Posts tagged "facebook"

Gartner’s Top 5 CRM Predictions For 2010, Social Apps are Key

gartner_logo_2010.jpg Just when you thought 2010 predictions were finished, Gartner (site) comes out with more. This time it’s the top five customer relationship management (CRM) predictions that have produced some surprising insights, not least that while Facebook will be the top social network globally, in places like Russia, Japan, India and China it won’t. And the problem is language.

The Gartner predictions, developed from two pieces of research carried out by Gartner before Christmas, and in anticipation of the Gartner CRM summit in the UK next month and LA in June, show’s that CRM is going to be one of the top purchasing priorities for CIO’s in 2010 despite contracting budgets.

For most organizations, the single most logical way to differentiate the business is through great customer experiences, rather than having the lowest cost or most innovative products and services,” said Ed Thompson, vice president and Gartner analyst.

And the way to do that is developing a clear understanding of what the customer wants from a company's website, a case of the public must get what the public wants, Thompson says. So what are Gartner’s predictions?

1. Facebook's Global Position

By the end of the year Facebook (site) will be the principal social network in all but 25 countries across the globe. However, there will be significant gaps in its coverage that will be based on language issues, particularly in countries like Brazil, Russia, India, China and Japan.

In September 2009, Facebook had 300 million members with a predicted membership of 600 million by the end this year — including inactive accounts and multiple account users — based on growth patterns in 2009.

The result is that marketing and customer relationship management will have to change from working across a number of social networking sites to three or four sites that will cover the main languages.

2. Marketing Investment Will Remain Flat

Despite better prospects for the year ahead, Gartner is predicting that spend on marketing software will remain flat and that companies will also be looking for better return on IT investment.

Because management will be actively looking at internal investments and ROI, marketing departments and organizations will need to automate much operational process and use technology to measure areas that were previously unmeasured.

The result is that marketing optimization, with more results for fewer investments will become normal and marketing resource management will become part of strategic planning and collaboration.

3. Social Applications And Market Development

The majority of growth in social applications (80%) will have as their primary goal improving customer relationships for increased market share, rather than internal communication and collaboration.

Companies will continue to find it hard to make a business case for social media activities throughout the year, particularly as there will be no hard metrics or provable business outcomes to justify generic social applications.

However, Gartner says that its research has shown that social projects with defined and clear purposes do show measurable results and those vendors that move from general social applications to specific purpose applications will enjoy double and even triple-digit growth over the year.

4. Online Marketing Boom

By the end of next year more than 90% of Fortune 1000 marketing campaigns will have online marketing elements, up from 50% in 2009.

Online marketing will be particularly attractive to these companies because they will be able to assess directly what is working and what is not working in a given campaign. By using precise metrics, companies will be able to save up to 20% on marketing communications with companies also investing in responsive advertisements and contextual marketing.

5. Online Marketing Slashing Costs

Finally, Gartner predicts that by investing in online marketing, companies will save themselves up to 20% of the costs of marketing communications, with more assessable results from communications that they do invest in.

The result will be more streamlined campaigns with more thorough, online testing of campaigns before official launches.

If you’re in the UK next month and interested in finding out more about the summit check out Gartner’s European website. If not, the summit will also take place in LA at the end of June.

SMB Tech Roll-up: Social Media Is Good And Bad For Business, With Security Top of Mind

We have a mixed bag of news for SMBs with conflicting views on whether social media is good or bad for business. There was a lot of other research published this week giving a considerable amount to think about for companies in, or thinking about entering the tech fray.

Social Media is good for Business?

American SMBs are turning to social media in an effort to boost their customer base, according to the recently released, Small Business Success Index.

Sponsored by Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business, the report shows that over the past year alone social media adoption by small businesses has doubled from 12% to 24%.

The research showed that nearly one out of five small business owners is actively using social media in their business with many of them investing in social media applications, including blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

The biggest expectation small business owners have from social media is expanding external marketing and engagement with 61% of the respondents indicating that they use social media to identify and attract new customers.

