Archive for January, 2008

Getting Your Digital Immigrant Executives to Understand the World of Digital Natives


People are still craving knowledge about social media
I just finished the social media measurement seminar with Glenn Fannick of Dow Jones (Update: He’s since posted some poll results). It was a free seminar, so there were a lot of registrants (over 1100) the actual attendee roster was over 600, but what was most impressive was the engagement of the audience, there were lots of responses to the three polls we queried and over 190 questions. Justin Flowers said he learned a lot from the webinar (his expectations were low since it was free), and there are dozens of responses within Twitter. The webinar will be available for anyone, and the slides, so stay tuned for that.

Yet, many organizations have not adopted
One of the questions from the crowd was “how do I convince my management to embrace this new social media world?” It was interesting to hear that many folks are having a hard time convincing their management to join in this scary new online world, where customers are talking directly to prospects and your employees are no where to be seen. Convincing management (often digital immigrants) to join the online world (where digital natives live) can be challenging.

Look at the coming generation
I suggested that a conversation start with executives about the changes in communication, and if they have pictures of kids of their desk, that’s a good way to start the conversation. Ask you senior leaders how their kids communicate, if they don’t (perhaps they’re too busy running the company) ask them to take a closer look, and get back to you. My former CEO analyzed that his kids were using IM on PC, surfing the web, Text messaging on phone, school work on the couch next to them and the TV on in the background…and that was considered studying!

Immigrants vs Natives, guess who wins?
This next generation of digital immigrants are using the the web and other digital channels to communicate, update each other, and talk (Forrester’s 2007 stats indicates nearly two-thirds of teens access a social network at least once a month) and nearly 1/3 of adults access social networks a month. This doesn’t include other tools, just social networks. The truth is, this next generation of natives will enter the workforce with connections to employees, customers, prospects, partners, and even competitors, firms must be ready.

Getting started
So, for those guides that are leading the immigrants, start by education, focus on the opportunities and risks, and come forth to executives with a plan. More on that in the future.

Update: Brij has some analysis on our webinar and posted the poll results.. If you review our webinar and blog it, (even if you don’t agree with us) let me know and I’ll link to it.

Missed the webinar and want to read the highlights? Heather Havenstein of Computer World has a great write up: Companies must listen to the Web 2.0 world. Those that ignore social media critics risk being blindsided by negative comments, experts say. More thoughts from direct news.

Silicon Valley Sightings: San Jose Mercury News


San Jose Mercury

The web industry is part of an ecosystem, and one of the major families are the press, who get high level news out to the masses.

Last week, I had a meeting over at the San Jose Mercury, (map) one of Silicon Valley’s most well known technology newspapers. Every day they focus in on what’s happening in our industry, and do a great job of covering events, gathering viewpoints, and offering editorial insight from their columns in their opinions section. Check out the Good Morning Silicon valley blog for daily news.

There’s still a lot of concern over the print newspaper industry as layoffs continue to occur. In most cases, the online revolution has been a big impact, but we’re starting to see journalists use social media to find stories, and have supplementary blogs that provide greater depth than a printed column. A few journalists, like the opinionated Kara Swisher have figured out how not to just comment on the situation, but to actually lead a conversation –all using her blog.

I was really fascinated by the original linotype they had in the lobby, I was looking at all the contraptions it took to print, including looking at the keyboard that didn’t have a shift key, so there were characters for both lower and upper case. There were bands, pipes, gears, wires, outlets, sliders, and every possible mechanical device on this steampunk looking press, it really was impressive to see. Why this complicated machine? It actually printed out metal with characters on it, which would later be sent to the press.

Picture or Video 146Picture or Video 147Picture or Video 162Picture or Video 150Picture or Video 166Linotype keyboard, no shift keyPicture or Video 152Picture or Video 158Picture or Video 160Picture or Video 165

(Silicon Valley Sightings is an ongoing PhotoBlog that captures the intersection of Tech Culture in the San Francisco Silicon Valley Bay Area, check out the archives (which now showcase some tech areas in Asia). All photos by Jeremiah Owyang)

How to Successfully Moderate a Conference Panel, A Comprehensive Guide


This post has now become recommended reading for moderators at Ad:Tech 2008, SXSW 2011 (see FAQ #10), and previous Web 2.0 Expo events.

