Archive for March, 2012

The Water Strider

The Water Strider is a fascinating insect that seems to have the ability to walk on water; skimming across the surface with apparent agility and speed. Research by scientists Xuefeng Gao and Lei Jiang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has found that this is because the Water Strider’s legs are covered by microscopic hairs that trap tiny air bubbles, which allows the insect to float on the water. They are trying to replicate this in their design of water resistant textiles for the future.

I am a little bit like the Water Strider in my (so far) brief journey into blogging and social media. Not in it’s agility and speed part, or the hairy legs for that matter, but in the skirting across the surface thing. I have yet to delve beyond the shallows into the depth’s of the great lake of social media. But I  am looking forward to continuing the journey.

Turned on the telly

Mornings are time of subdued panic in my household. It involves getting the family up and organised, fed and off to respective work and school. So I don’t usually get the opportunity to tune in to early morning TV. But this morning I did. And what should I hear on the local breakfast entertainment show but an item on social media as part of the workplace. Specifically, it was looking at social networking sites such as Facebook.

The upshot was that young people (Gen Y ) today need the internet as part of their daily life and that digital technology is completely natural to them. Older folk while they may not understand this need to accept it.  Social networking is considered a necessary tool in the workplace.  It provides the opportunity for the business to monitor what people  (customer’s, potential customers, colleagues and anyone else) are thinking right now. It can be used to help problem solve and as a source of creative ideas. A business just needs to learn how to use it effectively and collaboratively. Yep… it is a topical subject.

You can check out the TVNZ Breakfast item in full on Social Media part of a Day’s Work.

Advice, Tips, Myths and Mistakes

The Net abounds with advice on how best to use social media to help generate new business opportunities. It almost seems as though those people who first embraced the technology have used it to generate business themselves, offering an abundance of advice of what to do and what not to do to those who have not been so quick …those of us who are late adopters.

For example, Entrepreneur Magazine  has a links through to social media consultant-types who are happy to share offerings, such as:-

  • Chris Wallace’s Five Myths About Social Media  (March 16, 2012). He provides his take on such musings as: social media being a waste of time; that it will not affect a businesses bottom line; that it is too complicated and time consuming; and that nobody cares about you have to say. These myths “should be put to rest” say Chris, and gives his reasons why.
  • Starr Hall’s The Top Five Social Media Mistakes  (August 2,2011). Starr suggests that use of social media costs a business both in time and money and these can be mitigated by avoiding mistakes, such as: – business owners one-way talk (they need to encourage two-way conversations); knowing when to ask for business (build some rapport, then ask); shiny object syndrome (review new happenings online without being distracted by the flashy stuff); poor messaging (sure, inject humour into postings but remember to highlight your brand image); and sales faux pas (share the pros and cons of your industry, not how much your product or service costs).

All good common sense  stuff… Tips and advice come from other sources too.

Manas Kumar in an article in  NZ Management Magazine (2009, Vol. 5, Issue 9. p. 4) offered Ten Top Tips on how business can use social media: –

  1. Define your reason to be on social networks – it is not suitable for everyone.
  2. Select which platform to use – match the one that is most popular  for your target market.
  3. Develop a strategy
  4. Pull together the resources needed
  5. Track and measure your performance
  6. Do not make assumptions – allow time for social media traffic to produce results before making major changes
  7. Experience it yourself – get on in there
  8. Keep an open mind to suggestions
  9. Build a community, not a sales channel; and above all else
  10. Do it with integrity.

Ten Pieces of Advice comes from Kaplan and Haeniein (2010) in Users of the world, unite! The challenges and the opportunities of Social Media. They make five points about using media. These are choose media carefully (what is your target group?);  buy your application (or make it if the right one is not available right now); ensure activity alignment (check your combination works i.e social networking, blogs and content communities); plan media integration (mix it up with tradition media); and ensure access for all (no blocks). Five points to follow about being social:-

active, interesting, humble, unprofessional and honest.

