It seems like everyone always does a "predictions" blog or article around this time of the year. Since I must have read 50 or more of these types of posts and articles focused on technology predictions during the holiday break, I thought I would share what I feel are the hotter social media and technology related trends that might be of interest to the environmental professional members of commonground.
So here are my five in no particular order. Please note that there is no scientific methodology applied to this list - just one opinionated guys viewpoint...
- Social media, like everything else, will have its challenges over the next year. However, the companies that survive will emerge stronger than ever in 2010. Some of the bigger challenges will include all the naysayers publishing controversial articles and blogs titled "SOMETHING SOCIAL MEDIA RELATED.....is Dead" for their own business benefit and exposure, risk that new viruses will be generated from social networking sites, success in monetizing social networks will be limited at best, and VC money or the lack thereof will result in significant market consolidation.
- Mobile technology will be hotter than ever in 2009. New phones, applications, and improvements are causing people like me to burn through phones and develop relationships with the sales people at our local AT&T store. Expect that trend to continue and expect a bunch of new cool social media applications including the ability to leverage your community membership of choice easily and intuitively via your phone.
- The ability for a company to maximize its search engine optimization (SEO) will be one of the primary drivers in helping companies hit their goals in 2009, 2010, and beyond. There have been a few varying opinions on this lately, but don't believe the negative press. Just look at the facts. As of June 30, 2008, the World population as reported on the World Internet Usage Statistics web site was 6,676,120,288 and 1,463,632,361 or roughly 22% of the population uses the web. That means a huge market has not been penetrated yet and like the 73.6% of the US market that has been penetrated, they too will learn to "search" or "google" everything.
- Twitter popularity will continue to go through the roof, but look for some rough seas ahead for them in the press once they try to make some money and struggle like Facebook has.
- SaaS technology adoption will continue to grow rapidly at larger enterprises and not just small/mid size companies. Lower cost, flexible, and secure, open source providers are making it easier for IT buyers and budget conscious companies to say yes to innovation.
Please feel free to add any that you think should be on the list and/or share other articles you found interesting.
Happy first full week of 2009.
I had a voicemail from a friend of mine this past weekend who I have developed a business relationship with over the course of the past couple of years. The topic of the voicemail was about social media - I suppose many of you reading this are not at all shocked that we think about social media on the weekends too. The nature of the voicemail, although seemingly simple, is always one of the most complex social media and community dilemmas.
Here we go. Most entrepreneurs that build a community have a clear and concise vision. That vision is driven by a belief, passion, and knowledge. Homework has been done. And, they are confident they can be successful because they are positioned well to fill a need instead of creating one.
Then as they go through the process of building their business, they get a lot of terrific feedback from a number of brilliant, successful people from a number of backgrounds. And, all of a sudden....things become very complex. The vast majority of the feedback is very good. It seems logical and really gets the wheels spinning. Believe me....
Then the questions start coming. Who's opinion is right? Should I stay the course? Should I change? Should I go after the prize? Should I start small? Maybe we should diversify our focus? Should we put all or eggs in one basket? Do we have time to do all these great ideas? How quickly can we get there? Who's right? Who's wrong? I could go on......
Welcome to the social media dilemma - whether you are starting a company or work for a large company embarking on the social media process. If you are in either role, you are definitely an entrepreneur and likely understand a lot more of what it takes to realize your dream than most others. Therefore, remember that you need to fight the urge and pressure to do too many things at once. That does not mean ignore the feedback of others as being able to adapt is always important, but what it does mean is that you need to limit distractions. And, trying to do 10 things well will mean 10 times the number of distractions.
So, do your homework, define your goals and objectives, and adapt appropriately to execute. Take the advice of someone who has made a lot more money than I have (so far) on how to be successful.
My success, part of it certainly, is that I have focused in on a few things.
The blogosphere is a scary place – kind of like a haunted house where there are ghosts, goblins, vampires, etc.. At least, it sounds that way when you talk about it with people who still do not understand what a blog is or why on earth anyone would read one. Yes, these people do still exist and although the percentage of the population is getting smaller, I know plenty of them.
