What do Engagement and the Value Chain have in common?

12 06 2009

… they are both being rocked by 2.0 – You didn’t think that Web 2.0 and other social web toys were just for pushy marketers, or did you?

Starting with the old and maybe boring Michael Porter value chain allows me to set up a baseline for this piece.  Most of us may have been taught how organizations work. Yep, they add value, every segment of it does or it’s made redundant, especially these days 2.0. We were trained wrong however. There is a beginning and an end to your job, NOT. We’re more and more moving to a river of information in which employees, partners and customers participate.  Think about the news industry or soon to be former news industry. Tipping the journalist maybe the future because all us (we’re the media) are involved, we’re just re-netting the value chain here.  Quality will be rewarded, so why not?

Does the healthcare industry move in any other direction? I don’t think so. The patient and relationship centered care model is moving full speed ahead. The health value chain is a participatory one. Care should be a collective well synchronized effort, no one can claim total expertise and we are all tired of being overly monitored, tested, and analyzed for liability purposes.

Odell's-pollHere is another simple but true product development example (local to me).  Odell Brewery company in Colorado finally got on board with Twitter. They also had the idea to engage their constituents which is probably the most difficult thing to do in social media. Let’s do a TwitterBrew (#odelltwitbrew), they said and then polled their Twitter followers about a new beer and its taste features. They then asked for a new name (TwitterBrew wasn’t as cool as “Blackbird”) and even asked for a new design, getting people again to vote on the design +1,500 voted … Geez ,that was easy and all involving people around them! Ok, if you develop a new Intel chip, it may be a little trickier…. or not, and this is my point. The collective did it and their work is more accurate than anything Odell could have dreamed of.

There is a massive opportunity for everyone across the organization from HR to product design to sales to change the way we work. Here are another couple of examples. CRM (Customer Relationships Management) systems are huge complex systems to empower sales forces. CoTweet (Twitter CRM) is in beta but @Wholefoods and other big names are already using it. Comcast was an early adopter of Twitter as one of their service managers (Frank Eliason) decided to answer customer questions via this system (not a corporate decision). 10 other customer service people later and Frank, they have 20,000 + followers on twitter and are delivering real value.

How to make it work? Check out SocialCast.com They integrate automation and people interaction messaging for corporations. Machines can tweet, hey why not? 🙂

Engagement is certainly the most empowering behavior that an organization can expect from their constituents. ‘They’ being ‘people’. Being inside the value chain or outside, engagement allows us to deliver and consume value. It’s time to rethink the value chain 2.0 style.

2.0 is awesome.

@YannR





Ideas for managing personal VS corporate brands online

29 05 2009

Does seeing a picture of your boss at a party on Facebook weird you out? Is your son or daughter not accepting to friend you on their social networks? We’ve definitely moved to a world where the lines are blurry. Online identities have definitely moved from anonymous to the “real me”.  Interconnectedness makes identities (personal or  corporate) and digital footprints have to live up to their actions.  I barely delete anything these days because my fears of big brother are a thing of the past.  But how best to manage the future? Be it your employees, friends, customers, brand afficionados or detractors… they participate in the “real you” too.

A bigger phenomenon though has to be taken into account by businesses when considering social media:  Individuals are building their digital footprints larger and faster than companies. What to do?

  1. Inside: Creating a guide book for your employees would be a good start. Nothing fancy… just get it right. Everyone is an ambassador whether you want it or not. It’s your employee’s choice to join LinkedIn or add their professional credentials on other networks like Facebook or Twitter. Just coach them with the basics. Suggestions could include:
    1. Optimize their profile on different networks.
    2. Simplify your employees’ research and teach them where to be active if they wish to be so.
    3. Organize an internal Tweetup — that could be a great idea… see what, who is active, leverage their existing activity.  Remember the groundswell technographics. Not everyone will want to play.
    4. [ah yeah, keep them focused on their job].
  2. Outside:  The real ambassadors are the people. You are a public being whether you want it or not.  “Here come everybody” from Clay Shirky is certainly right — “reading customers are among us”. They are creating a wealth of information out there which you should take advantage of. You may not have the ability to identify and energize the best of your customer base and brand aficionados.
  3. Listen and learn: Measure and monitor conversations about your brand and competitors’ brands – Use Google Alerts, FiltrBox, OneRiot, Topsy, Radian6, CollectiveIntellect and the other millions of search tools inside each network… You’ll learn to intercept conversations and participate (the new ‘respond’) more efficiently.
  4. Engaging: Social media is not (yet) for everyone but Gen Y is making it pervasive. You’ve probably been in a meeting or with friends where someone pulled the buzz joke: “are you tweeting this?” …then every body laughs. It has the same feel as when people started to have cell phones and answer in public places. Everyone got weirded out but this is long gone and new methods of communication are coming fast e.g. Google Wave – Here I suggest that you test the waters as long as you’re are open and clear with your intents and the community. Follow the passion trail to build creative social media programs. It’s clear that old methods won’t work and may even step outside the law: Trying to get an influential blogger promote your brand is rightfully getting looked at by the FTC.

