Archive for August, 2008


People on the Move in the Social Media Industry: August 21, 2008

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This is a busy week, I’ve received more submissions than ever before, if this pace continues, I’ll have to figure out a new way to let folks self-submit. Be sure to include a link to your announcement, if it doesn’t exist on the web, it’s hard to verify, and it’s really what we’ve come to expect in this space. Lastly, while social media is certainly easy for folks to offer, I’m seeking examples of folks who really are offering this as their core expertise –not a side offering. As a result, I’ll be filtering to those that are truly living and breathing in this world.

I’m starting this post series (see archives) to recognize and congratulate folks who get promoted, move, or accept new exciting positions. Please help me congratulate the following folks:

  • David Griner joins Brand Agency Luckie & Co. as Social Media Strategist, starting with recently launched social media blog, the socialpath.
  • Erin Kotecki Vest “The Queen of Spain” has now joined BlogHer full time as the Producer of Special Projects, which will include social media projects, her area of expertise.
  • George Dearing has recently joined Telligent Systems (Community platform vendor) as Corporate Evangelist.
  • Dan Ziman join Lithium Technologies (community platform) as Director, Marketing Programs, congrats, I’m sure we’ll be speaking frequently.
  • Michael Francesconi is Fanscape’s (agency) newest Social Media Manager, who comes from the Huffington Post where he was a community manager, and now runs a department specializing in digital word of mouth strategies and viral marketing. Update, learn more from this CEO blog post.
  • Kirby Winfield joins WidgetBucks as the Chief Revenue Officer. In this role, he’ll be overseeing their advertising sales relationships.
  • Nat Wilson joins the Society for Human Resource Management as their Manager of Online Communities which he will be leading their social networking projects
  • Frank LaRosa is promoted at Network Insights to Vice President of Development, previously a senior developer.
  • Sarah Worsham leaves Online Business Development Manager job to launch Sazbean Consulting (online and soical media) with her husband.
  • Josh Wolf a video blogger who was jailed for not handing over evidence in SF has now joined a Palo Alto news agency as a traditional journalist. While not a ‘social media’ move, we’re glad to see Josh take a step forward.
  • Speaking of Jobs, Forrester is hiring a Senior Analyst for Social Computing as a peer to me in SF area or Cambridge (email me), as is other firms, apparently, this is a growing area across industries.


    How to connect with others (or get a job):
    Several people have been hired because of this blog post series, here’s how:

    Submit an announcement
    If you know folks that are moving up in the social media industry, leave a comment below, or if you’re feeling shy (it’s cool to self-nominate) send me an email. Please include a link to your announcement, and ensure you’re really living and breathing in the social media world –this is not a small aspect of your role.

    Seeking Social Media Professionals?
    If you’re seeking to connect with community advocates and community managers there are few resources

    List of Enterprise Social Media Professionals
    This list, which started with just 8 names continues to grow as folks submit to it. List of Social Computing Strategists and Community Managers for Enterprise Corporations 2008 –Social Media Professionals.

  • See Web Strategy Jobs powered by Job o Matic (Post a job there and be seen by these blog readers, fees pay for my hosting)
  • Connect with others in the community manager group in Facebook
  • Check out Jake McKee’s community portal for jobs
  • See Chris Heuer’s Social Media Jobs
  • SimplyHired aggregates job listings, as does Indeed
  • ForumOne Jobs for Social Media and Community
  • Teresa has a few jobs, some around community
  • New Media hire has an extensive job database
  • Social Media Headhunter
  • Social media jobs
  • Jobs in social media
  • 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!

    Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: August 20, 2008

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    I’m getting more feedback that this digest is a success, I know have confirmation that leaders at the largest social networks (Facebook, MySpace, Hi5, Google) and community platform read this digest, submissions are piling in, as savvy PR folks continue to submit –thank you. Always try to submit links in addition to press releases.

    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 tag only, which filters only these posts tagged digest.

