AFG Venture Group Dispatches

Corporate advisory and consultancy in Australia, South East Asia and India.

January 2011: Social Media, Social Networking and Social Capital

January 2011: Social Media, Social Networking and Social Capital

“By giving people the power to share, we’re
making the world more transparent.”
- Mark Zuckerberg, CEO & President of Facebook

Welcome to AFG Venture Dispatches, your insight into current issues and items of interest for Emerging, Technology and Growth Companies across Australia and Asia. Web 2.0 technology, the digital phase where users can generate and share content and ideas, globally, is impacting on how we interact and communicate information/opinions. This is having repercussions on how business is and will be done. Articles, comments or letters are most welcome and can be sent to editor@afgventuregroup.com. The next edition will be in March 2011 and will focus on Health and Life Sciences: Outlook 2011 and Beyond. Contributions welcome.

EDITOR’S COMMENT:

Social media platforms are transforming the way we interact and by extension, the way we will consume and do business. Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and MySpace are feeding our human need for communication and social relationships. They are presenting an opportunity to form networks to share information, ideas, opinions, happenings and many forms of content/media. Content has becomes self-generated, global and available in real time. and all our  clicks, connections and comments are being recorded, sorted and collated.

The impact for businesses, small and large, is in the ease and speed of sharing.  For many businesses there is a massive contest for minds and engagement. Take-up and usage is from all generations. It’s not just young people, nor is it for entertainment alone. People are sharing views on products and services, as well as information on world and personal events.  It was interesting to see how the Queensland Government used social media to get information out on the recent floods.   Social media recognises that ’word of mouth’ advertising and personal recommendations are extremely powerful influencers.. Individuals are forming online networks or ’followings’, around their opinions on products and services, based on their expertise and eloquence. Recently companies have begun engaging directly with these ‘broadcasters’ who can demonstrate their online reach and impact. How to become a meaningful contributor to these community conversations, is only a small part of what challenges are emerging in how to conduct business.

We are no longer just passive consumers of media. It can be created by anyone, anywhere. Distribution has become ubiquitous. New communication skills need to be developed such as  creating community conversations, managing and reacting  feedback in a transparent and artful manner and crowd sourcing.  Social media offers corporates mobile internal communication channels, new methods to transact and carry out business processes, new sources of data mining and pattern/trend spotting, new distribution channels and speeds up generation and reaction.

Google are investing in satellites to beam online connectivity to everyone on the planet. No longer will the value of social networks be defined by who is excluded. And social networks have value. Social capital refers to connections within and between social networks. Its existence delivers social cohesion, trust and personal investment in the community. Just as physical capital (tools) and human capital (education) can increase productivity, so can social contacts affect the performance of individuals and groups.

Cooling the online enthusiasm to share, and for organisations to participate, will be questions concerning personal identity, intimacy, content ownership/control, security issues, employment practices and privacy/defamation. As early examples refer to http://gizmodo.com/5740221/the-great-facebook-reply-dilemma, an attack on the information age http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jan/22/social-networking-cyber-scepticism-twitter, and http://www.fastcompany.com/1716844/alone-together-an-mit-professors-new-book-urges-us-to-unplug

In the spirit of sharing, our contributors shed some light on the phenomenon. Through advising and working with clients and/or their customers they have experience of what these technological platforms can do, and what is evolving.

“The difference between PR and social media is that PR is
positioning, and social media
is about becoming, being and improving.”
- Chris Brogan, Consultant, Business
Communications
 and
Social Software Technologies

New Media – An Older Journalist’s Enthusiastic Guide by Bob Hughes, Professional Communications Coach

Bob Hughes has monitored the growth and implications of social media since its inception. That the Sydney Morning Herald reported the Queensland Police relied on Twitter during the recent floods to get information out, shows how much it’s core business has changed.

Bob takes this opportunity to discuss where social networking is now and what’s worth knowing.  We are hearing the voice of the individual, who may have first hand experience of a breaking news story, or are the story themselves. Online tags of product recommendations, created by users, means we can influence many more people than our direct contacts. Word of mouth, always important to business, is travelling fast.

Involvement in social networks means less privacy. Mobile phones, credit card and e-tag use, online searching, web site visits including through online gaming and social networking comments are being tracked. This data is giving insights into trends that are allowing us to see much bigger pictures.

Implications for organisations are many. How to deal with your staff’s usage of social media. Finding the energy and resources to keep up constant monitoring and output of their consumer’s feedback. Competing or developing partnerships with savvy individuals who have developed an online presence and following. These are just few of the numerous challenges that social media is providing.

Socialising The Brand by Angus M. Robinson, Managing Partner, Leisure Solutions®

Angus Robinson quotes a Nielsen Australia 2010 Social Media Report to demonstrate how much online social networks are being used in this country. Yet a recent survey from the Council of Small Business of Australia shows 56% of small and medium businesses have no intention of using social media. Angus asks “why the reluctance, when there are opportunities to achieve a higher ROI than from more traditional channels to market”?

Angus points out three things that need to be realised by small, especially micro-enterprises, to compete effectively in the very crowded internet space. These are careful design with ‘personality’, trademark protection, diverse entry points with connections to content beyond just search engine optimisation and daily monitoring are recommended to make the most of on-line campaigning.

