If you’ve got an hour to spare on your way to or from work, it’s worth watching this Web 2.0 Summit conversation with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
This is written by Campbell Scott of IGOPeople.com. All comments, queries and case study suggestions welcomed via comments below. Thanks! – RS, IIA.
Our previous case study gave an excellent overview of some of the social media tools that are available to businesses, including blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, Youtube etc. This case study is based on observations about how O2 Ireland have embraced the use of social media, to get closer to their customers (and potential customers). This summary records some of the interactions with customers that have taken place, some of these on IGOpeople.
O2 were well aware that their brand, products and services, pricing etc. were all being talked about online by their customers. These discussions were taking place on blogs, discussion forums and social networks. Many people would have posted comments which were negative in tone, complaining about specific problems or the way they had been treated by O2 as a customer. For O2, the challenge was how to engage or join in the conversations taking place. Many of the comments in discussion forums are anonymous, or take place in a tone and context where O2’s response or involvement in the discussion may not be particularly welcome.
O2’s answer to this problem was to take the brave move of creating their own, open user discussion forum, where customers could ask questions and seek help, voice their opinion or complain. Registration was a requirement, to help O2 get in touch with members privately if required. This was a very positive move which was received well by O2 customers. As this was new territory for O2, they did demonstrate some early naivety, by correcting the content of some members posts, but their customer community was tolerant of this, as it was a new environment where everyone was learning.
Although the O2 Forum has developed from these early days and is now a popular and active community, O2 have extended the range of social media tools they use to reach customers, including Bebo, Twitter and now IGOpeople (links take you directly to the O2 profile page). We’re delighted to have O2 as part of IGOpeople, but everyone can learn from some of the specific conversations they have become involved in.
O2 have jumped straight into IGOpeople, posting regularly about items of interest to their customers – promoting shiny new phones and new product releases. This week, they offered customers the opportunity to direct any questions they may have to the Head of Customer Care – not something that is available to a consumer every day of the week!
However, the thing that is impressed me about O2, is the willingness to reach out to customers. There are a number of conversations where they acknowledge their shortcomings and state how they will fix things up, or recognise the need to make changes in the future. Their answers don’t always give you the answer you might demand, but they are there to listen and consistently discuss the issue, in a really honest and believable way – even if the answer isn’t quite what you want.
Here are some nice examples of the conversations they get involved in
I met Romans and Gita of Agile Technologies at the Innovate Media Event organised by the Digital Media Forum and Media Cube in Dun Laoghaire last December. Since then I’m delighted to say that they joined the IIA and they are very interested in meeting you and helping you to streamline your business processes through the use of technology. (Yep all to do with my magnetic personality nothing to do with the boring old benefits of being a member of the IIA :)) Agile Technologies have been in web 2.0 since 2003. They offer a unique mix of software development services to help companies achieve better sales and operational efficiency by leveraging their eBusiness capabilities.
They also have a number of existing software components which they distribute as open source.
Managing Director, Romans Malinovskis, told me about the new service they have launched in 2009. It is “business process optimisation” using IT and is directed towards small and medium enterprises. All the software they write is based on MVC framework (Agile Toolkit) and is deployed as web 2.0 application – even if it’s internal company software.
The Irish Internet Association’s Social Media Working Group chaired by Brendan Hughes, FBD.ie, are holding a workshop to discuss the first draft of their first Social Media Guidebook. This first draft publication is entitled “Blogging for Business: a Guide for Irish companies”.
In the spirit of Social Media this guide was developed collaboratively online by the members of the working group. Continuing this collaborative model the working group hope to share this draft with anyone interested in blogging for business and to discuss and develop it at a workshop. If you have never blogged before the Social Media Working Group are interested in your feedback. If you eat, sleep and work blogging, the Social Media Working Group are interested in your feedback. The draft will be circulated to all workshop attendees as soon as they register (so please register sooner rather than later).
It is hoped that remote attendance will be facilitated. Please follow www.twitter.com/iia or email email@example.com to express your interest in attending remotely if the facility is available on the day.]
Audience: Those interested in using Social Media for business be they expert or non-users.