    Web Strategy Summary
    This has been one action packed week, there are two acquisitions from Hi5 and AOL, MySpace extends it’s reach to third party sites, and Facebook crowned largest social network. There’s been several deployments by brands of branded communities, as well feature releases from LinkedIn and Six Apart. Most importantly, advertisers project increase of spending into this space –furthering growth in this industry.


    Trends: Location Aware Social Networks
    This is an important one to watch, as social networks (in real life) extend beyond the browser, so why shouldn’t that experience cater to our mobile devices? Ulocate and Where partner for GPS device Garmin, and Yelp syncs with Loopt and iPhone.

    Stats: Facebook Global Social Network
    Facebook has expanded it’s world conquest by allowing users to translate the site to their local languages, this lead to Facebook now being crowned as the largest global social network says BusinessWeek.

    Money Projections: Advertisers increase spending on social networks
    eMarketer publishes data that projects that US based advertisers will spend $40 million this year alone, then will increase spending to $210 Million in 2012, a growth rate of 300% in four years.

    Acquisition: Hi5 acquires Interactive Technology PixVerse
    This rapidly growing social network Hi5 has acquired technology that encourages in browser interaction, PixVerse. Expect the site’s experience to emulate desktop like behaviors, further engaging users.

    Acquisition: AOL ready to lifestream and buys Social Thing
    The latest trend in social software seems to involve aggregation or site-decoupling. AOL picks up on this and snags Social Thing, a competitor to Friendfeed, Facebook newspage, Six Apart’s Activity Streams and Google Reader.

    Announcement: MySpace makes Data Available
    Similar to Facebook connect (read my review) MySpace now let’s developers extend the experience of the community to third party websites with MySpace Data Availability (MDA). This increasing trend means that social networks are pervasive and eventually even on static websites that don’t want to participate.

    Features: Six Apart adds social features in Movable Type
    I was briefed yesterday by the 6A team, who have increased the social features of their robust blogging tool, Movable Type. Given their strong footprint in the enterprise sector, 6A should compete for dollars with other community platforms. Expect their suite of activity streams, and focus on content to be a differentiator.

    Feature: Linkedin’s company pages get sorting feature
    LinkedIn recently announced it’s new company pages –a trend moving the intranet outside of the firewall, and now adds more features that allow users to sort via industry, company size, and location.

    Applications: RockYou tries monetizing with car ads
    Seemingly an odd fit, RockYou will integrate ads for autos within it’s large network of widgets, should we expect the next BMW to appear in our superwall? Yet more examples of developers throwing rigatoni, spaghetti, and even pizza at the wall to see if it’ll stick.

    Lawsuit: Facebook under fire from Beacon
    This class action lawsuit aimed at Facebook and partners from users is intended to recoup damages from the ill-fated Beacon launch last year. Mark has admitted in public they’ve since learned from this.

    Status: Cadence’s Community Manager shares 1st month Results
    In a bold and forth coming way, Tom Diederich, Cadence’s community manager shares his experience after his first month of launching a branded community: over 6000 registrations and 1000 posts in 30 days.

    People: Facebook Exec Ben Ling Boomerangs back to Google
    This speculative post gives some insight to why Benjamin Ling, a former executive at Facebook has moved back to Google, with tie ins to the new COO, loyalty, and personalities.

    Deployment: Heineken to launch community in Thailand
    Popular “Skunky” beer Heineken to reach Asia community by investing in community software and launching their own platform to support it’s “Greenspace” campaign.

    Partnership: Pluck extends partnerships
    With Avenue A selecting just selecting Pluck as a strategic partner, now Swift Communications announces intent to use Pluck platform for client efforts. Expect to see other white label social network vendors to cozy up with interactive firms and digital agencies.

    Deployment: Fox news joins Facebook –not MySpace
    Although MySpace and Fox are both owned by behemoth Newscorp, they have to follow their audience and have deployed on Facebook, a smart move.

