Businesses always face a challenge to balance their product with their message.

We know that we have seconds to capture the interest of a potential client.

Knowing this, our instinct is to bombard a potential client with as much information as we can while we have their attention.

The mistake we make here is that we dilute, confuse and alienate said potential client.

At the recent web2.0 conference the message that stuck to me the most was not even part of the conference. It was a display outside a shop on the way to the conference of 3 stacked boxes that read "We Sell Boxes"

They did not try to sell it as "Environment friendly, recycled, natural dyed, fair trade, pre-assembled containers for personal and corporate use"

Anybody who walked past this display knew exactly what they sold, they sold boxes.

If I really wanted to buy a box that day, I would have gone into the shop and asked the sales person (once they came back from their break) about the recycled pre-assembled nature of the boxes on sale.

If I did not want to buy a box but suddenly needed a box, I would remember I saw a shop that sold boxes (especially since I took about 10 photos of their display).

So what does this have to do with Web2.0 and social media?

Well everything...

The first message a prospect sees should state exactly what you do "We sell boxes". Once they have aligned their needs to your offering they will engage with you and a more meaningful discussion can follow.

No matter what your bells and whistles are, in B2B Social Media a prospect will not engage unless their needs align with your offering. So tell then straight up what you do and save the fluff for later.

Recent Postings:

A very interesting question was asked today at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. "Who in a business owns Social Media"

Presenters Answer:
According to the presenter (Joshua-Michele Ross from Fleishman Hillard)
"Social Media should not be owned by the obvious departments in the business such as Marketing or PR instead it should be owned by the person / department that wants the opportunity.

Why I disagree:
Now this is where I strongly disagree, sure its good passing the buck to someone who wants it, but just because you want the opportunity does not mean you have the necessary experience in both business and in the social media.

Most of the recent Social Media disasters (Nestle springs to mind, see below for related post) was caused by inexperienced business users who thought they are social media experts because they have a facebook page and know what a tweet is.

You need a careful blend of traditional business communication knowledge and informal social language.
Just because you are engaging your users on a social platform does not mean you engage them with the language and attitudeyou engage your friends with
Presenters answer continued:
He then stated that it should be done on a mandate from top management.

Why I disagree:
I am not quite sure if he has ever truly worked in a business where top management still think of blogs and forums as a place you "go to play" after hours.

If you look at the general age of Top Management, most epecially those from established businesses tend to be baby boomers / gen Y.
These are the people who still cant sleep at night because the company's fax number is no longer on their business card.
It is only in 2016 that most of the Top Management will be the gen y's or Digital Natives as Gartner calls them.

In my view, current top management are not qualified to make any kind of Social Media mandate. They just don't seem to 'get' it. They still believe it can be controlled or censored and that it should be about us telling them what we want them to hear.

What business leaders and top management need is 3rd party enducation from a respected peer. Only once they fully understand the Social Media space and implecations can they truly decide the who, what, where and when.

Related post
- Why internal corporate socail media often fails
- Nestle's Social Media Fail
This is Jak...

... and his trip to Alcatraz did not exactly go as expected.

Ok no Jak is obviously not real and I haven't been to Alcatraz just yet, but will be going sometime this week.

So what has this to do with Web 2.0 or even the iPad?

Well nothing and everything!

Setting the scene
I arrived in San Francisco, California for the Web 2.0 conference at around 3pm local time, that around 11pm UK time... I think..

The first item on the agenda, after checking in to the hotel, was to pop into the apple store to buy an iPad, iPads are not being released till end of May in the UK and frankly I cant wait that long.

So I rock up at the Apple store in San Fran at around 4.30pm and the store is shut and the queue is right round the block. You know how you always read about people camping outside a store but never really quite believe someone will do it?  Well... they do and what are they doing while waiting? Playing on their iPad's...

It seemed I timed my arrival perfectly for the 5pm launch of the iPad 3G...

So me and a colleague when exploring... We had a great time trying to "flag down" a cab and eventually ended up eating at "Bubba Gump's"

The moment my world changed
I took a photo of Alcatraz with my iPhone 3G after our meal, the results wasn't to great.  So I gave it no extra thought...

I ended up back at the Mac store and the crowds were gone, so I went in and got my (well my wife's actually) iPad.

I sat down in the hotel opened it up and transferred the backup of my iPhone on iTunes to the iPad and lo and behold... all the apps ive been hoarding in preparation for the iPad was installed and ready to go.

So what changed my world? well I recently did a cartoon for Mimecast:

It took me quite some time to draw all the assets with a tablet in photoshop.

Now have a look at the picture of JAK and Alcatraz... I took the picture as mentioned with my iPhone, transferred it to my iPad and then edited the image of JAK on the iPad within 10 min....

All thanks to a wonderful app called  SketchBook check it out.

This means I can now at anytime create and edit the cartoon assets on the fly witout my mac, photoshop and tablet.... and thats just the start.... the world a we know it my friends... have changed.

I'll do some more postings on this at a later date... first its time to head out and find a starbucks...

San Francisco Web 2.0 Conference
Ill be in San Francisco all week at the Web 2.0 conference so check this blog regularly as ill attempt to blog everyday and follow me on twitter as I'll be partaking in the backchannel with the tags #w2e (event tags) and the #oe (personal tag)