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Social Media Use and Its Implications Within the Recruitment Marketing and Employment Industry
A Whitepaper Researched and Analyzed by Shaker Recruitment Advertising & Communications
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Author Biographies Acknowledgments I. Social Media Within the Employment Industry: External Media Introduction Social Media Users The Trust Factor Getting Started Case Studies Conclusion II. The Extension of Social Media Through Mobile Devices Overview Current Market Penetration Choice or Necessity Accessing Web Media Social Networking Migration from PC to Cell Phone Reliance on and Preference for Smart Cell Phones Early Adapters New Mobile Software Targeting Personalized Messages Continued Growth User-Generated Content and Recruitment/Retention Communications Moving Forward: Projections Social Networking and Mobile Summary
III. Internal Use of Social Media-Connecting Employees Together
3 4 6 6 8 8 9 16 18 18 18 19 19 20 21 22 24 24 25 26 28 30 30 32 33 34 35 37 37 49 50 53
Overview The Shift from Traditional to Social Platforms The Business Case for Why Employee Engagement Matters The Correlation between Employee Engagement and Internal Communications Implementing Social Media within Corporate Intranets Virtual Workplace Tools Companies Using Internal Social Media Case Studies Conclusion Footnotes Credentials for Organizations and Authors Cited Within This Whitepaper
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Mike Temkin Vice President, Strategic Planning and Development
Mike has brought the philosophy and strategies of product and business-tobusiness advertising to the recruitment advertising arena. Before joining Shaker Recruitment Advertising & Communications in 1988, Mike spent 16 years working with consumer and industrial clients on print, out-of-home, broadcast, and special event campaigns for products and services. At Shaker, Mike manages Shaker’s Integrated Media Services Department: a 20-person team devoted exclusively to non-traditional recruitment advertising, including radio, television, out-of-home, direct mail, special events, Internet, wireless and other newly emerging media. An active member of a SHRM Chapter in DuPage County, Illinois (HRA of Greater Oak Brook), he served as Vice President–Programming. He has been invited to speak at meetings for media and HR associations in regard to expanding the use of new media options for the purpose of employment advertising and talent acquisition. Mike co-presented “New Recruitment Advertising Strategies” at the Employer’s Association Conference in Central Illinois, has been quoted on recruitment advertising techniques in recent issues of The Wall Street Journal and Business Week, and has served as a guest writer in Universum Quarterly. Mike will be in Stockholm this fall to speak about New Media at an International Employer Branding Conference.
Christine A. Johnson Director, Global Client Management
Chris has nearly 14 years of experience in the recruitment advertising and employment marketing industry. She has specialized expertise within employer branding, talent acquisition strategies, retention initiatives, and global talent solutions through centralized strategy and communications. Chris provides consultative insight and guidance to senior-level human resources and marketing executives of Fortune 50 clients seeking to maximize their talent management investments. She holds a business degree from Elmhurst College, graduating summa cum laude. Chris is an active member of SHRM, SMA, and HRMAC, and business organizations such as The Executives Club of Chicago and The Conference Board. She has contributed to articles in Brandweek, Workforce Magazine, and numerous industry newsletters. She conducted a national Webinar for SHRM in August 2007 on the topic of quality of hire, and spoke at The Conference Board’s Corporate Reputation Conference in New York in September 2007— addressing how employer reputation impacts talent attraction and retention. She will co-present Webinars with Lou Adler, The Adler Group, in August and October 2008, and also co-present at a mini-summit September 2008, in Chicago. Other experience includes work in the area of municipal economic development, with the goal of attracting retail businesses to foster thriving, vibrant downtown business districts.
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Christopher Stone Director, Business Strategy—Integrated Media Services
Chris joined Shaker's Integrated Media Services Department in 2002 as a Media Strategist and was promoted to Director in 2007. Prior to joining Shaker, Chris worked for the Chicago Tribune. He has over 10 years of experience in the recruitment advertising industry. Chris has become an expert in a variety of disciplines by creating, negotiating, and managing online strategies for some of the agency's largest clients in retail, health care, biotechnology, commercial real estate, and engineering, as examples. His in-depth knowledge of digital advertising and new emerging media contributes to his ability to analyze and recommend strategies that provide both short- and long-term talent solutions to clients’ direct response and employment branding needs. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Chris has been invited to speak at meetings for HR associations, including as a featured speaker in autumn 2008 on a national Webinar hosted by Yahoo! Hot Jobs.
The authors would like to acknowledge these following individuals. Without their hard work and dedication, this whitepaper would not have been possible. Michele Golembiewski Carol Horalek Laura Maroon Patti Murphy Jessica Peterson Lore Rizzo John Tannheimer Tracy Wascoe
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I. Social Media Within the Employment Industry: External Media
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Social media—also referred to as Web 2.0—describes online platforms and technologies that allow people to interact, collaborate, share information, and publish content on the Web in a simple, userfriendly way. Examples of social media include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, podcasting, videocasting, and RSS feeds, to name a few. The year of 2008 is another one of increased visibility for social media as use transitions from a novelty to a part of mainstream culture. Social networking sites continue to see significant growth in traffic, while advertisers allocate higher percentages of their marketing budgets toward capturing the attention of those site visitors. The space also has become more crowded as the success of category giants MySpace and Facebook, has opened the door for long-tail niche social networks to emerge. The acceptance of OpenSocial and Facebook platforms has led to the proliferation of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) by third parties into the space. Even now, amidst an economic recession, the momentum has continued. Even mainstream recruitment advertising Web sites have started to incorporate social media as part of their product offerings. In January 2008, Monster Worldwide announced that it had acquired Affinity Labs, a network of vertical community sites, for approximately $61 million. More recently, CareerBuilder, like Jobster before it, announced strategic partnerships with Facebook. Job aggregator Simply Hired has created applications on MySpace and Facebook that can be customized into widgets on individuals' profile pages or desktops. Yet despite the growth and adoption, in the minds of human resources professionals, the question still remains: Can the use of social media positively impact an organization’s recruitment marketing efforts? The union of social media and recruitment advertising can best be classified as being in its infancy stages. As such, metrics detailing the performance of recruitment campaigns in social media are not readily available. Therefore, the first question for innovative organizations to answer is whether making a commitment to social media is the right decision for them in creating/maintaining their desired image.
Social Media Users
Social networking sites are good barometers for the overall interest level in social media, as they are the most common form. The number of year-over-year unique visitors at the top 10 social networking sites increased by 26 percent.1 Included in that list are MySpace (7 percent increase), Facebook (83 percent), and LinkedIn (146 percent). While the tipping point has long since passed, growth has not yet leveled off at many of the top sites. MySpace’s seemingly stagnant growth still equates to an increase of over 4 million unique visitors. At the same time, LinkedIn is currently reporting growth of over 1 million members each month.
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However, most employers today do not make advertising decisions based solely on quantitative measures. For social media to be a viable option for recruitment marketing, it must be demonstrated that users are in line with any given organization’s target audience. One common perception is that social media should only be considered if an employer is looking to attract members of Generation Y, or Millennials. However, while recent studies show Millennials as being the most engaged generation, they represent only a percentage of overall social media users. Market research firm eMarketer projects that 44 percent of U.S. consumers will use social networking tools at least once a month in 2008.2 A recent Deloitte study on media usage corroborates that projection while detailing the usage of social media by generation.
According to Deloitte, Millennials are clearly leading the way in the creation of usergenerated content. 70% of Millennials indicated that they create personal content for others to see frequently/occasionally in any given week. Generation X was a distant second, albeit at a significant rate of 48 percent. Baby Boomers came in at 33 percent, while Matures (ages 61–75) rounded out the survey at 17 percent.3
However, social media users consist of more than individuals who create user-generated content. In the social media world, there is a generally accepted theory known as the 1:10:89 Rule. The rule is comparable to the Pareto Principle (a.k.a., the 80/20 rule) in business, focusing on the vital few. The 1:10:89 Rule states that in a group of 100 Internet users, 1 person will create content, 10 will interact with it (comment or offer improvements), and 89 will just view it. If this theory is indeed accurate, there should be a large group from each of the aforementioned generations that “use” social media in a different capacity than creating user-generated content. The Deloitte study furthers the 1:10:89 Rule to a certain extent, although the percentage increases are not in line with the theories. Overall, 54 percent of individuals indicate that they socialize via social networking sites, chat rooms or message boards; 45 percent indicated that they maintain a profile on a social networking site.4 Once again, Millennials led the way in both categories, with 78 percent indicating they socialize on social networking sites, and 71 percent saying they maintain a profile on a social networking site. Not surprising, Generation X followed—at 60 percent and 51 percent, respectively. Baby Boomers were at 38 percent and 30 percent; Matures reported 23 percent and 10 percent.5 The common perception that social media use is strictly for Generation Y should be reevaluated. While social media may not have deeply penetrated the entire spectrum of the U.S. population, the above figures suggest that organizations need to make sure their decision making is done in the proper context.
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The Trust Factor
Another aspect to be considered when contemplating social media is the trust factor. The trust factor represents the maximum potential reward in social media. It is a basic marketing principle that word of mouth is one of the most effective forms of advertising. The viral nature of social media makes this comparison worth evaluating. The endorsement of a product or organization from a perceived trusted source is one of the best ways to generate interest and “conversions” within an organization. In fact, in a recent study, a recommendation from another individual was listed as the number 1 source for driving individuals to visit Web sites.6 Human resource professionals need not look further than their own employee referral programs to see this phenomenon in action. This conclusion is substantiated in other notable studies conducted where individuals turn to perceived like-minded individuals or other “users” to gain information insight into a company or product. An annual survey conducted by the Edelman public relations firm reports that “a person like me” is the most trusted form of peer-to-peer communication (58 percent). Communication that comes from a “regular employee of a company” came in at 38 percent.7 A similar study conducted by Marketing Sherpa research firm reports that nearly 83.8 percent of individuals trust user reviews over a critic. If that user review is from a friend, the number increases to 86.9 percent.8 Social media is viral by nature. The ability to interact with potential job seekers in a transparent way— and the possibility of those individuals directing even more individuals to your message—will help to build loyalty and trust concerning a company's brand, from consumer and employment perspectives.
In the absence of metrics and published best practices, the only way for an interested company to get the additional answers it seeks is to make an organizational commitment to enter the social media space. The question then becomes how to put its proverbial best foot forward.
The social media space is one with inherent risks. A campaign that is either poorly planned or executed can result in public backlash. One of the allures of social media from a job seeker standpoint is that it allows individuals to get an inside look at an organization. In these cases, transparency is a must. If the communications used are deemed to be staged or disingenuous, the campaign will be unsuccessful.
While each organization is unique, and the success of one company in social media doesn’t guarantee the same for another, a review of those currently in the space is a good starting point. The following
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examples show how some companies have incorporated social media into their recruitment efforts.
Accenture Multiple Venues Visitors to the Accenture.com home page find themselves one clear click away from accessing the company's blogs and RSS and podcasts pages. Blogs As of August 2008, there are nine Accenture blogs located on the company's servers—four under the category of Careers: Experienced Consultants Blog, Consulting Analyst Video Blog, Graduate Careers in Consulting Blog, and Graduate Careers in Outsourcing Blog. The Experienced Consultants Blog is maintained by several consultants located in Australia. Graduate Careers in Consulting is updated somewhat regularly by a single individual based out of the U.K. The Graduate Careers in Outsourcing Blog is updated two to three times per month by another individual in the U.K. There also is a Recruiters Blog, co-written by a pair of senior recruiters, but it is not updated often. The Consulting Analyst Video Blog (or Vlog) consists of video entries from a pair of Accenture analysts based out of Seattle. Updated one to two times per month, the Vlog features individuals speaking about their experiences while working at Accenture. Viewers can sign up to receive RSS feeds and bookmark blogs, using social bookmarking sites, such as Digg. Podcasts Augmenting Accenture's blogs are podcasts, including the Employee Podcast series. This series consists of seven episodes, each on a different topic. For example, one employee podcast focuses on the role of the Consulting Analyst, and the work experiences of three specific employees. The original Accenture Employee Podcast features the company's Chief Technology Officer, who speaks to the future of information technology and related career opportunities. Listeners can subscribe to receive RSS feeds on the Employee Podcast series.
