My Crazy Prediction?

In September 2008 I made a prediction, that email as we know it today will no longer exist in 10 years time.

Read The Death Of Email by 2018

Will I be proved to be a:
or Fool?

Time Remaining:


Featured Author on Business 2 Community

Disclaimer: The views expressed on stopthinksocial are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle.
Strategic advice and experience on making the most of  being social in the workplace

Going that extra Social Media mile

Here's a little experiment I conducted:

About 6 months ago I put two searches in my Tweetdeck (my tool of choice to follow what is going on in the twitter sphere), one for Web 2.0, the other Social Media.  Every 2 minutes I would be notified of how many new references were made to these particular search terms. After about an hour, the average ratio was about 3:1 in favour of Social Media. For every mention of Web 2.0, there would be three mentions of Social Media. Today, I conducted the same experiment, under the same conditions, and the ratio had increased to approx 12:1.

OK, this experiment is not conducted under strict labatory conditions but it does show a trend in how things have evolved, and it is supported by the fact that instead of having conversations with technical gurus about web 2.0, I am now having conversations with executives about Social Media.

But why has there been this sudden upturn towards Social Media?

It's because executives are beginning to take social media seriously, to see it as a game changer in not only advertising but also in customer engagement.

This might be an obvious statement but you would be surprised at just how many businesses feel they are already engaged in Social Media because they have a blog or a YouTube channel (in some cases multiple creating serious disparity in its message). That is like dipping your toe in the water and saying that you have been for a swim. You cannot approach social media in this way (remember the slideshare Social Media in Business: It's just a bunch of tools right?), you have to put in place a long term Social Media strategy. O2's Glen Manoff, director of communications and reputation, is doing exactly this and said in a New Media Age article recently:

"We're pulling our social media activity together into one place and creating a clear strategy and a consistent face to the world."

"There's a lot of crowdsourcing and people helping each other online, but the big role for us is to answer their questions about products. We want to participate more and help where we can."

Other businesses will soon start to follow O2's example, and begin thinking about their customers social activities and how they can engage better with them through Social Media.

But as well as an external social media strategy, you need to go that extra mile and develop an internal one to help engage the right employees and departments in responding to customer issues, questions and potential opportunities. As Mikal Belicove (contributing editor for Entrepreneur) wrote recently on how Starbucks is building meaningful customer engagement through social media:

"The magic of social media is that you can recognize the opportunity quickly. The challenge is in responding just as quickly."

In short you also need to socially connect your employees as well as socially connect with your customers. By socially connecting your employees you are also able to access their tacit knowledge, a commodity many companies forget to utilise (see my early post Social Media is the key for sharing tacit knowledge).

As you have probably seen on the news today, there has been a small upturn in the UK economy (0.3% growth), and businesses are now beginning to come through the recession. However the businesses that will continue to grow are those that have embraced social media and made it part of their long term strategy, externally and internally.

Is your business going the extra Social Media mile?


Don't let the social media train pass you by

By now you must be aware that I am a huge fan of CC Chapman's podcast Managing the Gray which is all about life lessons and advice on positive thinking. Great podcast, if you haven't heard it you should check it out.

Anyway, whilst driving down to see my brother-in-law yesterday I was listening to the episode "You Are The Only One Standing In YOUR Way" which was talking about the barriers people put in their way to prevent them from achieving their short and long term goals and when you sit back and look at those barriers the only real barrier is you.

This then got me thinking about social media and the barriers people put up. Some just stick their head in the sand hoping that if they hold their breath long enough the social media train will chug on past them, others are happy in the way they work today with the more traditional methods so why would they want to consider using social media?

My train of thought (sorry for the pun!) then took me back to a few years ago when I didn't know how to drive and I was using public transport everywhere. People then were asking me why I didn't want to drive and my response was always the same - that I was happy getting public transport because I didn't know anything different.

And that's the point, how could I miss what I had never experienced. Yes, driving a car would get me from A to B faster, and I would not have to put up with late trains due to wrong sort of snow on the line or sitting next to unsavoury characters and nor would I have to put up with the good old British weather standing on platforms or at bus-stops. I understood the argument, I truly did, but I was happy with public transport despite all these advantages because I had never experienced driving before.

If was only the fact that my wife became pregnant that I decided to overcome the barrier of not wanting to drive and I'm so glad I did because I now LOVE driving! I drive everywhere (apologies to all those green people out there for my last comment, but I have done my bit for 15 years taking the train to work). I even go to Wales occasionally to just drive around Snowdonia. It's the most fantastic feeling driving along Llanberis Pass (North Wales), regarded as one of the most fabulous drives in all of Great Britain (even Jeremy Clarkson put it in his top 10 drives). I would never have been able to experience the feeling of driving between those enormous scree slopes, had I not overcome the barrier of not wanting to drive.

It's the same with social media. Just because social media is new and requires change in how you do things today, doesn't mean you can't benefit in your personal life or in business. Identify the barriers that are preventing you from wanting to use social media and if that barrier is you, then take the leap of faith and try it. Experience what it is like to be better connected to your friends and family, to be better connected with your colleagues and I guarantee you that you will reap the rewards.

