March 2011


Frankly none if a morning at the Social World Forum is anything to go by…

Mild frustration possibly best describes my mood leaving the conference, because I’m not sure how much more talking there needs to be about the value and role of social media in enterprise environments. The benefits, as shown by panellists (morning session track two, day one), are clear, but it is time for adopters to be more adventurous in their goal setting. Tools exist today to measure more than simply engagement and show real return-on-investment that affects the bottom line in the B2B world. My concern is if we don’t stop talking and start demonstrating a more comprehensive strategic approach it will never go mainstream in the enterprise. The good news is that Salesforce’s acquisition of Radian6 should help to focus minds and avoid any further discussion that social media isn’t mainstream in the enterprise.

First let me come back to the analogy. Listening to the conversation yesterday it did start me thinking about the parallels between social media and that much mythologised first sexual encounter, which adolescents, particularly boys, spend so much of their time debating…allegedly.  (Disclosure, yes I did attend a Catholic boys school and there were priests, but no they didn’t) Anyway, i do realise I’m making sweeping generalisations, but I think the point is valid…according to the cliché of every relevant Hollywood movie there is much anticipation – and anxiety – about that ‘first time’, much reading of relevant ‘literature’ and consultation with peers. Only in the end to be a fumble in the dark, with no one really knowing what they’re doing, over too quickly or not quickly enough and everyone at the very least feeling uncertain about how they feel about the experience, if not decidedly underwhelmed and in the worst case vowing never to do it again.

Email Comparison

Something that triggered my concern was the comparison with email. Discussion suggested social media will be the next most important disruptive communications technology. Undoubtedly email has changed the way business works, but it took years to establish etiquette and process and today I don’t know many people who talk about how productive they are thanks to email. The issue is that email was allowed to sprawl, its role in the workplace and business poorly defined and I can see danger signs for social media.

Technology tolerance disorder (or excuse)

Admittedly social media is such a young industry ably demonstrated by the proliferation of companies at the show claiming to offer distinct solutions yet sounding remarkably similar. The pace of technology change is rapid, which makes it difficult to plan a long-term strategy, but that should not be used to tolerate or excuse ill-defined or superficial social media strategies (it is a disorder that technologists seem to struggle with whatever the innovation). There are companies like Lithium Technologies and Telligent providing grown up solutions, which make social media much more measureable in terms of its contribution to a business.

What does social media allow us to do differently that we couldn’t do before?

This shouldn’t difficult to answer, but we do seem to be making it excessively even though it’s the only question that matters. Particularly if you’re trying to encourage B2B audiences to buy social media it should be the job of social media professionals and enthusiasts to make it easy for clients to understand the answer. Yesterday didn’t inspire me that we get that point.

The panellists in the first session did begin to highlight what can be done. Jonathan Brayshaw, from Psion (@Jon_at_Psion) talked about using social media to engage differently with customers, partners and employees through a community environment, which has seen a 5% reduction in workload for customer support, as well as contributing to future product development.

Kelly Thomas, from Prudential PruProtect talked about engaging financial advisors and encouraging them to use social media to speak to customers. In a specific campaign around the World Cup (http://bit.ly/eKvOkp) PruProtect saw a 30% increase from sales.

In a later session Zoe Sands, Juniper Networks (@ZoeSands), talked about a four year programme that has been building a community called J-Net which saw a 300% increase in overall traffic following the launch of its mobile version last year. This community is self-governing, with customers and partners helping each other to solve technology issues and providing feedback to the product development team.

Demonstrate ROI, but consider the ‘unexpected’ magic sauce for B2B audiences

Zoe cited the Forrester research from 2010 which suggests that 88% of decision makers now use social media in their decision making processes. If that isn’t motivation enough for companies to embrace social media more effectively then the examples above should begin to show how ROI can be achieved in quite tangible and simple ways.

That said what I failed to ask the panellists is how many decision makers participate in their online communities rather than simply talking to the usual suspects. For example, J-Net has 23,000 users, but the age old challenge in the enterprise IT sector is accessing the ‘C’ level audiences. J-Net may do this, but Jonathan’s throw-away remark towards the end of the session, really began to get to the magic sauce that social media can add.