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Second Life While blogs and podcasts are common forms of social media, virtual worlds are still considered experimental—especially in the recruitment arena. As such, Accenture’s decision to create a Careers Island in the virtual world Second Life can be characterized as an experimental one. Accenture created a virtual island where job seekers can visit— 24 hours a day—Accenture “offices” to learn more about career opportunities. Accenture recruiters “work” in the virtual world—serving on standby to answer job seeker questions, and to interview candidates on the spot via an Internet chat session. The Careers Island also has a virtual amphitheater where Accenture might hold recruitment events within the virtual world. Alumni Microsite In 2001, Accenture effectively employed the concept of social networking when it created a microsite for its former employees. With more than 100,000 Accenture alumni worldwide, Accenture uses this site to communicate with previous employees and provide a forum for former colleagues to reconnect. And, to further attract boomerang employees, Accenture also conveniently lists job openings on this site. Deloitte Video Sharing The Deloitte Film Festival initiative invited Deloitte employees to express themselves creatively on behalf of the company. All employees of U.S. Deloitte firms were given the opportunity to create short videos that attempt to answer the question, “What's your Deloitte?” Employees could divide into small groups and create pieces showcasing their lives and experiences while working at Deloitte. The 370+ videos submitted were placed on an internal video sharing site, where a small group of appointed Deloitte judges determined the finalists. Once the judges had selected the finalists, Deloitte employees chose the winners. The winning videos were posted on YouTube—as part of the DeloitteFilmFest channel—and are accessible through the company's Careers home page to aid in recruitment efforts.
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The 15 videos currently posted on the DeloitteFilmFest channel on YouTube have received over 71,000 combined views since the channel was created in September 2007. The channel itself has been viewed over 21,000 times. The Deloitte Film Festival is an excellent example of how internal-facing can be combined with external-facing social media, as a powerful recruitment and retention tool. Internally, Deloitte established a video sharing site, where only Deloitte employees could view and rate the videos. Externally, YouTube extended the reach of the film festival campaign. Ernst & Young Facebook Ernst & Young's foray into Facebook is one of the earliest— and most talked about—uses of social networking sites for recruitment purposes. Ernst & Young (E&Y) created a group on Facebook geared toward college recruitment. The sponsored group allowed E&Y to create a page with a branded look and feel—and without the presence of non-E&Y content and advertising. Sponsored groups on Facebook also come with a fixed number of advertising impressions, which companies can use to push out messaging to desired candidates using various targeting criteria. The E&Y Facebook group serves as a quasi-microsite for the firm to inform current students about internships and full-time openings. E&Y delivers this message through an assortment of vehicles, from videos detailing desirable skills to discussion forums where students can ask questions and receive answers from E&Y personnel. Other content areas of the Facebook group to note include an Intern Experience section, where students can read quotes from E&Y interns; a Press Center, where E&Y can list third-party awards or articles in which the company is mentioned; a Weekly Poll, where E&Y can ask students about their opinions on a variety of topics; and a Key Questions area, where students can read answers to FAQs. The Facebook page contains links to E&Y’s home page, as well as the Careers entry page for students interested in U.S. and Canadian job openings. Since its launch in early 2007, more than 16,150 Facebook members have connected with the group by opting to become “friends” with E&Y. This Facebook example shows how Ernst & Young has used one of the largest social networking sites—and the most popular individual Internet site among male and female college students, according to YouthTrends—to inform individuals about its career opportunities.
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Google Video Sharing Clearly, Google perceives there to be significant value in social media. If that perception wasn't already obvious from their own use of social media in recruiting, the acquisitions of such social media companies as YouTube and FeedBurner are solid indicators. In addition to the Official Google Blog, which covers a variety of topics (including the “Recruiting and Hiring” and “Googlers and Culture” categories) for its more than 452,000 subscribers, Google also has a sizable video presence on its YouTube property. When it launched a video on YouTube in early 2005, Google was one of the first companies to embrace the use of video in its recruitment efforts. The video depicted a Google engineer interviewing other Google employees about why the company was a great place to work. Today, Google has taken that concept and expanded it considerably. The Google channel on YouTube consists of 700 videos. From the channel, YouTube visitors can drill down to videos on certain topics by viewing the playlists. One of the playlists is “Life at Google”—which, its description states, features “Videos about what it's like to work at Google.” There are currently 27 videos in the category, ranging from general pieces to videos about working at specific locations or in specific roles. The number of times the videos have been watched ranges from 3,200 to over 475,000 views. There also is a Life at Google channel on YouTube, which has the 27 career-related videos, along with an additional 121 videos that showcase other aspects of the company culture. Microsoft Multiple Venues Microsoft is one organization appears to have wholeheartedly incorporated social media as an integral part of its recruiting program. From blogging to social networking sites to video sharing, Microsoft has employed a host of social media tools— not only to recruit and educate potential candidates, but also to engage current employees.
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Blog Microsoft's Jobs Blog, created in 2004, now features seven recruiters who contribute on a very regular basis. Its wide variety of content ranges from the posting and answering of common job seeker questions (e.g., working and interviewing at Microsoft), to more lighthearted content that reveals the recruiter personalities. New posts are created nearly every day by one recruiter or another. The blog enables open conversations among recruiters and job seekers; for example, several entries have prompted readers to post more than 10 comments in response to written content. Facebook In addition to being accessible from the Microsoft Careers site, the Jobs Blog also can be accessed—in one click—from Facebook. Created in 2007, the “Workin’ It at Microsoft” group serves as a community site where individuals can learn about Microsoft careers (the group as of 2008 has over 2,000 fans). The site lists RSS feeds for Microsoft careers-related blogs, and allows Facebook users to interact on various topics via the Discussion Board, and by leaving comments. There also are prominent links to the Microsoft Careers Website, the Jobs Blog, and the View My World microsite. Microsite Geared toward individuals interested in technical positions with Microsoft, the View My World microsite incorporates several types of media—to give job seekers an inside look at what working in a technology role would be like at Microsoft. The site also can be viewed as a central repository for all social media that Microsoft disseminates. The View My World home page features links to videos of round-table discussions, along with written testimonials from current employees explaining why they feel Microsoft is a great place to work. The videos also are hosted on MSN Video, and YouTube as part of the Microsoft View My World channel. In addition, a “Why” button brings up a page of 11 reasons why someone should consider a career at Microsoft—from the culture, to networking to making an impact on the world. The site contains links to all 60 Microsoft blogs—including the Jobs Blog—with descriptions. For viral impact, a click on a “Share this page” link on the right-hand rail opens an Outlook (or default e-mail application) message with the subject line, “So this is what it's really like at Microsoft.” A “Search Jobs” button takes users to the Microsoft careers site to search and apply. The Microsoft example shows how a company might incorporate into its recruitment initiatives several different social media, each carrying its own degree of risk.
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Sodexo Multiple Venues Like Microsoft, Sodexo employs several social media for its recruitment efforts. The food service and facilities management company uses blogging, video sharing social/professional networking, and widgets to attract candidates. Blog The Sodexo Careers Blog entwines information about Sodexo with other, lighthearted content. In 2008, the blog has been updated regularly, usually three to four times per week. One difference between this blog and the Microsoft Jobs Blog is the number of comments that readers leave. Most of the posts receive no comments—although others receive one or two; whereas Microsoft consistently receives five to seven comments per post. The blog also clearly directs visitors via links to the company's other social media tools. Social and Professional Networking Sites Sodexo uses social and professional networking sites to attract job seekers. Like Microsoft, Sodexo has a group on Facebook with more than 250 fans. The group is primarily utilized as a Press Center, where the company posts facts concerning the organization and accolades it has received. Like the blog, the Facebook page doesn't feature much interactivity on the part of the group's visitors. From a professional networking standpoint, Sodexo has created a “Sodexo Careers—Past, Present and Future” group on LinkedIn in order to connect with current, former, and prospective employees. Video Like Deloitte and Microsoft, Sodexo has created a channel on YouTube, where job seekers can view videos about job opportunities and culture. The “Sodexo Careers” channel in 2008 lists 19 videos—including the “Intern Video” and a video about the company's mentor program. Overall, the channel has 864 views since its inception in January 2008. Widgets Sodexo has differentiated itself within the social media space by joining a minority group of companies that have created a job search widget. Job seekers can download the widget from Yahoo! for placement on their computer desktop. The widget, which has been downloaded by nearly 750 individuals, can be customized to display Sodexo positions in a user’s desired geographic area as they are posted. This saves the user the time of having to go to the site repeatedly to stay up to date on current opportunities.
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U.S. Army MySpace The U.S. Army uses the largest social networking site for recruitment, though that is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of recruitment advertising. The U.S. Army's page on MySpace serves as an informational resource for people interested in keeping informed about the Army, as well as for individuals who might be interested in joining the Army. The content on the page ranges from educational to entertainment, as the Army provides various levels of interactivity. Examples of prominent content on the site include the “Army Strong” recruitment videos; an “Ask A Soldier” Discussion Board, where site visitors can ask soldiers questions about a variety of topics; “Ask Sgt. Star,” a virtual guide to the goarmy.com site; the “America's Army” PC game, which has over 7.5 million registered users; and an area where visitors can apply online at goarmy.com. The page also has a widget that lists all new stories and information that have been posted on the www.goarmy.com main Web site. Over 78,500 individuals have signed on as “friends” of the MySpace page.
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There are countless other companies that have utilized social media for recruitment purposes. The Central Intelligence Agency, Sun Microsystems, and McDonalds are just a few other big, recognizable names that have dipped their toes in the social media water. These examples were chosen because they show a wide range of possible uses of social media. While the organizations profiled all fall into the category of larger companies, many of these examples can be executed by companies of all sizes. The advances in technology have lowered the barriers for entry into the social media space.
However, the question still remains: Can the use of social media positively impact an organization’s recruitment marketing efforts?
These examples certainly show how some companies have attempted to answer that question. While the efforts of others may provide a compelling case to get started immediately, caution should be exercised. A company should not venture into social media just to say they have done it. Basing a decision on that reasoning alone will set that company up for failure. Any organization considering social media should first determine 1. what it hopes to achieve by entering the space, and 2. how it would define success. Will success only be determined by hires as a direct result of the use of social media? Or will the creation of buzz or awareness, increased employee retention, or differentiation from direct and indirect competitors be considered success? Once a company decides that the incorporation of social media will help accomplish its recruitment goals and objectives, and has determined how success will be defined, the next task is deciding how to go about it. Organizations like Microsoft and Accenture likely didn't decide to utilize all of the various social media they employ all at once. More likely, they chose one component and tested it, measured the results, and then moved on to the next one. There is no shortage of opportunities or venues in the social media space, and that doesn't look to be changing any time soon. The use and adoption of social media is increasing every year. As Baby Boomers enter the twilight of their careers, companies will be scrambling to replace them from a talent pool consisting primarily of members of Generation X and Millennials. These generations have not only accepted social media, but, in many cases, they have embraced it—and incorporate its use as a valued part of their daily lives.
The question seemingly becomes not so much about whether companies should utilize social media as part of their recruitment efforts—but, rather, can companies afford not to at least begin experimenting with social media.
At some point in the very near future, it may be a necessity to have these types of recruitment components in place to attract top talent. Many industry-leading companies have already taken the steps to ensure that they understand the space. Will having to overcome a learning curve at that time put a reactive organization at a competitive disadvantage?