Amongst the findings:

  • 75% surveyed have a company page on a social networking site
  • 61% use social media for identifying and attracting new customers
  • 57% have built a network through a site like LinkedIn
  • 45% expect social media to be profitable in the next twelve months
  • 72% have found ways to operate more efficiently

However, it also showed that there were still some concerns about using social media with:

  • 50% saying it takes more time than expected
  • 17% saying it gives people a chance to criticize their business in a public forum

Only 6% felt that social media use has hurt the image of the business more than helped it.

Download a copy of the Small Business Success Index and also find out how your business scores on the six key dimensions of small business success from the growsmartbusiness.com website.

Social Media Is Bad For Business?

The flip side of the Small Business Success Index is the report from Webroot, which was also published this week showing that IT managers in small and medium-sized organizations believe malware spread through social networks, Web 2.0 applications and other Web-based vectors will pose the most serious risk to information security in 2010.

The data is part of a new survey of 803 IT professionals in companies with 100 to 5,000 employees in the United States, the UK and Australia.

The vast majority of respondents (80%) say Web 2.0-based malware will be a problem in 2010. In fact, seven out of 10 (73%) said Web-based threats are more difficult to manage than email-based threats. Survey respondents also identified data security and confidentiality, data loss prevention and securing mobile and laptop users as the top three priorities for Web security in 2010.

Webroot commissioned the survey to identify the threats security professionals most anticipate in 2010, the weakest links in Web security and how companies are addressing these issues.

Key findings include the fact that nearly one quarter of those surveyed believe their company is very or extremely vulnerable to threats from:

  • Microsoft operating system vulnerabilities (25%)
  • Unpatched client-side software (24%)
  • Browser vulnerabilities (24%)
  • Web 2.0 applications (23%)

The majority (73%) of respondents agree that managing Web-based threats is more challenging than managing email-based threats.

And while many believe they are under threat, many others have already been compromised. These included:

  • 23% compromised by employees who accessed personal Webmail accounts
  • 24% used social networking sites
  • 25% used P2P networking
  • 32% downloaded media

If you’re interested in more check it out on the Webroot blog.

SMBs Maintaining Not Upgrading Software

SMBs are spending more than half their budgets on maintaining existing software than they are on new or upgraded software, according to the latest Forrester's Enterprise And SMB Software Survey.

The survey of nearly 2,200 IT executives and technology decision-makers at enterprise and small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) in North America and Europe is part of Forrester's Business Data Services (BDS) series, which helps Vendor Strategy professionals profile their target market's budget allocation and technology adoption.

The survey shows that the poor economic environment has created a backlog of business application software upgrade activities for firms, and many plan to address the issue this year.

Amongst the areas companies will be spending on are:

  • 21 percent of SMBs plan to upgrade existing finance and accounting software,
  • 19 percent of SMBs plan to upgrade their customer relationship management (CRM) applications,
  • 18 percent of SMBs plan to upgrade industry-specific software.

In addition, more than 20 percent of all SMBs have concrete plans to implement CRM or information and knowledge management (I&KM) software in 2010 or later, representing the fastest-growing SMB software markets in 2010.

While cloud computing has many enterprises interested, growth of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications is driving the market more, and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is still slow, the report also shows.

More information about Forrester's Business Data Services is available at the Forrester website.

UK SMBs Save By Not Using WiFi

Instead of relying on Wi-Fi hotspots, small enterprises’ employees should use mobile broadband USB sticks and datacards when traveling to save their businesses an average of UK£ 2145 (US$ 3368) each year depending on the number of employees on the road, according to research by UK telecoms, technology and media consultancy Analysys Mason.

Entitled Small Enterprises Save Money With Mobile broadband, published ahead of Mobile World Congress 2010 just finishing in Barcelona, it shows that each employee who travels throughout the year can accumulate Wi-Fi hotspot charges of up to UK£ 700 (US$ 1099).

All in all, the quality of service, simplicity and performance of mobile broadband in the UK is very good. SMEs can choose highly competitive offerings, with or without contracts from different providers.

This short report is part of Analysys Mason’s Research Enterprise program on the global enterprise and SME sectors.

If you’re interested in more, details of the report can be found on the website.

Social Media Minute: Facebook Rockets to #2, Mobile is Hot With Socialites

Social media moves so fast, it's hard to keep up. Here are the week's top stories in scan-friendly format:

  • Facebook is now Number Two Site in the U.S.
  • PleaseRobMe Lets Burglars Know When You're not Home
  • Google Admits to Privacy Foul-up
  • Social Networking is Hotter on Mobile than Desktop Web

Facebook Now Number Two Site in the U.S.