He talked about it enabling Psion to be ‘unexpectedly competitive.’ For me the key word is ‘unexpectedly.’ Social media has blown apart traditional hierarchies making it more difficult for vendors to engage with clients, but at the same time it means previously inaccessible customers – or members of their network – are now reachable.

If customers are stepping forward to help solve the problems of other customers, if customers are helping companies to hone their product development roadmaps and if social media gives you access to a CIO you have never talked to before in a more informal way, so that you can establish a rapport that is unexpected. Good unexpected.

Unexpectedly rewarding conversations

One member of the audience talked a bit today about social media being the wrong terminology that really it is about people and how we interact that’s important. That gets close to the important point, but not quite. If a business is having conversations with individuals within its client base they have never spoken to before about subjects that they never thought possible to discuss, that is both rewarding and unexpected.

That is what social media in the enterprise sector should really be about.

Fundamentally social media should enable businesses to break down barriers, redefine perceptions about their brand and products, reach new people and engender community spirit that turns individuals into advocates. Ultimately leading to increased sales, greater customer loyalty and more efficient business processes.

It is not an excuse to say the tools do not exist, because there are providers moving in the right direction.

As PR professionals it is our role to identify the ‘who’ that are having those conversations, so that our clients can engage with and influence those conversations in a way that benefits their business. And without sounding too arrogant we are the right people to do this, because our job has always been to identify the influencers and strike up the right conversations with them.

Yes as with every technology cycle there is a maturing process, but this can’t be the same maturing process reserved for whisky. It needs to happen sooner rather than later, because the theory is pretty solid as demonstrated by Ray Wang.

So stop talking at the back of the class how to do it and get on with it! Otherwise I worry that social media in the B2B will end up being known as that fumble in the dark we’re all slightly embarrassed about.

Lets talk DERTy

Another week, another round of DERTy Talk. This week’s chat is a little on the slim side, all good things in moderation and all that…

Digital Entertainment


Touching the Rainbow

As a brand, Skittles has never been afraid to (let its agency) flex some creative muscles and dabble in social meeja. In 2009 it replaced its website with a Twitter search stream which split opinion but got people talking and now they’re at it again with its ‘Touch the Rainbow’ series of videos. A simple, mock-interactive set up lets you ‘touch the rainbow’ by placing your finger on the skittle and being part of the video. Because the internet loves cats, the video to the left is doing the best but there are some funnier ones in the series. Skittles approach to build quirky associations around its brand rather than focusing on product attributes seems to be working – they’ve currently got over 15 million Facebook fans.

Hackney Hear

clip_image004In the build up to London 2012, a fun project called Hackney Hear has been launched to deliver a location based audio tour of Hackney. It works as a mobile app and based on your GPS location, delivers audio content on the part of Hackney you happen to be frequenting. The content spans 400 audio recording, including everything from poetry to a potted history and launches in full in January 2012. A great idea and food for thought – I see a branded GPS audio adventure coming on…

Watch out Charlie Sheen…

clip_image006The latest Twitter celebrity isn’t some crazy actor or even a cat in the political centre of England, this one is totally legless, not drunk, but a snake. I’d like to introduce to you the @BronxZoosCobra. The voice of the snake has gained an amazing amount of followers (almost 200,000 in a few days) as it narrates its journey around New York after escaping from the Bronx Zoo. The feed keeps followers excited as the snake travels around New York City from the statue of liberty to other famous landmarks. Although, a not so subtle PR stunt for the Bronx Zoo, the commentary is funny and as the numbers show, they have hit the nail on the head and are reaping the rewards.

Technologies

Google + 1 = ?

