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  • Fran 7:48 pm on June 7, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: capitalism, internet, social media,   

    Breakthrough Capitalism 

    Most sustainability people enjoy their subject’s long horizons and broad view,
    but for me the most interesting part of last week’s Breakthrough Capitalism conference hosted by Volans in London was the discussion around emerging tools for understanding and unpacking detail.

    Bronwyn Kunhardt from Polecat introduced one of these tools:
    MeaningMine, the world’s first virtual analyst platform for collecting and reporting intelligence on online content and social media. The MeaningMine platform ingests over 1.5 million online and social media postings every day.

    By way of demonstration, Bronwyn showed what happened when a proprietary algorithm was run over global postings to automatically identify the most frequently cited adjectives used in conjunction with ‘Capitalism’. No mean task: the global capitalism conversation is massive – over 160,000 postings have been published worldwide in the last 6 months.

    Globally, ‘crony capitalism’ proved to be the most popular term. But drill down a bit, and the detail gets more interesting. If you look for all the capitalism citations mentioning Canada, trends are more positive than for US citations. Venture capitalism moves from number 4 to number 2 spot, and ‘compassionate capitalism’ comes in 3rd.

    Capitalism mentions citing US - click to enlarge

    Capitalism mentions citing Canada - click to enlarge

    Although by no means a silver bullet for sustainability strategy, MeaningMine does offer a breakthrough for stakeholder engagement, useful for tracking and understanding subtle differences between conversations on sustainability themes around the world. Welcome!

    • Amy Brown 4:27 am on June 8, 2012 Permalink

      Smart idea, and one that will no doubt be of interest for a wide range of industries that want to tap into the massive global online conversation. Today’s Washington Post reported how “big data” mined from social media is redefining finance. The trader featured in the article monitors more than 340 million Twitter posts flying around the world each day to try to assess the collective mood of the populace. He uses a computer program that generates a global sentiment score from 1 to 50 based on how pessimistic or optimistic people seem to be from their online conversations. And he buys and trades millions of stocks for private investors based on that information. When everyone appears happy, he generally busy, the Post reports. When anxiety runs high, he sells short. Apparently, it’s proven to be a winning strategy, he’s seen a gain of more than 7 percent in the first quarter of this year. So we can expect individuals, companies and governments to begin tracking our sentiment to get their way with us…is this Big Brother or a way to harness global unity on important issues that affect us all? Time will tell–and everyone, it seems, is listening and watching to find out.

    • Bronwyn 11:44 am on June 8, 2012 Permalink

      Hi Amy, this is fascinating! We tried something similar with a Hedge Fund last year, to see if analysing social media frequency and sentiment around renewables could give a predictive lense onto stock price. Clearly, if we’d been able to get it spot on we’d be off trading happily in the Bahamas! This kind of big data analysis (from our perspective) gives really good technical signposts into the content, which, when you’re dealing with broad and big subjects like we do on the sustainability front is really helpful. Like a poll of polls. I think this is important in the sustainability field, I think getting some context about the topic is hugely helpful as it keeps the “echo-chamber” at bay. You raise the point about potentially “gaming” people or information. You’re right to be concerned about that, it was one of the first things that John Elkington raised when he joined our Advisory Board. That, among other big data “ethical” issues is what we’re keeping a sharp eye on.

    • Fran 1:42 pm on June 8, 2012 Permalink

      Thanks Bronwyn. Interesting, and not so surprising, that you have already identified and addressed governance issues for your business. It’ll be fascinating to see how norms or protocols develop around analysing online conversations: Will freedom prevail or can we expect formalisation? And can we imagine any sort of policing process?

