I don’t want to be American-centric, but I need your help.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll notice that I’ve spent some time in Asia (Singapore, HK, Japan) learning about web adoption and sophistication (Canada too). I really want to be the conduit for my many Silicon Valley readers to know more about what the rest of the world has done, Social Media, and the internet at large is truly a global tool.
I’d like to invite you to share with me some case studies of what other companies have done to use social media (from blogs, social networks, online media, etc) to reach and connect with customers. These stories can either be of success or even hard learnings, so please leave a comment below and let me know, of course, please provide links to the appropriate websites.
Shout out your success with social media in Europe! Tell me: 1) What was the company, 2) who were they trying to reach, 3) what was the problem, 4) what did they deploy, 5) how’d it go? 6) What suggestions would you give to the program, where’s it headed? and anything else you wanted to share!
I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly summary.
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 for each).
Thank you for the feedback and comments last week, (I asked if I should continue this series) In addition to comments, I received emails, and messages in Facebook telling me to continue the digest, which I will do. Here’s my attempt at listening to you, my customers!
Web Strategy Summary
The big story? Microsoft (experienced with online advertising) is aiming to invest in Facebook, valuation may vary. This week, we’re continuing to see much buzz about the Social Graph, and continued segmentation from deployments. While I suggest that segmentation is natural for the web (and a good thing) excessive niche plays may be an indicator of the saturation of the market.
Money: Facebook and Microsoft in bed
The big story this week is that Microsoft is hunting to invest 5-10% into Facebook, the total valuation of Facebook is now being debated. There are those that are questioning the impact that Facebook has on the widget economy, it’s clear that FB is the Gorilla in the room, although some suggest we should be very worried.
Social Graph: Six Apart to launch Social Graph
This is exciting news, the much buzz-demanded feature called social graph (where users can transport their network relationships from one SoNet to another) will be released from the very open Six Apart. I must applaud them for their excellent reach and connection to getting open ID, and now social graph.
Legal: Teen sues Virgin for mis-use of Flickr image
Every company must be cautious and careful in the images it selects from the open web and social networking sites like Flickr. This youth is suing telecom company for damages as her photo was used in an embarrassing (and should get double fees for using a cliche) manner. By the way, we ran into similar issues at my last company…gotta learn what creative commons is!
Productivity: Ban Facebook? Intel’s public debate
Josh Bancroft, Intel’s top blogger, is challenging the forces at Intel Security to keep Facebook an application for business and personal use. I can think of so many arguments to keep it open, and in fairness a few why they may want to close it, but the opportunities simply outweigh the threats. If they do ban Facebook, they might as well ban the rest of the web, but intel.com
Social Graph: Google to Release on Nov 5th
In a private meeting, Google has told a few that it will release a social graph feature, much like how Six Apart is also going to. Google will leverage it’s popular (well in Brazil) SoNet Orkut, and offer APIs that can connect to it and iGoogle. This will be an interesting battle, many speculate Google will sweep up all the other networks for global domination.
Feature: Facebook to launch IM
Yet another tool to capture our attention inside of Facebook, an IM tool will be released. If you were paying attention, the homepage feed has been asking for AIM login info, so I’m somewhat surprised this has not already happened. For me, I won’t use it, IM sucks too much time.
Segmentation: A SoNet for when you’re dead
Nick Carr reports on the Social Network youdeparted.com where it aggregates your life, and you can leave messages for friends and family after your demise. Cheerful! Now, we just need a SoNet before we’re born (perhaps, you’reborn.com) …someone kick me when we’ve jumped the shark.
Segmentation: A SoNet for Google Earth
A group of Arizona students are in cahoots with a “Major internet company” to release a social networking feature set for the Google Earth product. Why stop there? build a system that can work with all Google products.
Mobile: MySpace to offer mobile version –with ads
MySpace is going mobile, users can now access popular SoNet, although it’s not quite as sophisticated as many marketers may want, true geo-contextual advertising is not here yet. I’d give it a few short years.
Usage: Ning surpasses 100,000 Social Networks
Although not a measurement of quality or activity, Ning announces that over 100k ‘groups’ within it’s product suite have been created.
Legal and Security: Facebook ignores predators?
An open letter to Facebook to pay attention to online predators, hopefully, we’ll hear a response.
