Archive for June, 2011

Any ideas for Iceland?

As you have probably heard, Iceland is crowd-sourcing its constitution and encouraging members of the public to make contributions on drafts through Facebook.

Their contributions have to be approved before they can become part of the constitution, and I see this as an enlightened move. Providing the process is genuinely open, so that people can see how their contributions can potentially make a difference.

I think it would be good if people who made individual contributions that are accepted receive some form of accreditation. Imagine being able to tell your grandchildren that you helped shaped the country’s constitution and being able to prove it!

Iceland has seen the future, and other countries should learn from this innovative online initiative. So long as it is not gimmicky, but actually does engage with citizens in an open and cooperative way, then I think there is a chance that new models of organisation and government could emerge. Of course it has to be managed properly, and leaders need to embrace and encourage these initiatives. In particular this would appeal to younger people who are naturally embracing social networks and for whom it is second nature to be collaborating online.

What I like about it too is that it opens up the possibility for debate. Too often debate gets distorted through the traditional media channels, and new ideas could surface by using social networks.

Do we still like Facebook?

Insightful piece from the BBC looking at the differing interpretations on the rise or otherwise of Facebook. It is a good summary.

If my teenage daughter is a barometer of how Facebook is doing then I would say all reports of its decline are utterly misplaced. Facebook, from her perspective and the perspective of her friends, is in rude health!! I wish I could hold her attention like Facebook does!!

A few social media perspectives

While I am a great fan of enterprise 2.0 and the introduction of social media into the enterprise, it is worth remembering that the percentage of people already using the likes of wikis online – through Wikipedia, etc – is a small fraction of the total audience using the web.

Also, the people who are promoting these new services are quite different in mindsets and attitudes to the people who are going to have to use them. Which is why patience is crucial. Adoption is likely to take a while.

There are fears that people might post negative criticism internally within social networks. I think this is unlikely, as comments are not anonymous and it is unlikely that staff will want to be held accountable for an unnecessarily negative comment.

Likewise, I think the risks of employees saying something damaging online in public through social media networks is completely over-exaggerated. The cases have been very few.

What tends to happen is that the traditional media talk them up to try to shift papers. In time, I think people will be a lot more relaxed about social media.

The idea that people in the future are going to continue to pounce on your every word on Twitter is ridiculous. In the future, people will just shrug their shoulders, as everyone will be busy using these tools – and they will become a natural part of our lives. You will pay attention to what your peers are saying, and key influencers you respect.

As everything is so new, people seem to be ultra sensitive. It is like in the 1990s when web sites made their first debut. People issued so many scare stories about security. How could you possibly have an online company web site which is open to everyone?! Think of the risks, some of the reactionary scare mongers were saying then. I’m not suggesting there are not risks. But progress always challenges the status quo. We all have a bias towards the status quo and inevitably risks are over-stated or distorted.

Bank Simple

Take a look at this new service.

Are they about to re-write the rules of design for online and mobile banking?

Groupon thoughts

Just had our webinar with Groupon as part of the Social Media Leadership Forum. These were the key points of interest for me:

Groupon says it aims to help build companies through Groupon offers

Companies such as Orange use Groupon to target existing and new customers with bespoke offers

Groupon advises companies to cap offers to help them manage demand successfully

Groupon has an advanced social media strategy which is city based and localised for different markets. They don’t just promote offers but look to share fun content to engage with their social media customers.

They have a deliberate personal social media strategy and customer services engage vigorously through Twitter, offering email addresses if people want to revert to email regarding any issues.

Groupon also has an interesting blogger outreach programme, where they enable bloggers to support them developing offers.

The scale of their customer base is obviously an attraction to companies.  Groupon argues that their users are not just bargain seekers:  if managed well, they will buy more from merchants who use the service.

T-Mobile creates the real-life Angry Birds

Thanks to a stream of clever adverts, T-Mobile has gained a reputation as a brand with its finger on the pulse of popular culture. They’ve followed up April’s Royal Wedding spoof with a video with an alternative version of Angry Birds.