This week Google made another play for the social web with the US launch of +1. As explained by Google, +1 is shorthand for ‘this is pretty cool’ and gives people the ability to recommend a website or advert within search results to their friends. To do this, you need to have a Google profile and through that you can see who has ‘+1’d’ what. It’s in its early stages at the moment, but Google will likely be rolling this out to other markets and beyond the Google search page onto other websites soon. Let the world domination continue…

Lets talk DERTy

Another week, another round of DERTy Talk. If you have clicked through from Google expecting a lewd and suggestive game of Chatroulette you may be disappointed. Apologies for that. We wouldn’t want you to think you’d wasted your time (it’s all traffic to us) so here is a song especially for you.

So what has been happening in the Digital Entertainment, Rights and Technology space this week? Well…

Digital Entertainment

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The Dicdataship takes hold

OK. So not technically entertainment, but a couple of useful, and beautifully stylised, data pieces. First, from the Guardian, an interactive “Europe in Numbers” to co-incide with #CMS. Secondly, from Google the first of their Think series. This one is dedicated to data – so enjoy the feast. We talk a lot about every company is a media company. Google here proves, once again, that some media companies are better than others.


clip_image004Disney like you’ve never seen it before

A couple of wonderful Disney videos this week. A day in the life of Disneyland Paris, filmed with a Tilt-shift camera, is possibly one of my favourite things ever. As I said at the time “like a Slinkachu playground of awesomeness. The second film, is almost certainly Disney as you’ve never seen it before. A satirical take on the life of a modern day Princess.

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An Epic music video:

Russ Chimes a DJ/Artist created a 3 part track called “Midnight Club” accompanied by a trilogy of music videos each telling a different part of the story. They are shot beautifully and each stands alone as a great piece of video. They are unlike most other music videos and at the same time unlike most other story telling videos online. Take a break and watch this amazing story and marvel at the production.

http://www.vimeo.com/15224524

clip_image008From an epic music video to a not so epic one:
Rebecca Black has been vilified in the press for being cheesy and having a terrible music video. Fair enough, but it was made on a £1,200 budget and she has made upwards of £15,000 so far and sold 37,000 digital copies of the song and had over 45 million YT views. In comparison the epic 3 part video above which is infinitely better, has had a paltry 2 hundred thousand views.

http://bit.ly/hAiTgH

clip_image010And a final piece of beautifulness…

It’s all gone a bit ‘entertainment’ this week, but we had to share this video made on behalf of airline network, Star Alliance. The lovely paper animations were commissioned to highlight the work they’re doing to preserve the destinations they’re flying to (by giving free tickets to scientists and field workers). The video shows 5 very impressive commissions. Lovely stuff.

Rights

IS Pleasing to see

Interesting report from Rob Andrews, following a panel at Changing Media Summit regarding ISPs bundling existing and white-labelled music services.

Technologies

WINtendo

This week the Nintendo 3DS beat all previous records to become Amazon UK’s most pre-ordered console to date. The number of pre-ordered consoles is double that of the Wii in 2006. Going on sale tomorrow (25th) the glasses-less 3D games console has had mixed reviews, with questions over whether 3D really adds anything to the experience but this clearly hasn’t put people off. The question is, once the novelty of 3D gaming has worn off, will the momentum continue.

Tweets from the team

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@AJGriffiths: Interesting on fashion brands & ‘gamification’, awful word but a hot topic – http://nyti.ms/fvkFvg via @rachel_arthur http://bit.ly/g45BZ7

@AJGriffiths: Adidas joins the 3D Projection band wagon, nice but no Ralph Lauren http://bit.ly/eAjxuo

@LukeMackay: Stylised movie posters http://bit.ly/fQoBG5 LOVE Wall-E http://bit.ly/hqWkqa Jaws http://bit.ly/fNB5HV Back 2t Futurehttp://bit.ly/gYvi93

@LukeMackay: Coca-cola and Maroon 5 and an interactive wall. I don’t really get this but I’m intrigued at least http://bzfd.it/fUA4y3

@GLeney: Amaze RT @wonky_donky: retro heaven…. RT @Matt_Muir remember Game & Watch? play every single one, ever, online: http://bit.ly/glgT2A

@GLeney: Immense #tron RT @Sally52N2W: Daft Punk/Tron music R3C0NF1GUR3D http://goo.gl/ZKyJH

When you haven’t seen something fast growing for several weeks such as a child or Russian vine the temptation to say, ‘my haven’t you grown!’ is very great.

