What is next…

I have been pondering the future.

What is next? Do you know? If so please do tell.

A number of years ago I pondered what was next from blogging and podcasting, neither of these forms have really survived in the way the were circa 2005/2006. Let alone what happened to MySpace, Friendster, Orkut…

Let’s look at the user base of popular social networking sites in 2005 .(Of note the term social media was not really in our vocabulary then. In fact social media was called “new media” we knew it was new but just what was it?)

MySpace 26.7 Million
Facebook 11.1 Million
Xanga.com 7.9 Million
Bebo.com 1.5 Million
Friendster 1.5 Million
Tribe Networks 515K
LinkedIn 354K
Orkut.com 83K

So not many of the sites in the above list really play a part in Social Media 2011, so where does this leave us?

I have no idea. Yet.

Well personally I want to find the 2005/2006 version of Twitter/Facebook in 2011/2012 and see what it will do to society in five years time.

Who owns your employer brand?

BPLast week while I was at ATC Sydney there was lots and lots of talk about employer brands and who really controls them in today’s social media world. For example Steve Fogarty, Recruiting Captain, from adidas in North America covered the topic highlighting that recruiters need to think more like marketers to attract top talent, not to mention that everything that happens online create meta-data about your brand. Kevin Wheeler touched on the topic during his closing keynote saying the personal brands are taking over from corporate brands.

So what does this mean?

Like consumer brands your employer brand is not longer “owned” by you the employer, candidates, employees, ex-employees, analysts, everyone can now shape how your brand is viewed by the world. From a consumer perspective just look at the fake BP Public Relations Twitter account, who has many thousands more followers than the real BP PR team, and their comedic look at what is shaping up to the worlds largest environmental disaster. Every tweet has a hashtag #bpcares creating a creative and funny stream of tweets however I doubt the BP PR team is very happy.

About 3 weeks ago Facebook released a new feature, Community Pages (read the official blog post) where they are aggregating Wikipedia content, along with user generated post from across the web to create a “profile” of brands, places, organisation etc. The difference between these pages and corporate sponsored pages is that right now no one controls the content on the Community Page! Now Facebook has said they are looking for passionate people to help curate the pages content. But for now your brand is at the mercy of automated collection of content. To make matters worse Facebook profile pages have been changed and now there are links attached to employers, likes and interests, favorite books, music and movies!

You do not own what Facebook is displaying on these new Community Pages, and you may never own the content.

Still think you own your employer brand?

The Facebook Five

During my presentation yesterday on social media in the workplace at RecruitTech I spoke briefly about the “Facebook Five” and felt I would expand on my comments here.

In summary six (it was five) NSW prison officers are being threatened with being fired over comments they made on a Facebook page “Suggestion to help Big Ron save a few clams”. This was at a time when the NSW was looking to sell of prisons to save some money.

The case went before the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) this week where the Public Service Association (PSA) filed an application asking the corrective services workers have the treats revoked. The workers are claiming that the comments were private and outside of work.

The PSA has also stated to the IRC that it intends to seek changes to the award to exclude out-of-work hours activities from being dismissible offences. The claim says:

“An employee shall not be the subject of any disciplinary action by reason of conduct that occurs outside working hours and which is intended by the employee to be private in nature”

However QUT Senior Lecturer Peter Black has commented, quite rightly, that can anything online be considered private:

There is certainly, I think an argument that it is a private conversation, however I think that probably ignores the reality of how these sorts of websites operate,

However because there is always a record kept of these sorts of conversations in an online environment, even where it is private, it is very easy for that information to get out beyond the wall.

Another interesting fact to consider is let’s define the work hours. If I answer work emails on a BlackBerry at home and then use the same device to post something on Facebook, was the post outside of work hours or not?

This case looks like it could be one begin to shape our employment laws around social media and the workplace.

More social media and workplace firings

It seems that social media is creating an environment where “firings will continue until moralw picks up”, or it just could be that Asher Moses knows he on to a good thing so his editors keep him writing about it…

So far in April Asher has written five different articles around social media sites and losing your job, that is one every four days! This comes after the flood Conroygate in March. Having said that this all makes great content for this blog so I hope Asher and his editor keep it up.

April 2: Facebook comments by prison guards had them being threatened with disciplinary actions according to one of the guards:

the comments on the Facebook group were largely suggestions of ways Corrective Services could save money without having to privatise prisons. Some disparaging comments were made against senior officials but these were largely “tongue-in-cheek”.

“I personally have no idea who I’ve supposed to have bullied and what comments I’ve made that are defamatory,” the officer said.

“It’s a big waste of taxpayers money to investigate us for having an opinion, the irony of it being that some of the cost saving suggestions we’ve made have actually been implemented.”

April 3: Facebook discipline may be illegal has workplace lawyer Steven Penning saying:

He said employment contracts are unlikely to cover staff use of social networking sites.

“What employers are doing is they’re scrambling and trying to make out that present policies can be stretched to cover these new areas, and in many respects they can’t,” Penning said.