Here is everybody. You (brand) are not alone. Your constituents are your best assets.

How do you deal with those identities? What does make sense for you and your business?

We’re all connected now.


@yannr FFyannr





Gluecon tries to solve the Cambrian Explosion

15 05 2009

Over the last 10 years, I’ve worked in several birthing and evolving tech industries. I was born in the storage industry which had no standards and moved quickly to storage virtualization and storage area networks; then I moved on to database applications which were a lot harder to integrate and ERP systems forced integration. At the base of all these experiences are consumers and customers needs, cost reductions for enterprises, and just plain efficiency. When innovation becomes unbearable for users, the next phase is consolidation. We’re getting there and very fast. RSS 2.0 standards were agreed upon back 2005 and we’ve seen a wild ride since then. Web 2.0 has mushroomed. I can pretty much sign up to 5-10 new web services every day if I wanted to.

This journey brings me to the Glue Conference which just finished yesterday in Denver, CO.  We’re there again. Mitch Kapor actually used the analogy of the “Cambrian Explosion” while talking about Social Media / Web 2.0. Like during the Cambrian, we’re at a stage where products and ideas are developed at a greater speed than before because it has become so cheap to develop web and social applications. It has gone wild, the big players are trying to control it (e.g. Facebook Connect…), while the savants are wrapping their heads around Open standards and data portability (e.g. OpenID and Information Cards)

So here is a quick synopsis of my take aways from the conference. I am no technical person but I love technology, so forgive me if you were there and see that much stuff has flown over my head.  I am a shrink not a geek.

1. The Consumer first: The biggest headache the web services industry is putting on the consumer is “signing in”. How many IDs and passwords can one self have and need to get around? If you keep them somewhere it can be unsafe. If you use the same password everywhere… it can be unsafe. If you rely on a third party, to manage your identity… you know what I am going to say. We’re slowly getting there. e.g. Facebook Connect and other services like this… Safe? Maybe, but it’s becoming like Credit Score ratings… I am not sure I like it and my identity becomes the property of a corporation, so to speak.

2. Glue the networks? I tend to use most networks in conjunction with each other. I also like the synchronization that FriendFeed offers me. I also think that most  people are using networks separately. Being friends with your boss on Facebook or your mother is still contentious. All of us have multiple identities due to our life styles and not all identities fit across networks. Should we use networks like islands or enhance them so that noise is reduced? My preference goes to the latter. Networks and web UI and websites need more standardized metadata features e.g. I want to be able to share a mountain biking article with everyone who cares about mountain biking across my networks… Don’t ask me to choose the networks, but the identities… and it should be automatic. I don’t want to spam my foodie friends for example.

3. ID and Identification: Much debate was happening around these two, and I think the consensus was around the freedom to have different IDs but the necessity for proper identification.  It was observed that individuals have different behaviors depending on networks and if identities become unique everywhere, it limits freedom. Someone should not be banned from all networks because his/her ID was banned from one network.

4. Trust VS Reputation: It always starts with identification (who’s logging in). We can then build the trust of individuals or entities across the social web. Once that layer is achieved, we get to reputation.  Reputation could be based on character (e.g. participation) or knowledge (social media, internet or mountain biking… you’re pretty safe with me). Above all, ‘reputation’ depends on ‘Context’. Applications and social web platforms need to move to a more ‘context’ based information sharing model. Context gives meaning to words and information. The semantic web will be contextual.

5. Moving into the cloud: Pretty much everything is moving to the cloud. Applications are increasingly moving to data centers outside of companies as it’s rarely a core competency of businesses. It was clear that the cloud is something that will be totally transparent to the consumer. No one cares if your emails are sitting in Denver or San Francisco.

