Category: Online Marketing

Ralf HallerRalf Haller October 24, 2009

Network services vs. information services, or how Communities (Facebook) replace Search (Google) in the future

This week we have seen two major announcements that are clearly relevant for social media communications: first Microsoft said they would integrate both Facebook and Twitter into Bing and then Google announced an integration into search with Twitter and others. “Financial terms” were exchanged between Google and Twitter is what Marissa Mayer disclosed at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco so it is at least clear that there are business interests behind it.

I think this will be the start of much more social media relevance and for sure also the use of private social communities (disclosure note: that we also offer as a service to deploy and manage) where companies built their own communities that are relevant to them and the stakeholders that they see as relevant.

At the same event Web 2.0, the most commented on presentation was btw exactly about this topic where Sean Parker, an entrepreneur who was founding President of Facebook and founder of infamous Napster and others and at the age of 27 was already a VC at Founders Fund, talks about a paradigm shift away from information services towards network services: “Why companies like Twitter, Facebook, Ebay and Apple (but not Google) will determine the future of the Internet” or “Collecting data is less valuable than connecting people”. His slides can be seen here.

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Ralf HallerRalf Haller October 10, 2009

Online shift: print industry to face same fate as music industry?

Recently I have been hearing in various places that print news were recovering, triggering comments of relief (from the newspapers) that predictions that everything was heading online were obviously not correct. I had a smile on my face when I read that, and it reminded me of a short-term assignment I had more than ten years ago with Bertelsmannn BMG in Hong Kong, where I had to plan for a data center for their AsiaPac countries. BMG was already thinking then about distributing music over the Internet and for that purpose went into the Internet access business. They formed a joint venture with – at that time market leader – AOL and even built their own country-wide access networks in Germany, as well as buying providers in other countries. Of course they did not realize that the Internet is a shared medium and it therefore did not make too much sense to buy it like a print or CD manufacturing plant.  Back to Hong Kong: as the data center did not seem to make economic sense at the time I suggested to them that I help with setting up an online music sales operation testing the waters in the AsiaPac region first (at that time dial-up was still to be found everywhere). Despite their investment into the AOL joint venture and into whole country IP networks (in Hong Kong we had the option to buy Hong Kong SuperNet, the city’s first and largest ISP) they looked quite puzzled about my offering and had one question only: how do we protect ourselves from illegal pirate downloads and distributions? My response was that there are technical methods even if not all can be protected, but most importantly we cannot sit and wait until it happens anyway. So still they turned the idea down and I moved on as well…

By now we all know what happened: a fruit company from Cupertino sells more than 50% of all music online and is taking the profits. Not only Bertelsmann BMG but all the other music labels lost the race to a company that had no idea about the music label business and its distribution at all.

So while the music industry shift online is done and one company dominates it, I am convinced we will see the same in the print media. And it looks like it might be the same fruit company eying for it. Read I. Cringley’s latest article on this, providing more background info. Interesting to read that he had the exact same experience in the print publication industry (in 1994 already) that I had in the music industry. History repeats itself, it seems, telling us that if you wait too long someone else will come and take that opportunity.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller September 6, 2009

Wahl-O-Mat: good idea that also shows potential of online marketing tools

For the German elections a neat online tool has been launched. The Wahl-O-Mat asks 38 questions that can be answered with agree-neutral-disagree. Then you can also double weight each of the 38 questions if you think it is very important for your decision.

Lastly you can see which party comes closest to your answers. At first sight a neat idea but after trying it a few times and ending up with totally different results I think they should have tried a bit harder. Overall, though, it shows the potential of simple online marketing tools. But it is crucial to put more effort into the modeling if you want to have a tool that people come back to. For the Wahl-O-Mat they did too simple a job I think and ended up with only simple results. Too bad. But it can be done better, much better!

Ralf HallerRalf Haller August 29, 2009

Web 2.0 collaboration platform rollout at SwissRe

I attended this week a presentation hosted at Deloitte in Zurich. While Deloitte presented some high-level social communications and collaboration PPT slides from a former internal workshop only, the communication expert and project manager at SwissRe (a large global reinsurer company) had much more concrete to say about his project. SwissRe will launch end of September now to all their 10k employees after a successful trial with 1300 employees since April this year an internal collaboration software based on an off-the-shelf Web 2.0 community tool. What makes this news interesting is not the rollout of this tool which is IT-wise a piece of cake, but the fact that such a conservative company now suddenly opens up to full collaboration between all its employees allowing them to use any kind of web based tools such as forums, wikis, IM, blogs etc. being able to form groups and share knowledge across any departments globally.

They justified the investment with a range of organizational and cultural benefits that they expect but one thing worked out by chance very nicely, they could show that they can replace two very expensive (only used by small groups) existing collaboration tools that they inherited from some former acquisitions. The project was run by the communications department and was not an IT project which makes total sense since it is not about the tool or technology but about the business benefits in communications that are at the center here.

During the following apero I raised the idea that any progressive bank that would allow its analysts to work with such tools would have a significant advantage over the currently closed-minded and self-centric approach that all the banks have right now. People agreed with me. Will it happen? We will see, there is certainly a chance for a paradigm shift which is not only the case in the banking and insurance markets. And if there are some expensive not much used software tools in your organization as well, how about taking a look at replacing them with something that could actually work and provide big benefits to your organization? Now is the right time to do this.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller August 9, 2009

Social media in German elections – more than a joke?

This year’s elections in Germany will also make use of social media tools. Unlike the US presidential elections, I do not expect they will be much affected — with one exception:

The newly founded HSP (Horst Schlämmer Partei) is betting big time through using social media. On its campaign website you can see that they are present on YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, StudiVZ, have newsletters, a blog, its podcast is number one in the iTunes store already, and much more. It looks almost as if they are making fun of social media tools, too, having just about any social network embedded code for copy available.

