you now have to look no further than a relatively new site called SocialChiefs.com (http://www.socialchiefs.com) .  You submit your account information to this site and they calculate your social media reach (LIFT) for you (http://www.socialchiefs.com/default.aspx?c=3 ). I recently did this and found out in recent weeks that I was rated the #4 globally in Social Media Reach by SocialChiefs per the following chart:

Chart 3 – Global Social Media Reach Ranking as Rated by SocialChiefs.com

The following chart illustrated my specific reach (LIFT) calculations by SocialChiefs.com

Chart 4 – Specific Global Social Media Reach (LIFT) Calculations as Rated by SocialChiefs.com

Question 5: What is your social media reach (LIFT) score and what is the score of the social media firm you’ve hired?

Commentary on your score – If you hired a social media firm to build you social media presence and now your LIFT score is under 10,000, then you likely got ripped off and/or not netting the true power of social media. They took the big $$ to get you set up in social media and then left you hanging with paltry reach (LIFT) numbers (<10,000) which is equivalent to taking the money and leaving you with little to show in terms of real business value.  “Hey look at my Facebook Fan page – isn’t it great! But I only have 200 fans to communicate with – was this really worth it?”

Developing Breakaway Competitive Advantage via Social Innovation Platforms (SIPs)

Part Three (of 3) – Leveraging Social Innovation Platforms (SIPs – a.k.a. innovation management, social suggestion boxes or crowd sourcing applications) to transform your company into an innovation leader

In my previous two blogs I covered the first two of three mega-trends that are hitting the social media marketplace for large Fortune level organizations.  In the first blog, I addressed how the use of enterprise social monitoring and intelligence platforms are helping companies leverage key insights from an array of market activity and major trends including competitor activity & weaknesses, key opinion leader sentiment/needs, regulator trends and concerns, political leader and influencer sentiment, public opinion and key public concerns.  In my last blog (2 of 3 in the series), I covered how Enterprise Collaboration Platforms are changing how teams communicate and interact in order to boost corporate productivity.

This third blog in the series is dedicated to a social media trend hitting corporate America that focuses on Social Innovation Platforms (SIPs). This trend has the ability to transform companies into a leader in innovation, enabling them to leapfrog their competition in much the same way Google and Apple have out-innovated many of their competitors. A full 83% percent of respondents in this year’s Bloomberg/Business Week/Boston Consulting Group (BCG) annual survey of top executives said innovation will be a key part of their strategy to benefit from the economic recovery¹. While companies might hire innovators, in order for them to be successful there needs to be a very robust methodology, culture, and process that support these executive innovators.   This blog is focused on a new category of tools that are designed to achieve this culture of innovation.  In the same format as my previous two blogs, I will cover this subject as follows:

A) What is a SIP or Social Innovation Platform (a.k.a. social suggestion box)
B) What are the benefits from using an SIP
C) What are the hottest tools/applications in the marketplace
D) How do you implement this SIP capability

A) What is a Social Innovation Platform (SIP) or Social Suggestion Box?

An SIP is a social media application that allows the sourcing of innovative ideas, content, suggestions and inventions from an array of sources including internal company departments and employees (internal innovation/idea sourcing) and from external stakeholders, customers and experts (external innovation, content, or idea sourcing).  Think of a company suggestion box on steroids and on the global web – that is what a SIP is. Has your company had your SIP of hyper-innovation, thus allowing you to utterly leapfrog your competition? If not, the rest of this blog is a MUST READ for you!

These platforms are designed to increase intra-corporate idea & innovation collaboration, decrease time to market, and to enhance overall corporate productivity. There are two types of Social Innovation Platforms – internal and external. The platforms that source ideas and insights from the general public  are typically called crowd sourcing solutions, but can also be called idea sourcing, idea & insights cultivation, etc.  A SIP can radically change your corporate culture to be more innovative, change oriented, enable out-of-the box thinking and greatly enhance your ability to create great content/ideas/insights/innovative products/services, patents, etc.
The following illustrates the key features and capabilities of a best-of-breed SIP platform:

Social Innovation Platform (SIP) Key Features:

