• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 18, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • IBM Verse fixes email to give you back your day. If you have been around the IBM software ecosystem this week, you probably couldn’t have missed our announcement about IBM Verse. IBM has been working to bring the world of social collaboration into a context where many of us still work – email.

    IBM Verse fixes email to give you back your day.

    If you have been around the IBM software ecosystem this week, you probably couldn’t have missed our announcement about IBM Verse. IBM has been working to bring the world of social collaboration into a context where many of us still work – email.

    Most of us still use IBM Notes, Microsoft Outlook or some other email client as the primary place we work. We use it for filing, for storage, for search, for communicating and well, for being able to be productive at work. The trouble is, these days, email clients are not designed for this. If you are under the age of about 35 you probably only have a small number of folders with thousands of emails in them. If you’re older than 35 you probably have tens if not hundreds of folders and spend a significant part of your time diligently filing your emails for later retrieval.

    Most of us, though, rarely look for and seldom find the emails we’re looking for. Lots of us, when on vacation come back to hundreds of unread mail, most of which are either for information, or if they were urgent, have probably been actioned by someone else in your absence.

    The truth is, that emailing replaced the paper memo and as a result the explosion in information – both relevant and irrelevant – which lands on our desk is overwhelming. Email has become a hindrance not a help to daily business.

    IBM Verse fixes email to give you back your day.

    Smarter organizations have realized that social collaboration solutions such as IBM Connections can move much of the information chatter out of email and into centralized communities where people can work together productively and with purpose.

    Until now, however, a social enterprise still had to struggle with a decidedly unsocial email world. That’s until IBM unveiled Verse. It is intended to bring the social enterprise (the “we”) to the email user (the “me”). It interconnects sharing and collaboration with messaging to give you the opportunity to see through the forest of information you get every day and help you be better at work. Who knows, you might even get home on time!

    One of the more interesting aspects of the modern web economy is the ability for talented people to transmit their expertise regardless of their location. It’s meant things like Khan Academy have streamed their tutorials to millions around the world, TED videos have been viewed over a billion times, and MOOCs have made stars out of the best lecturers.

    One of the more interesting aspects of the modern web economy is the ability for talented people to transmit their expertise regardless of their location.  It’s meant things like Khan Academy have streamed their tutorials to millions around the world, TED videos have been viewed over a billion times, and MOOCs have made stars out of the best lecturers.

    That’s obviously great if you’re one of those that this amplification has made famous, but a slightly more warming side of the story is that it’s brought expertise into the lives of those who would normally be disenfranchised, and who might suffer from a lack of such resources in their own countries.

    A nice example for instance was the success of the MOOC launched on the Alison platform that helped to deliver Ebola advise and assistance to residents in west Africa.

    Nowhere is this more so than in education.  We’ve seen with the famous Sugata Mitra experiment that children in rural villages are dying to learn and enrich themselves, if they’re only given the opportunity.

    His experiment famously placed a computer terminal in such a village, but a new project called Making Ghanaian Girls Great is aiming to go one step further.

    The project is currently in a two year pilot phase and sees lessons streamed into remote parts of Ghana in a bid to provide schooling to those currently deprived of the opportunity.

    Each lesson is filmed in a central studio in Accra, and streamed live throughout the country.  Two way video conferencing facilities allow students to receive an interactive class for two hours each day.

    Each classroom is equipped with a webcam, computer and a satellite to facilitate the experience, with local helpers on hand to provide support and mentoring in addition to the remote tuition.

    The learning doesn’t end in the classroom either.  Afterwards, each school has a ‘Wonder Woman’ club whereby female role models are profiled for the class, with students encouraged to quiz each participant to learn more about their lives.

    There are currently 72 schools throughout Ghana participating in the scheme, which means that some 4,000 girls are currently receiving an education they probably wouldn’t otherwise receive.

    It’s a nice example of the kind of projects that are allowing people in more developed nations to stream their expertise to more under-privileged parts of the world.  We’ve seen similar projects in areas such as healthcare.

    All in all, it’s a wonderful project, and well worth checking out.

    photo: Gems Ed Solutions

    My friend Jonathan Barrick had the unique opportunity to cover the AdTech 2014 conference in New York City recently and collect digital trends, ideas, and opportunities from some of the biggest the companies in the business. He told me that there was a “distinct attitude shift about digital marketing” compared to other years and we are fortunate to have some of these observations today.

    My friend Jonathan Barrick had the unique opportunity to cover the AdTech 2014 conference in New York City recently and collect digital trends, ideas, and opportunities from some of the biggest the companies in the business. He told me that there was a “distinct attitude shift about digital marketing” compared to other years and we are fortunate to have some of these observations today.

    Many thanks to Jonathan, Claude Ricks and Krista LaRiviere of gShift for gathering these insights from the floor of AdTech for our community!

     

    Blurring lines between channels

    The lines we’ve previously drawn between owned, earned, and paid media are constantly getting blurrier. Each one is inextricably linked to the others, and if they are not aligned and working towards the same end then marketers are not maximizing their investments in content, social engagement, and paid efforts.

