Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Why Research needs Social Media?

Research has often put excessive demands on the virtual infrastructure of any organization. If we look at the significant innovations that have come out in the last decade most of them were created because of the need for the research community to collaborate. Tim Berners Lee who is the father of world wide web (www) created the network so that research scientists at CERN could share information.

Similarly Google came out of the need for Stanford Research scientists to have access to all research data.

In the current context Social media could very well be the next step. This will not only encourage greater collaboration between scientists across the globe but also lead to cross functional participation in a particular activity.

One can imagine the possibilities if engineers, Ecologists, Chemical Engineers and designers could collaborate across continents on a new automobile technology.
Not only the knowledge sharing would be fast, it will also be real time and all the scientists require is internet connection. This will also help scientists to not to depend on large and expensive infrastructure.

Secondly activities like market research can be carried out on social media in real time as well. Most networks like LinkedIn already have the facility of setting up polls on the sites. A more advanced application like survey Monkey can be sued to create a questionnaire and it can circulated among the target cohort. Also as some social networks have logical grouping like Google Plus which has circles, this activity is less time consuming.

But there are some barriers to extensive use of Social Media for research

1) Security- Data Security and Data Integrity remains the biggest challenge. All Social Networks have security measures but they are not adequate to protect the integrity of scientific data.

2) Volume - If the volume of data to be exchanged is huge, social networks again could not be used for the activity. Some of the scientific data runs into Terra bytes and would require dedicated servers of their own.

There could be other challenges and this is something that may require a collaborative discussion.

So I would like to hear your views on the same. How can social Networks be best leveraged for research work?

Dr Vikram Venkateswaran is a marketing professional with almost 10 years of experience. He can be followed on twitter @drvikram. He also blogs at www.doctersoccer.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How Medical Devices can go Direct to customers through Social Media

Traditionally, direct-to-consumer marketing strategies have not been a part of medical device organizations artillery. Now medical device companies can directly inform patients about treatment options as they are searching on their symptoms and conditions through blogs and portals.

Sermo: Social Network for Physicians.
Image Source: www.sermo.com
CafePharma. Sermo. Pharmaphorum, Pharma Marketing Blog are few of the examples. However, the major challenge being faced is from the inadequate and antiquated rules created by FDA to ensure that the information provided is not false or misleading. FDA rejects internet advertising that provides risk information via hyperlinks and has forced companies to implement costly corrosive actions and incur monetary fines. Novartis Pharmaceuticals have been the latest victims of FDA as they failed to provide the complete risk information on one page.

Despite the vagueness of current regulatory guidance, it is possible for medical device industry to conduct effective social media campaigns that maintain compliance:

a) Policies should be developed for employee use of social media to ensure that only company-approved statements are used.

b) Social media should be used for promotional claims when risk information can be provided in close proximity to the claims without a hyperlink.

c) Organizations should present balanced risk and benefit information, and back safety and efficacy statements with labeling and clinical data.

d) Social media can be used for reminder advertisements without mentioning the indication for use.

e) More transparency should be generated with FDA to distinguish between third party and company controlled website content.

It’s time for medical device companies to leverage these new opportunities and should be prepared to take advantage of social media avenues to create better products and benefit patients.

About the author

Dr. Sumeet Kad is a Marketing and Business Strategy professional with over 4 years of experience in Healthcare/Life Sciences & FMCG sector. He is an avid reader, irregular blogger and a gadget freak. He blogs at www.newagemarketing.wordpress.com and has co-authored a book based on it. He can also be followed on Twitter @sumeetkad.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Can Social Media find a place in the Classroom? (Research)

Growing number of Educators say a “Yes” – says a research!

The post, “Can Social Media ever have an Academic Purpose”, is one of the most consistently viewed article on this blog. Similarly, “Why the Education sector is keen to adopt Social Media?”, resulted in the 2nd most trafficked day here this month. While Facebook and Twitter are both hugely popular Internet tools, I still find myself a little surprised by the popularity of these posts, considering the academic perspective of we - TheSocialPeople. Upon a general research online amongst the Academic community, I learnt that many teachers, even those at online universities, are hesitant to use such popular tools, given their inherent risk of exposing students to inappropriate content.

Of course these are two very different types of tools, but they both have their place in the social networking sphere. Facebook’s place is at the top of the heap (as of this writing it is the second most popular site on the Internet, right behind Google), while Twitter defined the genre of “micro blogging” (but much of its use is also in a social networking context).

It appears that Twitter is more widely used in the classroom, based on the volume of articles on this topic that I have come across during my online research. One obvious reason for this difference is that Facebook is limited to ages 13 and over, while Twitter has no age restrictions. Facebook is also more likely to be restricted on school networks. Perhaps if teachers were more aware of how a Facebook page and profiles can be configured to provide an appropriate level of privacy for course work, they (and school administrators) might be more open to considering its use (more on that below). Of course, there are also other educational scenarios that lend themselves more readily to a tool like Facebook, such as online universities and online courses.

