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Businesses Go Multi-Platform

February 25, 2010 

Chinese plate jugglersBusinesses are spreading their social media wings in a big way, creating lots of new opportunity but also questions about how to manage their suddenly overflowing baskets of online goodies.

Recent research I’ve been conducting into business adoption of multiple social media platforms is turning up some striking results.  The 53 respondents to a survey I posted in December report that their organizations are using an average of eight social media platforms today, compared to less than one in 2006. They also report nearly unanimous satisfaction with these platforms in the area of value for the dollar and performance against expectations.

These results are only preliminary and are based upon a small sample base. We’ll continue to seek responses to the survey and sponsors for the project as we move toward a goal of 150 total responses. People who take the survey get an early look at the numbers with a preliminary report to be released at South by Southwest in Austin next month.

While I can’t share any numbers at this point (you’ll have to take the survey to get those), here are some general observations.

  • Marketers are having really, really good experiences with social media so far;
  • The metrics they use are all over the map, though some consensus is beginning to emerge on what matters;
  • Few organizations are taking a disciplined approach to measuring ROI at this point. That may come later, but they’re busy with governance issues right now;
  • Marketers say Twitter is the killer app;
  • The next big challenge is to get procedures and organizations in place to integrate social media into other communication programs.

In-depth interviews with 10 organizations, including some very big brands like Coca-Cola and Ford, indicate that a federated approach to social media adoption is emerging. In other words, large businesses are developing centers of excellence at the corporate level to share tools and best practices but are leading implementation to individual business units. On Facebook, however, some companies are looking at the example set by Honda, which has taken a disciplined approach by building separate fan pages for each of its brands around a consistent set of guidelines and aggregating those communities on a corporate fan page.

The report on the first stage of the research will be available in about three weeks and I’ll let you know where to get it. If you’re in the social media tools business and are interested in co-sponsoring the research, please let me know.

Twitter for Business

When my friends at International Data Group asked me to prepare a seminar on Twitter, I didn’t know realize engrossing the project would be. After more than 20 hours of research and PowerPoint immersion, I came up with this 45-slide overview of how to apply Twitter to business. Among the topics covered are:

  • Creating a Twitter presence;
  • Building a follower base;
  • Building visibility;
  • Business uses of Twitter;
  • The future of Twitter in the enterprise.

I relied upon my own experience as well as helpful advice posted by Sirona Consulting, Small Business Trends, the Twitter Fan Wiki and Richard Caelius for the material.  In the Web 2.0 spirit, I’m distributing the presentation on a Creative Commons Attribution license for you to download and share. I can also prepare a customized version of this presentation for delivery as a webcast or on-site seminar. Contact me if that interests you.

Tip of the Week: PDF-XChange Viewer

Adobe gave us a great gift with Acrobat, but it also created new frustrations in the process. The free Acrobat viewer that Adobe distributes offers few tools to annotate PDF documents. For that, Adobe would like us to upgrade to one of its advanced products for prices beginning at $99.
If all you want to do is mark up and share Acrobat documents, though, there are a number of free alternatives. And the best one I’ve found is PDF-XChange Viewer from Tracker Software Products. The basic version of this free utility offers a lot of power, including the ability to attach sticky notes, highlight sections of the document and add drawings and pencil notes. Since Google now supports uploads of any document type, you can now collaborate on Acrobat documents without paying for a license or monthly fee.

Just for Fun: Best National Geographic Pictures of the Year

Even as the magazine industry craters, National Geographic seems to hold its own. The secret is perhaps its incredible photographs, which have a splendor on paper that computer screens have yet to reproduce. Here’s a roundup of some great recent photos. I don’t know who christened these the best, or even what year the title refers to, but it doesn’t really matter.  They’re just a pleasure to admire.

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