Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Many organizations around the world are demonstrating the business value of engaging in social media, from large multi-national corporations using social media for marketing activities, to small firms engaging their clients more directly, and governments seeking new ways to connect and interact with constituents.

socialmedia-businesscaseDespite the growing adoption rates of social media around the world, many organizations are still reticent, and fail to see the value of it. Governments in particular are struggling with the potential benefit of participating in social media in contrast to the potential for employee abuse. There are many examples of governments using social media while banning access for employees. There is also a perception that websites and tools like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs or wikis are intended strictly for personal use, are time-wasters and not only provide little to no value for an organization, but distract employees or take away from business operations.

Not everyone has the benefit of jumping into social media as an experiment or pilot activity, so here is a simplified framework for developing a business case for social media. This is intended to sketch out some of the key arguments for introducing social media in your organization, and to help you develop a sound business case to present to decision makers. The examples are very brief, while providing rationale, examples, and support to generate an understanding of the argument.

1. Rationale

Describe why the organization should use social media, and the goals and objectives that you’re trying to achieve.  Provide details of the problems, challenges, opportunities or shortcomings that will be addressed by using social media.

Ex: Our clients are complaining about us on blogs & twitter, and not contacting us directly. Goals – increase the satisfaction levels of our clients by establishing a more direct link with our clients and putting a human face on our corporation.

Define the specific details of what the initiative will achieve, change, or impact; and how success will be measured.

Ex: Success could be measured by reduced complaints on blogs & twitter; an increase in sales, or reduction in product returns or complaints.

2. Client-centric perspective

Provide an understanding of how people currently access the organization’s information and services; and how they want to access your information and services (ex: through a survey, or market research).

Get metrics & statistics on your website usage, and search terms used; any supporting general Internet usage statistics; and any statistics and information from competitors. Compare the way you do business online with other organizations (not just your competitors).

3. Risks

(a) Identify the risks associated with the initative, including what could go wrong, and a description of the worst-case scenario.

Ex: Lots of bad comments and reviews on your website.

(b) Identify the risks association with not undertaking the initiative, including what could happen if you don’t engage in social media.  Know your client, and get an understanding of the perception of your business if you do/don’t engage in social media.

The conversation is happening out there anyways – with or without you – the degree to which you engage is optional, but you should at least be aware of the conversation and monitoring it.

4. Business Intelligence

Define the type of functionality required to meet your goals and objectives; meet your client’s needs; and reduce the risks.  Research and describe possible solutions.  Include reviews, case studies, and comparisons.

  • What are others doing?
  • What are the industry best practices?
  • Who are your competitors, and what are they doing?
  • What is popular or trending?
  • What relevant technology advances are happening?

5. Stakeholders

Identify all the key stakeholders who need to be involved in the process of introducing social media to your organization, including:

  • Business clients
  • Communications
  • IT
  • Legal
  • Accessibility
  • Clients, etc

6. Investment

Provide a breakdown of the costs involved, including:

  • People
  • Money
  • IT infrastructure needs, etc.

7. Process, Roles & Responsibilities

Identify the steps that need to happen to introduce social media to your organization.

Developing, piloting, testing, soft launch, public launch, etc?

Identify roles and responsibilities for various aspects of the initiative.

Who will provide support (technical, training), monitoring, facilitating, engagement, etc?

Include a plan for how to monitor and evaluate the success of the initiative – related back to the goals and objectives.


Last week I attended Ottawa’s first Social Media Book Club meeting, which brought together about a dozen social media enthusiasts from the area.  The meeting was organized by Kelly Rusk from and Scott Lake.  I’ve actually never been part of a book club before, even though I enjoy reading – so this was a first for me.  I also find it difficult to find the time to sit and chat about social media with like-minded people f2f, so another bonus!

outliersThe book club was also inspiration for me to read a new book, the choice of the month being “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell.  Having read “Tipping Point” (and lovin it!), I was pretty excited about Outliers.  In case you haven’t read it already, it’s about different conditions that come together to propel people to excellence in life – examples including Bill Gates journey to world IT domination, which was not just hard work (although the 10,000+ hours of computer time helped!), but also a series of “lucky” circumstances including the time period he was born, access to computer labs when he was young, and a series of opportunities that helped foster his skills.

