Archive for August, 2009


Back To Practice: Flying With The Altimeter Group

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Altimeter Group Logo

New technologies are emerging at a faster pace –yet companies lack an on-boarding process.

Just a few years ago, fax, cell phones, email and the internet stormed into companies. Today, social technologies have caused many corporations to respond with a knee-jerk reaction, or shudder away in fear. Tomorrow, location aware devices, an increase in cloud computing, and augmented realities are quickly appearing on the horizon. What’s the trend? These emerging technologies are coming at an increased speed.

With more changes coming, it’s painful for companies to quickly adopt without a strategy. As a result, modern companies need an on-boarding process for any emerging technology. We plan to be that guide for the world’s top brands to understand, experiment, and improve their business. How, do you ask?

Ready For Takeoff: I’m Joining The Altimeter Group!
I’ve joined the Altimeter Group as a partner, where I’ll be a strategy consultant. Focusing on customer strategy, I’ll guide my clients through a process to understand and adopt new technologies.

I’ll draw on at least four resources: 1) My experience at Hitachi Data Systems leading social strategy, 2) Insight gleaned as an industry analyst, 3) learnings as an active practioner of the tools, and 4) Large network of the smartest minds in the space.

Our Holistic Approach: Leadership, Customer, Enterprise, and Innovation.
I’m joining a powerhouse team and will be one of four partners. First, our founding partner, Charlene Li, will focus on the changes coming to successful leadership. I’ll focus on customer strategy of emerging technologies, for now, that’s primarily social and it’s impact to marketing and support. From an enterprise point of view, Ray Wang, has focus on business applications like ERP and CRM. Also, Deborah Schultz will focus on innovation.  She’s well known in the tech scene, and was recently a consultant guiding the P&G Social Media Labs.

How We Plan To Work With The Ecosystem:
We want to be part of the greater community, and we’re going to work with companies and the providers of technology and services:

Guiding our clients to adopt emerging technologies. We want to develop a long-term relationship with a select set of clients. They’ll know that today’s focus is social, but it’ll quickly move to “what’s next”. Despite market changes, our practice will remain consistent: evaluate the situation, educate, develop a strategy, identify the right providers, and make measurable business impacts through our pragmatic approach.

Got something to offer? Get involved with us. We know we’re part of the larger eco systems, and we will work with technology and service providers that are ready to engage with our clients. We’ll be working with agencies, consultants, individual thought leaders, high-tech startups, established technology companies and beyond in order to find the right mix for our clients.

Get geared for flight at the Hangar. We’re announcing our physical space at our office in San Mateo (appropiatly called the “Hangar” in the spirit of the Altimeter, a device used to measure altitude) where we have training rooms, conference areas, and meeting rooms. (Author and friend Brian Solis has taken some pictures) In the spirit of P&G’s social media labs, we’ll use this space for training, experiments, demos, unconferences, tweetups, and the occasional social bash.

Join The Altimeter Open House Webinar On The Future of Business
If you want to learn more about the Altimeter Group, we’re hosting an Open House Webinar to discuss the Future of Business on Thursday, Sept 10th, at 10am Pacific Time. (GMT – 8:00)  Sign up, it’ll be interactive where everyone can participate.


Pilot’s Log: My Personal View
There’s been a lot of chatter in the last few days about these changes, from RWW/NYT, Zdnet, MediaPost, SV Biz Journal, SageCircle, Analysis of Branding, and speculation on Twitter, so I wanted to take some time to clear up a few things:

 

I’m hanging up the analyst hat, moving back to practice. I’m truly thankful for the grand adventure at Forrester. I learned the value of knowledge, and will continue to refer companies to Forrester for research and analysis. The skills, trends, and contacts I gleaned as an analyst have made me a better practitioner, now I venture into the field as a strategy consultant.

This blog will continue! I got a lot of questions whether or not I’ll continue to blog, and guess what? I plan to increase commitment to blogging. One change you’ll note is I’ll be increasing my scope beyond just social –and I’m taking you with me. As I’ve done for years, I’ll share what I learn in this blog, and we’ll discuss it in the comments and learn from each other as a community.  Remember, blogging is a form of paying yourself first.

