What I have learnt about Social Media in business

Over the past few months I have been immersed in the world of Social Media, with a leaning towards its use in the business and enterprise space. This has been driven by two key factors. Firstly I am studying a Social Media in Business paper at Massey University. The second is the organisation I work for has a desire to explore Social Media for engaging with families. From all the literature I have had to read for my studies, plus the optional books I have digested there are several themes or key points that keep coming up for me.

1. ROI. Two definite schools of thought on ROI seem to have developed. One says Social Media is all about engagement and ROI should be considered as a nice bonus. The other says it is all about ROI and it needs to be treated like any other marketing tool. I personally sit somewhere in the middle, but leaning more towards the engagement side. Why? Well for me Social Media allows multi-directional conversations to take part. The risk as I see it of focusing on the return on investment in the first instance is that it will become just another way for the sales & marketing teams to push their message out. I think that if you take part in the conversations and build up relationships that the sales side will look after itself in the longer term. And that’s the key. Longer term. You cannot jump into social media and expect immediate returns. You have to commit for the long haul.

2. Keep it real! Keep it authentic. The online world will sniff out a phoney and you will be roasted! If you start making comments posing as a consumer expect back-lash. And remember to be human. Your consumers and followers are human, treat them as such. Don’t try & be someone or something that you aren’t. And if someone posts a comment that you don’t like, don’t remove it. Respond to it, engage the poster and help them. Who knows, they could end up being your greatest advocate.

3. Park the sales talk. One immediate turn-off for me is companies that push the bog-standard sales pitch through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and all the other social mediums. I want you to be my partner. Woo me. Seduce me. Don’t force yourself onto me. I used to follow a number of travel companies. One used to send sales and promo information and that was all. The other sent me information about the destinations I could go to, and what I could do there and encouraged people to share their experiences. One forced themselves on me. The other made an emotional connection. Guess which I still follow and click through to find out how they can get me there!

4. Everyone’s an expert. Okay so that isn’t exactly true, but it seems everywhere I turn there is someone else proclaiming to be the leading light in Social Media. Yet to see any real evidence to back up these claim’s. In fairness there are a number of people that are recognised as ‘experts’, are accepted as such by the general population and appear in numerous articles, white papers and the like, but I still smile when I see a random person that I have never heard of pop up and declare they are a Social Media god! They may use the tools, but that doesn’t make them a craftsman!

Am I way off the mark or does this pretty much sum it up?

The eyes have it

So it looks like the next tech battlefield will be our eyes, with first Microsoft last year and more recently Google announcing plans to make information more readily available to us through platforms that are literally ‘in our faces’.

This week Google unveiled their Google Glasses aka ‘Project Glass‘ which will enable the projection of information right in front of our eyes as we need it. Last year Microsoft Research announced ‘smart’ contact lens that could be used to not only display data but also support people with Type 1 diabetes to monitor their blood glucose levels. For those that haven’t seen the promo for Google Glasses here it is

Both of these, and I am sure any competing products that are in the pipeline, will be truly disruptive developments. Education will finally get the shake-up it needs – imagine being able to just look at an item and then gain access to information on the Internet about it without having to open a stuffy textbook. Exams will never be the same again, somehow I cant see teachers asking students to remove their glasses or contact lens before entering an exam can you?

Advertisers and marketers will have a whole new way of interacting with consumers, literally popping their marketing message in front of us in a way we can’t avoid unless we close our eyes. Driving will be radically altered. We have a ban on using mobile phones in New Zealand unless it is through an approved hands-free kit. What will happen when emails and other data starts appearing in front of us? Sure aviation has had HUDs for years, but in fairness the skies at 30 000 feet are not as crowded as a downtown street! Will we need to have smart cars that can block signals as soon as we step into the vehicle?

For your average consumer on the street there are potential benefits, such as map directions right in front of you and augmented reality games. Have to wonder though, people are already walking around like mindless zombies staring down at their phones, will this just make them worse? And what about information overload? We are already more connected than we were 50 years ago, what potential health risks will being plugged in 24/7 create?

To quote Bob Dylan, the times they are a-Changin’ – only time will tell if it is for the better or worse, but one thing is certain, they will be transparent.

