Just a few minor things:
I read all your comments and tweets
Firstly, when I meet blog readers, I often ask for feedback, to me the constant feedback reinforces what I’m doing right, and what I can improve and grow on. Today, one reader suggested that I make sure to close the feedback loop when it comes to comments. While we both agreed that it’s impossible for me to respond to each comment, I want you to all know that I read each and every comment. Why? it makes me smarter around topics that I’ve initiated, so thank you all for that. If you can’t tell, I try really hard to listen, I just can’t always respond to all messages.
I’m not adding any more new Twitter followers
Secondly, I won’t be adding many new followers on Twitter. I’ve noticed a massive influx of new Twitter users (perhaps due to SXSW) and will no longer be following those who are following me. I can’t click on that many emails, and It’s not offering me any additional value as my message stream is already very large. It matters little as you can still @jowyang and I’ll see your message. Sam Lawrence did analysis on my Twitter behavior (even on a Sunday) and noticed that about half of my tweets are @replying to others.
How can I scale?
The trend here is that I’m having a hard time scaling, but I’ve nearly completed my clone in my bio-vat in the garage, so there will be another Jeremiah appearing soon, well, I wish. I’m trying ways to stay efficient, I’ve reduced the amount of time I spend answering non-essential email, and downloaded Xobni with limited satisfaction.
At some point, I may have to follow Tim Ferris’s advice (although I’m a big skeptic) and start outsourcing some of my life, see his video. I’d start with email, then editing some of my reports for grammar.
(Part 1 in a 3 part series)
Although it’s Sunday, I’m up early reviewing the data that Andres R, (one of our consultants) and I will be presenting to a client. It’s my first official project that I’m delivering and it’s a real learning experience. I’ve been in heaven lately, swimming in lots of social media data from our massive surveys we deploy, and in this case, we ‘cut’ data from the database to help a client understand the Technographics of the people they are trying to reach.
Being new to this process at Forrester, the research is similar to user experience research I used to conduct. We conducted stakeholder interviews to understand the business goals and drivers, worked with our data team to match the client provided persona and demographic information with our own data, and then conducted analysis.
While I certainly can’t give away any of the details, it’s very clear that two of the three personas that client is trying to reach has heavy use of social media, and the third doesn’t. Furthermore we segment the persona down to the Technographics, to understand how they use each social tool (from blogs, social networks, bookmarks, rating sites, etc) and to then share with client.
Armed with detailed knowledge about how their personas use social media, they are better equipped to move forward with their plans. It’s very clear, based on the data, which tools would work well for the particular personas, and which ones would not. It’s important to understand the people that you’re going to reach before deploying tools. Put people before tools.
You can learn more about Technographics, we’ve made some high level data available on the Groundswell site.
Wish me luck on my first project deliverable.
Computers exist everywhere
It took me a while to figure out that wherever I go, whenever I want, I’ve access to one of the world’s most powerful computers. It’s not an IBM Mainframe that spans my whole living room, nor Google’s search engine, and not the latest Alienware box. It’s Twitter.
Social Computing Defined
At Forrester, we define Social Computing as: “A social structure in which technology puts power in communities, not institutions.” and this is true for social networks –esp small and fast ones like Twitter.
What Google can’t do
While Google is great for finding information and websites, it’s NOT great for getting opinion, hearing nuance, or telling me relational information. With Twitter, I can ask information about opinions, and receive responses from real people (many I know, most I don’t) that often have first hand experience with the question at hand. Lastly, real people understand detailed and complicated questions and situations, and the more people answering, the more chance of you getting your answer.
How I’ve used Twitter as my Social Computer
Recently, I was at a swanky restaurant in SF, a CEO was picking up the tab so I could order whatever I wanted. I asked folks on Twitter “what should I order at Restaurant X” I received several responses, and immediately noticed a pattern and ordered the ribs with confidence, it was a success.
I frequently ask questions about what people think about in the news, I often receive popular opinion back from politics, tech issues, and other question. There’s a lot of gray answers here, but it’s a quick way to scan and obtain the variety of opinions about a particular topic. This method fuels the start of my initial research phase, I can get all the ideas on on a table, then hone in on the ideas that matter.