Despite being scared, I’m ok with it. I’m leaving a stable, high-profile job in the middle of a recession, and live in Silicon Valley, an expensive place to live. Yet, after speaking to many entrepreneurs and successful professionals,  they reassured me and told me to embrace my fear.  Why?  They say it will only fuel my desire to succeed.  I truly believe now is the time for innovation, and see glimpses of light despite this recession. In the spirit of Silicon Valley and beyond, I’m going to take a risk for a greater reward.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Lastly, I wanted to sincerely thank you all for the support, from family, friends, colleagues, readers from all over the globe and even competitors, it’s truly appreciated. I also wanted to thank Charlene for believing in me over the years, and the brain power from my new partners Debs and Ray, and the behind-the-scenes help from Denise.

I look forward to this next phase in my journey, as a Partner at the Altimeter Group, see you at our Open House webinar! or email me at jeremiah_owyang at yahoo.com

Related Resources:
I’ll update this section with interesting points of view.

Correction: Thanks to the observant James Fishback, I made a fix to correct ‘Hangar’.

Guest Post: Finding Forrester’s Next Social Analyst

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Jeremiah: Working at Forrester is a capstone in my career, it could also be for you. Charles Telep, Forrester’s talent recruiter is guest posting here at the Web Strategy blog to find my replacement. I fully endorse working at Forrester here for a plethora of reasons, here’s just a few: 1) Jump start your career, 2) Work with some of the world’s smartest people, 3) Get connected with nearly everyone in your industry, (lots of travel) 4) Learn trends and market movement 5) Great upside opportunities, pay, benefits, and culture. 6) Develop analytical, consulting, and speaking skills, 7) Learn what “4C2Q1S” means. 8: Drink fine French champagne!

Here’s Charles’s Note To The Next Social Analyst:


Greetings Strategists,

My name is Charles Telep (@forresterjobs) and I’m working with Christine Overby, VP/Research Director, Serving Interactive Marketing Professionals, to find the next great social media analyst.

Are you up to the challenge? Do you know someone who is?

A bit about Forrester: We’re a global, independent Research firm that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice to global leaders in business and technology. We research, strategize, consult, and help our clients with their biggest tech challenges. Forrester is a challenging workplace, and we’d like you to help identify how technology is changing consumer behavior.

The Forrester Culture: Our CEO, Chairman, and Founder—George Colony (Blog / Twitter) has been quoted as saying: “If you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t be here.” We’re a smart, innovative company that hires people of the same caliber. I tell candidates, “We hire rock stars and let them do their thing.”

If you think you’d like to join the Interactive Marketing Team, take a look at the bullets below, or job description, and qualify yourself.

“Would I hire me?”

Non-negotiables that you should consider:

• Am I in the Bay area (or ready to be in the Bay Area)?
• Am I influential in the social community? Questions like “How many Twitter followers do I have” or “how many comments do I average per blog post” should come to mind.
• Would I know any of the names of those who comment on your blog, link to your blog or follow you on Twitter (to represent quality of influence, not just quantity)?
• Am I interested in covering the application of communities and social networks for interactive marketing programs?
• Could I effectively analyze the future of social technology, and organizational models that support social media marketing?
• Can I articulate how social tools enhance the core analyst job?

Thanks for reading this; I look forward to hearing from you.

Charles Telep
Talent Acquisition
Forrester Research
ctelep (at) forrester.com
LinkedIn
Twitter
Forrester Community


Jeremiah: I look forward to seeing this new analyst, and glad Charles took up the offer to guest post. I plan on being a friend to the Forrester family for many, many years.

Thank you Forrester, a Grand Adventure!

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Thank you Forrester!  When I announced I’d be joining Forrester nearly two years ago, I knew it would have been one of the best moves in my career. I certainly feel I was right. Being a Forrester Analyst is a top role to have in any industry, and one that I’ll bear proudly for the rest of my professional career.

Working with the industry’s smartest minds in marketing, strategy, and social has been fantastic, the quality of my colleagues has always kept me learning.  During my tenure I’ve been given the opportunity to segment the crowded community platform market, identify spending trends in social, and forecast the future of the social web.  As one would expect, one of the greatest benefits of being an industry analyst is seeing where trends are pointing and identify the direction of the market.  Having studied this market in-depth as an analyst, I’m looking forward to getting back into the field to apply them.

