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Interview: "Social Business = Creating a smarter workforce & a proven solution to business challenges"

One-on-one interview with Ed Brill

Ed Brill is Director, Social Business and Collaboration Solutions, at IBM. Brill is responsible for the product and market strategy for IBM’s messaging, collaboration, communications, and productivity products, including Lotus Notes and Domino, IBM SmartCloud Notes, IBM Sametime, Lotus Symphony, IBM Docs, and other related social business solutions. Brill’s focus is on extending and growing the success of these solutions through customer engagement, partner ecosystem development, and harnessing the breadth and depth of the IBM organization.

The Strategy Web spoke with him about the relevance and future of Social Business.

Why is Social Business not only a buzzword?

Leaders in every industry are leveraging Social Business technology to disrupt their industries and create competitive advantage. They are improving productivity and unleashing innovation by tapping into the collective intelligence inside and outside their organizations. With social, they’re creating a smarter workforce and proving that social business isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a proven solution to business challenges.

According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016. According to IBM’s CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years.

What does it take to make a business “social”?

Organizations have quickly learned that a Social Business is more than just having a Facebook page and a Twitter account. In a Social Business, every department in the organization has embedded social capabilities into their traditional business processes to fundamentally impact how work gets done to create business value. A Social Business utilizes social software technology to communicate with its rich ecosystem of clients, business partners and employees.

Social business is a strategic approach to shaping a business culture, highly dependent upon transparency and trust from executive leadership and corporate strategy, including business process design, risk management, leadership development, financial controls and use of business analytics. Becoming a Social Business can help an organization deepen customer relationships, generate new ideas and innovate faster, identify expertise, enable a more effective workforce and ultimately drive its bottom line.

What does it mean to change the culture of a company?

Changing an organizations culture to embrace social must start from the top. Senior leadership must buy in and promote a culture of sharing, transparency and trust. Recent studies by IBM see this shift, today’s C-Suite recognizes the potential of social. Consider this, according to IBM’s 2012 CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years. Similarly. IBM’s 2011 CIO Survey of 3,000 global leaders indicated that more than 55% of companies identified social networking as having a strategic significance to their company’s growth. And finally, 2011 IBM CMO Study reports that CMOs are using social platforms to communicate with their customers, 56 percent view it as a key communication channel. These senior leaders are the key to social business adoption and there’s a real shift occurring, social business is now a business imperative.

What role is the flexible workspace playing in the process?

Companies are able to build virtual teams out of expertise and leadership, regardless of their physical location or title on the organization chart. Today’s workforce expects to be able to share, post, update and communicate with colleagues, customers, and ecosystem using social tools to get real work done. Through those tools, employees who work remotely, use flexible “hot desks” in company offices, or open floorplans can leverage tools for instant e-meetings, video and audio tools, and embedded applications to process knowledge and activities faster and deliver more value to the organization.

What’s your advice for companies to become a “social business”?

Companies around the world are now focused on becoming Social Businesses, Forrester Research estimates that the market opportunity for social software is expected to increase 60% annually. But perhaps the most daunting part of becoming a social business is how to start the journey. That’s where creating a Social Business Agenda plays a vital role. In order to become successful in social business, an organization needs to create its own personalized Agenda that addresses the company’s culture, trust
between management and employees and the organization and its constituencies, engagement behind and outside of the firewall, risk management, and of course, measurement. The sponsorship for such an activity can be driven by leadership, lines of business, or other organizational catalyst roles.

Tuesday generates highest engagement for social campaigns

Did you not ever want to know what the best day for a Social Media marketing campaign could be? Well, you can get some good indication with the following study…

Many Facebook campaigns go live on Fridays. However, the day that generates most user engagement for a campaign on the social network is the Tuesday, which ranked only fourth in terms of the number campaigns conducted. These are some of the findings of a recent study done by Yesmail Interactive. The results are based on a three-month study of consumer engagement with online campaigns for 20 major retails brands, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, or Ralph Lauren among others.

The study with the title “Using Digital Market Intelligence to Drive Multi–Channel Success” figured out the customer engagement of campaigns on the most popular social networks. In order to understand campaign engagement, it compared the relationship between “volume-based engagement” of Facebook campaigns (number of “likes” or comments a campaign generates) and “actual engagement analysis”. The finding is quite obvious, in that the lower the brand “likes”, the fewer likes and comments a brand on Facebook gets. Still, independent of the size of their fan base, some retail brands generate higher engagement levels than others through Facebook. Nevertheless, average-performing brands still performed as engagement winners, including i.e. Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer or Kenneth Cole. 