I had the opportunity to interview Joseph Loong of AOL’s Community Connection (which has blogs, forums, photo galleries, social network features) at Miami’s WeMedia conference at the University of Miami. He’s one of the community folks at AOL Blogs and helps the community become more efficient bloggers and communicators and shares with us the challenges to big media corporations like AOL and what the future holds.
Thanks Rocky for editing!
For the web strategist, successful deployment of a global strategic requires understanding of different cultures and adoption rates. Culture and adoption can vary even from neighboring countries.
Last night, Tod met up with me after the VidFest conference, he brought out several of Canada’s social media folks to meet up, and I was lucky to catch them as they were walking out! Thanks Tod for organizing, Mark’s on an accelerated schedule, Derek was there, and Rachel Newton, Chuck LeDuc, Mark Blevis, Tatsuya Nakagawa, Andrei Iancu, Vern Baker.
I was on a fact-finding mission to find out how the web industry is doing in Canada, the overwhelming response was it was behind the United States, perhaps over a year, due to conservatism and over self-analysis (their words, not mine). I have another video that will be published in the coming weeks listing some of the top web companies.
(Left Image: Gil Roberts of PodTech, Len Devanna and I hang out at PodTech. Oh hey Gil, I’m using the camo pack every day!)
I’ll be in Boston, Cambridge to be specific, at Forrester new hire and Analyst training for a few weeks, and want to take the time to meet the community in Boston that I plan to serve…the Web Community! I’ve helped kick off dinners all around the globe for social media folks, and am finally glad to meet folks in this region.
A few weeks ago, Len from EMC was very interested in meeting Scoble and I, and drove over an hour from the Pleasanton office to meet us. He’s EMC’s Web Strategist, and will be one of the folks leading the social media arena. I know his space well, as I lead the program for HDS, who’s in the same market. Len told me that EMC would really benefit from a community event, so I suggested to let him help organize and sponsor the upcoming event. His hard work will pay off, after selecting a venue and offering to pay for drinks and appetizers, he’s pleased to announce the upcoming dinner.
Please note, with all community events I organize (sponsor or not) there will be no pitching, poaching, or hard demos or sales, the focus is on community.
Who should come? Anyone who cares about the web industry, bloggers, and social media folks. If you can make it, please sign up on the wiki, please note that there’s a limit on how many can attend, so put your name down.
Thank you EMC for sponsoring the dinner!
Update: How many startups are there in Boston? My former PodTech boss John Furrier has a surprisingly large list.
Above: Screenshots from Club Penguin (2006) to purchase virtual pets. Many children would ask their parents to spend their real world allowance in virtual Club Penguin to decorate their igloo. There’s real money to be made too, as Disney purchase Club Penguin for $700,000,000 just a few months ago.
Last week, In Hong Kong, I gave a presentation about Virtual worlds and social media to some of Asia’s top investors. A few folks had a hard time understanding the concept of virtual goods, after speaking with Susan Wu, there are a handful of virtual goods that can be sold. She told me that there are three categories of Virtual Goods:
The Three Categories of Virtual Goods (from Susan Wu)
1 Behavioral goods (such as gifting)
2 Decorative goods (like self-expression)
3 Functional goods, (like wielding a swords that grants super powers)
These goods mean a great deal to the players that inhabit these worlds, and in many respects almost all social systems have goods (bloggers have technrorati, podcasters have downloads).
[Virtual Goods, although intangible, have been assigned personal and social value that members of a virtual world will hold it's worth ]
For many, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would buy these things, but she also stated that such gifts were already being exchanged in Facebook, from hugs, food fights, gifts, and in a way, even the dreaded poke.
[Virtual goods, and luxury items in real life are very similiar; we've placed personal and social value on them, often without any additional physical utility]
In fact, there are entire industries in China that collect gold from World of Warcraft and other games, they then sell this virtual gold on the free market for US dollars. I had dinner with one of the CEOs over a year ago in San Jose.
I gave the analogy that until humans cease in giving luxury goods like Fashion Designer purses or high end watches, then virtual goods will continue on. How does that analogy work? Humans have placed personal and social value on high end gifts (like a diamond ring) that doesn’t serve a higher utilitarian purpose of a cheaper counterpart, then we’ve assigned a ‘virtual’ value to these luxury items. In it’s essence, a handbag from Gucci or Payless will serve the same purpose. Sure, some of the materials may be more rare, or cost more to produce, but that doesn’t equal to higher utility.
