26 / 09 / 2011

Is Social Business the new Social Media?

IBM is moving itself and its clients beyond social media into what they are claiming is a new wave of insight sharing, lead generation and collaboration.  This is what they are calling ‘Social Business’.

Although this is definitely not a new concept when IBM evangelises about a subject, changes happen.  They were the first to introduce e-business, a concept that radically transformed how companies buy and sell their products.  Their excitement about Social Business is therefore hard to ignore.

As explained by Ethan McCarty, Senior Manager of Digital and Social Strategy at IBM, Social Media will be dwarfed by Social Business.  It is about embracing the learnings from Social Media and applying it to business, to keep challenging the status quo. McCarty believes that ‘Social digital activity is moving from the periphery to the centre of business.’

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Is Social Media taking root in the Investor Community?

Pioneers of Social Media for the investment business, such as Howard Lindzon of StockTwits, have led to the IR community realising the advantages of getting social.  Using bespoke and mainstream social tools companies are able to better understand what matters to their investors.  They can pinpoint their messaging and by meeting the investment community where they are, they can expand their reach as well as monitor their presence.  This allows companies to better understand the impact of this engagement.

In addition, social media in all its forms, is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to distribute news that matters but still meet the demands of fair disclosure.  As a result contemporary investors are increasingly looking to Social Media for real-time quotes and breaking news about the companies they follow.

As an active engagement tool, these new ways of marketing are more than just news updates, they empower relationships.  Social components open new pathways for conversations and innovations within the IR community.

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Is the way that Twitter is used by CEOs about to change?

It may be that Alan Meckler, CEO of WebMediaBrand INC., is single handedly changing how companies communicate with their investors.  Meckler has stunned some observers and drawn questions from the SEC about his comments on the social media site Twitter.

WEBM provides a new level of access to their Chief Exec., and Board Chairman and Tweets about everything from pending acquisitions to his next quarter results.  Such examples of the information shared are "WEBM had a strong quarter" a month prior to the release of its second quarter results.  In addition Meckler tweets about upcoming acquisitions and even personal purchases of shares.

Although this approach has raised some eyebrows there have been no investor complaints or disruption to stock trading signaling that the market is comfortable with this new level of openness. Due to the unconventional nature of Meckler’s approach though the SEC has questioned the company about the CEO’s tweets.  They were concerned about compliance but the SEC seemed satisfied as no further action was taken.

It does seem an unconventional approach but surely greater access and openness to information about public companies can only be a good thing.

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How Facebook changes will affect your business

As reported in all areas of the media, Facebook recently made a number of product and platform changes that affect companies and brands using their site.  One of the main changes is that companies can now advertise by topic and not just precise interests and keywords.  This makes it easier for companies to target their audience as long as they are aware of their interests.  In addition, advertising restrictions have been eased, as long as the adverts are appropriately targeted.  The concern is that lifting restrictions on what are often seen as somewhat unsavoury offerings, such as gambling, will put all Facebook advertisements in the same distasteful pool.  Now, more than ever, truth and authenticity in advertising matters.  The final significant change for businesses is the privacy settings.  The alert that prompts users about who will see their post has gone from ‘everyone’ to ‘public’.  This new label will likely result in fewer public citations, which means businesses may have less to listen to.

These business Facebook changes have been launched at a time of significant change for the individual user.  Facebook’s ideal is that, in conjunction, they will open up a whole new online world to their users which will help them discover and consume far more content than ever before.

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CONCLUSION FOR THE WEEK

There was a great deal of excitement this week about Facebook’s changes and their new approach to content sharing.  This has come at a time that companies are also looking at the financial information that they are able to share via social media.  With business leaders such as Alan Meckler challenging the current status quo and companies such as IBM talking about Social Business, the content that we are able to, and would like to share, will continue to be a main area of discussion within the world of Social Media.