Numbers are powerful, but only if they provide context to the changes in our life. This above embedded video (if you don’t see it, click here to the blog post) has been created by agency Jess3 and was embedded on Technorati’s blog. They give a comparison of the sheer volume of content created on email systems and social networks, which I’ve stated in the past are going to end up being intertwined.
For the most part these stats are accurate, but being one who tracks them carefully, I know that the FB stats are already out of date, the space is moving too quick for anyone to really track. Link via Christine Tran, researcher at Altimeter who has an uncanny knack for finding just about anything on the internet she needs to.
While the numbers help us track adoption now, the future of all these numbers is moot. In the long run, social networks as destinations will fade into the background (like air) and we’ll just be able to access or be guided by our friends wherever we are in life at any given time we want.
Yesterday, we had the second in a three part webinar series about social strategy. The first, which you should listen to, focuses on understanding customers though socialgraphics. The following slides and recorded webinar (a bit faint, so be sure turn it up) are intended to be the foundation for companies of all sizes to develop a strategy based on business objectives –not the latest technology.
We believe in Open Research and encourage our knowledge to become the foundation for growth of ideas, and encourage you to learn, share on your blog, and put into educational materials. Those that offer social services or technologies, should consider embedding this on their site, and using to quickly educate prospects and clients –furthering the industry forward.
Lots of changes, in particular, many of my former colleagues from the Forrester Research interactive marketing and marketing leadership teams that I used to work closely with have moved on. Forrester hires top minds, so when I run across an alum, it’s like a reunion of graduating class at a university. There’s a strong camaraderie stemming from common way of thinking, writing, and approaching tough problems. Forrester attracts and breeds excellent thinkers, and I wish my former colleagues best of luck as they return to the field.
In an effort to recognize the changes in the social media space, I’ve started this post series (see archives) to both track and congratulate folks who get promoted, move, or accept new exciting positions. Please help me congratulate the following folks:
Cynthia Pflaum leaves Forrester Research (we were on the same team) and joins Dachis Group as a consultant, she is fabulous and was our “Data Queen” for the Groundswell work. I wish her the best, and know she’ll rock at whatever she does! Best wishes.
Lisa Bradner leaves Forrester Research (we did some projects together) as an analyst as the President of Geomentum.
Julie Katz, also a former marketing analyst at Forrester leaves to join the insights team at Lego, she was always a joy to work with, and we shared many interesting conversations.
Caroline Dangson, leaves IDC as analyst and joines Dachis Group as a Consultant, I’ve met her in SF, and admire her work, congrats.
Esteban Contreras, Social Media Manager is hired a Samsung Electronics (Amdocs Consulting Division), he wrote me “I interviewed Samsung’s Social Media Strategists on my podcast “The Social Nerdia Show!” and sent them my resume the next day. Two months later I was moving from Dallas TX to New Jersey. I sold my house, sold one car, and said bye to family and friends in the middle of winter. Now I’m living near NYC and working hard” awesome story. Added him to list of strategists.
Craig Hepburn is now Director of Social Media Strategy at Open Text focusing mainly on how some of the worlds largest companies are adopting social media strategies for their business both internally for collaboration but also externally facing for their partners and customers.
Christopher Fleener has been promoted to Digital Marketing Manager at The New School, a leading research university in New York City. In his new role, Chris will focus on expanding the university’s social media and mobile marketing initiatives.
Christopher Wilkes has joined Ripple6 as Senior Director of Business Development, Social Insights, where he will be responsible for further developing Ripple6’s Social Insights products and solutions and educating prospective clients on the value of social insights.
How to connect with others (or get a job):
Several people have been hired because of this blog post series, here’s how you can too:
Submit an announcement
If you know folks that are moving up in the social media industry, submit to this form
Seeking Social Media Professionals?
If you’re seeking to connect with community advocates and community managers there are few resources
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, please)
What happens when the social web and mobile devices become synonymous? Customers will be able to access their friends opinions in real time, make decisions on the fly, and will never have an excuse to make a poor buying decision.
[As mobile and the social web become one –customers are empowered to make confident buying decisions, wherever they go]
Earlier this year, I was deliberate in my mentioning of investing in two key areas, Social CRM, and Mobile Social Networks. While Ray and I are nearly ready to publish our report on SCRM, I’m pleased to announce we’ve a new partner here at the Altimeteter Group focused on devices, mobile, and the intersection of social technologies.
