Some commentators are suggesting that Ryanair needs lessons in how to deal with the blogosphere. However, I think it's worth noting that this style of communication is not out of character for Ryanair. The company (and its CEO in particular) appears to revel in its bad-boy image. The Economist magazine points out that Ryanair's CEO simply doesn't care if he's called a "loud-mouthed bully". He brashly brushes away any criticism that Ryanair should care about anything related to corporate social responsibility, customer service, environmental responsibility. Ryanair is all about offering cheap flights and maximizing profits. That is a formula that has worked very well for them to date.
Well... We're always advising companies to be sincere in social media. When you're corresponding directly with the groundswell, you can't "fake it". In that respect, I guess Ryanair is walking the walk. Its social media persona appears to be a true reflection of the company's ethos.
Speaking of social media, one of the two research documents now in the editing queue looks at using social media as a source of product requirements. Using Forrester's POST* methodology as a starting point, how can product managers harness the enormous amount of potentially useful information transmitted in the clear through blogs, forums, Wikis, and similar technologies?
The other document in editing is the "Agile company" piece, covering the results of the survey and interviews we conducted to understand how Agile development changes technology companies. To foreshadow the results, I had to divide Agile adoption into two stages. To date, Agile aficianados have focused on the first, Agile within the development team. Clearly, for the story of Agile adoption, that's only Chapter One.
* In this approach, the steps for analyzing social media involve people, objectives, strategy, and technology (POST).
Forrester colleagues Laura Ramos and Oliver Young have posted some initial conclusions from the big "Social Technographics" survey for this year, which details how social media inform and influence people buying technology. You can read about the survey on Oliver's blog and Laura's blog.
Needless to say, this is fascinating stuff. The survey looks at each kind of online behavior (content creation, critiquing content, joining groups, etc.), and then tells you how much people in different segments of the population engage in these behaviors. Here's an example:
For product marketers, these data tell you how to reach your target audience. For product managers, the same information is critical for tapping social media as a new source of requirements data.
I recently read an article about how journalists are having to change, and change fast. The gist of the article (sorry but I can't remember where I read it) is that the good old days of writing on deadline and having 24 hours or 12 hours to get your story done are dead and gone. Or as Kathleen Parker recently wrote in The Washington Post "Let me be the first in the new year to declare that the mainstream media are dead" (January 2, 2009). She added "The mainstream media aren't really dead, of course. The industry has merely transmogrified, splintered into a billion little reflections of its former self. One-fifth of the world's nearly 7 billion people are now Web-capable -- all reporting, opining, interacting, twittering, digging and blogging."