Here are a few of the examples of Facebook playing a productive role in the classroom that I have come across. I will be doing a detailed case study about the use of popular social networking applications in the classroom and will discuss examples like these, and others that I learn about on this blog in the coming months:

·         Professor Gideon Burton’s work with Facebook: I first learned about Professor Burton during a random search on Facebook on “Social Media Education” where I ended up on a profile of a student where she commented, 

In my British Literary History course last winter semester, my professor created a class Facebook group which we all joined.  We’d finish our reading for class and then get online and write a paragraph about what we’d read, focusing our comments on the specific course aims that my professor had created for the class.  We would then go to class where my professor would note the ways in which we’d covered the material well and he’d teach anything we missed as well as anything else he wanted us to know.” 

This was definitely a lovely insight on how a simple initiative and lead to an effective collaborative learning environment. It really justifies my statement I always habitually quote in context to this – “A tool is after all just a tool, the real person to blame is the person who chooses to use it or abuse it.

Click here to visit a Facebook discussion group for one of Professor Burton’s Early British Lit classes.

·         University of South Florida teacher uses Facebook in class: I recently came across this article about USF graduate student Alessandro Cesarano, who teaches a Beginning Spanish class, and uses Facebook for homework assignments and class discussions in lieu of Blackboard. Cesarano is seen quoting that he likes the Facebook page better than Blackboard because students have more access to authentic cultural material, and so it saves him a lot of time that otherwise he had to invest to train people on how to use the Learning tool.

·         Facebook has recently launched a “Groups at [University Name]” feature as an initiative to promote a highly collaborative learning environment amongst the Educational Institutions. This article explains on how this feature works and also disproves a lot of accusations on Facebook that it is a major distraction in the pursuit of a Learning tool. Honestly I am really excited to look at this feature to be rolled out to more schools and other communities.

Below is the snap shot of my comment that I couldn’t help put up on the trail and it’s corresponding comment:

On the whole the prospect of Social Media and Education eventually going hand-in-hand is no longer a matter of choice. From the data that I see, IT IS THE FUTURE. It’s just the matter of time that people start accepting it. So the real question here is not whether Social Media can/cannot be an ideal learning platform; I guess a choice on this is already made globally and the real question is on “HOW to make Social Media an ideal learning platform. I would be writing on this in my blog in the near future. 

To conclude - like any great idea even this one (Social Media collaborating with Education) has to go through all the 3 laws of Newton – Inertia, Momentum & Friction!

I’m really excited to see the day when Learning becomes Social in every way, global networking will be the essence of learning rather than limiting it to 4 walls, projects & assignment would be done & rated globally and over all to the day when there'll no illiteracy on the face of this planet.

Monday, December 19, 2011

[InfoGraphic] Social Media in Education Sector as of Today!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How a 140-Character Twitter Resume Could Land Your Next Job

Brangelina, TomKat…. Twesume?

Just like it sounds, “Twesume” unifies Twitter (your favorite micro-blogging platform) and your resume (yep, the one sitting on your hard drive).

In essence, a Twesume is a short bio or resume condensed into 140 characters or less. Sometimes paired with the #twesume hashtag, the Twesume can be tweeted, messaged or emailed to potential employers.

The great thing about the Twesume is that it’s a completely flexible, living document. Did you get promoted? No problem, just tweet the addition to your resume. Relocate? Totally fine.

What’s the Big Deal?

Like it or not, social media is only getting more influential. In 2011, 89% of companies used social networks for recruiting. As we venture into 2012, you’ll find that social recruiting will become more prominent, edging out job boards as a means to connect employers and job seekers.

Twesumes help job seekers get noticed by companies who use social recruiting. With the Twesume, a job seeker can introduce himself and engage with an employer in less time (and space) than a traditional resume and cover letter could ever manage.

How Can I Write My Own Twesume?

If you’re interested in jumping on the Twesume bandwagon, all you need is a Twitter account and something to say. Once you have your Twitter account squared away (be sure to have a picture, bio and some followers/followees), write your very own Twesume. While the Twesume can be anything you like, try to include this information: what you do, an accomplishment, a goal, skills and/or a link to a detailed profile or website.

Santa Claus: World traveler and toy expert. 300+ years management experience. Looking for position in entertainment industry. http://tinyurl.com/c9ursdp #twesume

Tweet this to your followers, DM to a specific employer or use as your Twitter bio. It really is as simple as that.

What does your Twesume say? Do you think Twesumes are here to stay? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Sean Weinberg is the COO and co-founder of RezScore, a free web application that reads, analyzes and grades resumes instantly. Also the founder of Freedom Resumes, Weinberg has dedicated his career to helping job seekers write the best possible resumes. You can connect with Sean and the RezScore team on Facebook and Twitter (@RezScore)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How Social Media can enhance the effectiveness of Medical Devices firms.

