Report shows social companies make more money

A new report by McKinsey shows that ‘fully networked enterprises are not only more likely to be market leaders or to be gaining market share but also use management practices that lead to margins higher than those of companies using the Web in more limited ways.’ Or, in non-consultant speak – by being social inside and outside your company, you’ll make more money, and be able to get higher profits.

Cash Money by jtyerse on Flickr (CC Licence)

'Cash Money' by jtyerse on Flickr (CC Licence)

Networked enterprises are using collaborative technology and techniques to connect internal employees, and also to improve communication with customers, suppliers and partners. And the report also notes that the trend for using these tools is following an S-curve, which means rapid adoption by a lot of companies as they realise they can earn more.

Want to become social?

There are a couple of elements missing from the McKinsey report summary – firstly, it’s not just enough to roll out some new social technology. It won’t do anything for your business just sitting there, and that includes customer social outreach like blogs, social media, video sharing etc.

Ideally you should plan for the best and most effective social technologies which will have an impact on your employees and your customers, and the ways in which they will need to be encouraged, maintained, and evolved over the time. That might sound scary, but it’s actually a part of the process which I love – essentially putting together what your customers want, what your employees want, and how that can create revenue for your business. And if you’d like some assistance, then look for someone with experience of rolling out new social technology and knowledge transfer.

Then there’s the willingness to experiment, take risks, and also embrace the occasional failure. Too many companies are paralysed by fear of failing, when any social iniative carries an inherent flaw which you’ll never get rid off – dealing with humans! The effective route is not to avoid collaboration and social initiatives, but to start simple and plan 2 or 3 initiatives in the short term. One of those new ideas which takes off will more than compensate for the others – and in addition to productivity and revenue increases, it’ll also pave the way for more successes in the future, as long as you continue to evolve and progress it.

There’s an almost overwhelming abundance of opportunities out there, and keeping it simple and effective is key, with the agility to help it evolve and change your business for the better.

Sharing the music: The spread of the Web 2.0 rock stars

Two months ago, my colleague David Cushman and I started compiling a list of ‘Web 2.0 rock stars‘. It was partly a bit of fun, but also to see if it might bring some attention to www.ditto.net (disclosure: Both David and I work at Bauer Media, who own Ditto, and know/work with the Ditto team). We also though it would be fun to see a public vote, rather than one created either by Google page rank, Technorati, or by a small group of people on an editorial team.

But there have been some really fascinating outcomes:

  • Being able to watch how people are using the voting tool on Ditto – some vote for their single favourite/some re-order the entire list.
  • Adding people that David and myself hadn’t encountered and discovering some cool people we might have missed. And we’re still adding more (Suggest someone/yourself in the comments, or email daniel dot thornton at bauermedia.co.uk)
  • And seeing how a list with minimal promotion (Mentioned only on this blog and Faster Future) has been picked up by lots of people, including several of the notables on the voting list.
  • And also turning it into a bit of a resource after David added videos to almost every rock star. It’s a good example of what the Ditto team are trying to achieve (You can see and hear one of the founders, Colin Kennedy via Dave’s writing on /Message)

So where did it spread to?

Blogs:

AFP Mediawatch

Doc Searls

Euan Semple

Joseph Jaffe

Jason Calacanis (in the comments of Rich Millington’s post)

Stowe Boyd (written by David Cushman)

Jonathan MacDonald

Wikinomics

Comments:

Shel Israel, Corvida, JP Rangaswami, Veronica Belmont and Doc Searls all appeared in my blog comments (which I suspect wouldn’t have otherwise happened!), or contacted me via Facebook. As did Jonathan Yarmis, Stephanie Frasco, Josh Bernoff, Brian Solis and The Kaiser via email. (Jonathan’s inclusion apparently made his mother very proud!)

And it also created even more debate and mentions on Twitter and Pownce:

ciaranj

enikao

Ditto

waynesutton

stoweboyd

technofeliz

jasonrysavy

askfrasco

j_mac

(At which point Twitter Search broke)

And despite a relatively ‘niche’ subject compared to ‘The Best Movies of All Time‘, it’s still ranking as one of the most popular lists on the site!

All this was possible for two reasons:

1. Cush, myself, and the Ditto team (Especially John!). Between the three of us, it probably took 1-2 days to have the list at the stage it is now.