This urge should be avoided as it annoys those concerned, by patronising kids or rebuking gardeners. Yet returning from a short tweet break this morning I muttered these very words on reading about the fifth anniversary of twitter so breaking this rule of the blindingly obvious.

Yet leaping to my own defence it is not just the speed of growth with twitter that is dramatic. It is the manner of its growth and what it has done to the way internet-based opinion and influence has developed that is very interesting, and weirdly so. A really interesting post on Elise’s Review prompted this thought with the question ‘Is social media becoming more about mass broadcasting than conversation?’

Twitter’s growth has been about amplification of opinions, influence and conversations. At times this has made it appear more like broadcasting and certainly it has made the conversation louder, shorter and less genteel. Yet in interacting with media and blogs I would argue that twitter is amplifying and sharing ideas that often start in long form in other media platforms. This is different from broadcasting although it does make the conversation less sophisticated in many cases. I would describe it as a broader conversation rather than a broadcast.

Indeed as twitter grows its ability to amplify grows too so amplifying the amplifier. Some bloggers who began as highly focused ‘Influentials’ talking to only niche groups have become stars and engaged in very broad conversations. They often start to post less frequently but when they do they reach bigger, much bigger numbers.

The post pointed out that now more people get news from the Internet than traditional newspapers. This too is a part of the amplification process with e-zines merging with communities and a more dialogue driven view of the news.  The key dynamic here is the way twitter helps ideas and stories leapfrog between niche communities.  Again this seems to be of the great strengths of twitter it takes news from niches and can make them part of a broad community.

As it grows this does not mean twitter is all about these broader conversations. Clearly there a niche areas such as middle aged cycling that have drawn together quite large but discrete groups who don’t make it as trending topics. But even these conversations have become broader. So back to the blindingly obvious not always being easy to adopt I quote one point in the Elise’s Review below:

If Your Blog Doesn’t Have A “Tweet This” Or “Like This” Button On It, It Means That You Are Not Cool.

And yes – we know ours doesn’t. yet.

@Naked_Pheasant

The great challenge with blogging is that a blogger has to keep coming up with new ideas, thoughts, insights and ways of being interesting.  Unlike a traditional journalism few blogs are driven by news or constant announcements.  Those blogs that do so very quickly become online news platforms, e-zines or e-reporting.

This is why blogs are important as they become places where ideas, community sharing and thinking lives.   Without the narcotic element of live news, a blog has to create and curate insights within the community that it has shaped. 

This is the essence of the new hierarchy of influence because the blogger has to earn influence and continually re-earn that influence without the power of the mast head of heritage of a publishing house.

This dynamic drives the much commented upon democratic dynamic of the new media platforms. It sets up a cattle auction of ideas in which the communities within the Internet vote up and down your influence.   Importantly this democracy does not mean equality there is a fluid hierarchy of influence within the blogging community; not all blogs are created equal.

I believe that ideas are the currency within this voting system. It is the quality, nuance and originality of ideas and thoughts that drives a blog’s influence (what I mean by an idea is a meme or a new iterance. This does not have to be profound it can be trivial, humorous or a reflection on a previous meme). However, over time the depth and frequency of these new ideas does drive influence. You have to go back and if it is not for news it helps to have ideas as a currency. The place where these idea starters thrive most of all is the blogosphere.

Blogs and ideas in this way drive the new forms of engagement; without a flow of ideas it is very hard to engage with a community. This creates some rules for blogging engagement: it helps to have a consistent territory on which to comment; the more others interact and engage with your ideas the better the engagement; and of course the more transparent your references to other ideas the greater your authority becomes.

Every blogger knows that coming up with new thoughts and ideas is something of a curse as well as a thrill.