Michael Gartenberg, who stems from Jupiter and Gartner Research joins us as a partner with a focus on how customers are accessing each other in context of locations, activities, and their day to day life. In particular, I’ve been impressed with Michael for sometime, we’ve been interacting online for years, and I’ve respected his insight, and deep knowledge of the space.
If you’re not familiar with the mobile space, Michael is an influencer, his insight is sought after and he’s a regular contributor at Engadget, Computerworld and SlashGear, and has published hundreds of reports, blogs, and is one of the top analysts on Twitter. We’re pleased to announce Michael as part of the Altimeter founders.
On a related note, we’re growing quickly, and have expanded to a new office, nearly three time the size of our previous office. While it feels empty now, but we’re anticipating growth as more clients continue come on board. I’ve posted some photos from Twitpic and also on Flickr.
I’m here in Phoenix Arizona as a keynote speaker to the Council of Alumni Associations Executives, these are the fine folks that manage alumni orginizations where you may have gone to college. The reason I’ve been invited to speak as a professional speaker is their world, like many other industries, is being severely impacted by the social web.
All middlemen and aggregators are being impacted by social. Take for example, brokers, associations, sales people, classified listings, journalists, music labels, encyclopedias, and even analysts are feeling the threats of these simple –yet interruptive technologies.
Now, college grads may use social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with each other –without being part of fee based alumni organizations. Connecting directly to each other using a few mouse clicks, they can fuse lifelong bonds, help each other personally and professionally in near real time.
Yet, many savvy orgs have realized the opportunity. Altimeter Researcher, Christine Tran did research for my presentation and we found that some Alumni orgs like Stanford, Cal, Auburn, Purdue, and Brown are participating in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn with varying degrees of success.
I want to extend the conversation here online, and realized that a useful matrix would be very helpful in understanding the risks and opportunities that are abound in at least five different use cases, they are:
Impacts to Alumni Organizations In A World of Social Networks: Five Use Cases
Ignorance is bliss, at least for the short term.
Bypassed as alumns self connect rendering the org irrelevant.
Part time staff and committed resources in a budget-stricken environment
Get existing alumni members to tell other non-members they should join through social tools, low cost marketing. Read my checklist.
Some may not want to evangelize, limited control of message
A formalized program, and a way to encourage behavior
Aggregation of members voices
Inexpensive way to create ongoing content and uplift existing members. See how Stanford does it
Limited message control, content may not all be signal
Aggregation tools either manually on blogs, or an automated one that requires dollar investment
Organize online and real world events
Facilitate an event that’s difficult for members to self-organize on own.
Members may seek to self-organize if costs are excessive.
Utilize existing social tools that offer events management: Facebook events
For Alumni Organizations, Social Technologies Is Akin To Harnessing Fire
In the long run, it’s never a zero sum game. It’s rare we see industries completely collapse from disruptive technologies, as the savvy will adopt and create new business models increasing value. The opportunities are great for college alumni organizations, these same tools that threaten their existence can be used to increase membership through advocacy and word of mouth, reduce costs in organization, and a wealth of content being created by their own members.
If you’re a graduate from a college (or high school) and can think of opportunities how the Alumni organizations can benefit from social technologies –or you’ve already displaced them by connecting directly with your peers, please leave a comment below. Update: I met CalTech’s Andy Shaindlin, he writes a smart blog on this topic, also read Alumni Futures. Update part 2: He’s expanded the matrix.
Low Cost Innovation Confuses Buyers With Excess Choices
As a Web Strategist, you seek to balance the three spheres of business, technology and community. Perhaps a challenging one is the ‘technology’ sphere as you’re faced with the decision of build vs buy, specialized vs broad, cheap vs expensive. The choices are staggering –there are over 100 community platform vendors, thousands of Facebook developers, iPhone apps, and Twitter apps being created each year. Despite the proliferation of innovation, one thing remains constant: the economics and strategy of buying doesn’t change. As a result, the web strategist must first understand their strategy, develop the right parameters for buying and recognize the strengths –and weakness of each type of partner.
First, Buyers Must Understand Their Level of Sophistication
Companies that purchase technology and services must first recognize where they are in the sophistication curve. Those who are new to social technologies should seek out strategy and education first, and rely on external experience and expertise to deter risk. Those that are in mid level should focus in on specific needs –forgoing unneeded services and features. Expert level companies are thinking of a holistic experience for customers and are focused on scalability, interoperability, and integration. In many cases, these expert level companies may be focused on building their own tools and resources –rather than relying completely on third parties.
