Archive for July, 2011

Does the web promote democracy?

Fun provocative from the RSA exploring if the web promotes or
inhibits democracy. Are you a web reactionary, sceptic or utopian?

The Future of Work

Good video from Podio on the future of work. Fascinating insights into how people will start to follow influential individuals within their workplace which will not necessarily be based on job titles. Explores how social tools can lead a cultural shift.

We’ve just started using Podio as a team to collaborate and update on projects.

The future of mobile payments

When thinking about mobile payments, it’s often Barclaycard and Paypal that jump to mind first. Barclaycard has launched a mobile payment scan scheme with Orange, while Paypal has long made online and mobile purchases easy.

But it’s not just credit card companies embracing this technology. It’s been around for a while but, like QR codes, is finally starting to get some recognition. Pizza Express is the most notable brand to introduce the system, allowing diners to pay by Paypal on their phone (through the Pizza Express iPhone app).

In truth, people have used their mobile to shop for a while now, but it’s this transfer from online to real life mobile payments that’s worth watching.

This infographic below demonstrates the growth of mobile payments.

Do you use mobile payments in your business? If not, why not – and is that likely to change?

Got high Klout? Here’s your Spotify invite

Image representing Klout as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

While music-streaming community Spotify has been available to Europe for a while, it’s only recently made the journey across the pond – and it’s already in huge demand. It’s an invitation-only service, so competition is rife to be a Spotify user. Online reputation score site Klout has picked up on this by offering invitations to the service for those with a high enough Klout score.

Klout offers ‘perks’ to those considered to be ‘online influencers’. Any influencers who sign up for Spotify get the honorary title of of ‘U.S Spotify Ambassador’. Additionally, if they get five other people to sign up, they’ll get a month’s free trial on Spotify Premium.

This seems like a great partnership from both sides. Spotify gets maximum exposure in a competitive market, and Klout gets a hike in the number of people using the service. The only downside is that there have been reports of the Klout site crashing thanks to the increase in traffic.

Klout is, at the moment, one of the few sites to be able to put your online influence into numbers. Whether those numbers are accurate remains to be seen.

Do you use Klout to measure your online influence?

The LinkedIn Infographic

LinkedIn has sat in the top three social networks for a while now. It’s the most popular professional network, but only 35% of users actually visit it every day. In fact, 16% only visit it a couple of times a month.

The frequency of visits isn’t the only way LinkedIn differs from its rivals Facebook and Twitter. The fact that only 20% of users click on adverts within LinkedIn would suggest they make more revenue from their services, like job searching and advertising subscriptions (39% of users pay for one of their services), unlike Facebook.

Do you use LinkedIn on a regular basis?

Source: Mashable

CEO of Disney on social media developments

Interviewed in the current edition of the Harvard Business Review, Disney CEO Bob Iger has some pertinent comments on social media issues.

He sees social media – especially Facebook – as an opportunity to gain access to fans of Disney and provide them with experiences that are welcoming. He says Disney has started to engage with mums who are blogging and explains that these bloggers are now being invited to events. He was sitting recently with a group of bloggers on a cruise ship and reflected how the world had changed a lot.

He is not a strong advocate of getting customers to help create content. ‘I’ve found that when you take a committee approach to creating, it usually fails. It dissipates one person’s deep passions for an idea or a creative direction,’ he reflects.

Social Media Leadership Forum session

We had a really interesting Social Media Leadership Forum members session yesterday.

These were some of the key issues that came up:

CEOs who sign up to social media can make a difference, however middle management can act as a drag on activity.

Senior executives need to know that social media is a series of different platforms through which key company messages can be distributed. The aims of communication remain the same, the means is changing.

Different organisations require different approaches to getting social media going. For example, a more academic company culture might require a report to demonstrate the fundamental changes in news and information distribution and consumption.

Far sighted managers often have to ‘just get on with it’ to make things happen. To prevent corporate inertia preventing necessary change, new ground has to be broken by pioneers. Then the company catches up, recognises the value and marshalls resources behind these new opportunities.

Demonstrating value is crucial for company buy-in, whether this is showing customer feedback or illustrating case studies of what competitors are up to.

Legal departments are in danger of losing the plot. Legal teams needs to wake up to the realities of social media, otherwise they are going to become typecast as reactionaries who are utterly out of touch with the modern world. It is crucial that their advice is practical. They should be looking to be informed facilitators, not obstacles. Nor should they lead policy. They should be a back up resource, like libel teams at newspapers.

