Advertisements

Refresh: Top 50 Most Influential Cycling Bloggers: Celebrating the ‘Cycle Chic’ Movement

26 08 2011

Eurobike and Interbike are fast approaching, making the cycling industry just about insane. We’re also lucky to have the USA Pro Challenge hurling through the Colorado Rockies this week. I will have the pleasure of attending Interbike again this year and hope to meet as many folks as possible. Drop me a line if you want to meet up for coffee: yann [at] extanz.com. I’ll also be DSLR cruising as usual!

Back in May 2010, I published the first list of Top 50 influencers in the blogosphere. With Interbike so close, it felt appropriate to refresh this list, which has grown considerably. Like last time, this partial list only looks at blogger influence and not twitter, Facebook or soon Google+ influences. I still updated the table to make it easy if you want to follow these awesome bloggers on Twitter or Facebook though. Disclaimer: This is a list and like any list, it misses things (e.g. who is influential by topics, bike types, brands, where is the buzz and plenty more…). It may also not reflect the amount of traffic each blog gets. It does represent inlinks between the thousand or so blogs in the cycling community however, so while VeloNews (arguably a blog) might have very high traffic (blog/mag) for example, it is not getting referrals like CycleChic.
You can follow each blogger’s tweets at yannr/cycling. I also have Paper.li producing a Daily Paper, to which you can read and subscribe here: http://paper.li/yannr/1308161136 – You’ll get the best of what they share on twitter. As usual, feedback is welcome – remember that we do study many other industries. Cycling is a passion of mine and it’s a nice show case of our understanding of new media influence. Please schedule coffee with me at Interbike if you want to know more, email: yann [at] extanz.com

Hard working bloggers can represent the biking culture in so many more ways than traditional media. Read their blogs, and think about bike products from their sponsors. There have been large movements in the Top 50 — up and down, with bloggers coming into the list and some disappearing. Here are my main take aways:

  • Watch the Cycle Chic Movement: Denmark Cycling Chic (TM) Copenhagen (9th in 2010) dethroned Bike Snob NYC this year, and there’s a very good reason. At least 11 of the Top 50 cycling bloggers here are women. Cycling Chic Copenhagen has started a global movement — we can see many links pointing to Mikael’s blog (not ‘her’ indeed). This sub-community is rocking the blogosphere, or shall say women are rocking it! Women bloggers are a definite force to be reckoned with in the cycling world. In any community, sub-communities have stronger ties. They read each other more closely and influence each other. They also link to each other more which shows in this list. Next year, I may have to separate them from the larger pool to be fair to the rest. If a blogger dropped from last year’s list, it doesn’t mean they are less influential however. The Cycling Chics are just getting stronger. More women in cycling is good IMHO 🙂
  • Twitter and Facebook use: Looking at the numbers, Twitter is the definite place for people to connect with the Top 50 bloggers (over Facebook) beside their blog. 18 months ago, only 10% were on Facebook. It’s the reverse today as a large majority (66%) are using this medium to keep in touch with their community. Still a good 1/3 do not have either a Facebook page or a Twitter page, depending on preference. I assume the main reasons are either it is to time consuming (Facebook especially) or too brief (Twitter) and lacks conversational meaning. It’s also interesting that a good 44% have not shifted to ‘vanity URL‘ on Facebook. Get on it people!
  • Influence through Twitter and Facebook: As we can see with the both the numbers of followers or fans, we could have re-ranked everything accordingly. There is not a strong correlation between bloggers’ influence and social network influence even though some clearly use it well to spread the word and engage i.e. Cycle Chic Copenhagen on Facebook or Bike Snob NYC on Twitter.
  • Other interesting tidbits: Some blogs have had an impressive progression like Let’s go ride a bike by going from 29th to 4th place or Lovely Biycle going from 38th to 6th. On the brand side, Surly is doing it right… by breaking the Top 50 while no other brand blog is even close (we’d be happy to advise :))
That’s all folks. I’m anxious to see your feedback and any data I may have missed. It’s fascinating how much it has evolved in 18 months and how much all blogs focus on cultures and micro-cultures, beyond the bikes themselves. It’s not about the bike, right?
and now drum roll please…. The rank is based on blogs influence, not twitter or facebook follow. It still makes for a interesting comparison.

