Towards the end of 2010, chatter about ‘Millennials’ significantly increased – not so much to do with their purchasing decisions or sources of influence – but instead about the impact they will have on the future of the workplace.

More tech savvy, collaborative and demanding than Generation X, Millennials going into organisations today, who have grown up in a constantly-connect world, are likely to find existing IT infrastructures and business processes suffocating. With reams of red-tape upholding corporate and IT-usage policies, particularly around the utilisation of applications and devices dictated by the IT department, such working practices may indeed seem alien or unintuitive to Millennials who have grown up to function in a very different way.

I agree with Mark Samuels in his recent piece for silicon.com that, ‘[Millennials] are also far from the clichéd media depiction of tech-savvy anarchists set to destroy established corporate hierarchies,’ but I think that as technology evolves, the use of social media continues to become second nature to younger generations, as well as a more considered platform for business growth, then inevitably it is only a matter of time before significant change occurs. And it won’t just be employees influencing change; it will be customers demanding it too.

Therefore the pressure is on the CIO to make serious decisions about the future delivery of IT to the workforce, whether that’s through cloud models, VDI, supporting ‘bring your own devices’ and so on. A greater challenge can also be ensuring that Millennials and other generations within the organisation are supported to work collaboratively now, catering for the technological capabilities of younger generations while also recognising the needs of employees who haven’t grown up in the connected world we know today.

@LucyDesaDavies

A wildcat strike by Spanish air traffic controllers that paralyzed Spain’s airports and stranded hundreds of thousands of travellers this past weekend deflated the tourism industry’s hopes for a big start to the holiday season. Cancelled flights led to empty hotel rooms and rippled out to the restaurants and shops that depend on tourist spending.

But while families fumed about lost holidays (it was, after all, a long holiday weekend for the majority of Spaniards), and the airline and tourism industries decried hundreds of millions of Euros in losses, there were a couple of sectors that didn’t fare so poorly. In fact, retailers saw their sales climb a modest but welcome 2% compared with the same period last year. People, it seemed, were determined to enjoy their leisure time and if they couldn’t do so at a resort then the department stores were a good alternative.

The media also saw their numbers of viewers and listeners soar as people tried desperately to understand if and when they’d be flying. The word ‘controller’ became an important Trending Topic in Twitter, with more entries than ‘Obama in Afghanistan’ or ‘Wikileaks’. One out of every 200 messages sent worldwide through this social network between Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4, referred to the strike. Social networks were crucial channels during the crisis; users from all across Spain uploaded their video protests on YouTube or airlines such as Vueling and Spanair contacted their clients through Twitter as their websites collapsed under the avalanche of requests.

Air traffic controllers have been grumbling about their pay and work conditions for at least a year, but didn’t become global news until they left their control towers. Media such as the Financial Times, BBC News, and Reuters have echoed the situation that Spain and its citizens lived through as air traffic came to a screeching halt.

For now people can live with the ‘state of alarm’ decreed immediately after the wildcat action, which moved the nation’s air traffic control system under military supervision. They can probably also live with the on-going political disputes over who’s to blame and what should be done. And just maybe they’ll forgive disobedient air traffic controllers, a privileged group of 2.400 people who earn an average of 300.000 Euros a year, a very handsome sum by any standards but particularly princely during recessionary times. But Spaniards won’t forgive more lost vacations.

It’s interesting to consider how this developed over Christmas, with the weather this time being the prime cause of concern for those looking to get away over the festive period. Hotels and restaurants eagerly await visitors and diners, and retailers hope shoppers will stay in the holiday spirit. Essentially it comes down to this: if the planes take off, everything else is on.

BREAKING NEWS: Lady Gaga has finally knocked Britney Spears to No. 2 in the Twitter charts, according to gossip magazines, tabloids, the Telegraph, CNN, and the International Herald Tribune. The two have been cat-fighting it out  to be the pop star queen of Twitter for the past several weeks. Lady Gaga – with 5,803,000 followers to Britney’s 5,726,000 – marked the occasion with a tweet. "Thank you for beginning my reign as Twitter queen," she said in a video to her followers

Personally, I don’t count myself as a follower of either. I have absolutely no desire what so ever to know what Lady Gaga had for lunch today. So who does? And more importantly; Why? Are these two just popular because of who they are coupled with our infallible hunger for celebrity gossip, or, as entertainers, are they really genuinely influential and engaging online as well as on stage? Enter TweetLevel. What I found is rather interesting actually.

Lady Gaga has an overall TweetLevel influence score of 87; Britney Spears, 82. So, this tells us that Lady Gaga is indeed on top in this girl on girl battle, but let’s dig a little further, shall we?

Both have a popularity score of 99.8, so no news there. Britney is slightly more engaging that Lady Gaga, coming in with an engagement score of 51.1 to Gaga’s 48.2. Perhaps Britney Spears has slightly more time on her hands to respond to followers and participate in conversations?

While the scores are pretty close, both are rather low: Ashton Kutcher has an engagement score of 64.6 (and an overall influence score of 92). The most interesting stat however is the trust score. Though she is influential and participates in conversations, Britney’s trust score is, in comparison, a rather low 75.7. Lady Gaga triumphs in the category with a veritably whopping 92.2.

So, what does this all mean? When I started this little exercise, I was hoping to find that though she has more followers, Lady Gaga is not more influential than Britney Spears. But of course I now see the errors of my thinking.

