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A regularly updated resource of information and news items.

Archive for September 2009

Social Media Revolution

Posted Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVXKI506w-E


Twitter to replace email marketing

Posted Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

The Retail Bulletin, Wednesday September 16th 2009

Despite the lowering costs and accessibility of email marketing, many businesses are now looking at Twitter as an economical substitute, according to Deborah Collier Chief Strategist at e-business consultancy Echo E-Business.

Collier explains “Email marketing offers a channel to directly target subscribers, however the return on investment, particularly for smaller businesses is still fairly low in comparison to other media channels. The biggest email marketing value for many businesses, particularly in the B2B markets, is in relationship and brand building over a period of time, supporting the overall sales process – Now we have Twitter to do that, and its free”

“From restaurant bookings to product launches, Twitter has now become a de facto tool, not only for relationship building, but also sales” says Collier

However, it is not just the small companies that are cashing in to the potential of Twitter. According to June reports from from Dell Computers, they generated $3m in sales from Twitter (Internet Retailing Magazine)

“Its important to remember, however, that it’s not what tool you use, but also why, how and when to use it. With any strategy it’s important to ensure that you are in the right place at the right time, and that your message if communicated effectively”, adds Collier

Echo E-Business recently posted a recent Customer Engagement workshop alert on Ecademy. Within one hour, a member of IBM advocated the workshop in a Tweet to his network. An IBM Twitter follower subsequently contacted Echo E-Business. “This is the power of Twitter’, says Collier “the ability to advocate others, and have them advocate you – And it costs nothing, just time and know-how”.

“Online strategies are now an absolute necessity, even for the smallest or most traditional of traders and for e-businesses looking for levels of engagement unmatched by traditional media. The problem is that most businesses are still struggling to get to grips with Twitter, and understand it’s real value” explains Collier.


Social networking for business is next big thing

Posted Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Social sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn feed the craving people have to find one another, exchange information, catch up and solve problems.

Commercial Appeal, June 8, 2008

But there’s more, and for business, this matters. In the back-and-forth of ordinary conversation, ideas pop up.

They may be about your product or ways you could do things better … or new products your customers could use if you were hearing what they had to say.

“Those conversations are going on online anyway, believe me. You want them going on in your foyer,” Barger said.

The idea, of course, is that if people are talking in your presence, you’re the first to hear what is being said.

And if it’s said on your site, the exchange can be cataloged and stored, giving you a tidy archive of correspondence.

Barger, president and chief executive of LunaWeb Inc. — a Memphis company that does Web design and Internet marketing — is speaking Wednesday on social networking at the Public Relations Society of America meeting at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn.

“It has gotten to be such an important part of a PR person’s job right now,” said Bob Phillips, chapter president and Thompson & Berry Public Relations account exec. “Listen, business is so competitive. Everyone wants to know as much as they can find out.”

Barger is likely to start his talk by reminding the audience that “business used to be a faceless entity behind a security guard at the corporate gate.

“A perfect corporation was a business entity that could be perfected with mass production and quality assurance. It was all mechanized, and not human,” he said.

Now, with the push to put a face on the corporation, companies are using professional photos of employees on their Web sites, for instance, and finding employees, such as Don Dodge at Microsoft, to blog in voices that are credible and, well, folksy.

Blogging opened up a dialogue that social networks expanded. Today, there are more than 200 social sites, excluding niche networks — sometimes called vertical sites — tailored to specific audiences.

LinkedIn is one of the best for connecting professionals. In Memphis, about 100,000 people have Facebook pages. Two years ago, the population was probably closer to 40,000, Barger said.

Everything changed last fall, when Facebook broadened its membership beyond its college core, and the universe changed overnight.

“Now all of sudden, Facebook is saying, ‘Business, we welcome you. Here is how you set up shop; here’s how you engage your client base,'” he said.

“Businesses tapping into social networks to expand customer base need to have a clear idea of what they want to achieve,” said Chelsea Dubey, account executive at RedRover.

“You need success metrics, such as: How many people use the site? How many prospect leads are generated?

Social networking just for the sake of social networking isn’t always a good investment. It needs to connect to other elements of your sales and marketing strategy,” she said.

When FedEx Corp. created NetFace in 2006, a social networking site for employees only, it did no promotion but sat back to see how quickly a community would form, said Nicole Heckman, manager of innovation research.

“We found it was much more viral than we expected,” Heckman said. “Over several months, we had 2,000 active users.”

People into social networking use the word “viral” to describe how quickly networks form and spread.

Some companies build in viral functions, giving users gifts for telling friends.

“One of the things I found was that it really did give employees a way to have a personal identity within a large organization,” Heckman said.

People were soon connecting in and outside work to talk with people who had worked on similar projects or simply to play flag football.

“It really doesn’t have to be a huge investment,” Heckman said. “We accomplished FaceNet with a team you could count on one hand. You do obviously have to have someone manage it, but it wasn’t someone’s full-time job.”