Around the globe, social media venues, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Blogs to name a few, have experienced exponential growth, as a means for sharing and discussing ideas, information, and trends across various industries. But the medical device industry, worldwide, is lagging behind in using social media to communicate with prospects and customers mainly due to lack of a robust social media strategy by organizations and unclear FDA regulatory guidelines governing the use of social media.

Although employees are familiar with and use online networking tools as part of their day-to-day work flow, a cohesive company-wide social media policy is not present at the vast majority of medical device organizations. A 2011 research completed by MassMEDIC involving medical device industry personnel revealed that only 50% of the respondents’ companies have social media policies in place.

Social media, being a flexible, rapid and transformative communicative medium, offers an immediate and direct communications channel for medical device organizations to indulge in a dialogue with its customers, potential consumers and other key audiences. Tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter provide device companies an opportunity to introduce, educate and comment on multiple issues affecting the industry in terms of policy, product or competitive issues enabling the development of a more personal relationship with the consumer. Facebook, like LinkedIn, enables a device company to communicate directly with its audiences, answer questions, introduce and address issues. Twitter tends to allow and encourage more immediate initiation and response and allows medical device companies to develop a database of "followers" who can be future consumers of their products.

Social media can be used in the following areas by the medical device industry:

a) Product Innovation through consumer feedback: One-on-one conversation with the consumers through social media tools can provide tremendous insight into the various shortcomings of the medical device and help the organizations to improve their products based on the feedback by the customers and hence providing enhanced customer experience.

b) Marketing and Branding: Through thought leadership material, newsletters, company initiated dedicated blogs and portals that allow consumers to share experiences and gain valuable information about the device as well as the organization. But it is a double edge sword as negative publicity can also be a result.

c) Defining target market: With more and more people using internet as an effective source for gaining information on diseases and treatment options, social media tools provides an engaging platform for medical device industry to identify target consumers of their products and implement direct marketing strategies in their marketing mix.

I feel this is not an exhaustive list but surely there can be other ways in which Social Media can be integrated into the medical Devices industry business processes.

I would love to hear your views on the same.

About the author

Dr. Sumeet Kad is a Marketing and Business Strategy professional with over 4 years of experience in Healthcare/Life Sciences & FMCG sector. He is an avid reader, irregular blogger and a gadget freak. He blogs at www.newagemarketing.wordpress.com and has co-authored a book based on it. He can also be followed on Twitter @sumeetkad.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Human Resource Management Weds Social Media

Yes! That’s right finally Social Media has come to an age and it’s getting into an alliance with Human Resource Management (HRM) for a lifelong mutually beneficial partnership. Funny right? Now why I’m really excited about this whole engagement? Wasn't it always there in existence?

My answer to the first question has two very strong reasons – first, I come from the HR Background with around 10+ yrs of seeing THIS and doing THAT, and second is that I was one of the early adopters of Social Media way back in 2005 when Orkut & Hi5 (names sounds familiar, huh?) were the leaders in the social media space. The reason why I adopted social media into my profession is simple – both deal with networking, people and communication.

Coming to the second question, a BIG yes! In what I can take a privilege to say is that the romantic affair between HRM & Social Media was on-going since ages, but only now has Social Media matured to address all the needs, demands and maneuvers of HR management. The symbiosis between these two is highly fruitful considering their affinity and compatibility.

Since then each year at this time, I look forward to and habitually predict trends between social media & HR for the coming year. The year 2011 has been one of the most phenomenal year for the Social Media business. It was more focused on the essential factors like User Experience, User Interface, Content Curation, Social Network Mediation, Cross function usability and the most important of all which is also an icing on the cake is Social Media Intelligence and Analytics coming into existence. Now that promises a wonderful and exciting 2012.

Since the dotcom bubble exploded the job boards are on their way to being an obsolete channel to hire people by advertising jobs/vacancies. As a matter of fact a lot of job boards are mutating into the Social Media way to survive this change. In recent times a lot has been written and spoken about social media on the HR practice but honestly I’d confess that very little has been done towards it. For some reason my fellow HR folks did not opt to jump into the Social Media bandwagon early; the reasons of which can be listed and I’d be discussing them in my following post.

Speaking of the future of this great lovely wedding, I think it’s going to be wonderful in every aspect of HR (Recruitment, Employee/Employer branding, Employee Engagement, Training, Organizational Development, Corporate Communication, Thought Leadership, Exit Interview and even Alumni Engagement).

LinkedIn is a classic example of this marriage. It started off as a professional social networking portal but today it has the capacity to do recruitment, advertise jobs, enable employment and background checks, Increase credibility of individuals and companies, create a discussion groups or forums…. Sky is the limit! Now most of the companies do about 12% - 16% of their leadership hiring though LinkedIn; 70% of people use it for job hunting while 80% of the recruiters use it for recruiting or recruitment related networking. I really love the way LinkedIn evolved over these years from just a professional networking portal to a Social CRM that it is today.

