Archive for “June, 2012”

Turned off by Facebook's Facial Recognition?

Karly Gaffney is a Manager on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.

Facebook recently acquired facial-recognition firm, reviving concerns about their use of facial-recognition technology.

For those who are super creeped out by Facebook facial-recognition tagging, there are ways to limit the use of the feature (though it can’t be turned off completely). The steps below will prevent Facebook from suggesting your name/tag to your friends when they upload photos of you.

  1. Go to your Facebook account’s privacy settings.
  2. Go to “Timeline and tagging” and click on “Edit settings.”
  3. Choose “Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?”
  4. Select “No one” if you don’t want Facebook to tell your friends when it has recognized your face in a photo they have uploaded.
  5. Press “OK.”

(Note, some accounts may not have this option available just yet, mine for example. I will continue to check back and will update this post once I have the option to remove the feature.)

Making the above changes doesn’t necessarily mean that Facebook won’t learn about what you look like and associate it with your likes and friendships, but it does mean that you can opt out of Facebook being able to use the data it has collected on your beautiful mug shot.

Source: The Liberty Guardian

These steps are somewhat of a band-aid fix until Facebook decides to change the rules of the game (again). It does make me feel a little bit better about protecting myself online and on Facebook. What do you think about Facebook using facial-recognition features to recommend your photos to friends?


The Opportunity for Nonprofits on Pinterest

Kirsten McNeill is a Coordinator on the Content & Community team at Social Media Group.

I’ve covered how B2Cs and B2Bs are using Pinterest, which leaves only one more. Are nonprofits on Pinterest and if so, how?

They definitely are and there is plenty of opportunity for them! Nonprofits and cause-related organizations can use Pinterest to gain awareness if they can tell the story of who they are and what they support through a series of images. These images can come from a variety of sources such as the organization’s website or user-generated content from their social networks. They can even come from within Pinterest from other pinners’ that may have pinned their own images involving the organization.

Let’s take a look at some nonprofits on Pinterest that are doing it well. Operation Smile, an organization working to heal the smiles of children born with facial deformities, is dedicating its boards to pinning before and after images of children they gifted with free surgeries. To go along with the before and after images, they also have a board that tells the individual story of each patient. The visual nature of Operation Smile’s cause makes Pinterest the perfect fit to showcase their story and bring awareness to the difference they are making!


Last month, Opportunity International, providing loans, savings, insurance and training for people working their way out of poverty, used Pinterest to host a Mother’s Day Social Good Campaign. Followers could make a minimum donation of $5 and they could then leave a mark for their mother on the ‘Global Opportunity Quilt,’ designed to look like a Pinterest stream. This was a great campaign for Opportunity International because it enabled them to tap into Pinterest’s highly female demographic and reach those women that they are trying to serve.

One last example of an organization succeeding on Pinterest is PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They are using their boards to promote awareness and as an easy outlet for their supporters to find information by pinning products that are vegan and don’t test on animals. By pinning products from supporting companies, followers will know which companies are behind the cause and can be confident they are still supporting PETA when purchasing from them. Another useful board for followers to reference is PETA’s recipe board, where they pin vegan and vegetarian recipes, which allows followers to support PETA in their everyday routines.

Each of these organizations are telling their story through its own images as well as others’ and doing so provides a more intimate look at what the organization supports and the culture behind that. The opportunity is not only to create awareness but also presents the chance to get to know more about the community that surrounds and supports an organization. It is a great way to connect with them and develop relationships by pinning and commenting on their images.

Are you a nonprofit on Pinterest? How are you getting involved?

Bloggers Block….How do you get your mojo back?

Wangari Kamande is a Research Analyst at Social Media Group.

It’s been a long day for me. I’ve had a number of tight deliverables and research to complete, a shocking text message from my phone company telling me that my data plan has gobbled 100% usage within a period of 2 hours even though I have hardly used it all day, I have spent over 2 hours on the phone with tech-support, in a nutshell, it’s one of those days where I felt like a hamster in a maze. So, I sit here thinking, what do I blog about? And since I can barely string my ideas together, I decided to figure out how people deal with this issue I call the bloggers block.

There are a numerous reasons why people get bloggers block, here are few that I find to be quite common from past chats with friends and peers:

  1. Procrastination – you start to research an idea and all of a sudden your fingers unknowingly set you up for failure by somehow clicking into Youtube and you spend hours of time you can’t even account for, you’re thinking…what was I doing again?
  2. Fatigue – kind of how I am feeling now, bzzzzz
  3. Eating everything in your fridge – don’t under estimate the power of eating appropriate potions of nutritious food to get the good juices flowing into your brain.
  4. Writing too much & not listening enough – it’s like being on a date with someone who appears to be on the date by themselves, he or she talks too much and hardly finds out anything about their date. While the chatter box might be interesting, they end up wearing out their date and themselves too. It’s always more fun when it’s a two-way conversation, hopefully everyone stays stimulated.

