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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.

Study: Largest global corporates get over 10 million mentions a month; Twitter rocks, YouTube grows massively

Companies in the Fortune Global 100 get a total of 10,400,132 online mentions in a month. Twitter is the catalyst for them as it generates the majority of these mentions. However, YouTube is the rising star this year. This is the main findings of the third annual Burson-Marsteller Global Social Media Check-Up, which also includes new data provided by Visible Technologies.

The study states that the majority of the big corporates (87%) are using at least one of the major social platforms. The main growth can be seen at YouTube with 79% of companies now using a branded YouTube channel (57% in 2011). The average performance figures showed more than two million views and 1,669 subscribers. The development is illustrating the importance of integrating original multimedia content that can be shared on the social networks.

Twitter is still the rock-star among the popular social networks in terms of corporate usage. 82% of Fortune Global 100 companies have at least one Twitter account with an average mention of 55,970 times on the 140 character platform. The importance of Twitter ca be seen in the fact that stakeholders are following global companies closely.

Compared to 2011, the average number of followers per corporate Twitter account almost tripled to 14,709 from 5,076. On Facebook, the average number of likes per company page has increased by 275% in two years to 152,646 likes this year.

“People want to interact and connect with these major companies, and these platforms are the bridge directly to the heart of these organizations. What’s even more impressive is how much companies are engaging back with followers. Seventy-nine percent of corporate accounts attempt to engage on Twitter with retweets and @-mentions, and 70 percent of corporate Facebook pages are responding to comments on their walls and timelines.”
Burson-Marsteller, Chief Global Digital Strategist, Dallas Lawrence

Some more findings of the study…

– Fortune Global 100 companies have an average of accounts of: 10.4 Facebook pages, 10.1 Twitter accounts, 8.1 YouTube channels, 2.6 Google Plus pages and 2.0 Pinterest accounts.
– 74% of companies have a Facebook page
– 93% of corporate Facebook get weekly updates
– 48% have joined Google Plus
– 25% are on Pinterest

And whatever else you might want to know about the Top Global 100 you can find here, or within their infographic….

An agency outlook into the future of our information society

Looking into the future of agency business, we have seen horrible visions. This project at Hyper Island by Åse Holte, Fredrik Davidsson, Fredrik Ekholm, Hjalti Axel Yngvason, Kristoffer Jansson & Rasmus Stenbergh gives some positive outlook into motion pictures and information technology, and why brands should consider working with agencies.

The video discusses how motion graphics will continue to influence our daily lives, whether we will have bacterial lanuguage in the year 3.000, if Twitter and Facebook still exist, and or will Google run the world? These are just some thoughts of today’s creative brains…

The main challenge was mentioned by Nico Casavecchia from Boolab addressing companies communication activities “You need to find the balance between commercial and non-commercial work!” However, the opportunities for marketers in the future are nicely put George Giampuranis, Creative Director at Sid Lee into the quote… “You can’t just live in yourself. (..) There are so many more contact points to a brand. Basically any medium that serves as a communication tool.”

Information Society from Hjalti Axel Yngvason on Vimeo.

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.

How Mobile Marketing and B2B work together (video)

We have already shared some information on a Google and Compete study that shows why B2B and mobile have a close connection. And the most relevant information from a mobile point of view can be taken from eMarketer graphic.

The importance of mobile for B2B is partly as business decision makers are frequent travelers, thus most connected business people, and partly as smartphones and tablets have given them a new freedom. And today, we also know from CNBC research that executives in Europe see the increasing value of being engaged on Twitter. B2B managers can and have their conversations anytime-anywhere from their devices.

But what is the marketing potential it offers for companies then?

As business decision makers by their definition have to be fast in their decision making process, today’s professionals need to be connected, informed, and productive wherever they are traveling, or whenever they are in meetings. As of that mobile devices give B2B marketing new opportunities to open up new relationships if using apps, QR codes or video in an intelligent way.

In her YouTube channel, on Twitter and in her blog) Christina CK Kerley shares her knowledge on mobile B2B strategies alongside some good cases. Her latest video gives some insight in how B2B marketers can use mobile to connect the offline and the online world in order to leverage B2B printed ads, to integrate the customers’ voice into video, or to bolster B2B thought-leadership content through images, video and text.

Study Gen Y: Moving communication to social networks

Many managers don’t believe that the next management generation might communicate differently from today. So, every proof we have could be beneficial to score here and it is necessary to obey the signs in every region in the world.

In India an increasing number of the Gen Y generation prefers to communicate via social networking platforms to stay connect with their peers. And they do it on mobile devices as their preferred tool for communication.

A recent survey called The GenY Survey 2011-12 by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) asked 12,000 high school students between 12-18 years in cities like i.e. Mumbai, Delhi, and Pune from July to December 2011. It finds that a “total of 88% respondents from metropolitan cities had a Facebook account while other platforms such as Orkut and India-based Apna Circle, Ibibo and Hi5 were more popular in small metros”.

The study states that 40% of the Gen Y’s have internet access on their mobile phones. However, television emerged as the least favorite gadget with not even 1% voting for it. An emerging trend is the use of tablets with almost 14% using these new devices, it quotes.

