Social media adoption: Europe Seen from down under (1000heads’ @JoanneJacobs)

Social Media Adoption

We, in Europe, see ourselves as whingers (Britons are supposedly nicknamed “whingeing poms**” by Australians) and on both sides of the Channel, one keeps hearing complaints about this and that and the other. Yet, seen from down under I realised that our image and potential is probably a lot better than we think and that “old” Europe isn’t yet finished. I asked Joanne Jacobs who now leads 1000heads in Australia to share her view of Europe, social media adoption by businesses and also Asia. I have known Joanne for many years now. We met while she was based in England as part of the Like Minds alumni. Not only is she a social media expert but she is also a trained actor, able to deliver a pitch on stage, captivating hundred of people, with a timed presentation and … cracking jokes on the go without losing track! She came back to Australia over two years ago and we caught up with each other through Skype … despite time differences which, as you will see, are far from being abolished.

** “prisoners of her Majesty” for those who don’t know the joke…

Europe? More Internet savvy than we may think, Australian expert says (photo: antimuseum.com)

Interview of Joanne Jacobs of 1000 heads Australia

Now  that Facebook is 10 years old and LinkedIn 11 years old, what is your view of the status of social media in general?

Generally, I think we are living in a transition phase. The critical mass has been reached in terms of users but, there is still a lot more to teach of the actual benefits for the business community in terms of its adoption of social media. The business community is, generally speaking, fumbling in the dark. Either because they’ve been given the wrong advice, by people who are marketing themselves as social media experts, or they’ve been measuring the wrong thing. Lots of it comes down to the fact that businesses are used to measuring eyeballs across a marketing campaign and then they are not really thinking about how to engage with their audiences effectively. There is a great potential for the use of social media which has not yet been tapped into.

We are living through this transition phase but I think that it will change in the course of the next 5 years to 10 years. One will develop some degree of maturity as to what we should be measuring.

You relocated to Australia a couple of years ago what did you find?

I have to say, that coming back to Australia was very hard indeed for me. Never let it be said that technology overcomes the tyranny of distance. It doesn’t. And one of the main reason why doesn’t is that time zones exist. I was not able to communicate as effectively with the people and the networks that had built up in the UK and Europe. So, it was therefore very difficult for me to come back to an environment which was so isolated that it was effectively between 9 and 11 hours difference in terms of time zones. It was quite difficult too because, even though Australia is a technology savvy country, there are serious problems of interconnectivity here, the cost of broadband in this country is unbelievably expensive and the quality of the connections that we get is poor. So in terms of social media, the community was smaller, there is less engagement, and ironically, they are little communities in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth, but we are all disconnected from one another because it takes an hour to fly between Melbourne and Sydney and that’s one of the shortest journeys that we have in this country. So, even inside our own country, we suffer from the tyranny of distance.

You mentioned losing your Twitter following from the UK when you moved to Australia can you expatiate on that?

In many respects, that issue of losing my following was a product of those time zones differences. when you are no longer communicating regularly at least during working hours, with the people that you are engaging with, you will then lose followers because people will not be able to communicate with you any more nor share information nor participate in discussions. For me in particular it’s been really difficult to participate in online events that were happening in Europe or in the UK because they are always happening between 7:00 PM and 6:00 AM my time. By participating in those events, even remotely, you gain a lot of information from various subject matter experts. So, I lost a lot of followers that way and I also lost followers I believe because I started to communicate with other people in other interest areas and I had to communicate with a community locally, and as a result was considered less of an influencer in the areas and the markets and the audiences within my previously connected life.

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Why Facebook will NOT be “Yahooed”

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This is my second contribution to the innovation generation blogs, an initiative sponsored by Alcatel. Here is my second piece entitled: Facebook, The Good, Bad and Ugly.

No one knows exactly where the social network is going, but it’s certainly going somewhere. Last September, I organised the San Francisco blogger bus tour on behalf of Orange, a unique experience, in which 14 bloggers from all over the world roamed the Valley in search of evidence that innovation wasn’t stifled by Facebook and other social media giants, as some wanted us to believe.

Yet, all along our visits, we heard claims that “Facebook was passé” and even that “Facebook would be ‘Yahooed’.” Four months later, the news that we are getting about social media is so contradictory that it is very hard to tell what’s going to happen. Yet, marketers from all over the world have invested massively in Facebook.

[photo : antimuseum.com]

The question is, will it prove useless, or will Facebook on the contrary, be the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy? And why does it matter for service providers?