Twitter is yet another social networking tool that is equipping itself towards this maneuver. In spite of it being a micro-blogging site with a limitation of 140 characters per tweet, it had its own share of contribution to the universe of Social Media – Collaboration and Cross functional synergies. Today Twitter when combined with a blog (blogger, wordpress and likes) is the most powerful form of propagating communication of any form. Lots of businesses have started tweeting on their vacancies, corporate announcements, employee branding. Talking of tweeter I’d be committing a crime not to mention its new twitter avatar with killer features like embedding tweets and new set of widget buttons. It speaks of the evolution of Social Media

Facebook which is considered an undisputed giant in the social media space still has a long way to go in being considered a focused contributor in the HRM maneuvers but it is definitely not going to lose the race. Most of the businesses are opting for a Facebook page today to engage employees, increase employer branding, propagate their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives or even their work culture. Best part about Facebook is that it’s loaded with all possible cosmetics – Photos, Videos, Blogs, Games, even analytics! The reason why it’s not so much in vogue amongst the professional circles is that most if the times these cosmetic features tend to be a major distraction. But as a social media enthusiast I always counter this problem with a simple statement that “Tools are tools, the real problem is the person who is opting to use it or abuse it.”

To conclude, one thing that is for certain is that this marriage is definitely fruitful and the by-products are really promising and exciting from what I envision. It is beneficial for all industries, niches and anyone who embraces it, and 2012 seems to a year when this “newlywed couple” would enjoy their honeymoon period to enhance the synergies and mutual understand each other before they actually get settled with some serious business ahead.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Can Social Media ever have an Academic Purpose?

I still remember the days back when I was in school & the teacher would pass out handouts & fliers  These fliers contained information on school events, fundraisers and other important events. Then came the internet in the late 90’s. It was wholeheartedly adopted by Academic institutions and it changed the way they communicate. Search Engine friendly websites and online knowledge database came into being thanks to Google. Exam results, grades and other important announcements were shared on the websites or via emails or via SMS.

Today we’re in the world of web2.0 where the World Wide Web has gone beyond just content sharing. It has now become personal by enabling collaboration and networking. With powerful Social Networking Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Orkut that enable Sharing of videos & content, publishing of research, knowledge sharing and community discussion, It is my belief that Social Media is an ideal platform for Education Sector to adopt.
To further justify this belief, a simple fact that while I am writing this article there are about 9.2 million Facebook users that are between the age group of 13-23 years which makes it the largest group on Facebook that dominates about 40% of total users.
I guess this simple statistic with the fact that the Social Media Landscape today is all equipped to serve as a powerful tool for collaboration and what could soon become the greatest educational instrument ever created.

Problems with Technology in The Education System
When I first started reading into the problems educational institutes have had with technology in the past, much of it seemed to revolve around the misuse of technological tools by the teachers, the students or the administration.
For example, academic administrators fear that by having computers in the classroom, students will be tempted to play games, instant message with their friends, or even look at pornography instead of paying attention to the instructions that are being given in the classroom.
While these fears may sound a little absurd to someone like me who knows how to use these new technological tools appropriately, the fears and concerns expressed above are founded in reality.
That being said, most (if not all) of these cases were created because of an error made by a person – not a machine! The tools are not the problem. The people are the problem.
How Social Media Should Be Used For Education and Community Outreach?
That being said, I think social media, the Internet and technology in general is giving schools an incredible opportunity to communicate with their parents, teachers, and students in a way that has never been done in the past.
The fact of the matter is, the way we communicate and interact with the people around us is becoming ever more transparent. The worlds between work and play are colliding. The lines between business and personal are being crossed and the way things were done in the past won’t be possible in the future – unless, of course, you disconnect yourself from the grid entirely.
If our education system is ever going to catch up with the rest of society and jump on board the Web 2.0 bandwagon, we’ve got to change the way we think about technology in our classrooms and in our community. We can no longer view the Internet as something for the home, because it isn’t!
I honestly believe that if these new online technologies were used appropriately in the classroom, students could learn more on the Internet in a matter of weeks than they could learn in a traditional classroom in a matter of years. The trick to this progression in thinking and learning, however, is an appropriate use and understanding of how the Internet and the new social medial tools are meant to be used.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Social Media to revolutionize the Healthcare and Medical Devices Space.

As more and more companies today realize the potential of Marketing and communication of Social Media, tools like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ have become a way of life and a powerful economic driving force.

Today a mind boggling number of 80% online users search of healthcare information on the web. Look back and I’m sure even you would have just googled information on some drug or medical equipment and read the comments and reviews left by the other online users. Lots of people in this way are referred to healthcare resources through friends on their social network.