Blog Twittter follow Facebook fans
1 Cycle Chic™ –  Copenhagen. 4,300 10,565
2 Bike Snob NYC 21,691  ?
3 Copenhagenize.com 5,235 1,096
4 Let’s Go Ride a Bike 2,500 297
5 EcoVelo 1,745 2,377
6 Lovely Bicycle! 731 ?
7 Amsterdamize 3,497 191
8 Bikes and The City 289 1,159
9 Fat Cyclist 14,361 ?
10 League of American Bicyclists 5,885 3,368
11 BikePortland.org 8,955 ?
12 Cyclelicious 5,011 877
13 A view from the cycle path ? ?
14 Urban Velo 3,434 3,685
15 Kent’s Bike Blog 1,094 ?
16 Bicycle Comics 2,783 1,077
17 RidingPretty-Bicycle Chic California 451 309
18 Chic Cyclists ? ?
19 Surly Bikes 3,130 1,598
20 Jill Outside 494 405
21 Los Angeles Cycle Chic 530 149
22 Change Your Life. Ride A Bike! ? 318
23 Commute by Bike 400 846
24 Sac Cycle Chic 1,341 613
25 Bike Hugger 8,716 2,922
26 vélocouture 77 82
27 Streetsblog New York City 3,174 1,580
28 i b i k e l o n d o n 2,065 ?
29 Bike Commuters 72 724
30 VeloNews 41,000 13,875
31 The Path Less Pedaled 193 3,920
32 Bike By The Sea Blog ? ?
33 Portlandize ? ?
34 Hungarian Cycle Chic 80 6,396
35 All Hail the Black Market 1,952 1,499
36 Cycle Chic Belgium ? 1,397
37 Cycle Chic Sundays! 120 541
38 Vélo Vogue 1,006 342
39 Sheffield Cycle Chic 267 56
40 London Cycle Chic 1,842 1,413
41 She Rides a Bike ? ?
42 Sydney Cycle Chic 951 550
43 Toronto Cycle Style 416 981 67
44 Clever Cycles 1,712 1,247
45 BikeBlogs.com 270 ?
46 MnBicycleCommuter ? ?
47 London Cyclist Blog 6,822 729
48 Vancouver Cycle Chic 433 359
49 Lublin Cycle Chic ? 76
50 London Cycle Chic ? ?

Ride on and see you in Vegas,

+YannR @YannR

Yann Ropars

Advertisements




Spotlight: The Good Work of Greenhouse Scholars

28 04 2011


Every now and then, you meet people who really can and do change the world.

On Thursday April 28, 2011, Extanz, along with 200 other guests will gather at the Denver Botanic Gardens for Glass Half Full, the first in a series of annual fundraising events for the Greenhouse Scholars program.

This one of a kind event features wine and culinary delights generously contributed by local and regional supporters of the program such as Table 6, Root Down, Sushi Hai, Colt & Gray, Masters of Whisky, Ben Parsons and the Infinite Monkey Theorem wine, and Haystack Mountain.

Silent and live auctions will raise funds for the program, with current scholars presentations rounding out the evening. Key sponsors for the event are Crestone Capital Advisors and Deloitte. Special thanks go to Beverage Distributors who donated all of the wine for the wine tastings, Lathrop & Gage, Liquor Mart (donated wine paired with each auction item and 3 cases of Silver Oak), The Quintess Collection (donated 10 nights), and RC Special Events (partnered on rentals).

