Tag: social media

Social Sustainability and the importance of sharing

Flickr Advanced Search with Creative Commons

I wondered for a while what to post on first here after the re-branding of the site and the new focus on Social Sustainability.

First I thought about doing a post about blogging seeing as it is one of the most basic building blocks of social media but then I took a step further back and decided to talk about Social Media and Sharing!

Why? Well, sharing of content is essentially the raison d’être of Social Media, whether it is sharing it privately behind your corporate firewall, or sharing it with as many people as possible on the public Internet. And that’s really the key thing, isn’t it – you generally want your social media generated content to reach as large an audience, as possible.

So, how do you do this?

There are many strategies you can rollout to try to maximise the reach of your sustainability message – everything from ad campaigns to search engine optimisation – however, one of the less discussed ones that I wanted to mention is the use of Creative Commons licensing.

Flickr All Rights Reserved notice
Flickr All Rights Reserved notice

What is a Creative Commons license?

These are like the opposite of the “All Rights Reserved” notice you often see associated with works online – it is the default copyright on a lot of online content and it means that the owner of the copyright reserves all rights around distribution of the content. Obviously, if you want to get your message to the widest possible audience, you want to be sure it is not licensed as All Rights Reserved.

There are different forms of Creative Commons license – from the Creative Commons 0 – which is the least restrictive and is basically a legal tool for giving content into the public domain, through to the most restrictive Creative Commons license which says people are free to re-distribute your works as long as they 1) give you attribution, 2) share the content under a similar license and 3) do not use it for commercial purposes, and various shades of licenses in between.

So, any sites you are creating content on, be sure that you have made it clear to people that they are free to re-distribute your content for you on other sites by displaying the Creative Commons logo along with your content.

So, why the Flickr Advanced Search screenshot above?

Well, when I’m writing blog posts I like to include images to make them look more presentable, however, I don’t want to potentially fall foul of copyright restrictions. Luckily the Flickr Advance Search page allows you to restrict your search to only Creative Commons licensed images. The obvious corollary of this is that if you want to increase the viewership of your images (or any other content, including blog posts, videos, audio, etc.), apply a Creative Commons license to it.

By the way, if you are wondering how to go about getting a Creative Commons License for your content – head on over to the License Your Work page on the Creative Commons site and follow the instructions there.

And if you are looking for the Creative Commons license associated with this article, see the bottom of the right-hand side sidebar.

You should follow me on Twitter here

Photo credit Tom Raftery

Tom Raftery’s Social Sustainability – site re-brand

Beauty of nature

I started this blog back in July 2004 – back then a lot of my posts were centered around Open Source and web technologies in general. Back then the blog was branded Tom Raftery’s IT views.

Then in April 2007 I (belatedly) re-branded the blog Tom Raftery’s Social Media because I had been blogging almost exclusively about Social media since 2005!

In May 2008 I joined RedMonk as an industry Analyst, leading our research into Energy and Sustainability and blogging at GreenMonk.net. After that this site languished a bit I’m sorry to say.

Now though, I’m hoping to start blogging here a little more regularly on the intersection of the two topics I have been blogging about most for the last six/seven years, and am most passionate about, Social Media and Sustainability.

With that in mind, I have once more re-branded the site Tom Raftery’s Social Sustainability – I hope you like it.

What is Social Media's 'big thing' for 2008?

The next big thing
Photo Credit darkmatter

First off – a big apology to everyone who is subscribed to this blog for the lack of postings in the last number of months. I haven’t stopped blogging, it is just that since I started working for RedMonk, the focus of my writing has changed and it is now more appropriate that I write more on GreenMonk, than here.

Having said that, anything I write about Social Media, will still be written here, I’ll just not be writing about Social Media as often 😦

Why am I writing here now? Something has been bubbling away at the back of my mind the last couple of months and I wnated to see if anyone else was thinking this way, or, indeed (quite likely) if I was missing something!

Looking back at Social Media, we have had a significant advance (a ‘this year’s big thing’) every year since 2004.