As a matter of fact, Social Media is expected be one of the fastest growing professions by 2018 according to an independent survey by Bureau of Labor Statistics. But Social Media isn’t just face of the Marketing World. I believe it will have a huge impact in the realm of all the cycle of healthcare and medical equipments or devices.

Below are few of the pointers I carry as a vision on impact of Social Media on Healthcare and Medical devices sector:
  1. It would enable all the Healthcare Professional and Medical Devices Engineers to collaborate in a single channel leading to better service and product development real-time. This also opens up a channel of Knowledge transfer and exchange of ideas for a greater and faster growth.
  2. Might sound a little weird but Social Media can even enable patients suffering from serious diseases to network and share their experiences with one another. This has a psychological effect on improved health as they feel less alone and isolated. Also they can be updated about all the developments and advancement in the Medical Treatment and research space.
  3. Social Media would enable a unified voice for better healthcare initiatives. Users of social media have become the new watchdogs of industry. Patients and clients can use their power as part of an online social network to advocate better practices and expose abuses of the health care system. Research that once would have taken hours, or even days to track down in a library is readily available and ripe for sharing. This will lead to more educated patients willing to ask tough questions of medical professionals and health care providers.
  4. Social media will attract people who want to hear from someone they can relate to. Often, in the heath care world, customers and patients feel like they are being talked down to or not taken seriously by authorities in the medical, professional and government realm.
  5. Finally on the wholistic view point, Social Media can also help develop the Doctor-Patient Relationship. There are plenty of physicians, nurses and health care professionals who aren’t using Twitter or blogging. Experimenting with this could open up a new avenue of communication, allowing professionals to adapt and meet the needs of patients and customers.

Just like any business, social media may have a huge impact on the health care system. There will be challenges for doctors and other professionals looking for the right way to implement social media, but it’s a learning experience, one with the potential for huge advantages.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Why the Education sector is keen to adopt Social Media?

(Image source: edweek.org)
According to a recent Gartner report, Education seems to be a early adopter of social media. In fact it stands second to only media in the social media adoption. The findings are not surprising considering that most people below the age of 25 are very active on social media.

In the UK many school children are said to discussing their homework assignments on Facebook. Facebook is actually very popular across age groups but sees the highest activity in the 15-30 age group. many educational institutions have taken advantage of this trend and are heavily connecting with prospective students through their pages.

Harvard University for example has more than 1 million likes on their page on Facebook. They also are present on other social networks including You tube, twitter, Google +, Flick, Stumpleupon and Four Square.
One actually take a virtual tour of Harvard through an app which can be used on any smart phone.

In Spain many medical students are using Facebook to discuss medical cases. They have actually formed a closed group in which cases are uploaded along with diagnostic charts and radio graphs and cases discussed. This group is actually helping the students to prepare for examinations like the US MLE.

Many self help channels on You Tube have also been created. One such channel that I subscribe to is the David Lloyd Tennis school. They have excellent videos on important aspects of tennis like Serve and volley and I use them constant to improve aspects of my game.

I would like to hear your views, What else can be achieved through social media? Can the quality of education be improved by using social networks? How can consulting firms help in educators developing their social media blue print? I would like to hear your views on this topic.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Say goodbye to Google's black bar

The black navigation bar found at the top of every Google page has been annoying some users since its very debut, but don't worry — it's about to be old news.

Its replacement? A simple gray bar with a drop-down menu hidden underneath the Google logo.

According to the Official Google Blog, this changing of the guard is part of the company's ongoing redesign — which includes new looks for Search, News, Maps, Gmail and other Google products.

The new navigation bar will include three key features: A drop-down menu hidden under the Google logo, a search box for whichever Google service you're using at the moment and a section for Google+ share and notification tools.

Here's how all those things function together:

Much more appealing than the intrusive black navigation bar, no?

By the way: You shouldn't panic if you're still seeing the old black Google bar. The new one is being rolled out gradually, so it may be a while before it gets to you.

(Source: Technolog)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Monetization challenges with Social Media

(Image Source: SimplyZestly.com)

Social media continues to b a top priority for marketers across the globe. Not only marketers, other departments like Sales, HR, Solution centers and R & D Labs accept the impact that social media has given to their activities. But the key remains that thought there is buy in from senior management, monetizing social media campaigns can be a very tricky affair.

To look at this from the historical perspective, It has always been a challenge to calculate the ROI for marketing spends. Almost all marketing activities require downstream sales or operational support to ensure a sale is completed hence we are able to attach a monetary value to the marketing effort. This is relatively easier in the B2C and product companies. But the real challenge comes in the services business where the brand is experienced from the services offered and interactions with the company personnel.
Social Media monetization offers a similar challenge. How to monetize the effort?
Now measurement of impact has become easy.