For those currently working with Forrester, my ever-gracious hiring manager Christine gives details on my transition and will keep the dialog going.  As she points out, there’s a whole team of analysts that are focused on the social marketing, I’d like to recognize a few of my immediate colleagues  Nate Elliott, Sean Corcoran, Emily Riley and of course luminary Josh Bernoff, who’s now working on his next book.  I’ve relied on them for research and projects, and you should too.

Thank you so much for letting me serve the social space as an industry analyst –I look forward to the years of growth ahead.   So let’s keep in touch, I want to get your feedback about my next role that I’ll be announcing next week, you can email me at jeremiah_owyang at yahoo.com or connect with me on Twitter.

The Future of Facebook

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Facebook continues to make a series of evolutionary moves in recent months, rather than react to the news, let’s take a holistic look at where the company is headed.   I’ve given my perspective to SFGate, now but want to dive into details here.  I’ll give my perspective, but as we’ve seen time and time before, the real value is the collective contributions in the comments.  

Evolving to a platform –not just a social network
Facebook isn’t a social network, it’s really a communications platform –in fact, when you look closely, it’s not unlike an operating system on the web.  Early innovations such as the instant messaging tool,then the applications platform that allowed 3rd party developers (called F8, correction: Just Facebook Platform) aren’t unlike what Microsoft offers to consumers.  What separates them from others is the social news feed which aggregates what others in your network are doing.  

Unique culture fosters innovation
It’s important to examine the culture and leadership of a company as it’s a strong indicator of how they’ll behave.  Young, innovative, yet somewhat reserved leader Mark Zuckerberg continues to make choices that don’t always include what the community expects –or wants.  In my visits to their previous HQ, it was much like a dorm room: spray painted walls, fancy cafeteria.  However recently, they moved out of downtown Palo Alto (to the determent of local businesses) to a centralized location on California avenue in biotech row off Page Mill.  The employee base, and culture reflect all of this: the age of the untainted product teams indicate this –In my ripe old age of mid 30s, I’m clearly one of the oldest during my visits.

Recent moves indicate move towards real time.
Fast forward to summer 2009, and we’re starting to see some radical developments.  First with the acquisition of Friendfeed which is mainly a talent acquisition and early snatching of potentially the next Twitter competitor, who they were unable to acquire.  Now we’re seeing indicators that they’re gearing up for mobile, and other devices like gaming consoles with a Facebook lite version that is quickly delivers the basic for those that need to quickly find out what their community is doing and communicate back.   Lately, we’ve seen indicators they want to find ways to improve real-time search, which means they can help consumers make real time decisions. 

Awkward adolescence has its challenges
The continued innovation is spurred by the elusive business model –this awkwardness is a natural outcome of a company in growth.  I’ve heard a couple of times from various employees that they’re generating revenue (but there’s no official information available) yet I hear from brands that traditional advertising is ineffective.  Secondly, this constant innovation becomes a real burden on brands who have a difficult time understanding which tools to use and why, as well as 3rd party developers who are constantly rejiggering the changing API and Terms of Service. 

What to Expect in Facebook’s Future: A Web Based Operating System
So what’s in store for Facebook in the future?  Here’s what we should expect:

  • Aggregator of all.  To win, Facebook wants it’s network to spread to other locations, then aggregate back to it’s website.  This centralizes Facebook (which can be accessed anywhere from any digital medium) as the hub of communications.   As a result, consumers will make decisions based on information from peers in this hubs, and brands will pay money to be part of it.
  • A new class of competitors –beyond social networks.  In the end, Facebook is an aggregator of all information that’s important to an individual and their friends. Who currently does this?  Media darling Twitter does this, Friendfeed (hence the acquisition) and existing web email systems like Hotmail, Gmail, AOL, and Yahoo have shown indicators they’re thinking about heading this way.  
  • Content to be more public –yet members may resist.  The option to allow profiles to be public and the vanity URL landgrab are indicators that they want to make information more public –yet the challenge will be convincing members to opt-in.
  • Facebook.com as a destination isn’t as important.  To be successful, Facebook will need to spread to many websites (like corporate ones) and experiences, this is why Facebook Connect (authentication for 3rd parties) matters.  This Era of Social Colonization empowers the FB experience to spread to other websites.
  • Monetization engines to turn on.  The constant innovation of dozens of products are akin to ‘throwing pasta at the wall’ to see what sticks.  Facebook’s 250mm user base is nearing mainstream web portal (see traffic compared to Google and Yahoo) they’re quickly closing the gap.
  • No kingdom lasts forever.  We see this time and time again, technology companies supernova, grow then fail to innovate from political tape and sheer size.  