The ever-popular social networking site Facebook has moved ahead of a web pioneer company to become the second most popular site in the US. According to compete.com, an Internet analytics company, Facebook is now generating more online traffic than Yahoo.

In January, Facebook was accessed by 133 million unique visitors in the United States, whereas Yahoo garnered 132 million visitors in the same time frame. As a blog post points out, Facebook is also doing very well in the user engagement arena as well. This means that when a Facebook user comes to the web site, they stay on the site for long periods of time, a figure advertisers look to for where to market their goods.

With Facebook crossing the mark of having 400 million users, there is no indication of this traffic growth letting up. With Google ahead of Facebook in terms of monthly traffic, we will all watch and see if Facebook surpasses the search giant in web site popularity amongst U.S. web surfers.

PleaseRobMe Points out When You're not Home

Location based sites (LBS) and games are very popular amongst smart phone owners right now. Services such as Foursquare, Loopt and Gowalla allow you to share your location (and play a game in Foursquare's case) with the public and your social network. If Twitter was voyeuristic, these new class of games take it to a whole new level.

One site, called PleaseRobMe.com aggregates all the updates that folks using these LBS sites and points out "all those empty homes out there." This is because if you're checked in at the Starbucks down the street, your house might be empty for burglars to potentially pay you a visit.

The site has garnered some privacy concerns, but is is pointed out that PleaseRobMe is merely aggregating publicly available information that anyone could find on Twitter. What about you, do you use location based games? Does this site and others alike give you pause the next time you 'check-in"?

Google Admits To Privacy Foul-up

Google launched their Facebook-like social application Buzz and was immediately flooded with privacy concerns from the public regarding the information it allows to see. With Buzz, personal email addresses could be harvested by merely viewing the messages going back and forth between users. Also, without any action by the user, your Gmail and Google Talk contacts were publicly revealed for everyone to see.

At the onset of Google Buzz's launch, many users online protested via Twitter, blogs and other outlets. Google made adjustments over the weekend and now users have more control on what content Buzz displays to the all Internet users. Why did Google let this happen? Buzz was initially used internally to Google, where all email address are available amongst co-workers. When Buzz was made public, they didn't envision the privacy issue until after the public outcry was all over the Internet.

The ironic part of Google's privacy failure is that recently, rival Facebook has received loads of criticism for their handling of similar privacy matters. Users online are very particular about the manner in which their private information is used on the Internet. Google will hopefully take the Buzz incident into mind when rolling out other social systems in the future.

Social Networking Is Hotter on Mobile Than Desktop Web

A study out of Ruder Finn, shows that Americans are using their mobile phone for a period of around three hours per day. That begs the question: what do people do on their phones for that long?

The mobile web is mainly being used to socialize with friends, family and colleagues. Finn's study show that 91% of mobile phone users are making connections with friends. This is compared to 79% who report using their computers for socializing.

These number point to a trend that has been covered here on Social Media Minute, cell phone users are highly social folks who utilize their mobile phone as a gateway for their friends. The mobile phone, therefore, can be seen as the ultimate onboarding device for social activities.

Recent figures show that smartphones now make up around 30% of sales volume in the mobile handset market. It is now 'cool' to have a smartphone and usage models are showing that more and more folks are using smartphones to access Facebook and other social networks. Advertisers and other stakeholders should be on notice: people of all ages are hopping online via their mobile devices: how are you going to reach this new market?

Social E-Mail Wars: Outlook Integrates LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace

Rather than creating an in-house social networking tool like the thus-far-catastrophic e-disaster more commonly known as Google Buzz, Microsoft (site) has decided to integrate the elite right into their own platform.

Introducing LinkedIn, Facebook and Myspace for Outlook 2010:

The Outlook Social Connector

Social networking within e-mail isn’t a brand new idea; Outlook’s Social Connector (OSC) was first touched on by Microsoft in November of last year. The addition aims to be enterprise-y by connecting people with their colleagues in a familiar environment.

