Monday, October 22, 2007

IDC's Take on Social Networking

In my efforts to learn more about Social Networking I also attended IDC's event, "The Hype and Reality of Social Networking" last week with analysts Karsten Weide, and Rachel Happe.

Karsten kicked off the event and had 3 main takeaways:

1. Lots of people are using Social Networks

  • 37% of people use social networks (not including children)
  • Include blogs, social bookmarking and video sharing usage goes up to 77%
  • Add wiki's, reviews and classifieds and it increases to 87%
  • 20% of business users actively contribute - which illustrates the importance of champions

2. Social Networks can make your business more successful

  • Product Research - being able to listen to what is and is not working.
  • eCommerce - Which products are good for me? User reviews allow for what?
  • Marketing - but Karsten warns 'be careful, don't overdue it'
  • Product Support - allow customers to help each other find work arounds and fix bugs
  • Product Development
  • Advertising - because there's a lot of inventory, there's a big revenue opportunity
  • PR - If you're willing to open the kimono you'll gain credibility but if you start censoring, it won't work

3. The Time to Act is Now - Here are six golden rules to get started:

  1. There are first mover advantages - act now!
  2. Target young demographics, grow from there (consumer demographic is 25 and younger)
  3. Foster champions for viral content and marketing. Reward them publicly - even if you just give them a title.
  4. Utility - enable user generated content, interaction, productivity. Give people something to do and focus on making their lives easier.
  5. Leverage distribution, marketing, PR and brand
  6. Leverage mobile technology - mobile access to enhance richness of social networks and the immediacy of information.

Here are the 3 takeaways from Rachel's presentation:

1. As content and information increases social networks become more valuable

  • Complexity drives adoption - 30-35% of business users are consuming content in Social Networks and 20% of business users are contributing content
  • Utility is Key - users need to get more out of it than they put in
  • Gathering implicit data to build a reputation over time by using explicit data through linking various profiles can increase value

2. Know and understand the type and objective of the Social Network

  • Enterprise - this is a directed network with a focus on collaboration. When starting an entrprise forum start with forums, then blogs - then add other communications like chat, wiki, and shared project plans. Allow the community to mature before introducing new collaborative features.
  • Self Service (ie. Ning) - marketing campaign and advertisement driven
  • Brand-Centric - conversation is specifically around the brand and sharing of content

3. There are inhibitors of Social Networks that enterprises need to address

  • Lack of Standards - no federated user access
  • Lack of Clear Member Value - do they get more out of it than they put in?
  • Enterprise Risk Aversion - perceived lack of control; legal concern
  • Unclear Information Policies - unclear guidelines for users; poor reaction from users to management decisions
  • Poor Understanding of Social Dynamics - low uptake due to lack of compelling value; poor or delayed reaction to community generated concerns

Overall it was a great event with good statistics to support the Social Networking rabbit hole.

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