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Business and social networks II – the end of social media’s infancy

1 Apr

by Ben Miller

@ben_at_city

Jonathan Salem Baskin is a well-known US Global Brand Strategist and author. He recently wrote about how brands understand their communication on the social web, and it makes a claer point: it’s bad news for the commercial Big Dogs. Pepsi lost its position as number#2 soft drinks (music to the ears of Coca-Cola!), after having cut its investments in TV advertising in favour of a massive social media campaign, and Burger King axed its collaboration with CP + B.

I think you should consider that the news might augur the end of a fad. No, not the end of social media, but rather the beginning of the end of social media’s infancy. Maybe it’s time to stop talking unseriously and get serious for real. Technology has utterly changed the ways consumers get and use information, and it has completely disrupted how companies create, share and collect it. We’ve had a good run of years in which this revolution has prompted quack science, theory and some good ol’ fashioned mercenary selling, most of it by smart, earnest people who believe that new technology also changed human nature and the very purpose of business function. It did neither. People still need and do the same things they always did, and companies still need to sell to them. Pretending that conversation has any value apart from the meaningful, relevant and useful information within it — fad ideas, like “content” is anything more than a silly buzzword, or that anybody wakes up in the morning hoping to have a conversation with a brand of toothpaste or insurance — is no longer credible in light of the latest news

I agree with the Jonathan’s point of view: saying that social media is key an advertising sense clearly marks the beginning of a more serious chapter for social media. We all know what to do with a Facebook page, we know that having influence on Twitter is no longer a winning strategy in itself, we know how to recognise a true practitioner, and most importantly, we also know that long-term prospects are favourable to the development of a business presence amid the internet’s social circles.

When the day comes that social media bloggers are all community managers, and engagement measures become slightly more standardised (to show to brands that their cause won’t necessarily lead to onsumer buying), one might be able to argue that the social media industry and its followers have entered a fully-matured golden age. For now, the age of reason will suffice.

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Lou Kerner: The First Wall Street Social Media Analyst

1 Apr

Josh Cheesman
@JoshCheesman

First off, when I was writing this title (the most straightforward one I could think of – it helps search engines find your material), my mind immediately went to the new film version of Marvel’s patriotic peacekeeper, which is titled Captain America: The First Avenger. I’m pretty sure though that no one is planning on making a blockbuster film called The Wall Street Social Media Analysts. Pretty sure.

But anyway, enough of hypothetical financial superhero crossovers, let’s get to the meat of the article. Last week, Private Equity Hub sent out a press release about Lou Kerner, who they say is – yep, you guessed it – the first Wall Street social media analyst. (The press release is blocked by a pay wall, but you can get the gist of it here.)

I’m going to interrupt the flow a bit here just to clear up an ambiguity – when I first read “Wall Street social media analyst”, I was unclear as to what it meant. Were they saying that Kerner was the first person on Wall Street to analyse social media companies, or that he was the first person to analyse Wall Street via social media? It turns out, they meant the former – Kerner speculates on the stock prices of Twitter and Facebook and whatnot. However, he does post financial comments on Twitter (@loukerner), so technically both are true.

But anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, so Lou is apparently the first social media analyst on Wall Street. I have to admit, this struck me as a bit odd. Why? Well…

It’s Been a Long Time Coming

I guess the thing that most took me by surprise is the fact this has only just happened. I mean, Facebook’s been around since 2004. I first became aware of it in my first year of university (late 2009), and by the end of the academic year it was massive in the UK (Compete.com had already ranked it the most popular social media website in the world in January 2009).

The point I’m making is, why did it take so long for the business world to notice that there might be something in this social media malarkey? That maybe it was something worth reporting on? That maybe there was some money to be made form it? I mean, Mark Zuckerberg (creator of Facebook, for those of you like me who couldn’t be bothered to see The Social Network) became the world’s youngest billionaire in 2008. You’d think that’s the kind of thing Wall Street would hear about.

The Social Network

I mean, I know I didn't see it, but come on, the film of his life won three Oscars.

And it’s not like Lou Kerner stumbled across this stuff over night. He definitely knew about Facebook – he offered to buy a stake in it when Zuckerberg was still at Harvard (Will Wall Street’s social media analyst roll eyes or turn heads?). He’s been talking to the press about the importance of social media since 2003. And yet when he said two years ago that Facebook would one day be worth $100bn he was laughed at.

It seems to me that the world of business – and business journalism – needs to get with the programme. (Or should that be program? Sorry, grammar joke.) I’m not saying social media is the be all and end all of economics, but Facebook is now worth $85bn. Lou Kerner is going to do very well for himself if he stays as Wall Street’s only social media analyst.

Use social networks for your business communication!

