Tag Archives: social media

IBM turning 100: smarter planet, social media and meat chopping

2011 is quite a year for IBM. It marks its one hundredth year as company; as a brand.

What does this mean to me. Partly a reflection on what a brand means. Especially as I’m one of the newer entrants and wasn’t around when Big Blue was busy innovating punch card systems, typewriters, mainframes and the PC. Coming from an acquisition which only completed in the last two years, I have a much more recent relationship to the IBM eight-bar logo.

I was part of the web team that hoisted that infamous logo onto our website (before we transitioned over to the IBM.com domain for real) and from one point of view, that really was the extent of the change. Our teams remained intact and the day-to-day duties of the marketing organization remained largely unchanged: we had to continue our efforts of guiding prospects interested in our technologies. As always, we bemoaned the poor decisions of upper management and whined about the inflexibility of our business tools and processes, but now we just had a new object for our venom. So at one level I’d say the change has been superficial. A rebranding feels like little more than painting the lounge. Or a fresh application of lipstick. I had worked for a relatively large technology company. Now I work for a very large technology company.

But a brand goes beyond that.

It exists in our culture; our imagination. Hell, even my next door neighbor (an early-retired teacher) launched into an anecdote of how when he was studying at college he produced his essays on a shoestring budget by cobbling together bits of second hand IBM Selectrics typewriters he picked up at garage sales into one workable machine.

Currently IBM is driving a concerted push to create a ‘Smarter Planet’. I originally had my doubts around this campaign given my background in search marketing – we normally look to the market to find keywords to chase that fit our business objectives. This all felt a bit backwards. At the time (two years ago) ‘smarter planet’ didn’t even register as a search term. No one was talking about it.

I had yet to see the power of a major brand in exerting thought leadership.

Promotions appeared everywhere: from major newspapers to airports. But this was more than just an advertising campaign – internal business projects got on board too. This has given birth to such wonders as a machine that can compete at Jeopardy.

What has been the result? The Smarter Planet initiative is still very much a work in progress but just take a look at how search volumes have mushroomed on Google:

(click on image for more details)

The concept of a ‘smarter planet’ is now in our consciousness (or at least our Google-brain).

This level of cohesion and singularity is even more astounding given the dispersed nature of the IBM workforce. There are very few big hubs and campuses: around half of the workforce work remotely. This leaves little scope for water-cooler discussions but rather a heavy use of telecoms and social computing to bring teams together over teleconferences, screen share sessions or even ‘idea jams’ (short-term online discussion forums covering a set topic).

Internal communications also bleeds out onto the external web. As analyst Charlene Li points out in Open Leadership, “In 2005, IBM led the way… as one of the first companies to put in place blogging guidelines” and in December Mashable listed IBM as one of the top four companies to work for if you’re a social media professional. The nature of the organization has created the demand for social computing. Being one of the homeworkers, I’ll often find out about IBM initiatives through platforms such as Twitter.

So, it’s funny to think that with humble roots in the meat chopping business, IBM is now a global B2B technology force with an indelible print on our culture stretching back 100 years. And it continues to leave its mark: whether it’s easing congestion in major cities as part of the smarter planet initiative, or creating a large social media footprint. And I get to play my small part in this evolving story.

Daryl Pereira is a web and social media manager at IBM who tweets from his little corner of the B2B technology industry @cagedether. For more on the IBM Centennial, search Twitter for #ibm100

Could IBM be the Facebook of the enterprise?

Colette Martin over on the Forbes blogs picked up on a thread which has been floating around the net for the last couple of months: whether IBM can be to the enterprise what Facebook is to the consumer space. That is, can IBM be the social network du jour for company intranets?

IBM has been an early innovator of the internal use of many web-based technologies: email, instant messaging and intranet technologies. The question is whether it can extend that innovative thinking into the social networking space.

What would this platform require? Colette suggests:

“The ability to selectively connect, to share information, to respond/comment on information, and to be able to integrate with other company data and systems”

adding:

“The concept of groups would be key – with the ability to create sub-groups within groups, and groups that bring other groups together”

I’d heartily agree with all of these features. On the subject of sub-groups, some years ago I was ready to execute our social networking strategy across the Ning network, only to find that we couldn’t create relationships between groups (hierarchical or otherwise). This was a major hurdle given that we would not be able to link different product sub-groups across a product line group, so we were forced back to the drawing board.