Gladwell goes on to argue that not all exceptionally skilled people succeed, largely because it takes much more than individual effort, but rather social support to cultivate the skill set and create the right environment for someone to succeed.

One of the interesting topics raised at the book club meeting was, “how does social media influence the ‘outliers’ effect?”  In other words, in today’s connected world, do people have greater opportunities?  Is the playing field leveled?  I would argue that people have greater opportunities to social support networks through social media channels, and this presents more potential to collaborate, share knowledge and ideas, and gain more experience – thus improving the potential for people to become “outliers”.  For example, an aspiring musician has access to a wealth of information, lessons, examples, peers, and mentors online.  Furthermore, it’s easy for someone to connect with other musicians, and even to jam online with others from around the world.  When I was growing up I was limited to jamming with friends from school – and thus the reason I’m not on a world-wide tour today!

I’m not sure yet what the next book club selection will be, but hopefully either “Naked Conversations” or “Here Comes Everybody”, as I have both of them sitting on my bookshelf waiting for some motivation to dig in!

Today is the first day of the transit strike in Ottawa – hopefully it’ll be a short one! I thought I’d do a scan to see where the issue is being discussed in social media circles, and the types of web 2.0 tools being employed to help people deal with the impact (carpooling mostly), and to connect and discuss the issue.


Search for “Ottawa Transit” and “OC Transpo” on brings up many posts by people commenting on the strike, including some useful tips such as “b/c of transit strike, on-street, unmetered parking is unlimited in 1, 2, and 3 hour spots. At meters you still have to pay.”; links to news twitter feeds from @cbcnews @macleans (the Magazine) @timesnews @nationalpost

Map Mashups
Traffic Camera/Google Maps mashup

FaceBook Groups


Search on for blog posts:

  • OC Transpo Strike | as of Dec 11 – 25 posts
  • Ottawa Transit Strike | Dec 11 – 92 posts
  • Ottawa Transit | Dec 11 – 1219 posts
  • OC Transpo | Dec 11 – 276 posts

A search on Technorati and Google Blog Search results in quite a few different bloggers commenting on the strike – certainly a lot of negative sentiment towards OC Transpo:


The CTV Interview with OCTranspo Union leader
Not a lot of other strike related videos – lots of OC Transpo videos both from riders, and from OCTranspo
Compilation of bus videos

Media Website Discussion Spaces

CTV News Story closed their discussion space after 168 comments in just a few hours.
CBC News coverage with 208 comments as of 11AM Wed

Google Trends


Do you have any other examples that you’ve come across to share?

Does Location Still Matter?

Posted: December 1, 2008 in web 2.0
Tags: , , ,

norayoungBack in May 08 I had the good fortune of attending the Mesh Conference in Toronto.  One of the sessions was facilitated by Nora Young, host of CBC Radio’s Spark program, interviewing Bill Buxton, a user interface design specialist.  The session addressed the question “Does (Physical) Location Matter” in our modern time with an increasing number of ways for people to connect with each other and socialize online.

I’ve been thinking about this question from time-to-time for the past few months, and it actually relates to my M.A. thesis on how the Internet influences an individual’s perception of reality.  Computer mediated communication (CMC) can and does affect how people perceive the world, and an individual’s understanding of the world around them.

Location is becoming less significant as the immersive nature of CMC increases.  With the ability to interact using text, audio and video in a seamlessly integrated way the depth of interactions is certainly richer than in the past.  The ease with which people can connect, whether through YouTube, Flickr, blogs or other socially rich web environments, increases both the number of people participating, and the cross-demography of online participants.

