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Posts Tagged ‘Social’

The Path to Success in Social Business is through Social CRM

March 18, 2010 6 comments

At first I was going to state the title in the form of a question, but this is not Jeopardy, and I wanted to make a point. The point is simple really, the path to success in Social Business is through Social CRM, said with conviction, not hesitation. This is not going to be a blog about definitions, though some may show up later or in the embedded presentation. While I have decided to move past the definitions, others may not be ready – fair enough, catch-up when you can. My approach is to put forth a convincing argument by using the characteristics and attributes that make up the Social Customer, Social CRM and a Social Business; not trying to redefine them.

My own struggle has been to place these concepts in the proper context, individually. To try to talk about any of these topics, without bringing up the other two is just hard and many times it just does not make sense. My operating theory is, ‘if I am having trouble a whole lot of other people are as well’. If you are an IT purist, it is like trying to talk about just Cost, just Schedule or or just Scope (not to mention Quality) without talking about the others  – they are related, strongly – interdependent.

While technology certainly plays a role here, maybe it is even to blame, this is not about technology, rather what has started because of it. While the conversation would not be happening if it where not for the rapid change in behaviors caused by technology, it is about the change in culture and the change in behaviors of the customer (iPhone, Facebook, LinkedIn, FourSquare, YouTube, Blogs). Because they are ALL talking to eachother! By the way, whether you are Business to Business or Business to Consumer, it does not really matter. Yes, there are some differences, but there are more similarities than differences. We are all humans, and emotions play a big part in business too, sorry, it just is!

What is the point?

I have stated on many occasions that I use blogging to formulate my own thoughts on a particular topic. In this case, it was the creation of a presentation – or the template for a set of presentations which I need to deliver, beginning next week. I wanted to share the presentation, so that I am able to get feedback and begin a conversation on how I can refine the delivery. What would a presentation be in this space, if it is not actually Social and Interactive. The presentation will not remain static, nor should it. It is also anyone’s to use, if you think it can help. The presentation is not an attempt to be a strategy either, that is yours to create.

My thought process was to break it down into small pieces, then attempt to put it all back together. The baseline of understanding is not a definition of a system, but the characteristics of the system. The end of the presentation is not yet complete, but I wanted to put this out there so people were able to review. Please let me know your thoughts – Selecting the “Wide Screen” option on the lower right worked best for me. If the embed feature did not work, there is a link below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
I was able to integrate the Prezi on wordpress using vodpod, if the embedding did not work right, just do it the old fashioned way Social Business through Social CRM on Prezi.

Connecting the dots, first step Creating Buyers!

A purist could say I am avoiding the word ‘Sales’, not really, just choosing a phrase I deem more appropriate for a Social Business. I strongly believe that the future of business will be more about the creation of buyers than what we think of today as the selling of product. That said, with all of the talk about ROI, KPI and value, we still struggle to convince our own bosses that this is will happen, because in the end, the measurement is about money changing hands – but that to will also change in subtle ways, as we move forward. My final personal objective is to highlight and expand the Altimeter Group Use Cases. Why, because they represent a great way to get past the ‘Buzz and Hype’. Also, an important aspect, business executives, marketers, PR folks and CRMers can understand them. No, the Use Cases are not perfect, they are not meant to be, I see them as a foundation.

At the end of the Prezi I make the case that in order to actually put the Use Cases into practice, it is required to combine a few of them together to support a full process. If used in isolation, a Social Business will end up creating silos, not what we need – not very Social. Since I am also charged with presenting in between Dharmesh Shah (Hubspot) and Umberto Milletti (InsideView), I took the approach of putting specific Use Cases together to build the process:

The Business Process/Objective: Increasing the size of the ecosystem by creating buyers

Attributes of the Business Process: Listening, Engaging, Information, Transparency, Trust, Value

Use Cases Used: Social Customer Insights (F1), Social Sales Insights (S1) and Rapid Social Sales Response (S2)

Is this perfect? – not even close. Are there other Use Cases which should be enabled here, probably. Should there be a series of conditions, dependencies and ‘what-ifs’. That depends – No blog, book or article will be able to define a strategy, your strategy. You know your business. You know your customer or do you?