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II. The Extension of Social Media Through Mobile Devices
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The desktop Internet is evolving into the mobile Internet, and the social and/or business networking format will become more responsive to user expectations and advertiser objectives as it continues to migrate from computers to cell phones. Mobile networking sites are projected to see a substantial rise in users in coming years as more and more people become adapted to accessing content via their mobile phones.9
Though the technology of mobile advertising is closely related to online or Internet advertising as distributed through computers, the potential reach of online advertising distributed through mobile smartphones could possibly, within the foreseeable future, surpass the reach currently available through desktops and laptop computers. In 2007, there were an estimated 3.3 billion cell phone subscribers worldwide with a projected increase to 4 billion by the end of 2008. The estimated global total for desktop and laptop computers now stands at 800 million. The ownership of smartphones will surpass the total number of computer owners, thereby penetrating a broader socioeconomic base of users.10
Current Market Penetration
Today, a consistently increasing number of people are not only using their portable communication devices for voice and texting, but also for accessing the Internet. Claus Mortensen, digital marketplace and new media principal at International Data Corp (IDC), cited the ever-changing digital marketplace, where new Internet-based business models are starting to replace the traditional ones. “Now, mobiles phones are used to view websites and transact business,” Mortensen says. Therefore, it is important that mobile phones be able to provide rich content as well.”11 Indeed, it's the cell phone, rather than the personal computer, that is the constant companion for Americans of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. Individuals do not need to wait until they get home or to an office to log onto a computer to communicate with friends or access information from companies from which they have opted-in to receive information. Internet users are adapting to the process of using a network-friendly cell phone to respond to messages, share pictures, or send videos—instantaneously. “You can use [the mobile application] in this two- or three-minute gap while waiting for a train,” says Kakul Srivastava, Product Manager for photo-sharing site Flickr, which is owned by Yahoo! and allows for mobile picture posting. “People are out there, living their lives. They are not sitting in front of the computer.”12
Choice or Necessity
In some cases, the need for mobile access to the Internet may be a necessity. Users in rural areas can benefit from mobile if they do not have access to traditional broadband Internet where they live.13
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In rural areas, low-cost fixed wireless networks bringing Internet access—along with Voice-overInternet telephony to phones and other devices in areas too sparsely populated to support conventional cellular networks—are superior solutions for meeting communication needs in underserviced areas. The addition of a WiFi (wireless network) chip to a mobile phone allows access to such rural networks—and costs only a few dollars.14 In other cases, the increased use of mobile Internet access may be by choice, especially with social networking sites. For instance, if an employer blocks access to Facebook or other networking sites, individuals may choose to browse the social networking sites on their phone—just as some individuals choose to access recruitment sites on mobile units because they don’t want their employers to know that they are looking at recruitment sites, or because the employer blocks job boards and other careerrelated sites on its computer network.15 In some cases, a mobile Internet device may be more affordable than a desktop or laptop computer. Not only are phones less expensive than computers, but they also are relatively easy to master, generally requiring little to no sophisticated technical support. And as voice-based devices, they pose no literacy barrier.16 Frederick Ghahramani, co-founder of AirG, which manages social networking communities on Sprint Nextel, AT&T, Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile, and other carriers, says 59 percent of its 20 million unique users around the world don't own or share a PC.17
Accessing Web Media
As the Internet has evolved—an evolution prompted in part by new Web 2.0 technologies—it has become a more widespread platform for interaction, communication and activism. Consumers increasingly want to engage online with one another and with organizations of all kinds.18 Regardless of whether they are static or mobile, Web media will maximize the ability to process interactive two-way communication—thereby introducing a new phase of interactive advertising with mobile devices outgrowing the limitations of voice-intensive cell phones by transitioning to PDAs (personal data assistant or handheld computer) and smartphones (mobile phones with advanced features such as personal digital assistant, email, and Internet) and eventually the equivalent of a multimedia Web browser and/or hand-held computer terminal. While smartphones are still the only mobile devices that really touch the Web, the industry is moving in the direction of ubiquitous, everpresent, always-on mobile Internet.
Social Networking Migration from PC to Cell Phone
Social and business networking, videos, mobile TV, email, and instant messaging are fast becoming a major part of the mobile digital lifestyle.19 Stephen Johnson, Senior Manager for the Corporate Strategy Group at Nokia, said in July 2007 at the Mobile Social Networking Conference, “In the future, the phone will do everything. Social networking is itself becoming more mobile-friendly but we’ve got a lot to do to take the Web and make it accessible for mobile. Users want their mobile phones to replace any and all of their electronics at once, which means that the manufacturers have to make sure the phones are capable, while developers make sure that their applications are universally accessible.”20
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Mark Curtis of flirtomatic, the UK's largest mobile social network. says “social networking is becoming a Meta layer above both Web and Mobile. Mobile devices are primarily for communication and the social network facilitates that communication—in simplest terms—‘connecting people.’ Everything else is a means to that end. Thus the social network should seamlessly span the Web and the Mobile Web and could be the main point of interaction with the customer—and also for advertisers.” 21 The market research company Informa Telecoms and Media said in a February 2008 report that, as of December 31, 2007, about 50 million people, or about 2.3 percent of all mobile users, already use cell phones for social networking, from chat services to multimedia sharing.22 Jill Aldort of the Yankee Group says 8 percent of adult mobile phone owners in the U.S. regularly access mobile social-networking services and predicts that figure to rise to 20 percent in 2011.23 Nevertheless, a market share of that size will be served. Ms. Aldort said that “Virtually every online social network application is going to have a mobile component over the next year or two.”24 About 45 percent of active Web users have been to online social networking sites through a PC, according to a recent study by Nielsen/NetRatings. As MySpace expands beyond its core market of teens and young adults, “We expect penetration of MySpace mobile to match penetration of cell phones,” which are owned by 80 percent of Americans, says Colin Digiaro, Senior Vice-President of sales at MySpace.25 With only low investments from mobile network operators, the growth in users and community registrations will continue at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 30 to 50 percent, depending on the type of community and the region. By 2012, there will be between 12.5 percent penetration of mobile social networks among mobile users globally in the most conservative scenario, approximately 23 percent in the high-growth scenario, according to the report from Informa Telecoms and Media.26 According to projections released by Pyramid Research in their report “Social Networking Goes Mobile,” the number of consumers worldwide using their mobile phones to access social networks will more than triple from 2010 to 2012.27
Reliance on and Preference for Smart Cell Phones
A March 2008 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project documents a growing trend: Consumers are increasingly relying on mobile technologies (cell phones, smartphones, PDAs, etc.) to stay connected on the go. Americans now list their cell phones as the most difficult technology to give up. At the same time, the percentage of consumers saying they would have a hard time giving up their BlackBerry PDA or other wireless e-mail device has increased six-fold in the last five years, from 6 percent of American adults in 2002 to 36 percent in 2007. This data indicates that Americans want the freedom to access the Internet anywhere and at any time, and technology is currently evolving to meet this demand.28 Advertising on mobile phones has huge potential to connect brands with potential candidates at any time of the day and within a specific location and when they are difficult to reach through other media, but a majority of Internet media experts agree the messaging should be “creative, relevant and nonintrusive.” Research indicates that users “are happy to interact with brands in this most personal
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of spaces if they get something in return which is specific to them,” says Lysa Hardy, European head of Internet on mobile and entertainment for T-Mobile. “Consumers have a really personal attachment to the mobile device in their pocket, so advertisers can't interfere with that relationship,” she says. “Building trust, being sensitive to privacy issues and treating mobile audiences with respect is vital, as is creating tailored, relevant content.”29 Shaker Advertising & Communications believes the same respect given by advertisers to consumers should be offered by prospective employers to potential job candidates when communicating through the use of mobile devices. The cell phone is the most personal device that people own, and, therefore, like a phone call, the cell phone—through audio, video, graphics, animation, or text—is the most personal place a recruitment advertiser can reach a prospective candidate. Jordy Mont-Reynaud, Director of Mobile Initiatives for social networking site Bebo, says, “Right now people are looking at their networks on the Web but they don’t really care about the Web. They only care about accessing their networks. When we get mobile ready for them, they’ll use their social networks over SMS, MMS or WAP.” 30 At the Mobile Social Networking Conference held in July 2007, participants agreed. “The bottom line is that the mobile experience has to look as close as possible to the PC experience.”31
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project Report, cell phone users in general represent a diverse group. Groups such as older Americans and minorities experience statistically significant differences between their cell phone and Internet usage. For example, while 50 percent of Americans age 65 and older use a cell phone, only 37 percent of this age bracket uses the Internet. As the market for Internet-friendly cell phones expands over the next several years and the price of these devices subsequently decreases in response to supply and demand, there possibly may be a corresponding decrease in the gap between usage levels and various demographic groups.32 Consumer behavior shifts are already occurring in the countries with high mobile penetration than the United States. In Spain, 75 percent of mobile phone owners receive ads; in France, 62 percent; and in Japan, 54 percent. Furthermore, as mobile advertising matures, interactivity increases with user involvement also increases. In Japan today, already 44 percent of mobile phone owners click on ads they receive on their phones.33 Social networking is a practical extension of SMS activity, and currently used by about 150 million Americans, Therefore, social networking–based interactivity is a practical candidate to consider for major media migration from computer access to mobile phone access.34 “Cell phones are fast becoming an inseparable extension of teens and young adults today; using text to reach each other on their phones is an important form of social communication,” says Vikrant Gandhi, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan Inc., in a statement.35
Teenagers, at this point, are the early-adapters who want social media to be always-on and always available; not necessarily practical with desktop or even laptop computers, but made possible by mobile devices.36
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A BBC news article of August 2006 indicated a “[Y]oung drive 'radical media shift,'" pointing to a fast shift away from the traditional media. “They are leaving the traditional media and moving toward new media. This generation has grown up with new technologies—and it is this generation for whom the uptake is instinctive.”37 The demand for mobile social networking, while not necessarily universal in the U.S., is strong among some specific geographic and demographic groups. U.S. teens appear primed for mobile social networking, according to data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project released in December 2007. Nearly 500 social network-using respondents in that study said that mobile phones were their main means of daily communication. That would appear to make social networking by mobile phone a possible success with U.S teens.38 According to research from Ipsos Mori commissioned by T-Mobile, over a third of 16-to-34-year-olds who own a mobile phone are happy to receive mobile advertising in return for free content such as music, games, or video. Analysts expect that number to be higher among the younger members of the age group. More than half of the same 16-to-34 age range said they would be happy to receive local area information based on their own needs, and almost half of those that had experienced mobile advertising said they would be happy to interact again, in return for free content.39 Pew also reported in another December 2007 study that 62 percent of all Americans are part of a wireless, mobile population that participates in digital activities away from home or work. Not only are young people attuned to this kind of access, African-Americans and English-speaking Latinos are more likely than white Americans to use non-voice data applications on their cell phones.40 Social networks have generated tens of millions of members on the Internet. Now established, wellknown social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster—along with new start-ups such as Itsmy.com—are competing for duplicated users (from the Internet) as well as for new, unique users on cell phones. Additionally, AOL, Yahoo! and Nokia have initiatives to create discrete communities out of cell phone users.41 Teen interest in accessing Facebook or MySpace by phone will likely grow through at least 2011, when, eMarketer predicts, more than 8 out of 10 online teens will be social networking.42
New Mobile Software
Established Internet-related companies have responded to the current usage and the anticipated increase in demand. In March 2008, Google announced it has reached a “watershed moment in terms of mobile Internet usage.” This announcement occurred in conjunction with the introduction of new mobile software that places a Google search window on the home screen of phones running Windows mobile software. According to Google, past versions of their search software have increased the speed of mobile searches by up to 40 percent in recent months, spurring more users online. Google says the introduction of the iPhone last summer also has played a major role in the increase of mobile Web searching. Apple still stands behind its prediction of 10 million iPhones sold by year-end 2008, and Google says iPhone users perform as much as 50 times more Web searches on their iPhones than standard cell phone users.
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Meanwhile, Microsoft plans to focus solely on the mobile operating system market, predicting its license sales to top 20 million by the end of its fiscal year in June. In March 2008, Microsoft announced that it expects Windows mobile sales to outpace the sale of total smartphones over the next few years, with Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Palm already offering devices running Microsoft's mobile operating system. The addition of Google's latest software should make Windows Mobile even more attractive to users. Both Facebook and MySpace have been increasing the availability of their mobile versions recently. Facebook is available on mobile phones in the U.S. through the AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint/Nextel networks, with users able to update their profiles and check on their friends.43 Additionally, in fall 2007, Facebook unveiled a mobile platform to encourage its 80,000 developers to extend applications to phones. It also teamed with Research in Motion to put its service on BlackBerry smartphones—reaching, as of 2008, 1 million Facebook users. People can tag and upload photos and send Facebook invitations from their BlackBerry's address book.44, 45 Versions of MySpace are also on AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. T-Mobile reported that 85 percent of the Web page views on its youth-oriented Sidekick devices went to MySpace.46 One example of enhanced mobile phone software came from Yahoo!—when it announced it was upgrading its OneSearch product to allow for voice-activated queries and the ability to provide more varied information in results. The new version enables Web publishers to integrate the search program into their mobile sites, as they do with personal computer Web pages.47 With Yahoo! OneSearch 2.0, search results will expand from traditional hyperlinks into other media; for example, a search for “Minneapolis” could bring up a variety of information—including bus schedules from the local transportation authority, choice of restaurants from the chamber of commerce, or a listing of local job openings from a partnering job board. And a search for the name of a friend could provide links to the social networking sites that the friend uses.48 Yahoo! is challenging the search leader, Google, and Microsoft in the mobile Internet market. While Yahoo! trails in computer search queries, it has the most popular mobile applications.49 After months of speculation about a Google Phone, Google in fall 2007 showcased Android, an open platform for mobile devices that may well spur social applications. It came days after the release of OpenSocial, in which Google teamed with MySpace, LinkedIn, and other social networks on a platform to spread social software applications across cyberspace. Google already owns Dodgeball.com, which keeps cell phone users in touch with friends in the same location. It also bought Jaiku and another start-up, Zingku, which lets people send “mobile fliers” and pictures to trusted friends.50 On April 2, 2008, Frengo Corp. announced the availability of its OpenSocial Mobile Toolkit, which expands on the capabilities of the company's mobile toolkit for Facebook and MySpace as well as other social networks, including Bebo and Orkut. Developers can use the new tool to upgrade applications running on several social networks to support mobile devices. Frengo said the new offering can provide applications to more than 1 billion cell phones worldwide because of its support for all major U.S. telecommunications carriers and a majority of global mobile carriers.