Greenhouse Scholars is a non profit organization dedicated to growing Colorado’s community leaders by supporting high performing, under-resourced students in college with mentorship, scholarship, leadership and professional opportunities. Founded by Greenhouse Partners and grounded in the Whole Person approach of mentorship, the program works to support the relentless energy and passion of its incoming classes. The program annually receives in excess of 100 applications for its 12 slots. Scholars receive personal support from a mentor for four years, complete an internship, participate in peer support programs, come together annually for the Summer Symposium and participate in a professional contact program to support networking and professional interviewing skills.  The good work of the scholars as a result of this support is awe-inspiring.

The 55 current Greenhouse Scholars are passionate leaders in their communities.  They graduated from under-resourced high schools and communities across Colorado: 78% are the first in their family to attend college. The Scholars are now attending top universities, including Stanford, Georgetown, University of Denver, University of Colorado, Colorado College, and Dartmouth.  With the support of the Greenhouse Scholars program, they have college GPAs 20% higher than average – and 95% volunteer as mentors and advisors to younger students, compared to 23% of college students nationwide.

If you won’t be at Glass Half Full with us, don’t despair. There will be two more community events to come this year – The Annual Inspire (August 9, 2011) and Venus de Miles (August 28, 2011).

For more information or if you would like to support the program with a contribution, please visit www.greenhousescholars.org. You can also friend us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greenhousescholars/ and follow us on twitter!

With thanks to IraGelb and love2dreamfish for such wonderful images!

Kirsti





Real“ism” at 2011 South By Southwest Interactive #SXSWi #SXSW

17 03 2011

Did you need to go to SXSW to find out what’s been happening in the last 12 months? Did you need to attend Clay Shirky’s keynote or hear about the gamification aka. Game layer of social media? –  Just think for a minute about how you feel about Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Quora…etc these days. Overloaded?

No you didn’t need to attend. Nor did I. But I still had a great time there because SXSW is casual and people are still very approachable. I went to hear, discuss and exchange thoughts and words about what matters. And those I did find. No, the latest gimmick wasn’t there and launching anything in such noise would probably be a mistake. Social Media Tech is only a servant for those who want to make meaningful change happen. The revolutions happening in the Middle East are what’s important; much more important than any another location or photo app. I have ultimately come to the conclusion that I didn’t go to SXSW to see more technology, and if Leo Laporte or Jeremiah Owyang didn’t find enough (see tweet). I think it was predictable since buzz usually builds up before but none had risen before.  To quote Valeria Maltoni, “people will always outlast tools.”  Yep, we’re living it.

Let’s keep doing real work which impacts real lives. The superstar ego-system is fading away and the time of “the next killer app” has passed. If an app is really good, it will come to us no matter what. Startups don’t need SXSW to make or break it. We’re all too networked to miss the really good stuff. Yes, we’re still in a recession and it is keeping people realistic. In that same vein, Google was rumored by RWW (before retraction) to announce a new social network (Circles). Let’s not create hype when ‘we’, the industry geeks, shrinks and new media people, want real apps that add real value and do not waste the user’s time. So what did I see at SXSW?

1. An -Ism or separation between being entertained and meaningful changes. That’s right, the point of this blog. We are experiencing a real separation between the hordes of people who want to use technology, the web and applications to turn people into uber consumers or seeking fame and the OTHER hordes that believe that those technologies should serve societal change for the better.  2011 is certainly showing strong signs of an increase in both populations.

2. Gamification, aka the ‘game-layer’: The Seth Priebatsch keynote was quite interesting, as it made the case for re-creating experiences (like education) through gamification. Boredom and disengagement have been long standing problems in education, and elsewhere in our lives. Nevertheless, we are human beings with cyclical needs, not computers. Creating genuine experiences and learning is not something that should be only solved through more gaming. Being a parent myself, we ought to let people learn outside of pre-deterministic tracks like those computers and the game layer will impose.

