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Latest Social Media News & Articles

5 Minutes with Vala Afshar

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Ask three marketing executives to define "social business" and you'll get three different views.

One may see the potential of using the big data of social media to enhance the customer experience. Another explains how collaborative social tools like Yammer enhance productivity. Some may see social business as a way to enhance brand. And they all may be right in the context of their own experience.

One thing upon which they would probably all agree upon is that we're just beginning to understand social business. To help shed light on the topic, we contacted Vala Afshar, co-author of The Pursuit of Social Business Success.

Mondelez VP Offers Food for Thought on Empowering Customers

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Mondelēz International may not be a household name yet, but its brands are. Think belVita Breakfast Biscuits, Cheese Nips, Chips Ahoy! Cookies, Chiclets chewing gum — and the seasonally appropriate Cadbury Creme Egg.

As vice president of global media and consumer engagement at Mondelēz, Bonin Bough knows them all. But he knows even more about mobile, social and using both to reach and empower customers. He's been described as a leader of the digital marketing revolution —"integrating mobile and social into all marketing campaigns and embarking on the next wave of social – empowering consumers to socially endorse products they love."

At Mondelēz — better known as Kraft Foods until a separation from its parent company in 2012 — he's responsible for leading and developing partnerships and omnichannel customer experiences that span all forms of media. (In case you wondered, monde means "world" in several languages and delez an alternative to "delicious.")

A magazine fanatic and Lego advocate, Bough is Twitter champ, with more than 14 thousand followers. He co-authored the 2010 book Perspectives on Social Media Marketing and has been recognized as one of business' hottest rising stars on lists complied by Fortune, Fast Company, Ebony and The Internationalist.

We're Still Playing at Work - and IT Admins are Still Unhappy

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Knock me over with a feather: A new survey shows a lot of people waste time at the office doing all sorts of things they shouldn't … including playing games, browsing social networks and looking for new jobs. 

Last month, TeamViewer, a provider of remote control and online meeting software, asked 300 IT administrators to list some common behaviors of office workers and explain how those behaviors have affected both IT administration and the company’s bottom line.

The only thing surprising about the resulting IT Admin Behavioral Study is that the company described the results as surprising — and the fact that only 92 percent of IT admins report troublesome habits among office workers using company computers. Are the other 8 percent of IT admins ignorant or just naïve?

Twitter Gets Its Grip on Gnip

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Twitter has just announced that it is buying social data harvester Gnip, but it hasn’t explained how it intends to make money on the back of the deal.

Neither has it explained how Gnip will sit with Twitter once the deal has closed, nor indeed, what is likely to happen in the future.

Maybe it’s a bit premature to be looking for answers to questions like those given that the deal was only announced this morning, but details about how this will unfold over the coming months are so scanty that you’d almost think Twitter doesn’t really know how it is going to incorporate Gnip into the fold. It hasn’t even disclosed how much it paid.

Is Dropbox's Condoleezza Problem Gone?

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It was supposed to be a feel-good week for Dropbox. CEO Drew Houston unveiled a handsome stack of new, well-received products. Then he invited Condoleezza Rice to serve on his board.

We’ll get to that problem in a second, first a recap of the other Dropbox announcements.

It was with great delight last Wednesday that Houston introduced Carousel, a place in the Cloud where you could store the pictures and videos of your life and access them from any device. The user experience is not only delightful, but it also has some interesting filters and features which, in comparison, make Instagram less cool.

Why Can't Lawyers Learn to Use Hashtags?

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Lawyers have a lot to learn about digital content and social media. A second study confirms US law firms haven't grasped the potential of digital and social technologies, as CMSWire reported two months ago.

The new study by Living Ratings (.pdf), a London-based firm that analyzes how financial, professional services, property and technology firms are using digital communications, found most American law firms are struggling with technologies.

It essentially confirms the findings of the earlier report by consulting firm Good2BSocial and Above the Law, which concluded US law firms are beginning to dabble in social technologies, but the practice is still limited and "ineffective."

Can Twitter's New Profile Help Brands?

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In another step towards becoming more Facebook-like, micro-blogging network Twitter has revamped its profile page. How will the change affect Twitter-oriented marketing?

To see some examples of the new profile, check out the pages for US first lady Michelle Obama, actors Kerry Washington, Channing Tatum or Zac Efron or even CMSWire editor Noreen Seebacher (shown at left).

 In a post on its company blog, Twitter designer David Bellona wrote this week that the new profile layout "will be easier (and, we think, more fun) to express yourself through a new and improved web profile."

