Christer Holloman

Head of Digital Product Development - The Times & The Sunday Times

As well as his roles at News International, Christer is author of the highly regarded book: The Social Media MBA: Your Competitive Edge in Social Media Strategy Development and Delivery. He’s also technology blogger at Sky News and all-around authority on all things digital.

What social channels or platforms are growing and which do you think will decrease in importance?

   

Not surprisingly Google+ will be the fastest growing platform this year. Their superior distribution mechanism and introduction of their enterprise edition, will see their numbers increase exponentially and probably hit 400 million users by the end of this year.

Their challenge will clearly be to engage those users and get them to come back again and again. While Google+ might be signing up its first 100 million users in less time then what Facebook needed to get its first 100m, I think Foursquare will take longer to get their next billion check-ins compared to the first billion which they announced last year. I've been watching Foursquare and other location based check-in services for the last 2 years but none of them has managed to make an impact in Europe. These will decrease in importance.

   

“I've been watching Foursquare and other location based check-in services for the last 2 years but none of them has managed to make an impact in Europe. These will decrease in importance.”

Christer Holloman

What has been the big surprise in 2011 for social-powered business?

   

Back in 2011 we defined our social media network by our old friends, our family and those we work with. In 2012, we realise that we can have more in common with people outside our network. Think about it, when you grew up, everyone’s best friend lived on the same street, or at least in the same area, right? Isn't it more likely that your ideal best friend could live just about anywhere? 2012 is the year when we will start to form new networks – networks based on affinity. Social-powered businesses are in for a big surprise when they realise that they are ideally positioned to surface these connections by allowing their users to connect and create virtual communities of like-minded individuals.

   

“2012 is the year when we will start to form new networks – networks based on affinity.”

Christer Holloman

What has been the biggest disappointment or over-hype?

   

Things like Facebook on your TV. We know that people use their devices (tablets, smartphones, laptops, etc) for different things depending on a range of variables; time of day, location, amount of time to spare, etc. Despite this, TV manufacturers responded to the social media hype by adding it to their products. I'm sorry but watching Facebook on my 60 inch TV navigating with a remote control is just a very poor user experience. Everything everywhere isn't a good thing, it's just a waste of development resources.

What's the next big thing for social business?

   

Using social media for new product development, as a way to access customers on tap for on-the-fly, real time, small scale testing which will redefine the way we think of co-creation and feedback cycles. Today there are no good tools to facilitate this but when they come it will pave the way for the next big business utility of social.

What should a CEO or senior strategist be keeping an eye on in 2012?

   

Making sure you stay on top of your game by continuing to consume best practices and soak in inspiration to share with your organisation. Why not check out my book The Social Media MBA, co-created with 15 thought leaders from 4 continents offering an exceptional educational programme written for experienced social media professionals.

What role do you think CRM will play in the social business of tomorrow?

   

So we are capturing all this data about our customers, and we think it's valuable, but what do we do with it - how do we turn the data to revenue? I would like to see CRM tools link to our advertising campaign management tools, help us connect the dots with a holistic take on the digital customer journey, from search, reviews, influencers, ads, purchase, etc.

   

“So we are capturing all this data about our customers, and we think it's valuable, but what do we do with it - how do we turn the data to revenue?”

Christer Holloman

How can a company inject social media into its culture?

   

You clearly can't force your staff to go social but as a leader you have an obligation to give everyone the tools to explore it. Level the playing field, provide training. It's not unusual that companies make every new employee complete a 20 min desk assessment, why not a 20 min social media crash course?

Share your social media objectives, discuss your social media policy, best practises and encourage your staff to set up their profiles on the internal tools you use such as Chatter, help them post their first update and follow peers. Develop further by positive reinforcement, reward good behaviour. Consider top lists on your intranet; the most-commented post this week, most posts and run features on prolific bloggers. Offer more training. If social media isn't happening from the bottom up, make sure it's happening top down.

   

“You clearly can't force your staff to go social but as a leader you have an obligation to give everyone the tools to explore it.”

Christer Holloman

Is there a downside to social media in business? What are the risks?

   

Some companies get 'blackmailed' and intimated by customers threatening to tweet or write a negative review unless the company comply with their request for disproportionate compensations etc. You must not give in to that, you must give the best customer service you can provide and follow your normal routines. If someone still writes something negative, respond to them in public, be transparent and tell your side of the story, showing what lengths you went to resolve the issue.

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