It’s my day job (and I spend most of my nights and mornings) staying on top of social technologies, being aware of them, experimenting with them, breaking them, and analyzing them for brands and clients. At least two days this week I worked 15 hours. If I can barely keep up, (I’m not the only one) so how do you?
Update Monday Morning: Thank you all for the kind words and support, I took a few days off blogging (although I had some other work to catch up on) but am now refreshed. I’ve made a resolution to try to look at the trends of the movement, and where I see traction, then I’ll take a closer look at the tools.
Seth Bindernagel, of Mozilla’s Evangelism team invited me to swing by the Mountain View headquarters, I was in luck, as there were folks from out of town like Gen Kanai (Japan) that I’ve been wanting to meet for quite some time. As soon as I walked in the door, it was apparent these was a very, very savvy web team, so I wasn’t sure how much value I could add. Seth and I discussed in advance that success would be to get the teams to talk about the globalization of the web, how different users share products, and how social media impacts product adoption. You see for Firefox, and other Mozilla products, adoption is often done by customer word of mouth and referral –and blogs empower much of this.
There were a few main topics we hit: From Technographics (how different people use technologies depending on their needs) Early adopters vs Laggerds, and how Marketing and Product teams can improve to listen and talk. For most of these topics, each of the respective teams (Executives, Marketing, User Experience, Analytics, Engineering) had a response, so they were for the most part moving forward.
Each culture shares differently online, and when you’re applying social media products (which encourage sharing) you need to be sensitive to understand if they are: creators, joiners, critics, collectors, consumers or inactives. Will internet users that just consume the web, and just visit a few websites a week be interested in the advanced functionality of Mozilla products?
The web is a fascinating medium, many companies think that by slapping on a .cn or a .de, doing some navigation localization will be enough to get product adoption…rarely is that the case.
Early adopters to laggards
For Firefox, many of the early adopters are the ones that are ‘sneezing’ the product to others, and Mozilla has been great reaching to those folks. But what happens when the early adopter market becomes saturated with Firefox and now the focus has to shift down the adoption curve. Should Mozilla rely on ‘traditional’ marketing and advertising?
Stay tuned, I did a couple of web strategy videos talking about social media, marketing in Japanese and European perspectives, and even how to improve products with community, so stay tuned over the next few weeks for those.
Oh, and one of the employees (was it John?) made some funny remarks how Firefox was the greatest thing for IE6 innovation, do you agree or disagree?
Lars Schwenk, General Manager of Cyworld Europe shared with me what it takes to be a community, we were at Forrester’s Consumer forum in Barcelona.
If you’re not familiar with Cyworld that have heavy penetration in South Korea, (50% of Koreans is a member — and that 95 percent of its target youth market is active –Marketwatch) where it was birthed. Find out his four components of community: Communication, Collaboration, Self-Expression and what he calls “Peeping”. Something I swear I’ve never done.
Cyworld launched in North America yet adoption has been very low, I learned from my travels that social technographics vary by culture, so to simply re skin a website for regions doesn’t work. Web Strategists must understand the people who they want to serve first, one size does not fit all!
Everyone will approach Twitter in a different way, and should find the way that works for them, here’s my approach on Twitter:
[Rather than answering “What are you doing” reframe your thinking to answer “What’s important to others?”]
How I use Twitter
While I am high volume twitter publisher (15 a day on average), I try to add value, here’s how:
1) As a ‘shared feed’ reader. I’ll post up links of what I’m reading that I find is interesting in near real time, and give some commentary. I try to add value here, rather than adding to noise. So use me as a news filter.
2) As a chat room. We collectively work out problems, issues, and I gain insight to other people’s viewpoints. Often when conversations are just between a few folks, I shift to direct messages or email –sparing my community from hearing my minutia.
4) Listening tool: It’s interesting to find out what others are sharing and talking about, from very personal to big concepts. I frequently use the search tools around different topics to keep on top of what’s happening.
5) Traffic direction tool: I use it to direct people to this blog, sometimes (I’ll admit) a bit too enthusiastically. Google Analytics indicates this is one of the largest referrers of folks to my blog.
6) For work: When I’m conducting interviews or briefings that aren’t confidential, I’ll state who I’m speaking to and what I find interesting, if you listen closely, you’ll hear me tweet about other interesting findings from my job as a social media analyst. Also, I will announce new research, request interviews, and promote workshops, conferences and other services.
