Archive for January, 2009

Obama Crowdsources Daily Ideas with Citizen’s Briefing Book


Change Force

I just learned from Leverage’s Mike Walsh that Obama will receive a briefing from the top voted ideas that were submitted by the American people each evening see (a play off . This method of keeping in direct communication by ‘listening’ to the citizens leans on voting style technology similar to Dell’s Ideastorm. My colleague Josh Bernoff will be pleased, as he requested this feature a few months ago.

You’ll need to login and register (I suspect they can use IP addresses to determine point of origin within US) in order to confirm location but that’s not completely accurate. How can Obama extend this further? Make a similar site for all other nations to submit ideas for foreign policy. This doesn’t come without challenges of course, the system could be gamed, and there’s no promise he’ll make changes based on our feedback, we’ll see.

I talk to the executives of the world’s largest brands, after Obama won the election, I get a lot less push back –it’s rare I have to have discussions now about the validity of social technologies. Of course, social technologies still come with risk, but for some reason this feels really good, we’re all a bit more connected and the internet helps to bring us together.

Related Resources

  • You can see the top submitted ideas, the first one is “Ending Marijuana Prohibition” with 81080 Points, 2719 comments, and submitted on Jan 12th, which is the earliest submittal date I can find.
  • I just logged in and voted for ending of torture and request for bullet trains, each vote cast 10 points.
  • If you know who the vendor is who is doing this work (platform and development) please let me know, I checked source code but didn’t see anything real obvious (Updates: a few that I know have confirmed this is Sales Force, in the comments.)
  • Body of Work: Community and Social Network Research


    Ill be up front, writing research is one of the hardest parts of the job for me, it’s an area I end up putting extra time in.

    Despite the extra effort I have to put in, looking back I’m very proud of my body of work. You’ll notice that there’s a strong body of work on community and social networks, all designed to help a brand with their community strategy from soup-to-nuts. Here’s some highlights of what I’ve been working on in the last 16 months:

    Body of Work: Community and Social Network Research

    Strategy: Online Communities: Build Or Join? (Hint: the answer is ‘when’)

    Resources: How to Staff for Social Computing (Like any business program, key people are needed, and here’s there two roles you’ll need to succeed)

    Best Practices: Online Community Best Practices (I interviewed 19 brands that have done it right, and to find out how, remember: only 20% is technology)

    Best Practices: Best And Worst Of Social Network Marketing, 2008 (we scored 16 brands who conducted marketing efforts on social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo)

    Best Practices: What works in Online Company Forums (lead by Cynthia Pflaum, we published this report to help brands understand what works)

    Vendor Selection: Forrester Wave on Community Platforms (This recently launched report scrutinizes 9 of the 100 vendors in this crowded space)

    Technology: I’ve done a piece on Facebook’s engagement ads and Google’s Opensocial, while I tend not to like to focus on technology as a driver, these were both innovative ways for marketers to reach communities.

    Soon to be published: My upcoming publications include the social technographics of baby boomers, and our predictions for social computing for 2009, you can setup a ‘research alert’ on the right nav of my profile page to be alerted to upcoming reports.

    I’m very proud of the hard work we’ve put in, and I’m thankful for my very tough editors, researchers, research associates, editing team, web team and management for supporting this process. Although the research is never done, the current body of work is designed to answer the most critical questions during key milestones for brands who want to understand community. In most cases, while these reports help brands get their strategy in order, I’m often asked to present the reports to their staff, conduct custom research, or make specific strategy and vendor suggestions, I’ve noticed an increase in demand and it’s keeping me very busy.

    Upcoming Reports:
    I’ve two reports that I’m working on, both I hope you’ll find interest in. The first, which is focused on how brands are changing their spending and behavior towards social media during a recession. We conducted a survey, and I found it interesting that most marketers certainly leaned one direction when we asked them “are you going to increase or decrease social media spend”. I am also seeking case examples of brands that have conducted social media efforts since sept 08 and have seen success during times of resource scrutiny. Secondly, I’m working on a report to outline the future of social networks, you may know about the roundtable I hosted in Oct, which is just the precursor to this vision piece. I’m seeking to speak with thought leaders that can see how technologies like, social networks, mobile, ecommerce and corporate websites will evolve to impact the marketing and purchasing process.