Technology that Puts the Worker Before the Work

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Forget all the talk of technologies to enhance the customer experience and measure customer success. None of that is going to work unless employees succeed in their jobs. The right employees.

Just like almost every part of society that's transitioning from the pre-web era to the digital, mobile society we're becoming, human resources (HR) managers are caught in the middle — a fact that became clear today at Achievers' Aspire conference in San Francisco, where speaker after speaker shared lessons learned along the digital highway.

"The rise of the web changed the way we find work," said Razor Suleman, who founded the employee engagement software vendor a dozen years ago. "Who goes to the newspaper to find work anymore?"

LinkedIn Asks: How Good is Your Content?

LinkedIn is stepping up its focus on content. After releasing a site-wide Publishing Platform last month, the professional social networking site will be launching a Content Marketing Score and a way to measure trending content. 

Lithium has Klout, Wants to be #SeriousAboutCustomers

Lithium Technologies today confirmed what everyone seemed to know already — and acknowledged it has bought Klout. Lithium is reportedly paying almost $200 million in cash and private stock for the social media ranking influencer — twice as much as speculated during the past month.

Speaking at a late-to-start press conference — Rob Tarkoff, president and CEO of the social customer service company, declined to confirm the value of the deal. However, he noted, "If Lithium is paying $200 million for Klout, then it is a very valuable company and I'm happy about that."

Tarkoff described the acquisition as a significant extension to its platform that will offer consumers and brands better ways to engage online. "We're adding the relationship piece into the CRM world," he said. "Together, we could be something incredibly disruptive to CRM."

Lithium is also adding Joe Fernandez, CEO and co-founder of Klout, to the leadership team. He will become general manager and senior vice president of Lithium's Klout business, Tarkoff said.

Connecting: Sprinklr's Social Nerd Talks Digital Tech

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Two years ago, Esteban Contreras sold most of his earthly possessions on Craigslist, walked away from a city he loved – New York – and moved to Canada. He happily resettled about 30 minutes from Vancouver, British Columbia but stayed connected with his adopted hometown by by advising and working with NYC based Sprinklr, a provider of social media management tools.

We told you about Sprinklr last month when it bought Austin, Texas-based Dachis Group, a social analytics company, and formed the largest independent end-to-end social relationship platform in the market. Contreras is director of strategy at Sprinklr.

He's a native of Guatemala, but he has little concern for geography — and said he's "glad we live in a day and age in which it is possible to work from virtually anywhere."

And he's probably just as glad we live in an age when it's possible for one person to do so many interesting things. Before moving to Canada, Contreras was the first social media marketing manager at Samsung USA.

He's also the author of the book "Social State," founder of Social Nerdia Consulting, which focuses on the convergence of technology, marketing and social, and an advisor to multiple tech startups.

Looking for Value in Social Media Command Centers

Companies and brands are setting up social media command centers to get a better grasp of the unstructured data like status updates, posts and tweets.

PepsiCo's Gatorade opened a Mission Control Center in 2010 and Dell opened a Social Media Command Center later that same year. Since then,  other companies have followed suit, including Hendrick Motorsports, The Oregon Ducks, Symantec, Salesforce and Brandwatch.

Now the Altimeter Group takes a look at the trend in a report called "Shiny Object or Digital Intelligence Hub?"

Robert Scoble: The Scobleizer Talks Life, Work and Technology

Thumbnail image for Connecting with Bill SobelRobert Scoble — aka The Scobleizer — works at Rackspace, where he's building a community for people fanatical about the Internet called building43. But that just scratches the surface. Scoble has been making a name for himself on the Internet for a while now.

"There’s a really excellent about page over on Wikipedia about me. I didn’t write a single word about it, but I do watch to make sure it’s accurate," he told me.

So let's start there. He's best known for his (late great) blog, Scobleizer, which came to prominence during his tenure as a technology evangelist at Microsoft. It earned him a mention in the Economist in 2005, which noted Scoble had become

a minor celebrity among geeks worldwide, who read his blog religiously. Impressively, he has also succeeded where small armies of more conventional public-relations types have been failing abjectly for years: he has made Microsoft, with its history of monopolistic bullying, appear marginally but noticeably less evil to the outside world, and especially to the independent software developers that are his core audience."

Food and Social Media Converge in Film at #SXSW

ChefA tasty little film that opened this year's SXSW Interactive Festival  says a lot about finding satisfaction in your work — and also presents an important teaching moment in social media.

Jon Favreau's film "Chef" tells the story of a high-profile restaurant chef who makes the transition to food-truck entrepreneur after a painful lesson on the downside of Twitter. On a deeper level, the story will resonate with technologists and other creative professionals who love their craft but find themselves working for the industrial machine. 

