Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How Social is Your Business?

 Image via Socialcast

While many of your first responses may be something along the lines of "very, we have a Facebook and Twitter page" or "we're on the cutting edge and exploring the potential of Google+" there is yet another side to social networks.  Increasingly people are finding themselves involved in their company's own internal social network.  So, while much of the attention is given to the aforementioned networks, there is a growing number of networks being developed specifically for internal communication, collaboration and transaction.

Below are a few examples of some of the hottest business social networks on the market:

Yammer -  "The Enterprise Social Network" formed back in 2008 may be the most popular and is currently used by over 10,000 businesses including AMD, eBay, 711 and Groupon to name a few.  CNN recently produced a video explaining the network with interviews from CEO (and PayPal Co-Founder) David Sacks.

Convofy – As Inc. reports,"What makes Convofy different from the competition is the ability to do real-time annotation of Web pages and files, including PDFs, Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets, right in the app. When you click on a thumbnail of a PDF in the message feed, for instance, the full file will pop up in a new tab. Then, you can use a Markup tool do things like highlight text and make comments.” Convofy is an application that is downloaded to your desktop and the basic version is available for free.

- Taking things a bit further, Bizzingo has launched its first phase of Bizznet; a B-to-B network with "the overall goal is to create highly index-able (and searchable) profiles that will allow prospective partners, vendors, and customers to identify potential areas for commerce and collaboration" as reported by Eric Sass of MediaPost.  As chairman and CEO of Bizzingo, Douglas Toth, stated: "'s new, exclusive business-to-business search platform and social network actually delivers targeted leads and, for the first time, opens up the power of the Internet to millions of businesses who only seek to market and connect to other businesses for the purpose of transacting business." 

Socialcast -  Founded in 2005 and acquired by VMware in 2011, Socialcast adds yet another integration to the mix - outside partners.  Again, as MediaPost summarizes well, "[Socialcast] announced that businesses, which use its software to create proprietary social networks, can now selectively add partners, suppliers, and customers to these networks in special guest profiles, called "External Contributors," with access restricted to certain discussion groups, forums, or projects.  This step should make the social platform more collaboration- and transaction-oriented. Previously the proprietary networks supported by Socialcast were basically limited to the actual employees of each business. While network administrators could add non-employees, they were then included as full members, which might not be appropriate for some outside business contacts. Socialcast is also introducing a new org chart feature, which should help everyone keep the boundaries straight."

In summary, it seems like calling these companies a mere "social network for your business" just doesn't do it justice.  Indeed they are prime examples of collaborative enterprise and lend insight into how we will work in the future.  More on that to come!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Get Ready for HTML5

Photo thanks to Echo Enduring Blog

Perhaps the in the most provocative statement of his recent speech, Roger McNamee, a Facebook investor,  asserts that "social is done, it is now just a feature."  To back up, he is certainly not stating that the idea of social media is over, just that if you are going to form a start up, perhaps it may be smarter to invest in an application verses a network.  To be more specific, an application best suited for HTML5, which will change everything.  As he puts it, "In HTML5, an ad is an app, a tweet is an app, everything is an app.  It's a blank sheet of paper, and creativity rules again."   How exciting!

A few more great quotes pulled from Business Insider's take on his recent speech at the Paley Center for Media:

  • Don't try to be "social": the big social platforms are created. You can't create a social company, it's just a checkbox. "The last 500 social companies funded by the VC community are all worthless. I'm serious."
  • But this creates an opportunity: while everyone is focused on social distribution, there's a huge opportunity to get content right with HTML5. "Let's create a new product, the way music videos were a new product."
  • The iPad is the training wheels for HTML5. iPad apps show us what we need to beat in terms of creating a better experience on HTML5.
  • In HTML5, you don't need to have display ads: Amazon can have a section of its store as an ad. So if you're reading a book review, you can buy the book right from the page.   
  • Because HTML5 can make sites rich and interactive, engagement on a site can go from seconds to minutes.

Special thanks to Larry Hill for bringing this article to our attention.  In fact, if you have a couple of minutes, this is well worth the read.  

Google Puts Their Hat in the Content Ring

Google certainly has been busy!  Yesterday, thanks to Creativity Online, we learned that Google has put out their second  issue of "Think Quarterly".  Currently a UK edition, it is a fantastic POV on Innovation with contributions from some of today's biggest thinkers and doers.  As they explain in the opening paragraph, there is an incredible amount (exponential if you will) of information out there and in these times of "where do I begin?" Google offers a fantastically designed and curated cross-section of information from their own vast reach.  Check it out here!

