Author Archive for

30
Sep
10

week 10

Hi Class, the final activity is completely up to you – so long as it keys in well with the assessment criteria for assignment 1 and assists with building your online credibility in the field of Enterprise 2.0. Feel free to team up and work together if you wish. Report on the activity in your portfolio.

http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=tippexperience&annotation_id=annotation_980821&feature=iv

TipEx’s clever, raunchy YouTube ad

http://boingboing.net/2010/09/02/tipexs-clever-raunch.html

28
Sep
10

week 9 – Corporate use of Social Networks

Deep down under all the fun and games, friends and fan pages, social networks are a marketing scheme developed by companies to keep you interested in their products.  There are many benefits to using social networks, but just be aware that if you choose to join one you will no doubt have to deal with a few annoying ads here and there and its not all just ads you need to worry about.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney has spent hundreds of millions of dollars recently in purchasing social media online gaming companies like Club Penguin ($350 million) and most recently, Playdom (for $563.2 million).  Their CEO Bob Iger reckons social gaming is worth every cent and its easy to see why.

“It became pretty clear to us that game playing and social networks is real, here to stay,” said Iger in an earnings call this week. “Obviously, the multitude of people that are already playing, there are half a billion people who are members of Facebook already. About 40 percent of those people participate in game playing.”

Disney’s Iger said the group’s spending would reflect the shift from console based games to social games. “As you look at our strategy, you’d see a blend of investment and some reallocation of investment from the console side to basically this multifaceted side (social games),” he said.

“The other thing that was really interesting to us is that we now have over 50 million people, who are members of various Disney, ESPN, and ABC Groups on Facebook. So, we began with a very, very solid base of people to market to and when you add to that the over 40 million people, who are playing Playdom games already, that seemed pretty compelling to us.”

Disney’s social-networking efforts target a younger audience and aim to appeal more to children rather than adults.  Once signed up for the social network (which some could see as a MySpace clone), you are presented with the chance to create your very own personalised page, much like a custom home page.   You can add videos, audio, games, widgets, and an assortment of other extra bits and pieces to make your page your own.  When you’re done, you can view other people’s pages, chat, or join groups.  It’s pretty powerful and well thought out, but from a parents point of view, it could be seen as merely a never ending stream of ads for Disney products, merchandise and movies.

Disney are entering the pre-teen market which has traditionally been ignored by most existing social networking sites (Facebook won’t allow anyone under 13 to join).  It’s an online demographic that has formerly been untapped and holds a wealth of potential for Disney in further building their identity online.

My own experience – Facebook

Personally I had resisted joining facebook for as long as possible as I couldn’t really see the value, but as I’ve mentioned before with wikis, Metcalfe’s law came into play, this time in Facebook’s favour.  When many of my friends starting to join, I was partially forced to join in order to participate primarily in viewing of photos and events that people had locked down so that only their friends could see.   Now I use Facebook for keeping up with music/band information and promo links for free music downloads, looking at friend’s photos or party events, finding out about club nights out or festival updates, and even 7-eleven free slurpee day. It also has cool features like creating events and inviting people which makes it easier to track attendance and for questions to be answered in a discussion board format.

There are some concerns to be had with using Facebook though.  Primarily, they (Facebook) own your data.  Anything you say, anything you post, your personal photos you choose to share on Facebook is now and always will be property of Facebook.  This seems harmless in enough, till you realise that Facebook is not just a magical place on the internet created purely to connect people online, but rather that it is a business, and just like any other it seeks profits.  Short and sweet, your photos could be theoretically sold and published on the front page of any newspaper or television news program in the country without your notification, ever.  Again, people think that this won’t be a problem for them, but then a friend of theirs decides to post something, and once its posted its too late, forever the property of Facebook.  On the other side, hackers could breach Facebook security and release all your details to the world, or other crims specifically looking to target people just like you.  The likely goal, says iDefense, “is to use the data to set up fraudulent accounts and identities which can be used to create bank accounts, make money transfers and also steal other people’s identities and use that to their advantage.”  And they’re evil, and its a little scary they know all this stuff about you.  I suppose its a give and take relationship.  For now, I’ll continue to use it.