Lastly, referral content is shared, topics spread and people will offer up new suggestions, related content that isn’t necccearily going to be found in a web search.
Success requires lots of followers…a potential workaround
Now I realize that I’m fortunate in having so many followers (unlike other guys who ‘buy’ they friends by trying to offer a Mac Book Air) I’m grateful to all of the followers. Yet not everyone can gain from the network benefits, so I’ve thought of a way this can be shared with others, but I don’t have the tools to build it.
A Framework for Enhancing Twitter to be a Social Computer –For AnyoneIt’s possible that someone can build an engine that lets anyone participate in Twitter as a social computer, here’s how it could work:
Purely opt-in: Members could indicate they want to answer questions (and in return can ask them).
Members could then post a question “#question what are some romantic restaurants with a view in SF”
Anyone that is a member would then see the #question come in with a unique ID number attached to it
“question1853 @jowyang asks: question what are some romantic restaurants with a view in SF”
All members who received the question can choose to respond
“@question1583 Check out Starlight lounge or Waterfront restaurant”
All of the answers would then be aggregated on one page viewable by anyone, common answers by keyword would get weighted, and those who are ‘friends’ of the member would weight higher.
Of course, it needs to be very easy to use.
When I mentioned this idea last time, a lot of folks didn’t think it was ethical (as some of the terms included leverage) but I believe there’s an opportunity for an entrepreneur to build a answers or Q&A tool that is successful on LinkedIn and Yahoo. Let me know if you build it.
This is entirely speculative post, as I don’t have access to US Government databases, yet the concept worth thinking about. I certainly don’t know the answer, and posed the question to my twitter community with a variety of responses, there wasn’t a clear agreeing side.
The US Government has a wealth of demographic, workplace, educational, and financial information about it’s citizens, I’m sure there are other databases collecting information. Yet when I think about the information being created by ourselves on the social database (myspace, facebook, blogs) only a portion of the above data may be found, but an entirely different set of information can be found.
Our research indicates that a majority of teens in North America are using social networks, in fact more than 2/3rds are active monthly users, and about 1/5th are daily users. We’re all aware of the stories of how teens are using these tools to communicate as their primary forms above phone, and even email.
Types of information commonly found in the Social Database of Gen Y:
When I take a look at a few of my younger friends I see they’ve uploaded (willingly) information about their: age, sexual preference, political stance, work, school, email address, IM clients, phone numbers
They also share some of of their psyhographics: what they like, what motivates or saddens them, hobbies, music. With some time, you could eventually interept their profile to find some inner drivers and motivations. Status messages can really be telling, it’s obvious to me when someone is going through relationship pains.
While not as complete as formal research, they also share their technographics (how they use technology) by looking at their activity, mini-news feed, see what type of applications they’ve downloaded and used. Beyond web use, you may see elements of consumption of cell phone, tv, and other technolgies present.
Perhaps most importantly, they share their network information, you can see who has become their friends, what they think of each other (top friend apps) and eventually find nodes, influencers, and sneezers.
Although much of this profile information is hidden, privacy continues to be a top concern, yet many of those afflicted with information sharing in a way they weren’t expecting have to always remember they were the ones who put that information out there in the first place. Even if someone decides to delete a profile, they comments, applications on third party sites, will leave a residual ghost that may be impossible to erase.
Generation Y (and everyone else) should have a mental filter in their mind before publishing anything on the web. One should assume that this information (or pics) should be considered public, seen by those you don’t want to see, and here forever. While this may not always be the case, it’s a good filter to have.
I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an analyst.
I’ve created a new category called Digest (view archives). Start with the Web Strategy Summary, then quickly scan the succinct and categorized headlines, read text for my analysis, and click link to dive in for more.
You can subscribe to this digest tag only, which filters only these posts tagged digest.
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Web Strategy Summary
This week is slow, as my host Dreamhost has been down. Updating this draft post has been difficult. The most significant news is Yahoo joining the OpenSocial alliance. Expect to see more social networks and widget creators focusing on building OpenSocial compliant applications.
