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Monday, 02 June 2014 11:38

Bridging the gap between social media promises and reality

Bridging the gap between social media promises and reality

South African brands that want to craft successful social media strategies should focus less on the channels that they use to interact with their customers and more on the human values that social media embodies.


That’s according to Mike Stopforth, CEO of South Africa’s social business authority, Cerebra, who will be one of the keynote speakers at the Acceleration Digital Ignition Symposium 2014 in June. Stopforth says that social media is potentially much more than a set of channels, platforms, apps and networks for disseminating content and interacting with consumers.


It could also be a platform for creating a more social business that is built on enduring human values such as authenticity, transparency, and genuine concern for and interest in customers and employees as individuals.


The challenge that most businesses will face in achieving this end is that it is “hard to scale humanity,” says Stopforth.


“Most companies are immense corporate animals with multiple businesses, divisions, product lines, and services,” he adds. “They find it difficult to represent a human approach to their customers and other stakeholders through one social media face such as a Twitter account.” This leads to what Stopforth describes as a form of “social schizophrenia” – the distance between what a company promises in social media, and what it actually delivers in real life.


Narrowing this gap is not a simple matter because it involves reforming the business from the inside-out to become more social, says Stopforth. This demands a fundamental shift in the way an organisation hires and manages staff, handles finances, formulates policies and governance, designs products and communicates with stakeholders.


Until the organisation gets all that right, it is important to manage expectations in social media channels and refrain from making promises that the business cannot keep. “A gap between the promise and the delivery is a far bigger risk than not making a promise at all,” says Stopforth.


During his talk in the Symposium, Stopforth will talk in detail about how social trends and technologies have changed the way people connect, communicate and collaborate, and what that means for businesses. He will also offer some ideas about the right questions for brands to ask as they make sense of this new landscape.


Acceleration’s Digital Ignition Symposium in Franschhoek will provide digital executives with practical insights that will help them to create successful marketing, publishing, mobile, social and app strategies for their organisations.


Other speakers lined up for the event are:

  • Elliot Reuben, Principal Business Consultant, Exact Target
  • Devon Tighe, Vice President of Data Strategy and Operations at The WPP Data Alliance
  • Steve Plimsoll, who is responsible for Mindshare’s global technology and data vision
  • Jeff Eales, Director of Systems & Development at BSKYB and is TV advertising veteran of nearly 40 years

Says Richard Mullins, director at Acceleration: “The theme of the Symposium this year is Know Your Audience – an area where the latest social media trends are extremely relevant. Companies need to tie social media measurement to business metrics that really matter to their organisations rather than getting caught up in the buzzwords. This will help them to drive tangible value from their social media investments.”


Don’t miss this opportunity to accelerate your digital world. To book your place to the Symposium,
please go to http://bit.ly/1t8pIAN for more information.

Published in Online
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 09:24

Facebook turned 10 this with February the 4th marking the auspicious occasion.


We reminisce over the world’s leading social network, their remarkable achievements in just 10 years, and take a glimpse at what’s to come from the social media pioneer.
While 2014 is just another year for the social media giant to collect users, data, and revenues, it's also a reminder of how quickly the tech world evolves.
Facebook has collected billion-plus users, connecting people from every corner of the planet. Its global brand recognition may be the best in the tech world, rivalling only Google and Apple, both of which had a substantial head start.
As Facebook approaches the ripe, old age of 10 (that's 70 in tech years, right?), the company will continue to face questions about its functionality in the social media industry it created. We're not talking about Facebook disappearing — in fact, all indications point to another year of increased user metrics and revenue, in keeping with its years of steady growth. Instead we're talking about Facebook's identity, which could be lost amid the new features and ad rollouts that have defined the company's most recent growth years. Let’s get some perspective on their massive success …

Facebook accounted for 5.7% of all global digital ad revenues last year, up from 4.11% in 2012, according to eMarketer. Google, by comparison, accounted for 32.4% of all digital ad spending worldwide in 2013, up from 31.5% in 2012. Globally the digital ad market grew 13% to $117.6bn in 2013, according to eMarketer, up from $104bn in 2012.