08
Sep
10

week 8 – Corporate use of Wikis

Wikis are more and more being made use of within corporations. Wikis allow teams to:

  • Swiftly and simply build a website
  • Do away with chains of e-mail interactions with attachments within a group
  • Steer clear of having to use complex and costly groupware to collaborate with others

A lot of corporate wikis that are for in-house use only and are protected behind a network firewall where access is restricted to only employees. Some corporations choose to host their wiki on the Internet, but are set up as “private” wikis with restricted access

Here’s a short video from Get Connected giving a good overview on how wikis can be used in business:

A great place to get started once you’re convinced wiki’s are the way is WikiMatrix.org which includes the wikichoice wizard, a tool definately necessary in the huge range of wikis available (126 on wikimatrix).

Disney is using wikis in its digital media division to allow staff to review new social- networking applications, evaluate vendors, and share their latest projects.  Albert Cheng, executive vice president of digital media at Disney -ABC Television Group says his team didn’t ask permission to create the internal Web site, they just did it.  The wiki isn’t an act of defiance aimed at the Big Mouse, and it isn’t a goof. Rather, it’s a effective tool for a fast-growing 150- person virtual division.

Future Melbourne – our Community Plan to guide the development of the city through to 2020 – was developed collaboratively using Twiki technology to engage online, allowing everybody to contribute to envisaging the future of Melbourne. The final Future Melbourne public consultation was conducted using traditional consultation methods as well as on-line for one month (May-June 2008). We invited our communities to read, edit and discuss the draft plan on-line. In this period there were more than 7,000 unique visitors, with some 48,000 page views and more than 200 individuals contributing directly by editing the plan and participating in the discussions. The use of Twiki technology allowed our community greater access to participating in the city planning process and was a vital component of our consultation. It has facilitated new ways for governments and policy makers to connect with citizens, ensures greater transparency and accountability and opens the door for more effective collaboration.”

Geoff Lawler, Director, City Planning and Infrastructure


During my studies through university, tafe and high school I have often utilised Wikipedia as a great starting point for research and to get a really great high level understanding on topics.  One of my favorite features of Wikipedia is the integration of links and how they work to make each article so much more than just one article.  When learning a new topic sometimes there are a few new terms one is not familiar with, with Wikipedia these uncommon words can easily be made into links to whole other pages explaining these (as I have done throughout this paragraph).  A couple of points to keep in mind:

  • Do your research properly. Remember that any encyclopedia is a starting point for research, not an ending point.
  • Use your judgment. Remember that all sources have to be evaluated.

Aside from Wikipedia, my experiences with wikis have been fairly limited.  In a few of the companies I have worked at in the past, a few have had a wiki of some flavour, and none of them I have seen utilised effectively.  As I learned in my studies on enterprise applications subject here at QUT, one of the biggest hurdles for companies implementing collaborative software is how to drive adoption.  I believe many of the wikis I have used have suffered from the pitfalls of Metcalfe’s law with low adoption rates (the more people who use something, the more valuable it becomes) and the loss of the project champion to staff turnover which leaves a wiki like a chicken with its head chopped off.  Much like Mike the headless chicken, wiki usage may carry on for quite some time in the enterprise unassisted, but in the end they will always work better with some structure and direction from the top.

30
Aug
10

week 7 – Business and Corporate Blogging

Businesses run corporate blogs and microblogs for a variety of reasons, from using it as a new customer service channel to showcasing their industry expertise.

Developing authority

The simplest way to use blogging is to write about what you know: your industry. “How to” articles, book reviews, opinion pieces on relevant current news or lists of resources are all easy, useful content that your existing clients, prospects, colleagues and potential employees would likely appreciate. Some local examples are blogs by Bluewire Media (web strategists) and Reload Media (SEO & SEM), which regularly explain industry concepts, how to do things, review books or show interviews with industry figures.

This sort of blogging creates credibility – it cements your place as a knowledge authority in your field, a reliable expert and somebody to trust. Trust is, of course, a major part of the sales process!

Sharing knowledge with and educating others can also be a powerful marketing tool, as Jason Fried from 37 Signals will expound. Readers won’t compete against you with information you put out, just like they don’t compete with Jamie Oliver after buying his recipe book. Instead, they will trust you more (and buy your saucepans!) when you can show them that you know what you’re talking about.

Customer service & product assistance

There are two other ways your blog can help customers and potential customers, before, during and after the sales process. In particular, this is where microblogging can shine!