Just because you are happy with the way things are doesn't mean that there isn't a better way of doing things. I cannot say you will feel the same exaltation I did driving along Llanberis Pass (North Wales) but in the same way I will not go back to dodgy train journeys to work you won't go back to the traditional communication and collaboration style you currently are so fond of.

Overcome your barriers to social media and embrace the change. You will be glad you did!

So have you come across people who put up barriers to social media in their personal lives or workplace and if so what did you say to convince them that it is ok to embrace change? Maybe you have put up your own barriers to social media? I would love to hear from you......


Sponsored conversations - good or bad?

I recently listened to one of the most fascinating podcasts I have heard in a long time.

The podcast was from The Social Mediasphere where they had a great illustrious panel consisting of Sean Corcoran from Forrester Research, Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read Write Web and Ted Murphy of IZEA and Wendy Piersall of Sparkplugging, all talking about whether 'sponsored conversations' should be allowed or not. This is an old podcast, but is still a relevant and hot topic even today.

For those that have not heard the term 'sponsored conversations' before, Forrester Research defines it as:

"a marketing technique in which marketers provide financial or material compensation to bloggers in exchange for them posting blog content about a brand."

Click to download the entire independent report by Forrester Research.

The podcast is 90mins long, but I highly recommend you pour yourself a glass of wine and sit back and listen to the whole show, but for those that cannot spare the time, let me provide the highlights for you with a little flavouring of me added in.

Marshall’s standpoint was he didn’t agree with "paying people to put words in someone’s mouth", and I have to say I can understand where he is coming from. If we take an A-list blogger who has a loyal following, and Apple approach them to write a review on the new iPad and tell them that they can be as honest as they like in their post and once finished they can keep the iPad, surely this 'payment' is going to influence their review? If a poor review is written, Apple are unlikely to use them again.

There was also a lot of talk that providing 'full disclosure' to your readers when a post is a true post or a 'sponsored conversation' is acceptable behaviour, but I do wonder where this full disclosure takes place – at the bottom in small print maybe?

However a good point was made by Sean, "how is this any different from a resort paying someone to fly over to write a review on their hotel?"

I very rarely sit on the fence, but this debate had some very good and compelling arguments on both sides. However, in the current climate it is hard to argue against anyone wanting to be paid for doing something they are good at, but it will ultimately be down to the readers to determine the authenticity of their posts and whether they will remain loyal followers.

I came across this video on YouTube from IZEA called The Caveman's Guide to Sponsored Conversations and whilst informative it is also a little humourous. Had to share it.


Social Media is the key for sharing Tacit knowledge

There is no greater asset to a company than the tacit knowledge an employee possesses and the possibilities if you could tap into and utilise that knowledge.

"Tacit knowledge is not easily shared. Tacit knowledge consists often of habits and culture that we do not recognize in ourselves. In the field of knowledge management, the concept of tacit knowledge refers to a knowledge which is only known by an individual and that is difficult to communicate to the rest of an organization....With tacit knowledge, people are not often aware of the knowledge they possess or how it can be valuable to others" - wikipedia

Social Media is the key to help a business reveal and disseminate tacit knowledge.

For the last 12 months I have been striving to adopt a new way of working, a more "socially open engagement" concept in my organisation, to help share the tacit knowledge of our employees.  We are making headway but I have to be honest, it has been a challenge, particularly in a company that is very technology focused and Generation X heavy.

I tend to relate it to as hard a challenge as it was to convince people that mobile phones would be a great idea in the 70's, because let's face it what I am asking people to do is to swim against the current of company culture.

But it’s not an insurmountable challenge.

We have just finished developing and deploying the Social Project Office here in EMEA, and this social technology could be a giant leap forward in helping us to disseminate our own tacit knowledge.

This new social technology has a Facebook style interface, capturing conversational input throughout the life cycle of a project whilst allowing employees to become a Fan.

Whilst encouraging employees to openly participate on projects or initiatives that are of interest to them is not a new concept (Google have been doing this for years), but encouraging them to share their tacit knowledge in this way as a contributor (i.e. someone who prefers to contribute from the sidelines rather than be actively engaged in the project) is a concept many may struggle with. A form of community based project management.

Even though this new tool has not been officially announced, people are already adding projects and becoming Fans to actively participate. Over the next few months it will be exciting to see how people engage with the “socially open engagement” concept and the tool itself.

However one thing is clear, technologies like the Social Project Office, Facebook, Twitter etc… are good examples where Social Media can really help us disseminate tacit knowledge and help shape the way we manage our business.

Are you ready for the change…..?


Social Media: It's just a bunch of tools right?

Firstly, I would just like to announce that we have a new addition to the family Dylan James Christopher which is also the reason for the long break between my posts on my blog (he's only a few weeks old and I am blaming him already).

However, I am refreshed and back!

Ok, so over the weekend I realised that I have been having the same conversations over and over again with colleagues that Social Media is so much more than the technology. So I decided that I need to take a different approach to communicating this message.

So I have put together the following slideshare presentation to get the message across in a fun but clear way. Please let me know if I succeeded.....