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Social CRM is a Journey, not a Destination – Revisited

March 8, 2010 1 comment

I wrote the following in September 2009 – 6 months ago.  But, I could have easily written it yesterday, and it would not be too different:

“There has been a tremendous amount great conversation during the past couple weeks, regarding Social CRM. What it is as well as what it is not. I am not sure we have reached any conclusions yet, but we have all become smarter for the insights of a great many individuals. Interestingly, I am usually a bit opinionated, but I sat on the sidelines, just observing – for the most part.

As my title suggests, I do believe that we are all (customers, businesses, implementers and vendors) on a journey.  As a group, we are working (struggling) to compartmentalize, as that seems to be human nature. We are treating the landscape as binary, you either have it, or you don’t.  You will get there, or you will not. The economy is evolving, business is evolving, customers’ needs are evolving. So as all the components go through this evolution, yet, we are suggesting this needs to be a revolution, why? Very few of us subscribe to waterfall development methodology, therefore, we should be able to iterate through this as well, no?

The difference, among my peers, who are having the conversation, do not seem to be as much about where we are going (ok, first chance for a comment), rather how we get there. We all want very similar things. As Graham reminded us all today, in quoting Peter Drucker on his post (which is a must read). The end game is already defined for us.”

I tend to get a little philosophical at times – why, I am not sure, but it happens quite often, I am afraid. Mostly, because my purpose in writing is to solidify my own thoughts. In my previous post, I went on to say:

“If Social CRM is the destination, then what is the vehicle to get us there? Is it strategy, or technology? Answer: It is both. It is the proper introduction and combination of technology, in support of the evolving processes, created by the empowered customer. Like the business trips we all take – trains, planes and automobiles – each client requires a slightly different itinerary. Exactly, each client requires a slightly different approach.”

I have a lot of great comments from the previous post, by some great folks who have pushed my thinking further than I could have ever hoped. To start, friend Mike Boysen made the following observation (Last September) “Why are there Social CRM software solutions on the market if we do not know what it is” That is a very important question to be answered, and I am not sure how much further along we are, frankly.

As many have noted, we run the risk of Social CRM being dominated by the vendors (full disclosure, I am one). We also run the risk of having the same failures we did with CRM, but I think the chances of that are smaller. Kathy Hermann pointed out (last September) “I don’t think we’ll ever reach a final SCRM destination nor should we expect to…because of the diversity of the social media field of opportunities.”  This is also an important point, by putting Social on the front of CRM, the static nature of reporting transactions has changed to understanding where customers are talking, what they are saying, and where they are saying it – this last one (where) is dynamic and will keep us all on our toes!

Through the journey (personal and professional), there have been a tremendous number of great posts, papers, and exploratory ideas. Without a doubt it is a journey, spattered with some self reflection as well.  So, with all the posts, conversations and thoughts, are we any closer to the destination? Or as Kathy points out above, do we need to worry about the destination at all, and we should be focused on helping customers get their jobs done?

I wrote in November, “Social Just is…” This was right after friend Graham Hill released his Manifesto for Social Business.  At the time, I was thinking along the lines of the Social Customer – I summarized with the following:

“The key message here is to be cautious, all too often the “gurus” and “experts” pretend to be King, as did the the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Challenge the gurus with the Social Media strategies, not just to challenge, but to ask them how they did it. How many times have they done it, if they have done it. These experts need to have a solid grounding in Marketing, and Media (not necessarily ‘Social’) first.

The current hype cycle that is Social (Media and by extension Networking) is very much about creating that feeling of closeness (emotions) and changing behaviors, between your organization and your customers. Make no mistake, while there is some hype, there is a new bar, and expectations have been set and reset.“

My point in revisiting this is because there is a wave of Buzz surrounding Social CRM at the moment, and the journey has just become quite interesting.  The smart folks over at Altimeter  have just released  the 18 Social CRM Use Cases report, which is an important read. This is great work, but also keep in mind the other really great posts and ‘road maps’ if you will. For Example Esteban Kolsky’s SCRM roadmap post and Brian Vellmure’s 5 Stages of Customer Acquisition. These (among other works) are a tremendous value add to the thinking within the space. It is up to us to turn these ideas and concepts into customer focused actions.