So what are the solutions to this seemingly uncontrollable sense of mental blockage?

Source: Socialmediaillumination



Damyanti of Amlokiblogs says that as you browse the blogosphere, you get either triggered or challenged by other bloggers and this could become your next blog post. Kind of supporting my pain point #4, you start to listen and engage with others and who knows you might make a number of blog buddies by responding or quoting other blog-mates.

Take note of ideas in your everyday life

This is really a note to myself as I am constantly researching or reading about one thing or the other. When you come across something that’s interesting or provokes some reaction from you, bookmark it or write it down, this could serve as a future blog post.

Write a tutorial

This is great. You can teach your readers something that’s new and interesting. Here is a good example from Kira of Her New Leaf How to Have a Fantastic Weekend.

Set some interesting audacious goals and share them

I have seen a couple of blogs where bloggers have set to either run marathon or live on a tight budget, get over a shopping addiction and they document their experience of the journey. This brings a human touch to your blog and if you make it engaging enough it could spark conversation and probably motivate others to join the challenge.

Change your environment

I personally enjoy people watching, I try to maximise my lunches at the park during the summer because I am generally a curious person but watching others creates some interesting dialogue in my mind and sometimes gives me a burst of energy for work in the afternoon. Finding a new place to write blog post e.g. the Library, a park, a coffee shop, a friend’s house, near the lake, being surrounded by nature is likely to get ideas flowing.

As with most things in life, we are not always in the mood for even some of the things we enjoy, finding creative ways to turn those mundane days into something beautiful can be quite stimulating.

How do you get your blogging mojo back?


SAP's Social Layer: Making Collaboration Real

You’ll recall a few weeks back I wrote a post about attending SAP’s SAPPHIRENOW user conference this past May [disclosure: SAP has been a Social Media Group client since 2007] discussing the need for organizers of events-based programs to  both consider and optimize their “digital layer”. Not a new concept, but perhaps a more holistic way of framing it.

There’s an interesting parallel to this theme in another piece of news that was discussed at SAPPHIRENOW. Our group of bloggers and digital influencers received a briefing from Sameer Patel, someone I consider to be a great friend, and who is also SAP’s new Global Vice President and GM, Enterprise Social and Collaborative Software. What that fairly long-winded title means is that Sameer is in a newly-created role, in charge of something called Project Robus – an effort to weave together SAP’s “collaboration layer” at the product level, with particular emphasis on the notion of helping bring social business to life by allowing users to have access to the same collaboration workstream, regardless of which SAP application they happen to be using.

Sameer laid out the three points around which, in his experience, people collaborate. They are data, business process and content (documents). He feels that part of the reason there’s been a lag in the adoption of truly effective collaboration at scale inside most organizations is that efforts to date have been largely tool-driven, rather than focused on the why. I believe him. There are parallels to this behavior in social media outside the enterprise – routine “shiny object” epidemics distract from, and potentially damage, effective use of social tools to reach customers; this is largely because the first steps of listening and understanding what your consumers want from you are forgotten in the mad rush to the next “it” platform. This frenzy leaves in its wake abandoned tools and profiles, wasted resources, and a nagging suspicion that the whole thing might be nothing more than smoke and mirrors. In the long term, this translates into a loss of competitive advantage; firms find themselves lagging ever farther behind, largely because they’re focusing on the wrong things.

As he noted in the post announcing his new role,

“Many [executives] are still looking for that bridge that practically takes them from a world designed around structured process to one that gets them to blend collaboration at every step of business tasks and processes, and in a way that drives revenue and margin, lowers cost and mitigates risk.”

So it’s Sameer’s mandate to try and help do that, by re-focusing and re-packaging the “collaboration layer” across SAP’s product suite into a comprehensive social software strategy. One interesting question (from my marcom-skewed perspective) is how this will be marketed – Sameer’s team is, in his own words, “horizontally structured”, meaning they will work across product groups to bring this together. They’re a horizontal group inside a vertical organization – this pattern tends to be highly disruptive and it will be interesting to see how consistency in product messaging, results measurement and execution will be managed; that’s a lot of stakeholders.

Despite the looming and significant challenges, it’s a really interesting approach and, frankly, seems in line with SAP’s professed “trademark approach” to integrate their applications. It will be interesting to watch progress as Project Robus matures – there’s definitely a sense of “the need for speed” and the question will be whether SAP – and their clients – are ready, and willing to pay for it.

