Unrest at home and abroad brought the use of social media under the spotlight in 2011. As Google and Twitter grappled with Egypt and Libya over internet blackouts earlier in the year, the UK government considered a social media blackout after country-wide riots were organised via social media channels.
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For some businesses, concerns over legal pitfalls, data breaches and cyber attacks meant adoption of social media was slow in 2011. However, other technology firms used social media for recruitment and to better engage with customers as part of CRM strategies - as well as rolling out internal social networks to aid employee collaboration.
At the start of 2011, investment in social networking site Facebook valued it at $50bn - more than eBay and Time Warner. Within six years, Facebook has attracted 500 million members and was hailed the fastest growing company in the world. Facebook now wants to share the innovations in one of its datacentres with the rest of the industry through its Open Compute Project. The project aims to showcase how Facebook scales its computing infrastructure in the most efficient and economical way possible.
UK businesses are clamping down on social media in response to recent high-profile data breaches, according to the latest annual WorkLifeWeb report from content management firm Clearswift. The report showed a 20% increase in the number of firms blocking access to sites such as Facebook and Twitter in the past year.
The financial services industry could prove an ideal home to social media applications as government legislation scheduled for 2012 looks set to transform a sector which has changed little in hundreds of years. Social media is hailed by many as a liberating means of engaging with customers and employees alike. Although retail is often held up as the sector to benefit most from social media, the investment industry could prove the market that needs social media most.
The number of “likes” on Facebook, is not a measure of success according to Anthony Bradley, a group vice president at Gartner, and co-author of The Social Organisation. Bradley says he has seen many errors in the way companies deal with social media.
From the way social networking is often reported in the media, it would seem to be that traditional customer relationship management (CRM) has had its day, and all companies need to do is to create a Twitter account and a Facebook page and engage prospects and customers through these. However, it is not quite as simple as that, and the devil - as always - is in the detail.
New Look has launched a social media platform to extend its e-commerce website and multi-channel offering. New Look Daily is a cloud-based customer hub that aggregates social media feeds from Twitter and Facebook and allows customers to upload photo and blog content. EMC Consulting built the site for the retailer to integrate with its existing Art Technology Group (ATG) e-commerce platform.
Social media has much to offer business, but organisations need to be aware of the potential legal pitfalls, says Steve Kuncewicz, IP & social media lawyer at Manchester-based law firm Gateley.
BT is rolling out a cloud-based social networking, blogging and data sharing service across 40,000 current and former employees. The service, herecomeseveryone, aims to offer support for different social groups within BT, including women, ethnic minorities, retired staff and other groups of workers, by connecting them to each other and external support services.
"Keep Britain Tidy" is a slogan that is ingrained in the psyche of most people in the UK. The environmental charity of the same name is now making extensive use of social media to further push its campaigning around the issue of litter and anti-social behaviour. Unusually for an IT chief, Rich Kavanagh, the head of ICT at the charity, is a strong proponent of social media tools - he has nearly 10,000 followers on Twitter - and led Keep Britain Tidy's (KBT's) journey into the world of social networking in June 2009.
Oracle has announced plans to use Facebook and Twitter to recruit 1,700 employees across Europe. The supplier said it wants to boost its workforce to meet demands for technologies such as cloud computing in Europe.