3. Location is trying to grow up: LocalMind was quoted in many blogs as being a great step forward when it comes to location based shopping discovery. But location applications are going to have to become much smarter than they are today. Foursquare fatigue, ‘nuf said. I have, like many, subscribed to Groupon and other deal sites to experiment, and I am slowly… unsubscribing. They’re only filling up my inbox.

4. Healthcare is only getting bigger:
I spent a substantial amount of time at the OVERcrowded health track as Extanz is increasingly working in the healthcare space alongside its sister company, Sterena.com. We simply couldn’t fit any more people in each session. The health track was an unconference at 2010 SXSW and is overflowing already. This year, it was overflowing as well as a main track. Last year, I had heard way too much marketing/PR discussion during the sessions. This year, sessions were focused on the flourishing possibilities between healthcare, new media communication and community improvement.  Asthmapolis was mentioned as a breakthrough example of such possibilities. The apple app store accounts for 8000 health or healthcare related apps. Here are few take aways:

– Users’ first apps should be to connect with their doctors.
– Change has 3 main levels by Dr — epiphany (the rare case); change of context (more feasible)’ and baby steps (needs a feedback loop)
– Recurring use and measured behavior change are key for any app to have a hope of surviving. Too many apps are asking too much from users without giving data back quickly, or even better, first.
– Information VS. Prescription: The government will probably step in very soon to define the line between a simple app and a ‘device’ (where regulation will be imposed (FDA)) Information apps, however, will face less regulation as they are ‘prescriptive’ (via Jane Sarasohn-Kahn)
– Data people vs health people – “I ran two miles but I can’t visualize that” (Jon Richman) along with Roni Zeiger, argue that “all the healthcare data in the world is useless if it is not meaningful to the patient.”

5. #140conf – looking for inspiration? This is it.
This was my first opportunity to attend Jeff Pulvers’ year round conferences. Time flew by me, with short presentations from people using social medial or technologies to make big differences. The stories of Erik Proulx (@eproulx) with the lemonademovies.com project as well as Melissa Leon @melissaleon and Aj Leon @ajleon telling us about the extendedvillage.com project are all about such change.

6. Curation is the ever coming wave even for online shopping:
The more we curate, the more we produce, the more difficult it is distinguish between noise. Flipboard, My6Sense, and Paper.li all promise more signals and less noise. I was surprised to see this trend growing in social shopping. The web has diminished one thing, the ability for brands to share emotions as they do through print or TV had built. We learned from @willotoons that many new sites are trying to recreate both emotion, but more importantly, the curation of the shopping experience, like blippy.com, followstyle.com,  everlane.com, pinterest.com, pixazza.com, polyvore.com …etc.

So…My wish for next year: Sustainable / Cleantech will finally get a track in proportion to the magnitude of the problems they address. I think we can fill up rooms but it’ll take some bridge builders. I

sincerely thought that after last year’s unconference tracks on the subject, it would have been much bigger. Clearly ‘people’ lack data to know realtime what their consumption behaviors are. Just like healthcare, step 1 is the feedback loop. We all think our houses run like a Prius, while really they are more like Hummers. Cleantech will become big at SXSW when the early data collection players (Tendril Networks and other Power Tagging folks) come and meet people who can build cool apps. Or renewable energy folks like these best sellers should get invited. I want my phone to give me real time power consumption analyses of everything around me. The “internet of things” revolution will be much bigger than “social things.”

Anyway I hope to see you next year! I’ll go for longer, be picky, do more panels, continue to attend parties, ride a bike to get around and bring my power strip to be charging at all times.

@YannR







Whose words are they, anyway?

10 02 2011

Like in the non-virtual world, fights and squabbles are a part of online communities. After all, bloggers and tweeps are groups of like-minded people who have all congregated together in the vast space of the Web.  As with any group, there is bound to be friction and tension as people interact and connect.  We’ve seen before how bloggers will fiercely defend one of their own against a larger entity, and while bloggers will occasionally pick fights with each other, it’s generally a contained fallout.  Recently, however, there was a situation where the ramifications spread far beyond the bloggers involved. The subject matter? A familiar one: ownership of content.

