Social Media

200 Ideas – samples of technological trends

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Recently in Geneva, Laurent Haug (creator of the liftconference) organized a very interesting conference presenting the 200 latest ideas in technology. Some of the highlights included:

Education: there are increasing numbers of networks offering online courses from most renowned universities such as Harvard, MIT, Berkley, and others. Also, the first completely online university is called Udacity and offers project-based online classes with cases built by tech leaders like Google, AT&T, and Intuit. Newspapers such as the NYT are also engaging in education, creating networks placing their contents at the disposal of potential students.

Interactive services: interactive sports sessions on line with a virtual spinning class and virtual bank tellers you can speak to on Skype.

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NCR APTRA Interactive Teller enables banks to offer their customers the benefits of both self-service video banking and the branch experience in one solution.

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Some interesting mobile statistics 2013

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According to the  The International Telecommunication Union (February 2013), there are 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions in the world.That is equivalent to 96 percent of the world population (7.1 billion according to the ITU), a significant increase from 6.0 billion in 2011.

The Mobile Factbook 2013 predicts that mobile subscribers worldwide will reach 7.0 billion by the end of 2013, 7.5 billion by the end of 2014 and 8.5 billion by the end of 2016.

Over half of the world’s mobile subscribers are in Asia Pacific. By 2016 Africa and Middle East will overtake Europe as the second largest region for mobile subscribers.

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Generally Accepted Practices Report

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The seventh GAP (Generally Accepted Practices) study is out. It looks at topics pertinent to successful management of public relations within an organization (both private and public). The survey  includes feedback on key topics such as budgets, responsibilities, use of social media, measurement and evaluation and more. The purpose of the study is to help practitioners better manage PR/Comm in their organization, point out trends which are important for their work and  identify Best Practices against which they can benchmark their own organizations. It is relevant for people working within organizations but also for consultants.

Nonprofit Social Network Report 2012

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An interesting report published in collaboration with the Nonprofit Technology Network, Common Knowledge, and Backbaud. The report provides insights for nonprofits, foundations, media and businesses working with nonprofits about the most important behavior and trends in social networking with regard to marketing, communications, fundraising, programming and IT.

Some of the findings include:

  • The Most Common Fundraising Tactic on Facebook is an Ask for an Individual Gift – i.e. soliciting Facebook supporters for individual donations (e.g. one-time gifts, memberships, monthly gifts). Event fundraising was the second highest category .
  • The Top 3 Factors for the underlying success on social networks are: Strategy (they took the time to develop a vision and strategy for a commercial social networking program), Prioritization by Executive Management (the executive team prioritized social networking for the organization), and Dedicated Staff (they created a new position or added staff specifically focused on the commercial social networking program).
  • Facebook advertising is used primarily to raise awareness about the organization or program,  to increase the number of likes on the Facebook page, and to have supporters complete non-financial calls-to-action (ex. sign a petition, volunteer, attend a free event, etc.).
  • The platforms used most are Facebook, Twitter and Youtube with some now egging with Pinterest (more so than Google+).
  • The metrics most used to gauge the success of the social networking communities are “site visitors”, “reach”, “customer feedback”, while the least used are “user generated content” and “fundraising revenue”.
  • The main goals identified for the commercial social networking program for 201 was  “build base”, “engage members more”, and “do or grow fundraising”.
  • In terms of outreach and marketing methods used to promote the commercial social networking sites, most identified placing links on their orgnizational website as the method used most often. Using email, promoting the social networking presence at events, and placing social network presence on print material, were also identified as frequently used methods. Surprisingly, engaging with bloggers, SEO, and buying ads is apparently not used frequently.
  • Communication and marketing departments are most often responsible for social networking.

Read the full report here>>

3rd annual AMEC Summit feedback

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At the 3rd annual AMEC Summit in Lisbon some interesting thoughts were shared about measurement and evaluation in PR, particularly linked to social media. From establishing definitions for concepts such as engagement and influence to discussions about AVE’s the conference provided a wide spectrum of input from professionals in PR and beyond. A good summary has been provided by Professor Tom Watson of Bournmouth University. He also presented an interesting workshop on the fundamentals of measurement and evaluation. Read more on his Dummyspit blog in the post on social media metrics.

Another good summary can be found on the PR Media blog.

The presentations can be viewed here.

A structured communication plan is the foundation of a sustainable social media strategy

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Recently I received several calls from organisations seeking advice about how to establish a presence on Facebook and other social media platforms. Most importantly they wanted to hear about the advantages of social media adoption. My first question to them is always: what is your communication objective? This is usually followed by a moment of silence. In fact, most of them do not have a communications strategy.  Yet jumping into social media without a proper communications strategy seems like building a house without a proper foundation.

Social media may produce immediate results but it also presents an opportunity for a long term communication management. You build relationships, gain knowledge, and participate in and shape conversations. But how do you combine the immediacy of posts, status updates, rss, etc. with longterm objectives and goals linked to a communications strategy? To answer that we should review the elements of a communications strategy. These include a proper stakeholder analyses, goals, objectives, and a proper method for evaluating results.

