Friday Wrap #15: Customer service failures, Google+ in the enterprise, a network for marketers2012-08-31
Image (c) CanStockPhotoI’m sorry I missed last week’s Wrap—I was in Brazil (even longer than I expected; my flight home was cancelled due to Tropical Storm Isaac, leaving me in Sao Paulo two days longer than planned). But I’m back with my weekly review of stories from the last week I found in my feeds and thought were interesting or important enough to share with you!
Here’s a business strategy: Ignore $1.3 trillion in annual value
A critically important study released recently by McKinsey & Company sees somewhere between $900 billion and $1.3 trillion in annual value accruing to organizations that embrace social technologies. Among those applications of social media the report calls out: customer service. Yet according to new research from Genesys, over half of Fortune 500 companies don’t even provide Twitter or Facebook links on their home pages, while 27% don’t provide those links anywhere at all on their sites. Here’s a result that’s even more shocking: 90% of the Fortune 500 don’t provide an email address on their sites. In fact, most prefer the contact form solution, which customers see as a “black hole,” according to a Forbes report by Forbes staffer Alex Knapp. Various reports continue to identify executive discomfort with social media and spotlight risk instead of reward. Emarketer, for example, reports on the three social sites with the greatest potential to do your brand serious damage: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube—three sites that also should be at the forefront of customer engagement, support and service. I guess those fears are just greater than the desire to grab a share of that $1.3 trillion. Of course, McKinsey’s study also points out that companies that ignore social technologies are the ones whose businesses are most likely subject to significant disruption.
Will Google Plus be your next social intranet?
Google has been worming its way into the enterprise for years. You can buy the Google search engine in a box to supplant the search utility for your intranet. You can subscribe to Google Docs and other tools for proprietary internal use. And now that Google Plus has been around long enough to make inroads in the social media space, Google has readied it to become the social media hub for your intranet, as well. The company announced on Wednesday that it is weaving elements of Google Plus into Google Apps. Hangouts is one of the more interesting features Google is adding to its enterprise offering; it’ll be accessible from Gmail, Calendar and Docs. The configuration of the social features will also enable employees to send messages to specified individuals inside the organization. Based on the ability to send messages to groups or just one person via Google Plus, the Apps offering could be one of the most likely to serve as an effective email replacement. But then there’s the price tag, which could be off-putting at $5 or $10 per user per month, depending on whether you want to include security and e-discovery features. For a company with 10,000 employees, that would run $600,000 to $120,0000 per year. But then again, what do 10,000 Microsoft Word licenses cost? Google plans to announce even more Apps/social integration down the line. More on the story in The New York Times and TechCrunch.
The mobile device habits of business travelers
the shift to mobile is irrevocable and coming fast. Critical to developing a mobile strategy is knowing which mobile device people in your audience are inclined to use, and when. Some of those questions were answered recently when Four Points by Sheraton released a study that examined the behavior of business travelers. For those who have been looking at the differences between tablet and smartphone use, the results won’t be too surprising. Smartphones are the top device, followed by tablets, music players, and laptops. More than half of road warriors turn their smartphones on as soon as the wheels touch the runway to check email and messages. Thirty-six percent repeat this behavior from their hotel rooms every morning upon waking; less than 20% turn on the TV or take a shower before getting up to speed. Checking Facebook, however, comes in a distant fourth. But the preference for smartphones over tablets should provide some clues if business travelers are part of the mobile audience you’re looking to reach. (Source: 4Hoteliers).
Flipboard establishing itself as the model for mobile content delivery
For those who have (wisely) begun adopting a “mobile first” approach to new communication initiatives, Flipboard should serve as one model for how you’ll make content available to audiences. On the app’s two-year anniversary, according to an Adweek story, Flipboard announced it has 20 million registered users, and that 1.5 million daily users generate 3 billion monthly “flips.” The company also claims it is attracting a new user every second. Flipboard itself may or may not become a de facto standard for organizing, viewing and sharing content, or some of its current problems could hold it back. And I’ve heard no plans about introducing a branded or enterprise version. But the model is one to study. The impressive uptake in Flipboard’s user base is attributable mainly to its incredibly easy-to-use interface and its clean, appealing look and feel. Not only does it make it easy to consume information that matches an individual’s interests when she has a few minutes to flip through pages, it’s equally easy to share it out with others. Few look at Flipboard and see an RSS reader, but RSS feeds are the source of its content, so communicators looking to ensure their content is available for Flipboard need to remember that RSS, while no as sexy a discussion topic as it once was, is still critical social infrastructure.
A few months back I noticed I was still getting daily updates from Empire Avenue, the flash-in-the-pan gamified reputation service in which people traded shares in each other’s social reputations. I tweeted, “Is anybody still using Empire Avenue?” Somebody replied, tongue firmly in cheek, “Ask on Quora.” Quora, however, is a different story. While it’s not talked about in gushing hyperbole that surrounded its early days (some people pronounced that it would replace blogging), it continues to thrive in certain quarters because it is very, very good at what it does. Writing for Business Insider, Matt Lynley suggests that Quora is well positioned to replace Wikipedia as the go-to source of common knowledge. “Plugged-in tech professionals admire Quora’s technology for surfacing new, relevant content to readers,” Lynley writes. “When you go to Quora, it’s almost guaranteed that you will read something that’s at least relevant and interesting to you.” He also sees Quora as a database “for information about pretty much every topic,” making discovery of that information far simpler than it is on Wikipedia. And, he argues, “The quality of Wikipedia is having trouble keeping up with Quora.” Statistically speaking, visits to Wikipedia have stalled while traffic to Quora is on a steep ascent. Businesses stymied by attempts to engage on Wikipedia may want to consider focusing some efforts on contributions of knowledge on Quora. It may not have become a social darling like Pinterest has, but slow and steady could well win the race.
A social network for marketers
I know, I know. You already belong to too many social networks. But if the aim of technology is to make stuff you’re already doing easier, then GraphEffect may be one more social network you’ll want to consider. The social network for marketers is, according to Jack Marshall’s report on Digiday, “designed to foster collaboration and communication among a client and its many agencies involved in social media.” Companies like American Express, Walmart, GE and Samsung are already on board. If you’ve been paying attention to the issue of convergence—figuring out the processes and practices of weaving together coordinated earned, owned, paid and social media efforts—the idea behind GraphEffect will make sense. CEO James Borow wais, “The way people work now is highly fragmented and totally frustrating, largely becuase people are working with so any different external organizations and groups. There’s no way that in two years from now the process should be this difficult.” GraphEffect, he hopes, will be the solution. The company has released its API to third parties, which could help increase its appeal.
Most people don’t like targeted ads
I like targeted ads. When I glance to the right on my Facebook newsfeed and see ads that are almost entirely for things I’m actually interested in, it’s far more appealing and satisfying than the ads that I normally see, pitching things about which I couldn’t possibly care any less. I’m not among the majority, though, according to a new poll from the Pew Resaerch Center. Nearly 70% of Internet users “disapprove of search engines and websites tracking their online behavior in order to aim targeted ads at them,” according to the study. “These users say they disapprove of targeted advertising because they do not like having their online behavior tracked and analyzed.” Those most likely to notice that ads are targeting them are men, whites, people under 65, people with at least some college education and people from higher-income households. (Source: Pew Research Center)
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