The Social Contact Centre

to a social networking way of working through the eyes of a Contact Centre manager

Archive for July 2012

Fashion in Social Media

Mention Social Networking to anyone in the pub and chances are their understanding is Facebook or Twitter. To me that’s the same as mentioning football and everyone immediately talking about David Beckham. Whether you like or understand football or not, around the world people know that David Beckham is a footballer. You don’t need to understand the offside trap, the Christmas tree or overlapping fullbacks – you can have a conversation.

To me the difference between Social Networking and Social Media is crucial. Social Media is trivial – it is the fashion, flavour-of-the-month, here today and gone tomorrow. No matter how popular or successful, individual social media brands are fighting for market share. If you doubt it consider the “fate” of MySpace. At its peak, just five years ago, MySpace was the most visited website in the US (more than Google) and was sold to NewsCorp in 2005 for $580m. This year the company was sold for $35m and was ranked as the 103rd most visited website in the US.

In 2005 Bebo was acquired for $850m by AOL. It was sold in 2010 for less than $10m due to huge reductions in unique users.

What is far more important than any individual social media product is the underlying benevolence which has meant that individuals have wanted to share, help and collaborate for centuries. Social media is doing to Social networking what the Agricultural Revolution did for agriculture and the Industrial Revolution did for manufacturing. If you focus on Facebook or Twitter you miss the point in the same way that if you know everything about David Beckham’s clothes, children or statistics you are a long way from understanding football.

I’d rather spend my time understanding Social Networking (with or without capital letters) than bet my livelihood on a brand.

Written by greencontact

July 30, 2012 at 11:19 am

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Zeebox – co-viewing the Socialympics

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Image courtesy www.

At 8.45 on July 27th, like one billion other people, I switched on the TV and sat with my family watching the London 2012 Opening Ceremony. I was also one of the many “second-screeners” following events on Twitter at the same time. You can follow the events in Twitter using something like Hootsuite or Tweetdesk but there are also apps designed for the occasion. They group together the relevant hashtags and add content to enhance the experience. One of the most popular is Zeebox. I hadn’t used it for a while and the Opening Ceremony was a perfect opportunity to put it through its paces.

The application runs on smartphones, tablets and PCs. When you set it up initially it asks for the country you are in, the TV system you are using (Sky, Freesat, Freeview, Virgin) and then the region you are watching in as well. It brings up the display above to show you what is currently on TV. Against each listing you can see the volume of viewers – presumably people who have selected the option in Zeebox – and also the volume of activity so that you can easily see where the social buzz  is.

When you choose the TV programme it switches into a display with an information panel on the left showing details of the programme and related news items as well as things such as related opinion polls. The default centre column has a steadily ticking display of Tweets. This aggregates all related hashtags and word searches. Given the sheer volume of tweets on the Opening Ceremony this was going very steadily but you can scroll up and down to look at particular posts. A great feature here is the context sensitive options which appear at the top of the feed. During the Ceremony one option was “Funny commentary” which had all the tweet using the hashtag for the purpose created by Zeebox. There are also options to just see Tweets from athletes or celebrities as well as the main tweet. This is a really fun option, especially with the Opening Ceremony, making it easy to see what the athletes themselves were making of it as well as hearing where Billy Bragg was watching (in a hotel room with beer and curry).

On the right hand side are “Live Zeetags”; a constantly updating set of regularly linked topics. These indicate what the flavour of the conversation is and give a different dimension. As I write this the Olympic stream the zeetags include The Netherlands, Sweden, “Peloton”, Betting and some pithy quotes from competing cyclists. Overall the interface is really slick and fun and with something like the Olympics it adds a dimension to viewing – nothing gets missed and there’s plenty of funny twittering going on. I dare say its less entertaining watching a repeat on one of the more obscure digital channels and very confusing if someone is watching a +1 channel.

From a business perspective the advertising opportunities are clear, the audience is a tight demographic defined by the TV programme they are watching and the level of social media awareness they have.

Written by greencontact

July 30, 2012 at 9:33 am

The London 2012 Opening Ceremony on Twitter courtesy Bluefinlabs

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Written by greencontact

July 29, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Doing your Social homework

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So imagine social networking  was Biology. My daughters have spent a couple of months and I feel extremely sorry for them. I remember revising some subjects where I wasn’t quite “getting it” and feeling very vulnerable. There is a danger that we think we know it all and stop doing our own revision. Social Networking is developing so quickly that we have to keep learning, benchmarking and testing. Imagine it was a subject with an exam next week. What would you do differently if you wanted to be sure of passing?

One way is to read the literature. There is no easy textbook but I would recommend Wikinomics – How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams It was written in 2006 but has been updated since then. It lays out the principles of social networking and Web 2.0 with some excellent business examples. It demonstrates clearly the difference between social neworking and social media and is timeless because of it. Its references to  MySpace bely its age but it doesn’t matter because you can just replace the references with Facebook and not lose the power of the story. As with many worthwhile projects like this it doesn’t end with the book. It has been updated but there is also a wiki around the Playbook. @dtapscott is on Twitter and has 32,000 followers!

You then need a playbook. In a world where everything is even now still quite new I really like Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. It lays down the principles but then defines a simple framework for businesses to follow. I say “simple” but that’s surely the hallmark of a great business book.

This highlights a need to use your personal social networking presence for learning and collaboration as well as for your own business development. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience to take advantage of and to contribute to. There are some visionaries out there with some huge ideas which are worth looking at and Web 2.0 has encouraged them to share. One of my favourites is by Luc Galoppin (@lucgaloppin) which is beautifully written, thought provoking and quite wonderful.