In 2004 – blogs started to really take off
In 2005 – audio podcasts started to take off
In 2006 – video podcasts started to take off
In 2007 – microblogging (Twitter in particular) started to take off
In 2008 – ???

We are in November now of 2008 and I still don’t see any big transformative Social Media technology which has occurred this year.

Has it stalled? What am I missing?

Should employers be blocking access to Facebook?

I was speaking to journalist Dermot Corrigan the other morning about Facebook.

He was writing an article for yesterday’s Sunday Business Post on how companies have started blocking access to Facebook for their employees. This is presumably on the back of articles like the one in the Telegraph recently which claimed that:

More than two thirds of employers are banning or restricting the use of Facebook and similar sites over fears that staff are wasting time on them when they should be working

This is an unmitigated load of cobblers frankly, and raises a number of issues, namely:

  • If I’m an employer, I either trust my employees, or I don’t trust them. If I trust my employees, there is no need to block sites like Facebook. If I don’t trust my employees, blocking Facebook is the least of my problems!
  • If I am an employer I have a responsibility to monitor my employees’ productivity. If it has demonstrably dropped as a direct result of using sites like Facebook then my first step should be to review my firm’s Internet Usage policy. We DO have an Internet Usage policy, don’t we?
  • The vast majority of employees are responsible and hard-working. If they spend an hour someday on Facebook or a similar site, they will make that hour up during lunch by staying late, or by taking work home with them
  • Speaking of taking work home, as an employer have I ever impinged on my employees time outside of work hours? If so, I can hardly complain if they bring some of their personal life to work!

But, instead of thinking negatively about it, how about turning it around and asking is there a potential benefit from having employees on FaceBook? Absolutely there is.

One asset any employee brings to his/her employer is their network. Conversations in networks result (directly or indirectly) to sales leads, which, if handled properly, result in sales.

Networks build profile and trust which should again bring about an increase in sales.

Networks also help fill vacancies and networks can be leveraged to get answers to difficult questions, reducing time spent on problem solving.

The main asset a company has is its employees. By exposing employees to their peers on channels like Facebook (and blogs, podcasts, etc.) companies get to show just how good their staff are. And if the staff are impressive, the company consequently as their employer, looks good too.

Companies who block sites like Facebook do so out of fear and ignorance – these are the same companies who blocked employee access to email early on, and who blocked access to the web when it started to become popular; for the same reasons now being given for blocking social networking sites.

Eventually these companies will realise that they are losing out and will quietly roll back the ban. However, I suspect that the longer they leave it, the more likely they are to lose their best employees to more progressive companies who allow open access to social networking sites.

mobiseer (mobile social bookmarking) needs more work

Nubiq have just launched the beta version of their second product – Mobiseer. Mobiseer is a social bookmarking tool for your phone.

I wrote about their earlier product, Zinadoo – a website creation tool for mobile websites, last May.

Mobiseer is available via the web and also on your phone’s browser at mobiseer.mobi.

I must say the idea of having your bookmarks available and synchronised across both my computer and phone browser is quite appealing so I decided to try mobiseer out.

I created an account using my computer. Created a bookmark and then attempted to log in via my phone’s browser. Unfortunately, this is when things started to fall apart!

When I attempted to browse to the .mobi site, I kept being re-directed to the .com site. The .com site has a handy note telling me about the .mobi site which, annoyingly, wasn’t a link – mind you if it was it would probably have re-directed me back to the .com once more!
mobiseer on Nokia E65

Ignoring that for a minute, I attempted to login but unfortunately no matter how many times I tried, the application wouldn’t let me login from my phone. I entered the correct account details but no matter how many times I clicked the “Log me in” button, nothing happened.
logging into mobiseer on Nokia E65

Conor seemed to have a more positive experience with mobiseer on his N70 and he wrote a much more detailed review over on Blognation.

When they do get these wrinkles ironed out, mobiseer will need a Firefox plugin for adding bookmarks to make it as easy as possible for people to add bookmarks.

SAP's global Social Media survey

Shel Israel has been asked by SAP to do a global survey on Social Media. Shel emailed me a personalised list of questions as part of the survey process.