Most Panels Suck: How To Stand out from Others
Sadly, the value of most panels are really poor, and this is mostly due to the lack of moderation. Yesterday, I heard that one nervous moderator asked the panelists to introduce themselves (which was his job), then went directly to Q&A, providing little structured value to the audience. On the complete opposite end, I’ve seen one self-important moderator answer questions from the crowd, when it was his job to field questions to the panelists.

How to Successfully Moderate a Conference Panel:

Objectives and Ideology

Think of the audience as your customers
Treat the audience like your customers, they’ve paid with money and time to come to your panel. Your job is to give them the information they need, or to entertain them, and often both. You’ve one of the most difficult jobs as you’ll have to set the pace, maintain some control, but know when to back off. Remember that you’re here to serve the audience first and panelists second.

Picking the right panel members
Often, a moderator is asked to select the panel, this isn’t always the case, but more than likely you will be involved in the approval process. Find folks that are experts in the field and have varying points of view. I find that 3-4 panelists is ideal, any less becomes difficult to flesh out all the viewpoints , and anymore becomes unwieldy. One time, I was 1 of 5 panelists, and I think I spoke a total of 5 minutes, a real waste of time.

Find out what success looks like
Look at the context of the conference, what is it about? who is attending? what are the other panels? Ask the conference organizers what success would look like, what questions does the audience want answered and what is their level of sophistication?


Get to know the panelists
This is often difficult as many panels never meet in advance, but in our social world many folks are online and can be found. Do Google searches on their name and the topic at hand, and you may be surprised what you find online.

Research the topic
The most entertaining panels have a dash of debate, look at an issue from many angles, practical steps to get started, and tell a few jokes. Find where the points of contention are and be sure to bring it up, this is how you’ll bill the panel. Use a blog post, Twitter or other feedback tool to glean questions from the community.

Properly market the panel
Successful panels will often have a title that is catchy, in tune for the conference, and has a detailed summary of what the audience will get out of it. You should blog about the upcoming panel, and the panelists should too.

Develop agenda bulletpoints
I try to establish some general high level bullets, 3-5 is good, so it helps the panelists to prepare and research. Don’t get into overly detailed questions, you never want them to be overly rehereased. I always have some secondary questions if no one asks questions, and it’s best to throw some curve balls to panelists after they warm up.

Have prepared notes
Print out the research you did of their bios, points of contention, the high level agenda, and follow up questions you may want to do. I’m known for requiring the panelists to bring a case study or example with measurable results.

Before you use powerpoints, really think it through
In most cases, panels should focus on the discussion and interaction between the panelists. Presentations should only be used in these situations: They add value by visualizing a conceptual concept, you’ve some industry stats that preface the event, or there’s a funny video that gets the crowd warmed up. Have a mental checklist: Is this going to add value? Does this give each panelist an equal response? Is this truly necessary?

Have a pre-briefing meeting
It’s really hard to get panelists to all get on the phone together, I can only think of a few times when this has worked. Instead, have a quick meeting in person before the panel actually happens, it will only take 15 minutes. This is good bonding time, be sure to remind them of the general structure, but make sure they’re relaxed and going to have fun. Listen carefully to the conversation, as you’ll pick up interest points that will help you setup questions while on stage.

Prepare all your notes, laptops, make sure everyone has water before you get on stage, in some cases, plan out where folks will sit. Remind the panelists, yourself, and the audience to turn off cell phones. Smile a lot, and have fun…ok, now we get on stage.

On Stage

Be a leader and know the impact of body language
I’ve studied this a few times, when I moderate, the body language I give off will be echoed by the panelists. If I sit up straight, or if you fidget, they will follow, the same happens when you speak. Look at the panelist when you ask a question, then look at the audience (they will follow suit), If you look at the panelists after you’ve asked a question, they will instinctively look back at you, an odd site to the audience. Unless responding to another panelists, the panelist should be addressing the audience so keep your attention on the customer.

Set the stage by providing context
As the first speaker the moderator should set the stage by quickly give an overview of why this panel was accepted, and what you’re going to cover. I tend to avoid the usual banter about ‘how this panel is going to be great’ or make length introductions about panelists, that usual pretty-talk is often low value. Next, give a brief introduction about the panelists –but save the lengthy bios for the pamphlet or website — folks know how to read. (submitted by Dave Pelland)

The first question should be a warm up
You should tee-up the crowd, and the panelists by asking a broad, easy question. Ask for a definition, or talk about the history of the topic, or why this topic is so interesting to the panelists.