Aim: To create a useful beginners guide for business people planning to get started in Social Media
Objectives: To discuss and develop the material prepared by the Blogging subgroup of the Social Media Working Group
Venue: Presentation Room, Digital Depot, Roe Lane, Thomas St., Dublin 8
Time: 3.30pm – 5.30pm
Date: Friday 5th December
Cost: Free to IIA members/ €20.00 non-members
The way some people come from GAA or rugby families, I come from a jazz family. I have no strong feelings about this particular style of music myself but I do recall a game the jazz nerds used to play late at night after a long jam (man). Basically you would think of titles of jazz standards that included the word love and substitute the word love with lunch. Much hilarity ensued – I did say they were jazz NERDS.
Hence the title above with a bit of a pop twist when I was thinking about LinkedIn this week. Krishna De who has been presenting at some of our events this year, recently added an item to IIA.ie which I think might be a first for Ireland. Krishna is running a LinkedIn for Business Masterclass as part of Dublin City Enterprise week tomorrow.* Now considering Krishna has over 500 contacts on LinkedIn and that I recently joined her on her PodCampIreland podcast to talk with her about LinkedIn’s new applications suggests to me that here is a woman who (a) knows what she is doing and (b) continues to find out at much as she can about the online tools she is using. I would say that an afternoon in Dublin City Enterprise Board, O’Connell Bridge House and €30.00 would be well spent and you might well see me there.
You might see me there because, mea culpa, I am a LinkedIn newbie. It was never terribly high on my list of must-use sites until recently, partly because of the nature of the work I was doing prior to my role in the IIA. Recently I had a revelation though when one of our members contacted me looking to make a connection with another member company. I had a quick think and it suddenly occurred to me that the quickest way to do this was through LinkedIn. So hopefully those two IIA members will make connections that may have otherwise been more complicated to make.
With this in mind I have set up a group on LinkedIn Group for IIA members so I hope you will join us there soon. If there is a particular IIA member that you would like an introduction to please do not hesitate to ask me – that’s what I’m here for!
* And on a blowing our own trumpet note Krishna told me that within half an hour of posting that item on the IIA website she had one registration who referenced IIA.ie as their referral point. Lesson learned: people who like jazz really are nerds. No no no! Get posting your information to the IIA website. Update your profile. Add your RSS. Is that your old logo? Yikes! Change it. Tell us about your new appointments and post your vacancies – it’s all happening on IIA.ie
A guest post from Brendan Hughes of FBD.ie and chair of the IIA’s Social Media Working Group.The IIA’s social media working group has been up and running now for a few months. We each work in different organisations located in various parts of the country and the group was configured so that there would not only be social media experts, but also business professionals with relatively little knowledge or expertise to date. For many of us the group has provided a great opportunity to learn by doing since we decided from the outset that we would seek to use social media as much as possible to support our collaborative working. The following are some of the social media tools we have used to support our endeavours.
The online hub of our collaboration has been the online project management tool Basecamp from 37signals.com. I’ve seen companies use this to communicate their project timelines with clients but it comes into its own when you need to collaborate with a dispersed group. Each member of the working group can post messages for the entire group or to just a few. Members of the group can reply or comment, just like on a blog. There are whiteboards where ideas can be teased out. Everyone is kept up to date by email and all communications are tracked. It gives great transparency on everything we do.
We decided that we would initially write 4 white papers on particular aspects of social media that we felt would be of primary interest to the business community in Ireland. To support the task of up to 16 people working on a single document we set up a wiki. A wiki is essentially a tool that allows anyone to edit an online document and have their edits tracked. There is a complete audit trail of who does what and changes can be easily rolled back. Notifications, or “watchlists” can be set up so that whenever a change is made to a particular document you can receive an email. While we struggled with the first version of the wiki we used since it was not very intuitive to use, we have since moved onto a new version – SocialText – that meets our needs better.