    If you have research examples you want to submit, you can contact me at jowyang at, lead in the subject line “Research Report Submittal: X”

    Social + Research
    In my opinion only, I’m well aware of the impacts of social technologies on research and analyst firms. Although it hasn’t been done correctly yet, the market could self-organize and provide community based research to each other, bypassing firms. We’ve not seen this happen yet, as then quality of community based research is still low and lacks a directional strategy it certainly is possible. Like I tell my marketing clients, the power is in the hands of the participants –so participate!

    My employer has taken note of how I’ve used social technologies to improve research, increase thought leadership, and to share the findings with the market, I’ll be working with fellow analysts to help them understand what works and what doesn’t. Blazing trails is always risky and sometimes fun, but what really matters when it helps a company become more efficient.

    Feedback needed
    If you had your say in my 2009 research agenda, I’d love to hear what you think is missing. We’ve a pretty solid plan based on what we think the market is asking, but I’d love to hear your opinion as well.

    The Unrecognizable Taglines of the Community Platform Space


    Over the last year I’ve been trained to make my points not just with opinion but with data, so I’ve done just that with this experiment. In a crowded market (esp if you’ve 100 competitors) having an at-par product isn’t enough. Strategic market will out position your competitors and make sure you’re considered and then preferred over others. Sure some strong brands like GM don’t need a tagline, but others that have ingrained “just do it.” are now part of culture.

    In a few short days I created, fielded and collected data from a small survey set of folks that read my blog and are connected to me on twitter, the results are below.

    Data: Tag Line Recognition, all respondents
    Out of a base of 60 respondents, which is on the smaller side, we could quickly see a trend on which taglines were the most recognizable.

  • 90.00% were able to recognize Twitter’s “What are you doing?”
  • 30.00% were able to recognize Kickapps’s “Social Networking Software Platform and Soical Media Community Building Applications”
  • 28.33% were able to recognize Lithium’s “Successful Communities On-Demand”
  • 25.00% were able to recognize Liveworld’s “Your Brand Lives in the Voice of Your Customers”
  • 25.00% were able to recognize Jive’s “The Business Social Software Leader”
  • 21.67% were able to recognize Mzinga’s “On-Demand Social Software Solutions for Marketing, Support and Learning”
  • 21.67% were able to recognize Awareness’s “The Leader in Social Media Marketing”
  • 18.33% were able to recognize Leverage Software’s “People-Centric Social Networking Solutions for Business”
  • 16.67% were able to recognize Telligent’s “Enterprise Online Community”
  • 15.00% were able to recognize Pluck’s “Leaders in Social Media”
  • Considerations
    First of all, this isn’t a completely scientific study, with a small sample base, this isn’t a formal market research project that I do on the day job, but it is fun and does help me to make a point about marketing in a crowded pond.

    Despite it being a small sample size, the audience reading this blog and those connected to me are certainly in the space. Since this was launched on my blog and twitter account, it is targeted in the social software space, this wasn’t a survey that went to grandmas in the congo.

    I wanted to do a larger sample of taglines that spanned other vendors like Blogtronix, Neighborhood America, OneSite, HiveLive, and on on, but I realized I didn’t have enough bandwidth for this project –nor easy to use tools.


    Most of the respondents were influencers or decision makers. 10 of respondents worked for community platforms, but only a half of them were the vendors listed above. 12 of the respondents replied they were a decision maker, I can see the emails and some work for large corporations. 27 said they were influencers. 5 were unsure what this market is, or were not involved with this market. the rest had misc write ins.

