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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
• 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Invite community influencers and advocates to the community first –giving them first right of testing the system and then inviting others.
Encourage interaction through conversations. Ask questions, talk about controversial topics, or host a contest that encourages participation.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 yearsBelow Image: Quantcast indicates Facebook’s on the rise over a 6mos periodBelow Image: Compete indicates while Yahoo and Google remain relatively flat, Facebook angles up in last year
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.
Left: Several Press, Analysts, and Bloggers met with executives from Cisco and Warner using Telepresence from NY, SF, to San Jose. Cisco’s Eos (their community platform for media brands) landed an enterprise wide deal with Warner Music.
Attendees included John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, Dan Scheinman who heads Eos, and Edgar Bronfman, CEO of Warner music and Michale Nash of Warner.
Rather than focus on the details of the deal (you can read WSJ, Reuters, and GigaOm), I’m going to discuss what it means to the industry at large.
[Media companies will adopt social technologies to respond to the Groundswell in social networks --yet to be successful, the change isn’t about technology –but instead, their business model]
Media companies know that they’re not the only voices in the auditorium –the audience now talks back. They create media, content, and share it directly with each other on social sites —now brands, like Warner seek to embrace them closer. Rather than allow this inevitable social interaction on social networks like MySpace, they want to take it back by launching their own social features.
Although EOS was announced earlier this year (read my take), this is their first major client, hence the fanfare. What’s taken EOS so long to clinch a large deal? Their hefty enterprise system is designed for media brands to cascade across multiple properties –not one-off installations. Community platform players that also compete in the media space like Kickapps and Pluck (and to some degree Ning) have self-serve features, are modular, and even have credit card payment systems so individual brand managers can get started –bypassing IT.
Impacts to Community Platforms, and CMS Vendors
Incumbent community platform players (learn more about this crowded space) like Kickapps (who power artists U2, Madonna and Food2), Pluck (who powers USAToday/Gannet, The Guardian, and the NFL), and incumbent CMS systems like Vignette, Documentum, Interwoven need to demonstrate they’ve enterprise viability by proving their systems to brands that can scale across multiple entertainment properties at media conglomerates. Warner is an ‘end to end Cisco customer’ so the aforementioned vendors should immediately reach out to their customers with a large Cisco footprint in the datacenter.
Impacts to Social Networks: MySpace, Bebo, Facebook
As media companies develop their own communities this takes some power away from social networks like MySpace, Bebo, and Facebook. Fortunately, not all fans will interact with artist created communities –so they will need to quickly distinguish how their community base is different (perhaps in a different part of the marketing funnel) –but still valuable.
What It Means: Opportunities –and Challenges for Media Brands
Consider this the first day in which Chief Media Officers recognize that social is a key component to fostering a brand amongst an audience that wants –and will talk back. Expect other media conglomerates to start this evaluation process.
Rather than punt the community to MySpace and Bebo to monetize, media companies can now aggregate the data from the community to quickly identify trends, memes, and hits and wins from the community. Artists can foster a tighter relationship with fans as the communication goes both ways.
They could monetize by providing premium products (exclusive content, backstage passes, or special venues). Additionally there are WOM opportunities, and harvesting data to identify new trends, top influencers, and market trends. Creating premium products for fans and evangelists will spur their business forward.
Media companies need to develop a strategy beyond technologies that encompasses dealing with process, roles, and allowing for the voices of the customer –not just the media brands. Remember my 80/20 rule about communities, only 20% is about technology, the majority is strategy.
Lastly, media companies will need to reformat their business model, as the people formerly known as the audience now join artists on stage. Given how media companies have responded to this movement with a clamping and silencing motion –this is a big change for their culture.
Media Companies Under Extreme Change as Fans Join the Stage –Changing Biz Model
Summing things up, media brands that recognize the party is happening without them on MySpace, Bebo and Facebook will build branded communities for fans and artists closer to the corporate domain. This means the structure of the business will need to change, not just to allow fans to participate on the ‘online stage’ but to also develop new ways of monetizing through premium products, cross sales, and lean on efficient word of mouth marketing.
Invest 20 minutes to listen to this podcast focused on how Facebook Connect helps brands connect with existing communities. This podcast, hosted by Aaron Strout of Powered, was joined by the digital editor of AdWeek, Brian Morrissey and marketing blogger/consultant, Susan Getgood, and myself.
I’ve participated in dozens of online and virtual events, including created my own, below is a playbook to think about virtual events as they intersect with the social web. While the scope of this article is focused on online virtual events, many of these tips can be used in real world events and the like.
[To be successful, virtual --and real world events must have a strategy that integrates social technologies, before, during, and after]
Three Principles Of Modern Events
To be successful, virtual –and real world– event planners must abide by the following principles:
Events should integrate with existing communities and social networks where they exist.
Events should have a strategy that includes the before and after –not just during.
The audience can assert control over the event, so encourage audience participation and know when to get out of the way.
Planners must develop a Pre, During, and Post strategy that integrates social.