The good

Facebook’s footprint is humongous and there are nos signs of “Facebook fatigue”. So many have moaned that after the one billionth user, things would start to deteriorate. Well, it didn’t happen. Socialbakers’ numbers aren’t showing evidence of that. Even though the recurring purges of fake users trigger falls in numbers, penetration rates can still go up (with less than 50 percent of the UK population, and less than 40 percent in France, there is room for improvement).

When Timeline was implemented in 2012, it was heavily criticized and doomsayers predicted users would leave the platform. They didn’t, they just got used to it, that’s all.

The bad

Facebook and Instagram have a track record for playing tricks with data privacy on the back of users. Yet, despite the recent rumors about users leaving Instagram for this reason, the news has been denied by Facebook itself. Instagram, according to Mark Zuckerberg’s firm, is even gaining users.

Zuckerberg himself admitted that privacy doesn’t matter anymore. A belief which isn’t shared by all and especially in German-speaking countries, where culturally speaking, data ownership is crucial. Max Schrems even founded a group entitled Europeans versus Facebook, which is filing legal action against Facebook.

Regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit, there is something wrong with the way the world’s largest social network is considering its users. So much so that might one rightfully wonder, like Dalton Caldwell, whether this is what social media was supposed to be, whereas it was meant to “change the world” to use one of Mr Zuckerberg’s famous quotes.

And the ugly

Very recently, LinkedIn’s Mario Sundar pointed out the lack of style in the company’s PR. This isn’t conducive to believing that marketing has changed forever like Tara Hunt had predicted.

Besides, a few months ago, Facebook decided to tweak its secret Edge Rank algorithm so that fewer users in your communities are exposed to your messages. This is no big deal for users, but for brands, it means that they are now offered to pay for “promoted posts” to reach more users. Wait a minute; what if your average TV network was offering your business advertising space and was asking for more money so that viewers are actually presented with your message? You would naturally be angry.

Yet, with Facebook, nothing has happened. Do advertisers have any other credible alternative to Facebook? As I heard one of my counterparts say at a recent advertisers’ meeting: “I know all this stuff about Google+, but Facebook is where all the users are!”

The future

What does the future hold? I’m not certain social media sells soap; what is true though is that there are a lot of similarities with the period that we are going through and the early 2000’s. Back then, everyone argued there wasn’t a business model for the Web. Yet, more than 10 years later, European e-commerce is delivering nearly as much revenue than Telecommunications companies.

Similarly, those who said there wasn’t a business model for online advertising are those who praise Google Adwords now. Multinationals spend up to several dozens of millions of euros on search engine marketing (SEM), including service providers. This is no small business.

Social media and Facebook, in particular, are no different from those early web trailblazers. The world, and service providers in particular, should stop sneering at those shaky business models. Internet business is a self-fulfilling prophecy; it has always been the case. This is high tech innovation for you, no one knows for sure where it’s going, but it certainly is going somewhere.

As a consequence, there are chances that we might have to put up with Facebook’s freaky way of handling privacy for a lot longer; that is to say as long as brands are ready to pay for advertising on Facebook and experiment on the popular social network.

Google’s Page lashes out at Facebook for lack of openness

Today’s selection is…

Miguel Helft’s piece for Fortune Tech about the recent and much awaited appearance of Larry Page, the new yet not so new CEO of Google, in which many things are debated including his vocal cord problems. However, the most important passage from that story is as conclusion in which page lashes at Facebook for not being open enough and pledges openness of social data. Now you’re talking Larry! I’m almost in love with Google plus again. Let me find my old password…

[is Facebook – and other social networks – gearing towards a closed Internet?]

After long silence, Google’s Page speaks

[…] After extolling the virtues of Googles multi-year effort to develop an accurate digital representation of the real world with its mapping services, he said the company was “almost there.” In a clear reference to Apple’s embarrassing rollout of a mapping application that was riddled with errors, he added: “We are we are excited that other people have started to notice that we’ve worked hard on that for 7 years.”MORE: Facebook vs. Google: The battle for the future of the Web. He said it was “likely” that Google would try to make its maps available on Apple devices, despite its lack of control over how they would appear or be distributed.

And in a pointed criticism at Facebook refusal to open up its data to outside parties, including Googles search engine, he said the Internet worked best when essential data was shared across companies. Speaking specifically about social data, he said: “I would love to make use of that in any way we can.”

via After long silence, Googles Page speaks – Fortune Tech.

