Enterprise 2.0 – Social Computing


In 1999, Rick Levine, Christopher LockeDoc Searls, and David Weinberger in their “The Cluetrain Manifesto”, wrote

“A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter – and getting smarter faster than most companies.

Amongst their theses, the authors proposed the exploring of the intranets within the organizations, theorizing that intranets re-established real communication amongst employees in parallel with the impact of the internet to the marketplace (thesis 48) which will lead to a ‘hyperlinked’ organizational structure within the organization which will take the place of (or be utilized in place of) the formally documented organization chart.

Ten years on, easy connections brought about by cheap devices, modular content, and shared computing resources are having a profound impact on our global economy and social structures, fundamentally changing the way we do business. Driven by the network, communication / collaboration tools flourishing on the web, tools like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, have changed not only how we communicate with our customers and stakeholders but also how we organize ourselves. Institutional sources like corporations, media outlets, religions, and political bodies have declined in significance with individuals increasingly take cues from one another rather than from these previous mass media outlets.

A History Of Social Ties

Social computing traces its origins to the research done in 1973 by Mark Granovetter, a sociologist now at Stanford.

Granovetters’ great insight was “The Strength of Weak Ties” (SWT) in which he proclaimed that it was weak ties which might actually be the more important ones for innovation and knowledge sharing.

Strong ties and weak ties are exactly what they sound like. Strong ties between people arise from long-term, frequent, and sustained interactions; weak ties from infrequent and more casual ones. The ‘problem’ with strong ties is that if persons A and B have a strong tie, they’re also likely to be strongly tied to all members of each other’s networks. This leads to redundancy in ideas since members tend to think alike. Weak ties however are relationships between members of different groups. These lead to a diversity of ideas as they tie together separate modes of thought.

SWT’s conclusions were that strong ties were unlikely to be bridges between networks, whilst weak ties were good bridges. These bridges helped solve problems, gather information, and import unfamiliar ideas. They help get work done quicker and better. Subsequent research has explored whether Granovetter’s hypotheses and conclusions apply within companies, and they appear to be quite robust. Weak ties have been known to help product development groups accomplish projects faster, reduce information search costs as well as greater innovation in the workplace.

Thus the ideal network for a current day knowledge worker probably consists of a core of strong ties and a large periphery of weak ones. Because weak ties by definition don’t require a lot of effort to maintain, there’s no reason not to form a lot of them (as long as they don’t come at the expense of strong ties). This is why social computing is coming to an Enterprise near you.

The Coming Era of Social Computing

According to Andrew McAfee Associate Professor, Harvard Business School, Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers. This technology has the potential to radically changed the way people interact with both information and one another on the Internet. What’s the value? It’s the ability to more efficiently generate, self-publish, and find information, plus share expertise in a way that’s so much easier and cheaper than earlier knowledge management attempts.

Corporate SNS lets users build a network of friends, keep abreast of what that network is up to, and even exploit it by doing things like posting a question that all friends will see all within the confines of the enterprise itself. These activities are especially highly valuable where the company is large and/or geographically distributed one where you can’t access all colleagues just by bumping into them in the hallway.

This new paradigm is about considering people as the engines of the organization and their knowledge and social capital as the fuel. A new kind a fuel that can’t be stocked, replaced or substitutable by a commodity or cheaper means of production. It’s also about a new way of looking at business. Like Lew Platt Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard said “If HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times as profitable.”.

The subsequent posts will address this field of social computing and how large enterprises are managing this transition.


Marketing 2.0 – Leveraging Facebook For Brand Building


Facing Up To Facebok

Published Dawn, Aurora Magazine, Jun-Jul, 2009 Issue.

Facebook
Facebook

Media has been leveraged for sociable purposes since the caveman first discovered walls. Thus it can be said that the phenomenon of social media and social networks is not new. Even in Pakistan, the most popular applications that were ever installed on PCs were framed around communication and sharing – bulletin boards, mIRC, instant messaging through software like MSN Messenger, AOL or ICQ, chat-rooms, etc were very popular in the last decade.

In recent times, however technology has enabled the twin modes of communication and sharing on an unprecedented scale on what are called social networking sites examples of which include MySpace, Zedge, LinkedIn, Orkut and Facebook. These are changing the human fabric of the Internet in Pakistan with over 1.83 m users on Orkut and over 500,000 users on Facebook alone.

Pakistani marketers are eager to tap into these platforms. They have realized that it’s critical for them to reach the tech-savvy youth demographic that thrives on these sites. On Facebook e.g. out of the total 574,740 (Figure: May, 2009) people from Pakistan, 436,680 are between the age of 18-30. Thus social networks do have the potential to pay off big for marketers if they learn how to use it properly.

There has been ample growth in advertising on these sites and the figures speak for themselves. Eyeblaster Pakistan, a leading internet marketing company reports Adex on Facebook in 2008 was USD 150,000 out of the total USD 1.6 million (some sources cite USD 3.0 m) spent on online advertising and increasing every year.

