Email Evolution or Revolution – From Goethe to IBM Verse

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Eyes wide open, the two IBM gentlemen look at me. They sit up right. Professional. Spot On. You can feel their enthusiasm, their expectations are high. Both are social collaboration leaders at IBM, evangelizing on the #newwaytowork. That’s how the software technology company hashtags their latest journey to the revolution of the email as they call the launch of their new inbox communication software „IBM Verse“. You can tell how excited the two managers in front of me are to talk about the IBM success story. The launch seemed to have gone well so far.

On my opening question both face each other, not sure who shall answer. They are professionals in communication, they are prepared. „The term Verse is historic for communication and conversation“, replies Dr. Peter Schuett, Leader Social Business Strategy at IBM. „In times of Goethe, when carriers brought people hand-written letters, all the communication that went to and fro was written in verse.“ The answer surprised me as IBM’s development sounds like a trip in the past.

It is not. For the first time, IBM has taken a new development approach. They made their customers think about the new software solution by inviting customer to their labs, by rethinking email, and by thinking design and customer experience first, based on real customer feedback, input and inspiration. Not the cheapest way to innovate. The product development cost 100 Mio. US Dollars according to them. It has got to be effective from a customer perspective.

IBM_Verse_People

For a long time, IBM has been a forerunner in terms of modern workplace technology. Their „Outside the Inbox“ evangelist Luis Suarez has already been preaching for a business world with less emails. We all know the reasons why he was addressing this. People get approximately 127 emails a day. This means emails kills 28% of our daily work-time, and thus of our daily productivity.

With IBM Verse the software technology company wants to shift productivity. Creating a more effective business culture is the aim. From Ed Brill’s perspective, he is IBM’s social business transformation specialist, email should function as a transmitter. Email today should be serving notes like a private letter what Goethe used to do in hand-written form: delivering private information.

„Email is the service forever. But it needs to be a personal service.“ Dr. Peter Schuett, IBM.

Focussing on the new software solution, I brought up the question in which way this is a revolution to email communication. Ed Brill emphasizes that IBM did not want to reinvent the email. IBM wished for a better email. However, IBM wanted to create a new intersection of email, calendar, social media and analytics. That’s what they have done with IBM Verse.

When I showed a bit of my disappointment around the new solution’s capabilities in terms of being an aggregation platform for direct messaging and functionality as an inbox management system in general, Ed Brill rearranges my expectations in bringing the metaphor on suits which might all look different in design but are in a sense all alike from the amount of innovation in style and structure. And by the way, the power users of enterprise email are still personal assistants.

IBM_Verse_Analytics
True, sometimes people forget where they stand in the evolution of modern communication. With their „People“ and „Analytics“ functionality, the modern way of a more personalized communication approach seems to get in that social direction in the future. At least, when we compare IBM Verse and Facebook from a superficial point of view. With IBM Verse people also move into the centre of the communication universe which is meant to map the efficiency form content to people. IBM Verse „People“ learns to show the users dynamically who is important to their communication, by hour, meeting and topic of conversation. Obviously, users can also change that and arrange it according to their premises. The world of communication gets filtered more and more.

Spot On!
IBM Verse is definitely a big evolution step in email communication. Still, they could have made it a bit more of a revolution in delivering a multi-messaging and communication management platform in my eyes which integrates direct communication via Facebook, Twitter and others.

Brill agrees that when CEOs wanted to spread the word around some company, product or people changes in the company, IBM was about to use email for that communication. Today, via IBM Connections -the internal use of their own company community platform- gets 7 Mio. accesses a month, and the CEO messages will reach (and achieve more feedback) more people via internal social messaging than via email in the past.

Nevertheless, the two gentlemen did not want to commit to a statement whether IBM Verse and IBM Connections might become one platform in the future. But the approach to one collaborative workplace platform, serves the option to have fewer apps in the future. But hey, there is hope: „Rome was not build in one day!“ summarizes Schuett in the quick Snapshot video interview in the end of our interview, and smiles.

Report: How to be more successful with the right blogging tactics

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The questions we usually get from marketers are quite similar: What makes a good blog post? When is the best time to publish? How do questions in headlines perform? And so on. A recent report by TrackMaven analyzed 1.16 million posts from 4,618 blogs and 1.9 million social shares of those blog posts. The results were published in their Colossal Content Marketing Report. The analyzed content included blog posts from various publishers, like content marketers, individual bloggers, and media companies.