Experimentation is crucial as well, giving people the chance to make mistakes and learn.

Creating ‘social’ workplaces is becoming increasingly important, in terms of cutting down email and promoting more efficient ways of working. It also has a clear impact on the quality of external social media communications.

The more ‘social’ you are as a business in the way you share information the more relevant your external communications will naturally become  for your key audiences.

Internal video communications can have a major impact on how information is shared and how executives are perceived.

The future of news live

The unfolding hacking scandal is a great example of how news production, distribution and exchange have fundamentally changed.

Ostensibly about a traditional paper-based newspaper group, it is in fact the whole online arena where the scandal has been predominantly played out, with online newspapers updating their headlines in minutes, and key players like the Guardian running live blogs.

Videos have been shared and secret recordings of internal news international meetings have been passed through social networks. With the editor of the Guardian and other key journalists tweeting, as well as key Labour opposition figures, social media has had a key role to play in shaping the unfolding narrative. And it will continue to do so – imagine
how Murdoch’s testimony to MPs will be distributed and commented upon.

And let’s not forget the role of social media in generating customer complaints to CEOs, demanding that ads be pulled from News of the World. This action was coordinated using social media networks. The key themes of social media are collaboration: see the ad activity mentioned above.

A key theme is openness: we are seeing mounting calls by the day for greater transparency all round, in dealings with the media. Another key principle of social media is integrity: you cannot hide anymore when information is so easily shared and distributed, and it is so easy to expose wrong doing.

If you are in breach of these principles in some deep meaningful way, then you are likely to be in trouble. These themes are being actively played out as part of the new ecosystem of news.

Within this context, you can also see clearly how limited traditional media communications can be. Briefings on the phone could influence key bloggers. However, if you want to have any chance of influencing events then you have to be blogging or tweeting, otherwise you are just not part of the critical discourse.

Hackgate the movie

Take a look at this short YouTube spoof of the hacking scandal.

It’s well done.

Bulletins from the Future

There is a very good analytical and informative piece in this week’s Economist by Tom Standage (unusual for The Economist to say who wrote a piece) about the future of the news industry.

I was at The Economist a couple of weeks ago and knew the report was coming. It is comprehensive, and I recommend it.

Clay Shirky makes a good point in the piece about newspaper paywalls acting like castles around old models. So the old model does not have to change.

Commentators argue that newspapaper business models will not be fixed until the editorial model is changed. So newspapers need to become more relevant. Some are undergoing radical redesigns, abandoning traditional sections and arranging the newspaper around themes that correspond to the way readers think, with a magazine-like emphasis on analysis and storytelling, Tom Standage explains.

A Brazilian paper, Corrreio da Bahia, underwent a change and embraced four new sections offering a news summary, ‘More’, ‘Life’ and Sport.

This got me thinking….

1. Company web sites in the main are still based on old models. They too need to change to become more relevant.

2. The communications operations of companies need to be radically redesigned, traditional methods need to be abandoned and communications need to be re-organised around new platforms and new themes that correspond to what customers and other stakeholders are interested in.

For editorial to change both in newspapers and company communications, minds have to change. Senior executives have to understand and embrace the new paradigm of news and information sharing.

I’m not sure this can happen if large corporations continue to hire senior communications executives who lack curiosity and a willingness to explore and engage with the new emerging world of communications.

A few other key points I noticed in the report: newspapers are on the rise in China, South Africa, Brazil, and India, which underlines how in certain territories companies need to weight their operations more towards traditional communications.

Referrals from social networks are now the fastest growing source of traffic for many news web sites.

While not everyone is on Twitter, the news is on Twitter.  And Twitter has considerable influence within the new news ecosystem. If you are a company without a strategic Twitter platform – as opposed to simply being on Twitter – then you risk being irrelevant and losing influence.

We are seeing more and more social media editors appointed on traditional media publications. Especially in the US.

The internet is making news more participatory, social, diverse and partisan, reviving the discursive ethos of the era before mass media.

While there are concerns about the facts and sources of information, The Economist welcomes this fundamental change: ‘… there is much to celebrate in the noisy, diverse, vociferous, argumentative and stridently alive environment of the news business in the age of internet. The coffee house is back. Enjoy it’.

Despite the risks and the tough disruption it presents, ItsOpen, through its own consulting and through the Social Media Leadership Forum we set up and run, encourages companies to enjoy the new environment. So, just to repeat, enjoy the new free conversations and start participating!