With a growing basket of social media tools at one’s disposal a strategic selection is required.

Social Networking as a Means to Enhance Your Business by Ms Kim Anderson, CEO, The Reading Room

Kim Anderson accepts that our connected world, through the internet, has made our lives easier and more flexible. The downside is the bombardment of information, becoming slaves to our inboxes. ‘Being connected’ though is an integral part of doing business. Dismissing social media networking is choosing to ignore a key way of growing your business.

Using social networking tools to create a community is key and it is more than just establishing a presence. The worse thing to do is to see it as just another form of marketing to engage in one-to-many conversations. Its potential is as tremendous enablers and amplifiers of word of mouth where the tools provide a way for customers, real users of your product, not actors, to market your brand. The size and generational breadth of use is what is making social networking on the internet so powerful.

Kim shares a study that shows ‘word of mouth’ as the most trusted marketing channel.

UsabilityOne’s Take On Social Media by Shefik Bey, Managing Director, UsabilityOne

Shefik Bey acknowledges businesses appetite for advertising on social media and providing an online connection with customers is at a fever pitch. They may feel that if they don’t participate they will fall by the wayside. But before rushing in, do the research first. Form an understanding of customer preferences and behaviour. Be respectful of users and how they would want to interact.

Rather than asking users to adapt their attitudes and behaviours in order to interact with your social platform, Shefik encourages clients to create an outlet that supports their intended users’ beliefs, attitudes and behaviours.

Shefik provides ten great tips to gain the most out of your social profile. These stem from interactions with a variety of their clients and their users. Don’t let assumptions drive your business decisions. Ask your customers. Test your application with a variety of people. Ensure your social platform is tailored to suit your user’s needs. Social media is still fresh. It will require questioning, experimenting and thinking about the best ways to utilise this new platform, to take it to another level.

Social Media, Social Networking & Social Capital by Kathy Phelan, Director, Small World Social and Petra Zlatevska, Writer, Consultant & Presenter

Kathy Phelan and Petra Zlatevska have seen social media networks like Facebook emerge as crucial tools for not only business branding but also for influencing consumer trends. Considering 90% of Australian households have an internet connection and over 9 million users have an active Facebook account, these platforms provide great reach for businesses. And the connections within and between social networks are helping measure the often elusive concept known as ‘social capital’.

These ‘social networking websites’ are changing the way we communicate. They are faster, more entertaining and engaging than traditional print or even online media. Kathy and Petra present two recent case studies to demonstrate the business case for utilising these tools.

Social Media and Social Networks: A Guide to the Uninitiated by Mitchell Brown, Corporate Advisor & Analyst, AFG Venture Group

Mitchell Brown provides a brief summary of three of the most popular social media sites, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Social Media: A 19 Year Old’s Perspective by Hannah Sinclair, Content Strategist, Small World Social

Hannah Sinclair’s daily routine includes many tasks performed or assisted by social media. Waking up to check messages, includes referring to a social media tool as well as the phone. ‘Stalking’ where and what your social network is up too and sharing comedic viral videos are all part of recreating social situations online.

Hannah’s preferred platform is the one most popular with her friendship group. A new tracking application has recently been added that has enhanced that experience. The ability to chat at low cost, and in conversations that can include all of one’s friends at one time, are compelling features of other applications.

What Do You Get When You Fall In Love? : Social Media’s Less Lovely Face by Anthony Hughes, Senior Consultant, Digital Media and Online Learning, AFG Venture Group

Anthony Hughes compares the classic song of disillusionment regarding love and relationships with the current social media phase. Many individuals and organisations are starting to question the real nature of what they have embraced.

Anthony presents examples of some problem areas of social media use for organisations. Then provides five key risk areas that they should examine so they have a clear understanding of the legal and privacy issues that can be faced.

“Social media is like teen sëx. Everybody wants to do it.
Nobody knows how. When it is finally done there is surprise it’s not better.”
– Avinash Kaushik, The Analytics Evangelist for Google and Co-Founder and Chief Education Office for Market Motive

“Without a specific reason for the consumer to behave,
without a reward or benefit, the overwhelmed consumer will refuse.”
– Seth Godin, Author

“The goal of social media is to turn your customers into a volunteer marketing army.”
– Jay Baer, Social Media Strategy Consultant

If you have any comments or would like to submit an article, please email the editor@afgventuregroup.com – your comments and feedback are always welcome. We seek articles for the next issue that will focus on ‘Health and Life Sciences: Outlook 2011 and Beyond’. The due date for contributions will be mid February 2011.

If you were forwarded this newsletter and would like to receive your own copy, wish to change your e-mail address or no longer wish to receive further copies of AFG Venture Dispatches, please contact editor@afgventuregroup.com

A Final Word

“Social media is about the people! Not about your business.
Provide for the people and the people will provide for you.”
– Matt Goulart, Founder, Webstar Content


Copyright 2011, AFG Venture Group. All rights reserved. All material contained in this newsletter is the Intellectual Property of AFG Venture Group and cannot be reproduced, copied, published, quoted or disseminated without the prior permission of AFG Venture Group.