Category Archives: social-business

The rapid growth of social over search

Take a look at this graph pulled from Google Trends comparing the search terms ‘social media marketing’ and ‘search marketing’.

Blue: social media marketing
Red: search marketing

google trends social media mkt search

I wonder if this keeps any folks at the mighty G up at night? Even if we as users still rely heavily on search, you could make the argument that marketing as a discipline has shifted its interest in the direction of social.

Funny that 2011 represents the watershed, at least for these search terms. In the social media industry, we tend to think of this as the year social finally came of age.

Food for thought?


The roots of social business (short animated presentation)

How do social networks effect the way in which we conduct business?

I’ve had the opportunity to discuss this question with industry experts, academics and (thankfully) students over the last year or so. I’ve boiled the results down into this short presentation on social business:

Key points:

Scaling the conversational nature of business
In the pre-industrial era, business was localized, customized and highly conversational. Think of the way commerce happened in a small village. Stories would be shared over the sale of a loaf of bread at the bakery. Village folk would talk and trade recommendations.

Then came the industrial era and the imperative to realize economies of scales and produce goods for large global markets. The transactional process was optimized for efficiency (think supermarket checkout lines).

Social networking has brought back the potential for business processes to become more conversational, albeit on a larger scale to what was previously possible.

More customer-focused business
In the field of marketing and communications, we’re seeing chinks in the traditional broadcast model that was ushered in by the rise of mass media. The idea that it is the role of the company to create messages and broadcast those out with the intent of creating demand is being challenged.

Social media are creating forums for discussion with open dialogue occurring between companies (theoretically any employee), prospects and customers.

Increased workforce productivity
Social networking within the enterprise allows for the freer flow of knowledge across teams and departments leading to less information silos and more efficient internal processes for instance by allowing expertise to be more effectively sourced.

The pivotal role of analytics
Social analytics is necessary to uncover the business value of using social networking. This applies at many different levels across the whole enterprise. For instance, monitoring customer feedback following a product launch, determining which employees are the most effective networkers or helping key influencers extend their reach.

Look for further videos in this series which will look more specifically at how social networking is transforming different areas of business.

More introductory information on the nature of social business:

Resources from the MIT Sloan School of Business

Forrester blog posts on social business

IBM on social business

Dachis Group on social business



If culture holds the key to social business adoption, then the door is already open

In a provocative piece in ZD Net, Larry Dignan picks up on a thread doing the rounds in the online business/technology sphere suggesting social software vendors are feeling the pinch when it comes to social adoption within the enterprise.

On the one hand I wholeheartedly agree that having the coolest technology alone “won’t magically cure your enterprise”. However I find it hard to go along with the prognosis that we are currently in a period of disillusionment awaiting an ‘enabler’ to turn the field around. Enterprise social software has some factors on its side which differentiate it from the large-scale ERP, CRM and BPM systems that superseded it:

the drivers of social adoption_crop


Social software is now coming with a ‘cultural attaché’  

Social business software is fortunate enough to be riding the coat tails of a seismic cultural shift. Social media has become entrenched in politics, entertainment, sport, retail… the list goes on. We’re surrounded. Any naysayers out there are encamped. Whilst we may argue whether it creates revolutions or not, the one thing we can’t do is escape it.

Just like the web that preceded and spawned it, there has been hype and over-promotion, but just like the web, social media is rapidly becoming essential to our lives. Don’t believe me? Venture onto a campus near you and observe the students. I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to do that over the last 18 months and one thing I notice is that it’s hard to find a student who isn’t a social native. Even if they don’t immediately realize how powerful social networking can be across the enterprise, it only takes a slight nudge to make the connection.

Social software has groundswell support, and whilst it may not be the external networks of Facebook and Twitter that are employed within the enterprise, the core concepts around social networking are becoming engrained in the new generation entering the workforce.

Our work is going mobile

I’ll use myself as an example here.

I work from home and for the last eight years or so have relied on a PC to do my job. However I have now joined our company mobile pilot and am tentatively letting work find its way into my pocket in an effort to make better use of my time. Having access to my calendar is great and email remains useful. But connecting to our intranet social network also makes a lot of sense for me.

For one thing, it feels less like work and closer to the social browsing and grazing I might do on Facebook or Twitter. For instance, we have an activity stream which allows me to see when people in my network (my team, my boss, others I work with) either post updates directly or engage with the social network tools, say to update a wiki page. This helps me keep a closer eye on what is going on around me

In addition, social software helps deal with the navigational problem thrown up by devices with limited screen real estate: I can eliminate clutter and focus on the people in my network. I’ll take this over our intranet which spills over thousands of pages any day.

There’s no need to boil the ocean

It’s feasible with social to ease an organization into adoption by running a pilot with one team or department. You can then measure productivity or improvements in time-to-market or other benefits before pitching a company-wide deployment. This is, say, different to a CRM system where you may need to tie in sales, marketing, support and finance before you can start showing the real value of the software.

OK, maybe there is one enabler that’s missing: personal big data analysis

The one area where social software still currently falls short is in the analytics that can help prove its value for adoption. Whilst inroads have been made into the ROI and TCO calculations that a CIO requires, I’m thinking here of analytics around collaboration that exposes value to the employee and the direct management chain. Think of an internal enterprise Klout score for employees which is used as a factor to judge performance. Speaking personally, if my performance is reviewed against my reputation and authority, this is a strong motivator for me to spend more time with the tools and at least attempt to realize the benefits that social software vendors proclaim.


Now it could be that I’m just too close to the issue, being currently employed by a social business software vendor, but I do believe that social software will have a transformative effect on the way we work and how businesses realize value.

Do you agree?

IBM Forms Demo (IBM SmartCloud for Social Business)

I was recently asked how to setup a public survey using IBM Forms so thought I would take the time to put together a quick demo.

In this instance I’m using the SmartCloud for Social Business which includes IBM Forms as well as a number of other social business components.

The demo covers an overview of how you can build surveys and forms using the IBM Forms tool, including:

  • Creating a form
  • Publishing a form
  • Obtaining the results

More information on IBM Forms