But, it is important to remind everyone that the Customers jobs come first, and the focus needs to remain on the relationships with the Customer – as defined by the customer, not us. As Wim Rampen states in his great post from earlier this year:

“Because a Customer does not value a relationship with the company, but mostly values the outcome generated from the experience of using your product or service, it should not be difficult to understand that Customers value knowledge or information on how to improve that outcome, over relationships (with the company).”

I have said it quite often within my talks, blogs and participatory comments of all kinds – There is no one size fits all here.  I do not believe that there are best practices to carried from organization to another – except, keep you customer in mind in everything you do. There are best approaches, and ways to think, but social may just be the new differentiator – thus it is different from place to place. Not a differentiator in technology, but in your approach to your ecosystem.

Best of luck on your Journey, god speed!

Is a Business Culture Change required to find value in Social?

March 5, 2010 9 comments

I wanted to get out a quick post based on some great experiences this week. The interactions were on many different channels; Twitter, Email, Skype, Phone, Face-to-face, Groups, Blogs…all of which make for great engagement, learning and productivity. Or, with so many channels to watch, does productivity take a hit? My approach to work has changed, a lot, especially during the past year. That drives the question is will everyone be as willing to make the changes they need to, in order to bring your business into the future?

A strong influence on my thinking this week came from two sources. One was a very simple tweet by @designthinkers (Arne van Oosterom) where he said simply “Change is synonymous to future”. A very insightful 5 word tweet. My response was “then why do people look forward to the future, but hate change”? I am far from a student in philosophy, I could easily get myself in over my head quite fast. This was my lead-in to the IDC Directions conference in Boston yesterday. Thinking on this topic during my quick jaunt from Vermont to Boston. The conference was very good, and for those of you on the west coast, you can go the 2.0 version next week.

The subject that interested me the most (and the second major influence) was the Social Business track hosted by Michael Fauscette (@mfauscette) and his team from IDC.  Michael’s talk was a fluid, well presented session on Social Business – or more appropriately how to get there. One running theme throughout his talk regarded the platform – no, not technology, the people. Another running theme was about culture, the culture required to enable a Social Business (a topic that will come up at SugarCon as well). Since ‘people are the platform’ does represent a change and will be required to move us into the future, how do we enable this change, without disruption? Or, as little disruption as possible.

I should be able to quickly bring these two thoughts together

For the most part, people do like looking to the future (no, not all people all the time) but, there may be a bit of hesitation. The reason; because moving forward often requires change, and very few people really look forward to change. As Arne correctly (my opinion) pointed out to me, there is the paradox. If change equates to the future, but people like one, but not the other, where does that leave us? When you say “change” or “change management” alarm bells, defense mechanisms and barriers get thrown up quickly. However, in order for people to accept Social Business or Social CRM, there is going to need to be a change in the culture within an organization – the whole organization, not just sales, or support. Without a change, then it will simply become about technology and we will repeat mistakes we have made before.

How do you help people get past the hesitation?

The answer is simple, really. Make your teams, your people, your platform part of the process – and talk about the future, not change. If you listen to your teams, they will in turn become better listeners. People are social, they want to share, then they will lead the charge. Break down silos, enable, reward and promote people being social. Why, because they know your customers and it the right thing to do. Being Social is a state of mind and culture, it is not about technology. Focus on establishing value for all the constituents of your ecosystem, and then things will really come together.



The Social Business Engine (part 2 of n) – Value

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I should have known better than to specify exactly what I would cover in part 2 (Here is Part 1) – but in my own defense, I did mention something about this being a journey. I do promise to circle back to the role of sales really soon – to be very direct, the exact role of the sales person, in a model where we are working to create buyers, not sell (see, I told you) is going to take some more thought.

You never know exactly when you will hear something important

Interspersed between client visits, business dinners and a visit with my Mom, good friends seemed to have found some very interesting articles which really helped to solidify my thoughts in a few areas.  Of course, thrown into the mix is Michael Krigsman’s interview with Paul Greenberg (an excellent, must read/listen). Finally, a great dinner conversation with Josh Weinberger in NYC in which topics on CRM from 1999 through 2010 all seemed fair game.