I’m so honored and pleased to have met Jennifer Jones, my former colleague at PodTech. We’ve become fast friends over the past year, I remember when we first met in person during my interview, we hit it off immediately! Jennifer draws from great experience crafting the first PR industry, and has worked with many of the greats, including CEOs of companies we all know in Silicon Valley. She’s well connected to the VC industry, and I continue to learn a lot from her insight and experience. Yes, she’s been a major influencer on me to understand and appreciate better the PR industry and strategic marketing.
If you want to hear our discussion about Facebook, you can check out this discussion. I’m glad to be on her show, Marketing Voices, where we discuss Facebook as a new tool for marketers. Rocky, our producer did an excellent job working with the environment (and kept it real with the falling leaves), thanks bud.
I’m pleased to see that Web Strategist Connie Benson is leading the social media charge at ACDSee, a company who has helped with image management for many years. If you’re a web designer, photographer, or artist, you’ve likely used their tools. I was heavily using their products from 2000-2004 when I was doing UI design.
Connie is a fantastic community and customer advocate, she’s been very proactive in her blogging, and added many insights to the Web Strategy Group over the past months. She lists her responsibilities as:
“Connie Bensen will serve as Community Manager for ACDSee. In this role, she is the “voice of the customer,” maintaining a constant dialog with photographers and memory keepers to ensure that the company’s products and services are directly in line with the needs of the people who use them. This conversation is fostered through regular engagement in community events, as well as her enthusiastic participation in online social networks. She also shares her passion, ideas and discoveries related to digital scrapbooking and photography through the ACDSee blog.”
This really gets my excited in so many ways, ACDSee is using social media in a very strategic way to improve products, support, and communication by putting customers first. Gotta love it, and now they’re living it with Connie at the helm.
Her previous blog “Digital Scrapbooking” makes her a perfect candidate for this position. She has a personal blog at ConnieBenson, if you’re in the Community Marketing space, I recommend you subscribe, or you can check her out at work at the ACDSee blog, where she’s already underway. It’s exciting to see a company focused in on customers and using social media tools to connect with them.
Congrats to Connie!
(See Google Map)
This is a special “Asian” edition of Silicon Valley Sightings, a photoblog series I’ve been doing for a few months.
Cyberport, a $3.89 billion futuristic high-tech campus is a mixed use facility that has housing, a shopping mall, and four major towers for tech companies. It’s located on the southern area of Hong Kong Island, right on the water, nestled between green dramatic jade hills. It’s home to companies such as Cisco Systems, CMGI, Hewlett-Packard, Hikari Tsushin, Hua Wei, IBM, Legend (now Lenovo), Microsoft, OutBlaze, Oracle Corporation, Silicon Graphics, Softbank, Sybase and Yahoo!.
“Cyberport is being developed on a 24-hectare site at Telegraph Bay on Hong Kong Island in Hong Kong. The project aims to build a community interconnected by state-of-the-art broadband network consisting of four office buildings, a five-star hotel, a retail entertainment complex and about 2,800 deluxe residential homes, leading to an interactive environment that will be home to a strategic cluster of about 100 companies and 10,000 professionals in the IT and creative industries” -WikiPedia
There are shared media resources (in case you need rendering power from dozens of blade servers) a motion capture facility if you’re going to build games, library and resource center, the official website has more details. There’s a mall for entertainment, there’s restaurants, and a state of the art movie theater that’s frequented on the weekends by the family crowd.
It’s not quite a utopia, as critics of Cyberport have debated the role of the development group, and the actual number of tennents and usage of the campus, success hasn’t yet been declared. “Meanwhile, Cyberport – Hong Kong’s “IT flagship” and Hong Kong Disneyland have been disappointing. The former has little in the way of innovation and exists essentially as another property development rent spinner, not a real IT hub.” reports Asia Sentinel.
Best of all, it’s a 15 minute boat ride to Lamma island, a resort like rural get away with restaurants, beaches and hiking, my friends at Outblaze took me there for lunch, see photos.
Below: Pictures from the Cyberport campus
I got a chance to interview the insightful David Parmet, one of the PR bloggers in the social media space that ‘gets it’. David reviews the classic cases of business blogging for small businesses, such as Stormhoek and English Cut. If you’re not familiar with these case studies, they used social media for their marketing efforts as the primary way to communicate, rather than traditional marketing.
I asked David “What should companies look for when finding a social media consultant”? Tune in to find out his answers.