    11 of the respondents already had a community platform, 20 of them had no need for a community platform, but about half of them worked at the vendors themselves. 8 were unsure and needed to learn more if they needed a community platform, 17 of the were researching this market, and 1 said they were ready to buy.

    Even the most recognizable tagline by Kickapps (I’m not sure how anyone could recognize that beast) has nothing to be proud of, at best, less than one-third of the market could recognize it.

    Some responded they worked at community platform vendors, and while they got their own company right (I misread the data before) they didn’t recognize the taglines of others.

    I threw twitter in as the first question just to get people feeling good, and it’s somewhat of a control sample, they are clearly in this space. It is interesting that 90% of them clearly could recognize this call to action.

    In a market this crowded (100 vendors) creating a tagline or brand that makes you standapart may be key. On the other hand vendors like Six Apart and Social Text (both long time recognizable) brands don’t have a tagline at all.

    Although Pluck’s “Leaders in Social Media” and Awareness’s “The Leader in Social Media Marketing” are nearly identical, Awareness has a 5 point gain, why is that? I’ve often thought Jive’s enterprise octopus was fairly unique and fun, and told a story that other serious minded enterprise vendors failed to get.

    The vendors in this space, at least by tagline are for the most part, indistinguishable, I can back this up with my frequent client calls of brands asking for vendor recommendations and general confusion on who does what –good thing we published a Wave report helping with that. While some of the vendors had more of a descriptor than a tagline, they were for the most part, not different from each other.

    Doug Haslam writes that he found this experiment interesting, and although he’s in PR and covers this space, could only identify one tagline in the space.

    Voices from the community
    I asked the respondents what would they do if they were the CMO of these vendors, because of the large amount of text, I’ve moved them to a seperate page, but you should read some of the cherry insights they provided.

    Thanks everyone for this quick and interesting experiment.

    Here’s Doug’s Podcast discussing the topic, listen in.

    Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: Jan 15, 2009



    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. Or you can subscribe to this digest tag only and not receive my other posts.

    Web Strategy Summary
    Usage of social media will continue to rise, the growth of China’s internet population bodes to growth off shores. Forrester has launched a Wave report over community platforms. “Diso” a technology that suggests social will be aggregated to one page will occur, and several make predictions for the upcoming year.

    Usage: Surge in Chinese internet users.
    Although the Chinese internet population is greater than the entire US citizenship, a sharp increase in usage is reported, primarily from mobile.

    Research: Forrester “Waves” Community Platforms
    I lead this research, where we’ve segmented the leaders in the community platform space. I know some folks are subscribed to this digest and not my blog, so excuse me if you’ve already heard.

    Deals: Neighborhood American showcases wins
    Community platform Neighborhood America showcases several client wins including Kodak, City of New Orleans, and Wharton Business school in their latest newsletter, you can subscribe on the website.

    Tech: Future of Social Dashboards, Diso
    Marc Canter has frequently been the guiding light for open data and suggests that the future dashboard of all things could be a technology called Diso, RWW has more info.

    Data: Will Facebook US members overtake MySpace
    Techncrunch highlights recent Comscore data and suggests that Facebook’s US members 54mm members will overtake MySpace in 2010, 76mm, one year from now.

    Future: 8 Predictions for Enterprise 2.0
    Dion writes like an analyst and breaks down his predictions for 2009 revolving around social computing within the enterprise. He highlights that community will be one of the priorities within the enterprise.

    Predictions: Hivelive suggests what’s upcoming for communities
    Hivelive, a Colorado community platform boasts a very flexible component based system so don’t be surprised about their predictions for the new year. Overall, I agree, specific use cases for community are going to be needed.

    Launch: Cisco puts forth a community platform “Eos”
    I’ve profiled this launch (and the Cisco team has responded) read this post for details. Surprisingly, other than a few press releases and blog posts, we’ve not seen much more from this highly secretive project.

    Interview: Jive’s CMO on FastCompany TV
    Thought leader and executive of 4 years, Sam Lawrence the CMO of Jive Software spends time with Scoble on Fast Company TV.