Some more findings of the study…
– 85% use social networking sites such as Facebook
– 84% have internet access at home
– 79% own a mobile phone
– 28% value the mobile phone their favorite gadget

Spot On!
There are already 38% of respondents in metros using Facebook or Twitter to communicate. Tweeting is now being used by one in three students according to the study, though just 1% mentioned it as their preferred site. Text and chat were said to be the preferred alternatives to voice calls with 50% of respondents in metros explaining they used SMS most frequently to communicate, 45% used instant messaging. Apart from that, they also value information technology as a career option followed by engineering and medicine.

How the Fortune 500 use Social Media in 2012

How do the Fortune 500 use and evaluate Social Media sites? Please find a great infographic by Go Gulf that illustrates some of the key Social Media statistics for the biggest corporate players.

Here are the key points…
– 23% already have a corporate blog.
– 58% have an active corporate Facebook account.
– 62% have an active corporate Twitter account and have tweeted from in the past 30 days.
– The biggest number of blogs is in specialist retail industry.
– The insurance industry gets the highest number of Facebook pages.

The next two years will definitely show some massive changes in the adoption of Social Media in big enterprises which we acknowledge in different meetings and seminars these days.

What do you think about this adoption of “Social” in companies?

Study: What makes Twitter users trustworthy?

We all want to know what makes us trustworthy, especially when we tweet something. What is the secret sauce that makes others believe in the importance of our tweets? What makes those tweets better than those of our competitors?

The answer comes with a study “Tweeting is believing” from Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University. In their research the two parties find how companies and individuals can feed their tweets with more credibility, and giving them some of the secret sauce.

So, ok,… the results were no really the deepest insights, but somehow they undermine what many of us might have expected: Gain followers, receive retweets, include URL’s in your posts, set up a profile picture alongside a serious bio with information that correspond with your tweets.

In order to get the right findings the researchers surveyed more than 250 Twitter users factors to understand what makes up credibility in Twitter accounts. These factors got scored from one tot five, five being the highest.

The top-rated factors that make tweets more trustworthy…
1. Tweet was retweeted by someone you trust – 4.08
2. Tweet from a verified subject expert – 4.04
3. Author is someone you follow – 4.00
4. Tweet contains a URL you clicked through – 3.93
5. Author is someone you’ve heard of – 3.93
6. Account has verification seal – 3.92
7. Author often tweets on topic – 3.74
8. Author’s tweets frequently include similar content – 3.71
9. Author’s user image is a personal photo – 3.70
10. Author often mentioned and/or retweeted – 3.69

These were the lowest five credibility lowering factors for tweets…
1. Weak grammar and/or punctuation 2.71
2. Profile picture equals Twitter’s default user image – 2.87
3. User image is a cartoon/avatar – 3.22
4. Author follows many users – 3.30
5. Author’s user image is a logo – 3.37

Spot On!
In many seminars, companies and managers have asked me whether a weak language and incorrect tweeting is destroying the credibility of the brand. They wanted to know whether avatar pictures or brand pictures might affect it. In my eyes, companies should worry more about their general company Social Media standards, their way of collaboration external and internal, and ask themselves why and what they are tweeting about. Tweeting is just a tiny part of your Social trustworthiness….
What are your own experiences? What makes you trust a Twitter user? Any ranking similarities you can see as well?

Will those who pin finally win? – Pinterest & Engagement (Infographic)

What is interesting for marketers is how engaging Pinterest could be as the emerging new social network for pics and tricks. So which gender is using the platform the most? How much time are people spending there, and how much time compared to other social networks?

Here are some answers (US perspective) according to Wall Street Journal
– Facebook stays as the most engaging platform with 405 minutes per month
– Pinterest and Tumblr come in second place with 89 minutes
– Twitter is number three with  21 minutes
– LinkedIn gets 17 minutes
– Google Plus only has 3 minutes

Please find the infographic “Pin it to Win it” from MDG Advertising as follows with some more interesting facts about some of the best performing social networks…

The value of being "Linkedin"

Although some people still mess about the value of social networking, some platforms have already proven their success and benefit for companies and brands. From a B2B point of view, LinkedIn and Twitter are probably the two platforms that make most sense to marketers.

If Facebook has some value for brands that might be seen more from a B2C perspective. LinkedIn and Twitter have immediate B2B business impact. And business people predominantly use it for people searches it seems to understand their 3 Ps of their business: profession, position and potential.

LinkedIn is the star in this space in terms of business input, lead generation and some deep information exchange with their groups. This infographic from OnlineMBA states some valuable and interesting data about LinkedIn…

– 150m+ professionals globally (LinkedIn company profile stats – February 9, 2012)
– 44m+ members in EMEA region (LinkedIn company profile stats – February 17, 2012)
– registered business professionals from over 200 countries
– executives from every Fortune 500 companies
– 74% have a college degree, 26% even a graduate degree
– 1% of users are responsible for 34% of the traffic
– 1 million new users every 12 days = equals 1 new user per second
– 69% of users with at least $60K annual income
– 39% of users with more than $100K annual income
– 2 Billion people searches in 2010