Following on from Hugh’s inspired example, I am also going to answer Shel’s questions through my blog.

Hey Shel,

thanks for considering me for this project. I’m deeply honoured to be included.

Here we go:

1. You were among the first Irish bloggers to build international relationships. How has this impacted you and your career?
Shel, this has had a tremendous consequences for my career. It has raised my profile internationally and as a direct result, I have received speaking invitations and consulting gigs from all over Europe. In the last number of weeks, for example, I have been to Las Vegas, Bilbao, Copenhagen and Madrid.

And all this international recognition has also translated into increased credibility (and therefore more business) at home.

2. Describe the evolution to date of social media in Ireland. What tools came in when and what tools do you see being the strongest moving forward?
Social Media uptake still has a long way to go in Ireland before it becomes common in the workplace, for example. LinkedIn is probably the Social Networking business tool with the greatest penetration here. And most users of LinkedIn here would probably not be familiar with the expression Social Networking.

Facebook is making some inroads into this space recently but still has a ways to go.

Other tools like blogs, podcasts and wikis are starting to receive attention from the business community but more from the perspective of a marketing tool. There is not enough talk about using social media behind the firewall for facilitating/improving internal company communications.


3. Have many Irish businesses adopted social media tools? If not, why do you suppose not. If yes, how are they using them?

As I mentioned above, the uptake is poor enough. The majority of users of Social Media software tends to be amongst the technology companies for obvious reasons.

The main reasons for the poor uptake, so far, are a combination of a lack of understanding of the benefits which accrue from Social Media, in company inertia, and time poverty!

Social media arose out of the downturn of the tech industry in the early 00’s. Many very clever people had time to invest in learning/writing new Social Media apps. Now that the economy is booming once more, people have less time to spend on investigating new business practices.


4. Is broadband still the formidable barrier that it was when we last talked? Do you see a workaround coming?

The rollout of broadband in Ireland is still quite poor in terms of speed and penetration compared to the rest of the OECD but the situation has improved somewhat in the last couple of years. Mobile broadband is starting to take off with O2 offering 3mb HSDPA for €30 per month. This offering is supposed to ramp up to 14.4mb in the next 12 months. This is going to put serious pressure on the DSL offerings who are currently offering 3mb for €40 per month.

5. How much of Irish social media is work related?
The vast majority of Social Media consumption in Ireland is non-work related (think YouTube, Bebo, MySpace, etc.). And a lot of the work-related uses of Social Media are for personal profile building as opposed to corporate brand management.

Having said that, as more young people make it into the workforce, Social Media tools are leaking into the workplace as frustrated employees deploy them to work around the strictures of more traditional Intranets.

6. What social media trends do you see moving forward?

  1. Increased opening of APIs (and therefore mashups of functionality)
  2. Increased deployment of Social Media tools on corporate Intranets
  3. Increased rollout of ERP applications capable of publishing events as RSS feeds and the requisite client apps necessary to consume them

7. Do you see any way that social impact is changing Irish impact with EU or the US? Why or why not?
Situated at the Western edge of Europe and being primarily an English-speaking country, Ireland has always looked to the UK and US as markets of choice ahead of our EU partner countries. The higher usage of Social Media in the US means that it will be easier to network (and therefore learn of/create business opportunities) with US based companies over and above their EU counterparts.

8. What social, business and tech trends do you see emerging?

  • Radical transparency -> Meritocracy
  • Improved products and improved customer service
  • Increased focus by companies on brand management
  • More adoption of open standards by companies leading to greater buy-in from consumers

9. Can you give me a couple of brief case studies of Irish business using social media in interesting or successful ways?
Unfortunately Shel, I’m only aware of one case study done on Irish business using social media in interesting or successful ways. However also check out:

  • Murphys Ice Cream and Bubble Brothers – two small Irish companies in the food and drink sector using blogs to promote their business.
  • it@cork – a not-for-profit, IT professionals networking organisation which uses blogs and podcasts to promote the organisation and its events and conferences
  • CIX – CIX is documenting the building of one of the most energy efficient data centres in the world on its site (which is running on blog software).