    Deployment: MySpace hosts Presidential Debates
    Myspace streamed the Rick Warren Civil Forum between McCain and Obama on the venue’s site Saddleback church for this first time meeting between candidates.

    Deployment: Scottrade launches community with Small World Labs
    This branch supported investment firm announces their own social networking site to allow customers to self support with each other. Small World labs is selected as technology partner, visit community.scottrade.com to see the site in action.

    Culture: Students and Teachers awkwardly interact online
    It’s important to note how these tools are used, and in this case, some teachers and students are unsure how to act online as personal and professional relationships merge. The benefit? teachers can now extend the classroom online.

    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.

    How to Overcome Social Media Scare Tactics

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    The rapture of social media paralyzes some brands
    Recently, I’ve spoken to a few large brands that have been getting the sermon from a few social media consultants about damnation to hell if they don’t convert. These type of scare tactics include suggesting radical change need to occur for brands to join the conversation, as well as handing over all control to the marketplace, should everyone in marketing can pack up and go home early?

    Most brands aren’t firing their marketing group
    In reality, this is rarely the case, (well cept for Dell, and a few others who had trial by fire) most brands slowly adopt these tools and the communication changes that happens, and I’ve never seen a brand completely turn over messaging control to the marketplace completely, have you? While there certainly are changes afoot, as technology impacts progress, there are course corrections happening at many companies, but I’ve yet to meet one CMO who’s fired the MarCom and Communications team in lieu of a team of external bloggers.

    For conservative brands, take a pragmatic approach
    Instead, perhaps the best way for conservative brands to move forward is to focus on three things:

    1) Understand if their marketplace is using these tools, and how. First see if your prospects, decision makers or influencers are using these tools, do a study first, take inventory.
    2) Next, have a goal, or an objective, rather than jumping in rather than being pushed in because someone else lit you on fire. Don’t allow fear to be the sole driver of your decisions, instead, focus on what success will look like.
    3) Experiment internally with these tools where it’s safer, where mistakes can happen without the ridicule of the public looking on.

    Focus on clear business strategy rather than allowing someone to light you on fire
    While there are certainly changes happening in communication and marketing, this doesn’t mean you throw out the playbook, and react. Instead, for conservative or risk averse cultures, focus on understanding the changes in your market build a plan and experiment where it’s safe. When you look at moments of great change, see how history remembers the difference between radicals sand revolutionaries.

    Let’s be objective, there’s a lot of challenges (and opportunities) with the social media industry, I’m cataloging them and tagging them ‘challenges‘.

    Web Strategy: The Evolution of Brands on Twitter

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    Last week, I listed out 9 reasons Why Brands Are Unsuccessful In Twitter, and other microblogging technologies. Companies are caught between the minutia of the discussions and their willingness to be human or add value to the conversations. Although a one-sided view of what’s going wrong, now let’s focus on what’s going right.

    I’m watching –and talking– to many brands that are choosing to engage with this seemingly endless stream of personal thoughts, updates, and conversations within Twitter.

    Web Strategy: The Evolution of Brands on Twitter


    Babysteps:

    First, identifying if this is the right marketplace
    Brands need to first evaluate if the community members within Twitter are the audience they’re trying to reach. Although we’ve yet to see any formal survey produced from Obvious corporation, most could identify these members are technology early adopters, media fiends, social media practitioners, and those interested in future communications.

    Next: Listening to glean insight
    Some brands are using the somewhat accurate search tools formerly known as Summize, or even Twitscoop to track graphing of potential terms, or to find influencers. Companies like Visible Technologies are mapping out the discussion in Twitter for tech giants like Dell –they’re likely going to provide a list of influencers and detractors in order to determine who’s the best way to approach them. In the case of the New York Times, Twitter is yet another opportunity to source stories, and potentially find out about breaking news or emergencies. Not only is this key for determining what’s being said by customers, prospects, and competitors, but to ensure rogue employees aren’t speaking on your behalf and potentially causing brand damage.

