Posts Tagged ‘Social Networking’

New media channels: Weakness, opportunity or threat?

August 6, 2008

The way we communicate and consume media is changing. This is affecting old media channels and creating an explosion in the media market. According to a report (download) from Ross Dawson last month the growth in the global media and entertainment market is set to grow from $1.7 to a massive $5.4USD by 2024 (in todays terms). The report was part of Ross’s Future of Media Summit 2008, which Seth Yates did a good review on.


Publishing has come along
way since the old wooden press

New media has brought a change in market dynamics with more consumer choice in how/where we consume and share information. This change is breaking down old media markets. Existing firms are being forced to try and communicate with potential new generational and innovative customers through new media. However Enterprise firm’s social network communities and external corporate blog initiatives don’t seem to be working. This lack of success has reduced the number of larger firms externally blogging according to a report ‘2B2B Blogging Takes Nose Dive’ from Forrester and reviewed by Gavin O’Malley. In addition most corporate on-line community sites are failing according to a report by Ed Moran of Deloitte and review by The Wall Street Journal.

Miguel Gonzalez believes that ‘Corporate culture discourages the kind of openness needed to make a blog — corporate or not — worth spending time reading’. I think the issue may stem from customer engagement and employee trust. The challenge to firms is to be risqué as shown by successful blogs. These blogs present a personal view which can be deliberately controversial to spark conversations. This spreads the word and thus the link. Yes, it’s viral marketing at work again but by a real person and not from a faceless marketing department.

Being controversial is not normally associated with speaking your mind as an employee, with the exception of journalists. Even they are known get in trouble when stretching the truth a little too far. Some firms ban their employees from expressing any opinions on their personnel blog in reference to their industry. This seems a little dragooning but you can understand business fear of reprisal from customers should an employee make front page news. Firms also fear that employees may inadvertently give away secrets to competitors. All this control is probably borne out of a lack of trust in employee’s judgement because of our current hierarchical command and control management systems.

What’s the next innovation after digital printing- Social Media?

Are blogs and new media channels going away? Almost certainly not and overtime they probably will move more into the mainstream. A good but long review ‘Beyond Blogs’ by Stephen Baker and Heather Green from BusinessWeek concludes: “Even if the bubble bursts (Web 2.0)—and we predict it will—the power of social media to transform our businesses and society will only grow.”. I agree, change and evolution is inevitable. So is developing a effective new media strategy important for large firms? Defiantly, because as Ben Parr says social media is about ‘customer retention and growth’; ‘which meets company’s one overarching goal: to increase profits.’ As always the challenge is change and the need to change is getting ever more pressing.

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Mixing social network fun with serious business

May 16, 2008

With human social behaviour forming over 10,000’s of evolutionary years it is very interesting to watch our social communication now working over a relatively new medium. Ning the new Social Networking website and many of its predecessors have tapped into people’s need to socially communicate and share common and fun interests. This new medium is free, quick and easy to access within our increasingly busy lives enabling us to stay in touch with more people, more often. These social sites have expanded user numbers rapidly by piggy backing, known as “viral loop”, off our existing social networks as explained by Adam L. Penenberg at FastCompany.com.

Contact through Social networks allow us to share feeling and pass on thoughts within our personal home life, however when we leave for work we don’t simply leave our social behaviour at the front door. In business, Social Networks dance to a very different tune because rather than sharing feelings of fun to strengthen our exiting ties or make new friends we are required to seek information to base business decisions upon. Information and views shared in business are often about markets changes, customer needs, competitor’s new products or services. Work is our modern day environment of survival of the fittest and thus the war like mantra that often exists in business strategic terms.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try and make work a fun and enjoyable place, in fact workers are more effective when happy, however at work we have a definite purpose and that purpose is contextual. Long before Ning and Facebook firms have been taking advantage of individuals social networks and connections to access and sell to new customers. Tupperware parties, insurance referrals and home product pyramid sales structures are examples which have been successfully used for many years. Harnessing an effective internal social network structure in business can also bring real business benefits, however simply giving employees fun communications tools will not necessary make them more productive. This week Ross Dawson the uncamera shy business leader highlighted some of the benefits of social networking in business in an inteview with Skynews.

I recently meet Jenny Ambrozek, a New York based organizational development consultant and she has been studying Social networks in business for many years along with academics such as Robert Buckman. Jenny recently undertook a study into Facebook in business in partnership with a leading business school. The conclusion from this study was that a Social Network environment brings many benefits to the participants but Facebook’s holes Limit Potential Use as an Enterprise Wide Net Working Platform’. Whilst some firms have fully embraced this new medium many businesses have banned employees from Facebook out of fear.

Facebook and Ning were not made to address business needs and problems, however they are awaking us to a more people focused open environment and their evolution to a business specific set of tools may well provide a much improved approach than our current siloed and channel centric systems.