Extending the Nokia Lumia 800 battery life

I have been really impressed with Nokia Lumia 800 since I got it, but one thing that started to be an annoyance was the battery life. I would charge it in the evening then find it was down to 20% in the morning. Wifi and Bluetooth are both off, and Microsoft Exchange email is set to push – the same set-up I had with my Samsung Galaxy. I decided to play a little with some settings and the first thing I changed has had the biggest impact. That was turning off ‘Feedback to Microsoft’ – turns out that is constantly running and therefore draining the battery. Turning this one thing off has taken overnight usage from 80% to a measly 10-12%. Here’s how to do it.

From the home screen, slide left to show the menus, then down to Settings

In Settings, go down to the bottom, until you see Feedback

Tap into the Feedback option and slide the indicator to ‘Off’

As much as I like to send feedback to Microsoft to help improve the product, battery life is a lot more important to me.  Nokia has scheduled an update to improve battery life (see image below for release in NZ or to click through to the Nokia site for other countries) but I see my Lumia is already on that release.

Has anyone else got any battery saving tips they can share?

Gen-i ICT2012 Conference in review

I had the pleasure of attending the Gen-i ICT 2012 roadshow/conference yesterday at Telecom Place. It was split into two parts: FWD_LIVE and bizgo. Almost predictably Gen-i rolled out their tried & true video clip about a future that is not so far away

The FWD_LIVE session had a focus on the fibre rollout and included briefings from Gen-i, Chorus and Huawei. Was interesting to see some of the stats around this, such as 30 000 kms of fibre is already in the ground around the country. A couple of customer stories highlighted the value having a fast internet connection can offer. Fletchers for instance purchased Cisco’s Telepresence to reduce travel costs between NZ, Australia and the USA and it is made possible because of a fast reliable fibre connection. The session was rounded out by a panel discussion, in my opinion a bit of a waste of time as there were a handful of questions only. There was the predictable question for Dr Bernard Lee from Huawei:

After a half hour coffee break the bizgo session started. This was more of a general ICT vendor session with HP, Cisco, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Trend Micro giving 15 minute presentations on their wares. Couple of highlights here for me.

  • HP have a Windows 8 powered tablet coming at the end of 2012
  • They also have a E5000 server which is essentially Microsoft Exchange 2010 in a box – all the hardware and software preconfigured to ‘just work’
  • Microsoft Lync of course, a personal favourite
  • Motorola showed their latest handset, the Atrix 2. It can transform from a mobile to a laptop by connecting into a dock. Very cool!
  • Nokia flashed their new Lumia range. As a user already of the Lumia 800 I can attest to how freaking awesome it is!
  • Trend Micro showed off some Deep Security stuff for VMs, interesting stuff particularly around VDi instances

You can see all the tweets from the session here

On that subject, was very cool to have a tweet screen going – any tweets using the conference hashtag of #ICT2012 were displayed. I managed to get a laugh from one of the HP presenters; his offsider said he would buy anyone a coffee if they asked him about a product. Naturally I sent this out to the Internet for everyone to take him up on his offer!!

All in all it was a really good way to spend an afternoon. The bizgo sessions were only 15 minutes and maybe a bit more value would have been achieved from allowing 20 minutes. Saying that, there were stands on-site where attendees could see the vendors up close & personal and ask for more information. Only downside for me was not winning a prize at the end.

Collaboration

In this last post in the series on Niall Cooks 4Cs of Enterprise 2.0 we look at ‘Collaboration’. Software platforms in this category are high in formality and high in interaction, with the key technology in here for enterprises being the wiki in my opinion (the other technology being human-based computation). The best-known deployment of a wiki is Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that is created and maintained by those with a specific interest in one or more sections. This allows for rapid content creation but can also lead to inaccurate or biased information being posted. This is due to the structure Wikipedia employ as opposed to the technology under-pinning it though, as there is no single ‘gate-keeper’ of authenticity.

Niall details in his book the differences between cooperation and collaboration as they are often used in the same sense and interchangeably:

For the enterprise, wikis offer the ability to quickly create and update information stores pertinent to a long term project or objective. This may be as an online helpdesk, where users can see the solutions to issues and contribute to these solutions as they encounter them. Another common function is to create the organisational policies and procedures in a wiki format to allow quick updating as the needs of the business change or as new disruptive technologies are implemented. For those that worry about control over these documents, relax; a lot of enterprise wiki software platforms allow for change approval processes before changes are accepted.

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