1) Internal & External Idea Sourcing Web Portal
2) Idea & Innovation Content Management with full innovation library taxonomy
3) Online Innovation Community Creation – both internal and external
4) Collaboration on ideas in order to rank, improve, and evolve sourced content and ideas
5) Idea rating, scorecarding, ranking – makes creating and managing ideas easy by enabling the simple management of ‘evaluation teams’ by offering functionality like simple to use workflows, multiple round scorecarding, and idea insight sharing
6) Manages and merges ideas into business proposals & business cases
7) Social project management  to manage and track idea borne projects while monitoring and reporting on the financial value/impact of the overall innovation pipeline

B) What are the benefits – Why are companies, organizations and government agencies adopting social innovation platforms capabilities?

The following list represents just a few of the benefits of implementing an SIP or social suggestion box:

1) Accelerates the participation of Stakeholder and Customers in your Innovation Process – Allows you to Inform your customers about your challenges, encourages them submit, discuss and evaluate great ideas, with ratings and incentives for the top contributions

2) Enables the sourcing of high-impact and game changing business concepts, ideas, suggestions, and product enhancements – from both internal and external sources

3) Boosts the number and quality of incremental ideas – enabling for the development of a culture of innovation within your company or organization

4) Facilitates the process of researching or getting a patent on your sourced ideas by systemically managing and elevating only those ideas that are commercially viable

5) Optimizes the process to systematically manage the flow of business proposals – this can be from ideas sourced internally or from start-up companies and partners

6) Improves ROI on R&D spend by enabling business process environment to create, manage and vet ideas and innovations

7) Motivates key contributors – Motivates your employees by providing a transparent and easy way to handle idea management. Employees feel empowered to submit ideas and innovations in this highly transparent environment.

‘8) Empowers Teams and Departments – Encourages team empowerment and contributions and inter-departmental cooperation on ideas, innovations, patents, etc.

9) Delivers increased Control over Intellectual Property and Digital Assets – Single/integrated environment for innovation, idea and idea proposal/business case management

10) Increases the appetite for increased intra-organizational change and the appetite for innovation and entrepreneurialism. Complimentary to this is the need to support the implementation of an SIP with a heavy dose of change management as this implementation represents a paradigm shift in the organization’s appetite and acceptance of change (pace of, rewards for, change agent & innovator recognition, etc. )

11) The overall goal of the increased innovation derived from these SIP is to decrease the time to market with products and services that have increased market relevance and can leapfrog the competition in terms of market demand. 

C) What are the hottest tools/applications on the SIP or Intra-Social Application market?

Almost all SIPs are relatively new to the marketplace and few have been deployed to several Fortune-500 level companies.

Leading SIP Software Vendor & Tools – Includes Idea Management and Crowd Sourcing Applications

1) Brightidea Innovation Suite.  http://www.brightidea.com/ Included in this solution are the Brightidea’s WebStorm, Switchboard and Pipeline modules. The Suite combines enhanced idea collection functionality in WebStorm and proposal management and development in Switchboard and social idea/innovation management in Pipeline. Leading multi-national companies including Cisco, Wyeth, American Express, Kraft, Sony, Bayer, British Telecom, etc,  use Brightidea software to execute targeted internal campaigns to solicit ideas and feedback from employees on everything from new product development to cost saving and process improvement ideas. Cross-functional and inter-departmental brainstorming is possible through a software platform that is similar in nature to Facebook and enables companies to monitor the process of innovation and socialization from concept to monetization. Brightidea software not only concentrates on the front end of idea collection/prioritization that creates an idea repository & management environment for ideas across organization and departments, but also offers a systematic, streamlined way to turn ideas into actionable & ROI driven business proposals. These proposals can then be prioritized within the organization that facilitates ‘best idea maturation’ and delivers on what matters most, measurable business ROI and results. Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Well established company with over 10 years of experience
b. Constantly innovating and improving their platform and solutions
c. Many top tier clients have implemented their solution