2. The desire of people to discover, share, link and contribute. From the first post I made, people were contributing great suggestions (I forgot to include Cory Doctorow, for example) And even though no-one was taking it seriously with a title like ‘The Rock Stars of Web 2.0’, almost everyone was happy to be included, supply pictures, correct information, and link back (even if they were embarrassed to be included, eh Euan?). And it was a pleasant surprise to find a namecheck from Doc Searls today.

And none of this was broadcast to anyone. As David examines in more detail, we didn’t email anyone to publicise the list. We didn’t prepare a press release, or even use Bauer Media’s global brands. We both blogged and tweeted about it in an honest and fun way, and waited to see who discovered and contributed to it. And all the rest of it occurred naturally, as people self selected whether they wanted to be involved, and whether they wanted to encourage voting from others. It didn’t make Techcrunch or Slashdot, or the front page of Digg. And judging by the timing and tone of many of the posts, people were discovering it individually, and passing it around their social networks, but it hasn’t been bridging the gap across them as you might imagine. (See Slide 4 in Cush’s excellent presentation on the future of PR)

And the great thing is that it’s an ongoing thing. We’re still adding more and more people – and the voting never ends. Unfortunately submissions are via a slightly clunky ’email daniel dot thornton at bauermedia dot co dot uk with name, details and a headshot’ method but we’ll work to get everyone online as soon as is possible. Voting is rather slicker! At regular intervals we’ll keep everyone up to date with the results at the time, further learnings, and how we’re continuing to be surprised by the wonderful thing which is humans interacting.

Oh, and if you’ve contributed/suggest for the list, or allowed the use of your photo via Creative Commoncs, then many, many thanks. It’ll take me some time to list everyone that contributed via me, but I’ll happily list anyone as they remind me (or whinge in EaonP’s case!)

Is Clay Shirky the biggest celebrity of Web 2.0?

Because ‘The Rock Stars of Web 2.0‘ list on Ditto.net certainly seems to think so! (Disclaimer – I work for Bauer Media, who created Ditto, and help with some marketing…)

At the moment, Clay Shirky tops the list, followed by Doc Searls, Stowe Boyd and Wayne Sutton. The top female web 2.0 celebrity on the list is Veronica Belmont, who is in joint fifth place with Euan Semple, JP Rangaswami and David Weinberger.

Right at the bottom of the list, with a minus score, is Jason Calacanis! And he’s joined by some pretty big names, including Robert Scoble, Mike Arrington (Techcrunch), Tom Anderson (Myspace), Bill Gates and Barack Obama!

If you don’t think the order is right, get voting at ‘The Rock Stars of Web 2.0‘. And if there are people missing from the list, let me know in the comments, below.

It’s all change on the interweb

As always my plans to spend a weekend dedicated to catching up, and even getting ahead, on my blogging etc seem to have been destroyed before Friday is even over, thanks to a horrible noise from the exhaust on my car. I guess that’s what you get for buying something cheap and unusual!

And that clumsily links into the amount of change that’s occurring at the moment to major sites:

New look Facebook has been talked about a lot, and it’s now available. And to be honest, I’m really undecided about the design. It certainly makes it more blog/lifestream than profile page, and it moves applications out of the way, which is good for dealing with application addicts. I’m surprised the advertising is moved out to a column where it is easier to ignore over time, although it did catch my eye the first time it logged.

And there’s new look Delicious. Notice the lack of del.icio.us, as it’s now become www.delicious.com, as they were seeing all sorts of versions of the name being used. A bit of a shame in some ways, as it was one major way to stand out from the crowd. Ma.gnolia might feel a bit silly now! Again the design is cleaner and more modern, and a little lifestream-esque.

And you may have heard the tiniest of whispers around the web that tiny new startup Google is being challenged by a new search engine called Cuil, which claims to index more pages than Google, and return more linked results. One interesting ploy is that they promise information for each search will be anonymous – fine in theory but what will happen in the event of a court case? At the moment, returns a bit flakey, like this one for Dan Thornton. But I’m going to give it some time before making a judgement – I was initially unimpressed with Mahalo, but I’ve grown to like it more and more as time goes by. The best thing about Mahalo’s human-powered search is that the official plugin allows you to display an information box alongside your Google results – meaning it can save you a few clicks if you’re researching something which is covered.

And rounding off a pretty quick skim, is the news for social media marketing, research and business people that Forrester has bought Jupiter Research, which is pretty big news in that space.