There are social media tools that would tell you how many people received your message on Twitter or how many lives you have received for a particular post. Some will also measure the sentiment associated with a certain discussion to let the brand know if the conversation is in the positive context of negative. Klout for example can give data on your true reach and amplification. Also the number of followers on Twitter and connections on Facebook are again measurement tools.

But when it comes to monetization all this amounts to Nada.
One can measure sentiment but if the sentiment is not able to drive a enquiry or sale then it will difficult to monetize the same.

In the coming days most marketing dollars will be spent on finding the answers to this.
I would like to hear your opinion, on the same. How are you trying to monetize the impact of social media? What are the tools and techniques you are following?

Friday, November 25, 2011

3 Fundamental Steps towards Social Curation and Content Efficiency!

Second of my two part article on the growing challenge faced by organizations and brands to track & maintain their profiles across diverse Social Network and effectively maintaining them on the landscape.

In my previous post I did quite a bit of discussion on the below 3 issues:
  1. Challenge that the Web2.0 world is facing thanks to so many Social Media Networks mushrooming.
  2. How this chaos has led to the idea of SocialMedia Curation
  3. Some fairly known SocialMedia Curation tools available today

In this post we’d be talking in detail about the wholistic picture of Social Media Curation and the 3 fundamental steps on how to effectively perform it.

As mentioned in my previous post I’d like to reiterate for the sake of my new readers that due to so many social networks in the online networking space the Marketing managers are facing a herculean task on how to engage and interact with their network without seeming repetitive. This may look a simple problem but is fatal if left unnoticed because users maintain many of the same network connection on the other social networks.

While there are lots of tools available online that can help mediate between multiple social networks and curate the data or content involved, effectively putting them to use is an art to be learnt. These tools (I quite love referring them to as “The Social MailBox” because they are a combination of Emails+RSS+SocialMedia)

After a lot of synthesis on the process I would roughly zero down to 3 fundamental steps the social media managers must adhere in order to perform social Curation”

Step 1: Examine the Content
Now before you get into sharing content on various social media with both hands and feet deep into it, one must definitely analyze on whether the content of what is being posted or broadcasted is being accepted or understood by one network when compared to another. For example, the level of tolerance of a status update in Facebook is very different from that of LinkedIn. While the former is more of a casual/personal network the latter is a network of professional people. So it is important to choose your Social Network platform wisely by examining the type of content.

Step 2: Evaluate the Audience on the type of Network
This is just like the Step 1 but just that instead of the Content one would need to analyze the sentiments or the level of attentively of the audience. This step is important because it would decide if your content has to go viral or not. For example, you have built a network of people on a Social Media that is interested to discuss on “The different types of Curry” while you post a content on “Rocket Science”… what do you think would happen? Let me answer – either of these two probabilities: 1. You’d be considered the odd man out and would be treated like the boy who cried the wolf. 2. Be banned from that network.

Thanks to Klout, today we have something called as the “Level of Influence” on any given network and one can even find out what one’s expert topic is & what their network is talking about.

Step 3: Get-Set-Go!
Your content is checked and seems relevant, your audience is also checked and are interested in to proudly propagate your content to their network, so what are we waiting for? Christmas?

With these 3 fundamental steps one can sync themselves with the currents trends of Social Media which has already been initiated into the Curation or Mediation stage. While multiple platforms will continue to grow in the online space and users will continue to create accounts to ensure they don’t miss out the bus, a proper Social Curation habit and a process driven mindset will lead to keeping the difficulties in managing multiple platforms in check.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Are your Social Media Managers adapting to Social Curation Tools?

First of my two part article on the growing challenge faced by organizations and brands to track & maintain their profile across diverse Social Networks that are mushrooming on the web and how to cope up with it.

Probably a few year ago there used to be only one online social platform required to stay in the loop, personally MySpace & Orkut were my favorite. But then, there came Facebook with better features and it even allowed me to “Poke” my friend apart from the usual stuff of sharing my Photos and Videos with them. After a year Facebook was virtually a capital of the World Wide Web, with addictive applications like Mafia Wars and FarmVille on it (I remember having some half a dozen pink and brown cows). So I abandoned MySpace and Orkut to become a strict Facebook user. It was a wonderful world until last two years ago!

Now there are diverse social networks that specialize in different parts of Social living and users are compelled in creating accounts without disbanding from previous social platforms. I’m sure this increasing number of social platform has become a nightmare of every Chief Marketing Officer / Brand Officers as day by day the chaos is increasing and it’s practically impossible to track every platform. More over users are dealing with a peculiar new challenge that was not experienced before – where to post what and how not to make it repetitive (as repetition of content would degrade its value).

Since such issues like this have begun to arise, it is time we learn to become “Social Mediators” or “Social Curators” – choose either of the term as per you convenience, it’s all the same.

Social Curation/Mediation is the user management of multiple platforms and the difficulties associated with them. Honestly this act of Social Curation or Mediation can only be discussed in theory as until now the actual mediation between different social networks has never ever happened. Like I had mention in the start of this article, until now users have only abandoned one platform to adopt another. But this would not be the scenario going forward, as everybody wants to leverage on the specialty of the diverse Social Networks.

