Study: Online forums still popular and leading community option (Infographic)

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According to a recent „2013 Social Media Survey“ by Proboards the interactive communication preferences across platforms are still heading towards forums. Although you might think that they asked their own users (which is probably right), the survey still shows the importance of forums and communities. For their results the company promoted the research toover 150 respondents via Facebook, Twitter, and the ProBoards customer support forum.

The study claims that online forums are still popular. What was interesting for me to see is that they were even preferred compared to social media platform for interactive communication. Two out of three respondents (67%) stated that forums were the social media tool they found most valuable. Obviously, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Google+ follow but the question here could be asked whether most people realize that all these platforms are also forums if used in the right way. That LinkedIn did not figure in as a significant social media tool is in my eyes not correct as the forums there within, are very powerful and interactive, plus they generate very valueable input for managers.

„The survey results do not surprise us since platforms such as Facebook and Twitter do not give you the level of control that forums do,” said Patrick Clinger, founder and CEO of ProBoards. “Forums provide greater customization and more options…“

Forums -although we would define them as communities according to our Community Centric Strategy– offer a great way of engaged communication, and probably with better and deeper quality than any other social network. There is more information in the infographic attached…


Why employers should rethink their attitude towards Social Media…

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Many interesting infos have we seen concerning how companies and employers are seeing and opening up their minds about Social Media usage in their offices.

PayScale now comes up with an interesting collection of data based on how employers have adapted Social Media usage for their employees. Some key findings are in the following infographic which makes clear that companies are still in a control mode and have their difficulties becoming „The Social Enterprise“.

– Just a bit more than half of the companies (53%) have a formal social media policy.
– Still 42% of companies don’t allow any forms of Social Media activity at work.
– The smaller the company the more likely the company has a Social Media policy in place.
– With 65% the retail industry is the most evolved industry sector, followed by manufacturing and biz support.
– Energy companies are least likely to use Social Media versus media companies that do encourage their employees.

Spot On!
The infographic shows that there is some kind of ambiguity in the adoption of Social Media inside companies. Although most companies see value in employer branding, in recruiting people through Social Media platforms (80% according to LinkedIn) as well as for external communication like promotions, marketing and PR, many companies still don’t want to go the final mile in transforming their company into a „Social Business“. So, why are they banning the use of these platforms, if they see ROI for their employees in working with it? Isn’t the open and transparent use of Social Media in business more important for the future than it has ever been? For marketing and HR ok, for the rest of the employees not?

Just think about the fact that two out of five Gen Y workers rate Social Media above a higher salary (well, they don’t have kids and family liabilities…). When 56% don’t want a company than bans Social Media companies should rethink their HR strategy and see the value in a Community Centric Strategy

How to become „The Social Enterprise“…

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The mighty loss in productivity often moves ROI and positive arguments in the shade when the conversation comes to social business discussions. Especially, social networking sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and the likes let managers get nervous if their employees are still working today for eight hours, or not. Or whether it is better to cut the line to social networks.

In times where almost every second employee calls a smartphone or tablet their property, all the discussion around baning social networks seem to be making less and less sense. Training and encouraging employees to benefit from social networking sounds even more appropriate. Just bear in mind how much knowledge the company could generate out of it, if the knowledge learning process is aligned to the use of social networks.

If employers see the benefit of a social business through connected workers, the digital access to the company expands and conversations around the company as well as rpducts and the brand will increase. It fosters and harnesses the ability to create leadership in different ways. Content, context and collaboration will rise. Managers just need to offer identification for consumers, differentiate from competition, and redefine commitment for employees and partners anew. Just like the Community Centric Strategy teaches them…

Gist also offers some nice recommendations how to become „The Social Enterprise“ in an infographic…

Study: IBM defines four categories for digital identities

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In a recent study called Beyond digital, IBM analyzed the digital behavior of 3,800 respondents in six countries (China, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States).

The study explains how the digital industry changes with the evolution of the so-called „The Connected Consumer“ how Saul Berman, author of the study, calls us today. Us? Well, everybody who engages online provides custom experiences, and thus the term was created. It makes clear that 78% identify themselves as digital device adopters – more than half of those read newspapers online.

Companies need to become a clearer picture of their consumers. These identify themselves as either Early Adopters 12%; Late Adopters 32%; Mainstream Consumers 35%, or Stragglers 21%. Over half of the „mainstream consumers“ show a range of digital consumption behaviors. They check news onion. They watch video online. They access mobile services. They participate in social networking, or visit user-generated content sites.

IBM took a new approach to identifying the respondents in four different categories – although in my eyes categories will be difficult to hold as user cross category borders permanently these days. One of the reasons why I have created the Community Centric Strategy which I launched at the last IBM Social Business event IN Germany.

Still, the four digital personalities IBM found have more to do with their degrees of access to technology and content. Older target-group definitions like age come in second line.

The biggest group is the Efficiency Experts. They make up 41% of tech users, the largest portion of connected consumers.