For Growth, Focused Vendors Go Broad
Interestingly enough, some companies with rich histories in a particular vertical are also expanding to larger markets by rebranding efforts. Take for example 10 year old Neighborhood America, a community platform with strong background in government, local, and federal agencies as a vertical as recently rebranded as INgage networks –giving them a broader reach to the enterprise space and international space –-read their FAQ and watch their video to learn more.
As Market Matures, Vendors Become Specialized
Radian 6, Visible Technologies, Nielsen Buzzmetrics, and TNS Cymfony have all broad reach across multiple industries by being fairly agnostic to any particular vertical. Of course, they each have experiences in particular verticals and likely have a majority of clients in one industry over another, but that’s a contrary position to Revinate, a company I recently met with that focuses in on deep integration with the hospitality industry. Their listening platform, while it doesn’t go as wide to cover the ‘brand scope’ comes pre-rigged with connections to travel rating sites like Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other consumer rating sites.
Note that no vendor is perfect, and if they can do it all, you won’t need all their offerings, and their price point will be high, as a result, understand the strengths –and weaknesses of all.
Social Technology Buyers Matrix: Broad vs Specialized vs Do It Yourself
What it is
Technology or service vendors that serve a variety of industries without a specific focus,
Buzzmetrics, Radian 6, Visible Technologies, Cymfony offer a range of services that can be use with any variety of industries. On the community platform side, Jive, Telligent, Mzinga, Awareness, Liveworld* Lithium* (update) can meet the needs of many enterprises.
Wide deployment ensures that the scope can spread to a large set of sites to crawl. In most cases, these companies can scale, and have a broad base of clients to learn from.
Configuration and specialization for your particular market may require setup costs and configuration efforts. While features may go wide –not all will be needed for your specific customer socialgraphic behaviors and industry usage.
Technology or service vendors that offer vertical (or industry) specific skills, honed in on a unique market need.
In the brand monitoring space, Revinate offers specific brand monitoring for the hospitality industry, and Kickapps*, Pluck, and Cisco EOS*, offer solutions for the media vertical and recently rebranded INgage networks has long history of serving Government –although they are moving to the broad category.
Faster deployment and features and deployments are pre-customized for deployment. Experienced teams that truly get the nuances of your particular industry.
Vendors may not be able to go broader, feature set may become limited when it comes to scaling. Sometimes specialization increases costs of goods and services.
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Rather than rely on vendors, many companies prefer to build their own social media tools and processes and integrate with legacy CMS and WMS systems.
A variety of brands have bolted on social features to their corporate website using BBS systems, WordPress, or Drupal like platforms with extensive customization. Or, developers that build custom installations on .net, jsp, php, and other software languages and frameworks.
Reduced up front cost and custom tailored integration with existing systems. A controlled environment not dependent on the product roadmaps of other SaaS companies and increased security measures.
Constant rejiggering of features as the outside technology space innovates quickly. Often the soft costs and internal maintaince isn’t always accounted for up front, and innovating new features are often not native to corporations.
* The Altimeter Group takes pride in transparency and openness in research and analysis, as a result, the starred companies are currently clients, read our disclosure page.
Web Strategists Must Plan For the Long Term
Regardless of which path you choose from Broad, Specialized or DIY, there are a few baseline considerations the web strategist must factor into their long term planning, they include:
Deploy systems that are designed to scale. Buyers must demand access to the product roadmap and understand where the company is headed at least in their 2 year plan. The benefits of a SaaS technology vendor is that you can quickly scale your deployment on a turn key basis, while on premise has it’s upsides for conservative industries –scaling can quickly become an issue and out-the-door fast deployment.
Deploy systems that can integrate. Only buy systems that have protocols that can allow data to be accessed by other parties, and put into terms of service your data can be accessed at any given time, no questions asked.
Analyze their partnership and alliance relationships. Selecting a company that has a healthy set of partnerships and alliances will ensure that they your company will fit within the heterogenous ecosystem of the social web. Yet, probe deeper, during initial sales calls, vendors will flash ‘Nascar slides’ with dozens of logos of partnerships, find out how many relationships are truly deep integration and aligned product roadmaps –not just former one-off projects.
Although this post is buyer focused, technology vendors with a broad focus should start kindling relationships with channel partners that can resell and focus in on specific marketers. For example, Radian 6 is known for offering its service to PR and digital agencies who can then focus in on specific markets.