The coming year would see a bullish growth in demand for Social Curation tools and processes that would help users to track & edit their various social profiling in a single window. In a layman’s term these Social Curation tools are a combination of Emails+RSS+Social Media = A Social Mailbox (Yuppie!!)

Some tools like MarketMeSuite, Storify, Projeqt, and likes have already proactively come into the existence knowingly or unknowingly of this challenge, but then there is a long way to go until we hit upon the perfect tool or Service.

These are Web tools which let users easily assemble multiple bits of social multimedia content.  Twitter updates, blog posts, Facebook content, and more can be hauled into a single stream, which in turn can be presented as a collection or story.  Put another way, these tools are another way to create slideshows and digital stories.

In my next post we’d go more into the details of Social Media Curation, its best practices and quality metrics to ensure that your business/brand does not become a victim of Social Media Catastrophe (refer my previous post to know more on this)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Is your business Social Media Catastrophe proof?

If you think you’ve done a great task by just putting your company profile on all the Social Media networks available and have gone a step ahead by asking your employees to join your social profile with a brilliant “icing on the cake strategy” of asking your employees to maintain the content and engagement, Congratulations! You’ve just created & welcomed a Frankenstein with a Red Carpet.

I really wish there was just one great Social Media Network and thereby managing your company’s online reputation would have been much easier. But then we live in a world of cut throat competition where no one wants to have just a Facebook, a Twitter or LinkedIn or rather should I say everybody wants more of better social tools (between lines – more Social Networks will mushroom on the world wide web).

I’m sure we’d all have heard the famous incidents faced by some big brands on the Social Media embarrassment. The most famous amongst them are of the Honda Product Manager Eddie Okubo who was caught AstroTurfing consumer sentiments; or that of Video of Taco Bell that went Viral on YouTube for all wrong reasons of unhygienic practices. All these and many more incidents (do consider the Jasmine Revolutions) show the power of Social Media to bring people together.

Social Media has given consumers a whole new voice. A recent study by Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology found that 20% of Twitter updates are either in form of Product RFI or sentiments on a brand.

While Social Media has infinite potential to do wonders for your business, it also has the potential to cause a catastrophe. Any sentiment shown left unnoticed can prove fatal to your business dynamics. A hazard of social Media is that people will read what you write and from then it goes viral i.e., gets multiplied in its impact by the trail of online wreckage it creates. With that in mind, you might just get a herculean task of not giving your employees, consumers and stake holders anything bad to talk about.

Companies such as Amazon, United Airlines, Pepsi, Honda and Motrin have made mistakes resulting in unprecedented ramifications, thanks to customer feedback & sentiments via social media. Now notice that these are big brands that carry immense credibility in the market, what if such a catastrophe strikes a SMB? Scary, isn’t it?

Brands can stave off a Social Media Catastrophe by being cautious and vigilant by responding swiftly to any sentiments (negative or positive) or online reputation crisis. Some of the tips to insure your business’s online reputation are:
  1. Have a clearly defined Social Media Strategy in place with governing policies and best practices. Getting into something without proper homework, quality & process, review mechanism and exit plan has always been fatal, so this is the first and foremost task on the To-Do list in the Social Media Strategy.
  2. Hire and put the expert at work. It might be lucrative for any employer to have their employees engaged on the company’s social media profiling but this may have its own drawbacks like employee productivity, security, quality checks and crisis management. So it is always advised to hire an Social Media Strategy Agency and outsource the tedious work of your reputation management and brand sentiment or Social media Intelligence.
  3. Fight Social Media Fire with Social Media Fire. Ever noticed that the only way to control a Jungle fire is by having a counter fire on its path. Such is the case as well in Social Media, be it Facebook, Twitter or any other network, always make sure you are in the same medium as your customer/employees/other stake holders.
  4. Context Matters. If you are responding to a tweet, make sure you aren't responding to the final series of tweets, as you could end up looking foolish.
  5. Apologies Matter. If you are going to apologize to your customers, you’d better mean it. This act might sound simple yet is the most powerful way to convert crisis into an opportunity. It helps in repairing the damaged trust and also further acts as an adhesive between the buyer-seller relationships.
  6. Don’t bite the hands that feed you. Don’t mock or belittle your customers. It’s a bad move and the most foolish thing to do on a public channel like a social network.
  7. It matters who steers the ship. It pays to trust your staff, but make sure the person running your social media front has the sensibility and the training that you can rely on. It’s always advisable to give this job of an undertaker to a neutral third party agency that specializes in Social Media Strategy.
  8. Avoid “The Streisand Effect.” Sometime, you are the problem or invariability create the problem. By trying to cover up or mend mistakes, you may be perpetuating them further. Focus efforts on shutting down, not causing the media hype. This is actually an art that can be learnt upon regular practice. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Make Learning Social - Thanks to the Social Networks!

