Tag Archives: social networks

To Innovate with Social Networks and Media, Bring it Closer to Home

19 Mar

I was recently introduced by a long-time friend to a CEO of a local company, a man at the helm of the family corporation established by his father. One thing that struck me during our  conversation–and as an observation during my stay at the corporate premises–was that this man recognizes family strength and deeply believes in the benefits of innovation derived from learning and in adopting advancing technologies in the industry they vie in.

Family Working at Home, November 1912 (New York City)

Jewish family working on garters in kitchen in tenement home, November 1912 (New York City). TRiver | Flickr | U.S. Library of Congress

From Offline to Online

I can sense that the business is something the CEO would defend at all cost from competitors’ slaying tactics and strategies. The business is his life. It would likely be so for his children and his family’s next generations. The corporation’s C-suite is composed of siblings or close family relatives. And the rest of the company–its employees–are treated as family members.

The company inculcates in its employees the values of the family–the company’s aspirations to continuously grow and progressively succeed.

The company is home-grown and regarded as among the leaders in its industry. It competes toe-to-toe with a multinational corporation, which is the acknowledged leader in the local market. And it is about to launch a wave of new offerings with an upgrade of equipment that are cutting-edge in the industry. For the CEO, that also means adopting the soft component of technologies to extend reach and engage with its b2b market–bringing the business through its bricks-and-mortar network online through social media.

The pathways to the decision to adopt social media wasn’t easy. In an initial round of conversations among company staff members, the dilemma was in identifying who should run the company’s online presence.

As most companies would do in starting to conduct business and engage customers online, the obvious choice is to tap function units in the organization with key employees who speak  the language of the trade at marketing and technical levels and are themselves, in their personal capacities, already online with their social or professional networks.

There are but two key staff members who they think are eligible.

I asked what the universe of the company’s networks are. At least 4,000 individuals and entities. Even with an ideal engagement ratio of 1:50–or 1:400 ratio in their case, with two key company staff members–that is going to be trying. But perhaps not for long if the company frames the fit for it to go social online.

The Prerequisites

One thing going for this company is that it listens. Listening is among the first steps toward adopting and innovating use of social media. The next and greater aspect to listening is being open and willing to experiment. And the third and greatest is an incessant drive to set standards no one else has–not even customers. This is a standard it sets onto itself.

In the course of the conversation, the CEO raised his concern about a 2% quality failure at their labs. He wanted to get the figure down. As an experiment, he “challenged” the production line staff to take on a wager that for a below 2% rejection rate sustained daily, he would put a part of his monthly salary to a pool of incentives that the staff can partake. This brings to fore the second point about listening: opening up opportunities and motivating people to innovate at shop-floor level.

But the 2% figure has remained to be so even after the challenge. So our CEO is moving on to a next experiment with a question:  What if we can go below 1%? This is now finding innovations in the company that would approximate zero-defect in his production labs. Compared to the closest multinational competitor’s quality failure of 10%, this is setting a gold quality standard in the industry.

Having listened well, having been open to learning and willing to experiment and seeking to establish a gold quality standard, our CEO and his company then deliver the incomparable advantage the competition will not and cannot ever provide the market, i.e., offering customers a replacement of damaged merchandise from its production lab errors. Competition, on the other hand, asks customers to sign a waiver of claims from damages.

Online to One’s Roots

Just how long would it be trying for this company to take on being social with its networks online? The answer lies in its ability to find the natural fit of its corporate values to use social media in any of its business processes–inside the company and outward toward its customers, whether in marketing or in the entire value chain of the business.

The foundation to succeed, to sustain success, and to be able to simultaneously innovate with adoption of social media is to practice it along deep company values and teach others in the company to do it in contexts that fit the corporate culture. A culture that then ripples out to its business networks–on- or offline.

In dealing with the social markets, a shared positive culture that reflects the company and one that goes beyond the walls of its offices have great potential for rewards.


Related readings:
Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business | Josh Bernoof & Ted Schadler
Control in an Age of Empowerment | Robert Simons
Sharing Leadership to Maximize Talent | Marshall Goldsmith
Why You Should Have a Hyperlocal Facebook Strategy | Jan Rezab
The Obvious But Uncomfortable Way Your Company Culture is Judged | Amber Naslund

Social Media: A Possible Necessity or A Necessary Possibility

16 Feb

Social Media have been getting some bad press lately. Well, of course it depends on which side of the fence you’re sitting on.

The New Egypt and its great people have praised to high heavens the inestimable contributions of facebook & twitter to their unseating (pun intended) President Mubarak and helping the ushering in of an era of freedom for their country. It goes without saying however that Mr. M and his henchmen are probably sulking in their boots for not doing enough to close down early the new media channels for people’s interactions.

More recently, Justin Bieber’s  true “beliebers” have terrorized the twittersphere with vituperative rants after they didn’t get their candy bar from the Grammys.  Or just now, Mick Jagger probably woke up to see himself killed online with the “RIP Mick Jagger” buzz which had obviously proved a big, ugly hoax. The Godfather of Rock is not about to sing into the pearly gates, at least not just yet.

But for every little horror story about social life, one could probably rattle off a hundred more examples where social media had actually made a positive difference. Whether it was getting people to become more aware of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest or making it possible to catch up with long lost friends after a High School reunion, social media and networks have been mainly a force for good. I even remember how a friend had posted once that it was actually a gift that has allowed her that “much-needed break from the mundane chores at work”, an oasis in a sea of minutiae.