Ask about benefits and opportunities
Some moderators let them conversation dive into the weeds too fast, focusing on ratty details, nuts and bolts before prefacing ‘why’ these things are important in the first place. Guide the panelists to discuss the benefits, and why these things are great in the first place.

Ask about risks, challenge the panel
The audience is tired of industry zealots. We all know the panelists are passionate experts in their field, but you need to ensure a balanced viewpoint is given. Give an example of how it’s not worked, and then ask the panelists to explore the risks. Give them the opportunity to talk about overcoming pitfalls, your audience won’t want to make the same mistakes.

Monitor the back channel
Monitor the “backchannel” which are conversations in IRC, Meebo, or Twitter about your panel. After the very disruptive revolt at SXSW 2008, moderators and speakers need to pay attention to how the audience (customers) are responding to what’s happening on stage. As Web 2.0 expo, I scanned twitter via my mobile device in real time and made live changes. (added March 2008)

When to Assert Control

Never let panelists pitch
This one really irritates the audience, as they’ve spent time and money investing in a panel, they don’t want to hear vendor pitches. Typically, when one vendor talks about how great his company is, the next panelists will need to one-up, and it never ends. The moderator needs to pre-warn panelists that won’t tolerate this vile deed, and will cut them off in public, and that’s embarrassing for everyone. BTW: If you’re in the audience and you see this happen, you have a right as a customer to demand them to stop, if not, vote with your feet and complain to the organizers, or ask a pro-rated payment of your wasted time.

…but let them tell a case study
I prefer that panelists demonstrate their expertise by showing their experts in the field, or provide a case study how their customers have been successful. There is a very thin division between this and a vendor pitch, so it’s best to remember that a panel is more like a white paper, not a brochure.

Keep on track
Panels will often get off-track to new discussions, while that’s certainly normal, your job is to gently bring it back into context. You’ll have to re frame a question or ask for further explanation on the topic.

Redirect panel hogs
Although rare, some panelists will overstep themselves and overpower the other panelists. It’s your duty to find an appropriate time (watch for when they breathe) and interject in a nice way. Compliment their opinion, and be sure to pass a question to the deserving panelist. (Insights from a concall with Warren Pickett of Ad:Tech)

Interaction gives life to a panel

Listen in
Watch the body language of the panelists, the one who wants to get a word in will be giving you non-verbal indicators, the audience will give off vibes of attention, boredom, or even disagreement. You’ll find little disagreements between panelists, be sure to pick up on those to segue to the next panelists, ask them for a contradictory point of view. This can be difficult.

Let the panelists talk to each other
Don’t over structure your panel by leading into a moderator question and response pattern alone, allow for some healthy banter between the panelists, and let them chatter, jab, and joke among each other.

Know when to pass the mic
Don’t let any particular panelists dominate the session over others, you can interject between their breaths and quickly pose the same question to the other panelists. I realize this seems rude, but this is your job, you represent the audiences time

Know when to shut up
I’ve been a panelist many times, and have certainly been annoyed when some moderators go too far, they may try to make it more of a game show, insert too much humor, or answer the questions from the audience. Don’t be that person. Success happens when good conversation starts to take place on it’s own, and you only need to gently guide.

Field questions from the audience
Always repeat the question from the audience, so everyone can hear and it’ll get on any recordings. Summarize long winded questions from the audience. Don’t let an over active commentator steal the show by asking too many questions, suggest that some discussion can be followed-up after the event. If there are no mics in the audience, you may need to walk down and bring the mic to them. Ensure that the questions are spread from different folks, and only let a single person ask a second question once everyone has had a chance.

Two Rules for Q&A: State your name, and make sure the question is a question
Questions are key to drive interaction, but before you take questions, let the audience know these two rules:  1) Get context from those that are asking questions on their name and company, this way the panelists can respond to first name to those who are asking, and have greater understanding. 2) Require that questions actually be questions.  We’ve all experienced the self-promoting pitch or the lengthy diatribe from an passionate audience member, so make sure the focus is still on the experts on stage.  The rest of the audience will appreciate it.