Social Media in business today : SMI conference – Marrakech

I will take part in the forthcoming Social Media Impact conference due to take place in Marrakech, Morocco on October 11-12. Here is an interview I delivered a few weeks ago in order to introduce my pitch over there. I have included a video recording of the interview as well as an embed of my presentation.

What is social media’s place in the professional world today?

It’s actually quite different from what it used to be. We’re about eight years after the introduction of social media in the enterprise so my perspective in this SMI presentation in Marrakech will be that of somebody that manages social media in the enterprise and that has been doing so for the last five years. So obviously the kind of place we are in at the moment is that of the structuring of the initiative. We shall see three major phases in the project surrounding the presentation in social media within the enterprise:

  • the triggering of the project: proving the concept and that it is really worth doing.
  • the development phase: how one ramps up and scales.
  • the structuring phase: that’s where we’re at. The structuring of the organization, the processes and everything else.

With the constant growth and reach of these social networks, can a company survive without them today?

Obviously, certain companies can survive without social media, it depends what you do. If you deal in plastic for instance, there are very few chances that you’re going to be a major player in the collaborative web. Now, if you’re in a market like the telecoms, as we are, or in any CPG market, you’ll have to be where your customers are, and customers are there, online. Northern Africa has been absolutely booming in terms of social media usage and so yes, brands have to be where customers are, to initiate or engage in the conversation.

As a company, how do you know which social media fits best to the message you wish to pass along?

There are a number of things I will dwell on in this presentation. To start, I will change that notion of message, because this is not how social media is working. We’re not working with messages but with conversations which we may not have initiated, or at least not in a traditional way. I will also go through a number of business cases taken from Orange from all over the world (Spain, France, England, Romania), and I will go through all these examples and show some of these cases and their return on investments.

What are the major threats posed by the use of social media in a company?

Well, if you don’t handle social media very well then you could face a number of threats. I think threat number one is just not being there, thinking that the conversation doesn’t happen simply because you’re not listening to it. Threat number two is, once you’re actually there and have engaged in social media, letting things get out of hand. So you have to be there nurturing, every day, and be sure to respond to, if not everything, as much as you can. So there are loads of processes and organization: it’s probably easy to do social media for yourselves, but if you’re a large organization then it is very different.

How do you see the future of social media in the corporate world in the near future?

I think the landscape is going to change dramatically in the next few months and years. We’re going to see a lot more governance thrown in to social media and the way it is organized, or rather disorganized right now. There is going to be massive endeavours in terms of how we train people and get them up to speed with regards to social media, and not just the ‘experts’, or the ones in charge, but the entirety of the enterprise.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xu04om_en-social-media-in-the-workplace-with-yann-gourvennec-smi-conference_tech

Video Interview: interview : SMI conference

Is app.net ‘s Dalton Caldwell the new Zuckerberg? – #blogbus

Dalton Caldwell, 32, is the founder and CEO of app.net but how he got there is a long story. A native from Texas, he went to university in Stanford, Calif., then joined Symbolic Systems in 2003. He was a precursor in social networks (check his bio on wikipedia) at the time (2003) when Friendster was around; he is the creator of Imeem, which was “originally a Skype-modelled Desktop social network in a peer-to-peer approach”.  After multiple incarnations it became a music sharing system, the 75th largest website in the world and “the first legal music downloading system”. Imeem, as it was called, was eventually acquired by Myspace in 2009. Caldwell was also awarded the best mobile app award by Techcrunch as early as 2008, when mobile was unknown to most. Now you start to understand. Dalton Caldwell is a trail-blazer, and anything but the average start-up founder, he is a true wizard, a brilliant mind who is responsible for the latest buzz in social media in the valley … and the rest of the world. Imagine that, he turned down an “acqui-hire” offer by Facebook which could have made him even richer than he already is.

[will app.net turn out to be a home run? photo antimuseum.com]

Now, will app.net replace Facebook and Dalton Caldwell be the new Zuckerberg? If he dons the same kind of hoodies, needless to say his philosophy is entirely different; and I have to admit that I like it a lot … Let’s zoom in on app.net with the notes taken during the interview we had with him last week during the blogger bus tour in Soma*, San Francisco:

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[Dalton Caldwell, the CEO and founder of app.net]

Caldwell launches mobile photo sharing app before Instagram and loses

Caldwell and his teams wanted “to do something which is mobile first”. What with the immense success of applications like Instagram and Pinterest, the focus is on mobile. Facebook is getting to grips with this now that analysts are criticising them for not being able to monetise on mobiles at a a time when users are shifting from Web to smartphones.