    Contest: Sony community needs a name
    An interesting way to drive community interaction and interest, Sony encourages it’s members to help name it’s own community. This community is run by Powered, who I had a briefing with yesterday, that specializes in content and editorial, in addition to just a platform. (edit: This is actually an Awareness community, but Powered does run these Sony communities backstage101, darkroom, and frontline)

    Launch: Awareness launches Sony Blog
    A different division of Sony has launched a community during CES that’s run by Awareness Networks, see the Sony Electronics Blog. Just goes to show that multiple vendors are often within one brand.

    Vocab: Buzzword Leaderboard
    The good folks at Royal Pingdom have helped to create this index of web buzzwords and terms, what’s really interesting is they’ve rated which terms are peaking –marketers responsible for messaging should take note.

    If you’re a social network, or widget company, I want to know of your news, send me an email, or leave a comment below. Help me stay up to date.

    Hungry For Social Networking Stats? Then you should see my collection of Social Networks Stats for 2008 and 2009. Bookmark them, then share it with others as I continue to update it.

    Quiz: Can you Identify the Taglines of Community Platforms?


    After a recent discussion with the CMO of one of these vendors (I’ll tell you later who it is, newly minted CMO of Lithium Sanjay has revealed himself in the comments) we both were discussing the different taglines for the vendors in the wave, and how they are similar and different in a very crowded market. Let’s prove it by taking it to the market.

    Take this quick quiz: Can you Identify the Taglines of Community Platforms? The quiz is now closed and the results are now live

    Take this quiz and see if you can identify the taglines of the different vendors, once you complete the quiz, a link will be provided where you can see the answers. I’ll make the results public after I get a healthy sample size.

    The first tagline question, I hope you get –it’s an easy one.

    The Fight on Google’s Results Pages: Community Platforms


    Dell’s Bob Pearson was right, a company’s corporate homepage is really

    As I was doing follow up research on some of the vendors in the community space, I was entering in some keyword searches on Google to find different product pages. Although a common practice, it’s interesting to see which vendors buy sponsored links on the right hand column of the search screen. It’s not easy to tell if they’ve purchased these keywords directly to display if someone enters a vendors name, or if they bought greater search terms like “community software”, either way it’s an indicator of what Google, or the vendors think their most relevant competitors are.

    Search marketing is a pretty normal practice, but over the years I’ve seen and learned a few ethical, and not so ethical ways companies do battle for mindshare. A few examples:

  • Brands often forget to purchase the paid keywords for their specific product name during a launch, a well placed blog post from a competitor mentioning the specific product name can yield some pretty tremendous search engine juice. History tells us that many press release link to the company’s homepage, but not to specific product pages, forcing bloggers, press, media, and analysts to do Google searches to learn more, the result? A competitors blog can easily be visible above the fold.
  • While discussed and reprimanded by Google and other search engines, when I was in web marketing, I heard cases of competitors supposedly clicking on our paid search terms, and since we had a limited inventory of pay per click, they would use up our inventory. Now I’m sure Google has ways around this (by looking at IP address or other behaviors) but every technology has a workaround.
  • For even more nefarious uses, former colleague and internet expert John Cass gives a breakdown how one vendor was using trademarked product names in search marketing strategy, and the difficulties of enforcement. (link via LiveWorld’s Bryan Person)
  • So what’s right and what’s wrong? Time tends to average things out, and those that play above the table will eventually look victorious, those that kick under the table tend to get punished –or others see it and walk away. On the other hand, all’s fair in business, there are no rules, and this just is an indicator of who’s hungrier for your business.

    Below are some screenshots of some vendors search engine results pages (SERP) and you can see the different sponsored links on the right. Here’s what I see when I search for Liveworld, Kickapps, and Telligent.


    Update: Sam Decker, CMO of BazzarVoice created this interesting matrix was created that shows which vendors are buying keywords for other competitors SERP pages. link via LiveWorld’s Bryan Person.