6. The online social graph is pretty much based on 3 worlds of social graphs:

  1. The first graph is based on email / IM (instant messaging). Everyone really knows each other but it’s a closed environment.
  2. The second graph is based on eCommerce platforms. As a shopper, you’re influenced by other shoppers and more and more networks via those platforms.
  3. Finally the social networks graph, which is probably the most open of all. You may or may not directly know someone who is connected with you. Depending on your purpose, you’ll use them with people you know or at the other extreme, be an ‘open networker’ and accept every invite.

Glue-on then. It is clear that the suggestive web or web 3.0 will require clear identification of individuals and groups. We need to move to a place where platforms and systems bring you better information based on the graph. People’s identities and conversations create enough data to give context and meaning to conversations. We’re still in a communicative world. The sender and the receiver of information still need ‘coding’ to understand each other.  Given that social media is producing an explosive growth of information, better information will be subject to context.

All in all, it’s all about context. I know it’s thick but bringing the right information to the right people was not good enough in the media world, new media has multiplied that information quantity. Now is the time to bring quality to new media.

Cheers

Yann





Conversation Drawers VS Sink Hole, FriendFeed kicks ass

5 05 2009

I have found lately that my amount of conversation on Twitter has decreased. I wasn’t quite sure but maybe the hype is just becoming too much or maybe it’s just because every clone can now have a social media megaphone. And then along came an old acquaintance….

I originally used FriendFeed as my ‘pipe management’ system. 12 months ago back in 2008, social networks were harder to sink and FriendFeed was just an obvious method to sink my rich media activities. But I was also being told by many, to try again, try again… so I did and it failed again. But how many screens do you need? The real success of Twitter has been to let everyone else do the work via the API and let people build all kinds of cool apps for Twitter. The best of all these apps being TweetDeck. I could finally cut the noise, do my job, be in the know and feed my appetite for new stuff. But here comes a Keyword: Noise. Cutting noise. The new FriendFeed came out in March 2009. This time, I have been really giving it a try diligently since last week. Here are some key points that are jumping at me after using it as my primary social application for 7 days:

– Pipes management: More than ever I can manage my rich media and social media activity from a single console. From Flickr, Youtube, social bookmarks, Disqus, Twitter…. or any web 2.0 tools you’re using out there, they can all be plugged into FriendFeed to share your activities. Of course you can feed (send your activity stream) to other places like Twitter.

Bookmarklet (found here): This feature is what a mouse is to a computer. (Do you remember when computers didn’t have mouse? I don’t). The gist of it: I can literally grab any webpage, with any pictures or videos in it and share all that in rich media. Exempli gratia: sharing a page and photo from BBC below.

-Share your “Likes” with Twitter, FB… If you use Twitter: RT, or ReTweet is like a rating system. Someone may like your stuff and basically push one button in TweetDeck or place RT in front of your message and pass it on. When many people do it then it becomes overwhelming. FollowFriday was born of a great similar concept but then every Friday it’s like constant noise going through Twitter. It’s ok but the overall stream of information out there is cluttered. Noise kills information. It especially kills conversation! With friendfeed, the rating system is embedded, with the likes, so you can be aware of it or not (through your lists) or look at the “Best of the day”.

– Conversation drawers: When at a good party, you might be better to track the good groups and conversations.  I remember when at The Enthusiast Group (outdoors vertical social networks), Steve and Neal had to basically stay glued to the amount of info coming in and take the best stuff to put it on the front page. Anyone who would come to the home page would see the latest good stuff. We were marrying Social Networks and Editorial power. It was the only way to keep the good stuff above. Here, and again in comparison to Twitter, each time you participate (Comment, Like, Share or simply Post) FriendFeed keeps this in your “My Discussions” tab, it’s easy to come back and you can even set alerts via emails, IM… to keep abreast of the discussions. Here on the left, the thread and discussion between everyone is right below the original post.

Lists: aka the noise cutter. I’ve heard some say “I’m lazy, I don’t want to build those lists”. At the time I kind of agreed. But then I am the first one to admit that I wouldn’t have stuck to Twitter if TweetDeck hadn’t made it easy to create groups. I am also limited by the number of groups I can create in TweetDeck. In FriendFeed, I can very easily create Lists by topics or rank of importance.

