Facebook the peacemaker


A great deal has been written about social media’s role in the recent Middle East uprisings. This week Mark Zuckerberg alluded to a second, equally-important, role as a bridge that connects people accross political or religous divides.

The chart below comes from peace.facebook.com. Launched in 2009, Peace on Facebook hopes to play a part in “promoting peace by building technology that helps people better understand each other”.

Connecting friends accross borders has proven to be one of the most effecitve grassroots methods of changing perceptions. There are many Arab-Israeli projects working for peace in this way. It can only be a good thing that Facebook is helping thousands on both sides of the divide to connect every day.

Is Facebook really more damaging to the workplace than Playboy?


Pink Neon Bunny

Image by Jeremy Brooks via Flickr

Almost twelve times as many US firms block employee access to Facebook as block access to Playboy.com. The social networking site is the most blocked site at work - with 14.2% of all US workplaces blocking access. This is about six times as many as block access to Twitter (2.3%) and twelve times as many as block access to porn site Playboy.com according to an analysis of 2010 by Web service OpenDNS.

These statistics are based only on those sites that are blocked specifically by name - when you look at categories that are bl0cked outright, pornography and sexuality categories are blocked by over 80% of all workplaces. However, Facebook is held up on its own as a site that employees should be blocked from accessing. This trend for access to social networks to be blocked in the workplace is not new, nor is it surprising. It is, however, a sign that many firms are yet to fully embrace social media across their business.

Many workplaces, obviously, choose to control employees’ access to the Internet usually on grounds of productivity. “We don’t want employees spending all their time on Facebook or msn messenger”, the argument would go. Of course, in an era of smart-phones with quasi-unlimited access to the Internet, employees can spend as much time as they like at their desks browsing Facebook, chatting online and accessing other sites from their mobile.

But blocking sites like Facebook in the workplace is an indicator of more than just a lack of trust, or a need to stop employees from procrastinating during working hours. It is also a sign of how social the business is. We know businesses in the UK where employees are the only ones who are unable to access their brand’s successful Facebook page. Or brands where their employees are unable to view the videos they have created or the social media campaign they are running. This seems like a bizarre set of behaviours and serves to separate employees from the your brand in social media.

Employees should be the biggest advocates of your brand. They should be the ones you are engaging through social media and who represent your brand with what they say and do on social networks and other sites. Whilst encouraging employees to use Facebook rather than do their job is probably a step too far, an environment that acknowledges and respects the opportunities of social media will better prepare the whole business for how to use social media across the brand. If your employees are comfortable with social networks, and you don’t make the sites unattainable by blocking access to them, then you will find it easier to introduce social media across your business.

As perverse as it may seem to some, training you staff in social media (just as you would train them in other communication skills), is your best way of embedding social media across your organisation. You will find it easier to develop social media activities that actually work and to embed them across their organisation. You certainly won’t find this from Playboy.com.

Facebook now accounts for 1 in every 6 page views in the UK


Manhattanbound traffic
Image by LarimdaME via Flickr

Facebook accounts for 1 in every 6 page views in the UK. It is the most popular social network in the UK, with 55% of all visits to such sites, and contributes to social networks now accounting for 11.5% of all internet visits in the UK. This data from from a recent report from Hitwise looking at use of social media and social networking sites. It shows the growing importance of social media not just as a place to engage your audience, but also as a traffic driver.

With 11.5% of all internet visits, social media sites now account for more activity online than the combined visits to Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Social media continues to increase its lead over search engines and as it does so its roles as a source of traffic is taking ever-increasing prominence. Whilst Google remains, the largest driver of traffic to UK sites, now 1 in 10 visits originates from Facebook - making the social network the second biggest driver of traffic as well as the most visited social network. It lead the pack by considerable distance - with YouTube in a distant second place.

And this figure is growing. Taking just online retail sites as an example, the Hitwise report shows that traffic from social media sites has risen by 13% in the year to September 2010 with 9.1% of visits to all online retailers now coming from social media. This supports our own experience with Jimmy Choo, where we are seeing traffic from Facebook to the ecommerce site increasing at an astonishing rate month-on-month.