31 Mar

by Ben Miller

@ben_at_city

According to a study by BNP Paribas, 30% of internet users in Western Europe use social networks for professional means, chiefly to expand their professional reputation. This is a figure that cannot be taken lightly, especially when one looks at the rise of social networks, in particular ‘vocational’ ones like LinkedIn. Social communication within business is often seen as an unmanageable risk – you never know who’s gonna let something slip. This might, however, not be something to fear…

The business model has changed

The business model has changed! Today, the tight and traditional business model is fading in favour of greater openness.  Businesses in general must now deal with infinitely more complex systems. Interactions and combinations are multiple, and the set of the interdependence is confusing.

Business is no longer a closed entity. The boundaries between internal and external communication are increasingly fine, and it is difficult to contain information exclusively within your company, whether or not you yourself are an executive. Outgoing e-mails, facebook status updates, Twitter reactions, MSN, Skype… the list goes on. There are so many doors open to the outside that are not necessarily harmful to your business structure, provided that use of social platforms is monitored. A policy concerning what can and cannot be said on social networking sites should be developed.

Proaction in your day-to-day business activities

Many businesses have virtual doors which are communication channels, allowing informative flow both internally and externally. In 2011, it’s definitely impossible to close these doors, given the wealth of cyber communication available to employees. But the flow can indeed be controlled. Over 80% of business leaders don’t include their professional actions on social networks, and this is a shame. Social platforms are the perfect way to advertise and even show off your company in a particular circle, and it’s absolutely free! Andy Beal has defined a list of 12 key of e-reputation points that each company should monitor:

1. Your Personal Name

Whether you’re an independent consultant, or a very small cog on a big corporate wheel, you should absolutely monitor any media mentions of your own name. An extra tip, monitor your user names too: monitoring “andy beal” would likely not include mentions of “andybeal.”

2. Your Company Name

Another “no brainer.” Monitor your company name, but also monitor any likely misspellings or legacy company names. For example, GlaxoSmithKline should also monitor “GSK,” “Glaxo,” and “Glaxo Wellcome.”

3. Your Product Brands

If you’re Google, you should monitor the reputation of your key product brands. What’s being said about “Android” or “Gmail.” The same goes for your product brands. You may not be able to keep track of all your products, but you should track the ones that are the most vital to your business.

4. Your CEO (and other execs)

I’ll make you this promise. At some point in his tenure, your CEO will put his foot squarely in his mouth. You should monitor all possible iterations of his name, so you can be the first to know–or at least know before the WSJ finds out.

5. Your Media Spokesperson

Even if CEO might is a recluse, I’m sure someone in your company is in the public spotlight a lot. If I were Lenovo, I’d monitor mentions of David Churbuck–after all he’s likely discussing Lenovo on his blog and Twitter. (Knowing David, this post made his radar within 2 minutes of being published…hi David!)

6. Your Marketing Message

“So easy even a caveman can do it?” “Just do it!” What if those campaign slogans were accompanied by “sucks” or “I’ll never buy from them again?” Monitoring your marketing campaigns will help you understand if your message is getting across, and what your customers have to say about it.

7. Your Competition

Surely you’d find value in knowing your biggest competitor just got the jump on you. Reports suggest that inside Lenovo, execs knew about the launch of Apple’s Mac Air within minutes–important for Lenovo, as it was planning it’s own ultra-light notebook.

As we explain in the book, Pepsi found itself in troubled-waters over the revelation its Aquafina was nothing but purified tap water from New York. If Coca Cola monitored the buzz for Pepsi’s products, they would see how consumers reacted to the news–and prepared for the questions about its own “tap water,” Dasani.

8. Your Industry

If you keep a watchful eye on industry trends, you can spot opportunities and potential disasters. Everyone’s raving about the iPhone, but some hate the touchscreen keypad? Maybe BlackBerry should offer a handset that offers both a touchscreen and its highly-praised keyboard.

9. Your Known Weaknesses

Your brand has a weakness. If that’s a shock to you, I apologize for being the bearer of bad news. Still, it’s better I tell you now, than a customer tell the New York Times.

Take an honest look at your products and services and ask yourself, what are our weaknesses. If Dell has admitted to itself that it’s customer support sucked, maybe it would have been in a better position to discover–and respond–to Jeff Jarvis sooner.

10. Your Business Partners

If you’re Boeing wouldn’t you want to know if one of your airline customers just declared bankruptcy? How does that effect your quarterly sales numbers? For you, maybe the CEO of a company you did that “co-branded” campaign with, was just snapped leaving a brothel–how would that reflect on your own reputation.

Identify your key business partners and make sure you know what’s happening to their business.

11. Your Clients’ News

OK, for all of your internet marketing agencies–and anyone else that knows the value of keeping clients happy–here’s a tip for you. Monitor the news for your clients and then send them a note to congratulate them on their accomplishments–or maybe “get their back” if you see trouble brewing. Your retention rate will go way up!

12. Your Intellectual Property

If you invested the time–and expense–to register a trademark or copyright your work, shouldn’t you make sure it’s not being infringed upon? Apart from enforcing trademark infringements, you should also make sure there aren’t any cases of mistaken identity. Did someone just complain about how much their Google iPhone sucks? You might want to suggest a correction–or maybe not, if you’re Apple.

Simple!