Mobile advertising revenues soar…

The company said it had 1.23 billion monthly active users, a 16% increase year-over-year but up just 3.4% compared with the third quarter of 2013, a sign that growth may be slowing. Monthly active mobile users totalled 945 million as of 31 December, an increase of 39% year-over-year and 8.1% higher than the third quarter. Revenue from advertising was $2.34bn, a 76% increase from the same quarter 2012, and mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 53% of the total, up from approximately 23% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Facebook accounts for more mobile minutes in the U.S. than “YouTube, Pandora, Yahoo, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, AOL, Snapchat and LinkedIn — combined.

The company made a profit of $1.5bn for the year.

Facebook is worth around $135 billion and will probably become the fastest company in history to reach $150 billion. Its recent financial results have impressed Wall Street Social networks are evolving at lightning speed and so are its users… Facebook has everything. It's a search engine, a dating profile, a family photo album, an address book, and a newspaper, all rolled into one. For many longtime users, it's also a never ending class reunion, featuring a stream of life updates and photos from long-forgotten high school or varsity acquaintances.  


The problem staring Facebook in the face however is that there is so much information and connectivity on the platform that it's becoming hard to keep any of it straight. Other social networks, like Twitter, Snapchat, or WhatsApp are filling the ‘niche’ cases like photo sharing or status updates that used to be Facebook's domain.  


Facebook is sitting on possibly the greatest cache of user data ever compiled. Certainly they know more about users' affinities — their tastes and preferences — than anyone ever has. What an incredibly powerful position to be in!   A big part of using this data and information revolves around Graph Search, the platform's Google-like internal search engine that allows users to seek out more specific data from their network of friends. A Google search will return a list of nearby restaurants. In a perfect Facebook world, you would get a similar list, with the added caveat that these recommendations are coming from your friends, the people you trust and, in theory, with which you share common interests.  


Expect Facebook to bring the service to mobile in 2014, a move that will test its functionality as people use it on the go.


Advertising relevance…

Improving its ad service, may be the most important for both its bottom line and its relationship with users. There are few things more frustrating on Facebook than coming across an irrelevant ad — one that doesn't apply to the user's interests or personality. It's intrusive in the News Feed, and ultimately leads to a negative experience.


The platform encourages users to engage with the ads they come across, in an effort to better identify which ads work and what people want to see. It's a lofty challenge with more than one billion users and one million advertisers, but it’s also a challenge Facebook will likely come closer to solving in 2014 as its efforts continue.


With Facebook launching its first auto play video ads, ad revenue should soar in 2014. Pressure from advertisers to get video ads in front of appropriate users will also be higher.  


The company is rolling out the ads slowly, and only to a select number of users. Once the ads are expanded to all users (sometime later in 2014, presumably), we will get a glimpse of how effective the ad algorithm is. You can scroll past a News Feed post, but auto play ads are harder to ignore. Sending irrelevant ads to users will not only be more noticeable, it will be bad for all parties involved, including Facebook.


Another major play for Facebook will be around the development of its app ecosystem. In a recent interview in Bloomberg Businessweek, Zuckerberg said: "We just think that there are all these different ways that people want to share, and that compressing them all into a single blue app is not the right format of the future."


Currently Facebook offers three other apps, in addition to the main one, which are Messenger, Instagram and the soon-to-launch news reading app Paper. "As Facebook goes down the multi-app strategy it will need to think carefully about the possible fragmentation of the Facebook brand."


Of course, advertisements only work when users engage with the platform, and Facebook spent the tail end of 2013 dealing with a cloud of suspicion regarding teens on the social network — more specifically, how often they are using the site.


The most recent evidence that Facebook may be concerned about losing teen users surfaced when Facebook reportedly tried to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion in November. The photo-sharing app is popular with teens — it claims users send 400 million photos and videos per day — and it would certainly help keep Facebook relevant to the youngest generation of social media users.


We should find out in 2014 whether or not Facebook is cool when it comes to teenagers, and if it isn’t how it plans to get back in their good graces. No matter the revenue numbers — and they should be healthy, especially with video ads in the fold — Facebook investors will undoubtedly listen carefully to what happens with the site's youngest adopters.