Other than filling you in a bit on my comings and goings, what exactly is my point? Your peers, social networks and your CUSTOMERS are always talking. Information, valuable tidbits will appear at any time. While it is nearly impossible to listen to everything, all the time, you should be prepared to act on information when it becomes available. So, as I continue down this path, remember that one of the most difficult tasks is figuring out exactly what your customers want – listen as much as possible. The objective is not only listen to what they say they want, but what they determine to be valuable. This is a subtle difference.

It is about value, it always has been

All Businesses must be in touch with their market, their customers and it is still about product after all. If the value (not yours, the value perceived by the customer) is not there game over. You can have the most finely tuned Social Business in the world, but it will not make up for bad product.  While the world has changed a lot – somethings have not – customers do want value.

This is easier said than done. In a recent Harvard Business Review Blog, Mark Johnson answers the following question “Why would someone want to buy something from you?”  (He answers a few other questions as well). The answer given is:

To answer the … question, you need to construct a customer value proposition (CVP) — not by trying to convince customers of the value of your products but the other way around, by identifying an important job a customer needs to get done and then proposing an offering that fulfills that job better than any alternative the customer can turn to.

I wanted to dig a little deeper, so I went to the 2008 article referenced by Johnson.

The most important attribute of a customer value proposition is its precision: how perfectly it nails the customer job to be done—and nothing else. But such precision is often the most difficult thing to achieve. Companies trying to create the new often neglect to focus on one job; they dilute their efforts by attempting to do lots of things. In doing lots of things, they do nothing really well.

Now comes the hard part

There are two very important points made here, and if you are listening (not to me to your customers) then you will be able to meet the challenge – understand what your customers really want, so you can provide it. For one, stop selling and focus your efforts to create buyers. Do not try to put everything into one product and satisfy everyone at the same time. It is not the company value proposition, nor the product value proposition, it is the customer value proposition.

Michael listed a few “Practical Steps” you can use in working to engage your customers (blog reference above).

Listen to your customers’ voice directly from their actual larynx, rather than to the opinions rolling around in your head. For example, build a customer advisory committee and ask exactly what they want and think.

Participate in their communities to find out who they are, what they want, and learn how they can also provide value to you. A company can engage this way with only one or two smart people. It’s not heavy lifting.

So, there is something new. While it might have been said before, or talked about, somehow it seems new. We have heard that we need to Listen. Then we were told we needed to Engage, one way broadcasting became two way communications. Participation – that is interesting. Is there a difference between Engaging and Participating? Something to think about.

Is B2B the new B2C

January 7, 2010 6 comments

A friend asked an innocent question on Twitter a while back. “Who has a good B2B iPhone app? Anyone?”. In typical fashion, I Tweeted, then thought (the reverse order is usually recommended). My response “The actual phone part, where I dial and talk, best B2B part of the iPhone! ” This is probably not what she had in mind, hope I did not offend; though it did get me thinking. B2B, or B2C, that is the question. What is the difference?

I put my thoughts away for a while, thinking that I was just not getting to where I wanted it to be. Then this post appeared this morning. The context is that some brands express concerns about using Social Media. There was one section which caught my eye, related to the topic at hand:

There is no difference between B2B and B2C – This one drives me crazy.  What is the difference between B2B efforts and B2C efforts?  Nothing other than the target and the message.  We are all consumers at some point in the day unless you are that famous young cult hero thief, Colton Harris, living in the woods.   The person you are trying to influence to buy is a person and a consumer.  The only thing that needs to change in your efforts is your message not the platform.  Again, quality messages lead to quality fans/followers/friends/connections, all of whom can help you to build you(r) Influence Stream.

I commented and suggested that there are few nuances, and that Social Media is a platform, with many channels. Funny, they have the same conversations as we do in CRM – but I digress. Getting past that, there are some great points here, worth exploring. Has the Social Individual, whether it is for business, or personal become the Social Customer – period!

If you put this in the context of one of those selling seminars we have all taken at one time or another, some interesting things pop out. As a buyer, people are more likely to trust someone who they feel is an ‘expert’ – oh and someone they know. In the eyes of the buyer, the seller must display professionalism, an understanding of the need, empathy. Finally, the seller needs to understand what is in it for them, the buyer, personally. OK, am I talking about a personal consumer, or a business consumer? Does it matter?

