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Building a NanoSat

Satellite Applications Catapult organised a weekend to build a nano-satellite using Arduino and friends, equipped with radio transmitter, camera and sensors, and launched on a weather balloon… Read More

Ovum event: The Future of Work

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Ovum analysts recently held a Future of Work conference with presentations from various vendors including Google and Microsoft and systems integrators such as Computacenter and Wipro, along with some great industry case studies. Here is a short summary of some of the conversations that took place. Read More

How to pilot social media tools

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To navigate social media, you need a champion within HR for internal adoption, recognise the constraints your industry operates within, and actively engage with influencers on external channels.

I recently presented at the J.Boye Conference in Aarhus and had the chance to sit in on some other sessions including three great examples of how to pilot, introduce and adopt social tools for business. Two were focused internally, improving employee engagement. One was external, focused on customer engagement. All had great lessons to share. Here are a few soundbites.

IBM BlueIQ

Luis Suarez presented lessons learned by IBM since introducing BlueIQ ten years ago to increase knowledge sharing and collaboration internally. It followed the old adage – happy employees lead to happy customers. Ignore that correlation at your peril in this new connected world we live in. The early adopters of BlueIQ were often the black sheep in their groups, the disrupters upsetting the status quo. BlueIQ gave them a community (and an authentic voice). The initiative has since grown to over 50,000 active participants globally.

There was lots of great advice, but these two quotes particularly stood out:

“You can be appointed a manager but you have to demonstrate leadership, every day.”

When asked if there is anything that could or should have been done differently earlier in the project, Luis gave a great tip:

“To drive adoption of social tools internally, you really need to find a champion in HR. Because they have the power to do anything regarding employees.”

Wise words.

UBS Global

Peter Barnes is the global head of web communication and collaboration IT for UBS. It was great to hear his story as a number of my own clients are challenged with embracing online, mobile and social technologies within the constraints of tightly regulated industries.

UBS deployed Jive three years ago with a specific intent – improve customer service. Working within the confines of the banking sector meant that it is very difficult to be as transparent with information as many people would like. For starters, the solution had to be on-premise. Cloud-based alternatives were not an option. And a vetting process was needed to ensure no client-identifiable information was shared. UBS had 6 developers working on their deployment to tweak Jive to meet their needs.

To give an idea of the challenges, here’s my most re-tweeted soundbite from the conference, posted during the session:

“The four horse riders of the apocalypse just referenced by UBS at JBoye13 – head of legal, head of compliance, head of risk and head of HR”

Sometimes, ‘just do it’ is simply not possible. It’s easy to bash roles such as legal and compliance but it is their livelihoods on the line if something goes wrong and they are accused of being negligent in their duties.

A great tip shared was the introduction of a ‘whistle blower’ account that anyone could contact if they spotted content being shared that they were concerned about.

BNP Paribas Fortis

Benoit Minvielle is head of e-Communication, Social Media and Innovation at BNP Paribas Fortis (BNPPFF). He presented a case study that walked through one of the best run pilots in social media tools I’ve seen. They launched 2 years ago with a very small deployment, initially in Belgium.

The first step taken was to monitor and listen to what customers were saying, and where. They found that most questions were being posted on Facebook. They also analysed the overall market and found that 4 million customers in BNPPFF were logging in twice a day on social networks.

The decision to move from 1-way to 2-way communications was not taken lightly. They recognised that it would require very different business practices. Crisis management is one of the most visibly affected processes – most will now be heard about first on social media channels. Real-time monitoring was implemented and paired with a ’24 x 7′ alerting system to also be able to respond in real-time. Backed up with the more traditional reporting and analytics to study trends on a regular basis and send outputs to appropriate departments.

BNP Paribas Fortis

(Click to view larger image)

BNPPFF implemented a ‘Social Media Command Centre’ integrating with the different business areas. Some required the real-time statistics, others needed structured reports for more organised reactions. The image above shows some of the different departments involved.

To learn from the pilot, they did monitor stats on the sites, such as likes. But were much more interested in quality than quantity. BNPPFF identified influencers and targeted them to become actively involved in the channels. They were considered key to the positive outcomes achieved. But for two-way conversations to work, you have to be good at listening and expect the conversation to not always be about you:

“Be authentic, listen and engage. Don’t control”

When asked what impact engaging on social media channels had had on sales, Benoit responded that this is not yet a Point of Sale. BNPPFF are net attempting to sell any products through social media channels. That may happen later, but for now it is about added value through better customer engagement.

Three great case studies and presenters. Thanks so much to Luis, Peter and Benoit for sharing and to Janus and the team for organising a great conference. If you’re interested in attending a future one, they are currently held annually in Philadelphi, US and Aarhus, Denmark. Visit the J.Boye web site for details.

Flickr image ‘Map reading‘ kindly shared by Zoetnet

Dell B2B Social Media Huddle

On 25th May 2010, Microsoft hosted Dell’s second B2B Social Media Huddle in London.

This blog post will look at what has changed since the previous event held last December, and will be a shorter post than the original series. Some content was repeated or similar and reading the first series would be a good place to start, beginning with Dell B2B Social Media Huddle – Part 1 (December 2009).