Things That Don’t Need to Be on TV: Draw Something

Michelle McCudden is a Client Engagement Director on the Client Strategy & Innovation team at Social Media Group. Follow @mmccudden1

Draw Something took off quickly after its February launch, amassing 50 million downloads in only 50 days post-launch, leading many to call it the “fastest growing mobile game ever”. Its creator, OMGPOP, was sold in March to Zynga for the tune of approximately $200 million based on the strength and popularity of Draw Something. Shortly thereafter, there was a shift. Daily users began to drop. According to AppData, they’re down to just 5 million daily active users, down from 14.6 million at its peak on April 3. This drop continues, despite updates to the gameplay and features.

It’s hard to pinpoint the precise cause of the drop in popularity. Different spectators have attributed it to repetitive gameplay, the ability to “cheat” the system, or simply the novelty wearing off. However, the recent updates have addressed at least a few of those issues (updates included more clues, a new look, the ability to draw from different categories, and notifications), so we may see Draw Something’s numbers rise, though surely not to its highs from this spring.

There’s now a new project in the works, attempting to capitalize on what made it so popular in the first place. CBS recently won rights to a project developed by Sony Pictures Television, Ryan Seacrest Productions and Embassy Row to turn the once immensely popular Draw Something game into a TV show.

Why It Could Work:

  • The conceit of the game was extremely popular, and had broad appeal, a key factor for ratings-based success.
  • Similar shows have seen success. Win, Lose or Draw lasted for three seasons on NBC and in syndication, and attracted some big-name guest stars. (If you don’t remember the show, check out the video below, with guest stars Alan Thicke, Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson. Even if you do remember the show, the vintage Coke commercial and Loni Anderson’s wardrobe are worth a peek.)

Why It Probably Won’t:

  • America had this show, 20 years ago. Has anyone been clamoring for a Win, Lose or Draw revival?
  • There’s a challenge inherent to translating the gameplay of Draw Something to television—to differentiate it from Win, Lose or Draw or Pictionary will mean successfully translating the experience of drawing something on your mobile device to the screen. That’s not an easy task.
  • Please see: $#*! My Dad Says for our last internet phenomenon translated for TV.

Are you still playing Draw Something? Are you interested in following it to TV?

The C-Suite and Social Media: Will They Ever Buy In? [WEBINAR]

Join Maggie Fox on Tuesday, June 19th at 12pm EST / 9am PST for The C-Suite and Social Media: Will They Ever Buy In?, an exclusive live webinar from Social Media Today.

While some Fortune 500 companies have taken the plunge into social media, studies continue to tell us that the leadership of many large corporations remains resistant to substantially opening their companies up on social networks, either for internal or external use. Are new media professionals deluded to believe that the evidence of social media’s pervasiveness will push the C-Suite into the world of interactive markets and transparent customer relationships, risks and all?

Maggie will be joined by panelists Peter J. Korsten, Vice President and Partner at the IBM Institute for Business Value, Peter Kim, Chief Strategy Officer of Dachis Group, and Tom Chernaik, Co-Founder of CMP.LY.

The panel will discuss the reality of the situation – the reports and statistics that tell us that the information revolution has yet to touch many C-Suites, the underlying reasons, and how much of it is due to the habits of leaders themselves. Are corporations hamstrung by the fact that many CEOs have not used social media themselves, just as a few decades ago few executives knew how to type? Join us as we ask:

  • Which corporations’ C-suiters get it?
  • What is the future for enterprises that refuse to reinvent themselves?
  • Is there a case to be made that social media is just an option?
  • Can social media work at the lower levels of an organization without C-level buy-in?

Interested in joining the discussion? Register HERE!


Innovative Video Platform Qwiki Arrives on Bing

Jordan Benedet is a Manager on the Client Strategy and Innovation team at
Social Media Group.

I originally became aware of the interactive video platform Qwiki in December 2010 when researching innovative new online platforms for an internal initiative at SMG we call “Innovation Camp”. The original deck I presented to my colleagues is embedded at the end of this blog post.

Qwiki really stood out to me as a rising star because it integrated various media formats, such as images, video, and maps on specific topics into one cohesive and seamless user experience. The added content recommendation algorithm at the end of each Qwiki turns the platform into a gateway for users to visually explore related information with ease. Qwiki is just over two years old, and has raised $10.5 million in funding to date. Their platform is currently accessed by approximately 1 million people per month.