Auto-refreshing: Every other network (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin….) needs you to refresh the page if you want to get what’s new or updates on conversations. Here FriendFeed refreshes for you ‘live’ and superfast. I actually run Tweetdeck and Friendfeed simultaneously to compare both. FriendFeed is plainly ‘LIVE’.  Conversations happen and you can track them overtime. In comparison, Twitter and to a lesser extent Facebook, are sink holes. It’s just hard to track things and they disappear if you’re not in front of your computer.

Any drawbacks? hmm… Oprah is not on there yet 🙂 Ok, you won’t find as many people but I find that quality is well managed here. I’ll certainly hang here for a while.

Now, where to start? Sign up here. Once you’re signed up, I would import your pipes:

Step 1:  Go to Services

Step 2: Then find your friends: import friends from Facebook, Twitter….

Step 3: Participate.  You can find me there: http://friendfeed.com/yannr



Cheers

Yann





Give ’em a hammer… Give ’em a twitter…

15 04 2009

As far as social media circles and events go, I like to think I get around. While I am getting around, I tend to meet 3 kind of folks. Recently, the kinds of conversations I have had with them have caused me to wonder about this whole social media hype thing that we’ve got going on…. so here’s my view…

Group 1: By far the largest and getting smaller by the minute….Never heard of it or totally confused. Social media what? Why do we need this anyway, it’s not really for business! Kids stuff. Goofing around.  Ok, everyone is talking about Twitter… maybe I should get on Twitter then (law of the hammer) and start pressing “follow”. But, errr, what am I going to do with it? I really don’t have time for this. Our website is a fine piece of art, we look good, we’re different. We’re participating, right?

Group 2: Getting up there now in numbers…..We’re afraid, man. What if someone, somewhere, says something, thinks something… geez we’re so used to sending those press releases over the fence… our sales people are here for the interactions… Inbound marketing, what? No, we have engineers for that.  They can see the future. We’ve just hired a guy who worked at Apple anyway. Sorted, man. The customer voice, yes, we do surveys – candy for  everyone! You’ve probably met someone like this recently too.

Group 3:  Finally the toolers,  social media is equal to social networking –  They are all over it, their company has a twitter account, and man it’s rocking in there, we’re doing it right cos we have a facebook fan page, a twitter account and the CEO is on Linkedin… This is social media, right…? Huh, well, let’s see now. Chances are good what we’re going to see is a bunch of mundane conversations when someone can spare some time… or maybe they’ll hire a junior cos “they know how that stuff works, right?” Ah, not so fast now. And blogging? Yeah, we do that or we thought of doing it but…

Yes folks, Give ’em a twitter… Give ’em a hammer. Everything is looking like a tweet :). Don’t get me wrong, Twitter is an awesome tool, just be mindful. I see workshops on Twitter or Linkedin everywhere like some kind of  new gold that we have all got to get a piece of.  But you know what? I just can’t see how just using one of these tools along is going to turn into a real return. Therein lies the catch….tweety-birds!

Questions you should ask yourself at this moment include:

  1. How is my web strategy supporting my overall marketing strategy?
  2. What are the different components of my web strategy?  Usability, design, copy, SEO, social networks, social media, blogging, adwords… maybe email marketing… Ultimately, it should be about lead generation and converting viewers into customers or at least starting the qualification process… right? Once again push doesn’t work and pull is not easy.
  3. Now, how will social media support your web strategy?  Is this about a time suck or truly turning your customers into advocates? What’s more,  if you venture into the social media space, how is the rest of your marketing plan supporting Social Media and vice-versa…??
Groundswell tool from Forrester Research

Groundswell tool from Forrester Research

My spin on the groundswell levels of success are that they are not mutually exclusive but reaching gold straight off the bat is kinda like managing a hole in one during your first round of golf. Some can. But the rest of us….. you get the picture.

So here is a potential way of looking at levels of success in Social Media…

Not Even On The Podium: You’re pushing your promotions through social networks. Your credibility will suffer. That’s more like a fail.

Bronze: You’re listening and talking with people but having mundane conversation is killing your efforts. Are you truly contributing or making noise e.g. Tweet: “going to the gym now”?

Silver: You’re engaging and energizing your customer base. Passion is the corner stone of social media; where are those passionate users? Are you empowering them to do more with products or services? Are you teaching them, educating them? Are you putting your customer in a position to teach other industry users? They may do a better job than you, you know…

Gold: You’re providing a 3rd space(s) where customers are actually talking to each other and supporting each other. You’ve integrated activities through social media as well as the customer voice or use of your product or services.

