Big Social Data: The Next Frontier?

6 04 2012

Closing a chapter, opening a new one. The social media revolution has been an amazing ride. Social media made it suddenly possible for brands & movements foster engagement and connect with their communities like they had never done before. It won’t go away and the world is certainly a better place for it. People and consumers have been empowered and everyone has had to relearn more human ways to communicate.

Yes, all the free stuff is good, but unfortunately, the ecosystem is still trying to pay for itself and more. This is where things could get interesting as the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world’s population in 2012. We pour our lives into social networks and consume an unprecedented volume of data. We learning to consume increasingly crowdsourced information and news. Al Jazeera is probably at the forefront of this new experiment, but other examples crop up everywhere, like the recentl Associated Press (AP) announcement of a partnership with Bambuser to leverage citizen reporters for live video news.

Look at us. We create more data every two days than we have in total from the dawn of time till 2003. Case in point: I only have 16,000 photos stored on Flickr since 2008!

There you goWe have invented a new aWEsome problem. We’re drowning in unstructured data. Every major company from Salesforce, IBM, Adobe…etc is launching their own social data analytical tools. Conferences are popping up everywhere:  StrataBig Data Summit… to name a few. Gartner predicts that through 2015, more than 85% of Fortune 500 organizations will fail to effectively exploit big data for competitive advantage. Some say that 80% to 90% of all social data is “un-structured”… what a task! It will take a lot of additional work to provide context and meaning to this data, which is what most companies actually need. Some predict that Data Scientist is the job of the future (read now).

Big Social Data is the next frontier. We humans still seek information pertinent to our lives while the Matrix should make our lives easier. We should rightfully expect technology to not only suck our time, but deliver us some truly smart information. We should also keep an eye on our illusion of privacy. Or should we?

So what are the opportunities for big social data? What are your thoughts? I am as excited today about Big Data as I was with Social Media 4 years ago. Are you?

@YannR

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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







Klout vs. the Blogosphere: What does it mean to be influential?

16 12 2010

For a long time now, we’ve had a pretty good idea of who was influential (generally based on the strength of their blog) and such influential bloggers also tended to be influential in other online spheres, including social media sites. We’re starting to see a divergence now, however, between influencers in the blogosphere and in the social networks (namely Facebook & Twitter). So… with the increasing power of Facebook and especially Twitter, how do you compare an influential blogger with an influential tweeter? Is that influence equivalent? Transposable? One has hundreds of links pointing to her/his website and receives tens, if not, hundreds of comments to her/his blog, sustaining a focused series of committed conversations and partners. The other has thousands of followers and is often retweeted, wielding a power to draw folks into conversation. Apples and oranges? Or should the label ‘top influencer’ be given only to those powerful across all social media realms?

To date, blogging has been the gold standard for online influence in new media (see Brian Solis’ recent post on the subject). The most influential online personalities create blogs with high readership and audience participation, are highly shared and have a significant amount of inbound links pointing towards them. Bloggers create meaningful content that produces action. Social networks are a way for that content to be distributed, but are not the conversation mechanism. That’s all changing. Twitter personalities are becoming influential and possess the power to draw people into conversation, but their blogs don’t always rank. We also see some of the most influential bloggers lacking Twitter influence at times. So, back to the questions at hand – who is influential and how do we know?

Klout has recently come onto the influence-measuring scene and offers interesting metrics for gauging online influence. Klout claims to be “the measurement of your overall online influence” and bills itself as the ‘Standard for Online and Internet Influence,” but when you read through its metrics, it does not look at the strength and ranking of your website/blog nor your influence within the blogosphere. So are the folks Klout identifies really the top online influencers? Let’s compare metrics. How do Klout influencers compare with blogging influencers?

One industry we watch for influence is the travel industry. We recently came across this list that ranks the ‘Top Online Travel Influencers’ using Klout’s metrics. It made us wonder how it compared to a list ranking blogger influence based on inbound links within the travel blogging community. Initially we were going to re-rank the list according the blog influence and compare, but we discovered it was missing a number of key influencers (Gadling, for example). Instead, we pulled a a list of the top 50 travel bloggers (removing print travel publications) out of more than 800 travel blogs and re-ranked them by social media influence using Klout. Below we compare the original list we found, the top 50 travel bloggers and the top 50 travel bloggers ranked by Twitter influence. As you’ll see, they’re very different lists.