Social email

Another feature I would like to see in an enterprise social network is the ability to make email more ‘social’. By that I mean highlight emails from those with whom you have a relationship on a social network. I’d prefer to see emails first from those in my team and with whom I frequently work. Both Facebook and Google have recently implemented social emailing capabilities. In the enterprise, where email can be such a resource drain, social email capabilities offers the potential for a considerable increase in productivity.

The extra-intranet

As a social media marketer, I spend a significant amount of time trawling our intranet for content that can be exposed externally. This can include product walkthroughs produced for the sales teams or partners, deeper technical information on our customer case studies, intra-departmental communications. Obviously some care has to be taken to ensure nothing confidential seeps out of our walls, but I’m constantly surprised at the amount of content we have that can be exposed. I’m also woefully aware of the duplicate effort our marketing teams go through to make sure their external marketing campaigns are also promoted within the company.

Now, wouldn’t it be great if we could post relevant content simultaneously externally and internally? If I have a blog post talking about a new product release, what if I could just check a box so that this message is pushed across both our internal and external social networks? I’m not suggesting this be the default setting(!), but I can see considerable value in having the ability to share content both internally and externally.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant

If you are interested in learning more about the enterprise social networking space, I recommend checking out the 2010 Gartner report on Internal Social Software.

IBM, along with two other vendors, make it into the visionary/leader quadrant: potentially giving them the best shot at becoming the Facebook of the enterprise.

More on IBM social computing solutions

Read Colette Martin’s post on Forbes

Read the source post from Drew Neisser on Fast Company

Sharp rise in social media consumption from IT professionals

According to recent research by Toolbox.com, IT professionals consume more social media content at a higher rate than either editorial or vendor content (question to Toolbox: is there a blurry line between these classifications?). Toolbox states: ‘Respondents consumed social media
at a rate of 5.86 hours per week, versus 3.81 for editorial content
and 3.41 for vendor content.

Key takeaway from this data would be if you are not currently using blogs and other social media to interact with this audience, it might not be a bad time to start. As an example, if you put out press releases to announce new products and iterations, you can back this up with more detailed insight on ‘how’ and ‘why’ these changes occurred. Google is a master of this and in fact use blogs as the primary vehicle for external communications. Another example that came up this week is using social media to uncover the stories buried in typical marketing case studies. In this case it may be going into some depth on the technical implementation, technologies and steps involved in reaching those headline ROI figures that are often called out.

The study also suggests that ‘More than 55% of IT professionals use social media to make better decisions based on insights from like-minded professionals.’ If you are a social media practitioner in the B2B space, you are probably accustomed to the struggle of getting IT professionals to participate. This statistic could help you convince management on the development side of the business that it’s worth incentivizing participation in social media: you may see a profound impact on your bottom line.

Read more on the Toolbox.com study

Engaging a social media agency? SMG provides template questions

Those far-reaching tentacles of Shel and Neville over at the FIR Podcast picked up an informative new document from the Social Media Group titled ‘Social Media RFP Template’.  As more and more agencies from across the marketing spectrum (and in particular SEO and PR) now offer social media services, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

Apart from dealing with the obvious stuff you’d cover with any agency engagement, such as agency background and their past experience in this area, the RFP also covers the following areas:

  • Integration of social media across marketing/communications functions
  • Social media channels employed
  • Reputation management and social media monitoring
  • Establishing social media profiles
  • Influencer outreach
  • Crisis management
  • Social media training
  • Compliance with legal requirements
  • Metrics and measurement

I’d say this list is equally valid if you are in the situation of having to prepare a job description for a social media manager or associated role.

Download the report

SMG also run the hugely popular Social Media Today blog aggregator. If you write in this space, you should definitely hook up your blog!

An academic book list | Corporate blogging news digest

Cornelius Puschman is undertaking some interesting research into corporate blogging and computer-mediated communication. He’s published his formidable bibliography. Great if you’re looking for academic literature around corporate communications… now where’s that extra time I put aside for reading?
Read more

News highlights

Why Should I Create a Business Blog? | Chief Ingredient, Inc.
A nice concise round-up of the key features and benefits of corporate blogging. Kind of techie but does offer benefits like ‘easy social networking’.

