Yesterday, on my own twitter network, I announced a contest for a giveaway of a Nokia internet device I’ve been reviewing (I never keep any device I receive from to review) and asked participants to tell where they thought twitter would be in two years. Andrew Finkle gave a great answer about how Twitter would become an open platform, which make sense –providing they can keep their infrastructure up. I got a chance to speak with Andrew, he’s a former software guy who’s moving into the social space, real nice guy, thanks for participating.
I was hoping to see an answer that not only involved Twitter as a platform but also a software that gets picked up by some mobile carriers and ties into GPS positioning. I hope you read the 50 other answers from folks, lots of great ideas from geo-location tagging, to definitive groups and permissions. Thanks everyone for participating.
I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an Industry Analyst –a good way to get in my head.
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 take, and click link to dive in for more.
You can subscribe to this digest tagonly, which filters only these posts tagged digest.
Web Strategy Summary
Unlike last week’s series’ of major announcements, we’re seeing brand deploy with social networks, facebook applications, and the typical deployment of social networks for just about every vertical. MyYearbook receives funding, as well as tracks high growth rates.
Best Practice: Twelve best practices for online customer communities Fantastic resource by Dion Hinchcliffe on how to best organize, prepare and manage online community projects read these 12 best practices. A must read.
Data: IBM’s Smart SOA to connect communities
A growing trend to connect many companies, IBM’s Smart SOA promises to connect communities such as User Groups, Developers, Architects, Business Partners, Universities.
Deployment: Swiss Re connects alumni with SelectMinds
SelectMinds will support Swiss Re in the implementation of its first alumni network using their community platform. Specifically, Swiss Re will implement SelectMinds product AlumniConnect, designed to connect former employees, or corporate alumni, with each other and the organization, learn more from Marketwatch.
Features: introNetworks enhances suite
introNetworks launches community managers new features to enhance Groups, Collaborative Resources and Targeted Messaging and Advertising capabilities highlight the latest introNetworks release, see PDF for more.
Deployment: Neutrogena launches Widget by LiveWorld
In support of it’s Beautiful For Good community, LiveWorld, often notable for it’s community platforms, is now launching a widget to extend their client’s campaign. You can view the application on Facebook. Expect other community platforms to offer widget services in the future.
Reputation: How your LinkedIn profile impacts your company’s brand
While true for any social network or blog, how you behave online can impact how others perceive you or your employer, follow these tips from Steve Patrizi at LinkedIn to make sure your company is seen in the right light.
Global: LinkedIn launches Spanish Version
A few months ago, Facebook launched in Spanish then many other languages, LinkedIn, also extends it’s global (and local) reach by launching a Spanish version.
Verticals: Even Zombies get their own social network
sloth like? armless? need braaaains? Everyone gets in the social network action, even the undead, see this Zombie dating and social networking site.
PR professionals that have clients in this space, should subscribe to this blog, and ensure their clients are put on this digest by sending me an email, or better yet, leave a comment.
Way back in the start of my career, I was a lowly UI designer for a customer facing web application –an extranet called MyExodus. Sitting with a team of engineers, my job was to help deliver a consistent, usable experience that would help our clients quickly ascertain the status of their web hosting systems.
I remember how management would scramble, hustle, and work hard to meet the demands of an Analyst Research firm that was reviewing our product –I was involved in helping to scrape together presentations, gather the right screenshots, and mockup scenarios of where we were headed on the roadmap. Tier 1 Research graded our product (along with over a dozen others) and I remember how stressful it was for us to deliver all of this, show our secret sauce, let them take a peek behind the curtains and letting management beam or scour with the results. It felt exposing, but helped us in the long run, as we knew where we stood in our marketplace, and what we had to improve on.
So if you’ve ever been graded or rated great or poorly by an analyst, I just want you to know, I remember what it was like on the vendor side of the table, but I won’t let it deter me from doing an objective analysis.
Oh, if you’re wondering how we did, we scored pretty well in out category, esp in the UI rankings –I was proud and it was a bullet point on my resume. Of course, Exodus is long gone (although I tell my story here), the remnants were acquired by Cable and Wireless.