Top Travel Bloggers Top Travel Bloggers by Klout Score* Top Influencers from Influencers in Travel**
1 Gadling Everything Everywhere EarthXplorer
2 Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site Everything Everywhere
3 Trip Base Family Traveler – Soul Travelers 3 Tremendo Viaje
4 Uptake The Planet D Legal Nomads
5 Travel Blog Exchange Europe A La Carte Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site
6 Wanderlust & Lipstick Travel Dudes Intelligent Travel Blog
7 Everything Everywhere Brave New Traveler Land Lopers
8 Delicious Baby Uncornered Market Wild Junket
9 Elliott GranToursimo! The Planet D
10 World Hum Gadling Midlife Road Trip
11 Travel Blog Sites Ottsworld Travel Experiences Inn the Kitchen
12 Nerd’s Eye View Vagabonish Trains on the Brain
13 Jaunted Travel Blog Exchange Andy Hayes
14 The Planet D foXnoMad Wild About Travel
15 Vacation Gals Hotel Chatter Brendan’s Adventures
16 The Cranky Flier Jaunted yTravelBlog
17 Brave New Traveler My Itchy Travel Feet Fine Homes Las Vegas
18 Vagabonding My Melange Where is Jenny
19 foXnoMad 501 Places Mobile Lawyer
20 Ottsworld Travel Experiences Nerd’s Eye View Celebrated Experiences
21 Travel Wonders of the World Hole in the Donut Travel Dudes
22 Wander Mom Elliott The Carey Adventures
23 Indie Travel Podcast The Cranky Flier The Quirky Traveler
24 Heather on Her Travels Vacation Gals Europe A La Carte
25 Wandering Educators Wandering Educators Bacon is Magic
26 Travellers Point Inside the Travel Lab ZipSetGo
27 Uncornered Market Boarding Area Miss Adventures
28 Family Traveler – Soul Travelers 3 Mother of All Trips Velvet Escape
29 Travel Blogs Indie Travel Podcast Malaysia Asia
30 Ciao Bambino Travel Savvy Mom Chris Guillebeau
31 Top Travel Content – Europe Wanderlust & Lipstick Uncornered Market
32 Mother of All Trips Delicious Baby The Traveling Philosopher
33 Hotel Chatter A Traveler’s Library Two Backpackers
34 Upgrade: Travel Better Trip Base GranToursimo!
35 Inside the Travel Lab Ciao Bambino Flying Photog
36 My Itchy Travel Feet Solo Friendly Ottsworld Travel Experiences
37 Perceptive Uptake Traveling Mom
38 Sharing Travel Experiences Wander Mom Adventure Girl
39 Europe A La Carte World Hum Sheila’s Guide
40 Hole in the Donut What a Trip The Longest Way Home
41 Travel Savvy Mom Top Travel Content – Europe Eurapart
42 GranToursimo! Travel Wonders of the World Hotel PR Guy
43 Boarding Area Heather on Her Travels Vacation Gals
44 My Melange Upgrade: Travel Better Tiffany Travels
45 Vagabonish Travel Blogs Travel Blog Exchange
46 What a Trip Travellers Point Beth Blair
47 Travel Dudes Travel Blog Sites Luxury Travel Mom
48 Solo Friendly Vagabonding Travel Writer
49 501 Places Perceptive foXnoMad
50 A Traveler’s Library Sharing Travel Experiences Brooke vs. the World

Clearly the degree of online influence varies vastly depending on the metric used to rank it (social networks vs blog power). For example, EarthXplorer is extremely ‘influential’ when it comes to Klout but does not even rank as a top blog. Oppositely, Uptake is quite influential when it comes to blogging but less active or influential on Klout. Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site is pretty much influential across both realms and well respected among the most influential bloggers as is Gadling. What does this all mean?

Well, for now, influence is in the eye of the beholder, or measurer perhaps, and you need to take note of the metrics used to measure influence before you accept any list of the top 50 anything. The most influential bloggers are not necessarily the most influential in the social media realm and vice versa, particularly as narrow into specific topics as expertise varies. A list of “the top online influencers” based on Klout may leave out influential bloggers, who, as mentioned, have long been considered the most influential members of online communities. Gaining respect as a blogger is a lot harder than gaining Twitter influence (we all know that many very powerful people on Twitter are uber chatty with big numbers but don’t have real influence) and considerable influence on the blogs does not come quickly or easily. With the ever-increasing power of the social networks AND the ongoing importance of bloggers, a good strategy is to look across networks, especially if a brand navigates inside niche markets.

Ultimately, influence comes from one’s ability to draw people into a conversation AND hold them there. Influence means one’s blogs or tweets or Facebook posts are shared and re-shared throughout the online world. Influence creates action towards a person or a brand and has the power to create effect. So how influential are you?

What are your thoughts on measuring online influence in light of the growing power of the social networks?

Katie

With thanks to webtreatsVrmpX, johnrawlinson, and quinn.anya for the images.