Although, we have already reported that a balanced frequency in posting status updates is important for the success of a Facebook campaign, there is no blueprint and guarantee for success. The most engaging brands had deployed between 20 and 32 campaigns per month. Compared to the five least engaging brands with 54 campaigns per month, it becomes obvious that posting less frequently is better. From a timing perspective, the best Facebook engagement was generated for campaigns launching between 10 pm and 12 am Eastern time (EST) which was also the least-used deployment time slot.

For Twitter, the research showed that most Twitter campaigns (20%) were conducted on Friday, which again is the least engaging day for such campaigns. Almost on the same engagement level performed Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as those most engaging campaign days. Over 84% of all Twitter campaigns were deployed within regular work hours (between 9am and 7pm EST).

The performance of the 20 retail brands on Twitter showed big differences. Although Forever 21 came in first in terms of follower base, the brand’s campaigns showed significantly lower engagement among followers than the campaigns of brands with smaller follower bases.

The five most engaging brands did 45 to 70 Twitter campaigns per month on Twitter versus the five least engaging brands with an average number between 95 and 115 Twitter campaigns per month. It shows again that lower frequency is better than big blast promotions. If marketers want to generate high engagement, they should place their campaigns between 5 am to 6 am and 7 am to 8 am EST.

In terms of YouTube campaigns, the study found that 85% of the brands studied have a YouTube channel. Still, just 35% deployed campaigns during the research period. Some more findings indicate that on average, retailers conducted 3.5 campaigns per month during the study. The best day for interaction occurred to be Monday. Do we have to mention that this was the least likely day for campaign deployment? YouTube campaigns deployed between 2 am-3 am EST found the highest engagement rates.

The study is based on campaigns conducted from January to March, 2012 via Yesmail Market Intelligence. The selection of brands focusses on 18-35 year-olds as of their digital communication interest.

Study shows: Customers are social, Brands not…!

The IT company IBM were the first to make brands aware of the perception gap between what customers want from brands on Social Media, and what companies see as necessary. Some new studies from the Chief Marketing Officer Council and Lithium make clear that this perception gap widens.

What customers want…
The CMO Council asked 1,300 customers from around the world in a multiple-choice study. They discovered that 67% followed or liked brands to receive discounts and special offers. 65% replied that they connected with brands in order to get access to games or competitions while 60% want to connect with other customers.

What brands see…
The astonishing fact is that when the same survey was held with 120 CMOs (chief marketing officer), the results showed similar figures with the IBM study: Only 33% of the CMOs believed that their Social Media fans and followers were engaging with the brand for some kind of incentive or reward. Even more, just 27% understood that their customers were after exclusivity in terms of experience and savings.

Spot On!
Social Media is not a top three priority for one in ten CMOs. The reason is not changing for years probably. 67% said a lack of time and resources makes up for their poor efforts. This is even more amazing when we consider that 72% of the customers use Social Media to connect with brands. AND: 80% are more likely to try a product based on a friend’s recommendation on Social Media, which probably means a Social Network. There is no explanation that could make sense for this Social Media ROI (=Risk of Ignorance).

PS: This little infographic illustrates the digital divide between customers and brands.

Studies: The internet is more important than water…?!

Can we access the internet if we have nothing to drink anymore, if our water is poluted? No, we can not! Sometimes, adults should ask themselves about, and quickly start to re-think, the values that they hand over to our kids. I am happy to have spoken with mine about this topic last year around the Blog Action Day 2010

Some weeks ago, I have written about a UK study from the London Science Museum made clear that UK people rather prefer to have sunshine and internet connection than clean water. Now, Cisco comes up with a similar study.

The Cisco study states that one in three college students and young professionals consider the Internet to be as important as fundamental human resources such as air, water, food and shelter. The study is based on the second annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report. It examines the relationship between human behaviour, the Internet and networking’s pervasiveness across 14 countries in the world (United States, Canada Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Russia, India, China, Japan, Australia).

Mahesh Gupta, Vice-President, Business-Borderless Networks, Cisco (India and SAARC), said in a teleconference on Thursday that about 33% across the globe and 95% Indian college students and young employees admitted that Internet was as important in their lives as water, food, air and shelter. The internet has become a crucial important thing in peoples’ lives. More than half of the respondents (62% of employees and 55% of college students) said they could not live without the Internet. They see it as an “integral part of their lives”.

