Some light reading for your Easter weekend, this time courtesy of those clever folks at We Are Social Singapore. This easily digestible deck on social media debunks some of the many myths and provides “10 commendments” – things that you could do if you were so inclined. My favourite? “Be in it for the long term”. After all, after we get engaged, surely we expect a deeper commitment, right?
When LinkedIn started publishing content via its LinkedIn Influencers program, it moved the social network for business professionals in a completely different direction. For many business leaders, this was a great, simple and powerful way to share business philosophy and insight. It was blogging without needing to have or create a blog. And because each item was automatically shared with your LinkedIn connections, there was no extra work required to distribute your writing.
But there was a problem. It was a closed system, and only a select group were granted access.
Taking a leaf out of the book of every digital business launch from Google+ to the now defunct Plurk, LinkedIn relentlessly kept tight control over their publishing platform. The early focus was on high quality insight from big-name business leaders like Virgin’s Richard Branson and Ryan Holmes from Hootsuite. Take a look through their various posts and you’ll notice something interesting – a collapsing of the personal and professional. The most popular articles (and the most interesting) tend to blur the lines between an individual’s business experience and their personal decision making. And I have a feeling that this has set an agenda which will be important to watch.
Eventually, the invitations started to broaden and other voices began to be heard, with new articles and more content filling our LinkedIn streams. LinkedIn Pulse would aggregate and promote the most popular posts, channels and authors – effectively filtering business-related news for us. All we had to do was choose where to focus.
A couple of weeks ago, LinkedIn announced that they were extending their publishing platform to 25,000 more LinkedIn members. So now if you are quick, anyone with a LinkedIn profile can reach an audience – or at least, reach your own connections. For the moment, you have to apply, but no doubt, this system will be extended to others in the near future.
The thing that is most interesting to me is not that LinkedIn is moving in this direction, but that business professionals are flocking to it. Up until recently, convincing executives to engage with social media was almost impossible. Despite widespread adoption of social networks by consumers, many business leaders remain sceptical, unconvinced and unlikely to commit the time required to see the benefit in social media.
But LinkedIn may have solved the challenge by making social media simple and obvious. After all, we all like to be “influencers” – even if there are 25,000 of us.
This is, however, not just about professionals, reputation and publishing. In the mixing of these professional and personal profiles, there could be something greater at play. Is this a way for LinkedIn to stake a claim against Facebook’s social domination? Will we see more insight, personality and flavour in the lives of our business leaders? Will personal and professional brands start to collide in new and exciting ways? One can only hope.
And in the meantime, my first LinkedIn article has just been published. It’s a departure from the marketing and digital focus I have here on ServantOfChaos. Hope you like it.
To call out the term “social business” seems almost anachronistic in 2014. After all, aren’t we all now working in “social businesses”? Haven’t we all been part of the digital transformation sweeping every business?
Well, yes and no.
When I ran my first social business survey back in 2011, I was interested to gather some data on Australian-based businesses. After all, there was plenty of information available about the US – but anecdotal evidence suggested that we were behind that curve. Way behind. And again, in 2012, the survey revealed that there was a gap – not only between Australia and the US – but between businesses and the customers they served. It was what IBM called a “perception gap”.
These days, despite what we hear at conferences and read on news sites and blogs, it seems that social business, digital transformation and (dare I say it) innovation continues to struggle. Sure there are pockets of connectedness. Campaigns for transformation and change. And even some success stories. But what is the true picture?
Participate in the survey and receive the report for free
When you participate, you not only have the chance to share your perspective on the state of social business / digital transformation in Australia. You will also receive a copy of the report when it is complete. This will allow you to get a sense of where you and your business stand in relation to others.
Please take a few minutes to complete the survey. And if you already happen to have AskU on your smartphone, simply enter the Private Code social2014 [case sensitive]. And be sure to share it with others. The more responses we get, the better the report will be.
Pew Research is the US-based, non-partisan “fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world”. It regularly makes a splash in social media by the regular release of research data on a wide variety of topics.
And as the Edelman Trust Barometer suggests, in a world saturated with information, we turn to brands like Pew that carry a sense of reputation and authority in order to make sense of the world. After all, it’s not more facts we need. It is insight. Analysis. Recommendation.
But how do we make sense of it all?
For those of us who look to research to help us make decisions, plan our strategies and execute our visions, Twitter has become an invaluable tool. If we organise our Twitter tools well – like TweetDeck or Hootsuite – we can curate a single, unique portal that delivers much of what we need – the content, context, filters and network for sharing. But you will also notice, as you scan the Tweetstreams, news feeds, hashtag chats and so on, they are very text heavy. My own included. But when you visit Pew demographer, Conrad Hackett’s stream, you are greeted by something altogether different. Dare I say, beautiful?