As Facebook crosses the threshold into its second decade of existence, it will deal once again with the question we initially asked after the then-Harvard undergrad launched the site from his dorm room: what is Facebook, and how does it fit into our lives? As the company continues to expand its reach, we remain eager to discover the answer and whether it will continue to command Social Supremacy.


Facebook is not going anywhere any time soon. People always want to communicate with other people. Humankind is naturally gregarious. Social networking has been around since the Romans exchanged papyrus rolls! And while it is unknown how the next ten years will play out for its many evolving guises, given the huge impact Facebook has already made, we can certainly expect more success to follow.


As Zuckerberg puts it,

We're looking forward to our next decade and to helping connect the rest of the world.

Facts you didn’t know about Zuckerberg…

  • Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colour-blind, which is part of the reason why the Facebook we know today is blue.
  • He is able to read and write in five different languages - English, Hebrew, Latin, French, and Ancient Greek
  • Mark claims he doesn't own a television!
  • He hates public speaking, which is probably a bad thing, considering his job involves a lot of public speaking.
  • Mark has a very eclectic taste in music, enjoying the talents of Green Day, Daft Punk, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and Shakira!
  • In 2009, following the 2008 recession, Mark decided to wear a tie for the entire year, citing the importance of the year as his main reason for the decision.
  • Zuckerburg lists his cell phone number on Facebook
  • You can’t block Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook

Sources include: Mashable, The Guardian, Businessweek, Techcrunch, Likes.com 

Published in Online
Friday, 31 January 2014 12:23

MDM will become increasingly pivotal in 2014

MDM will become increasingly pivotal in 2014

Master data management (MDM) is emerging as a key technology for 2014 since it is pivotal to melding current trends: big data, social media and cloud, with the need for governance by combining practices, processes, policies, standards and software tools.

However, complicating matters is the emergence of multi-domain MDM. MDM operates across different business domains, product and customer being the two most visible culprits but as MDM has matured so more focus has followed in the tools vendors have brought to market, each with, among other benefits, a set of templates that speed up deployment. Today you can get MDM for customer acquisition, assets, locations, or MDM by industry, tailored to meet the unique needs of financial or healthcare organisations.

Choice often results in problems and the problem here is that in many cases there are now multiple MDM domains in single organisations. The problem with that is that MDM is supposed to offer one single, reliable version of the truth, offer a roadmap to single records of information that don’t get propagated between databases or stores, and ensure that business people are always dealing with the sacred artefact.

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Published in Analytics & BI
On leadership: Your next 10 moves; think carefully!

What is your ‘next move’ as a leader? Well, of course that would depend exactly on what it is we are talking about, but here would be a variety of topics – and some suggestions as to your ‘next move’.

Published in Leadership
Tuesday, 22 October 2013 10:30

The Rise of the Millennial Consumer

The Rise of the Millennial Consumer

The world is in a constant state of change. Now more than ever before. Daily if not hourly, new technology advances, changing the way we interact and communicate. 


The push for constant innovation is giving rise to not just a new way of shopping, but a new consumer and with it a new consumer mind-set. Driven by the so-called Millennial Consumer, the occurrence is so subtle and commonplace you don’t even realise it’s happening. But boy is it! 

Published in Advertising
Monday, 02 September 2013 10:19

BI to boom as enterprises seek the competitive edge

BI to boom as enterprises seek the competitive edge

Next generation Business Intelligence is rapidly being accepted as the critical tool for business success, says Ayanda Dlamini, Business Development Manager of LGR Telecommunications.


Knowledge is power, and never more so than now, when access to the right insights from the relevant data can make the critical difference between business success and failure.


Across the continent, organisations of all sizes are turning to next generation Business Intelligence (BI) tools to assist them in harnessing the knowledge residing in vast amounts of data, and put the resulting insights to use as a competitive differentiator. We see this in particular in the mobile space, where operators across Africa face declining voice revenues and seek new revenue streams in an increasingly competitive environment. Detailed understanding of the customer, the environment, competitors’ behaviour and internal operations is critical for making the strategic decisions that support growth.