Facebook Apps
Facebook Apps

However if we take advertising on Facebook (the most advertised site) as a case study, it has continuously produced less than stellar results for advertisers. Facebook is a social network site that brings friends together according to interests, existing connections, networks and groups. Yet while the targeting on the site is phenomenal, Facebook users are more engaged by the content within the site rather than the advertisements. It can even be said that Facebook is a little too engaging. The metrics tell the story. With historically high CPMs (current avg. CPM on Facebook for Pakistan is $0.95) and historically low click-thru, Facebook is facing a challenge to produce effective campaigns for the marketers. The graph below highlights the problem with objectives set around CTR.

EyeBlaster Data of Various Campaigns runs on FB & Zedge

Description

Facebook.com

Zedge.net

Standard Banner – Average CTR Range

0.10 % to 0.12%

0.4% to 0.75%

Rich Banner – Average CTR Range

0.53% to 2.67%

0.95% to 4%

Average Dwell Time

0.41 Seconds

0.44 seconds

User Engagement (Brand interaction Rate)

10% – 40%

30% – 75%

Source: Eyeblaster, Pakistan

However this same graph might be viewed differently if the objectives of the campaigns were to be changed to ‘User engagement’ or ‘Brand awareness’ instead of how many leads were generated through CTR. e.g. in terms of branding efficiency, you’re getting your name, logo and ad in front of thousands of people for pennies per thousand. If such were the objectives, then the efficacy of campaign will boil down to the advertised content – what do you advertise that works and what sort of rate do you get? However even then it’s not as simple. The world average of User Dwell Time on FB is around 20 minutes a day (Figures: Jan 2009) with global 50% daily logins (both numbers for Pakistan are not available). The peak amount of time spent on the site tapers off at 190 minutes. That means that a ridiculous number of impressions are being spent on the same user and that will understandably will generate low click-through rates.

Another thing marketers need to realize about social networks like Facebook is that unlike say Google, users on Facebook don’t want to leave the site. With Google the goal is to redirect the user to another site as quickly as possible. Facebook’s goal is to hold the users attention as long as they can.

Tip: When creating ad campaigns on Facebook, consider linking it to your Facebook company page instead of an off page website.  This way the user remains within Facebook and can continue utilizing the full functionality.

Facebook advertising also will never be truly effective for the users who have even a tiny bit of knowledge about PCs. For example any display banner can simply be blocked automatically with the Firefox Browser’s adblock feature.

Facebook Pages
Facebook Pages

Thus keeping the above in mind, advertisers need to approach the Facebook medium differently. There’s a lot of focus on advertising, banner ads and the amount of traffic but to really connect to your customer it’s important to look beyond traditional forms of web adverting to see the real potential… that Facebook is a great place for relevant traffic, without the need to pay for ads! There are millions of groups associated with all kinds of subjects in the Facebook empire, so whatever niche you specialize in there is usually a collection of individuals talking about it somewhere in that world. The challenge is leveraging the connectivity of the sites and using them to form communities around products, media or services. This approach will also ensure that you are actually connected with your users.

It would be wise for marketers to take a page out of the history of MySpace, another very popular Social Network. MySpace when launched was effectively ignored by the press and digerati. They gained traction with the musicians who were just starting to get that social network sites were valuable. Based in Los Angeles, they had an upper hand. They managed to attract club promoters and others catering to 20-something urban hipsters who were looking for a tool for coolhunting. Slowly, a symbiotic relationship emerged on MySpace as bands and fans became mutually dependent on one another. Against this backdrop, the youth phenomena emerged.

What companies can learn from this case is that social networks have the power beyond ad revenue to act as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool for them. As in much of media, creativity is the key here. If you can find the type of ad that Facebook users will click, that’s one thing, but if you can build something they’ll click, engage with (or buy) and help you spread, you’ve got something far more exciting

FB Users
FB Users

and effective. One campaign that used this technique very successfully was the Burger King “Whopper Sacrifice” application, which recently also earned a Grand CLIO in Interactive. BK developed a Facebook app that once installed promised to give the user a coupon for a free hamburger if they were to delete 10 people from their friend’s list to prove how they preferred the Whopper over their friends. The “sacrifices” showed up in the activity feed. So it said, for example, “Caroline sacrificed Josh for a free Whopper.” Facebook ended up disabling the WHOPPER Sacrifice, after the love of the user for the WHOPPER Sandwich proved to be stronger than 233,906 friendships.

All things said it also has to be remembered that not all products can be successfully marketed on Facebook. A new company or a brand that’s not a household name will have a tough time jumping into the mix, but so will established companies that don’t necessarily have public opinion on their side. It’s tough to get the conversation started when no one’s primed to talk about it and this is the challenge on Social Networks that brands must muster. They must remember that it’s not the marketers who are powerful on these sites, it’s the people and people empowered by technology won’t always go along.

