Monthly Archives: July 2011

Making social networking work inside the firewall

imageSocial intranet sites offer great opportunities to engage with and influence members of staff in ways that are different to traditional email communications.

This ‘engagement with sentiment’ that can be captured in almost real time can show sentiment, buzz and can capture the general morale of the company.

Regular engagement inside social networks can also improve the morale of companies.

Many attempts to incorporate social activities and collaborative ways of working however have mixed results due to the lack of time investment, willing participants and difficulty in getting good social content, presence and engagement. The use of a security token to access the intranet via VPN poses a challenge to those users who travel extensively and are not connected to corpnet for most of their working day.

Bringing Social Networks inside an organisation can bring several benefits some of which are:

  • Gain better interaction within networks
  • Use implementation of tools such as SharePoint or Lotus Connections as a social object to encourage engagement
  • Share hot topics with network groups
  • Talk to and listen to networks
  • Collaboration and Crowdsourcing for ideas
  • Activate employees and encourage better interaction
  • Make networks activities accessible outside of the corporate network
  • Build trust and networking within groups
  • Encourage on-going interaction between group leaders

Unfortunately, the sheer amount of corporate intranet sites usually results in poor signposting to any community sites that may exist in different countries and there is often a lack of awareness that a network site exists.  Often staff are reluctant to communicate socially, depending on the existing corporate culture.  Often they prefer to use Office Communications Server, Lync or SameTime Instant Messaging to have 1: 1 conversation or 1:group social conversations.

Unfortunately, this way of communication tends to exclude staff who are not in the office or online at that moment and group messages can sometimes be missed.

Companies too, often have a culture that is dominated by email messages, pushed out to staff. This is an effective way of communicating which suits the road warriors. These mobile users spend the majority of their time travelling and access most communications on their mobile devices. The number of corporate mobile devices tends to be increasing with more and more staff being given company mobile phones.  Brands need to communicate brand messages, sales successes and client wins and new partnerships in this way and this is traditionally done using emails and newsletters.

Ensuring longevity of interaction ion social networks  internally has also got to be a priority.

During the initial launch of a new network, activity, and therefore awareness, is high. Unfortunately, as activity decreases post launch of the network portal, awareness and follower churn happens and participation interest decreases as work commitments take priority.  Social networking flattens organisations by allowing communications outside of silos, outside of organisational boundaries. 

But it can work – with the right amount of effort and repeated interaction

Deloitte Australia use social media as a way to improve communications across the organisation,making them more relevant, and able to manage risk.

If it works for them – it can also work for you too.  Why don’t you try to flatten your organisation by incorporating social networking into your environment?

All you need is some advocates inside your organisation who are willing to sustain engagement until others use the new way of interacting and communicating.  It’s worth the investment of their time – and will pay off in the long term…

Image credit: Flickr 

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


Locking down Google +

There’s an interesting infographic over on the ZoneAlarm blog which talks about privacy and locking down your profile.  Google + is certainly the new darling of the moment with many people confidently predicting that Google + will be the death of Facebook. Essentially the infographic shows you 6 ways to make sure your profile is locked down:



1: Set up Circles and add your Friends or acquaintances to the circles.  you can create your own circles outside of Google’s suggested circles of Friends and acquaintances.

2: Lock down your profile.  Google’s standard settings are to have everything open to everyone.  make sure you hide your true birthday – or adjust the date by a couple of days so that any attempts to steal your identity will be with an incorrect date

3: You can prevent your profile being displayed in Google searches.  It took over 3 weeks for my profile to appear in a Google alert.  All you need to do is configure how you want your profile to be displayed

4: Lock down privacy settings.  You can prevent people seeing each other in your circles, you can prevent several settings.  Don’t be too draconian with this though as you’ll stop the communication that Google + was designed to do with your friends in the first place

5: Publish posts only to the circles you want to publish to.  So family gets to see posts exclusively for them without danger that anyone else will see them

6: Be aware that anyone can see your comments.  They are public.  This is also the case for any comment placed onto a Facebook page.  Treat posting these comments with caution




Image credit: Zirta


If Google + lives up to all of the hype around it, and continues to grow at the amazing rate I mentioned the other day.  Will this growth continue?  I don’t know, but if it does, then privacy and security will become just as big an issue as it is on Facebook.  With Google cracking down hard on fake accounts and deleting accounts en masse, they’re certainly trying hard to get things right the first time – and are upfront and open when they make mistakes over their attitude to brand pages and personal accounts.

The jury is still out I think and time will tell if Google + gets over it’s teething troubles and succeeds.  What do you think?


Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

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Google+: Will this growth continue?

Mashable has a great post about whether Google+ can sustain growth beyond its early adopters and points out that even with a user base so far of over 10 million people, its still way behind Facebook for early adopter percentages.

It’s quite interesting to see the list of products that were wowed by the early adopters and then seemingly forgotten.  I remember getting accounts on Friendster, /MySpace, Friendfeed, Plurk, Quora, Pearltrees, Brightkite, Twitter etc.  Some of these have faded into obscurity, or are used in non English speaking countries, others are with us and are still going strong.  But the speed of adoption is impressive



Here’s Google’s video of Google + if you’re still to dip your toe into the latest way of social networking


… and there are quite a few other videos reviewing the product.  I like this video for example. 