2) Chaordixhttp://www.chaordix.com/ Chaordix is a crowdsourcing solution that began in 2006 and began as a crowdsourcing community to discover new business and technology ideas. It attracted 55,000+ members and several thousands of ideas from the crowd.  The Chaordix crowdsourcing platform is a proven, flexible engine to tap communities for vital business insights to innovate, improve operations, and reduce the risks of competing in the marketplace. Chaordix software makes it simple to seek, manage and analyze input from a crowd. What sets the Chaordix technology apart is its proven scalability to handle large crowds, ability to mitigate bias in voting and crowd behavior, and social networking sophistication that helps to engage both similar and disparate crowds. Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Well established company with over 10 years of experience
b. Very scalable and flexible platform – able to scale to large & complex crowdsourcing requirements
c. Leadership team provide deep thought leadership in innovation management

3) Cognistreamer. http://www.cognistreamer.com/en/index.html CogniStreamer® is an idea management software solution.  CogniStreamer® Innovation Portal is an open innovation and collaboration platform where internal colleagues and external stakeholders align to create, enrich and assess innovative ideas within strategically selected ‘category’ topics. Their downstream analysis, ability to direct conversations within the platform and integration with e-mail and other outside systems is reportedly best-in-class. The CogniStreamer® portal module is an ideal collaborative and management platform that invites users to actively build a strong idea & innovation pipeline. In addition, it provides a powerful resource for internal and external knowledge collaboration and sharing. The CogniStreamer® framework module is used by companies that include Atlas Copco, Bekaert, Case New Holland, Cytec, Imec, Picanol and ThyssenKrupp.  Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Very capable senior leadership team w/10+ years of experience
b. Smooth graphical look and feel
c. Leading methods and approaches on cultivating innovation

4) Hype Software – HypeIMT. http://www.hypeinnovation.com/  HypeIMT is a leading software solution for idea and innovation management supporting the entire new product development process from idea development to the commercialization of a new product. This product also offers a systematic process for capturing, rating, comparing, and selecting ideas to ensure only the most viable ideas receive project funding. Flexible and customizable, HypeIMT allows companies to custom design the innovation management process, in order that it will support an array of very specific product development strategies. Several of the Global Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric and Procter & Gamble, are already utilizing HypeIMT to manage their Innovation process.  Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Well established company with over 10 years of experience
b. Well established customer base
c. Privately held German company, but profitable since inception

5) IdeaScalehttp://ideascale.com/  IdeaScale is another leading crowdsourcing solution and enables ways for companies to solicit ideas and allow customers to rate, discuss, and brainstorm ideas for the company.  The process commences with ideas being posted within the IdeaScale community. Every idea submitted can be expanded via comments and additional insights from each of the participants of the community. Through a voting system, the ultimate value of an idea is determined by participating voters, while also allowing people to share their opinions and insights as to why the idea, in their opinion, will or won’t be successful. Via this voting system, any idea can be voted to the top of list or de-valued down to the bottom of the list of ideas. Companies using IdeaScale include Subaru, Choice Hotels, Wired Magazine, Boy Scouts, Reuters and Fiserv Risk and Compliance Solutions.  Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Relatively inexpensive solution – can be used by smaller businesses
b. Mobile application allows submitting of ideas ‘on-the-go’
c. IdeaScale made Inc. magazine’s list of the fastest-growing private companies.

6) Imaginatik – http://www.imaginatik.com/  A core component of Imaginatik’s solution is an module called Idea Central. Idea Central is a web-based application designed to help organizations maximize the benefits from the creativity, expertise, insights and ideas of employees, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders and even third parties. Imaginatik’s solution also includes a idea portfolio monitoring function for Idea Central, a module that can be customized to provide project leaders, managers and ‘idea participants’ the ability to track ideas as they mature from raw idea to potential commercialization candidate. Portfolio Monitor offers community users visibility into current and past ‘idea projects’, allowing stakeholders to track the progress of their ideas. Portfolio Monitor also allows the conversion of ideas from Idea Central into other project management tools in order to facilitate the seamless flow for transitioning ideas that escalate into full commercialization projects. Imaginatik has provided Innovation and idea management solutions to companies such as The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, Boeing, Pfizer, Xerox, World Bank, Goodyear and Cargill. Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Well established company with over 10 years of experience
b. Strong consulting background with an proven ability to help clients become more innovative (i.e. help clients capture ROI from the solution)
c. Many best practices has been derived from experience on large international clients