Twitter conversations (or Twitter parties) are a common occurrence in certain communities.  Using a keyword and hashtag, a group of tweeple will congregate at the same time and hold a discussion.  Generally, there is at least one or two conversation hosts or moderators who set up and help guide the discussion.  The online travel community has several of these conversations on a weekly or monthly basis, the most popular being #TNI.  Run by a group called ZipSetGo, #TNI is a quickly moving conversation that covers a variety of travel related topics.  Up until a few weeks ago, everything seemed to be running fine until Pam Mandel (@nerdseyeview) noticed something on ZipSetGo’s website.  Under the Traveler’s Night In tab, there was a notice where ZipSetGo explained that they were compiling and publishing a book from the Twitter parties and that those participating in #TNI chat were giving their consent for their tweets to be used (this notice has since been removed from the website).  Pam Mandel was not comfortable with this potential use of her tweets and wrote an entry about it on her blog.  The response was immediate and overwhelming.

Comments on her blog started flooding in from both sides. The next #TNI conversation, held only a few days later, was rife with resentment and comments from people who ignored the topic at hand (Australia, I believe) and instead, drew lines in the proverbial sands of this battle.  In a show of fairness by both sides, Pam Mandel published a response from ZipSetGo publicly on her blog. She responded to them, they responded back and the readers continued to chime in.

From blog to twitter and back again, everyone seemed to have an opinion.  All the big names in the online travel community weighed in on one side or the other.  There was so much fallout that ZipSetGo eventually sent out a statement saying they had pulled the book from publication and all profits made would be donated to charity. Although the pulling of the book appears to have effectively ended this argument (or not), nothing was actually resolved and the underlying questions have yet to be answered.  The crux of the issue was this: Did ZipSetGo have the legal right to take words that someone typed in a Twitter conversation, put it into physical print form and profit from it? If reviews by Amazon customers are the property of Amazon itself, does ZipSetGo hold rights to any tweets sent out using the #TNI tag?  Or does that mean that Twitter does, but Twitter users do not?

In order to give you a more definitive answer than a half-shrug and a weak “eh….maybe?”, I asked business lawyer Elizabeth Lewis, who works mostly with online companies, for her professional insight.  Lewis quickly summarized the two legal opposing arguments for me: 1) to enter into a contract, both parties must know they’re entering into the contract,  and 2) in most cases, short phrases and slogans can’t be copyrighted.  Let’s examine these two aspects as related to this case study.

You cannot be bound to a contract if you weren’t even aware you were in one. The founders do all have http://www.zipsetgo.com in their twitter profiles and if you click on that link you could maneuver through their site to the paragraph (which has since been deleted) that supposedly released them to use #TNI tweets.  However, you can use the #TNI hashtag without ever having visited their site.  If you’ve ever participated in #TNI, you know that it can be hard enough just to follow the conversation, much less narrow in on the hosts and click through links in their profiles.  Unless ZipSetGo could prove that the tweeps participating in #TNI had read and agreed to the paragraph on their homepage, there is no ground for consent. Essentially, the use of the #TNI hashtag really makes no difference as to whether ZipSetGo could publish someone else’s tweets.

In most cases, short phrases and slogans can’t be copyrighted. Everyone knows that Twitter limits each tweet to 140 characters; it’s a defining (and challenging!) characteristic.  What we don’t know is whether 140 character is considered a short phrase or slogan as in most cases 140 characters do not have the creativity to qualify for a copyright.  Lewis explained that there is no qualification for what constitutes a “short phrase” since a case centered on a tweet has never gone through court.  140 character is approximately a few sentences long (although that can quickly be eaten up by retweeting, directing them at certain people, or by using hashtags to associate it within a certain context).  Tweeps have come up with all kinds of shortcuts and acronyms to help them fit complete thoughts into the limited amount of space they’re given but there is no legal understanding for whether a tweet falls under copyright non-protection.