A stakeholder analysis is essential for any organisation. There are numerous methods that can be used which focus on the identification of stakeholders. The challenge is to decide which stakeholders should receive specific attention. One excellent model that can be used was developed by Brad L. Rawlins which prioritizes stakeholders through a four-step process: 1. Identifying all potential stakeholders according to their relationship to the organization; 2. Prioritizing stakeholders by attributes; 3. Prioritizing stakeholders by relationship to the situation; 4. Prioritizing the publics according to the communication strategy. This model helps an organisation decide how much attention each stakeholder group deserves or requires. If you know your publics you can select which platforms are most suited for your specific objectives more effectively. You might set shorter communications initiatives with some stakeholders while others would require a longterm investment. Social media could be used for both.

In communication we distinguish between goals and objectives, in that a goal is a statement rooted in the organization’s mission or vision and an objective is a statement emerging from the organization’s goals. For example, if your goal is to raise awareness about a certain issue or product, your objective might indicate how much awareness and it would specify a time frame. Once an organisation has set specific objectives and decided on which stakeholders to target, specific channels can be identified. These channels may include a more traditional approach such as print journalism or advertising or they may include social media. One advantage social media offers is that you are able to listen to your stakeholders. Effective communicators implement a two-way approach which requires longterm investment. Just posting a message blindly to reach a maximum number of people will not be effective in the long run.

The final step is then to decide on how to measure your results. Here again the most effective approach is a combined measurement, both on and offline. Some interesting references for measurement are Intelligent Measurement and the Metricsman. They talk extensively about the importance of evaluation and measurement but also about the combined approach implementing both online and offline techniques.

One reference which I think describes this point is from the film Field of Dreams, where Kevin Costner’s character hears a voice which tells him to build a baseball stadium. He hears repeatedly “if you build it, they will come” referring to the spectators. And at the end of the film you see thousands of cars approaching the farmland on which he had built the field. But was he ready for all those people? We don’t know because the film ends. In social media it is comparable, you can build your profiles, start posting, commenting, linking and you might generate a great deal of traffic very quickly. But if you do not feed that traffic with quality material they will disappear and it will be counter productive in the long run. Therefore, think and plan ahead. Establish a proper communications strategy before building.

NYT article: The Data-Driven Life

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A very interesting article in The New York Times today about ubiqutous self-tracking. The article, titled The Data-Driven Life, is written by Gary Wolf who usually writes about science and social issues for Wired.

This article explores both the benefits and drawbacks of new technology which allows us to compensate for “human error” such as e blind spots in our field of vision and gaps in our stream of attention.

Sometimes we can’t even answer the simplest questions. Where was I last week at this time? How long have I had this pain in my knee? How much money do I typically spend in a day? These weaknesses put us at a disadvantage. We make decisions with partial information. We are forced to steer by guesswork. We go with our gut.

Apparently, machines can compensate for these lacunas. Examples depicted cover a range of tracking devices from the simplest used for sports (runners) to sophisticated systems applied to track bipolar disorders, addiction, and even ranges in mental function. Perhaps the most frightening of those mentioned is a digital device that tucks into specially designed toddlers’ clothing and can be used to predict language development through tracking the number of conversational exchanges a child has with adults.

“The more they want to share, the more they want to have something to share.” Personal data are ideally suited to a social life of sharing. You might not always have something to say, but you always have a number to report.

Our search history, friend networks and status updates allow us to be analyzed by machines in ways we can’t always anticipate or control. It’s natural that we would want to reclaim some of this power: to look outward to the cloud, as well as inward toward the psyche, in our quest to figure ourselves out.

Watch out for those machines, though. Humans know a special trick of self-observation: when to avert our gaze. Machines don’t understand the value of forgiving a lapse, or of treating an unpleasant detail with tactful silence. A graph or a spreadsheet talks only in numbers, but there is a policeman inside all of our heads who is well equipped with punishing words. “Each day my self-worth was tied to the data”.

Electronic trackers have no feelings. They are emotionally neutral, but this very fact makes them powerful mirrors of our own values and judgments. The objectivity of a machine can seem generous or merciless, tolerant or cruel. Designers of tracking systems are trying to finesse this ambivalence.

Often, pioneering trackers struggle with feelings of being both aided and tormented by the very systems they have built. The article mentions a woman, Alexandra Carmichael, one of the founders of the self-tracking site CureTogether, who recently had to stop.  “One pound heavier this morning? You’re fat. Skipped a day of running? You’re lazy. It felt like being back in school. Less than 100 percent on an exam? You’re dumb.” Carmichael had been tracking 40 different things about herself. The data she was seeing every day didn’t respect her wishes or her self-esteem. It was awful, and she had to stop.

What motivates Trackers? Those focused on their health want to ensure that their medical practitioners don’t miss the particulars of their condition; those who record their mental states are often trying to find their own way to personal fulfillment amid the seductions of marketing and the errors of common opinion; fitness trackers are trying to tune their training regimes to their own body types and competitive goals, but they are also looking to understand their strengths and weaknesses, to uncover potential they didn’t know they had.

All this to satisfy our struggle for self-actualization and perfection? Is that the future? We will all walk around with contraptions attached to our bodies, or inserted under our skin, which will track our every move. the information will be sent to a computer which will then alert us to inconsistencies and provide suggestions about how to get back on the “right track” to perfection? And what happens to all this information if it falls into the wrong hands? Something to ponder on over the week-end.

The article also includes a number of very interesting comments worth reading.