    Registering the namesake
    Once a company has figured out the conversation in their marketplace (assuming this is one for them) they should next secure the key domains related to their brand. There has been some impromptu indexes that show that many companies don’t have ownership over their individual brand on Twitter. Since registration is limited to one account per real email address, and companies will never be able to register every potential variant, the process is still limiting.

    Walking:

    Decide on persona: corporate and/or individual
    Brands will next need to decide on their online personas, and how they want to be perceived to the world. There are only a few variations and among them include: 1) A branded approach, void of personal interactions. In many cases, brands are unsure how to approach this conversation and most speak on behalf of the company, void of a personal reference of the publisher. Companies like Popeye’s chicken don’t readily indicate who’s behind the account, although they are very engaging conversing with others. 2) Some brands indicate who the user is, and go so far as to encourage individuals to represent the brand, RichardatDell takes this on with ease, as he both engages in personal interests as well as evangelizes and defends the Dell brand. See the NYT’s Communication department as they list out the personal contacts right on their twitter page. It’s assumed that brands that have engaged in option 2, also have corporate accounts listed in type 1.

    Decide on method of engagement
    Next comes the interesting part, how brands will actually publish, interact and communicate with others. There are three major options that brands can use: 1) Publish content in a ‘push’ style. Marketers, corp comm, PR folks and media companies can choose to use Twitter as a publishing system, as those who opt-in to follow can now receive updates from the latest story, press release or update. 2) Dialog: Some employees engage in relationship building with community members by responding, answering, and asking questions of those around them, see this large list of Oracle employees who are using these tools. or the ‘classic’ case example of Comcast Cares and Zappos shoes interacting and supporting customers 3) As we’ve indicate above, some may use these tools to glean insight –mainly listening rather than talking.

    Examine the digital communications policy
    Often known as ethics policies, blogging policies, or communications policies, the world of online publications continues to grow and brands must be prepared for these changes. Brands that have employees using social media (that would be just about all) must ratify their communications policy to: 1) Define what’s an official representation or have acceptance in the gray area of online communications 2) Define what the difference is between someone who is a company spokesperson and someone who’s acting and represents the company. Last week, at a client meeting, some employees at a enterprise IT networking company expressed concerns of employees who were on Twitter would talk about their personal beliefs around politics, culture, or preferences. Potentially some of these expressions would negatively impact other partners or customers in other regions or cultures, and didn’t know where the definitive line was between work and personal was.

    Running:

    Integration with other tools
    Seeminly rare, most brands don’t integrate these tools with their other social media or even traditional website. With the recent case of brands being brandjacked by twitter domain registrars a new need came up of brands wanting to validate their twitter accounts. In fact, some have sent me emails from their corporate account asking me to confirm they are ‘real’ accounts. Of course, the most effective way to overcome validation from third parties and to enhance other tools is to cross link from various web properties, which Tyson foods has recently done. Take for example Dell, which has listed out many of their twitter accounts on their corporate website, now segmented out by verticals, products and regions. Brands should cross link their twitter account from their corporate blogs, traditionally websites, and vice versa.

    Aggregation and joining conversations
    The next step in this evolution is to watch how the conversations will fragment, spread, and be aggregated on different websites. The conversation isn’t going to be limited to Twitter, it’s search clients, but will start to aggregate on other websites. Take for example Get Satisifaction a ‘universal’ support site that is aggregating twitter conversations on their page, in this instance, Comcast. The conversation about the brand has now spread off the site, and will sputter off new threads of discussions on other websites. Brands like Dell will aggregate those same conversations right on their mainstream site –bringing the engaged audience closer to their site.

    What’s next
    Although we’re still far from seeing this implement, I expect to see a tie with location aware devices that will integrate twitter with marketing, communication, and support. For example, as one approaches a product, or store where that product is, alerts, the ability to ask questions or receive special offers could automatically trigger to a customers account (most will be opt in, savvy marketers will figure around it). Expect savvy companies to further monitor discussions and respond to support or help questions using these micromedia tools.