Brands joining twitter
It’s no coincidence that brands that are under public scrutiny from customers, competitors, and other social groups start to turn to the most vocal of all –right in the epicenter of dialog.
Twitter is, for better or worse, a global chat room where honest, often vitriolic opinions are shared. With the recent public anointing of online support effort, Comcast Cares in New York Times “Griping Online? Comcast Hears and Talks Back” –it’s easy to see why corporation communications, and PR professionals are ready to embrace the dialog.
Exxon joins the dialog, steps right into heat
Next to join the fray is Exxon Mobile, announced in their first weet as: “Janet, one of a few Community Evengilist at ExxonMobil Corp”. The responses are mixed, but some asking the tough questions as they react, test, and push Exxon to see how they’ll respond.
You’ll also notice when you visit the Exxon Twitter account that Janet is directly and actively engaging with others, she @replies back at folks, responding to their queries, all a good practice.
Speaking with Josh Bernoff, or former colleagues Charlene Li and Peter Kim, we often hear about a group of employees that push the ‘corporate membrane’ sometimes without official sanctions, these folks tend to be customer-centric, and are willing to risk apologizing rather than asking for permission –an internal Groundswell.
While I don’t know which group is responsible for this effort at Exxon, (likely Corp Comm, backed by PR firm) it’ll be interesting to see how they handle the many criticisms in their industry. As soon as Janet releases her full name, I’ll be sure to add her to the growing list of Community Managers at enterprise corporations.
Twitter community should let Exxon get sea legs first
When Dell launched their blogging programs a few years ago, I proposed a moratorium of a few days to let them get up to speed before bashing them into the ground. Why? I was sympathetic after having launched our blogging program at Hitachi, most critics aren’t aware of the internal struggles that happen for months or years from customer-centric revolutionaries.
So, I encourage the community to let them get their operational feet grounded, and then prepare for the open dialog. By doing this, you’ll let them get running (internally and externally) then they are better prepared to handle questions, criticisms, and hopefully, eventually solve important issues. A good rule of thumb is to follow the Company-Customer- Pact which is printed out on my desk, which suggests rules of engagement for both parties.
Many questions remain:
Is Exxon ready to make these important changes beyond discussing it in public?
Is this Community Team backed from the top, and ready for the long haul?
Is Exxon prepared to tackle the tough topics in a public forum?
Is this a PR cover-up, or a genuine desire to tell their story?
Who is Janet?
Will this effort impact the bottom line, or change public perception?
Hiring? Leave a comment
If you’re seeking candidates in the social media industry, many of them are within arms reach, feel free to leave a link to a job description (but not the whole job description, or I’ll delete it.
I’m seeking folks that are related to full time hands on social media strategy and community managers, to be on this list, so let me know if you see these folks, and please submit them. Also, I probably will not include executive management changes on this list at social media companies, as the list would go on and on, but you can feel free to express yourself in the comments!
Above: Over 1000 developers attending Facebook’s F8 Conference, picture above the developer showcase, photo from Brian Solis use with attribution by creative commons
Facebook’s Developer Conference F8
I attended Facebook’s F8 developer conference in SF last week, and met with many of the application developers on the floor, or at their booths. First of all, for those that had booths, it was expected they were demonstrating success within Facebook (who allowed them to showcase). The event itself was a real production, from food, drinks, sessions, panels, the night ended with a private conference from Thievery Corporation, a popular down tempo artist. I also recommend you read my take on what Facebook Connect means for corporate websites.
["Applications are the Microsites of Social Networks"-Social Media Employee]
Opportunities for Brands Corporations want to reach communities and customers where they currently exist, and many realize that they are gathering in social networks. Brands have several options, but among them include using widgets (mini-applications) to reach them, there are two main ways: 1) Build their own application (or work with a developer 2) Sponsor, advertise, or latch on to existing successful ones.