"We don't want this to sort of be the next great time waster in the workplace," pointed out Will Kennedy, a corporate vice president for the Office group.

Features include:

  • The People Pane A name, picture, and title for your colleagues whenever reading a message from them.
  • Rich history See a communications history for each person that sends you messages with access to the most recent messages and attachments.
  • Activities Download and see real-time activity for your colleagues from business and social networks.
  • Get friendly Request someone as a colleague or friend with one click. Synchronize those colleagues with Outlook and keep them up-to-date as their information changes.
  • SharePoint 2010 Connect to the new MySite social networking experience right out of the box with the OSC & SharePoint 2010.
  • Extensible A public SDK allows anyone to build a connection to business or consumer social networks.

microsoft_outlook_socnetworking.jpg Outlook Social Connector

LinkedIn for Outlook

LinkedIn for Outlook allows Office 2010 Beta users to connect the OSC to a public network for the first time. By doing so, you can take advantage of all that niftyness mentioned above. Yes, this means you can view your LinkedIn colleagues’ status updates and photos next to the e-mail messages they sent you.

Also, in case you haven't put two and two together, it also means that when a colleague updates their contact information in LinkedIn, their contact info is automatically updated within Outlook. The same goes for phones synced with Outlook—contact info from the Web is automatically synchronized with your mobile.

Facebook and Myspace Partnerships

Even though Kennedy says Microsoft doesn’t want the OSC to be viewed as a time waster, they’ve sprinkled some popular social networking platforms in as well. The integration of Facebook and Myspace offers all the same perks that the addition of LinkedIn does:

outlook_facebook.jpg Facebook for Outlook

Says the official Microsoft Outlook blog: “Our vision for Outlook (and the OSC) is to provide a communications hub that is vital to both professional and personal communications; by integrating with both Facebook and MySpace, Outlook 2010 enables you to connect not only to co-workers and colleagues, but with all of your friends and family within your Outlook Inbox.”

Social E-Mail

It's kind of a big deal now, wouldn't you say? And as hard as Microsoft tries to convince us all that this connector isn't a time-waster, it's highly unlikely it'll be seen that way—at least, in part. However, there two points of interest with this approach: The inclusion of LinkedIn will surely attract the fickle enterprise, and could be the one tick that equals staying power for this tool. Secondly, Microsoft didn't mess around with in-house solutions. This may or may not be Google's biggest mistake with Buzz (other than the whole privacy thing), as it seems people love them some Facebook and Twitter time (note: there's no talk of being able to push information towards Twitter or Facebook from within Outlook yet). 

Are we ready for everything Google, or is a combination of our favorites the golden ticket? It'll be interesting to watch these two solutions compete.

Get started by downloading Office 2010 Beta.

Google Grabs Aardvark Social Search for $50 Million

These days, staying away from Google is nearly impossible. Just ask ex-Googlers Max Ventilla and Nathan Stoll, who left the search giant to make their own engine – a social search tool called Aardvark – just to turn right back around and sell it to them.
 

Though Google has yet to confirm the purchase themselves, TechCrunch reports that Big G has paid out somewhere around US$ 50 million for Aardvark. This is significant because even though you might not have heard of them, the company is no small player.

Finding the Best Answer

Because it’s social, the engine requires users to register first. Once that’s all set, a user can ask any question and Aardvark will search for "the perfect person to answer." The idea is that instead of digging through pages of content, a user can get a direct answer the first time around. 

The success of the engine is, of course, entirely dependent on the number of users, the number of questions asked and the number of questions answered. As of October 2009, such stats looked like this: 

  • 90,361 users
  • 55.9% of users had created content
  • An average of 3,167.2 questions per day
  • 98.1% of questions asked on Aardvark were unique
  • 87.7% of questions submitted were answered (60% within the first 10 minutes)

What Will Google Do with Aardvark?

Honestly, who knows! Big G has had a social hair up their you-know-what for a long time now, but the itch has been particularly prevalent this year, highlighted exponentially by the release of Google Buzz. 

Google also kicked out a social search function of their own last month. The feature is still in beta, and you can see it in action if you've got a Google Profile. It  works sort of like Aardvark, except instead of posing a question to a load of strangers, Google Social Search digs up results related to a query from within your social circle.

