Archive for the ‘Social tools and technology’ Category.

Richard Branson is right - CEOs should take part in social media. But how?


Reflections in the City

Reflections in the City (Photo credit: masochismtango)

This comes as no surprise - levels of social media adoption inside brands can be much lower than among their consumers, or indeed among their newer employees. But when you do engage a senior team with the opportunities that can come from social you tend to find that they become some of the most vociferous enthusiasts.A recent study by IBM found that only 16% of global CEOs are taking part in social media, and only 1 of the more than 1,700 CEOs interviewed had their own blog. They recognise the potential power of engaging in social (with 57% expecting to be engaging within 3-5 years); but the levels of participation are currently low.

Richard Branson wrote about this survey to say he was surprised by the low levels of social media use and to encourage other CEOs to take part:

…like all other areas of business, CEOs have the opportunity to set the bar. By ignoring social networks, they are potentially missing a trick.

There are many reasons why CEOs and the senior team should be engaging with social media and not just because it sets the bar for how the rest of the organisation behaves. The people buying your products and the newer recruits into the organisation are all using social media, and its importance will continue to increase. To make sensible business decisions in this climate CEOs really need to understand what social media is, and what it isn’t.

This does not mean that all CEOs should be actively using Twitter to engage with customers - we’ve written before about the confusing way the @StarbucksUKMD account has been used. But it does mean experimenting and trying things out - maybe joining a running forum to discuss their training with other athletes, or setting up a Pinterest account to bring together items they are considering for their new home.

It is the act of experimenting with and learning from social that is important for C-level; understanding the tools their consumers and employees have and the different ways they are engaging with others. Only by experimenting and using the tools themselves will they be able to really understand how their business could benefit from social. And by encouraging a process of experimenting with new tools and services from the most senior levels, a culture of innovation can grow more successfully through an organisation.

For any brand exploring the transformative impact of social, C-level buy-in is critical. And to get this you need a clear process of education as well as to encourage these executives to experiment with social in their personal and professional lives.

Scoring social media influence - what’s the story?


Social media influence scoring by KredStoryPeoplebrowsr’s Kred, a social influence and analytics service, today announced the launch of KredStory which is “a new way of seeing social influence that is different than anything we – or any social analytics company – have ever done before”. The good news is that this is an attempt to move away from a score automatically assigned to you.

Beware of influence scoring systems

The scores that each system produces differ drastically. Looking at my scores from Kred, Klout and PeerIndex highlights that these systems are rather mystical. Looking at it simplistically, I would argue that the data available to each of these platforms is the same and therefore my scores should be comparable, clearly that is not the case.

So what are my scores for each?

  • Kred - 639 (out of 1,000)
  • Klout - 51 (out of 100)
  • PeerIndex - 11 (out of 100)

And what does this mean?

To be frank, not much if you are just looking at a score, but before completely writing off these scores it is important to note that I do think they can be of use such as by helping to identify influencers.

Using scoring systems to help identify influencers

For brands that have thousands and thousands of mentions on social media platforms each day, it would be an extremely time intensive (and not to mention costly) process, to review each and all of the people that were responsible. A couple of ways scoring systems can be of use:

1. To narrow down large lists of potential influencers

To make a huge list more manageable you filter to view only the top 10%. Using a tool such as Brandwatch would be a way of doing this as they integrate both Kred and Klout scores. The next step is the most valuable; it is the point where you ‘bring in the humans’. Tools such as Klout and Kred are largely reliant on the number of followers or friends that someone has to determine a score. What they cannot reliably do is tell you of those followers who will be relevant to your client, and who are even real followers and not automated bots.

2. Identify influencers on certain topics

Another aspect which the tools share is the ability to identify topics that people are influential on. For example, Klout tells me that I am influential about football, gym, steak, rugby and burritos (amongst other things). But these are vague and whilst fairly accurate this information on its own is useless. I may be influential about the gym, but of my followers, I know for a fact that only a small proportion are interested in this. So using a tool such as Klout to draw up a list of influencers on a certain topic is only useful if you undertake a thorough research into who the followers are and whether they are a relevant audience for you or your brand.

Does KredStory set it apart from its competitors?

KredStory provides information in a more intuitive and visual manner for people to see what is happening amongst their followers. For brands, it will easily allow them to identify influential individuals around specific topics, and in a more visual manner. In summary, while I don’t think this is a game changer, it may mean that when people are considering using a influence measurement tool, that Kred gets the nod.

What it doesn’t change is the fact that all these tools are merely scratching the tip of the iceberg and that none of these tools can be relied upon without a significant time investment from the people using them and deciphering the information they provide.

Should we build a mobile app, or a mobile website?


mobile app vs mobile web differencesAs we all know the web is constantly changing, new platforms seem to launch every day, and new development techniques are being touted as the future of live as we know it most weeks.

One piece of advice that has remained consistent over the last few years is that brands need to evaluate how customers use their services when on the move.

A common question we are asked when speaking about mobile strategy is:

Should we build a mobile app or a mobile version of our site/product?

Well, first we need to define exactly what we are talking about when speaking about a mobile app and mobile web.