Watch the campaign video, I like most where he shows his plan in a live TV show.

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Ralf HallerRalf Haller July 25, 2009

Ericsson buys wireless business (CDMA, LTE) in NA from Nortel

Hot off the press: Ericsson buys the CDMA and LTE business in NA from Nortel for 1.1 bln USD. While NSN lost out in this deal it is Motorola and (Alcatel)-Lucent who will not like this at all. Ericsson will double its revenue in NA with this deal and also buy a profitable business.

As we have seen at the Mobile Wireless event in Barcelona, Nortel’s LTE development was quite advanced, having been able to leverage its WiMAX technology (shares OFDM with LTE) to gain a lead I think.  Their LTE system was showcased jointly with LG and T-Mobile. See our videos on this as well.

Funny side note: we did this video by simply walking around and cost us zero. Goal was to be as authentic as possible. T-Mobile had their Marcom department run a very expensive video with professional graphic animations on this as well but got only double the viewers (3000) that we did (1500).  This is how the social web works, it us all about being authentic. Next year we plan to invest a little more than zero, but then strive for 10-100x the viewers: stay tuned. :-)

Ralf HallerRalf Haller July 24, 2009

How to check out quickly if Twitter is for you

Looks like Twitter is now becoming quite popular in Europe too. At first sight it seems like a waste of time for most people, but only if you take some time to check it out will you really know if that is true or not.

Here a list of the things you can do to get your feet wet:

Introductions: read the Twitterhandbook first, then you can also go through the new Twitter 101 for business. Also great tutorials can be found on Slideshare, which I recommend reading after these two introductions and after you have actually signed on and started using it already. There are more than 4,000 presentations on Twitter already uploaded. (a nice one is this here.)

Using your first apps: some apps you might want to install are Twitpic, which lets you upload pictures and also send them simply via e-mail. To start getting some discussion going you can try out TwttrStrm, which lets you post questions. You can also link to your Facebook account with twitter/badges. There are endless apps available. One recent one is Geo Chirp, which allows you to search for Twitter users locally.

Install on your mobile: to make things really neat you have to install a Twitter client on your mobile. I have tried a few apps on my iPod touch and all of them do the job quite well. It is more a matter of personal taste I think what app you pick: I use mostly TweetDeck now but Tweetie and Twitterrific are good choices too.

Only time will tell if Twitter is indeed the most initially undervalued business app or the most hyped up tool.

My feeling is that either Google or Microsoft might acquire them if not even Facebook, who seem to have some close links to them already.

Ralf HallerRalf Haller July 7, 2009

Interesting survey on the use of Social Media for business

This survey was done by a sales and CRM expert and not by a Social Business Software vendor or an analyst company also selling their services and reports to SBS vendors. So, in short, it should have higher credibility. It was done among the members of a social media information community who should be very familiar with the subject.  I also think the respondents’ companies are most likely all US-based.

Some of the more interesting outcomes are:

  • while most companies are using social media currently for branding and marketing communication purposes, the survey shows that in the future lead generation will be the number one purpose
  • currently the most used tool is LinkedIn while in the future blogging will be the highest ranked
  • there is a clear difference in how small and larger (>1000 employees) companies use social media: smaller companies focus on external use such as marketing and customer research, while bigger companies use it for internal purposes such as information sharing and collaboration
  • for the use of Twitter (still rare in B2B btw) the same holds true. Currently it is used for sharing breaking news but the majority of the people interviewed mention that this will be “keeping in immediate touch with customers” for the future

Ralf HallerRalf Haller June 17, 2009

GoogleDocs and to threaten Microsoft?

These are exciting times – from an innovation point of view – for web collaboration tools. The last weeks brought major news from Google and Adobe who are both pushing hard on web tools now.

Over the last two weeks I have been trying out GoogleDocs and using it as much as possible. While it performs well and loading pages is very fast, there is still some work ahead for Google to make it a mainstream daily business tool. For example, the file upload limitations were a big problem for me as our presentations are usually big and to have an only 500k doc size limit means I cannot use it other than for creating new presentations. The text editor is usable, although I had problems here too uploading our company Word template. It did not do that properly, which means I would have to create a new theme as well to be able to use it. I did not try yet the collaboration functions but will do so shortly. Overall this was a promising but not fully satisfying experience.

So when Adobe announced its platform, I was ready to try it out as well and see if it is more suitable for daily work.  The presentation tool did not allow me to uplaod any presentations at all, though. Maybe it is because that they have not opened up that feature to international users or it is not yet supported. I did not further investigate as I had no time to fiddle around with something so basic. To create new presentations though is – WOW – very, very cool. Excellent graphics and templates that make creating a presentation a very enjoyable experience. The GUI is Apple-like but as far as I can tell (I am still not a Mac user) even better. The best was the sharing function, though that provides nearly the same features as a GoToMeeting or Webex but also here looks actually nicer and impressive. Not surprisingly for Adobe the PDF online viewer is fast and very well done too.

So as a first and not final summary of my excursion into a very interesting new web collaboration software world, I must say that Adobe’s online sharing ConnectNow is something we will use for sure and I can highly recommend. The online text editors have not yet convinced me, although I will keep GoogleDocs here on my radar screen and if they manage to do even more good things then maybe it can replace Word. For now it won’t be able to do that though.

Last, but not least, if both companies could combine the best that they have then I guess they could really threaten Microsoft. Of course that won’t happen as you can also see with the fact that Adobe’s does currently not support Google’s Chrome browser. :-) Which is a sign that they see each other more as competitors than partners.