Even (Especially?) in a Business to Business environment, there is a significant emotional component to the sale. Do not take my word for it, there are many others smarter than me saying so. So, if you combine that with my post – Social Just Is – what do you end up with? People buying from people – people who are like them, have similar values and people they trust. The emotions might be different, but so what?

OK – so that is a bit of sales, not really touching on CRM. One of the best posts recently on the topic of Social ‘this and that’ (CRM, Business, Media) is by Esteban Kolsky. I am not sure if Esteban intended this or not, but a wonderful part of the post is what is not there; is it meant for a Business to Business audience or a Business to Consumer audience? He does not specify – because he does not need to specify. The lines are blurred.

So, such is life in the age of things move really really fast. As I was preparing to simply post this, a mostly stream of consciousness set of connected thoughts, Graham Hill, a person I have the utmost respect for posted a comment on my Posterous Blog Feel free to take a look (last comment), but my take is that the relationship side of B2B versus B2C is most definitely not the same. Will have to explore that one later.

Back to a quick conclusion: Sure, your strategy needs to consider what you actually sell. Assess what channel makes the most sense, I know that. But the end-game is the same in the decision on strategy.  What are your thoughts? Where else has the consumer market had a significant impact on business purchases and how is Social ‘this and that’ a part of it?

Do the pundits practice what they preach?

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

I am not a Social Media Guru nor an expert in Social Engagement. That said, I do spend a fair amount of time working through the issues related to these topics, as they relate to Customer Relationship Management. In a sense, I am a customer of the many folks who are more knowledgeable in Social Media, and Engagement. Learning, so I can bridge the gap. I guess you could say I am an unsatisfied customer. So, I figured I would put the shoe on the other foot, and blog about it!

I find it curious that the very people who are constantly talking to us, telling us to engage are not practicing what they preach. This is of course not true of everyone, and I would be remiss in not pointing out those who have day jobs, many many followers yet somehow manage to engage. The ones I am not happy with, seem rather full of themselves, using Twitter as a bullhorn, not a conversation tool (“look at me, read my blog”). I am not talking about the spammers, nor the ‘follow me and make $10M’ folks. I am talking about the ones who talk about engagement, yet forget to practice it.

It Can Be Done!

My favorite answer to the fabled “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Is: “To prove to squirrels and skunks it can be done” So, with that in mind,  I would prefer to share those that are truly impressive and engaging, first, to prove to the others that – It can be done!

Anne Handley – @MarketingProfs – I met Anne once (face-to-face, the old fashioned way), at a Tweetup in little ole Burlington, Vermont – Very gracious, smart and a offers a whole lot of value, in her own writing and those that she suggests. Every once in a while I will reply to Anne, ask a quick question – Anne responds, engages, asks me what I think. Wow, impressive – really! with 50k people following I am honestly impressed.

Jeremiah Owyang – @jowyang – I have never had the pleasure of meeting Jeremiah. But he puts out some really great content. Oh, and he responds, willing to admit when he is not 100% correct (he is usually close though!). He engages and practices what he preaches, open and transparent – again impressive.  He responds to comments on his blog posts as well, all this takes time, but Jeremiah engages – again, over 50k.

There are certainly others, lots for sure. Please feel free to point out the ones who you think do it right – please, they deserve it! I have debated whether or not to call people out by name who are not as engaging, actually, not even close to engaging.

In the end, it is far more important to recognize those whom I believe do it right, than to call out those that do not. Those that do not, you are starting to act a little like spammers. Before you say “it is hard I have 25k follows I cannot respond”, take a look at the two examples above. You might recognize yourself here, then I have done some good, Until then, you have lost serious Whuffie in my book…

Funny thing is this was started by a Tweet, which I responded to and never heard back on, oh well. Am I wrong? Let me know your thoughts.

Categories: Social CRM, Social Media Tags: , ,

Social Just is…

November 16, 2009 5 comments

Simply put, it is in our DNA to be social. We like sharing, engaging and having fun, cocktail parties, backyard Bar-B-ques, name your favorite. When something good happens, we want to tell the world, when something bad, we need a shoulder to lean on. We want to be heard, on our terms, in our voice. However, Social does not equate to group, it is more than that.