Overview of Widget and Application Developers at Facebook’s F8 Event
I talked to as many vendors as possible, to understand what’s new, and report back to readers at corporations (who I write for)
Focusing on improving applications like Funwall (the top application with an estimated 1.6 million active users), Topfriends and Superpoke. In addition to deploying on Facebook, they are also on MySpace. Slide says they have a strong sales force, and goes direct to brands. Suggests that advertising on slide apps are greater than going with Facebook themselves. Why? Facebook is a utility, when most are interacting with an application.
Example: Brands like Estee Lauder has been working with Slide to advertise across superpoke.
Example: 10 million vitamin water ‘top friends’ drink on the first eight days. It’s not an ad, it’s an integrated part of the top friends experience. People sent them ‘virtual drinks’. Coke.
Adding more applications and helping more developers to monetize. Rockyou is now more like an ad networks, although Slide and RockYou were compared as competitors in previous months, their business models appear to be diverging. They’ve an active sales force that goes to brands to sell ads across their network,. As well as working with agencies.
Revenue model: Rockyou is doing a lot of ads and cost per install (CPI)
Example: Tropic thunder is an application that used, Superwall, and there was a tab added for top videos that promoted the movie.
Viral application developer mainly focused on Facebook (as the name suggests). Have about a dozen employees. Their current clients include apparel companies such as Adidas and consumer companies such as Pedigree and other Fortune 500 brands. Partnered on projects with RockYou, such as Supewall and Likeness. Price point for deals, Minimum for 30-50k range. They do guarantee the app is up and running, do not guarantee visitor numbers.
Example: Adidas, they designed the app, includes education in hourse, then they do a product spec. then they make the app and manages it for an ongoing basis. Its on fan page
This application let’s users review products of six major types: books, music, movies, restaurants, video games, beers. They’ve recently received 5 million in A round funding. Planning to monetize through advertising and affiliate marketing.
Example: Recently did a campaign with Sony, and promoted a movie (that was an book adaptation) they then used cross-movie promotion on books by that author.
WMS Widget Management system for creation workflow and ad management. This website let’s website owners (non-technical) to create a widget that can be embedded on Facebook. They are opensocial compatible. How they monetize? They have an ad on each of the widgets for tiered CPC, brands can pay to remove the logo of iWidget
Example: A brand that has interesting content on their site (that is frequetnyly update) can quickly and easily use iWidgets to reach the newsfeeds on MySpace, Facebook, iGoogle and Netvibes. Coming soon is Bebo and Hi5.
Wants to reach brand, media, companies. Can help increase exposure of brands on social networking platforms, motto: “Apps are the Microsites of Social Network”.
Example: BMW joyrides application, that lets users create and configure a car, and select friends and where they want to go. They worked with the agency to devlope, although core competency of social media is to leverage their network 95,000 installs. Also working NBC, American Gladiators
Claim to fame: a Social Marketing Company. They aim to build ads, build widgets, and advise.. these are really ‘interactive ads’. Current client base includes EA, Spore, Bank of America.
Example: Microsoft office did a campaign called ‘office poke’ that sent Microsoft branded pokes to each other with business humor. There were millions of pokes were sent. 700.000 installs and continues. Even though the campaign is over the application is downloaded and spread –over successful.
While not a Faecbook developer, I was able to spend time with the founders, as an outlook plugin, that makes outlook a socially aware utility. Recently, they announced a partnership with Linkedin so their social graph is displayed on Xobni, an outlook application. How they can make money? They are evaluating the different ways to monetize such as premium models.
Although startups exhibit great passion…
It’s really great meeting folks at startups, you can often see the fire in their eyes, hear the passion in their voice as they share their dreams. On the flip side, it’s also very hard when you see that they’ve commodity technology, are entering an already crowded market, or have rough marketing skills. I can see the pattern of companies that come and go, after attending so many STIRR events, startup events, and seeing the many early (seed) startups at the Techcrunch party two nights ago.
