My living Grandmother won’t read this post, unless my mom prints it out for her and hands it to her in person –actually a common practice in my family.
A few weeks ago, I had a phone conversation with Grandma, we talked of politics, and how many companies would not hire Asians when she was my age, and of course, my favorite topic, the internet.
She still lives in a print world, but is very aware of the online world, and ask me to tour her through the internet when I see her. According to social technographics, she’s an ‘inactive’ when it comes to social media, and that’s ok with me.
She loves to see me in print, and stumbles across my name in her newspaper reading? I rarely touch news ‘paper’, as online is far faster, and much more interactive; “you can’t doubleclick paper” I tell her.
Perhaps one of the things that she has over me is wisdom and experience, one observation she’s had over the years is that she’s noticed that “newspapers are getting thinner”.
Despite the generational differences that we have, we’re still the same, we seek information, news, and opinions about the greater world.
Today is a special day, one that I’ll always remember, like every Oct 31st, today is her birthday, Happy Birthday Grandma, I’ll call you in a bit.
I was pleased to see Frank Eliason (he just launched his blog) from Comcast cares join us at Forrester ‘s Consumer Forum this week. In fact, I talked to many of the world’s largest brands about social media marketing during my 1 on 1 sessions with clients (almost 14 of them), it was really the common theme throughout many discussions.
If you don’t know the story of Comcast Cares, well they’ve a pretty disliked reputation for service and support (see sleeping technician), but are trying to turn a new leaf by responding and supporting customers using Comcast Cares on twitter. I had to use this a few months ago, as my bandwidth was extremely slow at home, and they responded within a few minutes.
Frank has become somewhat of a a celebrity, they are frequently mentioned in presentations (mine included) and while many companies are now supporting customers on Twitter, the reason why they get so much attention is because, just like Microsoft and Dell did, the tarnished brands get extra community kudos when they stick out and try to connect with customers.
I polled my twitter followers (twitter is my social computer) to pose some questions for Frank, and I found these ones to be interesting, tune in to find out his responses.
seacatz: @jowyang what’s the most surprising customer experience or story he’s encountered so far?
davefleet: @jowyang does he have the power within Comcast to actually get issues addressed? Is there substance to the engagement or just words?
williamu: @jowyang Ask him how SM doesn’t short circuit p2p/community groups that are Comcast focused. Is it competition or collaboration?
Tabz: @jowyang Whose idea was @comcastcares to begin with – was there resistance from the Powers that be? How did he overcome it?
Despite this outreach on twitter and other websites, what’s going to matter if Comcast actually makes changes to improve their products and service –not just be responsive to problems as they occur. I’ll be watching.
I’m pleased to let you know that this year’s Groundswell awards were presented yesterday by Josh Bernoff at our conference in Dallas. I was one of the final judges, although Josh and Zach Hofer-Shall were instrumental in sorting through over 150 submissions. Congrats to:
Winners by the POST Methdology 5 objectives:
– Listening: Mattel’s “The Playground” Community by Communispace
– Talking: Young & Free Alberta by Common Wealth Credit Union
– Energizing: Hershey’s Bliss House Party by House Party
– Supporting: Nerd Network by National Instruments
– Embracing: MyStarbucksIdea.com by Starbucks
Other key categories include:
– Managing: Borderless Workplace by Accenture
– Social Impact: Artshare, Click Exposition, and Posse by Brooklyn Museum
Some of the winners told me although there are other industry awards, this one was really the important one they wanted to achieve as far as measuring deployment. Thank you all for submitting, and keep on doing the good work to connect with customers, employees and people.
I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an industry analyst. By creating this digest (I started this over a year ago) it really helps me to stay on top of the space I cover.
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.
Subscribe to this blog in your feedreader, or use the email subscription box in the right column.
Web Strategy Summary
This week, LinkedIn makes some considerable moves forward, first raising $22million that will let them stand the downturn and prepare for acquisitions, they also launched an application platform with 10 partners. Expect to see more media focus on business social networking as some scramble to network to keep, find, and improve their jobs.
Culture: Students sabotage competitors for college applications
Interesting story how students will show pictures of those competing to get into colleges in order to win the spot for the right college. Right out of an 80s movie but now with updated technology.
Video: Fascinating video about spread of information
Watch this video and pay attention to the segments showing the rapid growth of social networks here in the world, notably how Facebook reached 50 million in two years –much faster than any other medium we’ve ever seen. (update: content no longer available, I dunno why, will try to find another link)
Although I don’t have any kids of my own yet, but I’m sure my kids won’t know what a firewall is when they reach the workplace.
Why? firewalls, the enterprise security that maintains security between employees and the public on your intranet are going to be irrelevant –and LinkedIn and other SaaS products are making this happen –one URL at a time. I’ve expanded upon this a bit more in a recent discussion with the WSJ indicating the opportunity for LinkedIn and others.
I’ve been in close contact with LinkedIn over the past year, and recently had lunch with their CEO to discuss their strategy, so I’ve been fully briefed on this platform announcement. Given the downturn in economy, this is a great market for LinkedIn to grow with users, and to offer services and features that reduce developer cost within the enterprise.
