Thursday, May 26, 2011

Social Media Secret Weapon: Email

This week I received a link to an interesting post called “Social Media's Secret Weapon – Email”. For those who know me I don’t have to say that I recoiled from the sight of the word e-mail. Specially coming together with Social Media, and even more when I saw it called out as its secret weapon! That was too much for me and I almost lost consciousness. Ok, you got the point.

Jokes aside (at least some of them), the article brings an interesting perspective of a current reality we can’t deny. The culture of e-mail is still pervasive, and using it as a tool to help people transitioning into something more efficient is a good idea. As I always say, e-mail has its place. You give it to people you actually don’t want to talk to, like we do with our home phone number, which is primarily used by telemarketing and people we don’t know well enough to give them our cell phone.

In the post the author makes a clear statement that e-mail is a secret weapon to bring people to the Social Media space, but he never advocates the use of e-mail for collaboration and discussion. I was disappointed that in many comments people seem to be confused about the message and used it to validate their ever growing e-mail usage.

I was amazed by the number of comments it has generated. Can you imagine if they tried to use e-mail for that discussion? Impossible! I do agree e-mail alerts are still an important part to bring people to discussions, but it’s not used for the discussion itself. That’s what probably happened with that post. People got an alert but immediately jumped into the social capabilities for the exchange of ideas.

Since e-mail is a cheap way for the sender to try to engage someone, it will still be used without restrain – unfortunately. Senders don’t account for the negative productivity impacts and related costs they generate in the other end. A distribution list can’t even be used as a gauge for its effectiveness since most e-mails are deleted and there is no way to know who’s actually reading them.

At home or office we scan through envelopes and promotional material throwing 90% into the trash, but we no longer – for the most part – exchange letters or office memos using paper. E-mail will be the same. We will receive hundreds of them and delete 90%, either automatically through spam filtering capabilities or manually, but it will be barely used for collaboration, innovation and exchange of ideas. 96% of the e-mails sent to serious corporations never reach our inbox. They are filtered by an anti-spam tool long before they even get to us. So, for me it’s a stretch to call it social media’s secret weapon.

Click Social Media Secret Weapon to see original post mentioned in this blog.

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--- Vinicius da Costa is Associate Director, Collaboration and Social Media Solutions at Kraft Foods. This text represents his personal opinion and does not represent the views of Kraft Foods, Inc.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Is Twitter Going Down?

In theory a great concept to simplify communication and collaboration. Just 140 characters each. You either have to know how to convey your message in a very concise way or don’t even start. This is Nirvana for all extremely busy people in the world.

However, the creators of Twitter underestimated the potential of humankind to explore it in a negative way. But let me start with the positive developments, which are many and may stick for good:

  • It was never so simple to tag a subject and filter by it. Hash tags are just a great concept.
  • It was never so fast to get a response for an issue or question. Post it and if you created a relevant network, you’ll have a good answer extremely quickly.
  • Therapy was never so cheap. Just open yourself to the world. With so little time and few characters, your tweet will get lost so quickly it may never be seen by anyone.
  • It was never so personal. People were amazed to start receiving celebrity tweets, directly from their hands and brains (questionable), at the exact time they were thinking about it. And in some cases, few lucky mortals would even receive a reply.
  • It was never so easy to have conversations during a seminar and exchange ideas, without disrupting the presenter, creating an extremely valuable parallel set of knowledge. Better yet, without even being physically close to anyone. Twitter has become the official way to whisper during live events.

I’ve stayed away from Twitter for about a week for personal reasons. I may have missed some interesting things but there was never intent to try to catch up. Then, for some time I thought: why should I go back there? Should I just delete my accounts — yes, I have 3 for different purposes — and forget about it?

The reason I thought that way is because there is too much noise to be able to filter what is really relevant. And because of that, many people are actually giving up Twitter.

Like any new thing, there is euphoria and then accommodation. Twitter as well as Facebook and other social networking solutions are at the highest point of euphoria. What will start now is accommodation, where people who already learned the pros and cons of such capabilities will adjust behavior. This is when quality replaces quantity. Massive clean-up, filtering and focus on relevance will take place. Following multiple people will only occur if you don’t care about what they say. Machine-like spitting tweets will actually make you lose followers.

The answer is yes, microblogging in general is going down. Not completely though. Just to a level where quality returns. It’s past the time people could get away tweeting like actual thoughtless birds. While one bird singing at a distance is relaxing, a thousand angry birds chirping at your ears at the same time is definitely not fun!

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--- Vinicius da Costa is Associate Director, Collaboration and Social Media Solutions at Kraft Foods. This text represents his personal opinion and does not represent the views of Kraft Foods, Inc.