*From Klout scores on December 15, 2010

** From Influencers in Travel’s December 16th, 2010 list





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





Blogger Conferences 2010

20 09 2010

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about conferences and conventions for bloggers.  After all, the International Food Blogger Conference took place a few weeks ago in Seattle, BlogHer 2010 was a couple weeks before that at the beginning of August and  SOBCon Colorado was just this past weekend.  Whether you cringe at the thought of going to a conference or you love to get out from behind the computer and meet other bloggers in the industry, it’s important to recognize when these meetings are happening.  Whenever influential individuals in a community meet to discuss and connect, you can expect things to shift, people to try out new ideas, positions to be challenged and considered.  It’s always interesting to see which ideas planted during conference discussions can bloom out throughout the community at large, leading to some great and innovative blog entries.  However, it can be painstaking to try and keep track of which conferences are drawing near, especially as we begin to look forward to the holiday season (yep, I said it!).  We’ve taken the work out of knowing conference dates by composing this neat little list of those that are happening between now and the end of the year.  While we tried to stick to conferences that are happening domestically, one or two international conferences were snuck in there as well.

September:

24-26 Type-A Mom Conference

25  Camp Blogaway – Baldwin Park

30 Social Media Club: “Social Media & Family”

October

8-9 BlogHer Food Conference

8-10 Blogalicious Weekend

14-16  BlogWorld Expo

21-24 Revelvant Conference

22-24 European Wine Bloggers Conference

23 Bloggy Boot Camp-Austin

23 Show Me The Blog

25 Camp Blogaway

November

5-7 Global Getaway

5-7 Beer Bloggers Conference

5-7 I_Blog Conference

10-12  Social Media University

12-14 International Natural Food and Health Conference

13 Bloggy Boot Camp-St. George

December

4 WordCamp

10-12 Lavish!

These are all the conferences happening in the next few months, as far as I was able to find.  It is likely that those signed up for the first conference mentioned above will be especially appreciative of the list format and those who are organizing the final one will not be best pleased to be referred to as a conference, as they are branding their experience as an “unconference.”  Still, these are meetings to be aware of and to join into, if you’re so inclined.  While many of the conferences slotted to happen within the next several weeks are already sold out, a number of those also have waiting lists or ticket exchange forums. The conferences further down on the list are also still accepting new participants.

So if you’re a frequent conference go-er, share some of your experiences with us!  What kind of advice would you give to a newcomer?  Which conferences have been your favorite?  What moves a conference up in your esteem?  Are there any other conferences that should have made it onto our list? Finally, does anyone know of a conference using Plancast.com? If you do, let us know!

Thanks to rickbucich and alexdecarvalho for the blogger conference pictures!

~Laura

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Conversation Engines: it doesn’t matter how much we ‘get it’… we need to ‘get it’ more.

25 08 2010

Despite astonishing network growth, our tools have not been able to keep up with social noise. As an individual, I tend to limit my output and certainly limit the chit-chat. As a business, I believe it is important to pay attention to this trend: conversation have faded away. Businesses have created FB pages and Twitter accounts left and right. They ‘totally get it’. Data keeps coming in, failures are very common and some even say the social media bubble is about to burst. Katie was challenging our thinking behind how easy it seems to simplify things through facebook pages earlier this week. So what’s going on?

– Let’s face it, less is the new more… one reason I like(d) FriendFeed over Twitter and especially over Facebook is its quality of information. The Google Wave dream is no more and Google Buzz is now a noisy chamber. Social platforms have filled up a need on one side — they’ve allowed us to aggregate pertinent information for our personal and professional lives. But they have also created, in many cases, an addiction to real time information, empowering anyone to become a producer regardless of quality or qualification. Mainstream media has slowly struggled to stay relevant. Choose your path, stay relevant. It’s even more critical for a business. Many constituent voices need to be represented and people have learned to be more selective.

– Competing for attention: Nielsen released their latest study on internet usage early August to find that 23% of internet use is spent on social networks up from 16% a year ago. We’ve embraced social media beyond its (and our) wildest expectations, but we’re barely scratching the surface when it comes to truly turning an organization to serve its constituency through new media. In 2 years, we’ve moved from “what is social media?” to “super noise”. Some have chosen the careful path of information sharing, others have massively unfollowed, conversations have faded into a sharing frenzy. Quality of information and interaction has never been so important. Louis Gray’s comments “I quickly fatigue from the insanity” describing his (mine too) inability to cope with the amount of information revelations. Even more revealing, Louis just accepted a position with My6Sense as VP of Marketing. My6Sense is another algorithm based app focusing on generating relevant information. If the crowd can’t do it, the algorithm will. Companies ought to harness a wide variety of techniques to make those algorithms work in their own favor aka driving long tail traffic.

– Brands are struggling to become conversation partners: I continue to revisit the realization that brands want to only talk about stuff they are experts at, like they’re getting ready to broadcast. I believe the contrary. Your company doesn’t just have to only talk about stuff related to your product or services. Creating a mono-stream/logue of information across social platforms will only make people put you in a bucket for good. The shift from outbound to inbound marketing is a steep learning curve and requires dedicated attention. Empowering constituents (imagine onion layers) to discuss topics of interest with brands and amongst each other takes more than just putting information out there.

Can you relate? Do you think the bubble is ready to burst?

@YannR @Extanz