April 8: Facebook snitches cost jobs we have more and more examples of people losing their jobs, although in this article Asher starts to reuse comments by Steven Penning to keep the story moving. Here we have a 20 year old losing her jobs for saying “saying no to working for shitty Government departments” on her Facebook status and then Jane Morgan who said her job sucked so she was sacked.

April 16: Has our dirty Domino crew from the US who were fouling up customers’ food. They were caughtby their YouTube vidoes and have been arrested.

April 17: Finishes the list with accusations that companies are now hiring firms like SR7 to track down dirt on employees so employers can discipline them.

I think things have got a bit out of control, on both sides of the fence. Let’s break this down a bit. 

  • Not wanting to work for shitty Government departments, fair call and most people I talk too tend to say that all Government departments are shitty. I know a heap of people working in the Government who have spoken negatively about their workplaces both online and offline, shall we sack them all? Eventually we might just run out of workers.
  • The prison guards, again my personal view is they seem to want to help, maybe the Department of Corrective Services should sit down with them and listen to their ideas. Usually people only lash out after they have backed into a corner. I have also found most workers actually have great ideas about how to improve the workplace.
  • A workplace with snitches “telling on you” over your Facebook status is a bit like primary school, and I tend to like a place where people get along. Unless of course you are blatantly causing harm to the reputation of your employer. But even then will one small remark from a low level employee really damage the reputation of a large company? The potential PR storm you could have as took place in the UK is a bigger issue I would think. Take this further I know a public officer of a multinational who was alleged involved in a road rage incident, all covered by the press. That guy kept his job, so a Facebook status is not that harmful, really is it?
  • SR7, there are always people out there trying to profit on things that might be considered border line ethically.
  • The Domino’s example, yep sack them but this is not a social media issue.

This is really just setting the scene more later, 

A final note, I will be speaking about these issues in early May in Sydney and Melbourne for FCB Workplace Lawyers, details soon.

(This post has been updated following editorial feedback.)

Brands and Social Media

I am pulling together a bit of research into which brands are doing what with social media in Australia during the process I uncovered some interesting statistics which I will share. The list of companies I started with was the BRW Top 200 and added a couple of well known brands for the companies when required (eg Big Pond for Telstra).

  • Lots of people a squatting on accounts using the names of the top 15 companies in Australia across a wide range of social media sites.
  • The sites with the highest number (17 occurrences) of accounts (real or squatting):
    • Blogger
    • eBay
    • GMail
    • Live Journal
    • Yahoo
    • You Tube
  • The sites with the next highest number (16 occurrences) of accounts (real or squatting):
    • Twitter
    • MySpace
  • Most of the companies seem to have their brand being hijacked on at least one site, some have higher rates than others due to their brand also being general name, eg Shell.
  • The companies with the non general brands with the highest number of accounts (real or squatting):
    • AMP (33 times)
    • NAB (29 times)
    • Coles (29 times)
    • Qantas (19 times)

This work is completely unscientific at this stage but still enlightening, might do some further work on it.

Update: I’m calling this practice “social media squatting”

Tips for laying off employees in a social media world

Over the weekend Techcrunch posted about the layoffs traking place due to the economic downturn. There are two main themes in the post; first some of the layoffs are clearing out of dead wood and the other being it is hard to keep layoffs a secret when everyone is a publisher.

To the first point. This is not new companies have always used downturns to shed deadwood, not sure why this was even raised by Michael Arrington. 

The second point is far more interesting and will have major impacts on employers for years to come. In a world where anyone can publish, and does, how you manage this process is critical.

But in the age of everyone-is-a-publisher it takes just a second after someone is walked out the door for them to post about it on Twitter or their blog, and it spreads from there.

Blog posts, tweets, video content all remain in search engine caches for a very long time, if not forever! Which means if you are thinking of cutting back here are some tips for doing so in a social media world, some of these are just plain common sense.

  1. Do it quickly, ok this is always the case but even more so now. Use the old carpenter’s rule “measure twice, cut once” the last thing you want to people having multiple chances of publishing about the process.
  2. Remember the jobs you are cutting have people in them. Treat them that way.
  3. But also remember humans do not make rational logical decisions based on information given to them. They will instead pattern match with either their own experience, or collective experience expressed as stories. This usually means they will react poorly initially.
  4. Provide employees some advice about being careful if vent online, make sure if they do it will not lead to nasty legal battles down the track.
  5. Expect things to be blogged, tweeted, and generally discussed. 
  6. Monitor the internet to see what is being said. Allow people to vent but if needed gently correct the messages if they are blatantly wrong.
  7. Don’t get into a online publishing war over the smallest of things published, sometimes ignoring it is the best option. The more times search engines find a topic the higher they rank it in the results. Also bloggers tend to react quickly and harshly don’t give them additional fuel to write about.
  8. Communicate with the employees who are leaving, but do so honestly and openly, limit the corporate bullsh#t.
  9. Communicate with the employees who are staying, again do so honestly and openly, limit the corporate bullsh#t.
  10. Setup a Facebook alumni group (if you don’t have one), automatically invite all of the employees who are leaving. Remember some will be boomerangs.
  11. Setup an internal wiki to allow the people leaving to document their knowledge in a central location. This way you might collect some of the knowledge that is leaving before it leaves.
  12. Communicate to your customers, suppliers, media, analysts and blogosphere what is going on and why.
  13. Make sure you are not applying double standards with your executive team as this will certainly get people talking. 
  14. Make sure the rest of the organisations is also cutting back on expenses. If you keep people flying first class while laying off employees this will also get people talking.
  15. Highlight the other cost cutting measures that the organisation is taking to show layoffs aren’t the only thing.
  16. It is a great time to have the CEO start an blog, this will show them as a real person a factor that should not be overlooked during this period of change.
  17. Finally make sure you pay severance packages fairly and on time.
These are my initial thoughts, have to head off and join the family but chip in with your own while I am gone.