Written by greencontact

July 27, 2012 at 10:09 am

There’s medals up for grabs in the Socialympics

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On Friday, the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony takes place and we continue a long summer of sport with the Paralympics to follow. For Social Media observers though there are some fascinating events already underway.

In the long build up it is interesting to monitor the depth of interest as the opening ceremony approaches. The Google Trends tool shows this well by monitoring the Google search term “Olympics 2012”.

Image courtesy Google

You can see the long steady buildup and the impact of news coverage. The last 30 days show the trend in detail:

Image courtesy Google

Underneath that general interest though is a fascinating battle of the hashtags both from a business perspective and from the general public. One of the most publicised is the #savethesurprise hashtag created by the LOCOG team to try to get the participants and attendees of the opening ceremony rehearsals to keep the details of the show confidential. The hashtag was displayed on screens inside the Olympic stadium along with a personal request from Danny Boyle, the show’s organiser. As a result the hashtag trended but the meme element is clearly there. The hashtag conveyed with it an expectation of something very special but also a real desire developed that keeps the press in check that we really do want to see the show on Friday without having the surprise element spoiled.

There is an interesting battleground emerging. While the nickname Socialympics is emerging to reflect the timing of the Games and the growth in use of Social Media, there are also very tight controls over the branding of the Games which are being policed. The usual social media laissez-faire is being tempered. One athlete has already been sent home for misuse of Twitter and there are sure to be further controversies. There are a number of official Twitter and Facebook accounts to follow from the IOC, the London Games organisers but also from individual national teams. For UK followers the @TeamGB account has accrued over 222,000 followers. If you want to get the inside track on tweets from athletes, check out who @TeamGB follows – all 800+ of them. For coviewers it will be a rich source.

The hashtags are beginning to emerge – all incorporating versions of the London, Olympic, 2012, but there will also be #openingceremony and a number of spinoffs from it as the Games progress which indicate people’s specific interests and views. This Olympics is also being branded the first “Second Screen Olympics”. Broadcasters such as VH1 and MTV have already launched apps that allow a split screen approach on iPads and iPhones – where viewers can watch the action and also the social media activity surrounding it. According to Kenny Lauer, in an excellent article while the TV audience for the opening and closing ceremonies is likely to be around 4 billion people, 46% of Americans will be holding a tablet device while they watch. If ever there was a killer “red button app” this is it (working in the same way that subtitles do).

Mediacom has been running a league table of Olympic sponsors–insights/olympic-twitter-tracker/july-2012/daily—24th-july-2012.aspx and their Twitter performance during the Olympics. On the 24th July Adidas head the table but on the 23rd they were 3rd. In what other league table could you juggle the brand in this way through judicious related promotions and hashtag creations. The rankings are based on “Performance score = POSITIVITY of comments x ENGAGEMENT by the
people commenting x Potential REACH of those comments.”

The Olympics represent a tremendous opportunity for businesses to play with social media – to find niches which are large in their own right, to identify memes and learn how to relate to them, to gain relevant followers from the millions available and to try to get RTs and favourites. Kenny Lauer summarises it perfectly “My personal digital motto is the three C’s: “collapsing distances, connecting people, and creating behavior.” The Olympics is a perfect opportunity to practice this. Collapsing distances isn’t just physical distance; it is emotional, cultural, and ideological distances as well. Connecting people requires using campaigns and digital strategies that encourage participation and engagement, not just as a flashpoint but ongoing. And always remember that it is a marketer’s job to create and drive specific, ideally measurable behavior.”

Written by greencontact

July 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Moving the pile… inch by inch

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The standard criticism of Social Media is that it is irrelevant. Our job in Social Media is to prove that statement wrong…over and over again.

American Football is a great game for analogies. For many amateur, college and even some pro teams the running game is a huge part of the offensive attack. While the long spiralled pass over the top from the quarterback which drops into the hands of a wide receiver looks spectacular it is fraught with danger. A slight error results in the opponents taking over the football and attack becomes defence very quickly. Less attractive is the running game with a fast running back carrying the ball forward in small yardage gains – maybe only 3 yards at a time. Each down starts with two lines of tall and heavy linemen facing each other and the running back stood behind. While the running back gets the glory, the linemen do the work. the running game may be less attractive but it is the catalyst for successful teams.

On the offensive side of the ball the linemen’s objective is to get in the way of wherever the ball is going and ideally to attack whoever is holding the ball. On the defensive side the objective is to use brute strength to make the whole and push people backwards so the running back can make a small gain.

Social media for business is about moving the pile. Anyone can gather friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter but not make a difference for their business. In American Football you’d have three downs and then pass the football over. There’s no risk, no blood and no innovation. Initially, all you are looking for is to find what works: a weak link or a worthwhile target and then the progress may be painfully slow. You may struggle to get a retweet or to get any feedback at all and you’ll wonder whether anyone is listening or why even bother to do the work. The challenge is to set smaller milestones… in American football the objective is to move just ten yards in four downs. There is a great speech by Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday about fighting for every inch which sums it up. In Social Media it could be ten new relevant friends each week, two new journalist followers or five retweets.

Keeping “Moving the Pile” in mind is vital. It keeps you thinking about the value of every follower you have and the followers you would love to have. There’s no point being in Social Media just to have a presence.

Written by greencontact

July 25, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Practice what you preach

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It still strikes me that there is an element of “cobbler’s children” with some Social Media vendors and consultants. How many believe, participate and innovate themselves? If they can’t do it for themselves how are they going to make you stand out? The first question for anyone trying to sell anything to do with Social Media should be “So tell me about your own personal social footprint and your success with it?” Here’s a great article written by a Social Media consultant: courtesy of Patrick Curl

Written by greencontact

July 25, 2012 at 9:20 am