Overall, the tone was more muted this time and focused on the reality of social media, mixing lessons learned in how to benefit from social media with examples that question its value in a business-to-business (B2B) context. I suspect that’s because business-to-business examples are far more likely to be found under the umbrella of Enterprise 2.0 than Social Media. At this event, there was a lot more emphasis on social media for advertising and marketing.

Does Social Media Matter?

12 months ago, the first time Domino’s Pizza management heard about what their employees had been up to on YouTube was when they were tipped off by a blogger. The incident was considered a case study in why businesses should be more actively monitoring and participating in social media. But Domino’s did react quickly once notifed and, 12 months later, has any damage been done to the brand? The evidence suggests you can fail miserably (initially) at social media, the judgement comes more from your reaction and how you get out of a bad situation rather than how you got into it…

During one of the unconference sessions, the presenter Ciaran Norris played a video of IKEA leveraging Facebook for social media marketing. IKEA created a profile, uploaded photos and whoever was first to tag an item in the photo won the item. Held up as a great example of how to engage your audience, what’s the benefit? Outside those who received free goods, does it change anyone else’s opinion? Decide for yourself:

Whilst I’m unconvinced about how much value was generated from this one-time limited lucky dip, for sure some value was created. And that’s perhaps the point we have reached with social media…

What’s the Return on Inaction?

With businesses struggling to put a value on social media efforts, making any potential return on investment hard to predict, an alternative approach was offered – evaluating the return on inaction. (You could equally use ‘Risk on Inaction’.) What happens if you do nothing? In the era of telephones, if your customers all had telephones would you choose not to have one? What’s the value of that telephone? How about the value of having an email address? Or web site?…

Whilst I’m getting more than a little tired of videos displaying trends to a thumping tune designed to have everyone reacting in amazement, the numbers do illustrate just how far we have travelled down the rabbit hole in to Internet wonderland.

Target who you interact with…

It was interesting to observe at the event how Dell and Cisco continue to expand their social media efforts to reach a larger audience. Both have multiple accounts on Twitter and fan pages/groups on Facebook. For brands, it seems the more successful use of Social Media come from specalisation, connecting with multiple but very specific audiences rather than the generic TV method of targeting everyone/stereotypes. It would be prohibitively expensive to create specialist adverts for print and TV media, but not so with social networks.

…and let your targets find you

I’ve tweeted my frustration at seeing Nokia target my Facebook profile with pink versions of their outdated phones, when the only data they have to go on is that my profile gender is female. That is no different to a stereotyped TV advert. The successful uses of online sites like Facebook and Twitter involve creating channels that people want to join. We ignore banners splattered around the site then go visit the fan page of a brand. They are both advertising mechanisms. Facebook’s challenge is that it is currently trying to monetise using the old fashioned format rather than the new. Just as the advertising industry never thought online text ads would work when Google first introduced them to finance a search engine, the same disruptive thinking is needed if advertising is to also finance a social network.

“Be careful what you wish for…”

It’s that age old quote and one to consider by all businesses tentatively engaging in social media to promote sales. Back to the IKEA example. Technically, they broke Facebook’s terms of service (ToS) by creating a profile to advertise their products. And the idea has recently spawned fake imitations with fans being duped into handing over  personal details to con artists – see IKEA Imposter attracts thousands of Facebook fans per hour. Unlikely to cause long-term damage to IKEA but time and resources are now required to monitor and manage the social media channels they have chosen to participate in.

To wrap-up, the repeating message throughout the event was that social media will take time and resources, and you will fail at some point. The medium is too unpredictable to not fail, as IKEA is now learning. It’s how you respond and adjust that will make all the difference. With all the pitfalls, it may feel tempting to try and ignore social media. But the simple fact is, you can’t. It’s like the telephone, email and web sites. In their early days, they were a luxury. But once they became established, to not participate is to not be in business. Once you overcome the realisation that avoiding social media is pointless, you can start to focus on the unique benefits it can offer that justify managing those inevitable pitfalls.

Twitter has brought down barriers to communicate with people you would previously have struggled to connect with

Mel Carson talked through lessons learned by Microsoft Advertising as they began to engage in social media. This quote was the highlight and is applicable to everyone. For Mel, it resulted in getting Stephen Fry to attend a meeting. Whilst you might not secure a visit from Mr Fry to your birthday party, there is nothing stopping you from contacting him, direct, through Twitter. It is becoming common for TV shows to include a Twitter hashtags. Two examples from the BBC – The Virtual Revolution and Wonders of the Solar System. In both cases, the presenters continue to be active on Twitter and will happily argue discuss their point with you. At this event, it was interesting to note that all but two presenters in the brochure had included their Twitter IDs.

This post has summarised some of the content from the excellent Dell B2B Social Media Huddle. A follow up post will look specifically at B2B and B2E (internal) uses of social media. Thanks again to Kerry Bridges and Neville Hobson for organising, and Mel Carson from Microsoft for hosting.

Presentations from the event:
References:

Related blog posts: Social Media tag