Bing was apparently on the same wave length as me; as they have been in talks with Qwiki for over a year to tightly integrate Qwiki functionality into Bing search results. Now when you search for certain topics on Bing that contain a Wikipedia entry, a Qwiki link is also visible and easily playable in line with search results. Brilliant!

Qwiki on BING

Doug Imbruce, the CEO of Qwiki, recently stated that “We’re finally completing the vision … of a 360-degree publishing platform … the embedding-side of Bing proves that we can create the kind of massive scale and distribution that can help us change, and forever improve, the way the world gets information.”

Bing has been focusing on creating a seamless user experience for their visitors, and I think they have done a great job of integrating an external platform into their search eco system. One surprising tidbit of information is that no money has been exchanged during this deal yet, as the value of integrating the platforms was high enough to make both parties extremely happy to proceed.

Whats Next For Qwiki?

This integration should really help Qwiki expand awareness, raise additional funds, and continue to grow into the ultimate interactive publishing platform.

Qwiki has been quiet over the last year as they developed the second iteration of their platform. They recently released a Qwiki Creator tool that allows users to make their own interactive qwikis by uploading specific types of content. A full developer API will also be available which will allow content creators to mass produce qwikis at scale from their own content.

WWDC Apple Updates and What They Mean for Social Media

Yesterday, Apple dropped an atomic bomb of updates at WWDC, sending shockwaves throughout the tech world. The MacBook Pro line, OSX and iOS all received much anticipated (and at times surprising) upgrades. Those close to the blast radius are now undoubtedly waxing over’s newly refreshed product page, basking in the brilliant wired future their new hardware toys will bring. Yes, hardware updates caused most of yesterday’s commotion, but like almost always, it will be the updates to software that will cause the fallout.

OSX Mountain Lion Notification Center
Apple continues to bring some of iOS’s best features over to the Mac, creating a more seamless experience for users across devices. In Mountain Lion, Notification Center will now post app notifications in the top left hand corner of the desktop. What’s interesting is the inclusion of Twitter. Users will have the ability to both Tweet and respond to Twitter notifications directly within the OS, effectively turning the Mac into a lightweight Twitter client in itself.

Facebook will now join Twitter as a fully integrated social layer within iOS. Users will have the ability to log into the social network at the system level, sync contacts directly with the iOS address book, “like” apps on the App Store and post updates directly from the iOS Notification Center. Functionality to post updates from the notification center has be extended to cover Twitter as well.

Photo Stream
Photo Stream has gone social. In a move that sees Apple treading on a bit of Instagram’s turf, users will now be able to share, subscribe and comment on a stream of photos taken by friends directly from their iOS device. What makes this move even more disruptive are the endless amounts of apps available for iOS that provide comparable if not superior photo editing features than the ones provided by Instagram.

Apple seems to be moving away from attempting to roll their own social network, rather embracing the rich communities that exist today. A smart move for a company that’s best known for their top notch hardware and software and not the web. Today, social media is vital to the digital experience of users, and Apple is now incorporating the best of breed properties directly into their ecosystem.

Living Without Email

Cam Finlayson is the Director and Group Head, Client Strategy & Innovation at Social Media Group. 

When it comes to email there are typically two types of people: (i) those who generally embrace it and (ii) those who tolerate but secretly despise it.

I tend to associate myself with the latter. That said, I obviously accept that email is currently the preferred medium for online communication and use it for personal and business correspondence. However I can’t seem to shake the notion that email is antiquated medium that shares more in common with fax machines and telegrams than our modern communication tools. Not to mention that that from a business standpoint, email is cumbersome, an ineffective medium for collaboration and the source of countless hours of lost productivity.

Interestingly, while researching potential business solutions to this pesky email problem, I uncovered a third group users that I neglected to include above: (iii) those who have simply removed email as a form of personal and/or professional communication.

One example is an IBM employee named Luis Suarez based out of the Canary Islands. Luis is one of IBM’s social computing experts, who famously decided to remove email out of his day-to-day back in 2008. He now communicates with colleagues primarily via IBM’s business software platform Connections and various external social networks – including Google+ and Twitter. For Luis email only plays a very minor role, simply notifying him of meetings and the rare confidential email.

To some Luis’ decision is totally crazy, not to mention potentially career limiting. However to others he’s viewed as a genius and trailblazer. Regardless of your view, Luis has developed a solution that enforces work-life balance, while ensuring a productive work environment. And he didn’t get fired in the process.

Another high profile example that’s worth mentioning is the French technology firm Atos. With over 70,000 employees around the world, their firm plans to remove email as a form of internal communication across their company by 2014. Other tech companies including Intel have been reported to be piloting similar modeling for over a decade.