OpenSocial: Yahoo steps into the fold
In a not so surprising move, Yahoo joins the OpenSocial collective, and a non-profit organization is formed.
Market: VCs: “No More Social Networks”
I have to agree with this, I can’t stomach another social networking pitch either. We need to stop deploying the same tools and figure out what really matters: how to communicate and be part of communities.
Privacy: How to use Facebook’s Privacy Features (video)
Teresa did a great video on how to use the privacy features on Facebook. Well done.
Widget: Mytopia launches pan networks
This widget game creator is launching several widgets on multiple platforms without being OpenSocial compliant. Unlike OpenSocial the games work across the different social networks, not as individual installs or instances.
Profile: Widget creator slide profilled
Money magazine dives into the world of slide and interviews Max Levchin. With a large inventory, and disappointment with advertising on social network sites, can Max’s ‘engagement’ metrics be they key?
Money: Hong Kong Investor pours more into Facebook
Li, a HK investor continues to put more cash into Facebook: “Li had previously invested US$60 million for 0.4% of Facebook. Li didn’t specify Thursday how much of a stake he now owns in Facebook”
This digest is a bit thin compared to previous weeks, so please leave a comment if there was something relevant that was missed.
Above, SF Chronicle perches pleasantly at Fifth and Mission in SOMA district (Google Map)
One of the real pleasures I’ve had as an analyst (thanks to Tracy in our PR department) is the opportunity to meet many of the journalists and reporters in the tech industry. Yesterday, I had the privilege to meet the tech reporters Verne Kopytoff and Ellen Lee who contributes tothe Tech Chronicles blog of the SF Chronicle that are covering technology and social computing.
This landmark building, near the Metreon, SF Shopping center and Moscone was an impressive building to see. Below, you’ll see the stained glass windows paying homage to the Gutenberg printing press, the letters on the ceiling in the main foyer, and the ever present TV stations.
Today, I’m off to UC Berkeley to speak to the Journalism School on the impacts of social networking on news, I’ll be sharing that the SF Chronicle’s comments often get up to 80 comments per article, a unique way how the audience starts to participate.
(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. All photos by Jeremiah Owyang)
We live in a hyper-connected world, yet part of the blowback is the excessive communication that occurs –I fear it will only get worse over time.
Today, I spoke to an Executive at medium sized corporation who confessed that she cannot keep up with her email inflow. She receives about 500 emails a day, and told me at the end of the day she sorts by sender. First from her CEO, then by the folks on her team directly reporting to her, and then whatever else she can get to.
Despite the many collaboration tools available to all of us, we use email for way too many tools (I’m guilty too) from: Status updates, document management, calendaring, collaboration, social networking, and even for ‘conversations’.
Part of the reason I blog is that I can get my message, thoughts and story out to thousands of people in just about twice the amount of time it takes to write an email. My colleagues follow me on twitter, and often know where I’m at, what I’m doing. Scoble publishes his calendar so those he needs to interview can help schedule. Yet despite these, I, my colleagues, and Scoble and you likely have more email than can be consumed.
Ironically, most of my social media peers and I still use email as one of the main ways to communicate back and forth to each other But even more, there are more inboxes to check, twitter, facebook, linkedin, I’m getting business messages from these tools and I’m sure you are too.
So what’s the solution? It’s going to be part process, and part tools. Some have committed to responding to emails only in five sentences or less, and new tools like Xobni are starting to appear (I’ve requested a beta account)
Questions for you
1) How is your email intake? Can you handle it all?
2) How do you make your communications more efficient?
3) We’re headed to a hyper-connected world with an increase in communication channels, how will you cope?
Update: I’m all for solutions, and have found that aside from the excellent comments below, that some suggest to only check email twice a day (11am and 4pm) and to set that as an expectation. Colleague Julie Katz has announced an upcoming strategic report to help marketers how to understand how to reach those that are consumed. Hopefully, this email service vendor ClearContext promises to help with the problems.
Last night, at the Blogger dinner in SF (see pics tagged ‘groundswell’), there were several discussions among the attendees from Josh, Shel, Debbie and others around their ideology and stance when it comes to the impacts of social media to companies.