    While there are many variations and some companies skip from step to step, these are the major evolutionary phases of how I see companies adopting micromedia tools like Twitter. I’d love to hear your feedback on what you’re seeing, and where it’s all headed.

    Update: Dawn Foster has a great actionable plan for brands on Twitter, as does Tara Hunt, read, and bookmark both.

    Why Social Contracts like the “Company Customer Pact” are slow to adopt

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    I’ve been a supporter of the Company Customer Pact, which is a set of guidelines put forth by Get Satisfaction and friends on how both individual customers as well as brands should behave in this ‘social contract’. Since it’s launch (I believe Feb 08) there’s only been 250 people that have signed and put their name on the wiki. Given the sheer number of bloggers out there, or companies, either awareness has been low, or there are some reasons why individuals don’t want to participate. For example, not everyone thinks it’s a good idea, as for one, Peter Dawson explains:

    From Peter Dawson:

    “The Customer Company pact, is a BAD IDEA, The problems is that Companies will not adopt it as part of a strategy. Individuals will, just like the Clue Train Manifesto. How many of the f500’s are really on the clue train and adopted these principles ? The same will hold true to the CC PACT. If a bunch of Bloggers ‘like’ an Idea ( aka CC pact) and endorse it (yes the more the merrier), it does not imply (a) that they will always follow it and (b) the company that they work for will adopt them as standards.

    The most crucial aspect is in Corporate /Company Ethical and Governance Missions statements. These polices must be aligned to laws and statutes. Therefore a PACT between a Customer and a Company should and ALWAYS be put under the jurisdiction of the law. Yet how many bloggers (Customers) like being under the hammer ?? The Value prop is great in Theory , but near impossible to implement.”

    Peter’s right, it’s not a legal document, nor should it ever be, but instead a ‘social contract’ that would encourage best-behaviors from customers and brands. What’s in it for individual bloggers? Sure every blogger has the right to rant and complain, but doing it in way that would be condusive for companies to respond to –and actually make a difference to change their product is helpful. Now, for a blogger that simply wants to vent their frustrations out on the web (without caring if they get resolution from the brand) then Peter is right, none of this will matter.

    So in summary, the Customer Company pact is a best practice “Social Contract” or perhaps even a “Guideline” that would encourage communications to improve customer and company relations for better products and services. For those that don’t want to see products or services improved via online communications –this pact won’t serve your needs.

    I for one, am for it, and have it taped up on my desk at work, I keep this in mind as I talk to both the brands, as well as bloggers, and how I choose to engage with companies when I want changes fixed for product and services.

    Love to hear from you, do social contracts like the Customer Company Pact have a place in the world? Or should it be more of a laissez-faire approach and let them market sort it out?

    Press Releases: Content Formatting in the Age of 140 Characters

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    Yesterday morning, I sent over an email to Todd Defren and Brian Solis, champions of the Social Media Press Release (which I’ve critiqued in the past) offering some suggestions.

    Recently, I’ve been receiving some press releases where the real important news isn’t in the leading paragraph. I had to hunt and read through the rest of the content (maybe that was their strategy) to find out what was really important. I sent an email back to the PR firm, suggesting that they get their writing funnel’ tightened up, I don’t have a lot of time, and most press releases get a quick scan –few get a deep read.

    If a PR firms is representing a company in the social media space, then they really need to make sure content is formatted to the medium where information is spreading fastest –for today, that would be Twitter. Twitter limits messages to just a short sentence, 140 characters to be exact, and encourages people to be on point and succinct. Go over to Todd’s blog to read more of his thoughts on the topic.

    Takeaway: If your market is in the social media space, press releases should have content summarized for 122 characters, and leave enough space for is.gd (a “tiny url” that’s composed of exactly 18 characters)