Rather than dragging everyone into the Digital Hub in Dublin every time we needed to meet we agreed to hold Skype conference meetings when we needed to. As smaller groups this worked well but when I personally tried to organise a full group Skype meeting I managed to leave most of the group out of the conversation for 20 minutes or so. I had an older version of Skype installed than was necessary to host the full meeting. Thanks to Skype’s instant messaging facility I was alerted to the problem by the excluded members and was able to get someone else to host the meeting.
In between meetings we’ve all been keeping in touch and letting each other know about useful resources or activities via social network websites such as FriendFeed and Twitter. These have been really useful ways of providing information quickly. Many of us have our own blogs and we’ve been using these and the IIA blog to try and keep people outside the group up to date. The social networking tools have been great for us individually in creating links with interested people outside of the working group. It was great to go to the Podcamp event in Kilkenny and to meet most of the working group there, as well as many of the other people I’ve connected with online over the past while.
Our white papers are now coming close to publication. We intend to widen the circle of collaboration and with this in mind we plan to publish the documents (via the wiki) in draft format. We will then invite people to review and post comments directly to the wiki. We also intend to host a review session for each document, online of course, using the services offered by OnlineMeetingRooms.com. I’m personally very excited about this as it provides the opportunity to gather the expertise from practitioners and interested business professionals in a constructive and engaging manner.
We’re also planning to host an open meeting with social media expert Neville Hobson from the UK to discuss the business case for social media. Neville is coming to Ireland on November 5th and we’ve managed to secure a few hours out of his busy schedule. The meeting will be organised via the social media website upcoming.org, allowing anyone who’s interested in attending to register for free and see who else is attending. We’ll post more information on this later.
We certainly haven’t exhausted the range of online collaborative tools available out there, but what we have used to date has proved very useful for maintaining the momentum of activities of a diverse group of individuals. What’s more, we have done it all with minimal cost. Learning the new technologies is not without its sometimes humbling (and frustrating) moments, but thankfully there is never a shortage of knowledgeable people only too willing to help out.
As an footnote, I came across a interesting video-cast from BT on their BiggerThinking website talking about how companies can collaborate with customers, using social media technologies, to build better products. Well worth a few minutes of your time.
Generally I try to keep things upbeat but there’s no getting away from that budget, is there? Cadamedia, a web design company based in Wexford and IIA member, have posted a timely reminder on their blog about how one aspect of this budget could seriously affect companies who aren’t quick off the mark. They remind their clients with online shops that the VAT rate has increased so changes will need to be made on their sites. All members who have online shops should ensure these changes are made as well.
And you may be wondering what brought Cadamedia to my attention? Their RSS feed is included in their profile in the IIA website. If you are a member you should add your RSS feed to your profile on the IIA extranet as well. If you need help mail me at members at iia dot ie.
Grabbing RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds and adding them to your RSS Reader from other sites of interest to you is a great way to keep up to date at a glance with what’s going on in your sector. If you don’t already use a reader try Google Reader or I know the latest versions of Outlook and Thunderbird have RSS readers too. (Please feel free to suggest others you like in the comments below.) If you write a business (or any other kind of) blog it will supply you with endless inspiration for blog posts and will allow you to join in the online conversations in the blogosphere with ease. Just like Cadamedia’s RSS feed did for me here!
I get all sorts of queries by email and by phone from our members and I often think that, anonymised, they would make interesting reading for others. So as the first in a very occasional series I am publishing a reply I sent to a query from a member who asked me how best to promote his blog and his Twitter. Here’s my reply and I welcome any futher comments of course!
There are no hard and fast rules to getting your business blog noticed so here are a few tips to get you started from some experienced bloggers that I have heard recently at the various events I have been attending.
- Set up Google Alerts for the keywords that you are interested in. Include names of your staff, company and product names and names of your competitors. You may need to tweak this over time. The resulting alerts will keep you posted about what is going on in your particular sector and will allow you to monitor your brand. It will also give you great blogging content and show you which other bloggers are writing on the same subject and what they are saying.
- Comment on other people’s blogs but please do it in a helpful, non-sales manner. Krishna De suggests that you read the post entirely, decide whether you agree or disagree, if you agree add any further information that you might have, if you disagree explain why. Only add a link in the body of your comment if you have written on this subject yourself and if your link will add further to the discussion. Don’t forget you will be adding your URL in the URL field in the comment dialogue anyway so if anyone does like what you have to say they will find your blog that way.