Two and half years ago, the team started working on a mobile photo sharing “pre-instagram” application named Picplz. After they raised funds and came to realisation they would only lose the battle against Instagram, they did the right thing, folded Picpliz and went on to the next thing. It often happens like this in Silicon Valley. In the high-tech business, Pivoting moments like this happen all the time. Don’t forget that Google ended up being a search engine after Yahoo! had refused to buy their algorithm (as per the story described in Scott Berkun’s The Myths of Innovation).

Caldwell turns down acqui-hire by Facebook

The team then “took a few shots with the same infrastructure” and of Caldwell’s own accord, “this is why they were able to catch up so quickly with App.net”. The first idea was to help third party developers find how to integrate their apps within Facebook or Twitter. Caldwell’s team started building more tools for the Facebook platform and after opengraph “came to fruition, it all worked so well with Facebook that they wanted to “acqui-hire” them”. Yet, Caldwell “wasn’t enthusiastic” to put it in his own words. A friend of his then suggested not to worry about the websites but to focus on the APIs. This was in 2008-2009. App.net wasn’t yet what it is now.

Social Networks becoming ad companies will shut down their APIs

If most social networks like Twitter and Facebook started off as APIs and helped build entire ecosystems around them, “[they] couldn’t stick to this because of monetisation” Caldwell explained. He then wrote a blog post (What Twitter could have been) on July 1 (a Sunday) in which he vented his frustration. Little did he know that his post would attract a hug following and that he was about to start something new. The blog post “took off, with hundreds of thousands of visits, (even though it only consists of a few paragraphs). In that piece, Dalton Caldwell contends that “every API will be closed by social networks because [popular social networks] went away from being API companies to become ad companies and it means that they have to control everything”.

if they decide to close their APIs, then why not build an API?

“The idea then became to build an API company!” Caldwell went on. “Most people don’t know how bad things are, and they will notice in the next few months that certain applications stop working” he said.

[apps.net : global feed page]

crowd-funding … in a matter of weeks

$-largeThis is how app.net was given a front end which “looks like Twitter looked in 2007” the young entrepreneur added. Just as a proof of concept, for this front-end is not meant to be a Twitter replacement. Developers are proposed to build applications on it. Imagine a social chess game for instance, all built on the common API and digging from the common user base.

The new project son attracted 10,000 users in a matter of weeks. Which means that the $ 500k goal the company had set up for themselves by the end of August. “This is how start-ups work” Dalton Caldwell explained: “if Youtube had launched 6 month later or before it wouldn’t have succeeded. Social media made it happen it wasn’t us. We are just under 20,000 users now. No idea how long it will take for them to have million of users versus the current 20,000. I don’t know how long it will take us to reach millions, maybe it will never do. In fact in depends on whether somebody develops a killer application based on the App.net AP!” he said.

a lot of people got angry

Caldwell admitted to making a lot of people angry; with a few lines he put his finger on a fundamental issue which is plaguing the current development of social media. Social networks were developed with the idea that Marketing could be done differently and barely 3 years ago, the world was buzzing with Tara Hunt’s Whuffie Factor concept, a founding book placing social capital over financial value. With the race to monetisation – which grew even worse with Facebook’s IPO – all of this is gone for good. We are left with advertising and I admit to sharing Caldwell’s frustration; a frustration I had already vented a year and a half ago as President of Media Aces in France.

“We are building a privacy model and we are not going to impose a business model” Caldwell concluded. “Those who build the best apps will be rewarded and there are 6 apps in the application store so far” he said.

embrace the philosophy … well worth $50

It’s hard to tell whether App.net will scale to millions of users like other platforms. As a matter of fact, it’s not even competing on the same level at all. At any rate, for social media veterans like me, Caldwell is spot on in terms of how he approaches social media and it’s well worth $50 in my eyes. After all, app.net may well just remain a social network for the happy few who want to escape interruption marketing and the use of your private data and content by public companies. If only for that, I feel like joining App.net and supporting Dalton and his teams.

Caldwell may not be the next Zuckerberg after all, maybe just the other way round. Small is beautiful!

notes


*Soma = South of Market (downtown San Francisco district situated south of ‘Market’, a major artery in the centre of the City.