    Content confusion

    Marketers KNOW they need to be creating content, but they don’t know how to effectively inform the entire content marketing process. What methods and strategies should be deployed to gather and analyze the right data to determine WHAT content should be created, WHERE the content should be distributed, and HOW they should measure its performance.

    Digital brand discovery strategies

    Most brands haven’t wrapped their head around learning what questions their prospects are asking in order to find them, and how/where do they/should they answer those questions in their digital content. Understanding the sequence of events that their customers follow throughout the sales process and which questions apply to each stage is crucial to a strategic content plan.

    If a brand has answered those questions, how are they actually measuring the uptake/engagement of their prospects on the content that has those answers? If a brand is not measuring the impact of content, how it affects a prospect throughout the cycle, and what stages of the cycle benefit from certain types of content, how can they ever expect to truly measure content performance?

    The data and analytics gap

    CMOs investing primarily in a content marketing to drive their overall paid, owned and earned digital efforts were shocked to learn about the importance of data in the overall content creation process. Content creation that takes place without timely, accurate data as its foundation results in a ‘dumb’ content strategy with minimal impact, engagement and sales conversions. ‘Smart’ content marketing makes use of information such as keyword data from current, relevant conversations in social media and competitive content intelligence from search.

    Growing importance of content distribution

    Marketers are missing the boat when it comes to content distribution. Investments are being made in content, however marketers are not being tactical, strategic and thoughtful enough about where and when to distribute content.

    Writing a blog and publishing it solely to a website is short-sighted, and so is publishing solely into a brand’s own social channels. Seeking out the right influencers on the subject matter and publishing to industry verticals with the proper calls-to-action will elevate content engagement and performance. More time and resources are required on the distribution aspect of the content marketing workflow process if marketers want their content investments to pay off.

    Conclusion

    Overall, the main messages coming from ad executives were the need to more intelligently inform content marketing strategies, determine the best distribution channels for maximum impact, and identify the most effective measures of performance and ROI. Not only do marketers want better ways of creating smart content, but they also want better ways of distributing and better ways of measuring.

    How do you envision these shifts will impact your business?

    Disclosure: gShift is a sponsor of The Marketing Companion but I have not been compensated for this blog post. Illustration courtesy AdTech 2014.

    Given Uber's prominence in the early days of the collaborative economy, it may seem odd for me to suggest, but I believe a significant decline in Uber's business may be terrific for the long-term interests of the collective consumption movement. My reasoning is that the sharing economy is not simply about more collaborative products but more collaborative companies. Viewed through this lens, Uber simply has not earned its premiere status in this new business movement.

    Uber has been a poster child for the emerging sharing economy. While other collaborative economy startups like Airbnb and LendingClub have grown and garnered attention, they have yet to create the sort of impact within their verticals that Uber has in the livery business. In San Francisco, for example, Uber (with an assist from other ride-sharing startups) has already caused a 65% decline in taxicab trips and New York has seen a small but unheard of decline in the price of taxi medallions.

    Given Uber's prominence in the early days of the collaborative economy, it may seem odd for me to suggest, but I believe a significant decline in Uber's business may be terrific for the long-term interests of the collective consumption movement. My reasoning is that the sharing economy is not simply about more collaborative products but more collaborative companies. Viewed through this lens, Uber simply has not earned its premiere status in this new business movement.

    Uber's embarrassments have been many and frequent, such as:

    All of these blunders occured before this week's embarrassing dustup over threats to dig up dirt against critical journalists and their families. Then, as if Uber's crap week needed icing on the clueless cake, the company's CEO, Travis Kalanick, compared his company's woes to those of the residents of Ferguson, MO.
     

    Travis Kalanick (Photo Credit: Silicon Prairie News)

    That Uber has a terrible corporate culture is in no doubt. Of course, what would you expect from a CEO that calls his company "Boob-er" for the way it helps him land dates. If the CEO at a traditional company said these sorts of things or presided over a fraction of Uber's PR stumbles, he or she would be shown the door immediately, but Kalanick seems to have nothing to fear, provided he keeps the billions rolling in for investors.  In fact, not only has the latest gaffe caused no apparent ruckus among investors about Kalanick's leadership, one investor--actor Ashton Kutcher--came to the executive team's defense, tweeting "What's so wrong about digging up dirt on shady journalist?"

    If Uber's leaders and investors are unwilling to foster the sort of culture consumers want and expect, then perhaps it is time for consumer action. There is a small but growing trend among people deleting Uber from their smartphones. Comedian John Hodgman wrote a blog post saying "I just can't get into the car with those guys any more." Tech writer Nilofer Merchant is also deleting her Uber app. I have deleted mine, and you can too.

    Yes, Uber is an astounding service, but is that really enough? Study after study validates consumers' growing desire for better companies--ones that act ethically, contribute to the community and treat both employees and customers better. This is made clear by a slew of research such as Edelman's Trust Barometer and Havas Meaningful Brands study.

