Archives for posts with tag: online conversations

In the U.S., we are still exploring the possibilities of Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, but in Asia and South America, everyone is Bubbly.

Bubbly is a five-year-old mobile and social app developed by firm Bubble Motion, which is based in Silicon Valley and Singapore. Simply put, Bubbly is a voice-based Twitter. Its tagline is, “It’s like Twitter with a Voice.”

According to Bubble Motion’s CEO Tom Clayton, Bubble Motion explored a variety of mobile voice-messaging services when social media networks such as MySpace and Facebook launched. This led to the media of audio messages targeting a much larger audience of followers.

Launched in February 2010, with no marketing dollars used to push the service and early adoption by Bollywood stars to promote their careers and new projects, Bubbly currently has a total of two million users, 1.2 million of which are paid subscribers.

Anyone can sign up for Bubbly to follow a friend, family member or favorite celebrity or brand. Posting messages and following is free, and once a new message has been recorded and sent out, users get an alert. If they choose to listen, they pay for the airtime.

Most messages are less than 30 seconds long, and there is currently a cap of one minute.

To post on Bubbly, a user dials a short code, like *7, records a message and hangs up. To listen, tap in another code, like *2. It works on any handheld device, and messages can be posted to Bubbly while still withholding phone numbers for privacy.

Bubble Motion skipped launching Bubbly in North America and Europe to focus its efforts in Asia and South America, particularly India, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Brazil. People in these countries typically have access to cell phones, but far fewer have access to the web, which makes this type of mobile blogging service an easy sell. India has the fastest-growing population of mobile phone users in the world, as cell phone operators add millions of new customers each month. By 2012, it’s estimated that India alone will have 650 million cell phone users.

No, it’s not coming here anytime soon, but I think it is important for communicators to keep up on what is going on in the industry no matter where in the world it is happening. These new innovative services and applications not only tell us where we are currently with social media and how we use it, but where we are going.

For more information on Bubbly, visit http://www.bubblemotion.com.

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Lately, I’ve been obsessed with learning more about Yammer. Yammer is an intra-company/enterprise version of Twitter, designed with the goal of helping companies and organizations evolve into more productive and integrated organizations.

Launched at TechCrunch50 in 2008 (also known as TC50), a conference and tradeshow that showcases the best Web 2.0 start-ups, Yammer won the grand prize, and now claims to have more than 50,000 companies around the globe using the tool. Yammer won’t drop names, but they state that Fortune 500 companies, Hollywood studios and many small to mid-sized companies now Yammer, and the Web site lists Fox, Adobe and Hill and Knowlton as users.

Yammer is the result of founder and CEO David Sacks and engineers at the other company he founded, Geni, wanting an internal communication tool to connect with employees throughout the organization.

How does it work? It all starts with one simple question: “What are you working on?” Co-workers post and share update on their projects. Company news can be sent instantly. People in an organization can send links, ask questions and get help from anyone in the company. Everyone on the network can see who is following who, who is the most followed, and ultimately, who are the movers and shakers in the company.

Yammer also serves as a company directory in which every employee has a profile, and as a knowledge base where past conversations can be easily accessed and referenced.

Basic Yammer service is free, and companies can pay to claim and administer their networks. All communication within the company is completely private and secure – not even Yammer employees can see what is going on within individual organizations. The privacy of each network is ensured by limiting access to those with a valid company email address and information isn’t shared with third parties.

Yammer now has the ability to create groups within a company in order to communicate with different teams inside an organization without broadcasting what is said publicly. Companies can also host Yammer inside their corporate firewall. It is available on iPhone, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and Android.

I think this is cool and this says a lot. I have worked at companies where they utilized internal instant messenger tools and I thought it was the biggest pain in the behind. The main reason was that I didn’t feel it used the way it was supposed to be used. What was supposed to be another tool in your arsenal to be more productive and help others mainly became a method of someone keeping track of when you turned your computer on and off, or firing off twenty-million questions a day when they could just pick up the phone and come over to discuss a project.

Not exactly best practices for workplace productivity.

With the appropriate buy-in from The-Powers-That-Be (Yammer can be started by any employee, but I wouldn’t recommend that unless that employee is THE decision maker and can do what they want), Yammer can help end the dreaded silos that occur in many companies, facilitate efficiency in working across various groups in an organization, and fairly and equally promote exemplary work among employees. Yammer could also serve as a blueprint for new employees entering an organization on how it operates, its culture and how to succeed.

An additional use, particularly for public relations departments in organizations that are reluctant to use social media to communicate to external audiences, is to introduce a tool used internally to showcase how, say, Twitter works, and what is can do. Baby steps are necessary for many in upper-management, and this could be a start to embracing social media.

Econsultancy recently completed a study that revealed almost two-thirds of companies have experimented with social media, but haven’t launched significant campaigns. The biggest reason cited was “lack of resources.”

Hmm. Do you buy this?

Seeing as many companies block the use of sites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace by its employees, one could start to assume that the biggest reason for not making a serious effort to use social media and/or reputation and buzz monitoring tools is that they perceive a lack of control over it. So management attempts to control it from within by blocking the use of these sites (under the guise of taking away possible distractions from the work at hand), and don’t seek to understand it and how it can work to their organization’s advantage.

Several other issues could be at work here as well:

Tech Adverse Management: There are very intelligent people at all levels of management, including the very top, from small companies to international corporations, who call people into their offices to open Excel documents. They aren’t stupid by any stretch of the imagination. But they have talked themselves into believing they don’t understand “tech stuff” or “social media stuff” and so they stay as far away from it as possible. Now, in this case, what are the chances of getting these individuals to buy into participating in social media or use online tools to monitor what is being said about the company?

Public Relations Adverse (or Illiterate) Management: I feel the public believes that most CEOs are dynamic extroverts who glow at the thought of being called upon by the media to talk about what they know and the company. Nothing is further from the truth. Some, whether it is through previous bad experiences or just a distrust of the media in general, literally lock down their public relations departments, permit them only to send out the occasional new product or company announcement press release, then refuse to entertain any questions the media may have. So if traditional PR scares the pants off of them, participating in online discussions or reaching out to bloggers is out of the question.

The Legal Department: Everyone knows the function of the legal department is to keep the company from being sued, and if they are sued, to settle it as quickly as possible. Fine. But some are more…let’s say, diligent, about its role than others. I have worked with company legal departments who asked for SIGNED photo release forms from the Stepford-pretty models featured in stock art photos used in company-issued newsletters. I have been called and questioned about the use of the word “innovative” in a press release – and then forced to remove it, because I couldn’t prove that the product I was announcing was innovative. ‘Nuff said.

Fear: All of the issues above stem from fear of some kind. But the biggest is possibly the fear of suspecting negative things are being said, and not really wanting to confirm them. It might be worse than originally feared, company management might actually have to do something about it and aren’t ready to do so for whatever reason – money, resources, being forced to answer to shareholders, employees, vendors and the general public.

Lack of resources, when so many people participate in some type of social media such as LinkedIn or Facebook, is an excuse, and a pretty lame one.  There are well-publicized stories of companies that allowed unchecked online conversations to ruin the public’s perception of the organization and adversely affect its bottom line. The conversation goes on, 24/7, whether companies want it to or not. You can’t control everything being said online, but you can get your messages out there effectively and use it to control any situations that may arise. It’s as simple as the click of a mouse…

See the complete article, “PR Pros Still Experimenting With Social Media” at PRNewsonline.com.