@Naked_Pheasant

We are back again to make sure you are up to date with all things DERTy (Digital, Entertainment, Rights and Technology) from the week just gone.

We hope you find some of the weird and wonderful things from this week’s news and Twittersphere of interest. If you have any comments on any of the points below we would love to hear them.

Until next week…

Digital Entertainment

The reality of seeing things in 3D

We’ve got some serious bits in DERTy Talk this week, for which we apologise. But there is more to a Digital and Entertaining life than Angry Birds and Angry Bird Art. There is. We promise. And so the first story is from the IHT regarding the *surprise* that Mars Needs Moms has flopped at the box office. “Tens of millions” in losses are expected of this film that cost $175 million to make. 3D fatigue is setting in. Or is it? Brookes Barnes cites various reasons for the failure. Firstly, saturation – the movie comes off the back of a busy 3D animation season – Rango, Gnomeo and Hop). Secondly – cost. The 3D price tag means going to the cinema isn’t a cheap activity for families; faced with so many movie options some movies are bound to be left behind. Finally – the performance of Moms could be the death knell for ‘Zemeckis’ style animation. Basically unlike the clever bods at Pixar, the Zemeckis approach includes filming live actors then putting them through the computer. It’s the same style used on Polar Express and it’s not to my tastes. It’s kinda creepy. These three reasons aside, the glaringly obvious thing here is perhaps Mars Needs Moms just isn’t a very appealing tale. This should be a wake-up call to an industry that seems to think that celeb + animation + 3D is a guaranteed success formula. It isn’t. Just look at the bastardisation of Yogi Bear. Quality of the story has got to come first.

Hold me closer Tinie Tempah

clip_image002[6]Apologies for the lame headline, we’ve been listen to Elton a lot recently. What we actually wanted to talk about was Tinie Tempah the Facebook GAME. It’s basically the same game concept as Canabalt (which is awesome, btw) and Mirror’s Edge on iOS (even more awesome – though DISCLAMINER we do work for EA mobile). The futuristic-mash-up background is nicely sketched (reminds us of the lovely doodles by Andrea Joseph for Cross Pens) and the game is simple and easy. Crucially each level is soundtracked by one of Tempah’s album tracks. It’s not big. It’s not clever. But it’s a little bit of fun and is driving some good numbers to Tempah’s Facebook wall.

Product placement

clip_image002[18]With the relaxing of product placement laws, Chanel 4 and New Look have announced their first deal. New Look clothes will feature in catwalks on the channel’s T4 show and they will also have sponsorship branding. This tie-up makes a lot of sense, as the teenage market is increasingly hard to target it is nice that another string has been added to the marketers bow. This is likely to be the first of many announcements in this space so we will keep you updated…

Inside Out
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Or Analogue meets Digital. It feels a bit crass to categorise this as simply ‘entertainment’ but it’s a beautiful project that is so very well put together. Spare four minutes and watch the video to get a better view of exactly what this project is and where it came from, but in essence it’s a photography project of a huge scale that looks to get people from around the world working together. People are challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to share untold stories. The images are digitally uploaded, turned into posters and then sent back to the creators to be placed wherever they like. When you watch the video you’ll see exactly how brilliantly this has come to life. It’s all being documented and archived so that it’s viewable virtually. All in all a lovely project with a nod to the beauty of a physical photo.

Rights

You’re e-book is overdue
This week HarperCollins announced that it’s to put a life span on its e-book content. Currently due to hit those readers in Canada, the publisher is limiting each e-book to 26 ‘check outs’. Effectively this gives an e-book a usage time of 12 months before it self-destructs. The new restriction to the DRM set up makes clear business sense, on paper, but it’s arguably a pretty heavy handed approach which is hard to justify when you consider how many years a physical copy of a book might last. An interesting landmark in modern rights management, but not a vote winner for HarperCollins.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2011/03/08/f-vp-misener-ebooks.html

Walk Towards the Light

An interesting feature in NMA today, and the first of many we expect, looking at UltraViolet. Exciting times ahead for consumers – when digital and physical content can be passed from screen to screen and between members of the house hold. (DISCLAIMER: our Edelman colleagues in the US have worked with DECE, the consortium behind UltraViolet).