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The OpenSocial Toolkit includes Short Messaging System alerts and notifications, along with mobile Web services for Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) site hosting, handset recognition, and transcoding—which makes it easy for developers to extend Web applications to mobile devices. The tool set also provides the extended applications with an intuitive user experience, according to Frengo. For example, a consumer receives the following text message: “Your friend Eric just sent you a message. Click here to see more.” When the recipient clicks on the message containing a URL, he is sent to a WAP site, where the message can be seen and responded to easily.51
Targeting Personalized Messages
Social networking on computers has created a valuable means of creating a personalized approach to distributing standard and customized advertising messages. On a mobile platform, advertisers can benefit by incorporating real-time on this established form of two-way media. In addition, cell phones are used by one individual, while some computers are used by more than one person; therefore, the cell phone can be identified by the specific user by name, age, gender, location, and other data. The combination of personalized networking sites (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube) with the intimacy of access via one’s own phone offers employment advertisers a valuable opportunity to secure and maintain interactive relationships with prospective candidates. Companies will be able to utilize a position-based marketing platform that can use information such as the mobile user’s current location and preferences to serve very relevant advertisements.52 In many respects, mobile is a natural extension of the PC social-networking experience. Phones provide immediacy not typically possible on a PC. “I think it's going to be more pre-emptive, more spontaneous,” says Padmasree Warrior, Motorola's (MOT) Chief Technology Officer.53 The movement of user-generated content—that is, content (such as videos and blogs) created by prospective applicants, rather than by media organizations—onto mobile phones is expected to rise more than tenfold over the next five years, according to estimates by Juniper Research. And part of the content will be related to education, careers, professional achievements and aspirations, and prospective job opportunities. “One of the most attractive elements of social networking on a mobile phone is that it's universally accessible so people can look up their friends, update their status or whatever on the move, which for the young demographic is particularly appealing,” according to Dr. Windsor Holden, author of the Juniper Research report of Social Networking and Mobile Devices.54, 55
Social networking has become one of the fastest-growing Internet trends of the past two years. According to Internet metrics firm Comscore, Facebook saw users increase 270 percent from June 2006 to June 2007 to more than 52 million users worldwide. MySpace registered lower growth of 72 percent, but still leads the market with 114 million users. Bebo, with a majority of users in Europe, grew 172 percent to more than 18 million users.56
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Facebook co-founder, Dustin Moskovitz, says its mobile user base is growing faster than the website. “Things that are inherently social are inherently mobile,” said Moskovitz. As of the end of October 2007, Facebook's 4 million distinct active users across its mobile lineup generated more than 300 million page views.57
Further research by Comscore shows that people who are already experimenting with the Internet on a mobile phone are younger than users who access the Web only on a computer. In Britain, more than 25 percent of mobile Internet users are aged 15 to 24, compared with 20 percent who go online using a computer; a further 41 percent of mobile Internet users are 25 to 34, compared with less than 20 percent using a computer.58 Smartphones will become more available with higher market share as prices decrease for entry-level enhanced cell phones. The use of smartphones for Web browsing will increase as pricing models change including the use of advertiser-supported service and as technology allows for easier, faster access. Mobile carriers will offer free or less expensive rate plans in exchange for viewing SMS (Simple Message Service Protocol) or other mobile ads. With the current software that is available, interactions within mobile social networks are not limited to exchanging simple text messages on a 1to-1 basis (SMS); but with advances in software technology, sophisticated interactions are becoming possible—creating mobile virtual communities. Manufacturers also are addressing the limitations of battery life and safety issues, as well as consumer preferences and priorities. The ongoing trend of convergence leads to the possibility beyond smartphones to marketing all-in-one dashtop (wireless mobile devices mounted on vehicle dashboards) mobile devices incorporating Global Positioning Systems (GPS) navigators, satellite radios, MP3 players, mobile TV, mobile Internet, MVEDR (Motor Vehicle Event Data Recorder, much like a vehicle “black box”), driving safety monitors, smartphones, and even video games that can possibly be used in a motorized vehicle or portable device, carried in a pocket or purse.59 In addition, cell phones offer other capabilities PCs lack. For example, Dodgeball is working to allow users to see an up-to-date map of friends' locations, collected through the GPS available in most phones.60
User-Generated Content and Recruitment/Retention Communications
This shift to a user-centric approach was noted at the 96th Annual Conference of Association of National Advertisers in 2006, which described “a need to replace decades worth of top-down marketing tactics with bottom-up, grass-roots approaches.”61 In many mobile social networks, users can now create their own profiles, make friends, participate in chat rooms, create chat rooms, hold private conversations, share photos and videos, and share blogs by using their mobile phone—in addition to or instead of their computer. This sharing of information will include text, photos, and video related to their place of employment, their career; and it will enable them to connect with individuals at their current employer, as well as contact past and potential employers.
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Moving Forward: Projections
At the wireless industry's CTIA (International Association for the Wireless Communications Industry) trade show (April 1–3, 2008), the news was all about the mobile Web, which, Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin said in a keynote address, “will shape the future development of the industry and change who the successful companies are going to be. The mobile Internet is the new, new thing in the industry and it is here for real and happening now”.62 My Space is pleased with what it has accomplished on the mobile platform since its first entry more than two years ago. “We thought there was significant demand for this, and our initial thoughts were confirmed,” said Colin Digiaro, Senior Vice-President of sales at MySpace. “[Now,] our advancement into mobile is one of the key initiatives on MySpace, extremely key to our growth. It's a huge opportunity.” My Space would prefer if its network's mobile applications would come preloaded onto all mobile phones sold, thereby becoming as integral a wireless handset feature as an alarm clock, calendar, or mobile e-mail.63 Providing access to the Web through wireless mobile technology relates directly to efforts on the part of U.S. mobile operators to open up their networks. Federal Communications Chairman Kevin Martin, in fact, during a CTIA keynote address, told such operators that he was rewarding their efforts by not pushing for more regulation. Dan Hesse, Sprint Nextel's CEO, who also spoke at CTIA, said this will continue to make it easier for customers to get access to any application and to use a wide variety of devices on the network. “The 'walled garden' networks are a thing of the past,” he said. “As a charter member of Open Handset Alliance, we will explore and push wireless data even further than it's ever been pushed before.” And Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam also made it clear during his CTIA keynote speech that the industry has to be proactive to keep regulation at bay. He said that if the carriers open up their networks and listen to what customers want, there will be no need for regulators to get involved.64
Nielsen’s Mobile Advertising Report
In March 2008, 23 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers (58 million people) were reported in a Nielsen study as saying they had seen mobile advertising in the previous 30 days—and half of mobile data users (51 percent, or 28 million people) who recall seeing a mobile ad say they responded to the ad in some way. However, just 10 percent of U.S. mobile data (e.g., text messaging) users say they think advertising on their mobile devices is acceptable—but an increasing number appear to understand the value proposition of ad-supported mobile content. Some 32 percent of mobile data users say they are open to mobile advertising if it lowers their overall bill. Nearly 1 in 10 of the mobile users who saw mobile ads used the uniquely mobile marketing feature of “click to call” at least once. That feature offers mobile marketers the opportunity to bring mobile users through the sales channel and engage them further at the very moment they view the marketing message. The findings are from the biannual Mobile Advertising Report from Nielsen Mobile and are based on a survey of more than 22,000 active mobile data users who used at least one non-voice mobile service in the fourth quarter.
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Among other findings of the study:
• • • • • •
The number of data users who recalled seeing mobile advertising between the second and fourth quarters of 2007 increased 38 percent (from 42 million to 58 million). Teen data users (age 13–17) were the most likely age segment to recall seeing mobile advertising (46 percent recalled seeing some type of mobile advertisement, compared with 29 percent of all data users). Asian-Americans and African-Americans are more likely to recall mobile advertising (42 percent and 40percent percent, respectively, compared with 29% of all data users). 26 percent of those who saw an ad responded at least once by sending an SMS text message, the most popular ad response. 9 percent say they have used click-to-call to respond to a mobile ad (i.e., users follow a link on their phone to call a specific number). 13 percent (18 percent of males) said they are open to mobile advertising if it improves the media and content currently available. 14 percent said they are already open to mobile advertising so long as it is relevant to their interests. 23 percent expect to see more mobile advertising in the future (up from just 15 percent in Q1 2007). About the study: Nielsen’s Mobile Advertising Report examines consumer recall, responses and attitudes toward banner ads on mobile Web pages, SMS text-message advertising, sponsored applications, video advertising, and other types of advertising that reach consumers while using data applications on their mobile phones.65, 66
“Mobile social networks, like their Internet counterparts, face the challenge of bridging consumer demand with a business model that can scale appropriately,” said John du Pre Gauntt, senior analyst at eMarketer. “Content and service subscriptions in mobile often hit a wall much sooner than their business plans call for. Advertising requires a level of scale and targeting sophistication that isn't there yet.”
“What this suggests to marketers is that consumer demand is necessary but not sufficient to make mobile social networks a must-buy in 2008,” Mr. Gauntt says. “It's still experimental.” 67 But major Internet media companies are seeking appropriate advertising programs to provide value to advertisers. Yahoo!’s advertising initiative revolves around an integrated approach for search, display, and mobile advertising. Sponsored search—a pay-per-click advertising model used on search engines, advertising networks, Web sites and blogs—leads this model in combination with traditional and wellestablished online display ad platforms as well as mobile advertising.68 In addition to social networking sites (such as Facebook) available on mobile units, other companies offering a parallel Web experience for phone and PDA users include Amazon, Ebay, Fandango, Flickr, Wapipedia (the WAP [Wireless Application Protocol] version of Wikipedia), Netflix, and Orbitz. The mobile version of Facebook has been rated as one of the best-looking sites on an iPhone. While it doesn’t have all of the Facebook features (such as no add-on applications), it does offer Facebook’s news feed, the user’s inbox and access to all their Face-friends right on their telephone.69
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Social Networking and Mobile Summary
The Mobile Industry today, in 2008, is in a position of potential growth similar to that of the Internet in 1994. Manufacturers, advertisers, and users are adapting and responding to new innovations in a manner similar to the migration from mass, established media distribution (print and broadcast) to PC access (first desktop computers with modems, to desktops with broadband and laptops with wireless capabilities). As users of mobile increase—and if the success of social networking transfers to mobile devices— recruitment, retention, and employer branding strategies will need to sync their hiring and productivity objectives with the available applicant pool accessible through the use of social networking on mobile devices. The same level of risk inherent in social media through computers will be inherent with the addition of mobile devices; however, the level of employee engagement, improved productivity in the workplace, and other competitive advantages will increase beyond that available through computers with the 24/7 availability to mobile devices—thereby maximizing the potential impact of social and business networking media. More than three-fourths of executives who responded to a McKinsey survey say that they plan to maintain or increase their investments in technology trends that encourage user collaboration, such as peer-to-peer networking, social networks and Web services.70 From a competitive basis, therefore, employers need to respect and respond to the potential opportunities available through social networking and the expanded participation being made available through mobile devices.