- Set up Twitterfeed from all your RSS feeds to your Twitter www.twitterfeed.com
- Monitor what’s being said about you on Twitter at http://search.twitter.com – pick up a RSS feed for your queries and add it to your favourite reader. You can create a RSS feed for all the keywords that apply to your company
- Have a look at Friendfeed.com – not to everyone’s taste but if you are using a lot of social media it’s a way for people to see all you are doing in one place and of course they can grab an RSS feed that will encapsulate all your social media activity. You can also find other people and leave comments on all their social media activities there too. My personal Friendfeed is www.friendfeed.com/enormous and you will see that I am in a group about Social Media in Ireland and no doubt there are all sorts of other groups too.
- Always remember social media is all about conversations so be chatty! Ask questions, follow comment streams that you comment on and pop back in if you think clarification is needed or if you have more to add, don’t interrupt (i.e. leave comments that are a propos nothing at all) and be polite.
- Share anything you find interesting on your blog or in Twitter – it will always be new to someone. Most blogging platforms have a Blogthis link which you can add to your links bar. URL.ie have a toolbar shortcut which allows you to share a shortened link to whole suite of social sharing tools. And it’s made in Ireland 🙂
- If you are thinking of approaching bloggers about your own product or service PLEASE offer them a free trial/ subscription/ sample and be willing to take the good with the bad. In other words if you ask bloggers to review your product, just because you are giving them something for free doesn’t mean they will only write good things about it. Only consider doing this if you feel like the above approaches are getting you absolutely nowhere and only ask bloggers who have previously written on your sector i.e. don’t ask a mammy blogger to review your cool new app/ product/ service etc. unless it helps cut down on her laundry 🙂 (Bloggers please comment if you think more needs to be said on this topic because I know it’s a minefield and all input would be gratefully received.)
- And as I have done with this email reply, use all content you create as content for your blog in an appropriate fashion. And remember it doesn’t always have to be text: use audio, video, pictures to get your message across.
(Ideas robbed with thanks offa Deborah Hadley, and Sabrina Dent, both of whom I heard speaking at PodCampIreland. Also thanks to Krishna De who delivered two presentations for the IIA recently in Dublin and Limerick.)
A while ago now I had the great fortune to be invited by Keith Brock in Fingal County Enterprise Board to make a presentation at the Fingal Day of Enterprise. My presentation focussed on Social Media and Business. (The presentation is available to download as a PDF from the IIA website and you can hear a report about the day from RTÉ Radio 1’s The Business broadcast on October 12th (MP3 file; Report on Fingal Day of Enterprise is at about 18mins 40 seconds) which includes a few words of advice from yours truly.)
My experience at the Fingal Day of Enterprise was revelatory for me in my role with the IIA as Membership manager. My presentation was the first of the day: the room was packed out and people were turned away. Needless to say it wasn’t my reknown as a public speaker that was drawing the crowds especially as this was the first time I delivered a presentation on behalf of the IIA so I was a wee bit nervous. Of course there are aspects of my talk that I would now change especially based on the questions asked during the Q&A and subsequent conversations that day and my own social media experiences since then more of which later all going to plan with my blogging today! I was speaking about how to integrate Social Media into your marketing plan and it’s obviously a subject in which many people have an interest.
The reason the day was revelatory was because it made me more aware than ever before of how much help people who are starting businesses need when creating their online presence. I was standing at our stand from 1pm until 8.15pm with a constant stream of new business owners and entrepreneurs asking me various questions not just about the IIA but about how to get the best return on their investment of time and money in their internet marketing, sales and communications activities. A number of delegates who approached me had web design/ development consultancies and in a way I was sorry I didn’t have a two way queuing system so I could introduce the delegates looking for developers/ designers to the delegates offering developement/ design services!