Technologies

Google Wedding

Google is taking city mapping to the next level by rendering a 3D route plan of the Royal Wedding procession in London. Whilst it isn’t quite up to the same levels as The Getaway London it is an interesting example of how much mapping has come along in recent years. Some people will be very excited about this, indeed the Telegraph ran an article on it as did the Independent. http://bit.ly/emPrWa

Creative Play

Think – Work – Play.com is a space for London creatives, opinion formers and thinkers to share with others tips of the trade. You can get an insight into the latest creative concepts running in the city. Including the latest project in the East End http://think-work-play.com/boxpark-shoreditch/

 

 

Tweets from the team

@LukeMackay Skype screen-grab art. Very funny (via @trendhunter and @GerryWisniewski) http://bit.ly/hijy31

@LukeMackay A brief history of movie title design. Lovely. http://bzfd.it/eJS3hH

@LukeMackay Really beautifully done RT @motherlondon: Well, this is nice:http://youtu.be/DIArJjU8HjE

@LukeMackay The internet is dead. v. v. interesting read from #SXSWhttp://bit.ly/fqb8Wo

@AJGriffiths: News Corp jumps on the ‘social gaming’ band wagon. Sound a bit clueless. http://bit.ly/g0NSnN

@AJGriffiths: Silicon Alley insiders – really interesting profile in the FT http://on.ft.com/gWxLf6

….or Why “Reading, Travelling And Keep Fit” Will Become The Most Important Part Of The CV Of The Future

I have just spent the last week imaging what our working environment will look like in 2020. Special thanks to Jonathan Hargreaves, Rick Murray and Stefan Stern for their thoughts and inspiration.

One of the discussions centred on the fact that while in the 1980s the world of work was defined by FMCG companies such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever in terms of management style and organisation, while in the 1990s management thinking took inspiration from engineering companies epitomised by the GE Way. By 2000 investment banks (Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Chase Manhattan) and, to some extent, management consultancies (Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey) were the dominant force.

The broad consensus is that the workplace of 2020 will be driven by technology – the way teams collaborate, the frequency and style of communications, the nature of management and hierarchy, and the overall organisation of work.

However, the workplace of the future will not be dominated by technologists; on the contrary, the technology paradox of 2020 is that non technical, “soft” skills in greater demand than ever before.

There are three key reasons:

· The nature of work in 2020 will exert a premium on employees who thrive in collaborative environments, those who can communicate across a range of media and time-zones to a variety of cultures, in a multiplicity of languages. 2020 collaborative teams will have to find and agree a set of shared values (there will be no default office culture), shape and adhere to a hierarchy which is both virtual and global, and create a working culture that crosses international boundaries, datelines and language. Collaboration on this level is not about technology or automation, it is more about social skills, creating team cultures and building loyalty.

· The consumerisation of technology; by 2020 the number of platforms and media through which organisations can communicate will multiply and they will not distinguish between “workplace” and “leisure-time”. An acute awareness and understanding of these communications media will be fundamental for any organisation; and the skills required to match message with appropriate media – on a global scale – will, by definition, be soft.

· Information overload; if we think we are bombarded by information and stimuli now, 2020 will see even greater pressure on our time and attention spans. The volume and diversity (work and leisure-related) stimuli bombarding the 2020 employee will require a level of judgement, experience, discretion, prioritisation – in short, soft skills – never previously demanded of any generation. 2020 employees will be systematically required to make value judgements on whether, how and when they respond to incoming data on a continual basis. It will not be possible to automate these decisions (the entire process will already be fully and exhaustively automated); what remains will require a level of judgement, opinion, assessment, discretion and experience that is 100% “soft” and 100% “human”.

So the age of technology management may not only be good news for social sciences, it will also add a new level of importance to soft skills often hidden at the bottom of our CVs . . . if, of course, we have CVs in 2020, but that requires another post altogether!

@RogerDara

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