The report shows that Tuesday and Wednesday performed as the most popular days for publishing posts. Of the analyzed blog posts 87% were published during Monday and Friday (9 AM to 6 PM ET with a peak at 11 AM-12 PM). This does not say though that weekends don`t perform well. 13% of blog posts published on weekends got more social shares per post on average. Although just 6.3% of posts were published on Saturdays, these still received 18% of the total social shares.

TrackMaven 2014 Social Shares by Postig Frequency

As most marketers strive for engagement to justify their social business activities, one of the findings will be of best interest for them. The most social shares from blog posts came in the evenings around 9 PM-midnight ET (highest engagement 10-11 PM). Special peaks also occur when people get their coffee, meeting hours go down and after midnight TV shows (4-6 AM ET, 7-8 PM plus 1-2 AM).

TrackMaven 2014 Social Shares by Time of Day

Some more findings…
– Blog post titles of around 60 characters in length performed with most social shares (average was around 40 characters in length).
– Blog posts with question marks in their title had almost twice as many social shares that those without any punctuation.
– Blog posts with a mixture of capital and lowercase letters achieved most shares.
– Blog posts get most sharings via Twitter (Tweets shares got 38.6% of total social shares) and Facebook (Facebook shares 26.7% – Likes got 33.8% of engagement).

TrackMaven 2014 Social Shares by Channel

Spot On!
The headline definitely is a key element for blog posts being read and getting shares as on Twitter and Facebook there is not much more to see, and many people won’t even read but still share it the blog post. Although the magic headline might sound like a perfect tactic for blogging, there is more in blogging tactics than knowing when to publish or some rules around punctuation. Good content, relevant aspects, various point of views (interviews) and probably one of the main elements: continuity. Most blogs starts euphoric and die after some weeks. Blogging is a time-consuming challenge but with the right blogging tactics it is not rocket-science.

My quote of the year 2013 – Social Media, Social Networks and Social Business

17.05.2013 von  
Kategorie Daily Top 3

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Credits: © Mirma - Fotolia.com

Credits: © Mirma – Fotolia.com

In 2010, I started pinning down my main message to companies and their C-level managers in one quote. Thereafter, different quotes evolved which I collected in the vision area of the „About“ page.

The value of such a quote is for some managers marginal and for others massive when using it to explain the transformation of the business into a digital community-centric company or brand. Take it for what it is, and for what it’s worth for you, or let’s discuss it.

For this year the quote will be about social business strategy…

„Social Networking is business intend. Social Media is business duty. Social Business is business freestyle.“

Just before you start asking… By „business freestlye“, I address all departments in your company (like marketing, sales, customer service, HR, or other) that are responsible for planning, using, handling, and organizing the business tactics and strategy around the brand, product line or service offering of business relevance.

Some facts that might be interesting for each one of those..
Social Networks – Which are growing fastest?
Social Media – Facts, Figures and Stats 2013
Social Business – Some Facts 2013

PS: If you do it right, your workforce will freak out like the guy in this post. Believe me…!

How the Edgerank drives your Facebook marketing (Infographic)

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Many people might have heard about the EdgeRank that drives the Facebook algorithm. It is the basis for the relevance of accounts and status updates, and yes obviously the users. However, how does it work is still an unchallenged question…

The aim of the Facebook Edgerank is to detect the updates people are most likely to engage with. One of the reasons why we sometimes don’t see our friends but those who are sharing updates that other people might like a bit more than others.

Some social experts suggest different types of posts that generate most traffic and engagement. Some believe in video, some in photo, and again others think that pure text is driving the algorythm most. Or is it the color that drives the customer? So, what is right? The answer is, only some people inside Facebook probably know that. It appears to be one of the well-protected next „Coca-Cola-like“ secrets…

In the end, the only answer that we see is the quality of posts. They might be short or long, with or without audio-video content, and also might have a picture, or not. Not the type of post makes the difference. It’s the understanding of your audience, and there social media monitoring is the key to all social business strategy as these will lead to your success.

PostRocket just recently published a detailed infographic on the Edgerank topic. It is nicely explaining how this algorithm drives your Facebook marketing.

PostRocket 102

Study: Content Marketing – a challenge? B2B hiding behind false excuses…?

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We had written about a Curata content marketing survey some months ago. Now, I came across another research which is making it’s way through the web, and I am glad as I have been asked at a University St. Gallen event for some new insights on the topic today.

The Content Marketing Institute’s 2013 benchmarks shows what the challenges for marketers are: producing enough content (64%), producing the kind of content that engages an audience (52%), or producing a variety of content (45%).