So where does that leave us now?  Essentially, with a more assured shrug and a less hesitant “maybe.”  Lewis explained to me that the courts are way behind in social media law and until someone takes a situation like this into the courtroom and a judge makes a ruling, there is no legal precedent. However, she went on to explain that copyright looks at the whole of something being taken.  If ZipSetGo’s book had published the last thousand tweets from a specific (and uncompensated) twitter account, she would take the case.  However, if a single tweet was taken from the potential client’s history and published, she would have to look at the case more closely before deciding whether to take the case or not.

The moral of this story is perhaps best summed up by one wise #TNI participant’s point:

Which side of the line do you fall on?  Should ZipSetGo be able to publish their book without fear?  Is there an expectation for ownership of tweets?

~Laura

Thanks to michperu and Ed Yourdon for use of their images.





How human should brands become?

1 12 2010

We, social media, as an industry, forget that the roots and outcomes of what we do lie in the realm of face to face conversation; that is, face to face conversation — its nature, effectiveness and accomplishments, should guide the use of social media from an engagement and community perspective.

Social media interaction, when considered on a spectrum, lies somewhere in between face to face communication and email – synchronous vs. asynchronous; distanced vs intimate. Impersonal, personal and hyperpersonal, it exists in a public space, governed by the social norms of groups. So what does this mean for business and brands?

Brands are facing a unprecedented cultural challenge because businesses are expected to behave as people, interacting with people, which they do not. Yes, while corporate entities possess personhood in a legal sense, they have not operated nor participated (read marketed) traditionally as a person. In social media however, they are required to behave this way or a brand may only show and confirm they are antiquated.

Face to face communication allows for multi sensorial communication ( = a rich medium) and the ways we are wired in terms of social media means we have more complex information coming towards us – more signals which allow us to behave appropriately or be relevant in public. So why do we see so much push marketing and self BS online? Why do we see social media brands behaving badly?

What do I mean by behaving badly? Think about what the following would look like if performed face to face:

– shaking hands with everybody

– uber congratulating oneself and one’s closest friends c.f. politicians

– invite entire companies to every meeting

– speaking about oneself ad nauseum

– 10,000 sentences (aka tweets) in 12 months…

None of these behaviors would be appreciated face to face. But they happen all the time online. Brands (personal or business) beware.

The point is we tend to make comments about social media as an individual activity – yet it is also a collective or business, group activity – bounded by those rules and similar expectations.

So how to explain social media from a collective, body corporate point of view?

1. Do a reality check – what would be the consequence of this action if I was to do this face to face? Trust and other relational activities like friendship, group membership, influence, power, sharing etc are governed by face to face norms. This is not to say that face to face is the gold standard, only to say that this is how we understand the world relationally and that try as we might, we seek to replicate this way of understanding in our social worlds online. For example, as a brand, I offer discounts online all the time. What would happen if I did this at a party and I discounted what I am doing to everybody? Such an action is oblivious to face to face standards. What about suggesting to make it to 10,000 fans on a facebook page?

2. We have created standards based on personal branding practices. We speak about social media practices and we advise businesses based on our personal experiences but are these directly translatable? There is a wide gap between acting as a person and acting as a brand. Online, businesses still struggle to become personable and trustworthy. Non human actors are being required to humanize themselves. But is this realistic?

There is no doubt that the more human brands are, the more successful they are. People are able to connect to them more easily – an experiential vs. transactional process. The multiplex channels of face to face allow us to talk about experiences – we share experiences not transactions. Brands should too (e.g. think about check-in, discount-tweet fatigue).

3. Social media tools –are only tools/enablers. Strategies have to humanize a brand via face to face–esque interaction which will create a continuum of experience or which will experientialize a relationship between a brand and its constituency.

