Tag: internet

Veooz

A new tool launched today that promises to delve into the sentiments being expressed about particular topics right across the Social Web.

Veooz (pronounced, we are informed, ‘views’) tracks trending topics across the major platforms and uses semantic algorithms to determine how positive or negative the general sentiment is. This is a step forward from simply knowing that a topic is trending. Analysis of this kind will help businesses avoid finding themselves in the midst of a twit-storm for leaping-without-looking into online conversations.

Let’s have a look

On the front page of veooz.com, there are a number of trending topics to have a look at. For instance, after Prime Minister’s Question Time this lunchtime, it is not surprising that ‘David Cameron’ is being widely mentioned. Here’s a snapshot of Veeoz’ interpretation:

It’s just semantics

It’s not surprising that a Prime Minister who is not wildly popular (even within his own party) should have a negative rating, perhaps. But have a close look at the Influential Tweets. The top one is distinctly negative. What about the other two? @SaveTheChildren use the word ‘pressure’, but given they are a charity and a pressure group hawking a petition, this can hardly be seen as negative. The bottom tweet is telling, though. The key words here in rating sentiment are likely to be “condemnation” and “ugly”, however the PM joining in with the condemnation of condemnable scenes is probably a good thing.

Let’s take this further

Danny Rose is a young British footballer who was subjected to racist abuse last night during the game in Serbia. He got himself sent off for his reaction during a skirmish after the match. Many would think his reaction, although hot-headed, was quite understandable; perhaps even laudable. Why then such a hugely negative rating for the young man?

Look again at the ‘Influential Tweets’. @piersmorgan uses the words “Disgusting” and “disgrace”, but not about Danny. Instead they are directed at the scenario he found himself in. And yet, “Danny Rose” has a 96% negative rating.

Early days

Clearly it is early days for sentiment analysis and semantic search techniques. Pulling out the level of detail that would be required to provide an accurate assessment was the kind of thing Alan Turing dreamed of. We’re obviously a long way away from that. Especially for a free-to-use system that is still in beta.

For big brands, though, with large and vocal followings there may be a degree of insight available to those with the time and energy to mine the data. Amazon will be rightly pleased with the reception Kindle Paper White appears to be getting, for instance.

For you and I, though, let’s remain sceptically intrigued.

Let me start by saying that anyone claiming your business can be more profitable simply by being on Facebook is a charlatan. Or an idiot. And I’m not sure which is worse.

For me, a Social Business is one that is outward looking. It genuinely cares about satisfying its customers. It not only acts on their feedback, it encourages feedback. A Social Business is innovative and responsive. And it isn’t necessarily on Facebook or Twitter.

Nice guys don’t get rich

Unfortunately, running a business in this way takes a lot of time. You must constantly analyse what is working and what is not. You must solicit, collate and build a plan around customer feedback. You have to stop running the kind of business that your bank manager wants to see in order to make it more social. All in all, it’s far easier to run an unsocial business. In fact, in terms of profitability and gross revenues, it seems make more sense to run an actively anti-social business. There are countless examples to back this up; in the banking sector; in flagrant multi-national tax avoidance; in tech companies’ increasingly closed, proprietary systems. The list goes on and on and gets longer each day.

If you’re here, there’s a good chance that you’re a nice person. And if you’re running your own business, large or small, you still need to sleep at night. We firmly believe that being nice and being in business need not be mutually exclusive positions.

A key characteristics of nice people is that they are open and welcoming to new people and ideas. They are willing to listen act on what they hear. It’s called empathy. The same is true for businesses.

Consider Twitter

In the early days, Twitter was held up as an example of openness. They had a simple but effective platform, but they were willing to let others develop on top of it, building their own ideas and ultimately growing the userbase for Twitter through their own efforts. Now think about the reception they get when they announce increasingly restrictive terms of use and effectively stamp out many fledgling businesses. I’m not judging Twitter one way or another. They’re clearly doing what they believe to be right, but I would argue they are losing their empathy. Whether this will be detrimental to their long-term goals is still up for grabs.

Time is money

According to Steven Covey, one of the habits of highly effective people is taking time for yourself; going to the gym, walking the dog, sitting and thinking. He calls it Sharpening the Saw and uses a story to illustrate the point.

“A man walks through a wood and finds a lumberjack logging a tree. It’s hard work. After a while the man notices that the lumberjack’s saw is blunt. “You need to sharpen your saw”, he says. “But I have all these trees to chop up”, responds the lumberjack. “I don’t have time to stop and sharpen my saw”.”