The other three categories are…
Content Kings (9%) – dedicated gamers, newshounds, movie buffs, music lovers and TV fans.
Social Butterflies (15%) – have consistent access to networks, but engage with friends and family, rather than media-supplied content.
Connected Maestros (35%) – using mobile devices and Smartphone applications to access games, music, and video or to check news, weather, sports, etc.

„These respondents use digital devices and services to simplify day-to-day activities. Efficiency experts send emails rather than letters, use Facebook to communicate with others, access the Internet via mobile phones, and shop online.“

Spot On!
Companies should take a close look at the Connected Maestros as they are providing tailored customer experiences. They require brands to build insightful profiles and continually update them as consumers evolve their digital content consumption behaviors. They are eager to get to know more about brands, companies and products. Assuming they are more likely to get engaged with brands, or to become brandvangelists.

Would you agree…? Where do you see yourself?

Social Business: 84% of businesses have not fully integrated Social Media in their operations

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This report comes as no surprise to me as it justifies our Community Centric Strategy model. The study from InSites Consulting states that only 16% of businesses using Social Media have fully integrated Social Media platforms into their businesses operations. Nevertheless, business leaders believe better social integration will help improve and streamline their business operations. Their hope is that Social Media marketing and internal social apps will boost productivity of their business.

The study concludes that 27% of business executives are on the move to integrate Social Business in 2012. Moreover, another 20% are wishing that the integration of Social Media projects will increase business efficiency. As there are no reliable or established measurement and metrics standards most companies are still waiting to invest big budgets. Still, as competition is high companies start integrating social into their business to be competitive in their market.

The results of the inSites study show that most companies (69%) will invest in Social Media marketing and launch campaigns in 2012 hoping to improve online conversations and their web efforts. For now 64% of businesses have at least one person responsible for Social Media activities and platforms. With a reason: One-third are sure that Social Media is changing their operations.

Spot On!
The challenge for companies will be to set up the right Social Business strategy as it involves the right understanding of community centers as an external strategy issue. And it needs an appropriate internal company culture with social policies, social training and social commitment and the people. Apart from that, 45% of the respondents said that they cannot find the people for their Social Media efforts. The best option is to start investing in the people you have to integrate social in your business. The Community Centric Strategy could be one starting point…

2012: Think Social Business, live Community Centric Strategy

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2011 was a great year for Social Business!

Social Business got the right attention and awareness. And those companies which thought that „social trend“ might go away, found themselves in business meetings, workshops, seminars, webinars with me, or conferences where people gave me the honor to be the moderator. After all, the feedback was such that I can definitely summarize the 2011 Social Business success with the opening statement.

What happened in terms of Social Business in 2011 and what is the outlook for web marketers in 2012…?

Well, first of all companies spend more time and resources understanding the challenge Social Media and Social Networking from a business perspective. We got the proof that European bosses don’t have to be persuaded to see the benefits of Twitter, that Social Media is a big internal topic, and that Social Business is critical to future business success.

ROI aspects are still key for Social Business performance. Nevertheless CMO’s were often lacking the right plan even for their Social Media efforts – and often CEO’s doubt their business credibility.

Job offerings spread around Europe, although sometimes clients asked me whether the offering is correct from a capabilities point of view. Often these openings were meant to be Social Business, in terms of a team-orientated or community-centric positions, but ended up being a „one-man-show-responsibility“: the Social Media Manager – although we all know about the importance of a multi-layer framework to set up a proper Social Media strategy.

From a client perspective companies were still very much in the broadcast or advertising mode. And the perception gap could easily be made out. Although communities were their targets, and many companies and brands tried their best to generate engagement around their business, many of them were still in an advertising scenario and mindset, instead of trying to think about change management in terms of culture and people.

Ultimately, companies have a massive opportunity in 2012 to change their perspective and become Social Business driven with the right teams…
– Teams that work with customer market intelligence.
– Teams that scale the business with social commitment.
– Teams that crave content for leadership and insights.
– Teams that understand business touchpoints in new context.
– Teams that leverage synergies between companies and brands with an appropriate plan.

And these teams don’t work internal or external. These teams group together cross-channel through Community Centric Strategy by understanding the 5C’s as the engines of Social Business: Competition – Commitment – Content – Context – Collaboration.

Finally, Google+ started listing brand pages in organic search results. One of my successful posts from November appears in the first page of the organic search results (see picture last entry).

Status updates will become a game changer in the social ecosystem and boost brand awareness. If companies and brand are blogging they should consider this in their SEM/SEO and keyword strategy when posting your topics on Google+. Marketers should consider this and watch out if this should not affect Facebook and Twitter marketing activities. Maybe it is time to invest more in content marketing

Spot On!
All roads might lead to Rom – not many to lead to a Social Business. Companies that will work with the Community Centric Strategy in 2012 can close the perception gap between consumer and customers on their journey to companies. Social Business is about people and culture. The 5C’s of the Community Centric Strategy is a new way to Rom… but it will leave the „customer chariot“ at home.