Bottom line, if you go on your own, measure and measure your effectiveness; engagement is an art. Wasting time is a hard price to pay for just being on the networks. If you need help, I would seriously check if your prospective provider has a rock solid methodology… it’s no surprise that “Establishing a method for engaging consumers in online conversation” is ranked top of the tactics used by companies by the Aberdeen Group.

Social Media is not a cooking recipe, there will be some experimentation. Having a sound methodology and measurable processes will save you a lot of guess work and just doing social media because everyone is buying a twitmmer these days. Finally,  in the words Social Media, there is also Media… quality media.

Thank you chazferret for his cool picture!

Onwards and upwards,

Yann






Twitter Here, Twitter There, Twitter Everywhere!

27 03 2009

picture-11What’s the difference between Twitter and TV? These days, it’s hard to tell. If you have your television on for even an hour a day I’m sure that you have heard the word Twitter on just about every channel you surf.  There has been a huge increase of celebrity Twitter accounts lately, everything from musicians, to movie stars to newscasters.  Ellen DeGeneres started her own Twitter account this month, announced it on her show and overnight she had approximately 33,000 followers! (Check out her monologue about Twitter, it’s pretty funny.) Today she has some 397,534 followers.  For many of you, following celebrities may sound like a waste of time, but for those of you that already are fans of particular shows like Ellen or American Idol you can see the reactions of the hosts about a particular show, see pictures from back stage or in the green room of Leno and much more. It’s just like being there or maybe even better!

Twitter has also become a way to interact with your favorite television show. Bravo’s Top Chef started their own Twitter account manned by two popular cast-offs, Andrew and Spike from season four.  While Top Chef aired (the season is over now) Andrew and Spike would sit behind their computers and tweet away about the show.  They would make comments about the contestant’s food, what they were doing, their projections of the winner, or just plain heckling the contestants and even the judges from the safety of their own couch.  It was pretty entertaining.

The Academy Awards were also very interactive this year on Twitter as was the Super Bowl.  If you go to “Search” on your Twitter account (at the very bottom of your screen), you will see different “Trending Topics”. During the live broadcast of the Academy Awards and the Super Bowl these events quickly became trending topics.  People were tweeting about the fashion and their own thoughts on who would win which awards at the Oscars. For the Super Bowl, people were tweeting about not only the Super Bowl game itself but even more so about all of the commercials.

Still all this opinion sharing can get dangerous……Twitter has caused some problems for some television shows. Greg Grunberg who is an actor on the popular show, Heroes, tweeted “Tough to say goodbye to crew not knowing if any or all of us will return next year”.  This caused quite a stir for Heroes fans thinking that the show was going to be canceled. Note to self: remember who’s watching/listening!

For those of us who like a more newsworthy Twitter and to keep up to date with headlines and breaking news, you can follow The Today Show, CNN, NY Times and many more all on Twitter.  More than likely you can even follow your own local newspaper!

If you are still wondering if Twitter is something for you and you are fan of any TV show whether it be a reality show, a drama, a soap opera or a news show, chances are that show and even it’s actors/hosts are on Twitter waiting for you to interact.  Take a look and give your two cents! I wonder what would happen if they could change the show based on commentary in the Twitterverse….. now that could get interesting!

In the meantime, here is a list of celebrities you might be interested in following:

LanceArmstrong

Britney Spears

President Obama

Ashton Kutcher

Demi Moore

Shaq

Martha Stewart

Who are your favorite celebrities that you follow? Let us know!

Cheers,

Lauren (aka @Laniha82)

Thanks for the CNN picture RichieC





Semantic web, getting out of this sink hole.

25 03 2009

I was recently at the #bdnt where an audience packed full of hungry technologists were asked by Robert Reich, what is the definition of Web 3.0? Just like in junior high, the crowd went wild and after many passionate answers, Brad Feld, who was also talking about the state of the economy in relation to the startup / venture capital world was asked, his thoughts on the answer. From the super elaborate answers such as  humanly interfaced semantic apps to ‘BS’, Brad’s final pick was ‘staying alive’ [this is a startup meetup]. I’ll let you mull on this a moment…

We’re violently moving to a ‘micro’ world here, where interaction is simultaneously getting thinner in content and wider in distribution. Lengthy interaction has been shrinking. Twitter traffic and its number of subscribers are going ballistic (>1000% year over year for February), other micro-blog platforms are pretty much extinct and Facebook has totally redesigned its interface to better compete with the unstoppable need for micro-blogs or ‘status updates’. We’re even seeing micro-reviews appearing now (e.g. Blippr.com (like reviews were actually long before :)).