…Most startups will fail
Many of the early stage startups don’t make it, which is the natural selection process that we know as the market. The ones that are standing on their own (often A, B round stage, sometimes C) are mature enough to have a communications person, or hire a PR firm and eventually brief analysts. This means two things: 1) They’ve traction with their products, 2) They want to reach Fortune 5000, and are getting ready. I care the most about these later stage startups, as they are the ones that I may
Facebook embracing successful apps, punishing others
Mark declared in his keynote that providng a safe and successful experience for users is key, as a result, they are creating methods to filter applications that provide respectful user experiences that are non-invasive and protect users’ identiy first. Others will be penalized. Expect developers to clean up their act.
Developers struggle telling their story to brands
Applications/Widgets are very complicated story to tell to corporations, many corporate folks don’t “get it” and would rather rely on tried and true forms of web marketing like microsites or traditional advertising. More than one widget vendor told me they are having a hard time explaining their story to brands. There’s a lot of truth with this as when I give presentations to Forrester clients about social computing, I often have to explain what a widget is.
Business models rapidly changing
Unless you’re directly in the space it’s very difficult to keep track of who’s doing what, with low barriers to entry (400,000 developers currently exist) there are many entrants. As a result, this petri dish is constantly flexing and remorphing, business models, revenues streams continue to change.
Funding fuels more innovation –but doesn’t guarantee success
In Mark’s keynote, he said there was $200 million total of funding to developers from a variety of investors. This large influx of capital is allowing for many startups that may not have had the chance to launch products. A year from now, it will be interesting to see a string of dead applications that were once funded –but not adopted by users.
Many Developers Pan-Platform focused
While Facebook was the first to offer an open platform for developers, there’s been many containers that have opened up, as such, developers are seeking to widen their network by expanding to new communities.
Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon professor, had terminal cancer and was fortunate enough to share his learnings in this final lecture. Sadly he recently passed on at 47.
He talked about the challenges through his career “some brick walls are made of flesh” and his journey to lead forth virtual reality, educating others, and achieving his childhood dreams, a master storyteller. Warning, you may swell up during his gesture to his wife at the end and then he gives us all his final departing words.
When I was a kid, I knew two successful men, they told me they had specific goals in life and the slowly worked towards them, they also both said these goals will change as you grow older, but you keep on setting them further and further.
I just spent the last hour and 16 minutes watching this video, I encourage you to invest the time then evaluate your own goals and dreams. While so unfortunate, it’s amazing that with technology, we can record the great minds, easily share around the globe at low cost, and archive for all eternity. Thanks Randy.
In my early morning blog reading, I was stunned to receive a tweet from Paul Mooney indicating there was news breaking yet again on Twitter. In horror, we watched in real time using Summize first hand accounts of Bangalore residents tweeting their experience –before major news sources were able to publish.
I scoured back a few pages in summize (Twitter search engine) to see reports coming in about “two blasts” then “four blasts” then “Six blasts”, all of this was coming in near real time. Unfortunately there is some noise, as not all of the reports were accurate. Here are some select tweets that caught my eye.
“-bangalore – be calm and be brave. the blasts were aimed at creating panic only” -@pavanaja
“Just heard about the blasts in Bangalore. Rushing to pick wife up.” -@simplylezz
“@ClaudiaBliss Thank you, made it safe. It’s not as bad as the TV makes it out to be.” -@simplylezz
Mukund, a Silicon Valley resident happens to be in Bangalore and was been reporting via twitter.
Although the point of this post is to show how quickly news spreads, some were killed by these blasts, I give my best to their friends and families during this tragedy.
Update: Finished an inquiry call with a client in Bangalore (had to use skype) he conveyed that out of 7 bombs only one person was killed was a relief. The city is on ‘red alert’ lots of police checkpoints he feels secured at home, there are even ID checkpoints at his condo complex.
Left Image: Josh Bernoff, on his Keynote Presentation at Forrester’s Consumer Forum 07, demonstrates a “Judo throw” –a metaphor of deflecting negative brand attacks into momentum for your energy, although they sustained a few bruised ribs, I often think of Dell (previous Groundswell Award winner) as a good example.