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III. Internal Use of Social Media: Connecting Employees Together
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The use of social media in people’s personal lives, and now in their business settings, is quickly expanding. Even if organizations had not rolled out social media platforms formally, their employees intuitively brought them into the workplace and began using them. The power of social media tools to create and share content within departments, groups, or even across the entire enterprise can’t be denied. Web 2.0 emerged at such an astonishing speed on the business doorstep, that companies understandably focused their immediate attention on any inherent risks of social media rather than its benefits. Using internal-facing social media is quite different than doing so externally. Internally, companies can manage and control content quite easily. Internal-facing social media do not present the same type of concerns that social media do to outside audiences. The way that organizations choose to provide and manage (or not manage) these tools, however, has implications on the business. Benefits of launching corporate social media within an organization go beyond the use of tools alone. Social media, like other forms of communications, promote employee engagement and can increase employee productivity, morale, and motivation. But social media is not a traditional means of communication, by nature of its own definition: It is “social.” Organizations need to analyze all sides of this conversation, because social media will be used—even if it is not formally launched by the company—because of its ease of use and access. The decision to not corporately sponsoring social media use from the inside can have hidden costs and implications. Organizations with more traditional corporate cultures—ones that may not have yet explored virtual workplaces or flexible work schedules—have a more difficult time adapting social media on the inside. In many organizations, IT departments may even block employees from accessing the most popular external social media tools. But ways of working are beginning to change, and for good reason. Companies are finding out that policies that are too strict may be discouraging more than just online access: They may be adversely impacting employee engagement, and, in turn, productivity. They also may be hindering success rates in recruitment and retention efforts. Let’s explore the reasons why workplace adoption of social media needs to be explored in a larger context.
The Shift from Traditional to Social Platforms
Since the advent of social communication technology, traditional corporate communications methods are falling out of favor at a fast pace—and, accordingly, employees are preferring to capture and respond to internal information in this new way. Technology in general has altered the way we communicate in the broadest reaches of our world, and the workplace is no exception. Instead of just mass emailing corporate information to employees, or sending an employee newsletter with static content, or posting content to an Intranet site and leaving it to chance that employees will see it—companies are beginning to use social media tools that allow its people to actively participate in both creating and sharing information. Why? Because such open communication practices can build better workplace communities, increase speed of knowledge sharing, foster employee engagement, and encourage real-time knowledge sharing and fast communications across the organization.
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According to SHRM’s Workplace Forecast 2006, the decline in traditional communication methods and increase in cyber communications are at the top of societal trends most likely to have a major impact on, or cause a radical restructuring of, the workplace. In fact, an August 2007 SHRM Research Newsletter on Communication and Technology stated that 56 percent of HR professionals were implementing, or planning to implement, a greater use of collaborative technologies that would allow employees to work and communicate from anywhere.72, 73 A survey by Melcrum Publishing, a global communications organization and community network, indicated that social media are increasingly being adopted by large corporations to communicate internally, and states that the primary benefit achieved was employee engagement. Seventy-one percent of respondents mentioned improvement in employee engagement, 59 percent noted improved internal collaboration, and 47 percent identified two-way dialogue with senior executives.
Melcrum’s large social media study of over 2,000 companies found that “60% of organizations will have some form of social media in place” by 2008.74
Intranets are being tapped as a means for sharing information critical to employees’ individual success, as well as for the organization’s collaborative knowledge share. Not only is a corporate Intranet site a viable platform for encouraging the sharing of knowledge by employees, it’s also a communication tool that allows sharing of resources and directories that will enable a business to move forward at a faster clip. Enabling this type of communication may result in overall cost savings for an organization—including ways to support customers in a manner that equates to revenuegenerating opportunities. The importance of social communication platforms is clear, but the urgency for why organizations should evaluate incorporating these tools sooner, rather than later, is evidenced within the demographics of the workplace. Twenty-six percent of all Americans are Baby Boomers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With the inevitable onset of retiring Boomers exiting the workforce, organizations will stand to lose more than just experienced employees; they also put intellectual capital at risk of walking out the door as well— knowledge that is sitting within these experienced professionals. Why not implement social media platforms that could help enable and facilitate knowledge transfer while these individuals are still at the company—and after they leave? A second consideration involves the impact of social media integration in light of the new demographics within the workplace. For Generations X and Y, this type of communication is a lifestyle. Information sharing through new technologies is second nature. Even mature workers are embracing Web 2.0 communication platforms by observing use by their younger counterparts. That’s because of exposure to today’s multi-generational workforce. Additionally, corporate social media are shown to drive employee engagement. Let’s examine the business case for an engaged workforce.
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The Business Case for Why Employee Engagement Matters
“When properly rolled out, social media and Enterprise 2.0 tools can help companies meet their No. 1 internal communication goal – engaging employees,” said Michael Rudnick, global intranet and portal leader at Watson Wyatt. “Instead of simply mass emailing information or posting to an intranet in hopes employees will see it, social media tools help employees actively participate in creating and sharing information. This shift to employee-generated content has resulted in employees becoming more engaged online,” he added.75
Competition for top-quality talent is growing, as organizations seek to gain competitive advantage through people over products. The ability to attract, engage, develop, and retain talent will become increasingly more challenging, as demand for scarce human capital increases within our global marketplace. There is a strong emphasis for HR to develop effective employee engagement strategies to increase overall business performance.
“The challenge today is not just retaining talented people, but fully engaging them, capturing their minds and hearts at each stage of their work lives.” 76
Employee engagement has been demonstrated through various studies and surveys to be a key driver of business success. High levels of engagement are shown to lead to employee retention, productivity, and loyalty to company employers. It also serves as a significant factor in customer satisfaction, company reputation, and overall stakeholder value. A recent report by the SHRM Foundation demonstrates that employee engagement can be measured in dollars, and can yield significant savings for organizations investing in strategies that encourage engagement. For example, at the beverage company Molson Coors, it was found that engaged employees were five times less likely than non-engaged employees to have a safety incident and seven times less likely to have a lost-time safety incident. In fact, the average cost of a safety incident for an engaged employee was $63, compared with an average of $392 for a non-engaged employee. Consequently, through strengthening employee engagement, the company saved $1,721,760 in safety costs in 2002. In addition, savings were found in sales performance teams through engagement. In 2005, for example, low-engagement teams were seen falling behind engaged teams, with a difference in performance-related costs of low versus high-engagement teams totaling $2,104,823.00.77 Related to productivity, employee health is also a critical factor in employee engagement. Conditions that support health and psychological well-being are open communication, respect, trust, teamwork, and positive work relationships. The Gallup Organization, a leader in employee engagement research, found that employee physical health and psychological well-being affect the quality and quantity of work. For example, 62 percent of engaged employees feel their work positively affects their physical health. Yet that number drops to 39 percent among non-engaged employees, and to 22 percent among employees who are actively
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disengaged. In addition, 54 percent of disengaged employees say their work has a negative effect on their health, and 51 percent see a negative effect on their well-being. The implication for HR and managers is that engaged employees are more likely to view the organization and job as a healthy environment and therefore more likely to support the organization.
Research also shows that customer loyalty is closely related to employee engagement. When employees feel more engaged in their work, the climate is better for service and the customer receives better quality service, thus promoting customer loyalty.
The Correlation Between Employee Engagement and Internal Communications
Effective communication is critical to the success of an organization. The 2003/2004 Watson Wyatt Communication ROI Study™ demonstrated the correlation between communication effectiveness, organizational turnover, and financial performance. The 2005/2006 study confirmed those findings further, showing that effective communication is a leading indicator of an organization’s financial performance.78 Here are the key findings from the Watson Wyatt 2005/2006 study:79 • • • • • Companies that communicate effectively have a 19.4 percent higher market premium than companies that do not. Shareholder returns for organizations with the most effective communication were over 57 percent higher over the last five years (2000–2004) than were returns for firms with less effective communication. The 2005/2006 study found evidence that communication effectiveness is a leading indicator of financial performance. Firms that communicate effectively are 4.5 times more likely to report high levels of employee engagement versus firms that communicate less effectively. Companies that are highly effective communicators are 20 percent more likely to report lower turnover rates than their peers.
Two-thirds of the firms with high levels of communication effectiveness are asking their managers to take on a greater share of the communication responsibility, but few are giving them the tools and training to be successful. Global firms are not customizing their messages to meet local needs or cultural sensitivities. On average, firms within the financial and retail trade sectors rank among the most effective communicators. Health care, basic materials, telecommunications, and other service companies rank among the least effective communicators.
Changes from the 2003/2004 to the 2005/2006 study found the following: • • • An 8 percent increase in companies relying on a reactive approach to communication. A 10 percent increase in companies using formal communication measures. An 18 percent increase in companies in which communicators play a lead role in managing the content of the intranet.
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Implementing Social Media Within Corporate Intranets
An organization should assess social media within the context of its own culture before jumping into use and incorporating tools for employees. Certainly, the size and structure of an organization, demographic composition of the workforce, and other unique factors will weigh in on what’s right for a company. Just as it is critical for organizations to know and understand its external facing audiences—customers, candidates, and shareholders—before embarking on external communication strategies, it’s equally important to understand the internal employee audience in order to implement changes that meet their expectations. There are various tools and ways to organize the sharing of data through Web 2.0. One way to ensure that relevance of content is maintained across the organization is through the creation of “Practice Area Communities” (PACs). This strategy allows knowledge sharing by those who share a common focus. Examples of PACs include project teams, company divisions, functional areas, corporate regional or local offices, and the international organization at large.80 Web 2.0 on the Intranet should encourage a collaboration space, whereby users can share information in real time, but also access distributed Web services that allow them to work better and smarter with their teams. Some tools for consideration might include the following: Bookmarking: Users can independently upload and tag URLs to a server for easy access and sharing. New Platforms: People are not just reading the Web; they are writing, blogging, podcasting, remixing and publishing. Published information can be reorganized, reused and shared by all. RSS or News Aggregators: These are fast becoming the new user interface to the Intranet. An aggregator is a type of software that retrieves Web content—supplied in the form of a Web feed—that is published by blogs, podcasts, video blogs, and mainstream mass media Web sites. RSS is the new pathway for information flow on the Web. Users have more control over what reaches them and how it arrives. Data can be customized and reformatted according to user preference. RSS Feeds: These subscriptions typically contain a summary of content found on a blog or Web site. When new content is published, it automatically gets out in the RSS feed. RSS allows employees to receive customized information that can assist in their performance. Since individuals can filter, combine, share, and republish information to support specific business processes, the mere proliferation of information feeds need to be managed. Enterprises will need to rapidly import smart, user-driven aggregation schemes to manage the flow. Organizations can make use of social media in a variety of ways.81 • Departments can engage employees on blogs (Web-based journal writing discussion sites (Weblogs) authored by one or more writers) as a way to reach people in a convenient, online conversation. As an example, organizations might wish to get a feel for employee opinions on a particular subject or topic before implementing a company-wide change or a department-focused shift in policy. Blog software allows users to publish content quickly and efficiently.
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Teams can use wikis to manage projects, share best practices and research case studies. A wiki is a Web site on a particular subject or topic that is created by a group of collaborative users. Users add and edit content. Wikis are being used in business settings to manage document writing and projects within teams. CEOs can publish a blog, podcast, or videocast for employees on their Intranet. A podcast is an audio file that users subscribe to in advance. Each podcast segment is delivered to a computer when it is posted, or it is transferred from the Internet to a mobile device like an iPod. Videocasts are video podcasts and have been increasing in both use and popularity.
Virtual Workplace Tools
Companies are providing flexibility for employees to work at any time and in any place using information and communication technologies set up to assist them. Some of the more obvious benefits of incorporating tools for virtual workplaces include reduced travel costs and the ability to self-select working times. Communication can become a major challenge for those whose jobs consist of working within these virtual environments, because of the lack of visual cues. Human interaction and observation when in the traditional workplace occurs without effort. But virtual environments can be very successful if they are truly supported by the organization and are set up in a thoughtful way from the beginning. According to the findings from SHRM’s 2006 Workplace Communication Series III, virtual teams are commonly associated with four characteristics: 1) they communicate electronically; 2) they are geographically dispersed; 3) they are often composed of members with different cultural backgrounds and nationalities; and 4) they have fluid, constantly changing membership. The study goes on to state that creating a psychologically safe communication climate within the team allowed for positive results, such as innovation, and also helped diminish the challenges posed by virtual workplaces.82 The report also discussed how a psychologically safe climate is characterized by support, openness, trust, mutual respect, and risk taking. Within its study on this topic, the following was shared: • • • • • • 86 percent of respondents believed that the Internet played a vital role in the day-to-day business operations of their company. 85 percent believed that e-mail and the Internet could serve as tools for harassment. 37 percent had been offended by an e-mail. 25 percent had been offended by something a co-worker was accessing on the Internet. 62 percent felt their companies had effective harassment policies. 60 percent reported that electronic technology was not part of the policy or were unsure if it was included in the company’s policy on harassment.