4. Coordination – businesses need to behave as coordinated, holistic entities, as people, which means that people can now call them out on the inconsistencies in their behavior. If they don’t bother to listen to what people say about them, how can they even begin to know how to change? Just as any face to face conversation provides multiple opportunities to reflect and act reflexively, so does social media, if treated correctly. The right hand needs to know what the left hand is doing because communities and the greater public are watching (for example, Nestle, GAP, DKNY…etc). People who have good experiences, or even good conversations with brands, and who feel they have been heard, will be advocates – so brands need to engage them further to help build trust with others and act as referrors for them.

So how human can brands become? What do you think?

@YannR @Extanz

Thanks to joaoloureiro for the photo composition.





The Art of Engagement

23 11 2010

To engage (as per Merriam-Webster dictionary):

to attract and hold by influence and power; to interlock with, to mesh, to bind to something; to provide occupation for, to hold the attention of, to induce participation, to bring together, to deal with especially at length, to take part, to give attention to something.

Think about people who engage you in conversation. You know the ones – you could talk to them for hours, you share all sorts of things with them as they do with you, you build something together, you walk away feeling like you have come to ‘know’ something or someone. How do they do it? Is it their form? The things they share? Their energy? Their focus on you? Their sustained commitment to your relationship with them? Or is it all of the above?

More importantly, what can these kinds of conversational partners tell us about engaging through social media?

  • People engage with People. Yep. Real people. Not fake, phony, small talk, all about me people. People who are interested in you. People who ask ‘artful questions’ (the one question which you can talk on for 15 minutes). People who don’t spew forth facts about themselves. People who want to know you.
  • People engage with Those who Share Relevant Ideas. Important things. Interesting things. Things about life writ large. Things that speak to the common good/interest of all of us. Not about your dinner (unless you are a one of a kind, gourmet kitchen rogue a la Bourdain). Not about what your dog/kid/computer/avatar just did (unless they have one just like you).

The point is, there’s a difference between talking with people and talking at people, and brands are people or they should be. Multidimensional conversational partners. That’s what brands should be, just like people are. So let’s look at what counts as engagement in social media programs these days. As we review the various measurements, it’s worth asking yourself why, when the people we engage with are those who are interesting to and interested in YOU, our measurement systems are all based on what you’ve done for ME.  I understand that these are the only measures we have right now, but my question remains – what are we measuring?

If we look at the definition of ‘engaging’ above, there are obvious points of relation between the actions. They build on each other. Engagement is a process – a continuum, if you will – it requires sustained, evolving, reflective, inter-actions. Where can we see this process or continuum in our most common measures of social media engagement below (we need to look beyond these measures, by the way)?

1. Number of ‘views’ – Good work. Someone saw you.

2. Number of ‘blog subscriptions’, ‘fans or likes for a brand/page’, ‘twitter follows’, ‘LinkedIn follows’, ‘join a group’ – Better work. You’ve gotten someone’s attention and they want to hear more from you. They’ve cracked the door open for you – time to come up with something that will hold their attention now.

3. Number of ‘likes– What would be the conversational (read face to face conversation) equivalent of a hit on the facebook ‘like’ button? I’m going to say a nod, or a ‘hmm hmm’. It’s like saying, ‘right’, ‘sure’. How does it engage the other person? It demonstrates a form of agreement, perhaps reassurance, or a motion to continue the conversation. It basically says ‘I see you.’ or ‘I hear you.’ Perhaps even ‘I read you.’

4. Number of ‘shares’ (retweets, forwarded emails) – a level up from likes, this time your conversational partner is communicating that while they don’t have time to respond, they like and are willing to share your thought with others they know. That is, they are going to ‘pass it along’. Often called ‘word of mouth’, this is a form of engagement which exists indirectly because people are distributing your contribution to a larger community. It’s like when you come home and tell your roommate partner/kids/dog about a conversation you had with someone else. You know they might like it so you pass it on.