Depending on your company, a blog can be a useful way to educate people about your products: tips for using them, how to get started, examples and case studies, new versions, add-ons or options etc. 37 Signals run a product blog with just this kind of information to provide easy support for their clients. These posts are also a great way for potential buyers to learn more about what owning or using your products or services is really like.

Most importantly, though, blogging can be used to manage customer service. Twitter is a very popular way to publically spray companies who have “done people wrong” but it’s actually very easy to monitor for this, contact complainants and start working towards solutions quickly and, where appropriate, publically. (If somebody has complained about you publically, it’s probably worth initiating the solution with them publically too, so there’s no denying that you were on top of the issue quickly.)

Telecommunications companies are good examples of companies who run a lot of customer service through Twitter. In particular, it’s interesting to compare the accounts of Optus and Telstra, both of whom try to offer “live” service to people who tweet at their accounts. It quickly becomes clear that Optus is more effective because their employees running the account have a lot more power to fix problems than Telstra’s staff. Telstra’s renowned habit of passing customers from department to department also comes through in their Twitter account, which makes it a lot less useful.

For anecdotal proof that this sort of customer service management creates raving fans, one active writer blogged about her experience: Experience with Optus Twitter customer service.

Company culture

Some companies use their blogs to show just how cool they are. It might be to show potential employees how much fun it is to work there or potential customers how easy it is to shop, but the goal is to communicate their culture.

Zappos (a US shoe company) gets their employees to blog about what it’s like to work at Zappos, current fashions, home-brewed videos, product information and more. The company is also renowned for its customer service and amazing culture, so showcasing this through grass-roots-driven blogging is a natural next step. Their posts are short, casual, filled with pictures and videos, and written to show the fun they have at work and how helpful they can be.

37 Signals’ “Signals vs Noise” design and usability blog is a similar mishmash of opinion pieces, seemingly aimed at generating commentary, controversy and a view of the company as interesting and on-top of current industry events. The odd “bullshit” dropped throughout posts also indicates a fairly lax social media policy! Their blog contains everything from web development tips, to business thoughts, to commentary on Facebook’s recent multibillion dollar valuation. Considering the business book they’ve released, I believe the aim of this blog is to generate respect for them as an opinionated but expert company, with real employees, and a fun, though-provoking potential employer.

However, many companies are afraid to get involved with blogging – and maybe they have good reason!

Companies can incite negative comments through their blog’s content or how they’ve used the media. Writing the wrong thing the wrong way, however misunderstood, can result in widespread backlash in social media that can end up reflected in sales!

Likewise, misusing a medium can have the same effect. In 2009, UK retailer Habitat “spammed” popular hash tags on Twitter to get their promotional message seen by the huge number of users watching Tweets about Apple or the issues happening in Iran at the time. The negative response was tremendous and Habitat quickly deleted the offending Tweets. But nothing truly dies on the internet and a search for “habitat uk store” today still brings up a BBC article about the incident on the first page of results.

Easy lesson: Watch and learn for a while to get used to a new medium to make sure you don’t offend anyone and understand how it works. Double-check blog posts for where they can possibly be misconstrued.

As we know, the easiest way to keep a regular blog is to spread the load among employees, but a significant fear for many companies is that their employees will give a bad impression, write unsupported, negative or false comments, or even leak sensitive information! And it does happen.

However, as Oracle and Microsoft have shown, employee blogging can be very successful if employees are educated and trained about appropriate material and the company’s social media policy (you do have a social media policy, right?).

Microsoft developers run their own blogs on MSDN and any Oracle employee (which includes Sun & Java employees) can start a blog on the Oracle blog space.

Easy lesson: Set expectations, standards and policies around employee blogging and make sure everyone’s aware of them. Provide standard blogging platforms and be proactive in helping employees get their voice heard, rather than waiting for them to use an uncontrollable 3rd party system.

In general, though, corporate blogging, whether run from the top-down or employee-driven, can be a great opportunity to showcase a company’s expertise and knowledge, manage image and complaints, quickly provide their opinions and standings on current events, educate about their products or industry, and highlight their company culture.

23
Aug
10

week 5

This week’s lecture by special guest Malcolm Burrows (Rostron Carlyle Solicitors) introduced us to some of the legal risks and risk mitigation strategies for organizations implementing social media.

