3 challenges facing social TV

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Connected TV - is it the future? Social TV, or Connected TV as it’s also known, will be an exciting area for marketers in the future as the opportunity for integrating the Internet and social networks offers a whole new dimension to the TV experience.

But while large numbers of consumers are already using social channels at the same time as viewing TV broadcasts, there are still several challenges for connected TV, as discussed at a recent Econsultancy round-table event:

1. Consumer adoption

Despite a prediction that 28 million connected TVs will have saturated the UK by 2014, the transition to connected TV will have its difficulties. One concern is that after adopting HD and 3D TV there will be confusion and reluctance from consumers to upgrade their TVs yet again.

However, connected TV is already being adopted - DisplaySearch has reported  that nearly 20% of all TVs shipped in 2010 included some capability. This figure is due to rise  from 40 million units worldwide in 2010 to an estimated 123 million by 2014.

2. Regulation, privacy and security concerns

With connected TV, regulation will not be as simple, and we imagine that it will be some time before the jurisdiction of connected TV and related apps will be clear. Currently with dual screen viewing the second screen does not fall under OfCom regulation and we expect there to be several test cases before things are truly tightened up.

Consumers may also have issues about their privacy, and of course the new channel might have security issues that people will need to bear in mind to stay safe.

3. Changing our TV habits

TV viewing is already a social activity, but connected TV will take the once-passive activity to a new level of active involvement. A considerable amount of people are already using social channels while viewing TV, and a connected TV will be able to provide suggestions and playlists on the basis of your likes and recommendations from your social networks. Opportunities for viewers to interact directly with broadcasts and other viewers will greatly expand the involvement and experience of watching TV - in fact, “watching TV” may become an antiquated expression in itself!

The Future

We are still yet to see exactly what connected TV will be able to do, but with the introduction of YouView next year and must-see events such as the Olympics taking place, there will be plenty of opportunity to experiment and trial new techniques for communication with your audience using both social channels and television.

72% of companies ignore the influence of email on social media

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Cluster of emails Yesterday I attended an email marketing roundtable hosted by Econsultancy. Having a social media agency’s perspective gave me a good opportunity to learn how email marketers currently view social media, as the new communication channel was discussed frequently.

Email has a well established track record of delivering ROI, whereas discussions continue in terms of social media’s value. However, information offered by Econsultancy and Adestra from their 2011 email marketing industry census suggests that there are opportunities for the two channels to integrate further:

  • 72% of the companies surveyed by Econsultancy did not measure how email marketing impacted social media activity (just 1% responded that they use sophisticated measurement)
  • At present under a quarter of companies (23%) say their email is currently well integrated with CRM data.The future of email will involve further development of integration with web analytics and social media data.

In addition to Econsultancy’s findings, interesting opinions and findings were shared in the discussion:

  • The extremely personal nature of an inbox is significant, and email marketers have to offer something of value in order to maintain access to it.
  • The proportion of emails that are opened on mobile devices varies from 2-20%, which tends to be affected by industry (publishing was cited as an example of the higher end) - as the number of people using mobile devices to access social media grows, perhaps we can expect further convergence of email and social messages in a mobile-optimised format.
  • One suggestion is to use email to send a digest of a brand’s social media activity - offering a summary of the week’s most interesting blog posts, tweets and Facebook activity might catch the attention of people who do not have the time to constantly follow a variety of social channels, and might give a reminder to visit.

It is understandable that social media skeptics will hold email marketing close to their hearts - it has a solid history of delivering results, and is relatively simple to track - whereas the new kid on the block remains elusive in both these areas. In my opinion, social media and email are not mutually exclusive - those who learn to implement both in a strategic  and integrated manner will learn and communicate far more effectively than those who treat both channels separately.

Social business: the 4 steps to success

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Connecting with social businessSo far in our social business blog post series we’ve looked at defining the term ‘social business‘, as well as examining three examples of multinationals who are implementing it.

To make it easier to start thinking more about social business, here are four steps that can help ease a company’s transition from being social media users to a full social business.

1. Put people first - not tools

Social media may still have a somewhat intimidating air of the unknown about it for some businesses. It’s important not to forget the fundamental element is in the word “social”: communication and forging relationships is the key -  something that any successful business should already be familiar with.

2. Evaluate the structure of your organisation

An evaluation of how the company is structured for social media use is a good starting point. While social business offer cross-silo communication and collaboration, issues may remain  over the “ownership” or “control” of the channels. In practical terms, the technology should be owned and maintained by IT, but departments should own their own processes. However these processes should be standardised across the business as a whole to ensure best practice and maximum return from social media.

3. Start small and build momentum naturally

The scalability of social business is one of its best assets. Running pilot schemes allows flexibility and opportunity for tools and practices to be evaluated properly. Internal early adopters turned evangelists will be able to demonstrate the real value of social business to colleagues.