Lady Gaga has made a name for herself because she is different in style and tone, her performances are as wacky as her personality and she draws attention from crowds and online communities. Lady Gaga’s brand embodies compelling authentic content, lesson No. 1 in social media engagement – or No. 5 of Mashable’s recent 10 tips for aspiring community managers. Furthermore, she uses her Twitter feed to broadcast updates but also videos and photos.

Britney on the other had is an unstable brand. Recently reappearing (again) on the celebrity scene, the once troubled-star seems to be have put her outrageous ways behind her and is rebuilding her celebrity profile with a highly-publicised stint on Glee and a new album. Still popular yes, but were we more interested in Britney when she was ripping out her hair? Still popular yes, but interest in what she has to offer the masses is dwindling. She may have been America’s sweetheart pop star and our favourite celebrity-gone-wild-to-watch, but we are just not the interested in what she is doing, or has to say anymore. Plus, we have Lindsay Lohan now.

Note to Lady Gaga/ Lady Gaga’s social media team: Start engaging with your followers and then maybe we can call you the Queen of Twitter. With 5,831,213 followers (at the time of writing), I am not convinced you have earned the title just yet.

@jacqui_cooper

an interesting development from the twittersphere yesterday; with the arrival of Cat Bin Lady (on the back of this)… she’s gone from sod all followers to about 1,900 in the space of a morning, and I’d challenge anyone to suggest these posts are not very entertaining…

…however, for me, what’s interesting is that the account links directly to the RSPCAimage donation page. Is this therefore either a fuzzy heart warming bit of philanthropy from the person who set it up, or an amazing reactive piece of social media from the RSPCA? (and if it *is* from them / their PR department, fair play for having the conviction to set this up)

…be interesting to find out whether any donations come through this to the RSPCA…

note, she’s gone up another four hundred followers since i began to write this.

@wonky_donky

Diesel isn't afraid to let its fans do the talking, and the influencing, with its Be Stupid campaign.

The t’interweb has changed the way we engage with brands and the things we buy by integrating our friends and networks into the decision process. I realise this isn’t anything new, heck I’ve even written about it before.

But it’s worth a revisit this week. The reason being that Gartner have released a report to quantify exactly how they think this process is taking place.

Drawing parallels with Edelman’s own thinking on the topology of influence, the report explains that 74% of people can be categorised as connectors, mavens or salesmen when it comes to recommending things to friends.

Whatever lexis we use to group people, the fact remains that now, more than ever, our group of friends are the advocates we listen to and trust to the highest level. This is obviously facilitated perfectly by the online world – explained here very well by Paul Adams of Google – leading Gartner to quite rightly/obviously claim that companies need to engage with people on social networks. I’d hope to be preaching to the converted in flagging that fact, but Gartner believe this is ‘a critical but underutilised aspect of the marketing process’.

Critical it definitely is, earlier in the year, we here at Edelman conducted a study which looked at social entertainment (the annual Edelman Trust in Entertainment survey). The research from across the UK and US showed how for the first time social networks have emerged as a source of entertainment in their own right. With more than 70% of 18-34 year olds putting social networks alongside the likes of TV and film as a tool to keep them entertained, the window of opportunity for purchase recommendations is greater than ever.

However, anyone who has the keys to a marketing budget will quite rightly want this ‘influence’ converted into some kind of ROI which makes the following stat from the research pretty interesting – 37% of those who view social networks as an entertainment source, spent more on entertainment this year than last year.

If any brands need further convincing of the importance of influence and engagement over reach, they should take a look at these results from the World Cup which sort of say it all.

Click here for more information on Edelman’s annual ‘Trust in Entertainment’ survey.

@AJGriffiths

In a scene reminiscent of the 90s cult classic ‘Lawnmower Man’, it is understood that Jonny Bentwood – pioneer of the celebrated Tweetlevel online popularity contest – has been consumed by his own Twitter algorithm; in the process becoming the first human being to become physically socially networked.twitter all

Concerns were first raised when semi-digital manifestations of Bentwood appeared on computer screens thoughout the company, during prolonged physical absence from his desk alongside the Edelman Technology team – concerns that were confirmed when he disappeared altogether and became wholly digital.

The first unexplained phenomenon was the appearance of a series of seemingly motivational – yet slightly unsettling – Twitter related posters (right).  These were followed by ghostly bangings from the server room, alongside muffled, digital screams about ‘influence’, ‘popularity’, ‘engagement’ and ‘trust’. White-noise and repeated yells of the word ‘retweet’ have also been heard in what is being dubbed a ‘polterzeitgeist haunting’ by experts.

It is now feared that Jonny has used his integration into the Twitter portal to access other online territories, with the Edelman server under attack, and traditional media lists being erased from client files to be replaced by an audio file of someone reading out complex and often nonsensical algorithms and laughing maniacally.

"At this stage we’re at a loss as to what to do," commented a spokesperson, "this is entirely without precedent and we’re unsure whether to eradicate the threat; monitor and analyse it; or whether this is in fact an innovative route to influencers not seen before, which we can exploit and use to bypass newly evolving platforms being used by early adopters. Harnessing Jonny’s new digital access and power has the potential to put us so far ahead of the curve we may well rebound back onto ourselves and BECOME the curve."

It is understood several Helpdesk tickets have been raised, and allocated to a member of the IT team to handle; although an unnamed IT member said that they were unsure as to how to tackle this threat other than "turning something off and on again and hoping for the best"