Thursday, March 31, 2011

Another Google social fail?

Google +1 is being touted as the next big social thing.

Trouble is it seems to me it's going to be just another aggregator of mass - just as Twitter Trends.

I'm waiting for a response to the actual niche peer-to-peer group-forming needs of a network (of the kind that would be delivered by Trends among Friends)

I've yet to trial the product myself - and welcome corrections and comments from those who have - but unless it allows me to share relevant recommendations with relevant people I can't see how it's much different from digg (bar scale).

In short, I want to see what my peers +1, not everyone. And our poorly maintained Google profiles don't seem to me sufficiently rich to make that vital connection.

The focus on publishers may be the give away: less social, more mass for the broadcast internet.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The fool walks into the swamp with eyes shut

The fool walks into the swamp with eyes shut. The wise man takes a map - and a stick.

So stop. Stand still. Pause. Every organisation and business engaged in any form of social media activity... halt! The swamp is undiscovered territory. Fraught with risk for the ill-prepared. Stand still for a moment.

There are few areas of business life where we go to tactics - plunge headlong into the swamp - without knowing the strategic landscape.

Fewer still where we buy a map only to find we don't understand what it tells us - and carry on buying the updates without complaint.

Yet when it comes to social media it seems firms are happy to go tactical before they think strategic. And it's costing them millions and casting a shadow of fail over the social landscape. (Image courtesy jstephenconn )
"I stepped into the swamp and sank/got bit". Really? Who's surprised here?

They may conclude the swamp is somewhere they should never go again: Which is a little like giving up on attempts to find The New World because a fishing boat went down off the coast of Portugal - to mix my exploration metaphors.

Worse still, there are those who provide (and charge for) heaps and heaps of social monitoring data - without insight. It's the equivalent of the surveying guys with the theodolites giving you their scribbled latitude and longitude notes but failing to draw you a map.

"Ah - so this bit here is 29°16' N, 94°49' W. Er. Ok. So where do I go next?" you may well ask.

It's time the approach to social media strategy grew up.

And that means mapping the community landscape as it applies to you (understanding who is talking about what's relevant to you, where, how, who is influencing who in those conversations, where they sit in your purchase cycle even). That gives you the strategic landscape on which to deploy tactics.

And it also means auditing for and understanding the opportunities and blockages presented by your own organisation, your customers and other key stakeholders. From this you will develop a strategy and tactical plan for creating best value from social.

Do all this and I guarantee your action plan won't start and end at Start a Facebook Page.

It will deliver the transformational improvements required to make the org and its products and services the best (read most efficient and effective) fit with the networked world - with its customers and their needs.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

12 years left to adapt or die

Disruptive technologies generally take 20 years to make their broad society-wide impact felt.
The first commercially available mobile phone network opened in Japan in 1979. 20 years later everyone and their mother had a mobile phone.

in 1900 London the horse was still king of the road. 20 years later the motor car had become ubiquitous.

Social networks - and the technologies of social media, have only really been with us in user friendly form since around 2003. I pick that since that was the year MySpace was founded. (Image courtesy PetruzzoPhoto)

Yes there were social technologies before MySpace - just as there were cars before 1900 and mobile phones before 1979. But in all three cases using them (be it social technologies, cars or huge cellphones) was relatively cumbersome and/or time consuming, complex and expensive. MySpace made the peer to peer connectivity of the internet something everyone could do. On a global scale. Easily.

And by 2008 it was pretty well on the way to making the concept of social networking ubiquitous. Facebook built on that. And today as the race for 1bn users advances at a high rate of knots, it's hard to avoid the impact of this user-friendly driver of self organisation - whether it be for customer complaints or armed insurrection.

The ease with which groups of purpose can organise in social networks is something that wasn't so easily enabled on forums and in newsgroups of emails. And not as many (and perhaps not enough) people understood or were driven to understand what they could do with the web - until the nice easy interface of the social network showed the way.

When new tools become truly ubiquitous then, and only then does their full impact on society become clear. In this case I'm suggesting the new tool wasn't simply the internet, it has been the refinement of social networks to the point at which they are delivering self-organising groups of purpose on a global scale.

The process of using social networks has educated a new and huge generation in the value of real-time synchronous communication which is the guts of the formation of communities of purpose.

The future is not digital - it is self organised. That is what social networks reveal.

Everywhere this process touches it disrupts. The media industry lays witness. Others will, of course, follow. Most dramatically throughout the Arab world currently, the disruption is to centralised control. Every where there is centralised control, every where there is mediation - so adhoc self-forming communities of purpose have the power to disrupt.

Given the standard 20-year life cycle of a technological revolution, and my assertion that 2003 is the year zero for this revolution, then we can expect the complete impact to have been wrought by 2023.

In two years time we will be half way through. Half way.

The old ways have 12 years to transform or die.
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Monday, March 07, 2011

Two new jobs at 90:10 Group

London-based social business consultancy 90:10 Group (UK) is seeking to recruit both an Executive and an Associate to help us change the world - niche by niche. Both roles are based in London, UK.