Our in-boxes are getting less and less relevant as just this morning mine was showing 1,744 unread of 4,568 total. That is 38.1% irrelevant information that I may have subscribed to or which is just feeding in from subscriptions. I’m talking about 1 email inbox only out of several others I own for different purposes or which have evolved out of better email platforms.

I was talking to Peter Olins last night at NocoEntre Meetup… “if in this world I could only get my hands on something that could manage all my connection points” says I. Peter said, “yes – I feel your pain”. I also see people like @loic from Seesmic who went from following everyone on Twitter to scaling down to just following 400 Twitter accounts.

Malcom Gladwell was talking about the rise of immunity when referring to email saturation in his earlier book, the Tipping Point.  I think that our human channel capacities are even more challenged these days. I’m not even talking about what’s happening to your digital self when we expire [read: move on from the organic stage]

So how do you use all of the networks you’re participating in? Are you an open networker? Are you only on Facebook which allows you to turn people off [reduce the amount of their updates]? How about using Twitter applications like Tweetdeck which allow you to truly follow by creating groups?  LinkedIn and Plaxo also offer use some of these modulations.

How are we managing all this saturation…? This is where connectivity between platforms and the ability for users to set parameters as to what is important to them will set the future.  I also wish we could start fullfilling Peter’s need and serve him relevant info and discussion. The social graph is one way but organic discussions are just awesome on Twitter…  The answer has to be a semantic axis.

@yannr





Twitter vs Facebook and the fight for the crumbs…

19 03 2009

A few weeks ago, @kblucy did a quick poll in her Capstone class for students majoring in Communication – 4 out of 84 students are actually using Twitter.  They are all on Facebook or at least 90% of them. Twitter what? No, it’s just the fastest growing network these days. Maybe it’s generational. Or it’s how we use it but we see  Facebook slowly sending MySpace to a shelf and Twitter is thinking about doing the same to Facebook after refusing $500 Million from same. It didn’t  take long for Facebook to turn around and let ‘Fan Pages’ (companies, celebrities…) be able to update their ‘status’ (just came out last week) which Twitter does. Things are certainly heating up… some talk about collision.  

Have you heard of MyYearBook.com? Tagged.com?  Tumblr.com? Hi5.com? Bebo.com? … hmm, no? People have different needs, live in different places and use all those tools for different reasons. Depending on your marketing strategies, using those different platforms will have more or less returns.

I thought I’d give a bit of a run down of the different networks we use in our practice and why we use them. But before we go there,  I want to say that Personal Branding and Business Branding are colliding. Those students are increasingly growing their personal digital footprint on places like Facebook or MySpace. They will soon be working for corporations and companies. How will their personal representation affect your brand? Why bother sending a resume when you can find everyone online? If they are not online, I would be worried for you though.

Social Networks:

– MySpace: Still the largest network, your brand needs to be there and somewhat active especially if your target market is in the younger age bracket. We still see low traffic from this platform.

– Facebook: Its clean look and super organized way to manage your contacts and relationships has definitely worked wonders. It is driving good to moderate traffic, better in the consumer space.

– Linkedin / Plaxo: By nature, they were designed for more professional purposes. I find that Plaxo has been a more open platform in terms of using RSS but the traffic volume coming from Linkedin is higher. Linkedin was web-based from the start and definitely has the biggest market share. Since the fall, Linkedin allows you to update your company profile and help link personal identities. I mostly find those networks powerful to find people and be found.

– Twitter: with 812% of traffic growth, it’s still a small network but indeed posing an interesting threat. The main clue here is ‘Conversation’. Engaging in Twitter means that you can engage better with people and customers that you would not encounter otherwise. The big bonus: you can search real time conversations about products or brands… It’s a very powerful brand monitoring tool [Search.Twitter.com]  – You can also organically reach people or brands without the limitations of the Facebook fortress 🙂

– Hi5 and Bebo have been growing very fast respectively in UK/Europe for Bebo and Latin America for Hi5 but are still cumbersome platforms to use with limited RSS connectivity. As you can see, Twitter totally passed those networks during the fall of 2008.