A new eMarketer study indicates, that by 2012:
· more than 145 million people – or 67% of the US internet population, will be reading blogs at least once per month.
· Blog advertising will reach $746 million up from $283M in 2007
· 16% of internet users will have created a blog
I personally believe that 67% number sounds low. Google anything and it seems like a blog comes up in the search results. How many times do you Google something a month? I would guess that I use it a minimum of 10 times/ day or 300 times/month. I suspect many people, some of the same ones I know above, are reading blogs all the time and have no clue that they are.
As I wrote about in Blah, Blah, Blah….Sorry, I Meant Blogs!, a blog like the one you are reading now, is just one method of sharing content within a community. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing revenue predictions, especially in the business to business space, around the other core “social” technologies.
I recall watching a Forrester web event earlier this year on the topic of Facebook. One of the statistics really grabbed my attention - 83% of online consumers trust the opinion of a friend or acquaintance who has used a product or service and only 30% trust the review of a blogger. To me, it seems like the revenue potential is enormous.
If any of you are aware of any that currently exist, I encourage you to feel free to respond and share them.
How many of you work for a company that has been around for more than five years? During that five years, has your business evolved? Do you do business online? Do you or your company have a blog? Do you use twitter? Do you own a cell phone?
I suspect many of you have answered yes to most if not all of these questions. When is the last time you thought about or updated the information you include on your business cards? My guess is the real answer is when whoever it was who is no longer with the company created the template.
It is ok - you can admit it, you are not alone.
A few weeks ago I encouraged you not to discount your autosignatures. This week I encourage you not to discount the value of your business card. The standard information is fine - we all know what that is, but there is valuable information you can add to improve the presentation of your credentials.
1) Link to your blog
2) Your twitter address
3) Link to a your social networking profile
4) Your cell phone
So, since I have been speculating throughout this blog post, I am guessing you are saying to yourself - Why bother? Anyone I give my card to will be able to get in touch with me - right? Perhaps, but think about when you give out cards. You are usually at a meeting where you have met someome new, at a trade show, a networking event, etc.. Chances are that many of the people you are handing them to do not know you all that well. And, the easier you make it for these folks to find and research your credentials, the higher likelihood you will convert them from suspects to prospects.
The next generation of property due diligence professionals and our future customers are from the web generation. These millenials have had access to technology from the moment they were born. They leverage social media, they are influenced by trends, and they do the majority of their personal and professional business online. Do you think they want to do business with someone they perceive as like them or someone who is not? This time, I will leave it to you to speculate.
The next time you need to order cards, remember they have two sides. Use them both.
On Super Bowl Sunday, I am about as excited as my kids are on Halloween.
One reason is because it is fully understood that I am going to watch at least 90% of a football game no matter who is playing. The second is, I love to watch all the commercials. I am completely entrigued to know if the company who spent $3M for a 30 second slot during the game got a quantifiable return on investment.
This year, user generated advertising made a huge leap. The Doritos ad, which was created by a couple of unemployed brothers as part of a contest by Frito Lay, was recognized as the top commercial during Super Bowl by the USA Today. It is a significant achievement as the ad was not created by some boutique ad agency in downtown New York City, it was created for next to nothing by Doritos customers. By creating a contest, Frito Lay was able to leverage the collective creativity of the masses to create a commercial versus relying on just the top creative folks that out there working on many campaigns at once.
Imagine what some of these top creative thinkers were thinking today about being beat out on the worlds biggest stage by a few amateurs? I can only imagine.
As we in the environmental and property due diligence market think about how to stretch our limited budgets, there are a few very basic social lessons that can be learned here.
1) Even in a down economy, people like, sorry, I mean love to laugh
2) Youtube and other social sites make it very valuable and easy to leverage the masses to create and share content
3) You might be pleasantly surprised how many of your customers might be willing to participate in campaigns on your behalf if you ask and they might create something beyond your wildest expectations.