Companies that promote virtual workplace tools need to design, communicate, provide training on, and reinforce the organization’s comprehensive corporate social networking communication policies in order to reduce risk. Before embarking on the incorporation of new, corporate social communication tools, companies should analyze a series of questions that will help it understand how to best structure and integrate new platforms of communication on its Intranet. According to Jeremiah Owyang, a Web strategist who published Intranets: A Reflection of Your Corporate DNA, there are good guideline questions that should be answered.83
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Here are Jeremiah Owyang’s suggested questions companies should answer for themselves: Is Your Organization Structured or Loosely Organized? Take a look at the architecture of your site. Analyze whether it is tightly wound around the features of an existing CMS system, or loosely created by different collaborative groups. Static or Dynamic? Determine if the content is rarely updated, or is frequently changing with the speed of business. This could indicate how information is being shared (or not) within the enterprise. Text-Based or Media-Focused? See if the content is currently primarily text- and information-geared, or if there are uses of images, maps, videos, audio, and so on. A good question to ask is if your company has been focused on delivering hard raw data, or sharing the human and “life” stories among employees. Disparate or Centralized? Ask yourself if the user experience on your Intranet is different with every business group. Is it centralized within a single framework? Product/Customer-Focused or Employee-Focused? Look at the content currently on your Intranet, to see if it is focused on the customer, or if it is focused on the lifestyle of employees and how they communicate. Top-Down Publishing or Bottom-Up Publishing? Perhaps the most telling attribute is whether or not your Intranet is a repository of information driven by a few key members with power, or if it is composed of the voices and knowledge shared from across the enterprise. Look to identify if management takes the lead, or are the suggestions from the employees working on the ground floor (ones dealing with customers/products from day to day). Publishing from Business or Technology Group? Is your content currently being published by a technology group, or is it in the hands of business? Some Intranets (as a business tool) are controlled and owned by IT, which does not allow maximized use of this human tool to empower business units to share and communicate. That’s one change you’ll want to review carefully before you set up new social communication channels. A recent Melcrum study titled “How to Use Social Media to Engage Employees” offers 10 suggestions organizations should consider before integrating Web 2.0 on their corporate Intranet sites:84 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Assess your organization’s cultural readiness. Focus on the people, not the technology. Think about the business purpose of the tools. Make sure you grasp the difference between traditional and social media. Prepare to relinquish control and share the process. Be experimental and involve employees. Clarify what employees can and cannot do. Take a hands-off approach to marketing the tools. Work with what you’ve got and integrate new tools. Don’t obsess about the numbers.
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Companies Currently Using Internal Social Media
By definition, Intranets exist inside an organization; as such, case studies and examples depend completely on company representatives sharing information about their sites, structure, and success rates. Some insights are available through social media technology providers (with approval by senior leaders at these organizations), and in published examples they talk about the design/development and functionality. Therefore, some examples are brief, and others are more detailed. Here are a few examples of companies that shared information about their corporate Intranets:
British Telecom British Telecom (BT) has one of the largest Intranets in the world, with millions of pages and 2,000 publishers. Their Intranet was launched in 1994 as a cost-saving initiative to reduce the amount of paper and printing within the company. Eight years later, it is a virtual success story, with BT now largely a paperless company—managing over 200 processes online. Beyond the paperless initiative, BT also has made tremendous improvements in its communications capability, positioning itself at the cutting edge of information and communication technology. Enhancements have allowed its people to become more efficient, effective and empowered— characteristics that are in line with the company’s overall strategy.85 Coca-Cola Company The following information is an excerpt by Dianne Culhane, Group Director of Global Internal Communication at The Coca-Cola Co. She is a member of the top 150 executives of The CocaCola Co., and co-led the development of the vision and mission goals for the company's 10-year sustainable growth plan.86 The Coca-Cola Co. recognized that it had been experiencing decreasing market share and slowed growth in 2005, the result of declining sales of carbonated soft drinks, health and wellness trends, a series of corporate leadership changes, and increasing competition in the beverage industry. Coca-Cola would need to make fundamental changes to its corporate culture and work environment. A global campaign was designed to accelerate the transformation to a highperformance culture by inviting all employees to participate in a dialogue about the company's stated values: passion, leadership, integrity, accountability, collaboration, quality and innovation. This dialogue would allow the company to better define what the values mean, how employees get things done, and the specific behaviors and actions that would drive better business results.
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The initiative, called Walking the Talk to Sustainable Growth, was directed to more than 20,000 employees worldwide. By engaging in an open dialogue about Coca-Cola’s values at all levels, the company aimed to work with groups within the organization that were cynical or apprehensive of change. Given the global nature of the business, a blog seemed the natural solution because it allowed employees from all over the world to meet in a virtual space and encouraged open, candid dialogue in a nonhierarchical setting. Strategies included: • Engage executive committee members in the Walking the Talk initiative through meetings, a high-profile three-week promotional campaign and a Manifesto for Growth strategic planning meeting. They were also asked to co-host a value discussion on the blog, actively participating throughout the day. Coordinate the three-week promotional campaign with the support of employee communication and human resources colleagues worldwide. Engage the top 150 global leaders in the initiative at the Manifesto for Growth strategic planning meeting. Vehicles included a presentation about the business case for change, data on the bottom-line benefits of engaging employees in company values and a custom blog simulation. Launch Blog Blast '06. Using discussion threads, Blog Blast asked employees to tell a story about how they personally experienced the company's values in action. Share final recommendations for review and approval by the executive committee.
The team had only four months to fully develop, execute and measure the goals described for Phase 1. A more serious challenge was that blogs were a new concept to the organization; the company culture favored face-to-face interaction. In addition, some local cultures were not used to offering constructive feedback, especially to members of senior management.
The solutions to these challenges included:
• A video from the chairman that acknowledged the cultural differences about providing feedback, but reinforced the need for all employees to participate in the initiative to achieve the company vision of long-term sustainable growth. Organized local teams posting group comments to the blog, allowing individuals who were uncomfortable submitting their ideas directly to share them within a small group that reported as a single voice. A video blog tutorial that demonstrated how easy it was to post and view comments. A global activation team and comprehensive toolkit that built excitement about the initiative in the business units around the world. Promotional items could be translated into local languages. Kicking off blog events at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to allow field employees in Asia to be the first to participate (7 a.m. local time in Hong Kong). This addressed a common perception that corporate was insensitive to employees in different time zones.
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Measurement and Evaluation The 2,409 employee posts from more than 45 countries and the 136,862 employee page views over the entire campaign demonstrated that Phase 1 goals were successfully met. In fact, more than 30,000 page views were captured on the first day alone. An in-depth, qualitative analysis was conducted on all Blog Blast entries, revealing 29 distinct themes and 41 types of workplace behaviors. Further analysis revealed insights into what employees say each value should and should not look like at the company. One of the key measures for this initiative was to inspire employees' passion and commitment to company values. An employee insight survey conducted in July 2006 indicated significant improvements in key categories: • • • • • Engagement rose to 79% (previously 74%). Diversity and fairness increased to 77% (previously 69%). Communication and awareness increased to 76% (previously 65%). Performance management increased to 76% (previously 68%). Leadership rose to 64% (previously 54%).
Walking the Talk contributed significantly to the vision of driving long-term sustainable growth by accelerating the transformation of the company culture. Ultimately, the company is measured by its stock value, which saw steady increases through the rest of 2006.” This ends the exact excerpt by Dianne Culhane, The Coca-Cola Company.
KFC KFCNation is a social networking site for employees (“Team Members,” as KFC calls them). Because so many of their people did not have access to computers or the Internet at work, they created a site for employees that is accessible on an external facing site. According to Melissa King, Yum! Web Communications, KFCNation (www.kfcnation.com) was created to accomplish the following: • • • • • Create an employee social media website connecting existing and potential Team Members. Feature a blog written by two energetic Team Members. Tell the story of Team Members who have experienced that life really does taste better @ KFC. Inspire creativity by incorporating the My Life @ KFC contest through submissions to the KFCNation YouTube group. Share plans to grow internationally to connect Team Members all over the world, while utilizing existing sites (Flickr, Facebook, etc.).
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Motorola Motorola provides social media tools for its 70,000 employees and 9,200 external partners in 70 countries. The Motorola Intranet, dubbed Intranet 2.0, includes blogs, wikis, a social bookmarking utility, RSS, and a social search engine that “improves the quality of searches by injecting results that other users found most valuable.” According to Shel Holtz, Principal, Holtz Communication & Technology, 92 percent of Motorola employees have used these tools, “creating 38 terabytes of data in 5,400 blogs, 4,500 wikis, 65,000 social bookmarks, and 30 million shared documents.”87 Hitachi Data Systems Hitachi is a 100-year-old Japanese company that in 2005–2006 deployed social media communication platforms on its Intranet site, including executive blogs, user support forums, audio podcasts, industry wiki, RSS News Feeds, and Lunch 2.0 Event. Its strategy was tied to an announcement process, customer lifecycles, and feedback within product teams. Serena Software88 Serena Software declared “Facebook Fridays” in late 2007. The company’s 800 employees in 18 countries were encouraged to spend one hour each Friday on their Facebook profiles, connecting with co-workers, customers, family, and friends. It was reported that Serena is actually going much further than that, and is replacing its corporate Intranet with “Facebook as a front end linked to a low-cost content management system behind the firewall.” Here are the reasons why they did that, and results they have seen thus far. Thirty-five percent of Serena’s employees work virtually. The organization was going through a major transition as they moved from more traditional enterprise applications to Web 2.0. The leadership wanted all employees to be better connected so they could be on the same level of understanding, excitement, and commitment regarding this transition. They also thought that using a Web 2.0 tool, like Facebook, represented the best way to take the whole company into this new space. Like many companies, their existing Intranet was a poor platform for document finding, with much less sharing. One of the major flaws of existing Intranets, even when they work to find stuff, is the lack of social context. It is difficult to find anything about people. They established a private Facebook group for Serena employees, and they built a few simple custom Facebook applications to better enable Intranet functions. Now they provide links through Facebook to documents stored securely behind the firewall. Access is just as secure as any other method. Serena employees go to specific people to get relevant information. Serena also has public Facebook groups to connect with customers and the broader marketplace. Some of their customer conversations have moved away from mail. Clients such as Stewart Cohen at Arbitron and Rajiv Amar at Intuit connect with Serena colleagues through Facebook. They also host the Serena Business Mashups Blog, where they cover industry issues and what they are doing, including updates on their Facebook experience. Serena has found that Facebook has also helped them with recruiting. People send their resumes through Facebook, and prospective employees relate their use of the same networking tool that they use in their personal lives. Employee morale has also increased, as well as employee retention, as the whole firm is better connected.
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SAP89 According to Giovanni Rodriguez in his blog article, “Peer Pressure, The Corporate Adoption of Social Media,” one of the better-known cases of internal social media is a competitive intelligence project inside enterprise software giant SAP. The SAP Apollo group—an ad hoc strategy team—is using a suite of social media tools (blogs, RSS, wikis) to collect information that enables the company to better compete with its chief rival, Oracle. Rodriguez believes this is one application of social media that should be seen more of in the future; the gathering of competitive intelligence, and the assessment of that intelligence, are two of the most critical areas of activity for any enterprise. But he feels the SAP case study brings forth the broader opportunity that businesses have to use social media. Enterprise wiki companies frequently talk about this in their marketing literature: It's a key benefit, and the implementation of wikis in the enterprise is helping businesses to understand that benefit better. Rodriguez states that whether a social media tool is used for product development (Macromedia), product marketing (Symantec), or building an intra-campus student information system (Johns Hopkins), peers can use these tools to adjudicate the value of data. The use of multimedia—growing steadily during the last few years— reached a new high in 2006. SAP dedicates an entire home page section and Intranet section to SAP TV, with videos on topics ranging from the SAP Cup soccer finals to doing business in Russia. Siemens90 Siemens allows its employees the option of subscribing to an RSS feed of employee news. New stories are delivered to employees whenever they are uploaded by the Siemens communication team. An RSS landing page contains an inventory of all the RSS feeds across the entire Siemens Intranet. Two types of feeds are offered: blog and non-blog. Blogs allow employees to share whatever information is relevant to their jobs, roles, or work environment. Non-blog items include areas such as “IT News,” where employees can learn that a server upgrade is planned for 2 a.m. Thursday morning. Sun Microsystems91 Sun’s employee Intranet maximizes social media use among its workforce, and believes the benefits for embracing it lie well beyond the value of the tools themselves. In fact, according to Shel Holtz, principal of Holtz Communication, Sun is using social media “with evangelical fervor.” He states that in an interview with Sun Microsystem’s CEO Jonathan Schwartz, for Holz’s book, Tactical Transparency, Schwartz said that building a community of customers turns the company’s products into community assets. “Somebody who feels part of a community is going to be a much more aggressive evangelist for our products than someone who just paid $29.95 for it at a big-box retailer,” he explained. Verizon Wireless92 Verizon Wireless has hundreds of discussion forums, blogs,, and wikis that are entirely selfpoliced. They have never had to censor or remove any content that would be considered inappropriate.