These 10 application (sometimes called widgets) are now accessible by LinkedIn users and have collaborative and social features that allow you and your LinkedIn friends to share presentations, favorite books, event calendars, documents and other work related themes (no super poke here). You can collaborate with your colleagues at a company and even beyond with your business contacts, imagine that, getting work done with people that aren’t even your colleagues.
I used to be the enterprise intranet manager at HDS before I started the social media program, and I know that from experience, most intranets are a horrible cobbled together experience, most lacking true social features. We continue to see more SaaS products being offered like SocialText, Zoho, ConnectBeam, and of course SalesForce to allow employees to work and share together, without even having to rely on IT developers to build a new products.
LinkedIn isn’t done with it’s growth, to truly be a major competitor in the intranet market, they need to make their system extensible with other platform players, allow more business applications to be shared on their platform (they hand select developers) and consider some acquisitions in the community platform space or collaboration space. Since they snagged funding before the investment money dried up, they recently have generated $22 million in funding (beyond their existing raised capital, which will enable them to : 1) stand the test of time, 2) get ready to go shopping.
Expect LinkedIn to:
Offer more collaboration between colleagues and connections to happen outside of the firewall where IT doesn’t have control
Provide resources for some IT departments to lean on SaaS environments to further their mission
Launch more business applications request to be developers on LinkedIn’s business platform
Export the top business applications will be then be ported to community platform players
Raised significant capital, thrive in an downturned economy, and get ready to go shopping
Every wanted to know who was behind those 140 characters? Now you can. this 2 minute video you can hear 50 people shout out their twitter handles at last night’s Dallas tweetup.
What’s a Tweetup? A group of social media enthusiasts who want to connect and networks. Despite all the tools that are available to us to communicate digitally, there’s nothing like meeting in real life.
I help the worlds largest brands develop community strategies, yet, sometimes it’s the simply things that really tell more of a story then anything else, BBQ, Shiner Boch, and a $200 camera. That’s what community is really about: people.
I’m in Dallas Texas right now, perhaps the most opposite place thank Toyko where I’ve been the last week, and have been avidly sharing my observations via Twitter, the following are some of these observations, as well as a bit more context beyond 140 characters. These observations are more of a personal and cultural note, rather than my field report that focuses on the business aspect of social media in Japan.
Internet Adoption high in Japan: I met the top executive of a marketing company in Japan and he told me that 2/3 of Japan’s 120 million residents are on the web.
Yet most Japanese corporations do not invest heavily in web: This executive also told me that only half of Japan’s 4000 companies spend more than $100k on the internet at all.
Credit crunch discussed: This is a global issue, I heard it in a few meetings with clients, it’s cascaded beyond US.
Facebook’s Japanese Translation Poor: I asked my Japanese clients what they thought of Facebook’s translation, they looked away, grimaced, and gave very clear body reactions that it needs improvement. I promised to pass the word on, as I speak to Facebook on a frequent basis.
Tokyo’s adoption of Twitter highest in globe: Given the heavy mobile adoption, I’m not surprised by these stats.
New Social Media Technology: Learned about “Nico Nico Douga” from Jonathan Browne, he says its a video sharing site where the users can ‘write’ on top of others’ vids
Developer and Enterpreneurs not fully gelled: There’s a gap (cultural and language) between business entrepreneurs in web scene and the web engineers and developers, mentioned one web entrepreneur now based in Tokyo. In silicon valley, it feels like one family.
Hotel Life: My room is equipped with a plasma screen, cordless iron, toilet with a bidet, and a futon like firm mattress.
Pride in workmanship: Everyone takes pride in their work and the customers they serve. Many taxi drivers have white glove service, and I noticed idling taxi drivers polishing their vehicle while waiting for next fare. A far cry from NY cabbies. Also, they will open and close the door for you using a remote lever –so dont open or close taxi doors, it’s frowned upon.
Tipping not required yet service high: Tipping isn’t part of Asian culture, in fact, it could be seen as insulting. Despite this, service was extremely high from taxis fast food, to hotel staff. If the weather was bad, expect apologies from Japanese, a most polite and considerate culture. I question why I feel forced to tip at American restaurants for mediocre or even sub-standard service.
Pandora: It works in Japan, I’m pleasantly surprised as I thought it was North American only.
Corporate Responsibility motto a current trend: Like “Green computing” in US, many Japanese corporations are on the sustainable and giving back to the community bandwagon, in fact, this makes a ripe opportunity for social media efforts to help tell this story.
Salary Men: Are Japan’s corporate worker, in the area I stayed, there were many dressed in black or gray suits, often with a skinny tie. Work life takes priority over anything else, and long days can extend to 12 hours, then not including after work eating, drinking, and festivities. Apparently, it’s not unheard of many salarymen to stay the night in small hotels, or even utilize showers at work… I thought I worked a lot.
Fresh Sushi: I had ‘real’ sushi near the fish market. It was more like FRUIT, than fish. Firm, burst in your mouth and sweet, I don’t think it was frozen.