“If you can’t beat them, join them,” is the approach educators are beginning to take in regards to social media usage in the classroom.

Teachers are still divided on the subject of allowing student access to Facebook and Twitter during school hours, and a recent survey of 2,000 teachers proved that with the results split down the middle. The teachers that don’t agree with social media usage see it as “harmful to the learning experience.” But social media in itself is not a threat to education. It all depends on how the user utilizes it. Similarly, gamers can use the internet to play games online all day while students can use the web to pursue an online master degree.

Teachers in favor of the social media classroom experience understand that Twitter and Facebook offer:

Familiarity: A large majority of students are active on social media and understand how to use it. They feel confident when on these networks and it will translate into doing school work through the site.

Excitement: Before Facebook and Twitter were accepted into the classroom students would sneak and use them during class time through their smart phones and other devices. Now that they are given access to use them in class, students will be excited and not abuse the opportunity.

Voice: Shy students are left out of class discussions and overlooked because they don’t have the confidence to speak up. They may have valid questions to ask or answers to contribute but they lack the self-esteem to speak up. Twitter and Facebook give these students an avenue to voice their opinions. Other students and people on social media can see it and comment. The positive feedback these introverted students receive will boost their confidence and encourage them to speak up.

The student’s access to Facebook and Twitter in the classroom would be predicated on the teacher implementing it into the lesson plan. One teacher had students watch a documentary on World War I and pay close attention. During the film they were required to Tweet three facts using the hash tag #WWI, so Twitter users worldwide would be able to see them.

The one issue with using social media in the classroom is the lack of resources in some schools. Certain teachers have used the BYOT, bring your own technology, method but every student doesn’t have access to a smart phone, iPad or laptop. Classrooms equipped with computers can make up for these students, but the classrooms without will need each student to supply their own equipment.

The best feature about incorporating social media into education is the fact that educators are willing to meet students where they are. Young people have a strong presence on social media but a large number of them are not using it for educational purposes. After completing class assignments through Twitter and Facebook and getting positive feedback and into debates, these same students may be more inclined to use their accounts to discuss what they learned at school.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Microsoft's Social Network 'Socl' - Coming Soon!

Back in July, Microsoft Corp. accidentally revealed its secret social network ‘Socl’ formerly known as ‘Tulalip’. Microsoft had prematurely published a splash page introducing people to the network. The page was taken down immediately, and replaced with a note to the public acknowledging the project.

The Verge has posted some new details which confirm that Microsoft is indeed working on ‘Socl’, a social network focused on search and sharing. Socl’s interface and color scheme looks a lot like other social networking sites. It has a three column layout with basic navigation in the left, a social feed in the middle, and invites and video chat on the right.

Socl is not designed as a “full” social network, rather the focus is on collaborative consumption. The Verge reports that there’s not much communication and interaction between users on Socl; no private messages, no @replies, and none of the curated, semi-private groups like Google’s circles. However, Microsoft is nearing the end of Socl private testing period and will roll this out to a bigger public audience through an invite system soon.

The Rise of Social Media Intelligence - A trend worth following in 2011

For several years now we've been told that at the very least we have to listen to the online conversations.  The number of Social Media monitoring tools has exploded and at last count there were over 200 on the market. However, there is much more to be learned from these conversations than just brand mentions, complaints and sentiment.

Savvy PR and marketing folk are digging deep into the conversations – mining that data to find insights that can drive strategy, inform product R & D, give the competitive edge and improve that pesky bottom line.

You start by listening and gathering information about your brand/s, your company and your competitors.  Once you have the data use that old PR skill called content analysis.

  1. Map your brand’s social graph
  2. Find the influencer(s) in each node of the graph
  3. Discover what different groups within one node are talking about and what’s important to them
  4. Find out where they are talking about those things
  5. Tap into what your competitors are doing and what people are saying about them
  6. Identify threats and opportunities
  7. Share the data you find with your team and others across the organization
  8. Brainstorm how best to implement what you find to support the organization ‘s goals

There is a ton of information available in the social networks and conversations, but it takes commitment and work to find all the threads.  A monitoring tool can do a lot of the work, but there is still a lot that  has to be done manually.  And the analysis cannot be done automatically. It takes a  live person with a bright and inquiring mind to read the content and figure out what’s important and what’s connected.  To see those  brewing threats and spot the low-hanging fruit that will bring big rewards.

There is an old PR saying – “Know before you go.”

For the past few years Social Media has been treated as a warm and fuzzy experiment.  Now that we know it works, it’s time to get serious about this data stream and use it to discover really useful information that can move the needle.

Social Media Intelligence is definitely a trend to watch in 2012 & it is definitely the Black Gold of the 21st Century for the World Wide Web (www).