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Social Media Portal - Profiled - Adrian Moss - Parity Solutions

Staff (Social Media Portal) - 26 May 2009

Profiled - Parity Solutions - Business and IT solutions company releases social media research

An Interview with Adrian Moss, Head of  the Web 2.0 Team of Parity Solutions

Parity Solutions logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What is your full job title and role at Parity Solutions?

Adrian Moss (AM):
My role involves advice and consultancy. I work closely with our service development and delivery teams to ensure we have the technical skills to help clients develop and deploy Web 2.0 platforms.

SMP: What are your low moments of what you have been doing so far?

AM: Hearing people starting to talk about Web 3.0 before most people even have come to terms with Web 2.0! As an industry we need to be aware that such ‘Blue Sky’ terms scare and confuse people in equal measure. For many organisations the cultural and organisational issues involved in deploying a Web 2.0 strategy is big. It is not just a systems change but often a cultural and organisational one.

For public services we still have the practical problem of a lack of digital access for a large percentage of the UK population. The Government has plans to address this by 2012. In the meantime - and perhaps afterwards too – organisations will have to provide ‘traditional’ access as well as drive forward their e-citizen strategies.Photograph of Adrian Moss, Head of  the Web 2.0 Team of Parity Solutions

SMP: What are your high moments of what you have been doing so far?

AM: The willingness of clients to talk about the issues involved in deploying Web 2.0 services makes my role interesting and worthwile, but I’ve also enjoyed developing the content for the recently launched series of Parity podcasts and blogs as it allows me to act as a ‘roving reporter’ and interview very interesting people.

SMP: With your research you suggest that social media has attracted negative associations; what would these be and why?

AM: Many organisations perceive social media as ‘socialising’, that is they see it as a platform to chat to friends and organise a social life. In other words it’s seen as unproductive in a professional sense and this is why companies ban its use in work time or have their IT department block access.

Another problem is that many senior managers are not using the tools themselves so personal ignorance colours their feelings. They worry about what is being said and to whom in case it has a negative impact on the company reputation or discloses sensitive information. Media stories or misuse have exacerbated the issues, causing organisations to question the business value versus potential risk.

But the fact of the matter is that employees who ‘waste’ time at work are likely do so without having to use social media tools, they’ll simply find another way to procrastinate so it’s matter of attitude and de-motivation rather than an IT issue.

But for many, having a well established and maintained personal network is a valuable tool. The rapid growth in blogging and increasing number of social media sites like Facebook, Myspace and YouTube means millions are now connected and engaging in conversations. As some may have once have resisted the use of PCs or mobile phones, organisations that ignore social media risk undermining productivity and being seen as ‘out of touch’.

SMP: Parity cites well-funded social media activity by organisations in its press release; what are your recommendations for businesses that are not furnished with big budgets to embrace social media?

AM: Social media is all about having a conversation and it costs relatively little to start a blog, create a Flickr feed, a Facebook group, or start tweeting. Smaller companies are often better placed to use social media tools and the Internet to become a Global Brand without the need for a big marketing and advertising budget. The trick is to use their own personal passion and enthusiasm for their product or service as a key part of their message.

A great example of this is a small organic products business started from a rural farm that used the Internet and social media to become a global brand, turning over nearly £3m pounds. Their ‘fan base’ consists of almost 1,500 Facebook members, the podcasts are listened to by over 50,000 people and they have thousands of e-mail newsletter subscribers. They use these tools to actively involve people in what they are doing. The real power for them comes from WOM (word of mouse) where their ‘fans’ pass on information to their friends and family. This cascade of information helps drive web traffic with no extra cost, improving ROI.

SMP: What are your five top tips for the use of social media by businesses?

AM: Top tips:

  1. Start slowly. Firstly, look at teams that have to communicate the most information, both internally and externally.
  2. Practice behind the firewall and then engage externally
  3. Use the authentic voice and not ‘ghost’ the conversation by having it be managed by PR and or the corporate marketing team
  4. Don’t start the conversation unless you are prepared to listen and answer back
  5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes but be honest and if you get it wrong, admit it

SMP: What’s the next big step for social media and networks?

AM: For mainstream business, the next step is to start using the tools as part of their internal and external conversations. For social networking vendors, it’s to adopt open ID, allowing cross updating and linking between applications so giving up their ‘walled gardens’.

SMP: What’s going to be the most interesting aspect regarding social media / technology throughout 2009?

AM: Continued broadening use of social media – more people and more age groups. Saga (over 50s) has its own Social Networking site boasting over 50,000 active members. We will see people aged 30+ increasingly the use these tools as well as the ‘active retired’. We will also see local and central Government using the tools to reconnect with the electorate and to deliver more focus and customised information and services.

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

AM: Muesli and banana (I try to be healthy even if my body shape refuses to acknowledge it!)

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

AM: Put some curtain poles up for my daughter (I’m sure she knows the limits of my DIY skills – I guess she must have been desperate!)

SMP: How many hours to you work a week?

AM: Too many!

SMP: If you weren’t at Parity what would you be doing?

AM: Sailing in the Med…or dreaming of it!

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

AM: Sailing in Greece (nothing beats unwinding at 4 – 5 knots)

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

AM: Get a coffee and check my Twitter feed

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

AM: To fly (it would make my commute and client visits so much simpler!)

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