Now if I can just stop the exhaust falling off the car, I might be able to catch up with a  few things.

Value can emerge from the frivolous thanks to the net

When colleague and chum David Cushman and I compiled The Rock Stars of Web 2.0 list on Ditto.net is was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek way to play with an interesting website from the company for which we both work, and on which  help with some marketing.

We thought it may turn up something interesting, but we really didn’t know what…

Voting is still continuing, but it’s already teaching us a number of things about how people are using the site, how they’re ordering information, and about how the people in question are perceived.

And it’s also starting to become a valuable resource for information. Ditto itself is a social entertainment guide to help find right signal in the increasingly noisy world of entertainment, and it allows you to add relevant videos. Which is just what has happened, started off by David!

So now it starts to be more than a popularity list, and also becomes somewhere to find the best bits of information/entertainment from those on the list. It’ll be interesting to see if it has any bearing on the voting!

Is your online identity in your control?

Image by stevec77 on Flickr

This post was inspired by a request by an individual to be removed from the voting on The Rock Stars of Web 2.0 list on Ditto.

We quickly complied and I want to make it absolutely clear that there’s no malice or irritation at someone wishing to be removed. If it had been an article of a blog post which was in the public interest, things would have been different, but the list is intended to be an interesting bit of fun, nothing more. Although I’d always suggest polite responses will get a quicker reaction.

But it raised some interesting questions about online identity, as the reason given for removal was that the profile listing (Image, name and main claim to fame) ‘was not approved’ by the individual in question. It’s lead me to wonder if anyone can really hope to control their online appearances to only those which are officially approved, especially if they have any level of internet ‘fame’.

A quick Google search for the name reveals many thousands of mentions, images, quotes etc. Are we right to assume that all of these have been individually approved? Or are they seen as valid if they are on established sources, blogs, or media sharing sites? Is it the voting mechanism which prompted the request?

And how would I feel about a similar situation? I’d be happy if I was considered a ‘Web 2.0’ celebrity (which I’m blatantly not), but what if I was at the bottom of the list? (Luckily at the moment it’s Jason Calacanis, who never seems particularly fussed about risking negative sentiment online).

And what happens if it was a list which I found distasteful or offensive? Something which was racist or homophobic for example? Would I even know it existed in the first place, if it didn’t pop up in a Google alert, or someone didn’t bring it to my attention somehow?

So:

  • How do I reassure myself I can find every instance in which I appear online?
  • Do I need to check the context of every appearance?
  • Should I expect to give my approval every time I appear somewhere?
  • Should I expect to be able to request my removal and have a prompt response?

The first task is tricky. A Google search will pick up a lot of things, but not all of them. There could be some bizarre story or rumour about me, hidden away on a tiny un-indexed website, that could, theoretically, suddenly make the front page of Digg at any time (It’s pretty unlikely though!). If my online identity and network are what I base my career on, one big article, image, or video could have a big effect on the people that know me, and a huge effect on anyone seeing me or my name for the first time.

That’s why I do tend to check the context if I see or hear my name mentioned somewhere. It’s not about checking mentions are always positive, and getting upset if they aren’t (Like famous actors, I never read reviews!). But checking that things haven’t been mis-attributed, taken out of context, or words put in my mouth.

But I definitely don’t expect websites to seek my approval before they publish anything about me, or for them to necessarily remove it if I complain. And a removal request wouldn’t be triggered by a positive or negative response. It’s dependant on whether the mention is truthful, although I would expect a right to reply for a negative response, and they should be asking for my response before publication. It’s good journalistic practice and also good from a legal standpoint.

And anything I do online is done with the knowledge that it could be re-used, re-compiled, or twisted with, or without my knowledge, and that although technology and good working practices should mean I have a chance to respond to any damaging mentions, hopefully I’m now findable enough that anything out of context will be obviously so, by comparison to my blogging, twittering, facebooking etc. There will be rotten apples online as well as offline, and having control of a brand, even a personal one, will have a limited impact at best.

At the end of the day, perhaps the best way to ensure a consistent online identity is to be open, and swamp anything out of character with quality insights into what you and I are really about?