    • Bronwyn 5:38 pm on June 8, 2012 Permalink

      Hey Fran, my feeling is we’ll get some formalization in the way of methodologies being aired publically and commented on. The “old school” big data analaysis (like Competitive Intelligence which was spawned from Military Intelligence) has such “policing”. For us, we’re looking at learning from such diligence but keeping it flexible because public domain “big data” is a very different animal. It could well be that “crowd sourcing” the policing of the information (is it accurate, does it feel right, does it feel like propaganda) might be the way forward. Apart from customer feedback (and they generally have a good sense of what’s “right” or not in terms of accuracy) we’re also experimenting with things like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk https://www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome, just to see if that provides some sense of balance and “light” policing on the data we produce and methodologies we use.

  • ChristineNT 8:34 pm on October 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , social media   

    Social media craze making you crazy? 

    In this space, we usually address topics relevant to business but in the realm of sustainability, plus other interesting, environmental and ethical topics. However, as I am currently knee deep in the upgrade and revamping of our website, I can’t see anything else but. (Watch this space! Next time you check in, it may look quite different.)

    In going through this process however, I am coming face to face with the maze and craze of social media. There are the titans; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all manner of blogs but also Digg, Flickr, YouTube, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, MySpace, and a whole host of other sharing tools. And for those over a certain age but still below another one, there is the standard website too. To be present in one seems not to be enough anymore. It is important to be seen in many to be successful. (One Stone “Tweets,” “Facebooks” and is “LinkedIn” now too.)

    As a small consulting firm though, it’s enough to manage the day-to-day work of assisting companies with their sustainability strategies, sustainability reporting and things like GRI standards, trend mapping and materiality. But now it’s important to maintain and be active online as well—to be involved in the virtual conversation. (There, I used the word.) And, this is what can make one crazy.

    As the name implies, social media is not meant to be one way. We have something to say but we also want to listen and learn. We benefit from conversation about the issues. At the end of the day, in this field, the goal is a more just and responsible corporate world—one where transparency and responsibility are part and parcel of doing business. Sharing information will help us to achieve this.

    So, join in the conversation: our conversation. Come visit our interactive spaces, take part or simply read one of our thought-provoking blog posts. And do let us know what you think. What works for you? Where do you do your chatting? Where else should we be present? And, how do you fit it all in?

    We look forward to hearing from you.

  • Amy 7:57 am on April 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Digital media, social media, , ,   

    Everybody’s talking 

    To round up our survey over the past few weeks of innovative corporate social media practices we’ve come across these highlights from companies who are successfully engaging their stakeholders in new and exciting ways:

    Staoil, the Norwegian energy company, has just published their 2009 Annual Report which integrates their Sustainability Report and done a clever job of seizing new media possibilities by incorporating a video introduction from their CEO when you click the link for the Report. In addition, the Report includes theme articles, each with an interactive story with narration and clickable images and graphics to give further insight.

    Centrica, a UK- based energy company, invites people in for a chat on topics like behavior vs. technology: what’s the best way to tackle climate change? or has their top CR people field some tough questions about their CR report.

    In Italy, the energy company Eni uses blogs, videos , web chats, and debate topics to get people talking.

    Visitors are encouraged to get involved in initiatives to reduce printing. At Syngenta in Switzerland,
    we commend a nice use of video with employees from around the company to answer questions, for example: What is needed to help farmers to grow more from less?

    But for cleverness, creativity, and passion in getting people involved with a business idea, nothing we’ve found beats Better Place, the US-based electric car company, which blends a traditional business website with a strong focus on getting people involved in a movement in support of electric cars. There is engaging use of videos, such as this one: How do toy cars work?, inviting people to post their Flickr photos, and to join a “growing community of passionate supporters” and “Become part of the movement toward sustainable energy, responsible business and a healthier planet. They’ve struck a responsive chord, with some 15,700 members of Better Place.com, and people posting 2,914 photos and 121 videos to date. Members create a profile, can send each other gifts, and share articles and comments and also have a chance to be a “featured member” with a profile on the site.

    If more companies started following the lead of Better Place and other companies seizing new media’s possibilities, we’d all be talking.

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