The Social Individual

We have been doing this for a very long time. Up until very recently, we only did this face to face, one on one and in small groups. We then we scattered; moved away from friends, moved away from family and it was/is a bit traumatic. We worked to fill the void, we needed the social part. We wrote letters, then we used the phone; good not great. Then the Internet happened,  email, chat, AOL, we were stuck behind our computers, 9600 baud and still struggling, getting closer… Then Web 2.0 happened, along with increased bandwidth, FaceBook, YouTube, Twitter and everything became clear, or did it?

We are substituting technology for proximity. However, there is simply nothing like being there, sorry, it just is. A handshake, eye contact, body language and tone cannot be replaced, no matter how hard we try. It all begs the question, how close can technology get us?  Answer: It is a asymptotic relationship, we will progress, but there is a ceiling and we will never get there (Not until you can say, “beam me up Scotty”). To some, the direction we are headed is not quite correct.

Enter the Social Customer

Individually-empowered customers are the ultimate greenfield for business and culture. Starting with the social keeps us from working on empowering individuals natively. That most of the social action is in silos and pipes of hot and/or giant companies slows things down even more. They may look impressive now, but they are a drag on the future.  Doc Searls

Somehow in the Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 transition we moved from one on one interactions to a focus on many to many. Parts of the switch are good, but some need to work themselves out. Friend and colleague, Graham Hill, makes the following statement (In his Manifesto for Social Business).

No.1 From Individual Customers…to Networks of Customers

The emphasis for business today is still on managing customers as individuals. But we have evolved as social animals with highly developed and highly influential social networks. For example, research by Christakis & Fowler suggests that we are highly influenced by three degrees of influence – friends, friends’ friends and friends’ friends’ friends. It’s not about ‘influencers’ per se, but the social networks in which influence happens. If we are to be successful in Social Business we must recognise the power of customers’ social networks to shape customers’ behaviour.

At first, these statements, made by very smart individuals, seem to contradict each other. But, read deeper, there is something more valuable here, from my perspective. While we struggle to manage the individual customer (we may or may not succeed), we must recognize the customer as an individual and empower them in everything we do, from strategy to design and then finally in execution – fostering the individual within the crowd, that sounds hard.

How can you empower the Social Customer?

The first step is to assemble your team – first empower yourself!. I am a big fan of Friendsourcing; Crowdsourcing focused on people you know and trust. I highly recommend this approach. In other words, this is complicated stuff, and no one person has all the answers, sorry, it just is… Friendsourcing can be accomplished either by leveraging your own personal network (friends) or by reputation (friends of friends). We are in fast moving, fast changing times, and sometimes it is just too easy to believe the hype about that shiny new object. My peers should certainly expect this to appear here, ‘there is no one size fits all answer to these questions’. You can only answer the crucial questions: ‘How’, ‘What’, ‘Where’ and ‘When’, with a combination of a deep understanding of your business, your value proposition, dedication to your customers and a better knowledge of your industry than anyone else. Fill-in the gaps appropriately, with people you trust.

I am leveraging people I trust, all the time. For example Esteban Kolsky is busy writing a 5 part series on the Roadmap to SCRM (Social CRM), which I highly recommend. Like Graham, Esteban is a friend and a trusted advisor. The following is taken from part 4 of his series.

Remember when you read those “social media experts” and “social gurus” telling you to just try it? that if you start listening you will be ahead of the game?  I know you know this already, but they are way wrong.  Way wrong.  Just listening without a purpose can hurt more than it can help.  Biggest problem is that once you are committed to a channel (listening) it is very easy to get in, but extremely hard to get out.  You can lose reputation, trust, customers, and business if you pull out of a channel because you never took the time to figure out if it was the right one for you.

The key message here is to be cautious, all too often the “gurus” and “experts” pretend to be King, as did the the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Challenge the gurus with the Social Media strategies, not just to challenge, but to ask them how they did it. How many times have they done it, if they have done it. These experts need to have a solid grounding in Marketing, and Media (not necessarily ‘Social’) first.

The current hype cycle that is Social (Media and by extension Networking) is very much about creating that feeling of closeness (emotions) and changing behaviors, between your organization and your customers. Make no mistake, while there is some hype, there is a new bar, and expectations have been set and reset.

Your customers are building their trust networks, I have my trusted advisors, who are yours? No need to make the journey solo, after all, we are all Social, we just are….