The last time I did a storyboard, it received positive reviews, so I’ve decided to do it again. Often, I have a hard time describing to others what I do for a living –just exactly how do you explain to your parents that you’re an industry analyst for the social web? As a result, I’ve created this slidedeck that goes well with my fishing theme on what I see as an industry analyst.
This is likely the fastest moving industry in the world –for the last few years, I work many hours during the weekdays and a few during the weekends to keep up. While in it’s formative years now, I expect –and hope– it’ll slow down as it reaches maturity over the next few years.
I really see this space like a reef, a complex ecosystem that has so many variables and changes, each day is different.
I hope you enjoy this storyboard, and if you did, please tweet it, or embed it on your own blog.
I’ve never traveled more than I do in my current role. Although it comes in spurts, I’m currently traveling 4 out of 5 weeks. While it can certainly take a toll on loved ones and your own body, I’m starting to get more comfortable with traveling a bit more efficiently.
I won’t say I’ve got it down right, but here’s a few things I’ve learned, my hopes are that you’ll chime in and add your tips below in the comments, alright let’s get started:
Tips From a Road Warrior:
Flying a lot? Get a Travel Agent
I’ve a travel agent, Carlson Wagonlit (thank you Ron!), that helps me coordinate my often multiple city destinations, they use my frequently flyer numbers and really help coordinate flights, hotel, and rental cars. This saves me valuable time from doing research to find out flights, nearby hotels, and keeps me focused on what matters. I’m pretty sure this is what Tim Ferris would do.
Print out your itinerary
Despite being a digital guy, I always print out my itinerary that has my flight numbers, hotels, and other contact information. You can’t count on technology to work when you’re on the go, dead batteries, the hassle of looking things up, or the ability to rapidly pull out a piece of paper is invaluable.
Get the right luggage and bags
Watch airline staff. These guys and guys are the pros. If you look how they travel, they have small suitcase with wheels, and then a second satchel or bag with personal items, and then if a lady a purse. They make the items stackable so you can put the personal bag (perhaps a suitcase or laptop bag) on top so it can easily roll. I use a backpack, never a messenger bag as you want to keep your back in alignment as much as possible. For long walks, I’ll affix my backpack on my suitcase to relieve the weight.
Learn how to pack right
First of all, if you’re a business traveler, you’ve likely got a carry on bag, checking in and picking up luggage is a major time sink, let alone the risk of them losing the bags. The trick here is to pack your clothes so you don’t have to iron them later. I use the ol’ roll your clothes like a towel trick. As a gent, I put the largest items out on the end such as shirts, and then items that you don’t care if they get wrinkled in the middle. For example lay your coats down on your bed first, followed by suits, then shirts, pants, then tshirts and other undergarments. Then roll them up like a burrito, and put into your carry on suitcase. On the sides you can put your shoes in plastic bags (so they don’t scuff) and toiletries. Ah, stuff your shoes with your clean socks or undergarments to save space, and ensure they maintain their shape.
Steam your clothes in the bathroom
This is one of my favorite tricks. As soon as you get to your hotel room, un-roll that rolled set of clothes I just mentioned. Then, get those shirts, suits, and slacks on a hangers and put in the bathroom –not the closet. When you take your next shower, the steam will naturally get many of the wrinkles out minimizing any time spent ironing.
Have doubles of toiletries for a quick reload
If you’re on the road a lot, it helps to have a backup toilitiries bag so you don’t constantly have to move items in and out. Buy everything in duplicates so you have duplicate toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, hair products. These little efforts make reloading a breeze.
Learn to traverse the airport
Don’t wear a belt, wear slip off shoes that don’t require a lot of tying, and put your watch, wallet, and other items in your backpack as you exit the car. I bought a Clear card a few months ago, which let’s you breeze past security, but there really isn’t a need for it in a down turned economy (also, I feel a bit like a jerk when they move me to the front of the line) I won’t likely renew my clear card in this economy. I always sit in the aisle when possible so I can get to the restroom without hassling that sleeping guy next to you, and to quickly get my bag and exit faster. Before you enter the security lines, before you choose which aisle to go down, avoid being behind people that are wearing a lot of jewelery or big families, they end to slow down the line. Side note: TSA is much friendlier in the midwest then on the coasts.
Bring the right in-flight gear
I have a spare battery for those long flights for my laptop extending my work time on the plane (one of the few places I can concentrate). Secondly I have an iPod and noise canceling headphones that really turn a confined environment more into a sanctuary. Also, I snagged earplugs and eye masks from previous long distance flights and keep in my backpack, those help. Oh and ahem, please bring mints or gum so you don’t annoy your fellow travelers.
Long trip? Go business class –but not first class
Traveling inter continental is a real time sink, west to east coast can be over 5 hours of downtime, but it’s great for catching up on sleep, writing those pesky reports, (my biggest struggle) or your latest blog post. The problem with many airlines is that the seats are so crammed together it’s nearly impossible to open your laptop and expect to extend your arms. If you’re working, upgrade to the business class, which provides more foot room, or get into the exit aisle or bulkhead. I don’t have the disposable income nor the miles to upgrade to first –maybe someday when I become an executive.
Text message yourself your parking spot
Ever forget where you parked at the airport? Yeah I feel you. Sometimes I get home late at night, bleary eyed, confused, perhaps a bit dazed from a conference party, the last thing I’ll be able to do is remember where my car is at the massive SFO parking lot. The good thing is that I always text message my parking spot to myself on my phone when I first park. Text message your parking spot to yourself, saving you time, frustration, and the embarrassing situation of thinking your car may have been stolen.