Players are invited to take part in a seemingly normal game of Angry Birds. However, all is not as it seems…

Watch the video to see what happens.

This video is a great way of combining popular technology with guerrilla marketing,

Five clever uses of QR codes

QR Code: URL http://sk.wikipedia.org/

Image via Wikipedia

Moo, the creative business card company, has recently announced a new partnership with about.me to create QR codes linking to a page containing all the individual’s social media and contact information. This means you’ll be able to add a QR code to your business cards, which people can scan with their smart phones to reach your information.

In fact, the partnership was inspired by a movement of Moo users incorporating the code into their designs. The company is known for listening to its community, and this is a great example of adapting to new technologies.

If you’re thinking of using QR codes in a campaign, you might like some of these ideas.

Website/Blog secret message

Qurify is a service that allows you to enter a secret message or link, and then creates it into a QR code. You can then embed the code into your website or blog, or download it to use it on other marketing material. Try recording a welcome video, then creating a QR code out of the URL.

Combine geocaching and QR codes

Geocaching is another slow burning social media trend, and it’s often used for scavenger hunts (particularly at press-related events). Combining a clue in a QR code with a geocache place is a great way of adding a techy twist to an old favourite.

Add it to packaging

If you’re selling a food or cosmetic product, you’re legally required to provide certain information on the label. However, space restrictions can sometimes limit how much you can add, so a QR code can give you more flexibility with the information you want to offer.

Print advertising

I recently spotted a poster advertising campaign for the TV show Family Guy, asking a question and giving the QR code as an answer. It’s a great way to get potential customers to go straight to your site, which means they’re a step closer to making a purchase.

What would you use a QR code for?

How to land a job using Twitter

You might use Twitter to chat to friends, catch up on the news, follow your favourite celebs or network. But have you considered looking for a job through the 140-character social network?

Twitter allows you to get in contact with companies and influential people who you might not have been able to before. This contact can give you the edge over the competition, and help you land your perfect role.

Here are ten tips for Twitter success in the job market.

1) Desperate to work for a certain company? Follow them on Twitter. More and more companies use Twitter as a first port of call to advertise their vacancies.

2) Use that Twitter bio to pimp yourself out. That little space should be your sales pitch, and it’s often the deciding factor for whether people will follow you or not. Give them a reason to follow you. Describing your favourite sandwich filling or revealing the name of your cat is not what employers are looking for (unless the employer is Marmite. Or the RSPCA.)

3) Consider posting a TwitCV. Squeeze your experience, ambitions and skills into a tweet (leaving room so others can retweet you) and you might just catch the eye of that perfect employer.

4) Use the link in your profile for your online portfolio. There are a few free options about, like extendr.com, and you could always link to your LinkedIn page or blog if you prefer.

5) Communicate! Chat to other people, use it as a networking tool and share other people’s content. You never know what opportunities you could pick up from these new contacts. A friendly, informative tweeter is always more likely to get a follow.

6) Check your spelling and grammar. Install a dictionary to your browser and make sure you use it! Consider installing After The Deadline too for a last check. Twitter is full of journalists, PRs and bloggers, and they can spot bad grammar a mile off.

7) Got a blog or website? Tweet your latest posts (2-3 times a day to catch different time zones). Your followers can then easily access your ‘About Me’ and ‘Hire Me’ pages.

8) Search for hashtags and keywords relevant to your chosen career area, read up and share as much content as you can. Basically, if you want a career in a certain field, you’ll need to prove that you know your stuff and that you’re constantly learning. Consider signing up to an edition of paper.li, which gives you a daily roundup of content related to your Twitter account or keyword.

9) Don’t overshare. Twitter is social, but a potential employer can see what you’re saying, and many employers now do a social media search before inviting candidates to interview. Try to keep your hangover/relationship/bored statuses to Facebook when possible.