7) Spigit – http://www.spigit.com   Spigit is a leading provider of collective idea management software, connecting employees, customers, business partners and other 3rd parties for collaborative innovation development. Spigit is used by several of the Fortune 500 companies as a means of combining crowdsourcing and social networking to source ideas, rate and mature ideas with the highest potential, and then promote only the best ideas to implement and commercialize. A very innovative aspect of the solution, Spigit also includes a literal idea marketplace whereby company employees can buy and sell shares of ideas. Spigit customers include AT&T, Lloyds Bank, Allstate, New York City and over 100 other companies. External recommendations for Spigit include CIO Magazine’s list of 20 companies to watch in 2011 and JMP Securities hot 100 private companies for 2011. Strengths of this solution/company include:
a. Recent to the market but with slightly more innovative approach to idea management
b. Very strong list of top-tier clients
c. They have strong financial support ensuring they will likely to continue to be a main contender over the next several years

Niche & Specialty SIP Software Vendor & Tools (Sample)

The companies below are considered niche players in the SIP market in that they source very specific innovations and content from vendors, customers and stakeholders.

1) Brand Tagshttp://www.brandtags.net/ Brand Tags is an interesting concept in that it solicits people via the internet to tag associated words that come to their mind when they think of a particular brand/product/service. Responses are then compiled into ‘tag clouds’ displays that reports back which words are thought of most often. To date, Brand Tags thousands of companies have participated in this ‘brand tagging’ and there are now ~2 million tags on their website.

2) CrowdSpringhttp://www.crowdspring.com/ CrowdSpring assembles and leverages a large community of creative designers to provide an effective, easy and relatively inexpensive logo and custom graphics design service for smaller businesses and organizations. Persons can post design projects or copywriting projects, specify the price range they are willing to pay and then choose from a wide range of concepts/ideas/designs submitted from the CrowdSpring design community around the world. On average, there are more than one hundred submissions per project. The price paid for crowd designed logos or taglines start from around $200 USD.

3) CustomAdarthttp://www.customadart.com/ CustomAdart asks a crowd of creative professionals to develop your perfect image at the price range you set. This concept is allowing companies to migrate away from the traditional stock photography model by allowing advertisers to post specifications for very custom and specific shots and then getting community members to submit their best images/graphics/photos to satisfy the desired specifications.

4) Fellowforcehttp://www.fellowforce.com   Fellowforce.com was founded to connect organizations to an array of high quality ideas, innovation and solutions. Fellowforce.com aims to open up organizations to outside participation from experts, consumers, and other interested parties to generate powerful new innovations and solutions via networked innovation via collaboration. Fellowforce.com enables open innovation, idea generation and problem solving to a multitude of organizations worldwide. This is the first open platform that covers a very diverse set of business areas such as business & strategy, human resources, marketing, sales, customer service, innovation process management, design, engineering, IT, and supply chain.

5) InnoCentivehttps://www.innocentive.com  InnoCentive is based on a straightforward concept in that, if a company is unable to solve a problem on its own, why not use the power of the Internet to see if other Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) can solve the problem? This concept has resulted in the establishment of the world’s first open innovation marketplace with a global network of ~200,000 ‘problem solvers’. In this network, you can find engineers, scientists, inventors, and business people with expertise in life sciences, physics, engineering, biology, chemistry, math, marketing, human resources and computer science. Companies can post their challenges and problems on the InnoCentive website, and offer registered problem ‘solvers’ substantial financial awards for the best submitted solutions.  Problem solvers compete to win monetary prizes offered by various companies. Over 1,000 challenges have been posted thus far by nearly 200 firms, including large/global companies such as Procter & Gamble.

6) Philoptima, llc. http://www.philoptima.org/ Philoptima, llc.™ enables foundations, donors, and grant makers to describe a challenge to the idea community and to post cash prizes to incentivize ‘idea solvers’ to solve the issue put forth. This collaborative system facilitates participants coming together to collaborate and solve a wide variety of community and public interest related problems by connecting consultants, researchers, and subject matter experts that offer best-in-class solutions via a web-based open innovation community.