Krishna De was also there that day as a business mentor and she popped over once or twice to say hello (and take photos see above) and even offered to mind the stand while I grabbed a cuppa which, although I declined, I really appreciated. But her offer and the queue at the stand got me thinking. If I were to be doing outreach work like this in a location close to you would you, as an IIA member, be interested in helping at the stand for 30 minutes to an hour? It was a great way to meet people who were actively seeking advice and information about bringing their business online and I think it would be a great opportunity for IIA members offering those kind of services to meet them. It’s just an idea so let me know what you think of it.
Two days later I packed myself off to Kilkenny for PodCampIreland, and while I was there in a more personal capacity, I didn’t hide the fact that I work for the IIA but most people know that anyway. I was facilitating a conversation about Twitter which I found very interesting and I hope those whose conversation I was facilitating found interesting too. When I asked those attending my presentation in Fingal about their experience of social media, I got one hand up for blogging (who left before I finished eek!), a couple of hands for Facebook and three hands up from the boys in school uniforms when I asked about Bebo and MySpace.* I got a big blank “ye wha’?!” when I asked about use of Twitter in Fingal which contrasted wildly with those at PodCamp – I think only two out of the 20 or so present didn’t use Twitter. While I was mainly asking the PodCampers about what they use Twitter for, how it helps them, why does it appeal to them, what future they see for it, I also asked them how they felt about businesses getting into Twitter, whether they felt it was intrusive or fair enough. As Twitter is all based on permission, I argued, a business joining in a conversation on Twitter is not the same as a representative from a business landing in on top of your cosy chat in the pub which was the common metaphor that day for online conversations. In most social media you have to accept an invitation, befriend someone, follow someone etc. before they can approach you with their ideas or requests. In this spirit, I’ve said it before but no harm re-iterating, you will never be followed by the IIA on Twitter unless you follow the IIA first and I would recommend other businesses to consider a similar approach. If you are thinking about how to get started and you would like to use this approach, make sure you follow the IIA and I will let my followers know you are online and it will help you start to build your presence. And get chatty. It’s all about engaging in conversation! If somebody says they don’t like your product or service ask them how you can help them to have a better experience of it.
But I digress, PodCampIreland had a lot more to offer apart from me 🙂 I attended a really interesting session by Dean Whitbread about Seesmic which was really interactive and involved us waving at a camera. Seesmic is a social network that allows people to converse using asynchronous videos, either recorded quick and dirty before uploading or prepared carefully and lovingly and uploaded. The great thing is that anyone can watch your video and respond. The other very nice thing about Seesmic is that you can set what sort of copyright you want applied to the video so that it can’t be just reproduced willy-nilly wherever the viewers wish unless you also wish it. It’s a great place to experiment with digital video and get feedback on your experiments so give it a go. I might see you there one of these days 🙂
I also attended a session by Mike Buckley about babyboomers online which turned into a very interesting conversation about who owns virtual space: young people or their parents; and about how technology can help preserve stories and pass them from generation to generation. I was reminded of this conversation on Tuesday when I attended the IIA/Limerick County Enterprise Board/ Marketing Institute of Ireland event on Tuesday. In her presentation Krishna De (who I think I have seen more of recently than my family :)) suggested that those of us disinclined to write much should consider making their content available as audio or video – it might suit your style a lot more than the writtern word. She drew our attention to Bill Marriott’s Blog which he records and which is then transcribed. Now obviously if you are the owner of the Marriott hotel chain you can afford to pay someone to transcribe your tuppeny worth but for us mere mortals making the audio or video available (and you could use Seesmic or YouTube to make video available) is a snap and is either free or costs very little.
I really hoped to blog about a lot more today. Contrary to my advice at the Fingal Day of Enterprise where I encouraged people to blog on a Friday afternoon because they are more likely to get up and leave and go home/ to the pub rather than allow it to seep into their evening it is after five and I am still here. So I will wish you all a great weekend (I’ll see some of you at the inaugural Irish Web Awards), remind you to vote in the Net Visionary Awards and promised lots more very soon!
*Oh yes I was interested by the three uniformed lads putting their hands up to say they were using Bebo and MySpace and I kicked myself for not pointing out to the audience that if they hope to communicate with those who have disposable incomes in ten years time they better start using social media and their online presence more proactively because this is where the mid-teens of today are learning how to use the web.