For example, if you use Google to search for a restaurant like Denny's and a friend connected to you via your Profile has reviewed that restaurant on Yelp and connected Yelp to their Profile, their review will likely be in your social search results. This is great for discovering the Web activities of your friends, but not exactly direct and time-saving like Aardvark aims to be. 

Like most of Google's moves as of late, the addition of Social Search was seen by many as a challenge for Facebook. It will be interesting to see if and how the acquisition of Aardvark will continue that conversation.

Join the 2010 Vancouver Olympics on Twitter, Facebook

Today marks the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics hosted in Vancouver, Canada. No time to sit in front of the tube all day watching the events? Well luckily for you they will be covered almost exclusively by Facebook and Twitter.

There’s even a list of verified tweeting athletes. Fans can also check out Twitter-Athletes, a site that organizes lists of athletes in other sports who use the service and it links directly to Winter Olympic Tweets.

On Facebook, the IOC has created an Olympic Games Page, which already has more than a million followers. The page plans to feature updates and photos from athletes.

Despite some earlier confusion about rules governing social media at the Olympics, Bob Condron, Director of Media Services for the United States Olympic Committee says that "Athletes are free to blog during the Games," adding that "…Twitter is just a blog that's written 140 characters at a time."

And though an official Olympic hashtag has yet to be announced, consensus among many bloggers says that #Van2010 is the way to go.

So go ahead, cheer on your favorite Olympic athletes. From curlers to ice dancers to biathletes, here’s hoping it’s the 2010 games FTW.

Google to Add Facebook-like Features to Gmail

Yesterday we reported that Facebook was taking a tiny slice of Google’s pie by adding a webmail feature. Today, it looks like Big G is taking that slice back by adding status updates to Gmail.

According to The New York Times, Google is slated to announce some social add-ons this week (possibly today). It’s rumored that the new features will allow Gmail users to post short status updates about whatever's on their minds. 

Though Google already allows users to post status messages via their chat service, this week’s addition is aimed at a larger audience—much like the way status messages were once the driving force behind Facebook's popularity, or Twitter's entire method of operation. 

WHEN WILL IT END?

The addition is yet another move in the social direction by Google, which already has a social network called Orkut, a profile service and, most recently, a social search function which allows users to search terms within their Gmail friends' connected media (Twitter, Yelp, Facebook, etc.)

Unfortunately, these moves have done little to grab the kind of social attention Google is seemingly looking for. Will the addition of status updates do the trick? 

Meanwhile, Facebook is holding its own. Last week it was announced that the popular platform is working on a full-blown webmail client to replace its current messaging service. The client — codenamed Project Titan — will work to keep users under the Facebook umbrella for all their daily activities, while Big G's status move will work to do the same for Google. 

“It might look like a minor feature advance, but this is another blow in the war against Facebook,” said Jeremiah Owyang, a partner at Altimeter Group, a technology consulting company.

Google Social Search Steps into Beta, Challenges Facebook?

Google has challenged popular networks like Facebook and further blurred the line between social networking and search by graduating their Social Search tool to beta for all Google users. 

Keep Tabs On Everything, and Everyone

Here’s how it works: First, check out your Google profile. Here’s a shot of mine:

In the top right corner are all the things I’ve allowed to connect with my Google profile, such as my Twitter feed and my Facebook account. These connections are key for Social Search results—whatever you connect in this space is what will appear when your friends search for information that you’ve commented on using one of these networks.

For example, if a friend I’m connected to uses Google to search for information about a restaurant in San Francisco called Jitra Thai Cuisine, my Yelp review of the restaurant will appear in a designated space for Social Search results. This can come in handy for people whose friends’ opinions weigh heavier than those of strangers. Also, it's a simple way to discover what your friends are up to.

Google vs. ______

It's a new feature and there are still kinks to be worked out, but the important thing to note here is that Google is integrating social networking with daily Internet activities in such a way that perhaps soon we won't have a choice but to be connected. 

Facebook has a similar search function that digs up relevant information from the friends in your network, but of course, it's no Google. Also, displaying social results next to regular results as Google does offers a nice balance of information for users.

Still, it's a little early to be talkin' checkmates. So, try it out yourself and tell us what you think. All you need is a Google account!