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communications is key in the evolution of business models

By on Jul 31, 2014 in fleishmanhillard, public relations, social business |

Most Communications professionals spend their time focusing on tactical executions – crafting outputs and pushing them out hoping that that they’ll create outcomes in the form of events or, if they’re lucky, events that generate patterns. I’ve long argued that the role of Communicators can and should be more strategic. To do that, we need to get involved in the development of structures and new organisational mental models. Findings from FleishmanHillard’s proprietary research on Authenticity identified 9 key drivers of brand authenticity. Only one of those drivers, Credible Communications, is directly under control of the PR and Marketing function. The rest, which include Innovation, Consistent Performance, Better Value, Customer Care, Care of the Environment, Employee Care, etc are mostly the sort of things that are determined at the Structural or Mental Model levels of the business, long before the PR team find out about it. So how does this reinforce my argument that Communications can and should play a more central, strategic role in business? Because we’re the best placed to connect up the dots between what stakeholders want and expect from a brand – through it’s offering but also through it’s behaviour in the World –  and what the brand stands for and communicates about itself. Business models are shifting and approaches that put Communications at the heart of efforts to understand and address that change are the most likely to succeed. The evidence for this is all around us, from crowd-funding to public-private partnerships to the Internet of Things. Here’s what Harvard Business Review recently had to say: “As the Internet of Things (IoT) spreads, the implications for business model innovation are huge. Filling out well-known frameworks and streamlining established business models won’t be enough. To take advantage of new, cloud-based opportunities, today’s companies will need to fundamentally rethink their orthodoxies about value creation and value capture. Value creation, which involves performing activities that increase the value of a company’s offering and encourage customer willingness to pay, is the heart of any business model. In traditional product companies, creating value meant identifying enduring customer needs and manufacturing well-engineered solutions. Competition was largely feature-versus-feature warfare. And when feature innovation eventually proved to be too incremental, price competition would ensue, and products would become obsolete. Two hundred and fifty years after the start of the Industrial Revolution, this pattern of activity plays out every day, at your local big box electronics retailer or department store. But in a connected world, products are no longer one-and-done. Thanks to over-the-air updates, new features and functionality can be pushed to the customer on a regular basis. The ability to track products in use makes it possible to respond to customer behavior. And of course, products can now be connected with other products, leading to new analytics and new services for more effective forecasting, process optimization, and customer service experiences. A variety of consumer products and services, from Nest thermostats to Philips Hue lightbulbs to If This Then That (IFTTT), highlight these new possibilities for IoT-based value creation.” Value creation isn’t just about clever engineering anymore. It’s about creating evidence-based, insights-driven, creatively-led and socially-optimised experiences that are authentic. To do this, brands need to understand audiences, to engage them directly with opportunities to generate shared value, to monitor and react to customer experiences in the real world and in real time. Brands that get this right – brands that realise Communications is the strategic heart of the business of the near future – are likely to...

the past, present and future of social media (or why facebook is pretty much dead to me)

By on Jul 28, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Clearly, as someone who has earned a living off helping brands devise and implement social media strategies for around 15 years, I’m off message with this post. Or am I? Social platforms come and go. I remember setting up my first bulletin board system on an Apple IIe back in the mid-eightys. I clearly recall building a 5000+ person email list on Yahoo Groups in the early 90’s. I ran facilitated web chats with a variety of experts in the mid-90’s. And I created a whole slew of bulletin boards, both personally and professionally, around the same time. I’ve always been an enthusiastic (usually) adopter of just about every social platform to emerge, and sometimes die, from the late 90’s until today. For some time now, I’ve realised that my use of social media has segmented across three distinct use cases, based on my perceptions of time and the usefulness of contacts and communities across it. Let me explain: The Future: I use LinkedIn, almost exclusively, to connect with and keep track of people who, in the future, might be personally or professionally relevant to me. LinkedIn is like a safety net. People I can call upon later to provide support for a project as a freelancer. Who I might want to employ. Who I might want to work with or for. I have friends, as well as professional contacts, there. But the key thing is that I want to stay in touch with contacts on LinkedIn because, if they aren’t relevant today, they might be tomorrow. That and it’s my number one source of professional content, these days. The Present: I use Twitter for the present – through the people I follow, and those who follow me, I learn, in real time, about the world. They aggregate and filter content, then deliver it to me. Twitter has replaced RSS and google alerts for me, and the human filters it applies are, for the most part, better than the technological one’s that proceeded my enthusiasm for the platform. The Past: Facebook has, for a long time, been sort of a storage closet of my past. It’s where I learn, usually after the funeral, of the passing of a friend from years ago. Or of a fundraising effort for a friend in need. Well, that or a fundraising effort by a friend from long ago who wants their mates to finance a charity walk the length of the Great Wall of China. Basically, Facebook is dead to me as a social platform of preference. And it’s not just a personal thing. I’d have a really difficult time, in most instances, recommending that a client focuses their energy, or budget, there. How many brands do you follow on Facebook? What’s the last piece of branded content you engaged with? I’m guessing those two questions are ones that most people, most of the time, wouldn’t be able to answer with any accuracy or conviction. “I loved what brand X posted the other day”. Yeah, right. The thing is, on LinkedIn, where your professional reputation is at stake, a like means,”share this industry news with people who I might, now or later in life, have a commercial or industry related interest in connecting with.” It has meaning. On Twitter, a re-tweet is an expression of interest, maybe professional, possibly personal. A nod to collaborative filtering and sharing. Again, it has meaning. On Facebook, a like is more of a bookmark of something you might wish to go back to later, or possibly a nod that you’ve seen something, but not necessarily a sign that you wished to share that content, saw value in it, or agreed. I realise, probably more than most, that Facebook is the dominant social network. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a bit shit. To me, anyway, it’s like Friend’s Reunited – a curiosity to those who care about the past, but not something that will have much value to those focused on the now or the future.      ...

internet, social and mobile usage statistics for europe

By on Jul 23, 2014 in academic studies, social software |

I’m always on the hunt for fresh, well presented, statistics on the use of the internet, mobile and social in different countries and regions. There are loads of sources, some presenting conflicting views. Regardless, it’s handy to have a single go to point when you’re in a rush and just need some top-line insight. Kudos, then, to the people at WeAreSocial who have created a treasure trove of such insight: Social, Digital & Mobile in Europe from We Are Social Singapore There’s a blog post with highlights here:...