 

Of course these are just a few tasters of the social media advice available to business. There are an infinite number more just a Google  search away.

It’s all about the relationships

Social media, as I am learning, can be about organisations facilitating conversations.

Kaplan and Haenien (2010) in Users of the world, unite! The challenges and the opportunities of Social Media talk about collaboration projects where the joint effort of many contributors leads to a better outcome than any one person can achieve individually. Sounds a bit like ‘many hands make light work’ to me. Online encyclopedia Wikipedia is, in my opinion, an excellent example of a collaborative effort.

Blogs (of which I am writing one right now) are more and more being used by companies to update employee customers and other stakeholders on anything they think is important  within the business. It’s  about good governance, transparency and building relationships… It throws traditional top-down directive lines of communication into disarray (hopefully in a good way). Everyone has a say.s,

With customers, it is less about marketing strategies to sell a service or product and more about asking and listening and working with those customers.

Hugh  McLeod (2005) introduced the porous membrane that creates an environment of direct communication between all parties . Check it out in  the porous membrane: why corporate blogging works. | gapingvoid.
As Niall  Cook  (2008, Enterprise 2.0) quotes Doc Sears from an interview  for software company SAP:
The walls of business will come down. That’s the main efeect of the Net itself. Companies are people and are learning to adapt to a world where everybody is connected, everybody contributes, and everybody is zero distance (or close enough) from everybody else.
So it’ all about the relationships. This has all got to be a good thing… doesn’t it?

Party line…two short rings, two long

A few decades ago, when I was a child,  my family lived on a farm. My parents connected with the outside world by telephone. It was black, made of bakelite with a large silver dial . I remember it took a heavy hand to lift the receiver… not surprising given I was four or five years old when I first tried this.. We were on a party line. We shared our line with six of our rural neighbours. Our ring tone was two shorts, two longs and we often heard it wrong. You had to wait your turn to use the line when someone else got on there before you. If you were naughtly you could listen in to anyone else’s conversation. Everyone on the party line seemed to know what everyone else was up to. It was a source of information with people sharing advice (sometimes unsolicited) and help along the line. If you go to Privateline.com Telephone History: Party line service. it provides a light-hearted commentary on the history of party lines.

Technology has moved on since our party line on the farm. The advent of the internet and social media has produced a closer world community. Instead of sharing our world with six people  we have the capacity to share it with millions, dare I say billions. With the likes of  Facebook Twitter, LinkedIn , and Youtude we can all become part of  a community where information and opinions are ‘out there” and instantaneous. No question goes without an answer. If you want a recipe; to voice an opinion (on absolutely anything);or spread a breaking news story; or market a new business opportunity. Everyone of us has the capacity to ‘go viral’ through blogs, wikis, twitters and youtube and all from absolutely anywhere. The only limitations are time, a PC or smart phone and a decent broadband signal. And we can be provided wth instant feedback. It is a two way conversation street, so expect the bad with the good…

And  it helps to learn the language …Internet Marketing Geek Speak, Social Networking Lingo.

Food a thought …what happens if you do not have internet access? Not everyone does. B Rigby (2008) in Mobilizing generation 2.0: A practical giuide to using Web 2.0 technologies to recruit, organize, and engage youth (on page 46) suggests that this technology is excluded from the lives of millions of people worldwide. Critics say it is only available to the privileged who can afford a computer or network connection. What do you think??

I’ve never been a confident diver…

I enjoy swimming but have never been a confident diver.

It’s that standing  there, toes right up to the edge, a growing feel of trepidation… fear of taking the plunge… of launching myself into the unknown. Will I belly flop loudly and emerge with hurt pride? Do I look around to see who might be laughing at my amateur effort? Or will I gracefully and silently pierce the water and surface with a feeling of achievement and purpose, stroking forward?

OK, no reason to delay the inevitable any longer…time to flex the knees and take a deep breathe.

Here I go…. diving into my first blog.

    Welcome.  Please feel free to join me in my journey into social media.