You might not have 100M viewers seeing your ads during the big game, but I suspect visitors to your web site who see real content about your services from real customers who are happy with your services wiill be influenced in a very positive way. And those customers can often communicate your message in more creative and effective ways than some of the biggest ad agencies money can buy.
Are you leveraging user generated content? Would love to hear how you are. I look forward to reading your comments while I munch on a bag of Doritos.
If I had a dollar for every time that someone said to me during the past seven years “I just do not really understand this whole community thing”, I think I could put a sizeable deposit on a new beachfront mansion.
In my previous life, I was part of the management team that built a social media company called Shared Insights (now Mzinga). When we talked to executives at the F1000 or small companies about community, we often needed to explain what a community was in very basic terms. Conversations usually began with examples of mainstream face to face communities : country clubs, church groups, alumni networks, etc.. Undoubtedly, someone would ask “Is a community the same thing as a blog”? We would answer no, but make it clear that a blog is one of the core community technologies that company members, board members, and experts, can easily leverage to start an online conversation by simply sharing a viewpoint. And, I often referred to blogs as blah, blah, blah…
Those who know me know that I have always had my bias about blogs because I prefer synchronous (two way) communication vs. asynchronous (one way) communication when I interact online or in person. However, the blog metrics referenced in the “Marketing Moves to the Blogosphere” article in the August 25, 2008 issue of the Washington Post, have raised my eyebrows.
1) Technorati reports that there are approximately 112.5 million blogs on the web and 5,000 are now corporate
3) Dolcezza, a small Georgetown gelato shop, used its blog to promote the grand opening of his second store - over 1,000 customers showed up that day.
There are many people like me that need to find proof in the pudding. And, I feel I have.
These metrics, and others, have inspired me to begin blah, blah, blahing again. Sorry, old habits are hard to break – I meant blogging again!
For many years now, I have talked with leadership teams at top organizations about their “social networking” fears. One concern that continuously comes up is this belief that online “social networks” and “communities” will replace human interaction.
So, I would like to set the record straight. This could not be further from the actual truth – although some great marketers and creative agencies get paid well to craft campaigns to create the fear that might happen.
The online channel is simply the third leg of the “How people interact” stool joining face to face and over the phone. Expect that with advances in social technology, such as twitter, yammer, web conferences , videos, podcasts, etc. (Note – most of this technology has conceptually been around for many years and what is new is the packaging), we will still interact in the same three ways.
I recall watching a Deloitte presentation that addressed it. And, the results were as expected – that although online socializing is a key activity, in person socializing is still primary. The Creating Passionate Users blog titled Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video hits the nail on the head.
My expectation is that the today's technologies will undoubtedly make it easier for employees, companies, family members, friends, alumni groups, etc. to have richer interactions, especially the next time they meet face to face or talk on the phone.
I just returned back from the Environmental Industry Summit in San Diego where commonground received a Project Merit award from the Environmental Business Journal. This might sound strange to many of you, but it was the first time I had to travel via plane on business in nearly six months. For those of you who know me, that is far from the norm for me.
When I arrived to Logan Airport, a whole new world of airline fees was introduced to me since the last time I flew.
Checked bag fee - $15.00 each way
Comfort kit (pillow, blanket, headphones, etc.) - $7.00
Any Coke product including spring/sparkling water or juice - $2.00
Fresh brewed coffee - $1.00
There are more, but these are the new ones. Remember the Southwest commercial where they talk about the fees to use the bathroom? If you don't, I have included the youtube link. I could not stop thinking about it when they were presenting my options.
There was a gentlemen on the flight who asked the stewardess if they carried tap water. When she answered yes, he said "That's great, I just wanted to make sure if a passenger was choking and did not have $2.00 he would get some water". I felt bad for her and the other airline staff members as they were taking a lot of heat.
I also was a bit surprised last week when I cashed in 119,600 miles for two first class tickets for an upcoming vacation. I was short by 400 miles because the mileage had not yet been applied to my account. I then bought 1,000 miles to finish booking my two tickets. The cost was $27.50. And, the processing fee was $32.06. Imagine what your customers would think if you charged them the sticker price plus 117% to process transactions. Maybe the airline industry is on to something?