In other words, we need to make the time to stop and regroup, reorganise our thoughts, and consider new ways of approaching the future. We need to do this both as people AND as business people. A truly Social Business will build this time into its operations. And it may end up being a lot of time. And, in the short-term at least, time is money.

This is what kills many small businesses efforts on the Social Web. As we know, the Social Web is great for gathering feedback and engaging with your customers. However, most businesses aren’t set up to be Social from the start. They are built around a product or service that they believe to be great, so that is their main focus. When they decide to raise their heads and look at their place in the wider world, it can be quite scary. They are not prepared for the sheer number of man-hours that can be consumed. They have no mechanisms for using feedback constructively. So they flounder and withdraw.

Unless your business has a willingness to listen and people who care enough about their customers to act on what they hear, your Facebook page isn’t going to help your business grow. Your initially enthusiastic Twitter timeline will be unused and useless.

Take the time to stop. Spend time listening. Then act with empathy.

And sleep soundly at night.

 

The one constant word in the buzz around the web’s emerging technologies and techniques is ‘Social’. Whether web, media, networks, enterprise, capital, currency or bookmarks, everything is social.

Listen.

When you meet somebody in the real world, whether at a party, a networking event, a conference, or in a bar, do you try to build an ROI case first? Do you stay at home or in the office, eschewing all human contact until you can be sure that bumping into people and starting (or joining in) a conversation is worth your while? Do you ask people how much cash they’re carrying before you talk to them?

Looking to exploit social situations for your own personal benefit is a sure sign of psychopathy. Until businesses fully understand and accept that sometimes it’s just good to share, converse and communicate they will always make a mess of the whole social thing. Going into this looking for ROI will just leave you lost, alone and frustrated.

So, those of you wanting to build and prove an ROI case from the social web can go ahead and try. For my own safety, I will give you all a wide berth.

 

Posted via email from plainadvice’s posterous

Here’s a graphic I’ve just put together to explain to businesses that still don’t get it just why the social web matters. The bigger the circle the bigger the potential audience.

Corporate websites are usually full of stale and out-of-date content that may be highly relevant to the company’s business areas but that is hard to find (unless you are looking for it directly). Corporate blogs have very few regular visitors and are only updated when in-house bloggers have the time.

Compare this to the huge audience waiting on the Social Web, which is powered largely by Facebook and Twitter. Here, content is fresh – in the case of Twitter, almost too fresh! – is easy to share and, importantly, can be found almost by chance. Serendipity to us means ‘finding interesting things when you weren’t really looking for them’.

This is the challenge that businesses have to adapt to. The game has changed. Embracing the social web is not a ‘nice to do’, it’s an imperative.

Yesterday’s celebration of Earth Day saw a certain amount of bandwagon jumping. Google created a new logo for the day on its homepage, and many dozens of articles and press releases, such as this one saying that users would happily pay more for ‘green’ phones, presciently appeared. Listening to Costing the Earth on Radio4 yesterday afternoon made me consider whether such Eco-friendly mobile telephony is anything other than a distant pipe dream.

The industry seems to be caught in a dilemma.

Network operators need to squeeze every ounce of value out of their customers and so need to make the mobile internet an attractive place to be.

To acheive this, handset manufacturers have to develop and build devices can deliver a satisfying internet experience. So phones need bright colour displays, good quality cameras, GPS, loads of memory, ultra-fast processors, great graphics rendering – the list is almost endless.

Of course, all of the new but now essential parts of a phone require power. Lots of power. So batteries drain more quickly, and hence require charging more often. And frequent charging means more people leaving their chargers plugged in and switched on for convenience’ sake. Hardly a recipe for planet friendly phone use.

One option is for the operators and manufacturers to educate customers about the need to switch chargers off when they’re not in use, but that’s hardly palettable for two reasons. Firstly a device with a flat battery cannot earn revenue for the network, and fewer chargers plugged in will surely result in more flat batteries. Secondly, there is a risk of demonising heavy users, and it is heavy use that the networks are trying to inspire in us all.

The second option, however, is even less likely. Ripping out functionality to reduce battery drain. But would anyone really want to pay more for a device that does less?

Unfortunately, as with all ‘green’ issues, less is more. Probably the greenest phone ever was the Nokia 6210i, which only seemed to need charging once a week no matter how heavily it was used. The downside (if it can be seen as such) is that beyond voice and SMS, the phone was completely useless.

My question then is this. What functionality could you easily do without? For the planet’s sake.