So what now? Being on all the main social networks as a person or a brand is somewhat necessary but if you need to focus on a few only, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are the best bets, at least in North America.

Remember that Google Search is still your best bet for driving ‘semantic’ traffic and generating web leads to your company website. SEO (search engine  optimization) and CPC (AdSense) campaigns are good methods but you’re limited when it comes down to increasing brand trust. Blogging remains the best way to increase better qualified leads in your web pipeline.

Finally, remember that YouTube generates more search volume than Yahoo itself since fall 2008 , so if you can invest, make sure to get into video – blogging.

Cheers!

@yannr





Geeks and Shrinks

20 02 2009

Geeks and Shrinks. That’s who Robert Reich (former secretary of labor, not the Robert Reich who runs the BDNT Meetup)  in his book ‘The Future of Work’ believes will rule the new economy. I’m no shrink, (Shrink = translator who communicates technical stuff to regular people). although I am a communication studies graduate, but am I geek? Let’s see what you think after one of my forays into the geek kingdom of the Front Range.

I’m at the Boulder-Denver New Tech meetup held at the Law Building at the University of Colorado at Boulder. If you want to see the new kingdom of geeks in one of their prime territories, there’s no other place to come…..I really wasn’t sure what to expect when driving to Boulder for this event.  Of course the term “geek” pops in my head and I am thinking pocket protectors, single guys in their mid thirties to late 40’s perhaps some of them still living in their mothers basement, writing codes all day long.  Boy was I wrong….

I am pleasantly surprised to find men and women, yes women, of all ages and appearances.  Some dressed as if they just came from work and the rest dressed as a typical casual Coloradoan.  I don’t think I saw any pocket protectors either. We all mingle around trays of chips and guacamole, fruit and of course a bar filled with Colorado micro-brews (so cool)…. @YannR(see we even use his Twitter handle)  tells me that we better find a seat because this place fills up quick.  He sure was right…within 10 minutes of the doors opening majority of the seats w ere taken and many people had to result to sitting on the floor or standing in the doorframes. Geeks in door frames. But wait, there’s more……

As the meeting begins I see that there are three screens up front, one for the speaker’s presentation, one for a bio and info of the speaker and to the right a large screen with a live feed from Twitter of a quickly trending topic; #bdnt.  I see right away people commenting on the speaker and the event, jokes being made, shout outs to friends in the crowd and time to time some heckling.  Everyone around me is tapping away on their laptops or of course iPhones making these micro-blogs themselves.  I suddenly feel naked without my laptop and especially without my non-existent iPhone.  I’m not sure what I would micro-blog about but I find myself wanting to be a part of the action.  The Tweeting I find quite interesting, it reminds me of sitting in grade school passing notes to friends talking about the teacher or friends in our class.  I guess this is the “new tech” way of passing notes.  Only this time the speakers engage as well, unlike my teacher in grade school.  They stop when chuckling begins and look to the Twitter screen to see someone asking if anyone in the door frame can pass him down a beer and continues to describe his location and appearance. It’s like a meeting within a meeting. Tech within tech.

So this is the new geek kingdom……. now I know not everyone lives this way but even if these guys are 5 years ahead of their time, this is one heck of a future we are looking at! All in all, I have to say, my first foray to the Meetup was great.  I learned a lot, not only about what a new geek looks like but also about new tech, and start ups that are popping up all over Northern Colorado.  It was refreshing to see so much passion, intelligence and new ideas all in once place. This Meetup was my christening into my new found geekyness that working for Extanz has given me.

So if you’re like me and you’re not a shrink, heading towards being a geek, and looking towards the future, here’s some things to keep in mind on your journey…

1. If you’re not on Twitter by now, you need to be — www.twitter.com

2. If you want to connect with like minded people, go to search.twitter.com, put your interests as keywords and search for them — then connect with them.  Or you can also use something like www.twitter.grader.com

3. Follow people. Be patient. They will follow you back.

4. To communicate with the Twitter natives, just put @ in front of their usernames (like @YannR).

5. Share. Retweet stuff you think is valuable. Remember, it is not about you. It’s about creating a conversation online that mirrors face to face interaction. Be positive. Be enlightening. Evolve.
Now if I could just get my hands on an iPhone……..