Conversely however, people are still flying around the world to do business, spend time together and interact face-to-face.  The kind of sensory engagement that happens in-person is not replicated online – the ability to touch, smell, and taste things around us; and in-person three-dimensional and movable audio and visual environments, far surpass the replication of the real world through the Internet.

virtual-reality-8So does the future of the Internet involve greater sensory engagement, with smell, touch, taste, and 3-D movable sights and sounds?  There is a lot of great research advances happening out there in these kind of directions, and certainly in order for CMC to replace the need for F2F interactions a full sensory replication will need to evolve.

I’ll elaborate a lot on some of these topics in future blog posts… anyone care to chime in in the interim?

barack-social-mediaWith Barack Obama’s incredible campaign success, I thought I’d kick off this blog by looking at how they used social media so successfully – esp as it’s the first US presidential campaign to make such widespread use of the Internet.  To begin with they have a pretty impressive website http://www.barackobama.comwith very clear and rich information, and easy to use navigation.  The site includes videos, photos, a blog, and embeds content from social media channels.
The use of social media was pretty extensive, including:
  • Twitter – Obama is the most followed twitter account (with 117,025 followers vs 71,000 for the 2nd most followed)
  • YouTube – over 1600 videos
  • Over 50,000 photos on Flickr
  • Facebook pages, MySpace pages, LinkedIn, Meetup, FriendFeed
All of this is very impressive, especially the sheer volume of content and connections.  But, I think the driving force that brough it all together was the “MyBO” community platform created by – a personalized space for campaign coordinators to collaborate with supporters.  It is a truely empowering collaboration site that helped people to take ownership of campaign activities – something I feel made a big difference in the success of the site.
MyBO allows people to:
  1. Create their own profiles, with personal details, including why they support Obama.
  2. Create and join groups (over 20,000 different groups) to connect with local people, or others with a shared interest (single mothers, air traffic controllers, etc).
  3. Easily contact voters – a feature that automatically finds local potential supporters to contact, based on your address; creates a printout of address/call list with names, script for conversation, and a map of where they live; report back feature for campaign office to track results.  Very impressive way to easily coordinate volunteer campaign supporters with a minimal amount of effort needed from the volunteer (they can do it from the comfort of their own home).
  4. Setup a personal blog to share their own comments and views (not many sites allow visitors to setup their own blog & publish their own content).
  5. Post or view campaign events – the locations, details, help needed, etc for local community campaigns or rallys
  6. Personal fundraising page – the ability to setup and customize a personal page; send personal invites to people (with a default but customizable message); track how much support you have brought into the campaign; automatic aggregation of all personal pages for the campaign HQ.
myboThese impressive collection of tools made it easy for people to connect with and collaborate with other supporters; and for the campaign coordinators to not only drive and steer the efforts of others, but to empower people to take action on their own.  The site also provides an excellent crossover between online and offline activities – using tools to organize and drive campaign efforts for phone campaigns; in-person meetings and rallys; postering; door-to-door campaigns, etc.  The site also focuses people’s efforts at mobilizing volunteers to get out there and talk to people who are not already supporters (instead of making a space for existing supporters to talk amongst themselves without reaching out to others).  MyBO provides the groundwork messages, values, and ideas of the campaign, and helps people integrate them into their own message, and empowers people to spread the ideas as their own message.  One final feature – donation matching – created a connection between first time donators and new donators, promoting dialogue between established and new supports to discuss why each of them donated, their beliefs, values, etc – a way to further solidify support for Obama.MyBO proved to be very successful:
  • Over 1 Million people created a user account
  • Over 75,000 campaign events were organized or promoted through MyBO
  • Donation efforts helped raise over $250 Million
A final thought… social media/web 2.0 is not just about making it easier to connect people to each other, it’s about empowerment – to create, to take ownership, to have control.