5. Number of comments in response Now we are beginning to see some level of quality engagement. To garner a comment to something you have shared, you’ve been relevant, interesting, and created a sense of togetherness with your conversational partner. So they take the time to respond to you. They share a thought of their own, an experience of their own, or even ask you another question. This is inter-action. Acting together.

So where does engagement lie?

I am going to say that the tool (read blog, facebook, twitter) matters not. I am also going to say that to some degree, the thought matters not. Why? Because engagement happens in inter-action. In the spaces between people using these tools to contribute, share, and respond to these thoughts. It’s a complex combination of providing a space, filling it with pieces and people that attract and hold the attention of others, getting to know them and then lubricating their interaction.

Artful engagement builds qualified leads, opinion leaders, and community centers. It’s important to know what you want before you start measuring actions. So next time you’re in a performance review as a social media or community manager, or even creating a job description or RFP for a social media agency or professional, consider what you think engagement is and what you want it to do for you. Then design the actions that will ‘count’ and not ‘count’ becuase everyone is doing it, but ‘count’ towards accomplishing your overall goal. Social media people are people people, after all.

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving – remember to go and thank all those fans, friends, readers and lurkers in your social media space. They’ll ‘like’ you for it! 🙂

With appreciative thanks to onigiri-kun, cliff1066 and John Althouse Cohen for their beautiful art!

Kirsti, @kblucy





Nearline communication: Facebook intends to squash Synch & Asynchronous modes

16 11 2010

Facebook caters to 500 million people, so pleasing everyone is quite the task. Despite its astonishing growth, Facebook still has some impediments that limit its usefulness for many of us. It’s not an information network, it’s hardly a professional network and certainly not a viable email system/network. So how about making communication a continuum?

This week, Facebook made one of the most interesting moves in their recent history.

They announced features to empower user control of their ‘relevancy stream’. It’s no surprise that with the acquisition of FriendFeed last year that some of its core philosophy should finally appear.  While FriendFeed may have been too feature rich and catered only to power users, it still is/was a very powerful way for users to make their stream ultra-relevant to their lives and across their identities. Facebook’s recently announced changes now promise us a better focused feed stream. We could maybe, finally, potentially, use the platform to do more meaningful stuff.

Perhaps more importantly, regardless of the device we’re using, Facebook wants our conversations with people (or brands) to flow seamlessly throughout, based on user preferences. If you’re like me, Facebook rarely disseminates information important to your professional life. So I limit it to people that matter on a personal level. In this information age, it’s not who you know but what you know. Other platforms like Tweetdeck or Seesmic have allowed users to segregate streams by relevance using columns. Unfortunately, Facebook’s current ‘interestingness’ feature still makes users miss a bunch of important info.

Twitter, LinkedIn and other mail systems should rightfully question how they will respond. The ability for Facebook users to segregate their streams will certainly encroach (in theory) on the territory of these other platforms. Google’s failed attempts (Wave, Buzz) to re-engineer itself into a single interface across different information needs and identities show that it’s not easy. We ‘humans’ don’t change that easily. Once something works, we’ll stick with it till something far better comes along. Algorithmic platforms like Flipboard and Paper.li have been helping us bring the signal to noise ratio down.  But for a network to stay relevant, it needs to bring that ratio down while increasing throughput or it will be outpaced by niche networks.

Some important consequences ensue:

If you’re boring or spammy, move over – If you’re facebooking too much about your lunches, you could find yourself more lonely… we may have finally found a spam solution.

Brands, it’s about to get tougher, which means you need to get real – A large number of fans could soon become fake fans if you’re not delivering VALUE to your followers.

Is it Facebook or Twitter? Perhaps a bit of both? – Facebook is trying to be more like Twitter since Twitter has been picking up much steam in the business world with a larger share of use among Fortune 500. Is this their answer?

So tell us, will you be using Facebook more for more things?

@YannR @Extanz

Turning brands into conversational hubs – See our services: https://extanz.com/services/