Report: Social Media Costing UK Billions in Wasted Time

Reuters is referencing a new report suggesting that social media surfing is costing UK business billions in wasted productivity as workers play on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites rather than … get work done.

Although the initial reaction will likely be to crack down on office time surfing, this may represent an opportunity for clever brands to create considerable buzz if they could channel worker activity a bit more constructively.     For example Google’s ranking algorithms now appear to factor in social media elements such as blogs and Twitter, which often offer the freshest and highly relevant content for a given search query.    If hundreds of workers are tweeting on behalf of a brand – even if much of that also involved aimless socializing – the synergistic effects on ranking and “buzz” could be considerable.

Although we’re obviously not suggesting this is a viable strategy for most businesses, it’s going to be increasingly difficult to keep workers away from time wasting surfing as social media becomes pretty much ubiquitous – accessible via mobile, office computer, and other devices as well as integrated as a key part of most people’s lives.

CES 2010 – Twitter Anyone?

One of the big stories here at CES is the rise of Twitter as a (the?) key tool for  *companies* to connect to *consumers* as well as the bloggers and industry insiders that flock to Las Vegas every January for the CES show.     This picture is from Wed setup when thousands of technicians set up thousands of exhibit booths here at the Venetian Sands.

Engadget, the official blog for the conference, has some really neat stations set up that show the twitter feed – I think only things tagged with CES related hashtags. UPDATE:  Sorry….I’m not clear on what these stations are showing as it does not appear to be Twitter.

Still, Twitter has mainstreamed so fast – it was the missing application that allows fast and effective communication person to person or person to large group.      I’ll be doing a longer feature on this with more pictures later in the conference over at the CES Blog.

CES 2010 Setup - Vizio Booth

DARPA Red Balloon Challenge – Social Media Information or Disinformation?

The DARPA Red Balloon project launched 10 weather balloons across the USA this morning in a well publicized effort to gauge the power of social media in completing the task of finding all balloons and reporting their lat and long coordinates back to DARPA.   The first person or team to do that wins  $40,000

Many teams have sprung up across the country and are acting competitively – I think probably because of the large payout – making the project very different from a simple test of crowdsourcing where the social media “universe” might work together for the fun of the game, reporting the coordinates publicly.     As of 2:40 PM EST we have no winner and I can’t even find a single online reference to a lat long location of a balloon.

Secretiveness appears to be trumping the social media crowdsourcing here, so I’m not sure DARPA is measuring things as advertised – though maybe they also wanted to look at the deception / competition angle.

More from my post at

DARPA – the advanced technology research wing of the US Military – is always coming up with the most fun research and today’s Red Balloon social media experiment is no exception to that rule.

Ten huge red weather balloons were launched this morning at 10am EST and DARPA will pay 40,000 to the first team or person that can identify all the balloons by number and latitude / longitude.

Now, in my view as a social media expert (aka a web surfer), DARPA’s payout of 40,000 is distorting the experiment in a confusing way, encouraging secretiveness and deception rather than cooperation.    That may be intentional, but I think they wanted people to “really try” and wrongly felt this was the best way to do it.    All of the serious efforts I’ve seen so far are actually  *discouraging* people from using the power of social media to find the balloons, instead asking them to email or phone in sightings and then in some cases share in the proceeds, in other cases promising to give them to charity.

DARPA should consider repeating this experiment as a TWITTER crowdsource where there is NO money offered and each report is posted at Twitter where the crowd can sort the fakes from the real data.    I think that task would likely only take minutes rather than the hours the current project appears to need to get a complete result from the secretive teams.

Here are more stories  about the DARPA Red Balloons:

Wall Street Journal: Spot 10 Balloons, Win $40,000

Gizmodo:  DARPA’s Giant Red Balloons Officially at Large

Twitter Raises another $100 million. Twitter now valued at approximately 1 Billion dollars.

Jessica Vascellaro at the Wall Street Journal is breaking the news today that the social media mavens at are raising an additional $100 million in venture capital, giving Twitter a new valuation close to  (insert Austin Powers voice here)  one billion dollars.

Jessica notes that previous funding valued the company at about 255 million.    The new funding round not only confirms that Twitter is now a key major online player but will give them huge resources to continue rapid growth and expansion and perhaps even marketing, although one of Twitter’s brilliancies is that it needs an advertising budget of zero.   Twitter is the ultimate “word of mouth” tool for the online generation and everybody from celebrities to businesses are using the tool to create a dialog with fans, customers, and friends.     Where Facebook is powerful as a tool for maintaining relationships with friends and family, Twitter is superior as the fast and superficial way to keep in touch, “shout out” a message to the world, and generally manage large networks of customers, friends, conference attendees, etc.     There’s room for several social networking tools but I think we’ll  see both Facebook and Twitter continue to thrive and grow substantially in the coming years.

As we’ve been noting for some time Twitter represents something of a “perfect online storm”  where timing, simplicity, and social media are combined in a way that appeals to both sophisticated and new technology users.    The last time we saw this combination of innovation with the technological zeitgeist was Google search, and we all know how that turned out.

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