7) Poptenthttp://www.poptent.net/  Simply stated, Poptent enables crowdsourcing for advertisements.  Poptent is a relatively new start-up that solicits crowdsourced advertising ideas and content from an array of global creative talent. The company brings together a vibrant community of filmmakers, actors, comedians, graphic artists, animators and then connects them with companies who need their advertisement creative services. Companies and/or brands can post their requests for an advertisement or specific ad content, which is then developed and submitted by Poptent’s pool of global creative advertising talent – all via a robust web collaborative crowdsource application.

‘8) ThinkTank4http://www.groupsystems.com/  ThinkTank4 is a social collaboration & idea management platform that is used primarily by larger consulting companies. ThinkTank4 is a structured collaboration platform for professional services which enables content sharing, project collaboration and best practice/intellectual property management. ThinkTank aims to increase profitability by enabling consultants to deliver more client value via reduced cycle time and reduced manual effort.

D) How do you implement this capability – what are the steps and considerations on implementing this capability within your organization and company?

Social Media innovation platform (SIP) implementation success requires comprehensive visioning; with stepwise implementation, guided both by an innovation paradigm shift & culture change, roadmap and integrated project plan.
I have developed this capability for several Fortune 500 companies and the capability can be enabled via four (4) Major steps as follows (Summarized):

1) Step #1: Develop an innovation culture prior to implementing the SIP in order that the automated process will not be met with resistance. This includes the following:
a) Re-engineer performance metrics and employee KPIs to recognize and reward the most innovative within the company
b) Develop pre-automation innovation contests
c) Develop an innovation newsletter and intra-net site
d) Put forth innovation or idea generation challenges with substantial rewards and visibility from upper management to the top participants and winners
The bottom line here is that, if you don’t have an innovative company culture, implementation of a SIP will likely lead to shelf-ware and a system very few utilize to its full potential.

2) Step #2: Develop a SIP Implementation Strategy & Roadmap including the following:
a) SIP  Strategy/Vision, Objectives, Business Drivers, Critical Success Factors, Community/ Forum Listening Strategy, Key Metrics & Performance Plan, Organizational Plan, Change Management Plan, Communications & Risk Management Plan, monitoring policies, governance plan
b) Put together an implementation roadmap and a centralized PMO to manage the implementation of the roadmap/SIP vision
c) Form your SIP strategy & vision with key stakeholders

3) Step #3: Social Media Technology Platform Evaluation & Selection
a) Identify potential SIP platform & community management vendors
b) Develop Needed SIP Requirements and Capabilities
c) Perform Technology Platform Vendor Selection
d) Onboard Vendor
e) Build a techno-functional architecture to support the roadmap

4) Step #4: Develop SIP Program Pilots & Deployment Plan
a) Develop Pilot Project & Deployment Plan
b) Develop SIP management processes that provide organizational confidence and exercise process excellence transparency to solidify user/stakeholder buy-in and acceptance.
c) Develop Technology Pilots
d) Develop  Program Pilots
e) Invest in Organizational change management to instill solid user/stakeholder adoption
f) Develop Organization & Process Pilots
g) Deploy Pilots and Programs including
1.  Center of Excellence Deployment
2.  Multi-Channel Integration
3.  Policies/Processes
4.  Roles, Rules, Responsibilities
5.  Change Management, Change Management, Change Management

That last bullet point is not a typo as I would honestly say that the #1 key to success in implementing this type of software is an extremely capable change management program. This type of software requires a behavior change on the part of your employees and management and it won’t come easily.   I can say this with confidence – If you are not considering a heavy dose of change management as part of this implementation, your implementation is most likely going to fail!

In summary, SIPs are gaining a great deal of Momentum.  Many Fortune 500 companies are either planning to implement this enterprise capability or already have.  Is your organization planning on implementing this potentially game-changing capability? If so, give me a call at 518-339-5857, as  I call help you achieve world-class programs that enable you to surpass your competition and bring your organization or agency to the next level of innovation.

¹http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_17/b4175043789498.htm