Organizations can look at social media from a number of perspectives.  Here’s a few angles:
1 – a time/productivity waster/helper – just like employees browsing the web during work time but more popular.  There are two ways to look at this.  Social media can be seen as total time waster or as a benefit to help take a quick break from work.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Richard Cullen of SurfControl, an internet filtering company, estimates the site may be costing Australian businesses $5 billion a year. “Our analysis shows that Facebook is the new, and costly, time-waster,” he said.

Richard Cullen’s report calculates that if an employee spends an hour each day on Facebook, it costs the company more than $6200 a year. There are about 800,000 workplaces in Australia.

From Brent Coker, from the University of Melbourne’s department of management and marketing:

“Firms spend millions on software to block their employees from watching videos, using social networking sites or shopping online under the pretence that it costs millions in lost productivity That’s not always the case.”

“Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days’ work, and as a result, increased productivity,”

2 – an advertising platform – just like TV, the YellowPages,  and Google Ads, advertising using social media is the next big thing in advertising.   Most of the top brands have a presence, and Facebook brags it has run ad campaigns from 83 of the top 100 brands.   Of the 26 most popular pages on the site, six belong to corporations:

“These [efforts] are designed to foster word of mouth,” says Jeremiah Owyang, a partner with Altimeter Group, which advises companies on social strategies. “Companies cannot traverse the Web quick enough. They need to create these unpaid armies of customers to do this on their behalf.”

I think some of the best uses of this principal of utilizing word of mouth are viral videos.  This perfect example shows Marc Ecko tagging (spraypainting) Air Force One (US Presidential Plane).  So many people thought that this was such an amazing video they just had to send it to all their friends before realizing it was actually a promo for Ecko.

3 – risk of lack of control of information – many companies are having their reputation tainted or information leaked and have no control over it

The US based study by Proofpoint Inc. on the security of outbound information found that executives are spending more time worrying about workers unwittingly exposing proprietary or sensitive corporate information in though e-mails, blog posts, social networks, multimedia channels and text messages.

In August last year the U.S. Marine Corps officially banned the use of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter on military networks. One reason cited in the administrative directive: Social networks provide an easy conduit for information leakage to adversaries.  While in January this year the UK Ministry of Defence has admitted that staff have leaked secret information 16 times on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter over 18 months.

This week’s activity requires us to:
1 – select an organization – describing your selected organization (its sector, their business, services etc…).
2 – identify some of the major legal risks (internal or external or both) that organization has a result of their participation.

British Petroleum Global is a global energy company headquartered in London, United Kingdom specializing in oil, gas and chemical energy.  The fourth largest company in the world and the third largest energy company.  On 20 April 2010 an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig (which killed 11 people) led to an oil spill that contaminated a huge part of the United States coast land and marine environment along the Gulf of Mexico.  Consequences: Mass damage to the environment, fishing/tourism industries and BP’s stock price.

BP quickly jumped on the social media bandwagon opening a twitter account under the name of twitter.com/BP_America.   They were too slow though, already there was twitter.com/bpglobalpr (not setup or controlled by BP).   According to Twitter stats, the fake account now has over 10 times (190k+) the followers of the real BP corporate Twitter (18k).   Major PR fail. It looks like people are more interested in humour related to the spill than they are of finding out about the spill itself. Or they just totally bought it and know none the wiser.  The risk here is the lack of control of information.  Whether true or not, the BPGlobalPR account has been spewing interesting tid bits all along the way.

“Catastrophe is a strong word, let’s all agree to call it a whoopsie daisy. ”

“The good news: Mermaids are real. The bad news: They are now extinct.”

“I’m sorry, are people mad at us for drilling in the ocean?!? Maybe God shouldn’t have put oil there in the first place. DUH.”

And there is nothing the official BP can do about it.  Rumour has it that BP petitioned it to twitter to have the account removed but without success.  This fake twitter account aside, BP really has two problems remaining.  First, they needed to stop the spillage of 200,000 gallons of oil a day.  Secondly, they need to convince people that THEY ARE TRYING to stop the spillage of 200,000 gallons of oil a day.  BP has been trying new ways to get its message out as its conventional efforts of official statements, press releases, morning-show interviews—have been hit or miss, according to crisis communications experts.

BP has put their foot in it a number of times since the initial explosion in April.  BP initially reported to the media the damaged rig was leaking only 1,000 barrels of oil a day.  After a new leak was discovered the true number turned out to be closer to 5,000 barrels.

“Don’t speculate.  If you know, say so.  If you don’t know, say you don’t know.”
Larry Smith or the Institute for Crisis Management.

