Tag Archives: Twitter

Using technology to predict leavers

pulled_in_two_directions_1600_wht_3783Once upon a time it was thought that employees who started taking more shirt-term absences from work were possibly thinking of leaving.

It was assumed that they were bored, disaffected, or going for interviews. When jobs were plentiful this group of employees were more likely to leave sooner rather than later. When jobs were scarce they hung on being disruptive through their absences.

Now, according to a report in The Times, companies such as Joberate are developing software using so-called “big data” to help them predict which employees are unhappy and likely to leave.

Indicators include opening a LinkedIn account, or spending Friday afternoons on twitter following other companies, or looking at job postings on FaceBook. But the state of the recruitment market and company performance can also be factored in.

Joberate compares an employee’s social media activity with a previous base-line and when it changes can notify the company, or a head-hunter, of the possibility that this person might be in the job market.

All the data they use is publicly accessible so can be accessed without the individual’s permission. Perhaps a stark reminder of being careful about what you put in the pubic domain.

However another software programme Workday uses internal company data such as promotions, management decisions, job cuts and satisfaction surveys.

Companies apparently think that once they have identified employees who might be at risk of moving they can intervene and persuade them to stay.

I’m not so sure. Once people start on activities such as LinkedIn job profiles they are already distancing themselves psychologically from their organisation (and probably more likely to take time off).

And usually people leave because of a poor relationship with their immediate boss.

One piece of research based on 32,000 Fortune 100 companies found that from the time an employee had a bad meeting with their boss it took only three months for that person to resign.


Is social media the key to small business marketing?

Well it seems to be the case in America according to a recent forum at National Small Business Week in Washington DC.

Apparently three-quarters of small businesses are already active social media marketers and increasing their use of social media. And 2/3 of those not using it said they planned to do so this year.

So which was the favourite? According to marketing services consultants Constant Contact:

95% used Facebook followed by 60% using Twitter. 58% used Linkedin whilst 45% used YouTube. Just under a quarter used other local services.

When asked how effective each was 82% of Facebook users thought it effective, followed by almost three-quarters of video-sharing users, 55% for local services and 47% each for Twitter and Linkedin.


Small firms seem to be using social media as a complementary tool alongside other marketing methods. 95% were also using web-site marketing and 91% using e-mail marketing. And just over three-quarters were still using print advertising, almost as many on-line advertising, and just over half event-based marketing.

Is it the same in the UK?

According to eMarketer just over half of UK companies use Social Media to engage with their customers and prospects and a quarter of respondents said they ‘aggressively’ use Social Media to engage with their customers.

For three-quarters of the UK companies brand building was the top objective whilst just over half use social media to drive more traffic to their website or blog. Generating leads and direct on-line sales were less common goals.

PR expert Rick Guttridge from Smoking Gun PR, which specialises in digital and social media, says:

Social media can be a highly relevant tool for businesses large and small and used effectively can assist in businesses punching well above their weight.

However, don’t fall into the fool’s gold trap  of thinking it’s a free channel. Yes many of the products are free to use, especially at an entry-level, but the level of ongoing resource required to be successful should not be underestimated.

Too many businesses rush into social media to keep up with the neighbours without consideration of a strategy or how to evaluate success.

Take your time to consider your aims, target audiences  and desired outcomes before you begin. And remember, many of the traditional rules of marketing still apply here”.

Tweets mightier than the sword – maybe not

In my last blog, on informational warfare, I asked the rhetorical question; “is the tweet mightier than the sword?” citing Libya (a week is a long time in politics), China and Iran, as countries which had curtailed the impact of social networking.

Catching up with my reading I found a recent article in New Scientist titled Dictatorship.com written by Evgeny Morozov. The author clearly makes the point that using tweets and Facebook makes it so easy for (all) governments to monitor traffic and for dictators to crack down on dissidents – the internet as a tool of repression.

It used to be that regimes would just block traffic and web-sites they didn’t like, or censor it as China did with Google. Now they have more tools available such as malware to spy on unsuspecting computer users, or distributed denial of service attacks. Russia allegedly used that to bring all the Estonian web-sites crashing just to remind them who their near neighbours were. Many of these attacks are believed to come from former soviet republics where no-longer stated-employed former KGB technology experts turned their hand to “private enterprise”.

The American and UK security services regularly warn about cyber-attacks on western companies. And let’s face it many of these come  from countries where we do business. Advice I saw for people doing business in China included buying a new laptop and a new phone with no personal data on it. And a friend tells me that when he visited China in 2002, whilst there were computer shops  they didn’t sell printers.

No sooner had I posted this when Google complained that China was interfering with its g-mail service. The interference is so sophisticated that it look like it is a fault at Google with people not being able to log on. The Chinese government has not commented.

And a couple of weeks after I wrote this James Dyson was accusing chinese students at UK universities of stealing technology secrets and even leaving behind software to continue the process after they have returned to China.

But it seems we in the west are just as culpable in other ways. The Egyptian government was able to monitor and intercept traffic passing though their networks thanks to “deep packet inspection technology” sold to state-owned Telecomm Egypt by US firm Narus. Narus is owned by Boeing, that well-known US defence contractor so I may have read too many spy books but it wouldn’t surprise me if one of those US 3-letter agencies hadn’t slipped in a little piece of software of their own.

The shock for me was learning that Nokia Siemens had sold censorship and surveillance technology to Iran for which they were condemned by the European Parliament. I used to hold up Nokia as a values-led company but not any more. And then it appears that Ericsson sold technology to suppress political dissent to the oppressive regime in Belarus. Not a good track record for the Nordic countries.

And then of course there is facial recognition software, tagging all your online friends. Political refugees from the Soviet Union would often change their names once abroad so their families might be spared punishment. Once tagged there is no point in doing that.

And thus to Facebook and Twitter. Despite bragging about their contribution to democracy, neither have signed up to the Global Network Initiative, a group of companies,civil organisations, and academics committed to upholding human rights and freedom of expression. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have all joined. Facebook even systematically deletes accounts because the users use pseudonyms (no good for marketing I guess).

Perhaps we should go back to the cold war approach when Radio Free Europe sponsored by the CIA broadcast  news and “decadent” music to the Soviet Union to show them what they were missing. Modern music wouldn’t do the job but we could swamp the dictatorships’ systems with tweets. My choice would be the top most self-obsessed ones; Stephen Fry (narcissistic would-be lovey), Sarah Brown (loyal but deluded wife of our last Prime Minister), and Richard Bacon (irritating BBC Radio 5 presenter). And you could include Sarah Palin as she’s sure to confuse them with her grasp of global politics.