Regardless of the validity of these alternatives, the reality is that there’s a pending influx of future workers who have little use for email. These individuals have been raised with social tools and understand the limitations of legacy methods of communication. To them the solution is a no-brainer, to the old guard it won’t come easy and to the rest of us it’s just a matter of time.

SAP’s SAPPHIRENOW – Optimizing the “Digital Layer”

Social Media Group’s relationship with SAP dates back to 2007 when I was first invited by Mike Prosceno, as part of the relatively new “Blogger Program”, to attend the company’s annual user conference in Vienna. At the time, SMG was less than a year old, had a client or two (were we going to make it??) and I was hosting a podcast series I’d co-developed with Social Media Today. Mike managed to arrange an interview for me with Craig Cmehil, Community Manager for what was then known as the SAP Developer Network (SDN), and Mark Yolton, the new Vice President of Community. At the time, SDN, the proprietary social network for SAP users, was closing in on an impressive 800,000 members and the discussion was definitely cutting edge.

Flash forward to 2012. Social Media Group is approaching our sixth anniversary with an impressive roster of blue-chip clients, industry thought leadership and work we are incredibly proud of. I’ve missed a few SAPPHIRE events over the years, but have attended more than I haven’t. Mark Yolton is now the Senior Vice President of Communities and Social Media, SDN has been renamed SCN (“SAP Community Network”) to reflect the increasing diversity of the SAP ecosystem, and is one of the most extensive examples of enterprise use of social media at over 2.5 million members (which brings a whole new set of challenges, but that’s another post). The SAP Blogger Program is SOP (“standard operating procedure”) for SAPPHIRE events, and SAPPHIRE itself has been rebranded as SAPPHIRENOW. The company also has a new Chief Marketing Officer, Jonathan Becher, who’s committed to digital, social and transforming his organization into an inbound, rather than outbound, model.

What else has changed?

For the last few years SAPPHIRENOW has taken place in Orlando. This year I was again asked to attend, along with a collection of my colleagues from a group known as the Enterprise Irregulars. These days I go because SAP is a client, I like to keep my finger on the pulse of the company and their strategic direction and it’s a great chance to connect with incredibly smart people and just generally catch up. This year at SAPPHIRENOW there were also some interesting new developments in the effort to weave together social functionality across SAP products under the leadership of Sameer Patel, the new Global Vice President and GM, Enterprise Social and Collaborative Software at SAP; I’ll cover that move in a subsequent blog post.

In Orlando, Brian Ellefritz, SAP’s Vice President, Social Media Strategic Services, who is also responsible for leading the teams that help syndicate and amplify the massive amounts of content generated by SAPPHIRENOW attendees, was kind enough to give me a tour of his operation, introducing me to analysts and community managers who were gathering, producing and sharing owned and earned SAP content. The process and program was impressive, and also iterative; Brian estimates that they shake up about 25% of their social and digital activities each year to keep things fresh and ensure that they’re remaining innovative and relevant.

On the second day of the conference, I’d finally gotten around to checking in on Foursquare, and noticed that the check-in had likely been set up by a user rather than as an official SAP channel (it was off-brand, the event was listed as “Sapphire Now” and missed a good opportunity for a link or other metadata). I was a little surprised, but understood that there might have been some resistance to “gamification” of the event.

Which got me to thinking.

SAPPHIRENOW, in fact any live event, in fact any experience, has the potential for what I’ll call a “digital layer” – that is, the digital content produced by attendees, official representatives and people watching from afar. This can be everything from slick video interviews uploaded to Facebook or YouTube, #hashtagged tweets (tip: you don’t need to include the date – Twitter search is ephemeral, it’s hard to find content from three weeks ago, let alone last year), blog posts, the comments people leave on them and – yes, this matters – check-ins on services like Foursquare.

CC image from Foodfreak

The question that all event organizers (and, really, all brands – this is not only about campaign- or event-based activity, it’s also about your pervasive, ongoing digital presence) is whether you have truly looked at your “digital layer” as a discrete thing, a horizontal experience across your vertical organization or program. It’s a touchpoint that’s not always triggered by you but, regardless, it is an important vehicle for communicating a consistent message.

Here’s a great quote from Pat McClelland, a member of the Board of Directors at the Corporate Events Marketing Association:

“Just check out the digital conversation generated by bloggers and attendees… it’s augmenting the content with live commentary and debate, facilitating networking, making key business connections and generating leads. And that conversation among attendees helps create the virtual experience for those not on-site… The challenge for us is to facilitate and enable that digital layer, without expecting to control every aspect of it.”

Have you fully optimized your digital layer?