This hurt their credibility early on and it planted the seed in people’s heads.  Can you really trust BP to tell us the truth?  Furthermore, BP initially tried to pass off the blame for the whole accident.  The first press release BP pointed out that the oil rig didn’t belong to BP, but to a drilling contractor Transocean Ltd, that is was not their problem, but it would ‘offer full support’.  Later, the company referred to the accident as the “Gulf of Mexico oil spill” rather than the “BP oil spill” as noted by President Obama and the EPA.

BP may own just the oil, Transocean may own just the rig, but these technicalities are worthless in the eyes of the public.  These companies need to band together to take the fall and work out the finer details later.  For example, in 2006 a fast food chain in the US ‘Taco Johns’ had an E. Coli outbreak.  What did they do?  They didn’t blame the lettuce supplier; they stepped up and took responsibility for their product (and sued the lettuce supplier LATER).  Good news though, after a blundering start to the disaster it could only get better (they hoped).  BP created a section on its web page totally dedicated to the oil spill with photos, videos and maps to track the cleanup.  The company also posts constant updates to its Twitter feed.  While putting your half truth/lies on Facebook and Twitter doesn’t exactly make it more convincing, it certainly allows the company a faster response time to be able to respond to the latest developments as they happen.

BP hasn’t been the only one and no doubt there will be many more companies utilizing social media for many a reason in the future.  Some do it right, (Domino’s Pizza’s company president posted his apology to YouTube) some do it wrong (Nestle snarkily responding on its Facebook page) and some just seem to follow the ‘more-is-better’ ethos like BP and just pump out the info.  Companies will need to be careful which approach they choose as their success could make or break their business.

16
Aug
10

wikipedia’s false information loop

Wiki Strength: Wikipedia is editable by anyone.
Wiki Weakness: Wiki fact checking policy takes information from newspapers as fact.

After reading Laurel Papworth’s blog post about how the “The Big Chill” festival in Herefordshire, UK was originally named “The Wanky Balls Festival” I just had to find out about some more wikipedia stuff ups in the media.

I found a report on Slashdot that highlights a particular case where these two facts combined to form a false wiki entry about German politician with a really long name.  When rumors first surfaced that Karl would be appointed his post as minister of economic affairs someone edited his Wikipedia entry and added the name Wilhelm (to make it Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Wilhelm Franz Joseph Sylvester Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg).   Both German and international media soon picked up the incorrect name and published various reports in newspapers and on TV without realizing the error.   Meanwhile, the wiki entry was reverted with a request for the evidence of name which was promptly supplied by spiegel.de where an article refers to Mr. von und zu Guttenberg using his ‘full name’  yet, while the quote might have been real, the full name looks as if to have been looked up on Wikipedia when the bogus edit was in place. Thus the circle was closed: Wikipedia states a false fact, a reputable media outlet A copies the false fact, and later media outlet A outlet is then provided as the foundation to verify the false information to Wikipedia.”

This really just highlights the importance of checking information and the fact that if  tools like Wikis and social media are to be used in the workplace some structure must remain.  In the workplace the deliberate planting of bogus information might be less likely but would be focused closer on accidental errors.  Perhaps something as simple as still allowing anyone to be able to edit articles, but to have a certain review process in place in the form of assigning someone relevant (like a manager) and getting them to just follow an RSS feed to check updates on a weekly basis.

10
Aug
10

does web 2.0 really have commercial value in the enterprise?

During my weekly blog readings I have come across a post by JP Rangaswami that brings up an important point that things like social networking, micro-blogging and other new web2.0 applications will soon be so integrated into our lives they will be hard to imagine living without.  Enterprise 2.0 tools will become the new telephones and electricity for business.  It has been the same for all of history.  Let me take you back to some classic things that have been said by powerful and important people in the last hundred years.

“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” –Marechal Ferdinand Foch
“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” –David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” –-H.M. “Harry” Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” –Western Union internal memo, 1876.

“But what … is it good for?” –Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

It will be no different with web2.0 and the emergence of Enterprise 2.0 applications.  As Web2.0 technologies begin to spread beyond the core early adopters we should see a huge increase in the implementation of these technologies both for the general consumer and also in the enterprise.  Companies providing products and services that assist the migration of mainstream users  to web 2.0 tools and make easy their adoptions in these areas will see handsome profits from these technologies.




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