Would You Trust This Blog? – CopyWrite
CopyWrite goes to town on the issue of blogs and corporate trust.

Fibre optic cable to pave way for corporate blogging – Business Daily Africa
“Borrowing from the West, far-sighted private sector CEOs and government leaders are gradually turning to corporate blogs to connect with their constituencies, further strengthening an emerging culture of openness.” the corporate blogging revolution is making strides into the developing world.

Company Blogs: Most Valued Social Media Tool | WebProNews
When considering different social media tools, blogging generates most leads. 31% of respondents (by far the highest percentage) said they find corporate blogs critical to their business.

Setting Strategy, Goals and Targets for your Corporate Blog
Goals for your blog: mission, vision and objectives. Do we sometimes forget about these?

Fanboy.com ” Blog Archive ” Social Media “Experts” are the Cancer of Twitter (and Must Be Stopped)
A contrary opinion on those providing info and building networks on Twitter. The service is so open it really can be used for anything. I’m sure this debate is going to keep on running.

TwtQpon Helps Retailers Push Coupons Across Twitter
This service helped Dell make a $1 million over the holiday season. I’m sure we’ll see more in this line of innovation: companies using Twitter to communicate direct marketing messages. Obviously measurement of the results of this approach is also key.

Twitturly – cagedether’s Twitter Linking History
See which sites you’ve linked to and how viral these are ie. total tweets for each link.

181 Free Twitter Buttons, Badges, Widget and Counters to Help You Find Followers
If you link a corporate blog to Twitter, why not let your users know? This is a great collection of some of the best buttons and badges out there. This is my fave.

Twitter improves service and base; next steps, revenue
SFGate in San Francisco covers the rise of Twitter as a serious communications tool and the moves over the next few months to turn it into a profitable enterprise.

Feel free to subscribe via RSS. If you want more regular updates, then follow me on Twitter or Del.icio.us.

Facebook, Feeds and Micro-Blogging

It seems like no online marketing seminar is complete nowadays without at least one session on social media. SES San Jose was no exception – social media optimization is definitely creating a buzz in the industry (as it has been for at least the last year).

Moderator:
Kevin Ryan, VP, Global Content Director, Search Engine Strategies & Search Engine Watch

Speakers:
Andy Beal, Consultant, Blogger & Author, Marketing Pilgrim LLC
David Snyder, Search Specialist, JRDunn.com
Neil Patel, Co-founder, ACS
Brian Morrissey, Digital Editor, AdWeek

Andy:

Twitter
Make sure you secure your company name – even if you aren’t going to use it.

Basic symbols:

  • @andybeal directs a message to that user (public)
  • d andybeal sends a direct message that is
  • #olympics are used for tagging tweets
  • favorites are used to bookmark tweets you want to revisit
  • delete: this is possible but beware, Tweets can get syndicated in different places so even though you may delete a Tweet, it isn’t necessarily gone

Be selective with who you follow. You’ll realize why after a while. With Twitter it is easy to receive a lot of noise from people or subjects you don’t care about. Some people you might want to follow:

  • Peers
  • Press
  • Influencers
  • Customers

Look out for interesting conversations. The medium really supports these when they happen. Don’t send Twitter spam – this is such a conversational medium, any attempts to use it solely for commercial gains looks transparently salesy and just doesn’t go down well.

If you want to get into someone else’s network, think to copy your message into their thread using @[username] at the beginning of the post.  Their network of followers will see you message.

Use services like Twitterfeed to cross-promote blog content on Twitter (everytime you blog, all those following you on Twitter are automatically notified).

Your Twitter reputation IS your reputation so don’t get pulled into negative conversations – in most cases you can just let them play themselves out.

Use search to find those with similar interests (who you can choose to follow).

Brian:

As a journalist, I use Twitter to develop sources and find out who is writing on certain issues. Comcast and Zappos are good examples of companies using Twitter to manage their reputation online.

Neil:

Facebook
Some Facebook stats:

  • 73% of people are white
  • 30% make over 100k
  • 43% didn’t go to college

David:

Friendfeed
The best way to describe this service is as RSS on steroids – brings all social network data to one place and allow you to interact with that data. The big problem with social media is that it is so diverse. If you post images on Flickr, post on Blogger or leave content in any of a number of places across the web, then bring all your activity into one place with Friendfeed.