Whole Foods and McDonalds; Making Changes for the Kids

Whole Foods also recently announced their "Whole Kids Foundation" which seeks to increase produce consumption in children and reduce childhood obesity.  While they have already given considerable donations to organizations such as, they are now working on initiatives that include "campus teaching gardens."  Very cool!  What better way for kids to learn (and love) fresh food than to make it themselves.  Kudos!
 In related news, we have heard a lot about Happy Meal bans over the last year and multiple conversations regarding the content of these meals.  In fact, it seems to be more mainstream to expect fast food companies to own up to their part in the problem of childhood obesity and begin to offer solutions.  Today, McDonald's took a step in that direction by publicly announcing a shift in their Happy Meal offering.   The new effort is expected to start in September and reach 14,000 stores by April as MediaPost reports.

In addition to reducing the amount of potatoes (from 2.4 ounces down to 1.1 ounces) they are reducing sodium by 20% and "will work toward additional reductions in sugars, saturated fat and calories by 2020."  Each improved Happy Meal will still cost the same but also include a healthy side dish;  apple slices, carrots, raisins, pineapple slices or mandarin oranges. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A New Economy?

Last week we organized a Simulcast of TED Global taking place in Scotland.  The day was filled with incredible "ideas worth spreading."  One that stood out came from a man named Kevin Slavin, an "algoworld" specialist who has an incredible ability to understand "culture physics" or the correlations and numbers that increasingly determine the information that we consume.  While his presentation is not posted on the site just yet, he did inspire us to do a little bit of research on him and his company Area/Code - which recently joined Zynga New York.

We were excited to stumble across their work, not only because it is entirely inspiring, but also because it wonderfully exemplifies "Game-a-fication" or "Game Theory."  Macon Money in particular stole our attention, and apparently not just ours, it recently won the FutureEverything award for outstanding innovation in art, society and technology - how fun!

Described as a "community-wide social game [that] uses a new local currency and builds person to person connections while supporting local businesses" the initiative is funded by the by the John L. and James S. Knight Foundation.  We highly suggest that you read a bit more about it here and look to see similar efforts on the horizon.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Facebook + Skype

Facebook announced today a new partnership with Skype to launch Facebook video calling.  If you remember, Miscrosoft (a Facebook investor) bought Skype for $8.5M back in May, looks like this may be the first of many upcoming strategic partnerships.  There is a lot of flurry going on around today's "awesome event" as Zuckerburg describes it.  Stay tuned for some more big announcements from Facebook - rumors are it may be something for the ever increasing tablet market.

Via LinkedIn

Friday, July 1, 2011

Social Circles

Google has been up to a lot this week.  Most excitedly, they announced the beta launch of Google+ in direct competition to Facebook.  The difference with this social network is the inclusion of "social circles" in which you can create your own, smaller more personal and private communities.  Therefore you can separate what the group of friends you hung out with on Saturday night sees from a client you just didn't feel comfortable "declining" as a friend.

Image via The New York Times

The service will also offer group chat, similar to GroupMe, making sharing + connecting that much easier between you and your network.  Will Google+ actually make a dent in Facebook?  Or will it fall in the bucket of previous efforts such as Wave or Buzz?  Only time will tell, but many are saying this is their best try yet.

Zero Moment of Truth

Google has recently released a new eBook, "ZMOT" - the "Zero Moment of Truth" by Jim Lecinski, the Managing Director of US Sales & Service and Chief ZMOT Evangelist.  Adding to the discussion around collaborative commerce and the evolving relationship between consumers and brands, this is a timely resource from one of the largest and arguably most influential entities today.  The download features strategies to win in a shifting marketing landscape and eye opening statistics that may impact your consumer facing as well as listening strategies.

Tara DeMarco at BaazarVoice does a nice job of summarizing 5 big ideas from the white paper in a recent post "Winning the Zero Moment of Truth".   In short:

1. Embrace pre-shopping as part of buying.
2. Your brand is what customers say it is.
3. Conversation is a real-time focus group.
4. Stop interrupting; be there when shoppers need you
5. Serve shoppers, or your competitors will.

The next decade will prove to be an exciting one as more proven tactics and best practice case studies emerge!

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