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Wachovia93 We will be watching to see if Wachovia reveals the results of its anticipated Intranet site, complete with social media tools and management system (planned for a 2008 launch). Wachovia, a Charlotte, North Carolina–based bank, with $720 billion in assets, turned to Microsoft to power its social network for 110,000 bank employees because of the software vendor's ability to integrate different productivity and desktop tools. The nation's fourth largest bank was to roll out a social networking service for 110,000 employees, giving workers a sophisticated knowledge-management platform that combines the user-friendly approach of the popular Facebook service with broad integration into Wachovia Corp.'s business applications. The company tested its social network in a “proof-of-business-value environment.” It introduced the social network across three divisions first, and then to the rest of the company. Features include search, presence awareness and information sharing on a variety of business topics, along with access to employee-written blogs, wikis, and an encyclopedia of all things Wachovia— which some users within the bank nicknamed, inevitably, the Wachipedia. Interpersonal aspects are incorporated as well. Users can upload personally selected pictures of themselves, and community development is expected to be a primary benefit of the system. The network should also help Wachovia attract new talent since this tool will be a leading-edge and powerful tool. Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Best Intranets of 2008 Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D., is a User Advocate and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group, which he co-founded with Dr. Donald A. Norman (former vice president of research at Apple Computer). Until 1998, he was a Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer. Jakob is a subject matter expert and speaker, and has his own blog. The following is a verbatim excerpt from Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Best Intranets of 2008 article dated January 7, 2008.94 Consistent design and integrated Information Architecture are becoming standard on good intranets. This year's winners focused on productivity tools, employee self-service, access to knowledgeable people (as opposed to “knowledge management”), and better-presented company news. The winners of the award for 10 best-designed intranets for 2008 are: • • • • • • • • • • Bank of America, US Bankinter S.A., Spain Barnes & Noble, US British Airways, UK Campbell Soup Company, US Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation, US IKEA North America Service, LLC, US Ministry of Transport, New Zealand New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Australia SAP AG, Germany
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Most of the winning designs are traditional, company-wide intranets, but IKEA won for its regional intranet covering North America. Also, Coldwell Banker's intranet works somewhat like an extranet: it connects 3,800 independently owned and operated residential and commercial real estate offices, while appearing to users as a local office intranet rather than a corporate intranet. Half of the winners are from the US, closely matching the nation's long-term performance average of 53%. The remaining five winners hail from five different countries. The southern hemisphere is strongly represented this year, including the first-ever winner from New Zealand. Australia has had many winners over the years, as have the UK and Germany. Spain seems to be an up-and-coming country in terms of quality intranets, collecting its third award this year (earlier awards went to Amadeus Global Travel Distribution in 2003 and Banco Español de Crédito [Banesto] in 2005). In terms of industry sectors, the financial sector is strongly represented with three winners (two banks and one real estate company). This, too, follows tradition: earlier design annuals have typically had a disproportional number of winners from the financial sector (2007 was an aberration, with only one financial winner, JPMorgan Chase). Financial institutions probably have disproportional intranets for two reasons: • • The companies tend to be big and have a lot of money resting on optimal performance. They therefore invest more heavily in IT than companies in most other sectors. The companies typically have a long tradition often going back a decade or more—of taking usability seriously. After all, home banking is doomed unless the user experience is exceptionally approachable. Similarly, the financial sector deals in complex transactions and training costs for internal applications can skyrocket if the design team fails to truly understand the needs of users in both local workgroups and remote branches. Intranets clearly benefit from the financial sector's above-average attention to user-centered design.
Usually, the technology information sector also produces many winners, since—obviously— its companies tend to have above-average sophistication in using technology. This year, however, the only technology winner is SAP. Of course, it might be increasingly unreasonable to view technology companies as more sophisticated than other industries in the use of technology. This year, for example, the retail sector shines with two winners, beating its average performance as it becomes ever more tech-driven. Barnes & Noble might be a bookstore, for example, but it's also a leading ecommerce site. And, as the case study of the B&N intranet shows, the company certainly uses technology to the max. As with the previous two years, most of this year's winners are big companies, employing an average of 50,000 employees. Still, this year's list includes the first small organization since 2005: New Zealand's Ministry of Transport, which has only 200 intranet users. Once again, we have proof that size isn't everything, and that a small but well-focused effort can produce a great intranet.
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Company News It's not exactly new for intranets to offer company or industry news. But this year, companies seem to be taking news much more seriously: most winning intranets give it major homepage real estate, and many invest significant resources in editing and maintaining their news areas. The Campbell Soup Company has an interesting approach to news. Its intranet features an area across the top of the homepage with cells that represent the main business units and corporate functions, letting all users browse each unit's news. While this would be too much functionality for a smaller company's intranet, it can help manage the complexities of bigger companies — especially ones like Campbell that contain multiple strong brands. Barnes & Noble spends almost all of its homepage on various news areas. Among them is a large central area, Barnes & Noble Today, that features stories from different stores and regions and helps build community among the widely dispersed bookstore staff. A smaller area lists Store Alerts that contain practical information, ranging from when a runaway bestseller will be in stock to recommendations for the gift fixture in bookstore cafés. The intranet team is committed to posting the Store Alerts by a certain time each day, which is critical to its success. News that isn't new gets old quickly, which is why a B&N-like commitment to intranet news is necessary for it to truly attract traffic and interest employees. Intranet multimedia use has been growing steadily during the last few years, and reached a new high this year. SAP dedicates an entire homepage section and intranet section to SAP TV, with videos on topics ranging from the SAP Cup soccer finals to doing business in Russia. Increasing Quality and Polish As with news, many of the winning intranets’ other key features are also old favorites. The big distinction is that such features keep getting better and better. The quality level is high, which is appropriate given how many employees use basic intranet features on a daily basis. The productivity gains from polishing the user experience are well worth the cost of going beyond the first design that comes to mind. Take, for example, the staff directory. This is a feature of virtually all intranets, and its basic design guidelines are well known. To go beyond the basics, Coldwell Banker emphasizes finding employees by geography—an enhancement that completely makes sense for a real estate company. Coldwell Banker’s employee finder also includes a special Referral feature to help agents find colleagues for referral purposes. The directory’s structure of tabs and labels emerged from usability research that revealed how company users think about seeking out their colleagues. Most of the winning intranets have strong support for single sign-on, which we know from our studies of intranet portals is a strong determinant of employee satisfaction and productivity—and yet something that's hard to achieve and rarely works as well as promised. This is definitely an area where the extra work to get it right improves the experience (and productivity) of users every day.
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In general, integration was a strong theme: the impetus for many a winning redesign was to create a single intranet information architecture (IA) with a consistent navigation scheme and consistent user experience. Such redesigns typically replaced hundreds of individual sites that lacked unified navigation and presented a highly inconsistent user experience. This chaotic state remains the norm on many intranets, which suffer reduced usability and lowered employee productivity as a result. In contrast, the new intranets are invariably based on content management systems with special interfaces designed to increase usability for content providers. The Content Management System interfaces also strongly emphasize the importance of sticking to a few templates with a standardized design. In an effort to preserve their autonomy, individual departments sometimes resist the move toward a single, unified intranet design. The Campbell Soup Company provides a striking counter-example here. The company’s employees are strongly attached to the specific brand they work for, which would seemingly doom any attempts to unify the intranet. However, the design team wisely provided ways for the intranet design to reinforce users’ brand connections through customization and “skinning” (changing the appearance to reflect, for example, branded color schemes). At Coldwell Banker, the company's franchise model resulted in the introduction of “comingling” rules in the CMS to blend corporate-level content with content from the local (franchise or office) level. This approach requires some added features, such as an extra CMS field for tagging the importance of each piece of corporate content so it could be appropriately prioritized relative to local content. However, the approach also creates a vastly more consistent (and thus productive) user experience than the free-for-all that’s found in many other companies. Updated content is a major contributor to intranet quality. The Department of Primary Industries brings two related trends together here. First, it increases usability for content providers to the limit, providing a tool that lets all users submit news items. This, of course, ties in with the second trend—to prioritize company news—because editors need a steady stream of news items from all organizational areas if they're to keep the news fresh and thus engaging. Productivity Focus Many of the most important features on the winning intranets directly support everyday work. At British Airways, employee self service is the intranet’s main focus and the team backs it with a profusion of tools. While advanced applications can boost productivity, smaller tools sometimes do the trick. For example, at the Department of Primary Industries, employees (such as mine safety inspectors) often need a department vehicle for offsite assignments. Historically, employees booked vehicles by calling their location's receptionist, who took the information over the phone and entered the details into a fleet management system. Now, a simple, one-page form serves the same purpose, saving time and increasing booking accuracy. (The same intranet also contains an advanced application for geospatial visualization, helping employees manage emergencies like floods, droughts, and exotic disease outbreaks. Thus proving the point that sometimes high tech is appropriate, and sometime it isn’t.)
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SAP’s intranet offers an interesting twist on the productivity focus, providing special personalized pages for the company’s Executive Board members. Top-level executives are busy, and their time is expensive, yet they're often among the least-trained users as their duties are focused elsewhere. It thus makes perfect sense to dedicate special attention to improving usability for this small but important group of users. Knowledge Management In previous years, “knowledge management” was a much-discussed buzzword for intranets. This year, most of the winners emphasized the same goals as the knowledge management movement, but with a rather different approach: they recognized that knowledge resides with people. As a result, many designs focused on improving access to the people who have the needed knowledge. Bankinter probably had the most impressive expertise finder, with a profusion of graphical tools for visualizing the distribution and location of knowledge across employees. Diverse Technology Platforms The 10 winners used a total of 41 different products for their intranet technology platforms. As with every year, we again conclude that intranet technology is an unsettled field with no clear winner. The most-used products were SharePoint and the Google Search Appliance. Other frequently used products were Red Hat Linux, Lotus Notes and Domino, and Oracle databases. No single product made the list of most-used products for all of the four most recent Design Annuals (2005-2008). This simple fact reinforces the point that intranet platforms still have a long way to go. That said, the following products made the most-used lists more than once during this four-year period: • • 3 of 4 years: Google Search Appliance, Microsoft SQL Server 2 of 4 years: Apache, Documentum, IBM WebSphere, Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), Lotus Notes and Domino, Oracle databases, SharePoint
In addition to these widely used intranet technologies, we constantly see new ones applied. For example, the Ministry of Transport is already using Microsoft's Silverlight technology to add interactivity to one of its intranet areas. Intranet Branding Gets a Lighter Touch In previous years, slightly more than half of the winning intranets have been branded to the extent that they had a separate name. A slightly smaller number of intranets have had no name, but were simply referred to as “the intranet” or some such. This year’s winners again include generic intranets and several traditionally branded intranets, with names like Discover, InSite, and Flagscape. However, we also have a prominent showing for a third option: give the intranet a name, but one that's not a strong
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brand in itself. Such names can borrow strength from the organization's main brand and typically include a plainspoken description of the intranet's function. These names include Employee Self Service, my Campbell, Coldwell Banker Works, and US Retail Inside. Whether or not an intranet is branded, it needs internal marketing to familiarize employees with its many features and new areas (particularly if it’s a big intranet). Several winners this year had attractive and effective ways of promoting intranet features. Intranet Trends In addition to the issues discussed above, the following trends were apparent this year:
• • • • • • • • •
Increased personalization Integration of information sources, often resulting in a single “one-stop shopping” page Emphasis on mission-critical applications and information (such as sales targets) Improved event and project calendars Special sections to help orient new employees Prominent display of stock quotes and other financial information Integration of external and company news, often in the form of customizable feeds Integration of alerts with the main intranet to inform users of important messages Redesigned and improved search features, which often went from horrible to good and generated ecstatic user feedback
ROI for Intranet Usability Once again, the winning teams focused their efforts on producing a great intranet and not on justifying their work by measuring the return-on-investment (ROI). This makes sense in companies where the intranet team has the required executive support, and such support is certainly necessary in the long term. But teams in less ideal circumstances might still need ROI data, and at this point it's thin on the ground. Bank of America collected detailed measurements of the time required to navigate from the homepage to 11 different intranet destinations. After the redesign, the average time decreased from 43.6 seconds to 21.7 seconds, cutting the navigation time in half. This corresponds to a 101% increase in post-redesign productivity, because users can get slightly more than twice as much done in the same time. In our research testing a large number of intranets, we found that the productivity gains from a major improvement in intranet usability were likely to be 72% on average. How does this research result square with the 101% increase measured at Bank of America? The difference in findings is easily resolved with two observations:
The 72% productivity increase is an average; some redesigns will experience smaller improvements, others higher. Bank of America has an award-winning intranet, so it stands to reason that its ROI will be higher than average.