I’m really interested to hear what other people think, although I’d like to stress this is about identity rather than a place to spam online reputation management services…

(Funnily enough I just logged into Flickr to find the above image: Who Am I by stevec77, and found a message asking to use one of my images for an article on lolcats. Having to register to agree to let them publish it, and in the process having to sign up for emails as part of the Ts and Cs is pretty rubbish, but hey, I’m always interested in crowd powered media. And lolcats.)
Hizzy as a lolcat

Pick and vote for the top Web 2.0 Rockstars

I need your help!

My colleague David Cushman and I are coming up with a list of Web 2.0 Rockstars to use for a fun list on Ditto.net. Ditto is a fun and easy way to find entertainment and other interesting topics, ranked by user voting. And it’s constantly evolving, with some big changes on the way. (Disclosure: I do some work with Ditto as it’s owned by the company I work for, Bauer Consumer Media)

So we want to celebrate the changes with a fun vote on who is the biggest ‘rockstar’ in Web 2.0, whether it’s because they founded the biggest site, live the most glamorous lifestyle, or have an addiction to Guitar Hero! You can see the list, links and info below, and add your suggestions and comments below, or on the Ditto blog. David and I will be compiling them all, and will let you know as soon as the list is ready for voting…

Forget Google Page Rank, Technorati listing, or Twitter followers…this is all about your opinions….

Rock Stars of Web2.0…in no particular order

And more being added after suggestions here, on Dav’s blog, on Ditto, and on Twitter:

So let’s hear the suggestions, omissions, complaints…

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There really is nothing new in Web 2.0

It’s been said before, but having chatted with some of my readers, and having been unable to quickly find a previous online example, I though it’s worth restating: There’s nothing new in Web 2.0.

And by that, I mean there’s nothing new about the facilities Web 2.0 offers. And now for some examples:

Tagging: Every time you’ve labeled anything in your life, you’ve tagged it. Putting your bills in a folder, putting a sticker on your homemade chutney, or creating a mixtape of songs. If only we’d called it labeling, rather than tagging, I’d have saved myself a few hours of explaining. And a Folksonomy is just what happens when information is structured by people labeling it.

Social networking: Every time you’ve been introduced to someone via a friend, or found yourself chatting to someone you’ve stood next to at a concert, or at the football, you’ve networked socially. Facebook and Myspace are the internet equivalents of your local pub, or the reading group at the local library.

Blogging: Diaries. Fanzines. The family newsletter tucked inside Christmas cards. Newspaper columns.

Crowdsourcing: Happened hundreds of years ago. Sticking up a ‘Wanted’ poster and offering a bounty was crowdsourcing people to catch a criminal.

Social news aggregators (e.g. Digg): Just recording online the same opinions you’d get chatting around the office coffee machine/smoking area.

Word of Mouth, Buzz, Social Media Marketing: When your pipe sprung a leak last night, and you came into work and asked your friend if they knew a good plumber – that’s Word of Mouth. Buzz is just getting lots of people talking and recommending. And social media marketing is just using the new online gathering places.

I did lie earlier.

There is one new thing about all Web 2.0 technology which radically changes everything we know. It’s made it so much easier to do all these things, that the amount of people involved, and the effects, have been amplified 100s, 1000s or even millions of times. It’s always happened. But now it’s happening on a global scale, and in a way that can change the fortunes of businesses.

The rules have changed…

Even in web 2.0 a pillock is still a pillock. They just use more buzzwords, without knowing what they mean. From Hugh Macleod’s always inspirational Gaping Void.

The User Generated Content myth.

You know how everyone, their dog, and their dog’s dog is talking about User Generated Content, Engagement, and how everyone is dying to upload their lives onto the internet, if only they had the chance?

Bill Tancer from web audience measurement firm Hitwise has some stats for you:

0.16% of the people visiting Youtube are uploading videos.

0.2% are visiting Flickr to upload images.

Wikipedia has the biggest involvement at 4.6%

That’s not to say they aren’t immensely popular, and getting more so by the second.

“But despite relatively low-user involvement, visits to Web 2.0-style sites have spiked 668 percent in two years”

The lesson is that millions want to be able to take a peek at the private lives of others, and displaying User Generated Content is a great way to build an audience and get traffic. But don’t expect a huge amount of content to suddenly appear overnight. Especially if your site isn’t a giant like Youtube or Flickr. Because if they’re getting 0.2%, you can bet a site with a smaller audience will get far less than 0.2% uploading. After all, what kind of exhibitionist targets smaller groups of people?