Brains and beauty are always a winning combination. Check it out.
Breathless. Heart beating. We all know the feeling. It’s all heart, feeling, emotion. We’re waiting for the brain to kick in – but there is no relief. It’s really a sign of madness.
Love is merely a madness: and, I tell you, deserves as
as well a dark house and a whip, as madmen do: and the
reason why they are not so punished and cured, is, that
the lunacy is so ordinary, that the whippers are in love too.
– Shakespeare, As You Like It, 3.2
But these days, meeting and falling in love is not just a physical thing. It’s virtual … and played out on social networks.
The Facebook data science team has been digging through the mountains of interactions that take place between people before, during and after they fall in love. They looked in detail at the number of posts exchanged going back to 100 days before the “couple” changed their relationship status from “single”. What they found was that social media interaction plays an important role in the formation of the relationship:
When the relationship starts (“day 0″), posts begin to decrease. We observe a peak of 1.67 posts per day 12 days before the relationship begins, and a lowest point of 1.53 posts per day 85 days into the relationship. Presumably, couples decide to spend more time together, courtship is off, and online interactions give way to more interactions in the physical world.
And this is where big data gets interesting. We are now starting to see digital traces of behaviours that have real world impacts. The things that we do and say online can be correlated across thousands of data points to reveal actions that take place in our so-called “real lives”. But where does it go from here?
- Social lifestyle mapping: Facebook (and other collectors of big data) can map and improve personas, track shifts and changes in community trends and lifestyles over time
- Predictive targeting: With social lifestyle mapping in place, algorithms can be used to predictively target individuals and groups with relevant information. This could take the form of advertising, public health messaging/recommendations, career suggestions and so on. In fact, the possibilities are endless
- Location awareness: As a large number of Facebook interactions take place on mobile devices, location awareness can add a greater degree of relevance to any of these predictive or realtime offers.
High level barriers:
There are some immediate barriers to usefulness that spring to mind:
- Brands are slow to catch and embrace technology innovation: Facebook (and indeed Google) have a great deal of work ahead to prepare brands and governments for the power and opportunity that this presents. Thus far we’ve seen precious little in the way of focused education and leadership in this area and without it, organisations simply won’t be prepared (or interested) in this
- Organisations lag in digital transformation: For these opportunities to be embraced, most organisations have to undertake digital transformation activities. Ranging from change management and education to strategy, business system overhauls and process improvement, digital transformation is the only way to unlock organisation-wide value – but few are seriously committed to such a program
- Privacy is shaping up as a contested business battleground: Many governments, corporations and individuals fervently hang on to notions of pre-internet era privacy. Laws and regulations have struggled to keep pace with the changes taking place in our online behaviours. Meanwhile public and private organisations are conflicted in their use of, protection and interest in privacy. We’ll need to work through this to understand whether privacy really is dead.
One of the more useful and interesting regular reports is the Edelman Trust Barometer. Each year, thousands of people are surveyed – and the global and national results for 2014 have now been published. It’s well worth a deep dive into the information, statistics and analysis. But one of the standout observations is that “Trust in every institution is at its highest point”.
This is particularly interesting for a number of reasons:
- Locally we have emerged from a particularly tumultuous election cycle. While trust in government has improved – the growth in trust in the NGO sector has accelerated. We increasingly place our trust in independent organisations NOT governments
- Business leaders and CEOs remain at the bottom of the trust heap. This may not be an issue for many organisations but for businesses that operate in high-touch environments, CEO profile can have a significant impact on a range of indicators from share price to employee morale, net promoter score etc
- Experts are back on the favoured list – with the public increasingly supportive of experts and academics.
If – as we expect – the connection between social media / business / life becomes much more nuanced and integrated through 2014, then trust will become a much more important factor in our business, professional, personal and social lives. And for organisations wanting to remain relevant in the lives of connected consumers, that trust counts.
The question for marketers is – have you built trust into business DNA? Because now more than ever, marketing = business and business = marketing.
Social media has a powerful ability to stimulate and create conversation. But when you are planning your communications, it’s essential to know your audience. And these days, “knowing” your audience isn’t just about mapping, analysing and researching. It’s about understanding their “pungent granularity”.