Vending Machines: Dispense not only drinks and smokes, but also you can pay for food before you enter noodle houses, this increase effeciency, and reduced need to fumble with money and change. Salary Men hung out near vending machines where beer was dispensed in late evening –I wanted to join them.
Tokyo Travels: Went to Roppongi which has many ex-pats, as well as a somewhat nefarious hidden underground.
Mobile Medium: No SMS, yet all phones are 3G, most phones have built in digital TV tuners, so you can watch TV in crystal clear quality.
Developer Community still growing, yet not unified: Developers complexities with developing software, as they are a hardware based culture. Shibuya is the technology center –esp high tech and startups in Tokyo. Kris Tate, CTO of zooomr.com a photo sharing site notices an increase from 7-715, then later from 8pm-1am. Both are before and after work, often accessing from home computers before hitting the subways. There’s isn’t a large blogging community in Japan to help be the ‘instant niche media’ that you’d find in the US.
Families are our first community, and it’s no surprise that I first starting experimenting with connecting my large family online as my first project. Today, I’m an analyst focused on communities for the largest brands in the world –and to think I start with a group of Owyang’s.
What happens offline happens online, in fact our blood lines are now being found in Yahoo groups, geni.com (online family tree, where I have 291 blood relatives), wikipedia, and personal created communities.
Intel is known for trying out a variety of social media efforts, for better or for worse. They experiment, and continue to learn and iterate, I give them continual credit and reference them in presentations. One particular activity of note is what I learned from David Veneski, he tackled the join vs build question and made the call to join.
Earlier this year, I visited Intel up in Seattle (correction: Portland) and spoke to David Veneski, a marketing manager, and spoke to his group about social computing strategies. He had deployed some successful marketing efforts, and reached communities where they existed, he had efforts to reach early tech adopters in Digg, as well as Slashdot. Both of these communities are rabid passionate tech communities that are self-thriving and require little attention from outside sources to be successful.
[Savvy brands join communities where the exist, rather than solely trying to coax customers to the corporate website through disruptive tactics]
The moment of brilliance was when David said that one of the requirements of his marketing efforts was to not link to Intel.com. Rather than try to join a community then pull them away, the marketing efforts joined the community and stayed there –likely where the trust is highest (see data).
As a result, David fished where the fish were, and avoided trying to suck the members off the community they were part of. Marketers are often measured on the amount of traffic they generate to their corporate website, but in this case, Intel will have to measure using different attributes such as interaction, viral spread, and maybe even a survey.
Wave report to segment market leaders in a crowded industry
I’m over the hump of this laborious research project to determine which of the 90 community platform vendors are enterprise worthy for Fortune 5000 interactive marketers.
Enterprise brands seek ‘Community Solution Partner’
I firmly believe that technology is a commodity, that’s why there are 90 vendors in this crowded space. Brands have indicated that success is only 20% technology, and the majority is 80% is a combination of internal changes, services, and support.
One thing I heavily stressed in my research, isn’t a focus so much on the technology, but instead how the vendors could truly be ‘community solution partners’ to their clients. A true solution partner understands the business needs of their client, offers strategy, best practices, can assist with implementation, offers ongoing technical –but more importantly, community management, guidance, and recommendations.
The research methodology includes:
I’ve had to make sense of thousands of cells in multiple excel sheets, ensure each line is accurate and will enable our clients to make important decisions.
6-hour in person lab days with each of the 9 vendors
During the last few weeks, I spent 5-6 hours with each of the nine vendors, often in a windowless room where powerpoint, screenshots, and live testing of their software took place. Using Forrester’s 5 objectives of listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing, I’ve found some key patterns to the strengths of vendors.
Up to 27 customer interviews
Surprisingly, vendors don’t know their own customers that well, in more than one occasion, customers poorly rated the vendors that suggested they participate as this ideal customer reference. I also cross references with vendors to see how well they could anticipate what their customers said about them –in some cases, vendors were completely unaware of the challenges that clients were having –a very bad sign.
Reviewed data submitted by vendors
Earlier, we issued a survey to vendors in this space, over 50 of them responded, and submitted around 50 or so fields of data. I factored in a great deal of this to perform market sizing and to complete comparative analysis.
Frequent discussion with clients
Perhaps the most important piece of data input is the constant discussion with my clients on inquiry calls. I hear from them what they want (demand side) as well as their experience with vendors (feedback). It’s interesting to find out that many brands are not happy with their platform vendors, and the vendors often don’t even know it!
Next Steps: Final Analysis, Preparing for Publication
Expect to see the published report in the coming weeks. Right now, the spreadsheets are being reviewed by vendors in the fact checking process, and I’ve already started to see some patterns in the data that will help to determine positioning. Thanks for your patience, between client duties and travel, getting all the pieces together for success requires some patience to ensure it will be done correctly.
If you’re a client and need advice now, you can schedule an inquiry call with me and I’ll be happy to discuss with you my current findings. I’ve already made some recommendations to clients based upon their specific needs and objectives.
I hope you find this transparency in the research methodology helpful in understanding our goals to make sure our clients make the right decisions to be successful.