Driving this dramatic increase in the need for advanced BI tools are a number of influencing factors. The proliferation of data, social media, mobility, consumerisation and the growing need for enterprise agility are forcing rapid change in businesses’ approach to BI.


In the past, BI was employed to analyse historic patterns and data residing within the enterprise to understand operations and customer behaviour. However, the pace of change has intensified. Thanks to the power of global social media networks, change now takes place in minutes. Disruptive influences skew what were once predictable patterns in a matter of days, or even minutes. Now, business must be constantly aware of changing market forces and customer sentiments, and must be able to refocus and change direction accordingly. This level of business agility can only be informed by next generation BI.


Social media

To tap in to the unprecedented wealth of information residing within social media networks, enterprises need next generation BI delivering advanced analytics capability. While enterprise data may tell the historical story, social media analysis allows the enterprise to get accurate insights into customer sentiment and external market conditions as they change. The ability to adapt in line with new trends will be key to business success in future, and enterprises are aware of this.


Big Data

The need to incorporate social media data into BI presents the Big Data challenge. In addition to social media, enterprises must now have the capability to analyse competitor movements, email and other digital communications, location-based data and more. As the volume, variety and velocity of Big Data increases, advanced Big Data tools will become increasingly necessary to manage vast amounts of structured and unstructured data.



Africa is a mobile continent, with individuals and enterprises leapfrogging landline and moving directly to high speed mobile connectivity. In line with this shift, enterprises need dashboards that deliver on-the-go access to critical business and market information allowing them to make key decisions faster. C-level executives now want the ability to interrogate figures on the move, and so gain a competitive advantage.

In line with the move to mobile, simplified, more intuitive data visualisation tools are increasingly in demand, allowing users to assess status at a glance, and drill down into relevant content on even small screens. With the advent of tablets and consumerisation changing the enterprise computing space, enterprises across Africa are demanding full functionality on their smart mobile devices; they want to talk to the figures more.


Avoiding BI disappointment

It is crucial to embark on a future-proof BI strategy by asking: ‘how do we do business and what data do we want from our systems?’ .


Many companies have disappointed in their BI implementations in the past, frequently because their strategies have been poor or because they were not asking the right questions at the outset.


They need to take stock of what equipment and solutions they already have in place, assessing their current infrastructure and whether it properly supports advanced BI tools. They need to understand how mature their business processes are, whether they are capable of supporting BI. Defining the key business endpoint is a good start. By beginning with a broad understanding of where you are and where you want to move to, you will be in a position to determine what steps need to be taken to achieve your goals.

Published in Analytics & BI
Meet the dark side of social media: hacking, cloning and scamming

Over the past few months, hundreds of South Africa’s approximately 6.19 million registered Facebook users have become the victims of cloning. This practice, which is also known as deep mining, is when cybercriminals lift a user’s name and profile picture from their existing account to create a duplicate Facebook profile from which they then send messages to the victim’s friends asking them for money.

Published in Security
A new kind of customer engagement: smart connected interactions

The rise of smart devices and a focus on customer loyalty has created the proverbial "perfect storm" for enterprises that want to reinvent the customer experience around smartphones and tablets. These devices can help solve some of the challenges that have plagued the contact centre industry for more than 30 years. For example, caller identity, intent, and call context (what the customer tried immediately before calling) can be easily and passively established before a call begins. Caller expectations can be better managed, and enterprises can smooth the arrival rate of calls with intelligent, resource aware call-back.

Published in Networking
Monday, 29 July 2013 13:06

No social media quick fix

No social media quick fix

Social media has taken the world by storm, and most companies are anxious to cash in on its benefits. But there is no quick fix when it comes to effective social media use, says Karl Reed, Chief Marketing & Solutions Officer at Elingo.


There are huge potential benefits to using social media for sales and customer interactions. But companies that get it wrong risk cutting themselves off at the knees.

Published in Online
How to use social media to help generate sales

Sales, at its essence, is all about connecting with people and building relationships. “The rise of social media brings a new dynamic to the sales environment of any organisation and those wanting to be part of a new generation of industry leaders should invest in Social CRM,” says Keith Fenner, Senior Vice President for Sales at Sage ERP Africa and Middle East.

Published in Sales
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