Wrapping things up

Ending the panel
Finally, at the end, let the members talk about where they can be found online, or where others can learn more about them. It’s best if you start, in order to set an example. “I work at company X in Y role, I can be found online at Z”. Thank the panel and audience, then prepare for the audience to come up to the stage and have 1:1 discussions.

Encourage the discussion to move online
Often the conversation between the panelists and members was so engaging that the never want to stop discussing it. Create a wiki, forum, or Facebook group to continue the conversation. Also assign tags at the session so that anyone who is blogging about it will be found. If you’re a blogger you may want to write up a wrap-up and link to anyone who took pictures. Thanks to Zena in the comments for this suggestion.

Final touches
Later, send a thank you email to all the panelists, keep in touch with them, and always cherish how well this has gone for you. Congratulations! you’ve just moderated a successful panel!

This is just my perspective, be sure to read what others have written on this topic:

  • eHow: How to Moderate a Panel
  • Derek Powazek: How to Moderate a panel
  • Guy Kawasaki: How To Be a Great Moderator
  • Paul Kedrosky: 10 Rules for Being a Great Panel Moderator
  • David Spark has a very clever guide for multiple roles
  • If this post helped you moderate a panel, or you’ve further suggestions, please leave a comment.

    Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: Jan 30, 2008



    I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly summary, read the summary, then quickly scan headlines, read the bullet, then click to learn even more.

    I’ve created a category called Digest where you can start to track and access these going forward. Quickly scan the succinct and categorized headlines, read summary for analysis, and click link to dive in for more. You can subscribe to this digest tag only, which filters only these posts tagged digest.

    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, I’ll add you back.

    Web Strategy Summary
    More money moves into this market in the form of investments and new versions of social networks are launched. WordPress, Moli, and Mig 33 receive the largest chunks. As a potential recession looms, the companies that have raised capital will have a chance to outlast the storm.

    Investing: Mobile Social Network Mig33 raises $13mm
    Mig 33 a friendly branded social network lets users connect from anywhere on the globe to their contacts has raised a serious amount of money. I’ll expect a majority of that money to be pushed to the marketing budget in these crowded markets.

    Investing: Blogging Software WordPress get funding –go social with $29mm
    Automatic, the parent company behind wildly popular wordpress blogging software has received $29.5M in funding, (that’s a lot), which will likely develop social features, including a social networking type of model. Expect social networking to become a feature of nearly every site, including someday this blog.

    Investing and Launch: Moli launches, funded $30mm
    I was briefed by the Moli team, they’ve launched a social network with an emphasis on user privacy, it appears to be a website with a robust user experience, and many controls for the user to see who can access their information. Of course, time will tell as this crowded market decides on which network will gain adoption. They’ve also received $30 million in funding from private investors.

    Valuation: Widget ad revenue was estimated at about $20 million in 2007
    MSNBC has an interesting article on widget valuation, and looks forward to 2008. Expect widget networks to continue to gain in growth in 2008, this is where advertising dollars will shift to.

    Data: Enterprises concerned over Security and Resources for Social Media
    Awareness ran a survey and found out the two many concerns for corporations revolve around the control over data, as well as the lack of resources to manage these programs. They’ve provided a white paper here.

    Features: Facebook allows users to optimize profile
    It’s safe to assume that many profile pages are overwhelmed with applications, as a result, Facebook has launched a feature that lets you create a separate profile page where you can segment applications. It’s a similar approach to tabbed browsing.

    Copyrights: Hasbro misses a key opportunity with Scrabulous
    Scrabulous is no more, but does this give birth to a new industry? Hasbro may have missed a huge business opportunity, but we should expect this same issue to occur again as the crowds take control of our brands.

    Features: Geni launches news Timeline
    With the popularity of Facebook’s newspage, Geni has launched an events update type of feature that lets you keep track of your family members updates, as well as post your own updates. Secondly, they’ve added an improved photo feature, all good features built on top of our first social graph: our family.

    Upgrade: Facebook applications easier to embed
    Although overhyped (partly my fault) Facebook has made it easier for widgets to be embedded on static websites now using client side javascript code, rather than depending completely on server side code. I’ve outlined exactly what this means for the web strategist.