4. Educate your workforce

Applying social business will come naturally to some, but for many the change in process and practice may be overwhelming. Social business requires a change in company culture as much as it does technology, and so guidance and education is important to ensure successful, company-wide adoption. Use evangelists to energise the company and demonstrate the benefits of social business to encourage word-of-mouth to spread the message, but dedicated training is a worthwhile investment to ensure a consistent adoption across the board.

Social media case study: Crowdsourced crops and FarmVille in real life

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National Trust MyFarm branded bull

Courtesy of the National Trust

Most Facebook users will have heard of FarmVille, one of the most popular games on the social network, with almost 47 million monthly active users. And as social gaming has a massive following in the UK,  it’s interesting to hear that the National Trust have launched a real life interpretation of the popular FarmVille game.

The project, called MyFarm, hands over control of the real-life Wimpole Estate to online users, who then vote on all major decisions about running the farm. It’s worth noting that while membership is open to anyone, it costs £30 to sign up for a year, perhaps as a way of ensuring a level of commitment from members.

As the experiment aims to improve education about food-sourcing, their is the potential for families and schools to join in the debate. The project will accept up to 10,000 “farmers” and is actively driving recruitment through Facebook and Twitter.

It seems that MyFarm aims to eventually become an online community as the site has been seeded with blog content and they are using a community manager to liaise between the virtual and real life farmers. Discussions will be held after voting to reflect on how and why a decision was made, and at least one major decision is expected to be voted on per month. There is already a promising amount of high quality video content available, and I hope that be more produced as a great way of giving engaging feedback to the farmers, as well as showing how their online decisions have affected the real world.

While the site includes The National Trust branding in the main banner of the site, the call to action for signing up to the National Trust is featured well below the fold of the website-potentially a wasted opportunity to promote membership to the main charity. Perhaps it has been designed this way to reduce diversion from the primary aim of signing on farmers.

The first vote will open on May 26th and the National Trust aims to reach 10,000 farmers within 3 months. I hope that they are successful in reaching this goal, as the experimental and educational value of this project is exciting and it will be worth keeping an eye on to see how things develop.

Social business: 3 multinational case studies

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Social business on international scale

Social business - the scale is international

Continuing from our definition of  social business, this post will introduce look at 3 brief case studies of multinational companies that have successfully adopted social business.

As part of the 2.0 Adoption Council, IBM (in association with MIT Center for Digital Business and the Dachis Group) has published a series of case studies demonstrating integrated social business. Here is a summary of three of the largest:

Alstom

The French multinational has 70,000 employees across 70 countries - giving great collaboration potential, but the formation was fragmented  due to growth through acquisitions and mergers.

The Alstom University focused on their people and process before considering technology. Running a series of pilot communities allowed them to receive executive buy-in, which promoted adoption by employees. Awareness about the community platforms and collaboration tools was achieved by a video shown at company events, and education was provided through an e-learning programme.

By taking this people-centric approach Alstom succeeded in creating a collaborative culture throughout the company, where the social tools were treated as a means instead of an end, and collaboration was not relegated to being used only virtually.

IBM

In an organisation as large as IBM (nearly 400,000 employees worldwide),  initiating change requires advocates.

IBM’s initial aim was to develop social collaboration for the IBM sales team, but their long term aim was to roll this out to the entire business. In IBM’s case a pool of 50 enthusiasts grew to 250 within six months, and was over 1,300 within a year.

An important part of IBM’s approach was to highlight the benefits of collaboration to its employees through blogging and sharing content. The aim to “evangelize everyone” and promote understanding of the benefits has been reinforced with top-down encouragement, with IBM CEO and President Sam Palmisano encouraging all IBM staff to use social collaboration in their day to day work.

Nokia

With almost 60,000 employees and an autonomous culture, Nokia found that social media tools were being used independently of each other and social media silos existed throughout the business. The challenge was for Nokia to harness these individual networks into one collaborative social business strategy.

The success hinged on executive support, which granted two internal pilots to take place in the business. The micro-blogging pilot has already seen success, and a crowd-sourcing pilot has even resulted in a change to the company culture. One key benefit was a boost to employee morale - the feeling that they are being listened to and the potential for recognition of their ideas has given the company a “feeling of connectedness”.

Learnings

It’s essential for buy-in from an executive level in order for a large company to become a social business. It’s also important to remember that technology should only enter the equation after considering the people who will be using it. These mini case studies show the strength of social business in terms of scale.

As all these examples are technology companies - it could be argued that they could integrate social business more naturally. In the next post of this series, we’ll look at companies who are already using social media and should be thinking about taking it further - if you have any suggested examples please do leave a comment below.