The Executive role is a first step on an exciting career path for someone with a passion for the tools and techniques of social media and the desire and ambition to join a vibrant, fast-growing organisation in a sector bursting with innovation and opportunity.
During your first year you'll receive exceptional training and guidance, preparing you for promotion within 12 short months. We recruit into this role with your long term development very much front of mind.
We expect the successful applicant to be capable of becoming a share-holding partner within three short years and a director of their own arm of the business within 5-6. On joining you will have a clear career development path mapped out with rewards and incentives marking the way.
Our career structure is designed to recognise and reward the work and experience our employees gain at 90:10 and give each member of the team more to inspire and aspire to.

The role:
The Executive role functions as the one-year entry point into the 90:10 Group business.
The Location:
Our London office at 88 Kingsway, Holborn.
Function: You will provide vital day-to-day support to the London office and its team while gaining an understanding of how the office / business operates. You will gain hands-on experience in community culture - the 90:10 platform approach to delivering business efficiencies through social technologies and techniques of co-creation.
You will be trained in the best online community auditing/monitoring and data processing tools and techniques with expert leadership. You will also be supported in responding to day-to-day client management issues.
You will be required from time to time (with any necessary training) to update our own web resources, take notes in meetings and support the senior team in a variety of administrative roles.

Essential: Excellent written and communication skills in English. Computer and web literacy. Business and client focus. Excellent eye for detail and accuracy. Must have the right to work in the UK (you will be based at our office in Holborn, London, right next to the tube).
Advantageous: Knowledge of/experience in social media monitoring technologies. As a multinational, multilingual business, additional languages are also clear advantage as is evidence of effective personal participation in social media. A qualification in Research or Communications OR equivalent working experience will make you stand out, too.

The role of associate is a client-facing role which requires a year’s experience within 90:10 Group or equivalent skill sets. We expect the successful applicant to be capable of becoming a share-holding partner within two short years and a director of their own arm of the business within 4-5. On joining you will have a clear career development path mapped out with rewards and incentives marking the way.
It is a continuing development role in which you will perform the following functions and develop the following skills: 
Functions: Support the Group and the London office in the following ways:

  • Create report documents, coordinate meetings and provide clients day-to-day service. 
  • Manage the delivery of social media monitoring reports, audits and local accounts.
  • Attend presentations to clients
  • Interpret industry news for your local office.
  • Develop hands on experience in community engagement (outreach etc)
  • Perform Data processing/Social media monitoring
  • Support executives in their training in data processing/social media monitoring
  • Identify and share best practice both in London and throughout the group.
  • Monitor development of social media activity in relevant markets 
  • Monitor developments in the brands and orgs we work for with specific focus on accounts you are responsible for.
  • Identify and share, and where directed, pursue new business opportunities
Demonstrate and develop an interest in and understanding of :
  • Managing large local and / or multi-regional accounts.
  • Leading all listening and audit presentations to clients and their agencies
  • Using audit and listening outcomes in marcomms planning processes, idea creation and strategic support.
  • Co-creation initiatives and workshops through all their phases.
  • Creating and sharing slide-decks and demonstrating strategic capability.
  • Costing of projects and invoicing of clients.
Further your interest in and understanding of :
  • Ninety10's approach, products and services
  • The businesses, brands and organisations we work with
  • Your blogging and other areas of expertise to demonstrate thought leadership in social media.
  • All aspects of our social media monitoring processes - from commissioning to delivery - including technical and client-relationship aspects.
  • Business transformation through social technologies
Essential: Experience in and off social media monitoring and reporting is essential for this particular Associate role. Must have the right to work in the UK (you will be based at our office in Holborn, London, right next to the tube) and have excellent communication skills in English.

Advantageous: As a multinational, multilingual business, additional languages are a clear advantage as is evidence of effective personal participation in social media. A qualification in Research or Communications OR equivalent working experience will make you stand out, too.
We intend to appoint to these roles immediately - there is work waiting to be done! If you or anyone you know would like to discuss these rare opportunities please email me with your CV, current salary details and availability today.

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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Spitfires and the history of the Internet

It was the 75th anniversary of the first flight of the Supermarine Spitfire today.

That made me think about our perception of technology, of newness, of cutting edge.

I started school in 1970. Around that time I would have become aware of the Spitfire - it's iconic role in the post second world war British landscape.
The Spitfire - despite its association with the war - was in service with the RAF late into the 1950s. In fact it was only retired by the Irish airforce in 1961.

And yet, my whole life through it has been a very distinct piece of history to me. Not part of my life more part of a past - one shot in black and white where different people lived under different rules and did different things.
And yet that plane existed only a few years out of synch with my own history.

So I wonder how my daughter, who started school in 2009, views screens she can't touch, mobile phones with no internet capability... The world before the Internet even.

What must she think of the world before broadband - of the time before the low-cost ability to connect with each other and organise around things that matter to us.

And how will she consider organisations which are unchanged by the impact these changes have made?

Perhaps she won't need to consider them at all? By the time she leaves school they may be retired. Like the Spitfire.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?