From a face-to-face social perspective, it is also quite amazing to see that people had indicated that Internet was more important to them than meeting with friends, dating, or listening to music. Like in the UK study, updating Facebook seems to be of the highest priority – higher than socializing. Gupta stated that within certain countries 91% of college students and 88% of employees globally had Facebook account and check it on a daily basis at least once. Furthermore, seven of 10 employees have “friended” their managers and coworkers on Facebook, and 68% follow their manager or their work colleagues on Twitter.

From a hardware point of view, mobiles rank highest as their important technology device, as high as being “the most important technology”. Two-thirds of students and 58% of employees felt that a mobile device (laptop, smartphone or tablets) was the most important technology hardware in their lives. Young employees in the UK (74%), India (71%) and Australia (66%) ranked highest when it comes to the importance of mobiles devices.

Spot On!
The study also shows some trends that other industries should watch out for. When two of five students have not bought a physical book (except textbooks) in two years, this is a clear message to the print industry. And when 2 out of 3 choose Internet connection over cars, the it becomes clear why concepts like BMW Drive Now and Smart Car2Go become popular. However, the new trends also need to be watched from a distraction point of view when being online.

Let’s hope they don’t forget to drink some water…

News Update – Best of the Day

Although the mobile hype is massive, there are studies that question the power of smartphone mobile advertising and it’s efficiency. A new research from YouGov shows consumers accept placements as part of their day-to-day mobile experience but consider them intrusive (79%) and tend to ignore them altogether. Only 5% think mobile ads are a good idea and welcome them. However, the general apathy smartphone users have toward seems to equal ignorance: 88% ignore ads on applications and 86% have ignored placements on the mobile internet.

The security company Imperva released a study that states “web applications, on average, experience twenty seven attacks per hour, or roughly one attack every two minutes.” Imperva monitored 10 million attacks between December of last year and May of this year “targeting 30 different enterprise and government web applications.” Of the 27 attacks per hour most of them are trying to identify vulnerabilities on websites. If a vulnerability is found, attacks can increase to 25,000 per hour which would be seven attacks per second.

What is the future of Twitter? During a keynote interview at Fortune BrainstormTech in Aspen, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo gave insights in his vision of the company’s business model.

PS: Just in case you ask why Twitter is cool, Steven Winterburn has got the answer: “”Twitter is like a fridge. If you’re bored you keep opening & closing it every few minutes to see if there’s anything good in it.”

Social Media Evolution at EMC (Video)

Many companies have started showing case studies, infographics, or videos to present their latest Social Media activities. Now, EMC comes up with a great video that explains nicely how the copany leverages the power of the social web.

In a “comic-style” video a Neanderthal man (what a nice metaphor) explains how Social Media has changed the way EMC engages with its audiences, how it helps to strengthen their relationships with customers and partners, and the public. However great all their success might be, they also highlight the responsibility which comes along with the Social Web engagement.

The EMCCorp YouTube channel states that the “brief training video is designed to communicate the key points of proper social engagement while not losing sight of the ‘fun’ side of Social Media”.

I remember a social media training day I have given their marketing team about one year ago and how much they liked the power of virals I have shown them. Don’t know if this can be connected to the training, but I have to ask… Isn’t this a nice way to illustrate the social media evolution in the business arena? Well done, EMC!

PS: Some bits and pieces in the video could be discussed from a social media strategic perspective as I would not always agree with them…

What happens in 60 seconds on the Social Web? A comparison and the value of "infographics"…

There are different ways to illustrate how fast the Social Web is growing these days. For two years my favorite “real-time” resource -based on studies and research data- was Gary Hayes Social Media Count. And I am sure, you have all seen this great little widget already…

However, we also have to keep up with the pace and realize that -although people already hate them- infographics are sometimes a nice way to grab facts quick and easy. The Shanghai Web Designers created an infographic which illustrates how fast conversations, comments and content are produced on social networking and online platforms in only 60 seconds.

60 Seconds - Things That Happen On Internet Every Sixty Seconds
Infographic by- Shanghai Web Designers

Now, although I honor the work of the Shanghai Web Designers, it lacks some information on where the data was generated from. Gary Hayes explains nicely how the app data was put together and how actual it is (having said that I think Gary needs to refresh his links as I found links ending in 404’s).