Study: Crowdsourcing proves benefits for enterprises

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Crowdsourcing has been one of the main topics, we are talking about in our seminars and webinars as community experts these days. It’s definition and capabilities is perfectly described in the following video showing an MIT presentation (and with Evly you can start your own crowdsourcing project quite quickly)…

So, crowdsourcing is based on the right group of people, gathering around a topic of interest, a product or a brand. They are the extension of a company out in the market, working with the brand in terms of identification and differentiation which I have nailed down in my Community Centric Strategy model.

These people are working on company problems or tasks, and they contribute with relevant business input and ideas. Especially in the IT, telecoms and web industry crowdsourcing has been around for quite a while as this mass collaboration helped them catalyze their business exposure and feedback.

Today, I came across a study by the Everest Group called „Every Crowd Has a Silver Lining“. It finds crowdsourcing has got a fair business reason. It is experiencing some well-needed cost advantages which is leaving BPO behind. The study states that companies are utilizing crowdsourcing for as much as 50% of their product-related projects (like design, engineering, marketing, packaging, research, technology and testing).

„We are witnessing a second fundamental inflection point for crowdsourcing where large corporations in a post-recession era are increasingly using global professional crowdsourcing services in new application areas, often as a cost-effective alternative to traditional BPO. (…) Our study finds that crowdsourcing utilization has evolved from small- to medium-sized businesses to an increasingly accepted business practice for large corporations. As cost advantages are progressively augmented by greater accountability, quality assurance and timeliness assurances, the ‚on-demand‘ talent model will continue to gain a greater foothold.“ Sarthak Brahma, Practice Director, Pricing Assurance, Everest Group

Spot On!
Well, I do not know whether you have to base findings on the global recession basis to make it a powerful message. Or whether this is just the pure modern nature of many consumer which enterprise need to be aware („crowdsourcing on demand“) of and make the best out of it. However, it is a fact that companies shift their task solving process from ‚job-based‘ hiring to ‚task-based‘ resource management. Crowdsourcing might be a great way to enable this shift in business process management. It definitely offers companies more flexibility in terms of budgeting. More heads come to different solutions, get trained quicker, find supervisors outside the enterprise, aggregate thinking and re-new the point of view for a brand decision or a product development.

Innovation study: Is culture or strategy the key to success?

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Obviously, the headline question is not easy to answer. Both elements have their impact on business success. At this years IBM JamCamp, we could hear many presentations why „culture eats strategy for breakfast“, and how to turn your business into a social business (i.e. Sandy Carter’s speech) that will drive innovation to new dimensions (and here is some hint how companies might get huge investments for social business realization).

A new study by Strategy& also shows that spending more on R&D won’t drive results. The results from the study illustrate that the most crucial factors are strategic alignment and a culture that supports innovation. The study surveyed almost 600 innovation leaders in companies around the world, large and small, in every major industry sector.

So what makes a truly innovative company? For sure, a focused innovation strategy, a compelling business strategy, deep customer insight, intelligent networking, as well as a splendid set of bright tactics. These are all elements that help giving your company an innovation boost. Still, the study states that corporate culture ties everything together — the organization’s self-sustaining patterns of behaving, feeling, thinking, and believing.

Still, the results of this year’s Global Innovation 1000 study make clear that only about half of all companies say their corporate culture robustly supports their innovation strategy. Moreover, about the same proportion say their innovation strategy is inadequately aligned with their overall corporate strategy. And although entire industries, such as pharmaceuticals, continue to devote relatively large shares of their resources to innovation, the results are much less successful than they and their stakeholders might hope for.

What I like about this study is that it supports my assumptions and thoughts of the Community Centric Strategy model. Across the board respondents identified „superior product performance“ and „superior product quality“ as their top strategic goals. And their two most important cultural attributes were „strong identification with the consumer/customer experience“ and a „passion/pride in products“.

Statements like the following from the study could be taken as a proof for the future development towards a more cultural business attitude that puts the consumer in the middle of your innovation efforts…

„Our goal is to include the voice of the customer at the basic research level and throughout the product development cycle, to enable our technical people to actually see how their technologies work in various market conditions.“ Fred Palensky, Executive Vice President of R&D and CTO, 3M Company

In my presentation at the IBM JamCamp 2011 I made clear that companies and brands need to close the perception gap between consumer’s demand and company goals. If companies don’t respect the 5 C engines of the Community Centric Strategy these two expectations cannot be aligned. We will continue to talk of target-groups instead of consumers that are grouping together in „community centers“. This is more of a cultural development companies need to go through than definable strategic capabillities by companies to drive innovations. By closing both the strategic alignment and culture gaps, companies and brands will better realize their goals and attributes.

Spot On!
The study results show that companies and brands should rethink the way they drive their innovation strategy. It suggests that the ways R&D managers and corporate decision makers think about their new products and services are critical for success. This includes all aspects how they feel about intangibles such as risk, creativity, openness, and collaboration. When nearly 20% of companies said they didn’t have a well-defined innovation strategy at all, it offers the chance to start anew and with the right approach. The Community Centric Strategy might be one solution for companies to evaluate culture as one of the main drivers to achieve your strategic goals in a modern way of doing business.