I have my bed bagsed in my brother’s place in Kilkenny. I look forward to seeing you at PodCamp Ireland if you are going. The excitement is mounting, not least because of the organisers’ use of social media to attract attention. I’ve been listening to their podcasts, for example, and I think that Krishna De’s interview from last week’s podcast with Michele Neylon of Blacknight Solutions has some great pointers for those planning their domain name purchases, especially if you are considering buying a second-hand domain. Also on the show, winner of Best Personal Blogger in last year’s Irish Blog Awards, Grannymar, talks about her experience of starting a blog, giving some very good pointers on the essence of blogs, saying that some days she might only write two lines or post a photo and other days she might do more. As Krishna herself says Grannymar is an inspiration not least because she tells listeners to just go for it and commenters to get involved, “they are the lifeblood of any blog”. Even though hers is a personl blog, much that she has to say holds true for anyone considering starting a business blog. You can listen here at BlogTalkRadio (no fancy players required!). PodCampIreland are making use of all types of new and social media like RSS and blogs and microblogs and of course podcasts to facilitate the varied audience they have. Most of their content is published once but received by many in “the flavour” they like and much of it is done using free or cost-effective online applications.
Speaking of considering starting a business blog, one of our members has recently taken the plunge and considering the summer we have had here in Ireland I am amazed they had the time. Aedan and Suzanne Ryan are the people behind PuddleDucks, a company who sell waterproof clothing for adults and children. Aedan commented that he was much inspired by what he heard at the IIA Congress back in May about how organisations big and small were using Social Media to engage with their customers. I particularly liked their timely post a couple of weeks ago about getting kitted out for Electric Picnic.
Another company who are getting really into social media recently are IIA members, FBD.ie. You may have read on the IIA.ie website that they have just launched their new site. Part of their marketing campaign involved Twitter, including an advance launch of their site to Twitterers. They are also actively seeking comments from bloggers and twitterers and are engaging with them. Other IIA members using Twitter are the aforemnetioned Blacknight Solutions for whom it is, as they, a no-brainer with the profile of their clients. Two other IIA members, The Irish Times and RTÉ are also on Twitter but rather than using Twitter to start a conversation, they are using it to facilitate Twitterers who want regular news updates. RTÉ are feeding each of their news types through different twitter channels using the RSS feeds from their site.
The great thing about Twitter for a company like FBD, for example, is that they can approach those who twitter and if the Twitterer wants to, they can choose to allow FBD to follow them or not and conversely they can choose to follow FBD or not. It’s all about permission so it suits both parties very well. I have to admit that when setting my own ground rules for the IIA Twitter I decided that I would not follow anyone unless they followed IIA becuase I did not wish to be intrusive. I had, as I have mentioned before, been twittering in a personal capacity for some time and many of those following me were happy to follow the IIA tweets as well. I suppose the single greatest thing about Twitter and other microblogging platforms is that they allow users who aren’t constantly in front of a computer remain connected through their mobile phone by either updating via text, receiving updates by text or if the user has mobile internet capability on their phone a third party application can often be installed to microblog from your phone. I use Twibble on my Nokia E51 and I also have a Twitterfone account (Twitterfone was developed by Irish company Maxroam) which allows me to leave voice messages that are converted into text, ready for Twitter. I also use TwitPic which allows me to send photos from my phone by SMS. So for example I was able to twitter the Liffey Swim last Saturday. Great fun no doubt but imagine you were able to show the world your latest product the minute it arrived? Or twitter pictures of new staff so people would know them? Or a picture of your exhibition stand at a conference so people would know exactly what to look for? (Let’s hear how you are using these applications in your business: leave a comment below.) The name of the game is facilitation and developers are creating all sorts of web and mobile applications for all sorts of platforms to facilitate users and business users can mix and match their social media to create a mix to suit their customer base. While I wonder about the longevity of Twitter’s tenure as a killer app, I find Twitter can be a good source of information, feedback and every now and then, great entertainment and I just hope others feel the same way about our Tweets!