    We have the power to demand better leaders and companies. If we fail to act now--if we let our love of Uber's service blind us to its terrible and uncollaborative actions--that will only embolden and encourage VCs, startup leaders and others to accept aberrant leadership behaviors and build companies that respect nothing but profits. That is not the collaborative economy I want.

    Some may suggest that an Uber failure would be a strike against the new sharing economy, but I believe the opposite is true. The collaborative economy is changing the world, but its progress will be hindered if we support companies that violate every tenet of the social era.

    Cash may pay the bills, but trust is what drives the collaborative economy. Trust is the necessary ingredient to convert customers to new ways of consuming goods and to win the support of doubting regulators. Today, Uber's trust-killing antics are harming the entire sharing industry, raising suspicions about the kind of ethics and honesty that are driving crowd companies. At a time when Uber and other sharing economy companies should be winning hearts and minds, Uber's arrogance and mistakes are instead breeding suspicion at the Federal, state and local levels.

    The best thing for the collective consumption movement would be for consumers to send a clear and unmistakable message to Uber and its peers. If enough of us act, we can shape the future of this emerging way of doing business. We can and should put the collaboration back into the collaborative economy and help Silicon Valley understand that we want more than better services; we want better companies.

    Uber is not the only ride-sharing service around, and I urge you to consider exploring other options such as LyftSidecar and Curb. The next time you use a ride-sharing service, make sure it is one that has earned not just your business but your respect, as well.

    (Added note: It seems advisable to point out that my opinions are my own. Moreover, let me state that I want ride sharing in general and Uber in specific to succeed. But on the trajectory it is going, I fear Uber will not only undermine its own success but harm other companies in the budding peer-to-peer economy. If deleting Uber now can bring about a change in its corporate culture and force Uber to be more collaborative, trustworthy and respectful, then I will gladly reinstall the app in the future and feel as if I have helped the company succeed in the long term.)

    As of January 2015, Business Pages content will show up less frequently on the casual user's news feed. Is it worth it, then, for small businesses to hold onto their Facebook Pages?

    As I’m sure every small business owner has noticed, Facebook reach has been dwindling significantly in the past couple months. In the Facebook page update email I receive on a weekly basis, my used-to-be green numbers are now an alarming shade of red, showing that my reach is accomplishing negative results- a very drastic change from our very positive numbers our first couple of years with a business Facebook page.  

    On November 14, 2014, Facebook stated, “Beginning in January 2015, people will see less [pages] content in their News Feeds.” Which means that those red numbers you receive in your pages update email will get a little bigger unless you hop onto the paid advertising option. Though, if the point of posting on Facebook as a small business is so that people can view your content, the boosted posting doesn’t seem so optional.

    When I think back to first creating my business Facebook page, the biggest pulls were that it gave me an easy communication outlet with my customers, it gave our business a sense of professionalism (because what business doesn’t have a Facebook page?), and, mostly, because it was free. Now, with our posts not reaching a majority of our audience unless we pay for it, it’s hard to say if professionalism will continue to be tied to businesses that have Facebook. Or if the small businesses that start a couple years from will even feel the need to create a Facebook fan page due to the costs that accompany it.

    Are there benefits to the new changes?

    This whole thing started, it seems, to improve the casual user’s experience. Facebook made these changes due to a poll they took asking Facebook users what they like and don’t like about the News Feed. The response they received showed that, despite the fact that users initially “liked” a business page, they don’t like to then see posts from said business pages. That, paired with the ever-growing competitive available space on each individual user’s News Feed, has caused Facebook to remedy these complaints by lessening the frequency in which business posts actually make it on to other users’ news feeds. Additionally, now more than ever it’s easier to “unfollow” (while continuing to like) a business. So for the user that doesn’t want to see a lot of ads, or posts from businesses, as he scrolls down his News Feed, the changes Facebook will implement this January seem pretty great.

    But there are also benefits for the business pages. 

    Yes, we are paying for the viewership of our posts, but it is still cheaper to throw down $10 or $50 a post every now and then than it is to hire an outside marketing or PR team to reach people in a similar way that Facebook paid advertising does. Additionally, the boosted posts are being tailored to be highly effective for each individual business. Business pages now have the option of choosing specific demographics to point their posts at, based on age, gender, and location. Page administrators also now have the “post now or post later” option, allowing businesses to time their posts to send out at a later date - a helpful feature of Facebook posting for the busy business owner. So they really are working to improve the small business experience as well as the causal user experience.

    Do I think it’s worth it to hold onto our fan page?

    As of now, yes. Facebook is still a good place to dump all of the great content we generate and create (especially because it’s also going to other places). For anyone who simply searches our brand’s name in the search box, he’ll be able to find every great piece of work we’ve put up. As for the paid posting, we typically boost any post with a link that will lead directly back to our site. It’s worth the money with how many click-backs we consistently receive. I plan on sticking with Facebook for the time being. Who knows, these changes could end up making marketing via Facebook the best PR option yet.