Thanks for the great pics from Frenchista and Coghill Cartooning

Cheers,

Lauren





Push me or pull you?

4 02 2009

Increasing technological immunity is a real issue. First, we had no fax machine, then we thought it was cool, then we were increasingly spammed through this medium, then we dropped it like a hot potato. Then came email…and the spammers showed up there too…Now we are or will be on social networks, and, yes, you guessed it, there is a share of this span activity going on there as well e.g.  this example today on Twitter – It’s not that common but it happens — you connect with someone and bam, you’re spammed! This kind of Push Me marketing is and won’t work in the Social Media sphere. We’re about about Pull YOU marketing here.

Let’s look at some numbers. Last week I was at the Social Media Club in Denver and was really interested to hear from a larger company who entered the Social Networking space last summer. Quark has roughly 1,000,000 users [a total estimate from Jim Brown] of their software product. They are also present on Facebook (~421 fans), Twitter (~200 followers) and YouTube (~36 subscribers) and discounted other platforms. They do not blog [or not that I could see].  I have to say that I am definitely glad they are trying to use those platforms.

So I asked Jim Brown of Quark,  “are you getting more traditional marketing folks wanting to shake your hand these days?” Jim replied “yes, my budget is certainly on the increase”. Jim then spent some time discussing how SEO was part of his activity. This was, after all, the topic of the evening.

During the presentation Jim showed us how the Facebook page is packed with keywords that may attract visitors. Twitter is mostly being used as brand monitoring – Quark mostly pushes content similar to their press releases or other marketing activities. Mirroring online traditional marketing activities is something we also advocate. Jim also seem to have great customer services with product users on Twitter. Kudos.

Did I feel like being a Quark fan hearing all this? Um, not quite. Did I feel that the ‘brand’ was trying to engage and empower their users to connect with it or better :),  among themselves. It’s unfortunate, but most brands who reach a certain size live in some state of fear of reaching out.

Where are the PEOPLE, I ask myself and Quark? How is a large brand like Quark empowering users to speak for and against its product? 1,000,000 users (not confirmed) and only 421 fans on the facebook page…. hmmmm….

So, what would I hope to see?

Social media: Where is the user generated content? Where are the contests to let their fans show what they can do using their product? 1,000,000 users should have a few fans, no? How about promoting them? Show us videos, pictures of your users playing with your products… people proud to be your users will do free marketing for you, help them benefit from the groundswell.  Pissed off people are a fact of life, we all get tired of being marketed to. As such a successful company, you have to be creating the right product… so using such positive people about you will always be more powerful than.

– Social neworking: Use it properly – If I type ‘Quark’ in Facebook, I hope to find Quark there… but they are nowhere to be seen.  The second page result is ‘Designer Against Quark’ (~302 group members). I keep searching and find in Groups: ‘I use Quark all day long’ (~91 members), or ‘We love Quark Xpress’ (~58 members).  To find Quark (the official page), you have to type ‘QuarkXpress‘ – point being that putting yourself in the shoes of someone living on Facebook is a good thing to do when engaging on those platforms.

Be everywhere:  You cannot guess where your customer will hang out, so you have to try looking everywhere first, then draw some conclusions.

Think about integrated marketing in a new way: Marketers love the words ‘integrated’ marketing. It’s easier to be integrated when you push your message than when you’re trying to engage your audience. Mirroring your content and carrying your customers’ voice though is a good first step, then you have make sure that everything you do elsewhere (offline) should be replicated online. Again, change your voice there…. the people want content, not propaganda. Integrating your marketing also means to use traditional means to build your online presence. You didn’t have URLs of you business 10 years ago, you now should have you Twitter account on your collateral. You have to be there and engage.

Start a blog, not a clog 🙂 Some call corporate bloggers: “cloggers” as they just push similar content to their press releases. This doesn’t create trust, nor engagement, it just wastes your time. Blogging is about the users and your brand’s ‘higher purpose’ (soapbox :)).

I’m really glad to see large brands putting their feet in social media waters and paddling about. The next step is to engage. Get in there upto your knees at least! Remember, we’re all human (ok, most of us). As good humans, we know all about immunity. We prefer to be pulled towards you.  Attract us, don’t attack us!

Cheers

@YannR

Thanks !!sahrizvi!! (back in… for the great pull the net picture!