For people who think the networks are just for kids, the average new Facebook enrollee is in the mid-30s.

“Many of my friends that are older and less tech savvy could care less,” said Gwin Scott, president of business incubator EmergeMemphis.

For him and the startups he works with, social networking is a chance to attract like-minded people, plus it gives business a way to tap into audiences that aren’t watching as much TV or paying as much attention to other traditional media.

Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division rolled out a blog in January, frankly as damage control after the utility was rocked with leadership scandals and contributions to its Plus-1 charity fell to record lows.

“We had to look at taking a more creative approach to communicating with our customers,” said Glen Thomas, head of the utility’s public relations. “We had to take the blinders off to look at the different ways to reach our customers, interact with them and respond to them.”

When looking over the staff for a potential blogger, Thomas suggests someone already passionate about the subject area.

“The woman writing our blog would chastise us if someone had a plastic bottle in trash,” he said.

Oh, he also suggests frequent views of the blogs that tend to break news in Memphis so you’re not caught off guard when the media come calling.


Which oil company has the smallest environmental footprint?

Posted Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

New Greenopia report ranks oil companies according to environmental impact and effort.

Mother Nature Network, May 26 2009

Let’s face it, there are no environmentally friendly oil companies. It’s a contradiction in terms. Every major oil company in the world has a significant negative environmental impact — one that could only be eliminated by making a complete switch to renewable energy. But, green ratings and rankings site Greenopia.com has evaluated 10 oil giants to determine who’s causing the least damage and making the most effort to be greener.
 
Fossil fuels are pretty much at the top of any environmentalist’s black list,” said Doug Mazeffa, director of research at Greenopia. “But until alternative-fuel coalesces into large-scale market availability, cars are a vast and current fact of life and they are powered by refined crude oil.”
 
British Petroleum came in first as the company that’s doing the most to lessen its impact. Greenopia praises BP’s user-friendly, transparent sustainability reports, its efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and its portfolio of renewable energy investment. Greenopia called BP “the place to go if you want some of the more responsibly sourced oil in the U.S.”
 
Coming in dead last is Citgo, which has the least complete environmental reporting of any company evaluated. Greenopia says,

‘We couldn’t even track down the total greenhouse gas emissions, something that every other company reports front and center. And even though Citgo had an impressively low number of oil spills, they don’t even report the volume of oil spilled, so there is no way of being sure how big of an accomplishment this is. Likewise we don’t have a feel for the amount of water consumed or waste generated. Lastly, Citgo could benefit from other alternative fuels besides ethanol. Ethanol has questionable life cycle benefits and there are many other greener fuel types out there.’

Production efficiency, oil spill efficiency, sustainability reporting, pursuit of alternative fuels, stance on climate change and resource efficiency were among the criteria used to rank BP, Exxon, Chevron, Shell, Hess, Citgo, Valero, Conoco Phillips, Sunoco and Marathon. Data was collected from the companies’ sustainability and/or annual reports and was normalized against production and revenue to determine each companies’ efficiency relative to its competitors.


Recession: The Mother of Innovation?

Posted Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Our special report looks at innovative ways businesses can turn the troubled economy to their advantage

BusinessWeek, July 22, 2009

Necessity may be the mother of invention. But could a recession be the mother of innovation? After all, many of the world’s enduring, multibillion-dollar corporations, from Disney (DIS) to Microsoft (MSFT), were founded during economic downturns. Generally speaking, operating costs tend to be cheaper in a recession. Talent is easier to find because of widespread layoffs. And competition is usually less fierce because, frankly, many players are taken out of the game.

Recessions can also help executives figure out how to improve products, services, and processes internally and for customers. Ideally, the creative thinking that’s needed to weather the storm of an economic downturn can lead to new markets and revenue streams. “Innovation originates from challenges,” says Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, a Noida (India)-based global IT services company.

HCL recently partnered with Xerox (XRX) to provide tech support for corporate customers using Xerox systems meant to reduce the amount of wasted paper. The systems themselves were inspired by the dual challenges of helping to save the environment and the need to slash office expenses during the downturn.

Inventing cost-effective and time-saving processes becomes a priority in a downturn, and it’s an area of interest for companies and organizations in a variety of fields, from high tech to health care. “In a recession, you can innovate to be more efficient,” says John Kao, author of the book Innovation Nation and the head of Deloitte’s Institute for Large Scale Innovation.

Lessons to Be Learned
Sure, there have been some signs lately that the economy might be picking up—Apple‘s (AAPL) quarterly profits jumped 15%, for instance. But a recent survey by consulting firm Bain & Co. found that 60% of 1,430 global executives polled expect the current recession to last through 2010.

And smart companies will continue to apply the innovation lessons learned during today’s tough times even when things pick up. The innovative processes, products, and services that hatch now can help executives understand how to curb costs or take risks on fresh ideas when the economy rebounds.


 
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