Forrester is recognizing excellence from companies that are accomplishing business objectives using social applications and technologies. We want to hear how you’ve used the many tools out there to actually make a difference with your customers, prospects, or maybe employees. Colleague Josh Bernoff has more details on the blog, if you’ve worked with me, you know I’m interested in seeing actual business results –show how you’ve moved the needle.
So, if you work for an agency, brand, or maybe are with a boutique, get your case study together and submit. I’m looking forward to reviewing all the great work folks have done. I look forward to recognizing your great work, on a related note, check out my posts tagged case study or read my reports to see what I think is effective.
Also, Josh’s “assailant” seen tumbling through the air is a martial arts expert, and coincidently the editor of my last report, thankfully Harley Manning is alive and well.
Earlier this week, I spoke to a group of AR and PR professionals, and one gentleman from an agency indicated of an interesting phenomenon that was happening among some press –they’re starting to act like analysts.
Mainstream Press acting like Analysts
Apparently, some press are demonstrating their subject matter expertise in some areas, and are interviewing analysts and vendors but publishing the findings as their own insight –at the coaxing of their management. The gent suggested that some press are evolving to be more like analysts, forming their own opinions with the story. This isn’t anything new, we’ve seen editorial columns do this for decades, take Mossberg, for example.
Analysts act like Mainstream Press
While some analysts would find this downright encroaching, I embrace this type of change, why? Well, many analysts are starting to act more like press, with the advent of blogs. Aside from myself, there are many other analysts that are using blogs to respond to industry news, in fact many analysts have been doing this for sometime. Some press pick up on this, and directly quote off the blog posts, saving a typical phone call. Take for example respected analyst Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research who regularly publishes his take about changes in the mobile and social world, in this recent blog post, he gives his take on the new iPhone software, there’s enough info for a reporter to glean quotes without a call.
Bloggers act like Analysts
On the flip side, blogger Louis Gray, and Marshall Kirkpatrick day in and day out flex their analytical chops over the social media space writing from their blogs. They dissect products, find out what makes them tick and publish their take (often with recommendations) that many follow.
Bloggers become Mainstream Press
I get a real chuckle out of “blogger” Robert Scoble (friend and former colleague) who wails about how Tech Blogging has failed us. To me, this is ironic, while he uses the consumer tools like blogs/video/twitter, he’s actually more akin to mainstream media. As the VP (management) at Fast Company (mainstream media), he has access to the technology leaders, CEOs, and has a total readership greater than many local newspapers. Of course, we know Robert had a humble start, but now, large media brands are either hiring bloggers, or encouraging their journalists and editorial staff to use these tools.
Mainstream Press become Bloggers
For effect, let’s examine Kara Swisher, whose roots stem from traditional technology reporting with the Wall Street Journal. Over the last year, she’s amplified her coverage on blogs and with her FLIP camera, covering events as she always has, but is primarily getting her take on things through her irreverent and entertaining blog. While more akin to an editorial coverage, she now leads the conversations on techmeme, interacts with bloggers, and in my mind, is more like an A-list blogger –not mainstream media.
Finding: Business models influence intent
It’s interesting to see how people get paid, for example, Mainstream press relies on subscriptions to newspapers/magazines, as well as advertising. Analysts have clients who they provide council and research for, and bloggers often monetize from ad networks and sponsorships. Analysts don’t need lots of eyeballs to monetize. Often, I’m pre-briefed before press or bloggers, yet I don’t break news. I do end up working a lot with the press, who are often on deadline to get the scoop or a unique take. Some bloggers often seek to break news (Techcrunch), yet some choose to hold back to then discuss it amongst themselves.
While the individual duties (and business models) highly differ between the Mainstream Press, Analysts, Bloggers, they are all starting to look alike as they adopt social media tools. In the end, if we took the mediums away, and just focused on the type of content that is being published, we’ll start to see the differences of the roles, it is interesting to see how all the viewpoints start to emerge into the online dialog.
This is an expanded riff, based off my previous post of how bloggers and mainstream media look the same, this post is now inclusive of analysts. I’m curious on your take, are you seeing coverage (esp in tech) start to merge into one gray ball of discussions? What place do you think I should play?