    Widgets: Low revenue from widget advertising
    Mashable reports that videoegg’s eggnetwork of advertising is providing low advertising generation for it’s 3rd party widget network. Two things to remember: 1) this is the early days, and adoption and acceptance of this medium has not yet been realize to internet marketers and advertisers 2) Only a few will make a lot of money, and it will come from mass scale.

    Leave a comment if this was helpful, or if you’ve anything to add. Feel free to email me if you’ve suggestions for next week’s digest.

    Social Media Measurement Webinar this Thursday


    Don’t forget to attend this Complimentary Webinar on Social Media Measurement How to Listen Effectively and Engage in the Conversation this Thursday at 12:30 EST/9:30PST with Glenn Fannick, Product Development Manager at Dow Jones, my client.

    It’s not often I’m able to do free webinars, often they require membership or payment, so this is real treat. I’m told there are over 800 registered, so please pass the word.

    Need to prove successes to your boss? Measure your results in flight? learn more by viewing my other posts on social media measurement.

    Case Study: How Sony Leveraged A Popular “Vampire” Facebook Widget To Reach It’s Community


    Vampires Application was rebranded by Sony Pictures "30 Days Night" movie for successful Widget campaign

    A Widget Case Study
    Yesterday, I gave a teleconference on Facebook as a ready-made marketing program. I gave a few examples of success, and the audience was hungry for success metrics and numbers. One of the case examples was about rebranding an application/widget in this case, Rock You’s vampire application.

    Sony rebrands popular Vampires Widget with 30 Days Night, upcoming Vampire movie
    Vampires, which you may already know as the RPG where members bite each other to receive points (and duel) was already popular with over 3 million installs in Facebook.

    Sony pictures, the parent company of the very scary 30 Days Night vampire horror film rebranded the existing application, and launched a sweepstakes contest to generate registrations and glean intelligence. The grand prizes? 4 wheel ATVs and $1500.

    Specifically, they placed banner ads on the rebranded vampire applications which promoted the movie (one could assume that those who opt-in for the vampires application would also like a vampire movie) promoting the sweekstakes.

    The measurable results?
    The campaign was only live for 3 weeks, and there were 59,100 sweepstakes entries. (success was deemed at 10k, this clearly moved beyond that)
    The visits (I don’t know if they were unique or repeated) were 11,642,051 for the bite page, and 17,652,567 for the stats page (I believe these are part of the interactive experience of the game.
    Sony was happy, it exceeded expectations, and users of the application weren’t over branded.

    RockYou asked me to keep the price confidential, but based upon the results they told me, I suggested they double the rates, this is despite what Mashable reports on.

    What worked?

    Fishing where the fish are: Sony figured out where the already existing community was (remember to fish where the fish are) and rather than trying to rebuild something completely by scratch, they leveraged an existing successful application.

    Rely on specialists for new arenas:
    In my many briefings with vendors and clients, specialized firms often provide something a general interactive firm or corporate web marketing team can’t. They have experience, know their area, and in this case, they knew to rely on someone that already knew Facebook.

    Compliment the existing user experience:
    Sony didn’t beat the 3 million existing users with heavy advertising (and I’m sure RockYou wouldn’t have let them) over the head, instead offered value by giving away prizes, and tied in a movie that already existed.

    What could have been better?
    In my opinion, it would be great if:

  • The campaign lasted longer than 3 weeks.
  • Rather than simply embedded, Sony could sponsor elements from the movie and integrate within the game. (vampires could fight at different scenes from the movie, key characters from the movie could become non-player characters, etc). They already have a multi-player game that could have tied in.
  • A spin off game could have emerged just around the game, where members could give virtual gifts to each relating to the movie, then cross-selling other sony products and merchandise.
  • Also realize there are very few applications in Facebook that are this popular, don’t expect these type of results to occur every time.
  • Widget Network Developers
    Looking bigger, RockYou isn’t the only vendor doing this type of work, also see Slide, Clearspring, Gigya, and a bunch of others. If you’re in the space, feel free to leave a comment below adding to the conversation.

    For those Forrester clients who attended the webinar, I hope that clears up the question (as I promised to find the answer), and thanks to Ro Choy and team of Rock You for the details. If you need to know more, read this weekly digest of the social network industry, or see all posts tagged Facebook.