How I don’t use Twitter
1) Personal Minutia: I rarely talk about waking up, eating lunch, or starting my car, instead, I want to add value.
2) Excessive personal discussions: I’ve been criticized for not @replying at people, but it’s because I’m sensitive to not overload the community with a discussion that’s only relevant to a few people. Instead, I may direct message them, favorite a tweet, or shift to email. Update as of Sept 2008, I have sent/received over 4000 direct messages, out of 10,000 updates. So 40% of my communications shift to private discussions.
A few people have found me too noisy (filling up their stream) but there’s a simple solution, although I would hate to see it happen, one can simply opt-out. You’ve got to do what’s right for you and I understand.
Relax from the location of your own desk or home and listen in to learn how to best use social media tools to enhance your web strategy. Here’s a few upcoming webinars I’ll be participating in, please join me.
My first research report will be answering this topic, and I’ll be presenting my findings and give marketers practical steps to move forward. Many of you are already familiar with my extensive coverage of the social networking industry, and even this well read list of “white label social networks”
“The social networking industry is hot and hyped, leaving marketers confused on how to strategically engage. Marketers are being asked by their management to develop a Facebook/MySpace strategy without first looking at the bigger picture. With nearly 80 white label social networking sites available, some brands invest in building their own social network around their brand but, sadly, with no one showing up. Marketers need knowledge and strategy before jumping into a social network craze. This teleconference presents actionable steps on what to do before implementing a program”
Background info: Social Graph If you’re not familiar with the social graph, it’s a representation of our relationships in social networks. There’s a movement underway to be able to separate our social graphs from the social networks, so we can ‘transport’ our friends whatever website we decide to use –without having to re add them. Start with Explaining what the “Social Graph” is to your Executives.
Last night, at a roundtable hosted by the Conversation Group and new company called Something Simpler we conversed > debated > argued if the Social Graph can indeed be monetized.
Naysayers Tom Foremski also fears monetization and suggests that “I think this could be the Achilles’ heel of social networks–if you push the monetization too far–you will lose your networks.” Tom wasn’t alone, as Om Malik suggested that the only way you could monetize the graph was to ‘pimp your friends’.
Yet John McCrea and I agreed, I suggested that authentic, efficient, word-of-mouth can evolve to information no longer being advertising. I’m talking about natural endorsements. How could this work? It happens every day. Many of my friends tell me which brands they like by simply wearing the logos, driving a brand car, to outright telling me what they like. Can this truly be different on the web? Why does it scare us so? I mean just last night, Salim Ismail from Yahoo’s Brickhouse (also on the panel) whispered into my ear, he had questions about my new Nokia N95, I gave him my clear and honest feedback –without being paid by Karl Long, Nokia’s top blogger.
Even if we agreed, aggregating the Social Graph isn’t easy
The challenges continue to mount, besides the fact we can’t agree if we should move forward, trying to implement will be a challenge. Aggregating the social graph (which is what we’re trying to do) has many obstacles, here’s a few from a recent blog post on the topic:
-Social Network vendors scared to open up and let customers and their relationships easily move to other networks
-Agreement needed between all vendors and participants
-Ownership over project and data
-Lack of general market awareness
-User adoption (sadly, I think most users are sheep)
-Likely, a need for a single login
-Creation and costs of third-party silo
-Privacy concerns: many European countries may not embrace
-Multiple security issues
-Legal and government may get involved
[When it comes to friends and marketing, trust continues to be a point of contention. Yet for every free service people rush to use, they forget that they are the ones entering the data, and that companies need to monetize. A balance must be struck as success will require trusted and authentic marketing]
Votes from around the room
If things weren’t cloudy enough, at the close, we went around the room to give our final thoughts and to answer “Can the Social Graph be Monetized?”. Chris Heuer was recording, and I hope he posts it up, yet I took a tally from the attendees.
Votes | Answer
3 – Users must engage with social graph first/ monetization comes later
2 – Brands will benefit by ‘pullling’ social graphs (communities) to their site
2 – Over advertising will kill it
1 – Embed in Value now
1 – Advertising (but must be honest) can work
2 – It can’t be monetized
Your voice wanted Enough. Let’s turn it over to you. Can the social graph be monetized? Chime in the comments. What would make it work, what are the pitfalls. Can marketers make money in an authentic and trustful way using social networks?