Can Conversocial Improve Customer Service Experiences?

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Conversocial, a cloud-based provider of social customer service software, is out with a major upgrade.

Called Conversations, it is designed to help companies manage social media comments from contact centers.

Joshua March, founder and CEO, told CMSWire that some companies use traditional ticketing systems, while others employ multi-channel contact center systems that "add social as just another channel" — as if it were email. But those systems, March said, are designed primarily for private, one-to-one inquiries or for marketing and PR-focused social media management.

RadiumOne CMO Eric Bader: Focus on Customer Relationships

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Eric Bader made company history last summer when he became the first CMO at San Francisco-based RadiumOne, a firm that builds software to automate media buying. Bader has been around the advertising block, so to speak. He's a veteran of adland, a community weblog and advertising archive, and has worked at Ogilvy & Mather, MediaVest, BrandinHand and Initiative, where he was chief strategy officer from 2010 to 2012.

But that's not all, folks: He's also CEO and founder of a startup called Mobilize, which creates, hosts and manages mobile applications and web sites for various customer interactions — from merchandising and transactions to CRM, loyalty programs, in-store and shopper marketing and promotions, social marketing and events.  

But his main task now, according to a story in AdWeek last summer, is to explain RadiumOne's "value proposition in a crowded marketplace of startups that claim to be able to spin social data into gold for marketers."

A Look at LinkedIn's New Publishing Platform

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B2B marketers will soon have another way to reach audiences via LinkedIn. The question, though, is when it will launch, who will have access and what it will look like.

LinkedIn has created a new publishing platform for its members, allowing them to essentially blog within LinkedIn and create a following. When members publish a post on LinkedIn, their original content becomes part of their professional profile and is shared with their trusted network, according to a LinkedIn blog post.

LinkedIn members can follow other members that are not in their network and build their own group of followers. 

A caveat: LinkedIn now is only allowing 25,000 members to publish content on LinkedIn through its new platform. "We’ll be steadily expanding the capability to all members in multiple languages over the next few weeks and months to come," according to LinkedIn. You can apply here

Connecting: Content is the Secret of Marketing Success

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Stephanie Frasco loves few things more than social media. But content is one of them. “Content Is King," she stated enthusiastically. "It's everything … The key to attracting the right customers, the best tool for building relationships with prospects, the most powerful way to convert prospects into sales, the No. 1 way to improve the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, online and off.

"Yup."

Frasco, a social media marketing consultant, is vice president at Los Angeles based Convert With Content. In the past 7 years, she has worked with clients worldwide to help them maximize their efforts from social networking and blogging. 

Through a rather tongue-in-cheek blog called Socially Stephanie, she offers advice like this to B2B businesses:

I want you to absolutely think about blogging within LinkedIn's new publishing platform. Yes, this is hot off the presses. LinkedIn's publishing platform is now open to the public. The possibility of getting in front of LinkedIn's 200 million plus users is exhilarating, but you have to do it right. Create unique content for LinkedIn. Look at it as a guest blogging platform and not a syndication network. Duplicate content doesn't bode well with the Google gods. I know that I'll be spending investing some good ol' blogging sweat equity there, and you should too."

Musings from Social Media Week #SMW14

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I am not an objective writer about Social Media Week. I attended the first two years of this six-year-old worldwide event in New York City when it was free, largely grassroots and spread throughout the city. 

The last two or three years, SMW has become inevitably more corporate, expensive, polished and streamlined, though many of the events are still free and available on a first come, first serve basis.

That being said, however, I wanted to share some thoughts. For instance, one of my favorite tools to chart conversations around social media is Crimson Hexagon, which quickly helped me create a “topic wave” of the major topics and when they peaked at the event. Most of the buzz around #SMWNYC happened last Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 18 and 19.

Phone Calls Add Value to Facebook's WhatsApp Deal

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Facebook's $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp looked a bit smarter today after the fast-growing messaging service announced at the World Mobile Congress that it will add phone calls within the next few months.

The WhatsApp announcement came as a surprise to those attending the mobile conference, where Nokia, Samsung, HTC and other key players also made news. WhatsApp already has 465 million monthly text and voicemail users, but wanted to add a live call service.

"We want to make sure people always have the ability to stay in touch with their friends and loved ones really affordably," WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum said at the conference, according to a CNN report from the scene. Koum said the company will roll out the service on Apple and Android phones during the first half of the year, then add the service for Blackberry and Windows phones.