A comparison could be interesting, I thought. Why not compare the 60 seconds data from the Shanghai Web Designers (SWD) versus a “one-minute-momentum” of Gary Hayes (GH) counter…? I started the counter and waited 60 seconds, and there you go. Here are the results…

The comparison will just focus on the essentials Google, Email, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. You can still do your own comparison afterwards…

Google
Search queries: 694,445 (SWD) versus 1,393,519 (GH)

Emails
Emails sent: 168,000,000 (SWD) versus 204,255,455 (GH)

Facebook
Status Updates: 695,000 (SWD) versus 696,758 (GH)
Comments: 510,040 (SWD) versus 512,100 (GH)

Twitter
New accounts: 320 (SWD) versus 208 (GH)
Tweets published: 98,000 (SWD) versus 62,707 (GH)

YouTube
Hours of content uploaded: 25+ hours (SWD) verus 36 hours (GH)

LinkedIn
New members: 100 (SWD) versus 60 (GH)

Spot On!
The comparison makes clear that the Facebook figures are similar whereas for the rest of the figures there is a massive discrepancy in numbers. Facebook is sharing their latest actual figures, for the other technology platforms the data probably comes from third party sources (or at least as far as I can see). If all platform and technology owners would share their latest data, those discrepancies won’t happen. The lack of source information from Shanghai Web Designers makes it difficult to argue which data is the latest, where the differences in the comparison are coming from, and so on. Maybe this is the reason why some experts don’t like infographics any more. “Don’t like…” might be wrong when I see how many people have shared the infographic in the last days. They appear very nice and compelling in social networking accounts and “illustrate” thought-leadership in presentations. Right…?!

A great Twitter campaign or just a brand campaign?

Some Twitter campaigns from companies and brands are outstanding and become brilliant case studies. This one from a Turkish telecoms company keeps users engaged on the micro-blogging platform by using most common Twitter features. Just by removing post-it’s for a chance to win the phone, Twitter users spread the word around the new technology with 56,000 Tweets around the competition over the 3 days that the activity was run. The “crossword puzzle like” competition ended with users trying to get a celebrity to Retweet them to win the phone. Nice idea…!

However, there are some questions that arise from this Twitter campaign case study for me…
Are such campaigns only possible with heavy Twitter and mobile users?
Is this campaign buzz getting out of the inner circle of the heavy social web users?
What is the long lasting ROI effect this creates (if at all it does)?
Are such campaigns more efficient from a branding perspective than using PR briefings?
I am sure you can think of many more questions…, right?

If this is an outstanding social media case study, then it would be good to hear what makes this campigns so compelling? Wanna watch the video and give me your views? Really looking forward to it…

What is Social Media? – Famous quotes from the istrategyconference Amsterdam

After the first day of the istrategyconference in Amsterdam, I briefly wanted to share some insights in how Twitter caught some famous quotes about “What is Social Media?”. The people who brought these quotes up in their presentations, or the people that (re-)tweeted those might forgive me if I am not quoting and linking back to every single tweet, or Twitter account where it came form.

Why I am not quoting? Apart from having to listen to Power Point presentations, the challenge for presenters and moderators is to attract the attention of a crowd. And for the audience it is becoming more and more some massive workload to do multitasking, and participating an offline event in a 2.0 manner. A thought I have explored in a German post, and definitely need to translate when I find the time for it.

“Sometimes it makes you mad to listen to speakers and keynotes, write tweets, and respond to mails and Facebook at the same time. Not to mention blogging… How do you handle this?” A question I asked my friends on Facebook today. And I know from studies that multitasking is becoming more difficult the older we get, and that we are only able to do maximum two things at the same time. I don’t know how you see this but participation 2.0 is nearly impossible if you want to be share the way people would love you to do it.

This is just a random collection of different quotes that shows how Social Media was defined at the conference. Maybe you add some more quotes…?!

“Social Media is like sand: you can play with it and have fun but sometimes it gets into your underwear and becomes very annoying.”

“Social Media is like gardening: the real hard work starts after the seeding and planting.”

“Social Media is like … a dance with the right music (content) and partner (fan). It never needs to end!”

“Social Media is like an icecream, it’s delicious, everybody wants it, but it melts if you are too slow.”

“Social Media is like teen sex. Everybody wants to do it. Nobody knows how. When it’s finally done its a surprise it’s not better.”

Spot On!
In the B2B SocialMedia panel, which I had the honor to moderate and talk to Ed Bezooijen (Citrix), Paul Dunay (Networked Insights) and Menno Lijkendijk (Milestone Marketing) I also mentioned a quote that I think is going to be the main challenge for B2B marketers in the future. The relationship of content, distribution and perception which was (and in my eyes still is) the advantage of publishers to other content producers and curators. Publishers have all three of these as main pillars of their business…

“Content = King – Context = Queen – Community = The Empire”

If you see it different, tell me. If you like it, do so. If you want to add something, go ahead…

PS: THX to a great team from istrategyconference in Amsterdam for the good organization and the diner yesterday night.