[Disclosure – I am a director of CIX and am chair of the it@cork conference committee]

10. Additional comments.
As I dashed this off, all of the above is likely to be wildly inaccurate or missing key bits that I overlooked. Please feel free to correct me/expand on my observations/meanderings in the comments of this post or better yet, in a post in your own blog. Shel has said that he will be delighted to get as many insights into this as possible.

UPDATED: Post updated to add a link to Aonach’s case study on WordPress

LinkedIn to open api – are they too late?

I wrote a post last week mentioning Facebook’s open api and contrasting it to LinkedIn and today I read that LinkedIn CEO, Reid Hoffman has said that LinkedIn will be opening their api to developers in the next nine months.

This is a necessary move on LinkedIn’s part as they are seeing their users desert their platform and move en masse to Facebook.

Nine months though guys? Come on, surely you can get something together before then. What kind of lead will Facebook have achieved in that time?

Facebook review

Facebook seems to be new cool Social Networking toy of choice.

It is a cool app, it has to be said, with the ability to easily create networks and groups of like-minded individuals.

More than that, it has an api which allows 3rd parties to create apps which hook into it easily. Tripadvisor have developed a “Cities I have visited” app which simply allows you to add in the names of places you have visited and it plots them on a map! Sounds simple but it is curiously addictive and similarly for the iRead app (books you have read and can review), iLike for music, Twitter and there’s even a Marketplace (for items for sale, rent, Jobs, etc.).

The social networking aspect is like LinkedIn‘s but  with the advantage that you get to see a photo of the person you are linking to if they have uploaded one. This is always handy if you are browsing one of your contact’s list of friends and you recognise a face but wouldn’t have remembered the name!

Also handy is the ‘river of news‘ information flow from your friends as they update their profiles, their apps, or their Friends list.

There are one or two things which could be improved in Facebook –

1. As Jon Udell pointed out this morning, it always annoys me that when adding a new Friend, there is no ‘Met Online’ option . Consequently I find myself clicking the Skip this Step button and

2. The email from Facebook is painfully slow. If I check the Requests page, I often see requests to connect from people I know who I haven’t added as friends yet. I add them and two to three days later, I receive an email telling me that that friend wants to connect and I should check the Requests page!

Facebook is rapidly becoming the Social Networking tool of choice for professionals – rapidly catching up on (if it hasn’t already overtaken) LinkedIn and Xing. It has a far richer user experience than either LinkedIn or Xing and it has the advantage of being free whereas full functionality in LinkedIn or Xing requires payment.

Paddy Valley trip – help needed

There is a contingent of Irish heading to Silicon Valley in December (2nd to 9th) to meet up and forge links with the movers and shakers in the mecca of the computer world.

The Paddy Valley Tour, as it is being called, has 17 Irish companies signed up so far. Many of those going are seeking to showcase products and to meet investors while there.

The organisers are looking for a little help:

There is a lot we need to cover so suggestions, reviews, tips and anything else is welcomed. We can’t do all of it on our own (and remain sane).
Things we need to do:

* Create shortlist of hotels to stay in that are central but also cheap.
* Create shortlist of venues for a showcase event. (A big room with connectivity and projector).
* Create shortlist of people to meet.
* Create shortlist of companies to visit both large and small.
* Create a list of potential companies.
* Cost of showcase.
* What can EI pay for or other Govt groups

If you can help with any of this leave a comment on the Paddy Valley site

Lot of travel coming up!

In the next few weeks I am flying to Bilbao where I have been selected to be on the prestigious jury forStartup 2.0 – an international competition judging startup companies.

Then I am off to Copenhagen for Reboot 2.0 where my suggestion for a talk about the energy efficiencies in the CIX data centre has been moved to the official program! I’m really stoked about that. It is an incredible honour because the quality of speakers and delegates at Reboot is stratospheric.

And finally I’m off to Remix 07 in Madrid (yes, Spain again – is it my imagination or are the Spanish becoming really active in the web space lately?) to give a couple of talks on social media.

I’m looking forward to the events but dreading the travel. I used to love travel the the mindless security theatre we are now put through makes flying a complete PITA.