 

The Cluetrain rides again

Almost 10 years ago Chris Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger and Rick Levine published a book that was going to change the way we saw the world, The Cluetrain Manifesto.

The basic premise in the book is that markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, and honest, sometimes even direct. Basically you can’t fake it.

Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to engage in a corporate monotone of mission statements, product strategies and , marketing brochures.

However everything is now changing. People are connecting, and working together. The Internet is enabling these conversations and there is nothing corporations can do to stop it.

With the book are 95 theses that summarise everything into a nice simple message. Yesterday I was re-reading them and wanted to share them with you all. So I created a quick slideshow, enjoy!

Generation V podcast

Yesterday while I was in the middle of my PRINCE2 course I ducked outside (literally outside in the freezing Melbourne wind) for 30 minutes to participate in The Scoop podcast for MIS Australia hosted by Mark Jones. The topic Generation V, or generation virtual. I was a little uncertain what to expect as the fellow guests are in my mind fairly “heavy hitters”: Gartner VP Stephen Prentice; The Project Factory head of virtual worlds Gary Hayes; and Talent2 CIO recruitment specialist Paul Rush, oh yeah and me.

The podcast starts off with a discussion on virtual worlds but then moves into identity, reputation and trust, we then discuss some fo the impacts for enterprises and recruitment. The podcast ends with all four of us providing tips for CIOs listening to the podcast.

Social networking in the work place

There are many barriers to the take up of social networking tools, and Enterprise 2.0, within organisations.  One of the big ones is fear, which in part is due to a lack of understanding of the tools and a lack of governance. A couple of days ago ComputerWorld published a story about the six commandments of social networks at work which starts to provide a framework for governance.

  1. Thou shalt present yourself respectfully and honestly
  2. Thou shalt ask: Do I want to explain this to an employer in 10 years? Or to my boss now?
  3. Thou shalt set boundaries
  4. Thou shalt not limit thy employees’ time on social networks
  5. Thou shalt not leave thy employees to founder, but lay down workplace guidelines
  6. Thou shalt remember: We are all still figuring this out

The list is a good start but does not deliver the details required not to mention it flips between what individuals should do (1-3, & 6) and what organisation should do (4-6) which makes it a little confusing.

Every organisation should be looking at governance of these tools, but remembering that while the technology is new’ish the issues are not. For example most major organisation already have medai guidelines for when senior employees are talking to the media, and acceptance use of internet policies. Both of these documents would form the basis of a governance framework for social network/media tools in the workplace. I say a basis as they need to completely reworked to suit the connective nature of social networks and media and the fact the employees will be contributors online not just consumers.

Australian web traffic statistics

Yesterday I received my copy of the May 2008 Hitwise Newsletter which tends to cover lots of general high level internet traffic trends in Australia. (Over the last few months I have been ignoring them, they are probably archived somewhere in GMail if I went to find them.) This month I decided to read it.

Of real interest was the traffic analysis for the News & Media – Print industry.

First up the leading sites were:-

  • Sydney Morning Herald (14.25%)
  • The Age (10.39%)
  • Herald Sun (5.81%)
  • The Daily Telegraph (3.62%)
  • The Australian (3.4%)

What would be interesting is to see how the traffic compares to the online news site, ABC News and News.com.au. But this is not the point of this post.

The point is the traffic drivers to these sites. Firstly Google’s Australian property drove a massive 13.34% of a traffic! Second was ninemsn with lowly 3.11%. The surprise for me was that Facebook is 5th with 2.76%. The surprises didn’t stop there!

Digg is also mentioned as a driver of traffic, now remember these are Australian print news and media properties. Over the last year Digg’s traffic to these sites has grown 120.8% and is now 18th driver of traffic.

What this tells me is use of social media/network services is growing within Australian and it is grown outside of the geeks. For many this might be old news, but for me it is good to see it in hard numbers. This has two implications.

Firstly “traditional” media are probably starting to see a pay off for their entrance into using these tools. By entrance by putting those fancy little “Submit to …” links at the bottom of their posts. The nature follow on here is the board room will take notice and we could see changes in the market.

Second it means the general public is starting to use these services. Which I guess means they see value, well why else would they use them?? When people see value they tend to expect all sites to offer similar services.

Now.

Enterprise 2.0…