10) Try a Twitter job search engine, like TwitJobSearch.com, which can help you find the latest jobs that agencies and employers have tweeted about.

Snoop Dogg: Cheaper the more you like him

Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg, king of slow rapping and questionable music videos, has recently unveiled an interesting strategy for increasing Facebook likes – and sales of his perfume.

The price of his perfume reduces as he gets more Facebook product likes.

Currently, Snoop has close to 10 million Facebook fans. Last Thursday, he started to link to his shop, the “Shop Snoop Now” site, which features a range of his perfume products.

The first product to be featured on the site started at $7.99. When it passed the 100 likes level, the price was discounted by 10%. When 200 likes passed, it increased to 20% off. Finally, 300 likes led to a 30% discount.

It’s a useful way of combining Facebook promotions with an online store, and gives a subtle nod to group purchasing sites like Groupon too.

The only downside is that you’ll probably end up wearing a perfume that Snoop calls ‘Sexiest Fantasies’. There is possibly a reason why they’re on sale…

The new social media divide

Not only are businesses generally lagging behind their customers when it comes to engaging with social media but they are also lagging behind their own staff.

It is astonishing how many companies prevent their staff from engaging online at work. I heard a story recently that some staff cannot even use gmail!

Does this affect staff? In some senses, it does not because they have smartphones which enable them to do everything in the palm of their hand. So they can instant message, text, chat, use skype, surf the web, get their twitter updates, update facebook, read blogs etc on their own terms. Their IT is more sophisticated, modern, flexible than the company’s internal IT.

However this disconnect underlines how an informal social means of communications is arising in companies that is not being reflected in the standard means of communications. There is a huge disconnect between what internal IT systems are generally offering and how staff are using their own IT in the palm of their hands.

Essentially internal IT systems are rapidly becoming culturally irrelevant with the effect that they are not engaging or helping staff in the way that they could.

A lot of CEOs and the board are sympathetic to social media. However they have not all grasped the fact that it is challenging deeply held norms about controlling the flow of information between individuals and across organizational boundaries. The introduction of social media in the enterprise is not just a piece of software, it will change the way business is done. Applications for sharing and commenting on photos and videos internally, and internal microblogging etc will change the internal culture dramatically.

One of the reasons why enlightened companies are challenging their internal IT legacy systems is because when they are doing their work they struggle to find people within their organisation who know what they are talking about. They don’t know which document to read and where it can be found. It is only when social spaces like forums, blogs and wikis are introduced that highly contextual, and complex patterns of information can start to easily surface and be found.

Social media in the enterprise is valuable not because it connects people with information but because it connects people with other people who possess information.

Companies who are challenging their internal IT based methods of communications and making them more ‘social’ report that the tools immensely improve their ability to interact with people that they would never have met otherwise.

Social media tools in the enterprise can help considerably in exposing new information and new projects and bring new thought leaders to the forefront. People who would never have been visible before have a voice.

In many cases, people struggle within companies  to find anything digitally, and instead are dependent on finding an email or phone number.

The next generation are immersed in the sharing, cooperative online culture. They will not join companies who do not share this culture, as it will not enable them to naturally express themselves, and they will not be able to be as productive as they could be. You cannot hire digitally savvy individuals – and let’s face it, we are all becoming more digitally savvy – and expect to stick them in a cubicle like Dilbert, with no access to the kinds of tools they are used to using.

It is time for the old methods of internal communication to be ripped up. The firewalls need to come tumbling down. The gap between how people are using the web in their personal lives and their work life needs to be bridged. There is a risk that internal IT communications systems will fossilise companies preventing them from being dynamic, and as productive and as transparent as they could be if they embraced new social media tools internally.

I also think that companies who embrace social media tools internally are going to be better at embracing social media tools externally. If their internal culture is more open and sharing then it will be easier for them to be more open and sharing externally with their customers.