Today, event planners only think of the fixed event that occurs in a day, they often overlook that a community talks, discusses, and chatters before, during and after an event. They should:
Have a “before’ strategy. Use social tools before an event to increase signups by first locating where their target community is, and use social tools to reach them. Encourage members to tweet and share an event before it occurs, they should create events in Facebook so it triggers updates on the newsfeed. Assign a hashtag so that excited attendees can interact with all tweets, blog posts, tags, photos, and videos can be easily found, tracked, and then measured. Savvy organizers will source questions and topics from the crowd before the event occurs, both to increase the relevancy of the content and spur word of mouth. Truly advanced organizers will allow members to connect to each other before an event by allowing users to connect in an online community, or login using existing social network profiles to ‘find their friends’.
Integrate existing social tools during an event, thereby increasing interaction. During the event, organizers should be monitoring the social web and chat rooms to see how the crowd is reacting –be ready to react in real time. Make it clear what the assigned hash tag is, and source questions in real time from audience members as appropriate. Integrate chat features and tweets live into the event, centralizing the fragmented discussion in your event. Take for example, virtual events company InXpo already provides Twitter integration to experiences and offers some best practices, see how Cisco has coupled their physical events with online events.
Follow up using social tools to aggregate and identify opportunities. Event planners shouldn’t quit once the event is over, the opportunity to further relationships is at hand. Event planners should immediately launch a survey to gauge quality and experience, and ask if there are follow-on opportunities. They should aggregate all created content (remember the hashtag) and create blog posts that highlight the top reactions. Advanced events will have a community where attendees are ushered to and can continue the conversation on after the event continues on. Finally, a brand should respond using the same tools as attendees in Facebook, Twitter, or leave comments on blogs and continue the dialog. There re more best practices available to study.
In the Future, Virtual Events Must Integrate Social
Virtual events will integrate with existing social networks. Brands need to fish where the fish are, and find communities where the exist. Virtual events will need to deploy in Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, and Twitter communities, allowing them to login and register with their accounts on those platforms –and then message on these platforms. See how Gigya’s Socialize product has helped Turner Broadcasting with the online event for the NBA finals.
Virtual Events won’t be a limited duration, but will become a persistent experience. Today, virtual events are often a limited duration experience (2-6 hours on average, perhaps longer for global events). We should expect them to be persistent longer term experiences that span days, weeks, and in some cases be permanent fixtures.
Integrate with existing corporate communities. Expect virtual event vendors to develop partnerships with community platform vendors, InXpo has staked a claim in early integration.. The first folks they should talk to? Leverage Software (who already has a strong community event module) Jive, Telligent, Awareness, Mzinga, Lithium, Neighborhood America, all cater to the corporate B2B market. These vendors provide long term community experiences for brands, and virtual events should integrate with the identity of existing customers, and foster experiences before and after the virtual event.
Event planners will need to measure their influence on the social web. Assign team members to monitor and track occurrence to a spreadsheet using Twitter search tools or Technorati, or hire a brand monitoring vendor that will provide a report.
Certainly, this isn’t a comprehensive guide, please provide your tips as social and online events integrate.
If you found this helpful, please share it with others, kindly tweet: “Web Strategy: How To Integrate Social Technologies with Virtual Events http://bit.ly/Y6xmP via @jowyang”
A few months ago the Facebook and Twitter deal fell apart, and Facebook knows it must open its community to the open web –not just behind a login in order to benefit from generating revenues through advertising and search advertising.
This Friendfeed acquisition make sense as it’s primarily a buy of the talent and team –not so much the website itself. Why? This team of ex-googlers have roots in gmail and google maps, they know how to build scalable social apps, and are also located in Silicon Valley (I’ve visited them a handful of times).
Friendfeed.com doesn’t have a tremendous amount of visitors (monthly uniques are under 1mm says Compete, compared to Facebook’s 250mm registered users) so the acquisition is for the cherry features like Search, Best of Day, and elegant and rapid procuring of social content in real time.
Expect information in Facebook to continue to become more public, and this acquisition will help fuel this. Previously, Facebook allowed profiles to be made public, and spurred a landgrab from vanity URLs.
Although the teams haven’t made any indicators of their long-term plans, I’d expect the Friendfeed features and technologies to be folded into the larger Facebook. The terms of the deal must have been great for Friendfeeders, who have often indicated they wanted to go it alone.
Facebook’s acquisition is truly about getting a seasoned team on board that’s done it before.
Facebook was smart to purchase this young player who has yet to reach critical mass.
Expect Friendfeed features to be folded into Facebook.
Expect Facebook to continue to show more public content.
Update: It’s an interesting job to watch the rapidly evolving web industry, and during my many meetings with companies, I learn which companies are fearful of others, my most retweeted Tweet is the following:
“IBM is afraid of Microsoft who is afraid of Google who is afraid of Facebook who is afraid of Twitter who is afraid of whales.”
Cute, sure. But in all seriousness, this acquistion is a way for Facebook to circumvent and harnass Tweets, as Friendfeed aggregates tweets in real time.