This is my take, yet it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only opinion.  I hope to hear what you think holds in store for Facebook in the coming years, love to hear your comments.

How To Kick Start A Community –an Ongoing List

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One of the top 10 questions in social media marketing asked is “How do we kick start our community?”  This post aims at providing some resources for brands that are preparing their community strategy.

The old adage of the field of dreams isn’t true -if you build it–they won’t neccesarily come. Brands must have a kick start plan to be successful with their community. Below, I’ll list out some practices I’ve heard from companies that have had successful communities, and I’d ask you chime in and add more ways, let’s get started, I’ll be as specific and actionable as possible.

How to Kick Start A Community

  1. Create compelling content on a recurring basis. Brands sometimes create videos, podcasts, or stories on a daily or weekly basis that encourages members to come back.
  2. Reward users who fill out their profile. Folks like to see other friendly faces, so giving them access to premium features or recognition of those who have the most complete profiles should recognized.
  3. Invite community influencers and advocates to the community first –giving them first right of testing the system and then inviting others.
  4. Encourage interaction through conversations. Ask questions, talk about controversial topics, or host a contest that encourages participation.
  5. Reward top contributors: Those that participate the most, or perhaps, are the most helpful should be recognized on a leader board, and thanked in public.  Unexpectedly, send them something nice as a thank you, or reward them with premium services –never money.
  6. Centralize your community around your real world events.  People want to find each other before events, talk about the event during the duration, and then afterwards are key.  Use the community in your physical events.
  7. Virtual Events integrate community:  Don’t just use on your real world events, but integrated with your virtual ones, I‘ve written at length about that here.
  8. Integrate with your website –and other customer touchpoints. Remember, corporate sites of the future are aggregations of community discussion, be sure to integrate community in your corporate site.  Make sure your call center, email marketing, and external newsletters all integrate community.  (don’t forget even the email signatures)
  9. Encourage employees to get active.  A party isn’t much fun if there’s no one there, so encourage the hosts (often employees) to kickstart discussions by talking, debating, and arguing about the news, updates, or even relevant YouTube videos will trigger discussion.  Of course, you have a community manager on staff, right?
  10. Leave a comment below: Whew, I’ve rattled off my best, now over to you.  Leave a comment with your tip.  How do you kick start a community?

I’ve also signaled to some of the vendors in the community platform space to chime in –giving them the chance to strut their knowledge.  Also see tips from Connie Benson, Shout Em, and Keenview.

Data Indicates Facebook Reaching Mainstream Visitor Rate (Compete, Alexa, Quantcast)

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Facebook’s stats page indicate that they’ve 250mm uniques users, with 120mm unique visitors per day. I rarely believe numbers provided by vendors as they can easily be stretched so it’s important to compare third party data sources. Looking at just one source is never enough, but comparing trend lines across 3 multiple data sources really gives a greater view.

The specific numbers themselves aren’t as important as the overall trend that all three are indicating: Facebook continues to grow in unique visitors from three separate data methods. Two of the data sources indicate Yahoo.com is slipping.



Below Image: Alexa indicates Yahoo is trending down while Facebook trends upwards over last 2 yearsAlexa: Yahoo vs Google vs Facebook


Below Image: Quantcast indicates Facebook’s on the rise over a 6mos periodQuantcast: Yahoo vs Google vs Facebook


Below Image: Compete indicates while Yahoo and Google remain relatively flat, Facebook angles up in last year
Compete:  Yahoo vs Google vs Facebook


So what’s it mean? Not a lot really, while Google a search portal, Yahoo, now a media and applications site, really are different than Facebook, a communication and social site. While Facebook may be receiving more unique visitors over time, their business model hasn’t lined up to profit from direct page views as advertising performance is sub-standard. Unique visitors, while certainly an indicator of mainstream adoption –arn’t an fool proof way to measure revenues of any website.