It may surprise many to know that the phenomenon of  social media is not even a new thing. It may have already celebrated its 30th anniversary if you counted Mark Granovetter’s piece, “The Strength of Weak Ties” published in 1973. You can therefore say that social media is simply a reflection of the very human need to reach out to our environment;  for even as babies we all longed to touch and be touched. The internet, new media and web tools have only enabled this process to move light years faster and created touchpoints that are virtually limitless.  In fact, I expect pretty soon that social media will  find its way more seamlessly in people’s consciousness so that social life will then be known simply as,  just life. No more duality, only one endless thread.

So to answer the question if social media are a “possible necessity or a necessary possibility”, to echo Bertrand Russell. I’d simply re-tell this little story from my Zen teacher:

“Two monks were arguing about a flag. One said: “The flag is moving.”

The other said: “The wind is moving.”

The Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng happened to be passing by and he told them: “Not the wind, not the flag; mind is moving”.

Peace.

“The Transformative Power of Social Media”

11 Feb

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden tells it exactly, when he talked about ” the transformative power of social media” in an address to university students, about an hour after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down to give way to a new government.

It was about the pivotal role that facebook, twitter and all of social media played in helping spark and sustain the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. There are simply no words to express what great power, people speaking with one voice,  amplified through the internet , can achieve save perhaps to see these images and sounds from Tahrir Square.

Social Media is Us

6 Feb

Turn Us[ers] On

Us users are the Social Media

In his 1998 book, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the SanityAlan Cooper outlined his methodology, called Goal-Directed® design, based on the concept that software should help users move towards their ultimate goal, rather than ensnaring them in computer minutiae.

 

Cooper’s design methodology “humanized technology” with use of personas as practical interaction design tools to create high-tech products that address user’s needs.

Today, the concepts of interaction design strategy, usability, and the use of personas have been broadly adopted across the software industry and in technology product design education.

One of the offshoots of this methodology is a field called User eXperience Design (UXD) which have been, for years since Cooper’s book, a topic in conversations, discussions, and workshops across continents and assimilated in any and almost all the successful high technology products and platforms of service that run in a Web browser.

The Social Media needs a goal-directed design–not the visual and human-computer interaction aspects of it alone but a “contextual functionality” to the design of its use. In doing so, we can begin to see more of the use of Social Media as a Web platform for society with us as participants not lurkers and creators of content not mere users of it.

Most, if not all, of recent developments in Social Media are open. When it was launched in 2006, one of Twitter’s functionalities is an improvement in use of SMS (short message service/text messaging) that before were only used with mobile phones. Users who signed up eventually found different uses for short-messaging on a large scale with tweets. And Twitter as it is used now as a topic-based, community-grown media has found greater purpose.

The Social Media is not much about technology, it is about us.

A post about why there are stragglers from Social Media from my friend RVBello is an advocacy and a call to mainstream the “other half” into starting to use Social Media as a digital tool for the better. And Open Forum with a post from Yvonne DiVita aptly puts that Social Networks recreate the offline notions of neighborhood online.

While many mavens have adopted ways to manage and cope with the dizzying array of online social platforms, average users–non-users more so–may find themselves at the beginning of the curve in need of a 12-step social identity program. This may lead to increased demand from typical participants to have a more integrated and simplified social tool and an opportunity for platforms and companies alike to meet this demand.

Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter Group recently twitted betting that a growing requirement in Social Media is the ability to better manage online communities’ conversations. And vendors are fast sprouting to offer the integration, simplicity, and efficiency to manage distributed conversations in every part of our world.

The Web, with Websites as its manifest, will exponentially grow to serve as “digital hubs” or “online anchors” that integrate our social activity from many platforms. While further  integration may come soon fast, it can also be as quick for our mass of stragglers from Social Media.

Brian Solis encapsulates the task at hand in order to bring into the fold our digital “other half” in one of his latest posts An Audience with an Audience of Audiences:

“Our job now is to speak to and through the people in our audiences simultaneously. The goal of course is to spread information across social graphs and interest graphs. The cultural impact of new media is profound as it weaves a new fabric for how we connect and communicate with one another.

“As a digital society, we are ushering in an era where everyday people form a global network of self-empowered social intermediaries that accelerate and proliferate the reach and effect of information and experiences.

“We are no longer just part of the information consumption production process; we are evolving the system for learning and sharing through real-time signal repeaters that boost the reach of digitally transmitted messages – from your status update to the world in seconds.”

 

Data Is The New Scent: How The Internet Sees You

1 Feb

On the Internet, we leave a trail of scent faster than we can ever imagine: data. With ~ 600 million users today, activity on Facebook alone is staggering.

  • There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages)
  • Average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events
  • Average user creates 90 pieces of content each month
  • More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month.

The vast amounts of data we create and transfer across the world’s networks in a day is more than we are able to count humanity.

We leave our data droppings–our Internet footprints–in social network and media sites, cloud services, and yes even when we use our location-aware mobile devices.

This tapestry of droppings is aggregated into information objects.  And information objects stitched together becomes content. Presented with the same information, people derive different meanings, their own meaning .  Here lies the crux: data turned into information isn’t valuable content for everyone.

For content to be useful and meaningful, it has to have context. Our context. A context for our community. A context for our society. A context about what we care about.

Who else would care?

Try and find out about your online scent. Here is how the Internet sees you.

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