Josh created a scale to help identify where peoples beliefs are, he describes it from his post as:
10 = The groundswell is such a powerful force, the people in it will always prevail. All companies can do is watch and listen. Their employees can participate, but only as independent people. Corporate efforts are doomed to fail.
7 = The groundswell is powerful, but companies have a role in it. Groups of people inside of enterprises can get together and make themselves heard. Even so, the groundswell will always prevail over their interests.
5 = Companies belong in the groundswell. They have interests just as the people do. They will set up corporate efforts — presences in places like Facebook or their own corporate blogs — and connect with their customers. They can’t shut down or co-opt people in the groundswell, but they can form meaningful relationships with them. And they can accomplish goals like marketing or collaborative innovation, if they respect that they’re not in charge.
2 = Corporations and other major institutions are powerful and will always be powerful. This so-called “groundswell” is similar to any other medium — people are there consuming it, and corporations can reach them within that medium. Flare-ups of negative publicity can be contained or at least “handled” so they cause minimal damage.
0 = Corporations have power because they have money. This groundswell thing is a flash in the pan and it doesn’t matter. If it gets too far out of hand we’ll buy it and make sure we control it.
To me, the industry shifts over time: there was a lot of purist talk from 2005-2006, books, presentations and blogs came in with strong cluetrain values. Then, we started to see monetization of social media, social media optimization, and agencies, pr, and marketers getting on board.
I fall in the 5-7 range, you’ll often hear me say that companies need to let go to gain more, and that the power (trust) is in the hands of the participants, so employees should participate.
How about you? But really think it through and explain why this is your belief.
Josh has responded to some of the comments he’s already received.
Many corporations are outsourcing their community platforms
I’ve been talking to more and more companies that are creating their own corporate communities around their brand. For the most part, they lean on the SaaS models that the white label social network, collaboration, or even insight community vendors provide. While it certainly makes sense for marketers to lean on application service providers (it’s all setup, ready to roll, without the hassle of dealing with internal IT) and a decent to moderate price.
Avoid vendor lock in: own your data
One thing that I think is worth mentioning is that customers of these software providers need to protect themselves against vendor lock in, and the best way to do this is to make sure you own your data. The data is the ethos and soul of your community, it’s all the profile content, interaction content, uploaded media, and discussions.
Good for the industry
I’m hearing that most vendors have a clause that says that the client owns the data, but when you look deeper there may be vague descriptions or time limitations –which could really muck things up if a client wants to pull out.
Now why is this important for customers? It keeps them empowered to take their data and switch providers in the rare case a social networking vendor isn’t providing the right service or support.
What’s in it for community software vendors? It holds them at task to make sure they grow, take care of customer needs, and ensure that the relationship –and product roadmap continues to improve.
What should you own?
Customers should be able to pull their data (all of it) at any time with no questions asked, for a period as long as the forum has continued, or to receive periodical backups and exports perhaps monthly or longer. They should be able to get it at will, with no questions or withholdings by the vendor. If someone has a clause that has been written that meets these objectives, please leave a comment below, I’m no lawyer, so I won’t be creating the specific agreement content –but I know what it should meet.
Concerns and considerations
Of course, by owning the data doesn’t necessarily mean that you can quickly switch vendors, as the data will often be structured differently quite a bit of massaging from experts will need to occur, but you can sleep better at night knowing your more in control of what really matters –the ethos of the community.
If you’re a client (or vendor) in this situation, I’d like to hear about what policy you’ve all agreed upon.
Update: In one case, one client sent me an example of a vendor only offering the last 30 days of archived content. Only after they discussed it further with the vendor that they received the details. Vendors need to be more upfront about what this actually means.
The market pressure to create technology products that protect or at least damage their impact to the environment continues to grow. Sustainability and green-tech campaigns are coming from nearly every tech company –esp hardware manufactures. Dell is no exception and launches this Regeneration campaign.
[Dell Leaned on an Active Artist Community In Facebook to Create, Vote, Self-Regulate what it "Means to be Green" Regeneration Campaign]
I’ve not spoken with the Dell marketing team, but it’s pretty obvious this is a campaign helps to help improve Dell products to be more eco-friendly, and of course, spur affinity torwards the brand from green leaning consumers, the ReGeneration site has more details.