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In addition to measuring ROI for intranet redesigns, it's also worth setting measurable goals in advance for what you want to achieve. British Airways is a good example, with goals such as getting a 75% increase in online training days and eventually having all staff travel booked online. In total, the BA redesign achieved cost savings of £55 million. But even before the results were known, it was obvious that the intranet project was big enough and had enough potential to be worth taking seriously. At Campbell, the number of intranet visits per day increased by 727% after the redesign, but the number of actual pages viewed per visit decreased from 9.12 to 1.43. As a result, the grand total number of page views only increased by 30%. Overly simplistic use of Web analytics might focus on this latter number and conclude that the redesign had been only a modest success. On the contrary, it's wildly successful, as the two other statistics show:
Employees get many more things done with the intranet, as shown by the 727% increase in visits. Employees are much more efficient each time they visit the intranet, corresponding to increased task productivity. Ideally, productivity is measured as time on task, which directly translates into the amount of work done per hour. We can't quite claim that the decrease in pages per visit corresponds to a 538% productivity increase because people might spend more time on each page. Still, there's no doubt that intranet efficiency — and thus employee productivity — increased immensely after the redesign consolidated, on personalized homepages, the information that users need.”
End of excerpt from Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Best Intranets of 2008.
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Clearly, there are advantages for organizations to use social media tools on corporate Intranets in order to allow employees to share information that allows them to do their work more efficiently and collaborate more actively with their colleagues. Aggregating and sharing data encourages employee engagement, improves productivity in the workplace, and provides competitive advantages. Social media can also influence perception. And that’s very important to an organization’s efforts to recruit and retain talent. Gen Y wants to work for employers that know, understand and can quickly incorporate new ways to work. Social media is a key component in that equation. Gen Y uses social media in their daily lives, on such sites as Facebook, MySpace, and others. This generation used these tools as they emerged, even before they were ever deemed mainstream. The argument can be made that innovative companies use innovative tools and techniques within their own walls. Social media will continue to grow and continue to reinvent itself. We’re at the tip of the social media iceberg. Some level of risk is certainly inherent in social media. But within the organization, the risks are certainly less and are easier to manage and guide. Some level of policy and rules of engagement are necessary in order to manage and provide a uniform way for employees to share and communicate. Organizations should be cautious that the guidelines do not hinder the purpose of social media in the first place. They should be cautious not to impose too many restrictions. Otherwise, you will build it, but you take the risk that no one will come.
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Nielsen Online, February 2008, http://www.marketingcharts.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/nielsen-top -10-social-networks-may-2008.jpg eMarketer, January 2008, http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1005790&src=article_head_sitesearch Deloitte, The State of the Media Democracy, October 2007, http://www.deloitte.com/dtt/article/0,1002,cid=156096,00.html Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Edelman Trust Barometer, 2008, http://www.edelman.co.uk/trustbarometer/ Marketing Sherpa, July 2007, http://www.bazaarvoice.com/industryStats.html http://movamedia.wordpress.com/2007/09/05/mobile-social-networking-advertising-barcodes/ http://www.mmaglobal.com/ http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2008/apr/07/yehey/techtimes/20080407tech1.html http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2006/tc20060530_170086.htm? chan=search http://movamedia.wordpress.com/2007/09/05/mobile-social-networking-advertising-barcodes/ http://socialmarketing.blogs.com/r_craiig_lefebvres_social/2007/11/social-networks.html http://opengardensblog.futuretext.com/archives/2007/08/mobile_advertis.html http://socialmarketing.blogs.com/r_craiig_lefebvres_social/2007/11/social-networks.html http://www.usatoday.com/tech/wireless/2007-11-13-moible-networking_N.htm: McKinsey & Company, Eight Business Technology Trends to Watch, December 2007, http://www.mckinsey.com/ http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2008/apr/07/yehey/techtimes/20080407tech1.html http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0, 1895,2163369,00.asp http://opengardensblog.futuretext.com/archives/2007/08/mobile_advertis.html http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/technology/06wireless.html http://www.usatoday.com/tech/wireless/2007-11-13-moible-networking_N.htm
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http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1005982 http://www.pewInternet.org/PPF/p/1459/pipcomments.asp http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/144116/mobile_phone_ads_ potential_and_pitfalls.html http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0, 1895,2163369,00.asp http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0, 1895,2163369,00.asp http://www.pewInternet.org/PPF/p/1459/pipcomments.asp http://www.mmaglobal.com/ http://wirelessweek.com/mobile-advertising.aspx http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId= 9074 420 www.pewInternet.org/ppt/APA%20School%20Psychologis http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4779329.stm
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http://www.pewInternet.org/PPF/r/230/report_display.asp http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/144116/mobile_phone_ads_ potential_and_pitfalls.html http://www.pewInternet.org/PPF/r/244/report_display.asp http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/technology/06wireless.html http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1005982 http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/aug/14/socialnetworking.news http://www.usatoday.com/tech/wireless/2007-11-13-moible-networking_N.htm http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic& articleId=9074420 http://www.usatoday.com/tech/wireless/2007-11-13-moible-networking_N.htm http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/technology/03Yahoo!.html?_r=1&sq=Yahoo! %20Updates%20Mobile%20Search&st=nyt&oref=slogin&scp=1&pagewanted=print http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-6236672.html http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/technology/03Yahoo!.html?_r=1&sq=Yahoo! %20Updates%20Mobile%20Search&st=nyt&oref=slogin&scp=1&pagewanted=print http://www.usatoday.com/tech/wireless/2007-11-13-moible-networking_N.htm http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic& articleId=9074420 http://movamedia.wordpress.com/2007/09/05/mobile-social-networking-advertising-barcodes/ http://www.usatoday.com/tech/wireless/2007-11-13-moible-networking_N.htm: http://www.juniperresearch.com/index.php http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/aug/14/socialnetworking.news http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/aug/14/socialnetworking.news http://www.usatoday.com/tech/wireless/2007-11-13-moible-networking_N.htm http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/aug/14/socialnetworking.news http://www.mmaglobal.com/ http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2006/tc20060530_170086. htm?chan=search http://www.ana.net/ http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-6236672.html http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2006/tc20060530_170086. htm?chan=search http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-6236672.html http://www.marketingcharts.com/direct/one-third-are-open-to-mobile-advertising-if-it-lowerstheir-phone-bills-3718 http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/ http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1005982 http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2008/apr/07/yehey/techtimes/20080407tech1.html http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,138565-page,1-c,cellphones/article.html http://www.mckinsey.com/ SHRM Workplace Forecast 2006, http://www.shrm.org/trends/061606WorkplaceForecast.pdf SHRM Research Newsletter on Communication and Technology, http://www.shrm.org/research/briefly_published/WorkplaceCommunicationSeriesPartIII How to Use Social Media to Engage Employees, www.melcrum.com/offer/socialmedia/pdf/Social_Media_Chapter_1.pdf Interview of Michael Rudnick of Watson Wyatt Kaye, B., & Jordan-Evans, S., Engaging talent. Executive Excellence, 20, 8, 11, August 2003.
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SHRM Foundation Series: Effective Practice Guidelines: Employee Engagement and Commitment http://www.shrm.org/foundation/1006EmployeeEngagementOnlineReport.pdf 2003/2004 Watson Wyatt Communication ROI Study 2005/2006 Watson Wyatt Communication ROI Study Toby Ward, Building an Innovative Intranet, March 18, 2008, http://intranetblog.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2008/3/18/3588081.html S. Holtz, The Impact of New Technologies on Internal Communications, 10(1), 22-15, 2005/2006/December/January SHRM 2006 Workplace Communication Series III, http://www.shrm.org/research/briefly_published/WorkplaceCommunicationSeriesPartIII Intranets: A Reflection of Your Corporate DNA, Jeremiah Owyang, March 2008, http://www.Webstrategist.com/blog/2008/03/ How to Use Social Media to Engage Employees, www.melcrum.com/offer/socialmedia/pdf/Social_Media_Chapter_1.pdf Intranet Case Study: British Telecom, Toby Ward, February 29, 2008 http://www.intranetblog.ware.com/blog/_archives/2008/2/29/3552836.html Blog logs a culture change: Coca-Cola’s short-term Blog Blast takes the pulse of employees on key company values, January 1, 2008 Interview with Shel Holtz, Principal, Holtz Communication & Technology Bill Ives Blog, http://billives.typepad.com/portals_and_km/2007/12/serena-has-adop.html Peer Pressure: The Corporate Adoption of Social Media, Giovanni Rodriguez, November 9, 2006, http://hubbub.typepad.com/blog/2006/11/peer.pressure.html Intranet 2.0: Collaboration, Self-Publishing and Tools Mash-Up New Driving Forces, Kathleen Gilroy and Bill Ives, June 13, 2006, http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2006/06/13/intranet_20_collaboration_selfpublishing_ and.html Shel Holtz Blog: Social Media, Intranets, and Tools, March 31, 2008, http://blog.holtz.com/index.php/Weblog/social_media_intranets_and_tools/ Embracing Enterprise 2.0, Toby Ward, March 18, 2008, http://intranetblog.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2008/3/13/357885.html Will Microsoft Become Facebook for the Enterprise? Edward Cone, September 12, 2007, http://www.cioinsight.com/c/a/Past-News/Will-Microsoft-Become-Facebook-for-the-Enterprise/ Jakob Neilsen’s 10 Best Intranets of 2008, January 7, 2008, http://www.useit.com/alertbox/intranet_design.html
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Credentials for Organizations and Authors Cited Within This Whitepaper
Communication and Technology Workplace Communication Series Part III Source: SHRM—Society for Human Resource Management—August 2007 SHRM is the world’s largest professional association devoted to human resource management. It provides HR professionals the most current and comprehensive resources, and advances the profession by promoting HR’s essential, strategic role. Membership includes 225,000 individual members in over 125 countries, and a network of more than 575 affiliated chapters in the United States, as well as offices in China and India. Toby Ward, a former journalist and prominent writer and speaker on Intranets and Intranet planning, is the President of Prescient Digital Media. Shel Holtz, ABC (Accredited Business Communicator), is a principal of Holtz Communication and Technology. Clients have included Fortune companies such as Intel, Sears, PepsiCo, Aetna, General Mills, Disney, FedEx, Freescale Semiconductor, and the International Monetary Fund. Before forming Holtz Communication and Technology in February 1996, he was senior communications consultant and the communications practice leader for Alexander & Alexander Consulting Group in San Francisco, California. Shel has nearly 30 years of organizational communications experience in both corporate and consulting environments. He has a blog at http://blog.holtz.com/. Dianne Culhane, Group Director of Global Internal Communication at The Coca-Cola Co., is a member of the top 150 executives of The Coca-Cola Co., and has co-led the development of the vision and mission goals for the company's 10-year sustainable growth plan. Bill Ives is Vice President for Internet Channel Strategy at iQuest Analytics. He led the Knowledge Management Practice within the Human Performance Service Line at Accenture; He is author of the blog “Portals and KM” and of the book Business Blogs: A Practical Guide. Giovanni Rodriguez has spent 25 years working in corporate communications. Recently, he served as a principal at Eastwick Communications, a leading Silicon Valley PR agency. Giovanni left Eastwick in 2006 in order to found Hubbub, a communications consultancy focused on the integration of PR and participatory media into the traditional marketing mix. Giovanni has merged Hubbub into The Conversation Group. Known for his work in positioning and introducing new technologies, he has consulted for a broad range of technology leaders, including Fujitsu, SAP, HP, Cadence Design Systems, Business Objects, and VMware. He is a graduate of Princeton University. Kathleen Gilroy is a graduate of Stanford and works in the field of electronic learning and education. Gilroy developed the first distance education program for scientists, and the Harvard Business School’s first e-learning program in 1992. She is CEO of The Otter Group. Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D., is a User Advocate and a principal of the Nielsen Norman Group, which he cofounded with Dr. Donald A. Norman (former vice president of research at Apple Computer). Until 1998, he was a Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer.