Archive for August, 2007

Big companies still don’t get small things


Lunch 2.0: First local, now national, and soon global
The Wall Street Journal covered the Lunch 2.0 community event phenomenon in yesterday’s business section (Read Terry’s thoughts). If you’re not familiar with Lunch 2.0 it’s a grassroots community event where savvy corporations and startups host the web community for a casual meal and opt-in demo or presentation. We have founders Terry Chay, Mark Jenn, David Kellogg, and Joseph Smarr to thank.

Big Brands: “Yeah, we got that”
As the Lunch 2.0 event spreads like wildfire, the savvy corporate marketer realize the huge ROI for hosting these events (some are slower) they’ll be pitching these to their management teams, and penciling it near the product launch on the ol’ launch calendar.

Sadly, not all the companies and brands (some are my clients) are doing it right. By slapping a budget together, informing a few marketing folks, and posting an invite on the Lunch 2.0 site, a brand has certainly gone through the motions but missed a very important component –be human. It’s more than showing up to the party, it’s about interacting and engaging with the guests, really be human. Let down the firewall, drop the branding, and show what your brand can do for the community –not the other way around.

Being human, so tough for big brands
Don’t get me wrong, many brands have hosted a lunch successfully (it’s more native to the start-up, than big brand) so learn from them. I told the WSJ that:

“For companies, keeping the events laid-back and unstructured can be a challenge. “This is a community event — unlike what corporations usually do, which is set up booths and pitch,” says Jeremiah Owyang, director of corporate media strategy at, a media network, and a consultant to Fortune 1000 companies.

Smaller start-ups are more eager to embrace the idea. But larger corporations — especially those that are used to controlling communications flow through a public-relations team — may be reluctant to open their doors to an Internet savvy audience that shares its thoughts through blogs and social networks online. Mr. Owyang says, “I hope they roll up their cuffs and unbutton the shirt a bit.”

Doing it right
Lunch 2.0 is going global, it’s going to spread past the Silicon Valley, it’s started in Seattle, going to Singapore, and Europe. It’s really important that we preserve the true essence of a community event (it’s more about the people in the community than the brand) so please read How to have a successful community event I drafted up a few weeks ago.

Did I practice what I preached? I worked at a big brand (Hitachi) when I hosted the Lunch 2.0, if you were there, you can be the judge, leave a comment below; did we open up in a real and human way?

Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: August 29th, 2007



Due to the feedback, I’m continuing this weekly series of the Social Network Industry (now with masthead). I’ve created a new tag called Digest where you can start to track and access these going forward. The hope? To make it easy for a web strategist to quickly scan the activity in the last week. I strive to make headlines on items categorized and succinct.

Need to make decisions about your web strategy? I’m here to help: subscribe to my blog, sign up for emails (right nav), follow me on Twitter, or add me on Facebook (I’ll add you back).

Web Strategy Summary
Facebook continues to grow, thanks to anticipated releases. Social Networks continue to build around brands using White Label Social Networks, segmentation around many affinities continue. The intersection between corporate life and personal life continue to conflict, both around productivity and privacy. Recommendations? corporations should be analyzing the market, and preparing budget for this must-watch and maybe-participate strategy. Segmentation is your friend, this helps you to find your small, passionate, and engaged audience.

Global: Social Networks all over the World
The August edition of Business 2.0 lists out other types of Facebook SoNets: China’s Xiaoneiwang, France’s Skyrock, Germany’s StudiVZ, India’s Minglebox, Israel’s Mekusharim, Mexico’s Vostu, Netherlands’ Hyves, Russia’s V Kontakte, and Turkey’s Qiraz.

Upgrade: Facebook improves development and user experience
In response to massive growth and development of applications, Facebook announces some changes to protect user data, improve experience, and features for developers, the specifics include: Profile Boxes, Application Directory, Requests, Notifications, and News Feed. The net effect? Great apps will be rewarded, bad ones punished. Facebook announced it’s focusing on ‘engagement‘ based on user behavior, critics suggest that it’s a privacy nightmare.

Privacy and Data: Concerns over Facebook’s data cloud cause stir
Facebook watchgroups, concerned with how information about personal, network and business data stir controversy with this big-brother video, blue never looked so ominous.

Growth: Facebook’s Platform 3 months later
This article gives some great stats about the activity, feeds, applications, advertising, and other information happening on the Facebook platform. Most interestingly enough, I believe we’re still at the start of something –orders of magnitude to come.

Targeted Ads: Facebook drops ‘Smart Bomb’ advertising
Facebook can segment some ads by gender and city, not even Google Ad Sense can be this accurate. Mashable wonders if this is clever or evil? I say clever, and if deployed correctly, the ads may be more relevant to the user –and less disruptive. Imagine if ads became so intelligently contextual that they are as valuable as news items on a feedreader.

Corporate Censorship: Half of Employers block Facebook
I really question the survey and numbers that CNET reports that half of employers restrict social networks for employees. Let’s remember that Social Network, if used correctly, can increase sales, bring marketing intelligence, encourages users to self-support, and build better products. Blocking Facebook? why not block the rest of the web.

Segmentation: Religious Groups adapt SoNets
One of the oldest social networks? Religion is now showing activity in groups on Facebook says Venture Beat: “Myspace, the world’s largest social network, recently told the New York Times it had more than 100,000 religion-focused groups while faith-based sites like Mychurch (its free-standing site), Xianz, Muslimspace and others reported well under that number of total users. New religious sites continue to launch.”

Segmentation: SoNets for different Professions
WSJ reports in that professionals of every career are starting to embrace social networks: Sermo for Medicine, New Reuters site for Finance, for Wireless execs, and AdGabber for advertising folks.

Segmentation: Professional Women Network
New SoNet called Damsels In Success has recently launched, it’s focus on the professional woman. There are discussion features, and job features that can launch women’s careers forward.

Money and Segmentation: Mom’s get their own Social Network
This reminds me of in the first web phase, as cafemom received $5 million in funding. What is this network? “Users offer tips and practical advice. Other popular groups are “Toddler Moms” and “Raising Boys.” The company says it expects two million unique users in August. Some of that traffic is being bought with advertising on search engines.”

Costs: Sponsored Group in Facebook A million $ a year
Valleywag suggests that the media kits for from Facebook cost nearly a million dollars a year for building a sponsored group. I’ve seen a variety of numbers, I guess the only way to really find out is to go talk to them. Also see the rate cards which they’ve published.

Deployment: Playboy to launch social network to save media brand
Limp media giant needs boost for online strategy “Hugh Hefner’s Playboy empire is set to launch a sexy social networking site dedicated solely to college students, its latest online venture as it tries to reinvigorate its stagnant finances.” I wonder if they asked Facebook for entry, if so, changes were they were barred, that’s where the college students are at. To be fair, they should consider a SoNet for Playgirl too. What would be a smart deployment? Dating type widgets for Facebook –but no nudity –think lifestyle (no not the brand). It’s powered by Ning. See Zivity, with a similar approach.

Applications: Google launches Facebook social search widget
Google launches a search widget for Facebook that lets you search the web and share the results with your friends. Sadly, it has errors on the first page on launch. Expect more mainstream features to be ported to Facebook and to sit on top of the social engine.

Be sure to check out previous weekly digests.

Pursuing the Web Strategy mission as a Forrester Analyst


For those that read this blog, you’ll know that I’m passionate about the web, I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be furthering the Web Strategy mission by accepting a new role at an amazing company.

Forrester Research, a perfect fit
I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be joining Forrester Research as a Senior Analyst focused on Social Computing for the Interactive Marketer. Forrester is the leading industry analyst firm focused on this emerging industry, and thanks to luminaries like Charlene Li and team, they’ve produced tremendous thought leadership in the space. They’ve produced a large growing library of resources, and as an analyst, I will also be conducting research, publishing reports, and advising Forrester’s clients. I really believe this to be a perfect fit and am excited to start on October 1st, 2007.

Thank you PodTech Network
Since Sept 2006, as the Director of Corporate Media Strategy, I’ve had the most amazing experience living in the epicenter of social media, and I’m thankful. I’ve met so many amazing people, worked with thought and practice leaders, and been part of amazing events like BlogHaus, PodTech is a training ground for talent. Having informed my colleagues of my change, I’ve received nothing from congratulations and support from James the CEO on down. I’m grateful to John Furrier for launching the company and hiring me on the team. On mutually good terms, I end my time at PodTech on Sept 14th, CEO James McCormick wishes me the best.

Pursuing the Web Strategy Mission
Why an analyst? This is native to me. If you check out my posts tagged Web Strategy, or the various industry lists that I’ve been collecting you’ll find that it’s not too different from what an Industry Analyst does. I enjoy writing, and have published 1,327 posts in the last 15 months (about 3 a day, including weekends). Like my role at PodTech, I’ll also be guiding corporations, helping them navigate the uncharted social computing sphere. I’ll continue to write publications, consult, and speak. Social computing is native to me, before PodTech I deployed the social media program at Hitachi Data Systems, Shel has the story.

Stepping down from Board of Advisors
As an Analyst, Ill be unbiased in my analysis and reports, sadly, I’m stepping down from the Board of Advisors for WaterCooler (a successful Facebook applications company) and (live interactive video streaming).

What will happen with the Web Strategy Mission? It will continue to evolve, and now I’ll be working with the top analytical minds in the industry. For corporations, the journey is just starting, so stay close to me: subscribe to this blog, follow me on Twitter (where I first announced this), friend me at Facebook or find peers by joining the Web Strategy Community.

It’s going to be exciting, I’ll be able to serve the web industry as an analyst at Forrester Research!

I’m going to take a few days off from blogging, see you in Facebook!

Conference: Community Building in the Age of Facebook


I’ve been asked to keynote the 2007 Web Community Forum will take place in Seattle, WA on December 5-6, 2007. (Update: Read these important changes from the Blog Business Summit)

I’ll be providing a high-level strategy on the opportunities, challenges, and market growth of the tool. It’s being run by the good folks at the Blog Business Summit, we all know Steve Brobeck and Teresa Valdez Klein. I started my social media business path with them, in fact at a summer time conference in SF in 2005. A few years later, they’re still leading the industry with a new conference series on the opportunities the Facebook platform provides, if you’re preparing to deploy in Facebook, you should attend.

What’s a big change how Facebook is impacting web strategies? Users can opt-in to offer information connect with peers, in fact it could even mean the death of the registration page once and for all. As an industry, we’re not there yet, but the savvy will figure out that Facebook is really an identity platform first, followed by media, then applications.
If you want to get up-to-date on Facebook strategies, I’ve created a new tag called Facebook Strategy.

Here’s the description of the session I’ll be leading:

Your Facebook Strategy: Opportunities of a Ready-Made Platform

Facebook is a media, community and application platform that offers an existing thriving ecosystem, scalable growth, and word-of-mouth marketing. The ability to understand users, their preferences, and networks, helps web applications to quickly segment and rapidly grow. Of course, no system is perfect, as we will understand the challenges with data, privacy and the growing conflict as work and personal lives collide online.

By analyzing users, their profiles, networks and affiliations there’s a tremendous amount of rich data that we’ve not seen displayed so readily. The ability to create a targeted web strategy to meet specific needs of the ‘long tail’ is more accessible than ever before.

Facebook provides targeted advertising unlike we’ve ever seen before, the ability to provide messages segmented by location, gender, and or preference gives the ability to accurately market effectively

The recently launched Application Platform gives the small agile web team the ability to quickly deploy a widget, scale and monetize. We’ll explore what’s worked as these mini-applications are launched on top of an existing community.

We’ll learn:

-Demographics and Trend Data of Facebook
-Word of mouth and viral growth using the Newsfeed and Widgets
-Groups, Sponsored groups and other community features
-Harness Personal and Network information
-Contextual and targeted Advertising opportunities
-Monetizing your efforts
-Case studies of success and failure
-Understanding costs, and strategies to measure ROI

I hope to see you there!

White Paper: 12 Essential Tips for Success in Social Media


I gave Chris Kenton a hard time about having a registration screen to force users to sign up before downloading his kick ass white paper on “12 Essential Tips for Success in Social Media”. He says I ‘schooled’ him, which is certainly not accurate, it was just a ‘pinch’.

I agree it’s a great white paper (as he sent to it to me). I suggested Facebook is the new registration page, why? Because people can opt in, and they can choose the information they want to share, and just do it once.

To access his whitepaper, go to Facebook, join is group, and then click right on the posted items.

There’s 12 points, and you’ll know he’s right off to a good start as the first point is #1: Establish Clear Business Objectives and

Social News Aggregation delivers bottom up news, and all the challenges that comes with it


Social Media Club (find a chapter near you) put on yet another great event in last Thursday’s event at the Yahoo headquarters in Sunnyvale. The theme, a focus on social or bottom up news, traditional news, and citizen journalism.

Each of the respective companies had an opportunity to share their insight, about their products, and a healthy conversation. Presenters included: Karen Brophy, Yahoo! News, Amy Dalton, Steve Huffman,, Jay Adelson,, Dan Gillmor, Center For Citizen Media. Amy Dalton told me that this list of Silicon Valley events was very helpful for her planning.

“Social News Aggregators offer individuals more than a chance to consume news, they also offer an opportunity to participate, weigh in on it, contribute to it and interact around it. But each site differs and the communities that form around social news sites are unique.
What sparks the growth of an online community around news and current affairs content?

How are online community and user expectations changing? How do site creators and editors maintain a balance between their original vision, and responsiveness to their online community? What can mainstream media learn from users of social news sites? “

[Social news delivers the democracy of information, but with it comes the human instinct to manipulate and ‘game’ systems, the battle will never end]

Key Trends

-Many communities have rowdy members, users are often anonymous
-It was suggested by forcing users to use real names, it could yield better commentary
-Gaming of ‘voting’ type systems is inevitable.
-Members spend a lot of time, effort to earn points or reputation in systems
-Yahoo News had the largest visitorship
-Reddit team was more worried about users getting negative points than positive, as it was an indicator of something going wrong
-Each of the site has increasing growth, they shared numbers at the end
-Digg and Reddit communities have very similar demographics, often resulting in friction.

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