Media isn’t neatly boxed into little rectangles called newspapers, TV or magazines anymore. People now connect to other people and draw power from crowds, especially IN crowds. If you want to be part of the Social Networks marketing process, than you have to be part of the conversations – that’s when real marketing takes place.

Social Media In Pakistan


I had the opportunity to attend the Young Social Reformers ‘Tipping Point, 2009 – New Age Media Strategies For The Next Frontier’ held at Mariott Hotel on Sat. 6th June, 2009.

The objective of this event was to uncover the core principles of New Age Media Strategies and was attended by some big-wigs such as the provincial Information Minister Shazia Marri. Ms. Nasreen Jalil was the chief guest at the closing ceremony.The focus of the conference was on how the organization can leverage social media to achieve their business goals through blogs, micro-blogging, wikis, podcasts, video, forums, social networks, online communities, and social book marking sites which are increasingly being levered by the companies to build brand visibility and equity, promote products and services, influence communities, increase website traffic and leads.

The speakers list was impressive comprising of Mr. Masood Hashmi, CEO Orient Mcann, Raza Haroon, Minister Information Technology, Badar Khushnood country head Google, Dr Abrar Ali Baig, SEVP National Bank Of Pakistan, Naheed Memon, Director Medcom, Fahim Siddiqui, anchor Geo Tv, Qashif Effendi, CEO 180 Degrees, Khurram Rahat, Country Director Teradata, Shoaib Shamsi, Assistant Prof Greenwhich University, Faisal Qureshi, anchor Samaa TV, Dr Auzar Wajidi Dean Management Sciences KU, Anila Weldon, CEO Weldon BBS, Tabish Sabah Microsoft, Attah Shabbir.

However except for the presentation by Badar Khushnood, Country Consultant Google in which he talked about the blogging scene in Pakistan and how the young are opting it as a ‘lifestyle’, the other speakers had no idea of what they were talking about. I especially enjoyed talking to him about ‘Dr. Alvi’ (whose blog has been awarded in the whole of South Asia for its political analysis and coverage) and about ‘Sizzled Core’, young Harris who is at the forefront of technology. We also discussed ‘Sense Applied’ and how Farhan’s coverage of the N97 led to Pakistan being featured as one of the two countries who ‘Unboxed’ the N97 before it was even launched. This is what makes social media great in Pakistan.

For the rest, in the 9 hour session, we were treated to marketing 101 style presentations, self-promotion, lots of hot air, spiel and a general non-idea about the subject matter at hand. I guess it was to be expected since sans three speakers (Badar, Tabish and Qashif), none of the people were marketers in general and none had worked in social media before. With both the other good speakers, mismanagement occurred with Tabish Sabah, Microsoft and Qashif Effendi, 180 Degrees (who had a 80 slide presentation specially prepared for the event) both not being able to speak – Tabish because the time-management at the conference was below par and he had meeting elsewhere and Qashif because one of the management forgot he was sitting on stage and closed the session. These were the only two speakers other speakers who would have had something worthwhile to talk, probably.

Perhaps the only thing good i can say about the initiative is that the govt. officials had to say the word ‘Blog’. Though probably they didn’t understand a word about it. At least now they know that there is something happening in our part of the world.

I don’t know what’s all the fuss about these technologies, unless it’s just to be thought of as cool. With all the talk surrounding ‘Social Media’, people keep forgetting that it’s nothing new. Media has been leveraged for sociable purposes since the caveman first discovered walls. Even in Pakistan, the most popular applications that were ever installed on PCs were framed around communication and sharing – bulletin boards, mIRC, instant messaging through software like MSN Messenger, AOL or ICQ, chat-rooms, etc were very popular in the last decade.

Perhaps the hype is because of the social networks such as Facebook and Orkut which have taken our world by storm. Marketers want to tap into these networks and thus are trying to leverage the technologies to their advantage without understanding the rules of the game. Marketers listen up, social networks have the power beyond ad revenue to act as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool for companies and brands. As in much of media, creativity is the key here. If you can find the type of ad that Facebook users will click, that’s one thing, but if you can build something they’ll click, engage with (or buy) and help you spread, you’ve got something far more exciting and effective. One campaign that used this technique very successfully was the Burger King “Whopper Sacrifice” application, which recently also earned a Grand CLIO in Interactive. BK developed a Facebook app that once installed promised to give the user a coupon for a free hamburger if they were to delete 10 people from their friend’s list to prove how they preferred the Whopper over their friends. The “sacrifices” showed up in the activity feed. So it said, for example, “Caroline sacrificed Josh for a free Whopper.” Facebook ended up disabling the WHOPPER Sacrifice, after the love of the user for the WHOPPER Sandwich proved to be stronger than 233,906 friendships.

Media isn’t neatly boxed into little rectangles called newspapers, TV or magazines anymore. People now connect to other people and draw power from crowds, especially IN crowds. If you want to be part of the Social Networks marketing process, than you have to be part of the conversations – that’s when real marketing takes place. YSR people, take note for your next initiative.

If you want to read more about the conference, Saqib at Brandasy has done a wonderful job of it.