So social networks are not only taking an increasingly important part of our online experience, but also a real driver of traffic. Brands should acknowledge this and build a social media strategy that acknowledges social media as a place to engage and also to drive traffic to their ecommerce or other sites. Understanding where social media plays in the ecosystem of your brand online, how your outreach on social networks, blogs and other such sites sits alongside your main site, is critical. Build a real and clear understanding of who you are engaging, where. And make sure you are capitalising on this growing and increasingly important pattern of social media sites driving real traffic. Including a true social search strategy to compete with and compliment your existing SEO strategies.

Download the Hitwise report: Getting to grips with Social Media

RSA and Social Media: Nasza-Klasa in Poland


When I head out to conferences and seminars, the value for me often is not so much in the content of the event itself, but more with the surprising people you meet and their great stories and anecdotes about social media.

One such person that I met was Roberto Hortal Munoz, the eBusiness Director for RSA Emerging Markets.  He has a great interest in social media for financial services and over a brief lunchtime chat he told me about Poland’s first financial services social networking game, “National Driving Test”, that was created by  Link4 - part of the RSA group and the market leader for direct insurance in Poland.

RSA’s National Driving Test game was launched in February this year on Poland’s equivalent of Facebook, Nasza-Klasa. Nasza-Klasa has 14 million active members and 16 million online users.

The Driving Test  game works by asking players 10 questions about driving habits and their knowledge of  car insurance. Players are allocated a driver profile depending on the response to their question. The six different driver profiles are inspired by, and aligned to, RSA’s consumer segmentation. The driver profile badge is displayed on their page for all their friends to see:


Depending on the player’s answers at the end of the game the player is then directed to relevant, targeted RSA insurance product information that relates to the answers they have given during the game.

So in a fun, engaging way the game serves to highlight the benefits of Link4′s driving insurance.  It’s obviously working as Link4′s  social driving game has achieved some great headline results, including 10,000  users requesting an insurance quote during the first seven days of going live.

You can read more about the campaign, as well as find more information about Roberto Hortal Munoz, on his blog at www.hortal.com.

Interested in social media case studies? Want to get practical advice about corporate social media use?

Why not attend the Corporate Social Media Summit Europe on 17th -18th November 2010 in London and get exclusive insights into how brands like Vodafone, Cadbury’s and Nokia are using social media for real business benefits.

One in three UK holidaymakers write online reviews


Holiday heavenAccording to a recent report in Travel Mole, the travel and tourism industry is facing a social media revolution.

The Social Travel Report, carried out by independent media agency Total Media, has found that almost 70% of consumers surveyed use the internet to book their holidays, compared to 23% by phone and just 8% in-store with travel agents.

Those seeking to go away on a break trust complete strangers more than recommendations from the travel industry itself, and most British holidaymakers see the internet as an extension of the word-of-mouth recommendations they receive from friends and family.

Online reviews on social networking sites like Facebook,  or travel websites like TripAdvisor, are now more influential than brochures, advertising, travel supplements and travel agents. And travellers are willing to write reviews, as well as be influenced by them - almost one in every three UK holidaymakers over the age of 16 has written an online review.

Perhaps surprising to some, it is a slightly older generation of consumers who are leading the travel social media revolution. 16-24 year olds are the most likely age group to visit a travel agent, while 74% of the 35-44 year olds who were surveyed use travel websites to book their holiday online.

So in order to regain lost ground, it seems that the more traditional travel and tourism operators need to become more social. Aside from developing a sustainable social media strategy, perhaps a more general message in this age of increased online conversation and heightened word-of-mouth is to engage with customers, not advertise to them.  Share things that would be of interest, encourage them to review your products and offerings, and interact with them online on a regular basis. By bonding with customers through social media, rather then bombarding them with information and sales messages, perhaps more traditional travel operators can enjoy the success of some of their online counterparts.

  • Death of the travel brochure as holidaymakers opt for online reviews (telegraph.co.uk)
  • Online Reputation Management in the Hotel Industry (blogs.praized.com)
  • Facebook and Twitter Change Travel Trends (travelinsurance.org)