Sounds like we have heard that before, right…?

If you think lack of budget is still the issue, you might find yourself being in the wrong corner. Just 39% of the respondents said that they lack budget. Furthermore, traditional restrictions and limits like buy-in/vision (22%) or finding trained content marketers (14%) is falling out; not even senior level buy-in is their biggest challenge (7%).

All lies? Well, seems like that… And when just 14% say, they are having problems hiring in this field, i would suggest some clever journalists or PR managers have found a way to market themselves.

Challenges For Content Marketing 2013So, a questions arises that also came up today in my moderation: What is the real issue, why marketers don’t challenge the content marketing business?

We have probably all heard what Outbrain told us today in their speech that push is the new pull, advertising becomes marketing, creation the modern editorial, campaigns are the always-on of tomorrow which makes sprints the new marathons. Still, the question is whether marketers understand why this should become the new budget engine for a change in an emerging shift towards content marketing and away from advertising?! Maybe marketers need to understand what makes them a media-house? Content curation, distribution and measurement might be more of a big bang theory to address…

Measurement for B2B Content Marketing Success 2013Spot On!
The challenge might actually arise in the definition where content marketing gets propelled. Many marketers see still search engine advertising (SEA) their wholly grail. If companies get turned around into SEO engines, the whole result-driven aspect of the fluid content marketing world would not be questioned any longer. It just depends on getting the right people engaged inside the office and to find the commitment that lets the formerly outsourced world stand in the shade. And have companies ever understood the value of content? Content is not a test budget! It is an attitude towards business, towards communication, towards social business. Or have you ever put into question why you send out newsletters, flyers, whitepapers, or even company brochures? Blogs, status updates, tweets… written in an intelligent way, is increasing the way your conversations will arise…

Are you really hiding in the content marketing fields, marketers – or is it a real challenge…?

Study: Big brands could do better on social customer service

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Some weeks ago, we have written about the importance to be fast on response time on Social Media platforms. We made clear, based on some research by Convince & Convert, that companies need to react in not more than 60 seconds on complaints, customer enquiries and questions that appear on company’s and brands‘ social platforms.

Now, a recent study of some of the biggest brands in the U.S., like Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Visa or Starbucks shows that providing a top standard of customer support on Twitter is not really as fantastic as it seems. Although some readings of all those good posts about these brands and their Social Media efforts might assume the companies do whatever they can in Social Business terms.

In the study, four Software Advice employees used their personal Twitter accounts to address customer service tweets to 14 consumer brands in seven industries – McDonalds, Starbucks (Fast Food), Coca Cola, Pepsi (Soft Drinks), Visa, Mastercard (Credit Cards), Wells Fargo, Bank Of America (Banking), Walmart, Home Depot (Retail), Apple*, HP (Consumer Tech), Gillette and Colgate (Personal Care).

They sent each brand’s Twitter account one tweet per weekday for four consecutive weeks, from „Urgent, to Positive/Negative, or questions about FAQ or technical issue. Then, brands were evaluated on their average response time and rate. See the results in the following infographic…

Social Media & Customer Service? Companies have got 60 minutes max. to react

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Many companies and brands are asking themselves (and us): „How fast do we have to give some feedback or answer when somebody is pinging us on Facebook, Twitter and the likes?“ Or: Do we have to give some feedback on the weekends? And the answers we have heard were quite astonishing. Many managers in companies still think they have got a day or two to reply to their customers – whether they are speaking with them on email or on one of their realtime streams. Many test we have done so far, have shown us that most companies don’t react at all, some not on weekends, and some after one or two days. Be sure, if you offer your clients a realtime channel, they will use it – and they don’t care if the problem comes up on a weekend or not.

In a recent research by Convince and Convert we can find some clean answer now: 42% of the respondents expect an answer in the first 60 minutes! What comes even worse for companies: 57% want the some reaction time no matter what time of day it is or whether it is a Saturday or Sunday. In total, 67% expect some response by companies in the someday.

Still, many companies don’t have the right resources to satisfy their customers Social Media expectations. And there are many reasons for it: not enough resources, lack in modern process management or lack in technical establishment. Some companies started mentioning their opening hours in the info or biography fields which kind of makes sense and becomes a state-of-the-art workaround for the interim period until companies understand what a full-fledged social business with proper community management means. And this definitely goes away from the „9-to-5“ workplace we know from our fathers.

