Four years as a member of Ecademy

June 5, 2008

I’ve been a member of Ecademy.com (a social network for business people) for four years now.  I’m still a newbie in many respects, because some members have been on the site for ten years.  I’ve ‘met’ 2928 people on Ecademy and continue to connect with people most days.  Last night for example, I had a beer with Richard Derwent Cooke – someone who I’d not met before but whose Blogs are good reading.  He’s an expert on managing change in large corporates and he made great company.

So what have I noticed about Ecademy in those four years?

For starters, it reflects real life. That might sound like an obvious thing to say, but there is a perception that because Ecademy is an online community it is somehow different from real life. But increasingly it is real life – particulary for the increasing numbers of people who have the Internet integrated into the fabric of their daily lives. Unfortunately for many larger organisations, they just don’t realise this yet.

Only the day before I was talking to a major (global) high street brand about integrating Social Media into their marketing and communications mix. The meeting was in London, and a senior manager responsible for ‘customer experience’ had come over from Bristol. After listening carefully and politely to my presentation he said:

“I hear what you’re saying…” (You know what’s coming next)

“…but this is something we just don’t do.”

I mentioned that his customers do – every day.

“No they don’t” he responded.

“How do you know they don’t?” I asked

“They just don’t… (pause) do they?”

A live demonstration of Ecademy proved that they do indeed. Four years on Ecademy has shown that whilst there are more and more members joining from the corporate world, this new way of interacting and engaging with their customers is still very alien to them. They will need their hands holding for a while yet until they understand what ‘customer experience’ is all about in the modern world.

Then it occured to me that every supplier to my business is from Ecademy. Even the person who’s supplying our hens is now thinking of joining wink

The idea that you might choose a supplier simply based on their profile, recommendations and testimonials – and without even meeting them would seem daft just a few years ago – but I suspect it happens all the time now.

Four years on Ecademy has shown that the platform itself, and the increasing number of other social networking tools now available adds a lot of value to the lives of thousands of people. It’s clear that different people are using Ecademy for different reasons, and often one person dislikes the way other people use it.

I for one enjoy the richness that this brings, and don’t mind if some people use Ecademy solely to attract Google. I don’t mind if some people use it to blatantly sell their products and I don’t mind if some people use it to enhance the perception of their expertise and credibility. It’s real life – just online.

We all have our own views on how Ecademy should be used, but there’s no doubt that the people who work hard to add value appear to be well thought of. For those people who do use Ecademy just to blatantly sell their products – good luck to you. But a key message has to be that the more you try to sell – the less you’ll actually sell. And anyway – there’s a place for that – Marketplace. But either way – you’re welcome.

What of the future?

Ecademy will continue to grow. Members will come and some will go. Some will join in and some will lurk. One thing’s for sure – there will be fun, arguments and business to write – just like in ‘real life’. The only option is to enjoy it.

But whatever the shape of online social networking in (say) 2020, and whatever the latest toy is – it will still be all about people.

People buy people. Never forget it.

Phil


Social Media Marketing – Does it work? You bet it does

January 15, 2008

With Thomas Power’s timely Blog today about Marketers waking up to Social Networks, it’s reassuring and exciting to announce that a project I’ve been working on to help a client use a Social Network (i.e. Ecademy) as a marketing and client engagement tool has been recognised with a nomination at a major awards ceremony for the Recruitment world.

Ian Partington – Managing Director of the online Sales recruitment site SimplySalesJobs.co.uk, read Power’s article in New Media Age about how Brands can use Social Networks as part of their communication mix.  Ian and I discussed the different ways that he could use Ecademy to add value to his existing customers whilst simultaneously attracting new ones.

So in June last year we set up the Simply Sales Club on Ecademy, and we have just heard that it has been nominated for Most Innovative Online Marketing at the OnRec Awards at the Café Royal on 5th March – the leading awards ceremony for the online recruitment industry (Onrec.com being the main supplier of global online recruitment news and comment).

In its own small way, this is an important step forward for marketers looking to engage with customers and prospects through Social Networks as we’ve shown that the model can really work.  And guess what?  The Simply Sales Club is growing at around 300 members per week and is one of the largest clubs on Ecademy – a fact not lost on its sponsors who now have a powerful and compelling new medium to offer to it’s advertisers.

So everyone wins:

SimplySalesJobs.co.uk have a vehicle to add value to their customers
SimplySalesJobs.co.uk attract new customers by adding value within Ecademy
Ecademy members get value through an exciting new club
Ecademy gets 300 new members per week
Calvert New Media gets paid to create and run their club
Ecademy members who have products and services for Sales people have a new place to promote themselves
Ecademy, Philip Calvert and SimplySalesJobs.co.uk all get publicity for the award nomination
SimplySalesJobs.co.uk discover a new income stream by selling advertising in the club

Social Media Marketing – sounds like a good idea to me.

Phil


Learn how to use social networks as part of your professional development

November 29, 2007

I mentioned a few weeks ago that social media is proving to be a powerful tool to help you to raise the profile of your seminars, workshops and courses.  Well it seems that it is much more powerful than I originally thought.

In fact, once you’ve found your way around online networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Ecademy, Xing, MySpace and others, you’ll discover a very clever secret about them.  In fact it virtually guarantees that I get a full house at my own seminars – and as a result my ‘Seminar on Seminars’ on 1st February 2008 is now sold out. Like the other Seminars on Seminars before them, this one has also sold out more than two months in advance.

Every week I meet a lot of people who tell me that they’re members of (say) Ecademy, but haven’t yet got ‘stuck in’.  As a result they are wondering why they joined in the first place!  As a marketing coach and someone who’s a member of over 20 social networks, I would strongly recommend that you do get stuck in – because they are powerful tools to help you in your business.  And increasingly they are including office functionality specifically designed to help you in your day-to-day work – and are not just a place to ‘lark about’ (as one business person described Facebook to me recently). 

Make the effort to put time aside to look closely at the functionality of these networks – consider it as part of your professional development.  Yes – take it that seriously.

If seminars and workshops have a part to play in your business – now or in the future – and you would like to learn powerful and proven techniques to get profitable bums on seats at your events, courses and workshops, contact me soon because at the next Seminar on Seminars I’ll reveal exactly how I use social networks to pack-out my events… so that you can too.

Click here.

Phil