The USA Today recently reported that the US retail price for regular gasoline climbed an additonal 3.8 cents to a three month high, at $1.96 a gallon. The Energy Information Adminsitration indicated that is the highest it has been since November 17th - three months ago. I realize the airlines locked in fuel prices while they were high. However, the rising fuel cost defense seems like a bit of a stretch at this point.
I would like to pass along a word of advice to the airlines on selling 101. Customers like me are more than happy to pay more to fly if you are delivering more value in return(wireless internet, maybe a tv in the seats, more leg room, a preferred seat location, a friendly experience). Add the fees into the ticket prices and eliminate the additional fees. No one is purchasing sodas, no one is purchasing sandwiches, and very few people purchase the comfort kit on principal alone. I suspect no one would notice a few bucks on the fee. However, they will as an indvidual item and the only attention it will get will be negative.
Curious to hear your thoughts on this? Does this bother you too?
With the new year now in full swing, business strategies laid out, and new challenges on the horizon, I am researching events that I would like to attend this year. With so many really good ones to choose from, there is much homework to do to determine which events offer the best education and content, opportunity to network with peers, and perhaps a warm learning environment (vs the cold of New England).
I suspect that many of the environmental professionals who are members of commonground have your favorite environmental events that you attend annually and they are already on your calendar. Please do feel free to let me know which ones you feel are the best as I welcome your suggestions on which ones you find of value and think I should attend.
Today though, I am evaluating social networking, user generated content, and new media events that will help me to execute our social media strategy to continue to provide additional value to the members of commonground. Therefore, I thought I would would pass along some information that might be helpful to those of you who already have a social media strategy or are considering it.
I recommend you check out Mashable's Tech Events Guide. It offers a pretty comprehensive list of events as well as discounts available to Mashable readers. There are a number of events in there ranging in focus and price that cover many of the hot topics in social media. There are a few others that I am considering that are not included in Mashable's list yet.
South by Southwest 2009 - SXSW March 13-17th is considered to be one of the better social media events out there with enough content to keep you busy for months.
The Community2.0 Conference - In addition to conference content, the full day pre-conference session titled "Getting Started with Community" is great way to get started (full disclosure - I have a slight bias towards this one as I was part of the team that launched the first one in March 2007).
Whether you choose one of these events or any event, I encourage you to check out the sites of the media and program partners as most of them have some type of affiliation discount attainable by using a priority code during the registration process. And, every little bit helps.
Hopefully, I will see you at one of these upcoming events.
Last week, one of our members posted a question in a commonground discussion thread asking for insights from members concerning the environmental impact pharmaceuticals and personal care products can have if they are disposed of via the toilet or sink.
This question seemed like a great question for me to broadcast to my followers on twitter, many of whom are either in the environmental and property due diligence arena, or, are just passionate about helping improve the environment. So, I thought I would try to help the member out by broadcasting the following message:
"does anyone have any knowledge about the environmental impact of flushing expired medicine down the hopper? http://tinyurl.com/brsyop 11:45 AM Feb 6th from web
Shortly after 12:00 PM, a former colleague of mine responded with a suggestion to check out Earth911.com to look for additional data on the topic.
The outreach via twitter helped our commonground member receive a very valuable suggestion from someone who was more than willing to help and share knowledge. And, each receives value. The member with the question is happy because she received some feedback, and the member submitting the suggestion is happier because she could be helpful. Who does not want to be helpful? Lets face it, it makes us feel good about ourselves to help others.
Why do I blog about this? This is a great example of how social netowrking provides real value and connectivity. Would they ever have connected otherwise? Probably not. In the past, how did we find this information? We asked colleagues, we asked friends, we searched online, we visited the library, etc. Today, our social networks are enabling us to find answers and solve problems faster, thus improving our knowledge, productivity, and efficiency.