Spot On!
The main challenge for companies and brands is to find out what the deeper demand of the status update, the comment, the review or a rating is. Remember the 3R’s? In the end, what we have learned years ago, is that people want to have the feeling someone is taking care of them immediately. This does not essentially say that companies or brands have to supply the best possible answer or solution. Many managers have still not understood the fine difference between these topics.
What we would like to know is: Do 60 minutes feedback time make sense? Should we try to be more patient as users? Is a quick feedback really that important if our lives are not depending on it? You give the answer…

How people see it – The state of social at work

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The technology service provider Appirio published some findings that most business people are more social personally than they are at work.

The findings show that twice as many managers are engaged in Social Media compared to the people they have in their teams. What the survey did not tell us is the reason why the people are using social platforms and features less than their managers. Are they not allowed to engage on communities at work? Are Social Media policies too much black and white? Or do they not see the benefits Social Media offers?

The positive outcome is that there is some understanding of culture and ownership of the social business as the driving factors for success. Although marketing seems to be owning the social business transformation, the question remains if this does not make space for a new position in companies like chief web officer or chief culture officer. Another question that could be raised in companies in my eyes.

Appirio State of Social eBook from Appirio

Interview: „Social Business = Creating a smarter workforce & a proven solution to business challenges“

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One-on-one interview with Ed Brill

Ed Brill is Director, Social Business and Collaboration Solutions, at IBM. Brill is responsible for the product and market strategy for IBM’s messaging, collaboration, communications, and productivity products, including Lotus Notes and Domino, IBM SmartCloud Notes, IBM Sametime, Lotus Symphony, IBM Docs, and other related social business solutions. Brill’s focus is on extending and growing the success of these solutions through customer engagement, partner ecosystem development, and harnessing the breadth and depth of the IBM organization.

The Strategy Web spoke with him about the relevance and future of Social Business.

Why is Social Business not only a buzzword?

Leaders in every industry are leveraging Social Business technology to disrupt their industries and create competitive advantage. They are improving productivity and unleashing innovation by tapping into the collective intelligence inside and outside their organizations. With social, they’re creating a smarter workforce and proving that social business isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a proven solution to business challenges.

According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016. According to IBM’s CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years.

What does it take to make a business „social“?

Organizations have quickly learned that a Social Business is more than just having a Facebook page and a Twitter account. In a Social Business, every department in the organization has embedded social capabilities into their traditional business processes to fundamentally impact how work gets done to create business value. A Social Business utilizes social software technology to communicate with its rich ecosystem of clients, business partners and employees.

Social business is a strategic approach to shaping a business culture, highly dependent upon transparency and trust from executive leadership and corporate strategy, including business process design, risk management, leadership development, financial controls and use of business analytics. Becoming a Social Business can help an organization deepen customer relationships, generate new ideas and innovate faster, identify expertise, enable a more effective workforce and ultimately drive its bottom line.

What does it mean to change the culture of a company?

Changing an organizations culture to embrace social must start from the top. Senior leadership must buy in and promote a culture of sharing, transparency and trust. Recent studies by IBM see this shift, today’s C-Suite recognizes the potential of social. Consider this, according to IBM’s 2012 CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years. Similarly. IBM’s 2011 CIO Survey of 3,000 global leaders indicated that more than 55% of companies identified social networking as having a strategic significance to their company’s growth. And finally, 2011 IBM CMO Study reports that CMOs are using social platforms to communicate with their customers, 56 percent view it as a key communication channel. These senior leaders are the key to social business adoption and there’s a real shift occurring, social business is now a business imperative.

What role is the flexible workspace playing in the process?

Companies are able to build virtual teams out of expertise and leadership, regardless of their physical location or title on the organization chart. Today’s workforce expects to be able to share, post, update and communicate with colleagues, customers, and ecosystem using social tools to get real work done. Through those tools, employees who work remotely, use flexible „hot desks“ in company offices, or open floorplans can leverage tools for instant e-meetings, video and audio tools, and embedded applications to process knowledge and activities faster and deliver more value to the organization.

What’s your advice for companies to become a „social business“?

Companies around the world are now focused on becoming Social Businesses, Forrester Research estimates that the market opportunity for social software is expected to increase 60% annually. But perhaps the most daunting part of becoming a social business is how to start the journey. That’s where creating a Social Business Agenda plays a vital role. In order to become successful in social business, an organization needs to create its own personalized Agenda that addresses the company’s culture, trust
between management and employees and the organization and its constituencies, engagement behind and outside of the firewall, risk management, and of course, measurement. The sponsorship for such an activity can be driven by leadership, lines of business, or other organizational catalyst roles.

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

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