My early impressions of Google + are an overwhelming sense that everyone is on there to demo the features, to broadcast themselves and show how much they know about Google +.  But then, I’m following mainly geeks at the moment – so perhaps that’s only to be expected.  There seems to be a lot of noise – and not much deep interaction, relationship building and ‘connecting’ – again, perhaps I need to change the folks in my circles again to get a better balance.

as more and more non-geeks join, perhaps this balance will shift and we’ll start to see how the ‘non geeks’ will settle and use Google+ – the same was true of Facebook as businesses realised its potential, the features and communication methods changed – perhaps the Google + project will too…

Or perhaps it will go the same way as Google Buzz – leaving all of those who deleted their Facebook and Twitter accounts, with nowhere to go back to.

What do you think? 

Are you reserved over Google +, or worried about the way it deletes accounts en masse? or are you enthusiastically deleting all of your other social media accounts as you just ‘know’ that Google + will be the Facebook killer?…


Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Building brand loyalty using social media

Brands who want to stay competitive are using social media to complement their existing marketing activities.  The are listening to their customers.  They are responding to their customers needs, they are giving them information, discounts and offers.  They are getting customer loyalty and advocacy for their brands and a return on their investment and effort

Its really easy to set up a social networking account to set the brand up on the global market.  Our online habits are changing and we spend over 22% of our time online interacting on social media sites.  These sites give us immediate feedback for our online efforts.  Brands that bother to interact with their customers are more likely to gain enthusiasts for the brand.  Brands are recognising that social media activities are crucial to your business success.

And its not all about Facebook and Twitter… Blogs are important too:

Blogging continues to lead to success in business.  its a way to demonstrate your credibility online in a way that Twitter never can with only 25 words or so to validate you.  Even if you think you have no time to blog, remember that you can still get credibility with your posts.  The blog is not dead.

Millions of people read blogs daily.  There are more blogs on alone than there are Twitter accounts.  Blogging helps you to be successful in business.


Blogging is still considered a very valuable way to ensure business success and these numbers haven’t changed much over the last 4 years.  (the image part of an infographic from socialcast by the way)

Brands like Microsoft and Dell, Pepsi and PlayStation all use blogs to really connect with their customers in a way that they can’t with a tweet. They can build brand loyalty by interacting with  customers, responding to comments and sharing links.

Brand loyalty can’t just be created using Facebook, it’s a co-ordinated approach – but the dividends will pay off if you’ve got time to build the relationships your customers want…

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


Do smartphones boost productivity?: Unbalancing our work life blend


I had some interesting comments after my post the other day showing smartphone market share ratiosThe graph obviously shows US data – and Symbian isn’t called out specifically as a smartphone, is it therefore a feature phone? 

It would be interesting to view this from a global perspective – but of course, the stats are hard to gather in this way.  We look at the world the way we see things.   

In the UK we see a lot of Android phones here  – but is that the case in other parts of the world?  It’s difficult to get an all up view of the market – every region has such differing usage patterns – but here in the UK, we’re not usually seen without a mobile device of some sort in our hands…

The Grapevine has an interesting post viewed from a UK specific perspective.  In order to work smarter – not harder, staff pressure companies to integrate technology and are pressurising their bosses to give them smartphones and make them more productive.

In our world of always on, always connected, always locatable, always available, the question must be:

Are you always productive?

…or are you using your smartphone to pass the time because you’re bored?

Does owning a smartphone make you more productive at work?  Does the fact that you’re constantly available online make for a better work life blend?  Here are 5 things to think about and consider whether you are actually productive for work -  or not

      1. If you triage your email as soon as you wake, are you really focusing on your work?  Is your home life equilibrium being compromised by the fact that you’re ‘on duty’ as soon as you get up?  How many hours of home life each week are you spending with your thoughts and activities focused on work?
      2. If you commute into work by train, do you really focus on that important business email that you’re sending via your smartphone?  Do you send an abbreviated message because you can’t face typing the full email with links etc. from your hand held device?  Do you really read that email, or do you scan it to get to the next email in the list?
      3. Do you check your social feeds from your device at home?  Do you check your social feeds in the office?  If you’re checking your email at home, then surely it’s ok to check your social feeds at work?  Does  time spent on each activity balance out 50: 50? Do your social activities interfere with your concentration at work?
      4. Do you walk along the road checking your feeds on your device?  Have you ever bumped into someone because you were distracted?  If you have a free few moments – say you’re waiting for someone, do you stand and wait, or do you check your email, or social feeds
      5. Do you limit the time you spend checking your email?  Do you work for your company 8 hours a day, 10 hours or more?  Are these hours really productive? Are you really happy with your work life balance?

Smartphones are an amazing add on to our digital life.  They are a enabler for our thirst for knowledge and the need to be connected to our contacts and friends.

But do we honestly work any more efficiently with them?  or do they just add to our ever increasing workload as we struggle to keep up? What do you think?

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: Flickr