Dell Computers, along with Federated Media (A social media marketing agency), and Graffiti Wall (A popular self-expression Facebook application), deployed an interactive marketing campaign that encouraged existing Graffiti artists to be involved in a contest that spurred a member created campaign resulting in affinity towards Dell. The artists were encouraged to ‘own’ the message, their creativity would spur a contest, and would continue to fuel the campaign.
I was briefed by James Gross, who shares his thoughts mid-flight, a Director at Federated Media, as well as CEO John Battelle (interview), and they explained the contest to me.
1) Existing application with thriving community
Graffiti is a self-expression application in Facebook. It has popular (rated 4 out of 5 stars) Based on 242 reviews, and has 177,506 daily active users. Rather than creating a new application, this campaign took advantage of an application –and community–that already existed.
2) An art contest: What does Green mean to you?
Facebook members who used Graffiti were encouraged to join in a contest to win a 22″ environmentally friendly Dell monitor (appropriate for artists) to create art around the theme of “What does Green mean to you?” The contest lasted for one week
3) Engaged contributors spur theme
Over 7000 pieces of artwork were created and submitted to the contest. If you watch the replay of the art being created, you’ll see hidden messages (like easter eggs) from the artists as they discuss what green means to them. Many of the drawings had the Dell logo or the regeneration logo embedded in it. The Regeneration microsite promotes a few contributors.
4) Self Regulation
There were few negative pics that would detract from the campaign, as the community of existing artists will self-regulate and vote off pics that were not appropriate.
5) Community Voting and Winners Announced
Voting began on the second week by the members and over one million votes were cast. The winners were from United States, Canada, Sweden and Maldives. You can see the actual winners here, or click image.
The campaign was a success, thousands of engaged members participated, created the campaign on behalf of Dell (similar to the Chevy Tahoe campaign a few years ago), and the community was rewarded. I don’t know for sure, but I’ll guess the majority of the campaign dollars were spent creating the microsite, then hiring FM, and working with Graffiti. The monitors, were likely less than a $1000 each.
Over 7300 Graffitis created from Jan. 16th-Jan 23rd around the theme of “What Does Green Mean to You”
Over 1150 fans of the contest
Over 1,000,000 votes were logged from Jan. 26th-Jan.31st for the artwork. (Here are the Top 150 based on votes)
Over 1,000 ideas have now been submitted over at ReGeneration.org
209 comments to the post at ReGeneration.org
Over 197 blog mentions in Technorati
What could have been better
When it comes to social media, the mentality of short lived campaigns should go away. Communities existed before a brand reaches to them and after the campaign stops. Marketers should plan for long term engagements with these people, rather than short two week spurts. There was clearly traction here and now’s the time to step on the gas and continue forward.
Secondly, the artwork created by the winners (and runner ups) should be included in future products, such as digital wallpapers, in the primary branding for Dell, and even the artists should be given an option to continue as sponsored artists. With the relationship forming, take it to the next level. Encourage artwork to be part of next generation green computers, with proceeds going to non-profits or back to the artists to continue forth.
Thirdly, the campaign was limited to Facebook, which isn’t the extent of artists on the web, as well as limited to other social networks such as Bebo or MySpace where similar communities can be found. The contest should have been created not just within the walls of a closed gardens, but also spread to the open web.
Unlike most marketing campaigns that deploy heavy ads, fake viral videos, or message bombardment, this campaign let go to gain more. Overall, this is a successful campaign as they turned the action over to the community, let them take charge, decide on the winners, all under the context of the regeneration campaign. The campaign moved the active community from Facebook closer to the branded Microsite, closer to the corporate website, migrating users in an opt-in manner that lead to hundreds of comments was clever. Well done.
Articles and Related Case Studies
Article: Virtual art for the natural world
MediaPost Social Media Insider: Maybe Advertising In Social Media Should Be An Oxymoron
LA Times: Web Scout: Spinning through online entertainment and connected culture
Case Study: How Sony connected with the Vampires Application
Case Study: Facebook Sponsored Group Analysis: Target vs Wal-Mart