Pungent granularity and the social audience
To survive in a world where consumers expect one-to-one marketing and real time business responsiveness, we need to move beyond the simple targeting of our consumers. This means responding to:
- The three forces of self-segmentation: Before we take an action, make a decision or puts our hand into our pocket to actually transact, we make a quick personal assessment. We self-segment according to our needs (does this “thing” solve a need state that I have), behaviours (does this “thing” reinforce, challenge or shift my behaviour) and attitudes (how does this “thing” make me feel?). Marketers must understand the nuances of this self-segmentation and bring this understanding to their efforts
- What we already know about our consumers: Whether we capture “big data” or just quickly trawl the social web, we can quickly amass a detailed knowledge of our consumers. The challenge with this becomes not one of data collection but of frameworks for making decisions and taking actions. This is where I quite love Sam Gosling’s OCEAN framework. Moving away from the MBTI mappings, he suggests that Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism can be easily assessed via our digital footprints. And in doing so, we can plan our communications accordingly
When we pull together all this information, we get a deep sense of our consumers. We know not just what they say they “like” but how this influences their actions and decisions. We understand their connections, social graph and the way that they operate in a digitally-connected world. And deeply buried amongst all this is the “trigger” – what motivates.
The “trigger” is the kicker
Take a look at this fantastic video featuring “illusionists and entertainers”, Penn and Teller. It’s on the subject of vaccinations. It’s forceful and NSFW (with a few F-bombs scattered throughout). The language is direct, the message clear and in your face.
But will it achieve what it is intended to do?
Unfortunately, I don’t believe it will. The motivation here – not of the creator – but of the viewer is triggered by the same level of frustration shown by Penn. Those who are pro-vaccination will be keen to share and validate their own position. Those who are anti-vaccination will reject the facts, figures and approach outright. The frame is out of focus for the second group – and the argument will be based on the framing of the data as a way of disputing what is “true”.
This is why wheeling out big data will also be challenging. While the Mayo Clinic clearly states:
“Vaccines do not cause autism. Despite much controversy on the topic, researchers haven’t found a connection between autism and childhood vaccines. In fact, the original study that ignited the debate years ago has been retracted.” Mayo Clinic – Childhood Vaccines: Tough questions, straight answers (here)
… many still view this sceptically.
But if there really is a desire to change the point of view (or point of belief), behaviours and attitudes of anti-vaccination folks, there is a need to more deeply understand them.
When I first joined the ADMA expert group for social media, there was a separate expert group for search. But as we met and discussions flowed, it seemed obvious that the two should merge. After all, when it comes to all things digital, search and social were – in most cases – essential collaborators. Or should be.
In many cases, however, search and social are kept at arm’s length – each claiming digital marketing top spot.
There is no doubt, however, that combining search and social has a much more powerful impact on almost any of your metrics. And with Google’s recent announcement around shared endorsements, this impact will become more formally entwined. Those who continue to resist social media’s siren call, or who keep the artificial silos in place across their marketing teams, will start to see performance of both search and social flounder.
The only way ahead for digital is integrated. And for 2014, you can expect this to accelerate and broaden. It’s time for the walls in your marketing silos to come down – and this is the year to do it as this infographic from Prestige Marketing shows.
I have been a fan of Instagram for some time. Not just because of the filters … but because it has developed an interesting and engaged community of users. Instagram has become the Flickr that the internet didn’t forget.
But there is a vast difference between using Instagram as an individual and using it as part of your business marketing toolkit. But many of the things that you love about Instagram personally, can be usefully applied professionally – with a couple of caveats:
- Think with your brand hat on: Consider the content, composition and colour of the photos you are taking. Try to provide some form of visual consistency
- Let your personal creativity and personality shine: Just because you are working on a professional presence doesn’t mean that it is a personality free zone. You got your job due to your unique talents. Apply these to your Instagram efforts
- Connect in and connect out: Make sure that your Instagram efforts are connected with your broader marketing and business strategy. Remember, likes are not revenues, so don’t get carried away with a flurry of interest. But do take advantage of the high levels of community engagement available through Instagram – it’s a great way to connect out to your community.
This great presentation on Instagram by Ross Simmonds provides some fantastic guidelines for doing more with Instagram together with samples of brands that are doing the right things.
Remember that old saying that “when the product is FREE, the product is YOU”? Well Google are putting their advertiser’s money where your mouth is – with shared endorsements now being incorporated into search results. This brings together two powerful web transformation engines – search and social – in the one interface.
That means that those online reviews etc that you have contributed over the years are being aggregated behind the scenes and will begin to appear in the search results that you and your friends see when using Google Search. Your friends will know it is you, because the results will show your name and photo along with the review, +1, follows or shares that you have published on the web.
As Google explains, it will look like the image below …
Over the last 12 months or so, Google has been requiring Gmail users to sign up to Google+. So even if you are not a dedicated G+ user, so long as you are signed into Gmail, your browsing habits, interests etc are being collected, analysed and tagged in preparation for this style of endorsement.
But if you are not keen to lend your personal brand, reputation or face to these businesses (and to Google), you can opt-out of Shared Endorsements here.