When we speak about mobile apps are talking specifically about “native” apps which are developed for particular smartphones and appear in their respective app stores.

Mobile web means developing a site or product online which is designed to emulate the feel of a native app, but is accessed by a web browser on the smartphone.

Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages:

Mobile App Advantages

  • Available in the app stores -  much easier for new users to find
  • Greater access to the phone’s hardware - faster graphics, seamless file system usage
  • Push Notifications - only apps installed on a phone can send true push notification, although SMS messages can be used as a less friendly but more accessible alternative.
  • True fullscreen experience -  mobile web sites are restricted by the phone’s web browser has which means you lose valuable screen space.

Mobile Web Features

  • Cross platform - when properly developed mobile web sites work across most modern phones and even feature phones in some cases (see twitter)
  • Flexible Versioning -  without an app store there is no barrier to releasing new versions of your site whenever you want, which makes it easier to A/B test a new feature.
  • Lower Development costs

There is a hybrid approach that can be used which is something like Appcelerator’s Titanium framework which allows developers to build using HTML/CSS/Javascript and then wrap it up into a native app. The primary advantage of system like this is you develop once like Mobile Web and then deploy with most of the advantages of a native app.

Using the Lean Start-up’s concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) one approach I have been recommending is to look at developing a mobile web site first, work with your users to decide if a full blown mobile app would be useful and if so migrate your existing code over to a framework like Titanium. If it turns out the a mobile app isn’t required you still have a beautiful, future-proof website that you can continually evaluate to guide your next mobile steps.

App icons on smartphone image via Bigstock

5 tools to keep you up to date with the news


Keeping track of news on twitterIt has never been more easy to be better informed. The social web has altered how we find and consume information, and also who is sharing it.

Think about how you came to find this post. What led you here? Maybe it appeared in your search results, perhaps in your Twitter feed or even an old fashioned email.

I’d argue that Twitter has been one of the catalysts for this. As an extremely simple, open platform which is based around short and easily digestible pieces of text it was built for sharing news.

However, there’s a challenge amongst all of this. How do you cut through the noise of all the conversation to find the information you want to read? How do you slow the flow to something your brain can keep pace with?

I wanted to share some tools that I’ve been using which have helped me:


An iOS app (and currently in beta for Android) which presents a beautiful, magazine style representation of links from various sources. You literally flip through pages of stories and photos from the places you want to keep an eye on.

One of the most useful features is the ability to read through only the links from your Twitter timeline. I find this extremely useful to keep track of the great things people have shared.


Again, another iOS app, but this one allows you to read your Google Reader offline.

If you’ve not set up a Google Reader account, it’s definitely worth it. It’s based on RSS, which is a way of subscribing to content posted by almost every website.

I like Reeder because it has some great sharing features. You can instantly post out articles you like to Twitter or Facebook, which brings me to my next point:


Have you ever seen an article or post that you really wanted to read, but didn’t have time? Instapaper is a great way to save those articles for later reading.

One of its nicest features is the ability to remove ads and other formatting from articles so they’re presented in a clean, almost newspaper like format for easy reading.


This is a great tool for keeping track of Twitter conversations. Twitter’s speed is great for getting access to the latest news, but can be maddening when you try and keep track of what was shared by whom and with what comment.

Storify let’s you track all of that, and presents the results in an easy to share story format so you can share with others.

Last, but not least: your own blog

This has been perhaps the best tool for me in keeping track of the things I like. If I find an article or post which inspires me or prompts a comment I post it as a link post on my own blog.

It means I can keep track of my views on a particular topic by sharing them with people.

Image credit: faunng on flickr

Twinteresting: why can’t we curate tweets?


Favourite curate tweets

It is no secret that Pinterest is a great way to share discoverable content. The “waterfall stream” format can really help rapid skimming of visual content. Take, for example, the ‘Pinterest for Facebook’,  Friendsheet, or Pinstagram, the Pinterest-style Instagram feed. People are finding ways to curate images from a variety of sources, but what about the ability to do this with items that are primarily textual, or links?

Using favourites as a stopgap

I use Twitter prolifically, but a lot of my usage focuses on finding new information - blog posts and news stories, language resources and videos - and I often ‘favourite’ posts of interest to keep tabs on the links and commentary provided.

A thousand favourites later, and this system is incredibly difficult to manage. I’ve used an interim solution in the form of sending these favourites to Evernote, but it’s not great. I need something that will let me curate these posts - divide them into categories, automatically fill out previews and be presented in an easy way to skim and share. If it can let me keep track of conversations as well, then all the better.

Curating tweets

I suppose what I’m looking for is something that crosses Storify with Pinterest. Let me very quickly ‘pin’ tweets to boards, assign a category and review them later at my leisure.

This is something that Twitter itself needs to do. I know it has a focus on providing simplicity, to ensure that all users have easy access. This doesn’t mean that heavy users should be ignored. We’re talking about improving the favourites system. It’ll be easier for me to a keep a track of others’ Tweets and it should also make it easier for brands to discover content of interest. Twitter lists let me keep a track of other people - why not let me keep track of Tweets? Why can’t I create galleries of interesting thoughts?

Image credit: liveandrock on Flickr