That’s enough tips for me, I’d love to hear from you, what do you do to make your travel efficient? Let’s collectively learn, I know there’s a lot of busy professionals that are part of my community. Do tell.
Written from a hotel in welcoming Minneapolis, 140am.
I’m sitting across the street from the SXSW convention center, yesterday the organizer Hugh Forrest told me that attendees to the Interactive portion (a great deal with a focus on social) was up aprox 20% (just an approximation). I’ve seen many social media strategists (see list) here at the conference that are here to network with the influencers, get educated at the sessions, and to soak in what community really means.
During a recession, marketers are often forced to reduce budgets, in fact, it’s often one of the first buckets to get trimmed. In our latest research: Social Media Playtime is Over, we found that 53% of marketers are determined to increase their social media budget during a recession, and 42% will keep it the same, a total of 95% of marketers bullish on social media marketing. Why? The reasons are obvious to some, it’s inexpensive and the opportunity to benefit from cost-effective word-of-mouth, are promising.
Now this doesn’t mean that budgets are expanding immensely, since this is a ‘new’ media, these are small budgets. How small? I say minuscule. Three-quarters of marketers have $100,000 of less budgeted for social media marketing.
Even though the budgets are small and growing, we recommend to our clients, in order to be successful, not to approach social media marketing as experimental, but to put the right roles, process, and measurement capabilities in place to be effective. Remember, the most expensive cost isn’t the tools, the most expensive part is the soft costs: strategy, education, process, roles, measurement).
Key Takeaway? Social media budgets are small, but are growing during a recession, yet brands shouldn’t approach this as an experiment, and should have a proper strategy complete with objectives, roles, processes, and measurement.
I’d like to thank Tom Cummings who lead the survey effort and data cleansing, Emily Bowen who kept us on track, and Josh Bernoff for his insight and editing for the collaborative effort on this report –without them, this report would not have published, it’s great to work with a top-notch research team.
Adweek’s Brian Morrissey: Notes that the budgets are quite small, in his piece Social Media Outlay Still Small
Read Write Web: Despite Recession, More Than 50% of Marketers Increase Spending on Social Media
Marketing Pilgrim: Forrester Report Suggests Marketers Still Spend Peanuts on Social Media, But Increases Planned
BL suggests there are still going to be internal challenges to strategy, objective, and roles.
Colleague Josh Bernoff reinforces: Recession resistant: 95% of social media marketers will maintain or increase social media spending
A common practice in the enterprise software industry (and beyond) is to announce products, make a lot of noise about it, but slowly roll it out in pieces over the coming quarters or never at all. This is called Vaporware and I’m starting to see small examples of this in the social media industry.
As a response, I’m going to start calling out vendors that do that. Why? it protects buyers from getting caught up in the hype of an announcement, flashy videos, and buzzword industry-changing definitions. I fill the space with enough buzzwords myself, there really isn’t any room left for vendors.
Graciously, I will list of vendors on this blog post that make big pronouncements without demonstrating their products, highlighting their vaporware. I encourage you to support this so we can establish a precedent in our space to announce and show products that are actually working –not just promised.
What say you, should we do such a list? I’ll need your help in calling them out, they’ll get a list similar to this one of brands that have been punk’d.
Update: Related and if social media vendors do announce, they should eat their own dogfood (or drink their own champagne, as I learned from my new friend Dana). I’m keeping PR folks busy.
Here are some requirements for vendors as they launch: On day of announcement they should be able to show a demo of their product. If it’s an enterprise product, or complicated, then show a video with it working. Consider using a customer reference or a test case to demonstrate how it’s been working in the past. I like what John Furrier said, that sometimes products are still getting the bugs worked out and that’s fine –but in any case, show that the product exists.
I’ve been laboring over the last few weeks on my latest report, the future of the social web. It’s been very difficult to boil down interviews with the world’s top minds on the social web. I’ve interviewed folks from: Google, MySpace, OpendID Foundation, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Lotus, RWW, Federated Media, Plaxo, Dell, Cisco EOS, Flock, Meebo, Gigya, Intel, Razorfish, Six Apart and others. I’ve over 25 pages of raw notes, all representing their different corporate strategy and a mixture of opinions. I’ll admit, it wasn’t easy to find the pattern.
When I need to do heavy problem solving, and find those patterns, I disconnect. So I did.
I went offline on Monday, I drove to one of my favorite remote locations on the Pacific coast where there is no wifi, no powerplugs, no cubicles, few people, and tried to decipher all of the viewpoints. I worked from my car, talked outloud, went for walks, ran on the beach with @goodboyrumba in tow until I was able to figure out what I needed to do. I finished my last interviews with Adam Nash of LinkedIn, Angela who runs marketing at MySpace, and the brilliant Chris Messina who works on the Open ID foundation. Somewhere inbetween finishing my last interviews and my third jog, it started to gel.
I have to thank Josh Bernoff who took my calls during the day, and let me bounce ideas off him, he’d give me a requirements that I needed to hit. It’s become clear that there are at least 5 eras of the social web and we’re entering the second one now, and will soon enter at least 2 of them perhaps by the end of this year. I blog about some of the concepts and theories as I know that friending will someday go away, and when CRM systems connect to social networks registrations pages will be extinct. It feels good to finally be able to document the framework –now to spelling it out what it means to consumers, social networks, and brands.
Another report that we’ve been working on, Tom Cummings and Josh Bernoff worked with me in a collaborative function is a very timely report that will showcase the findings from a recent survey among marketers. We found that a majority of marketers that we surveyed will increase their spend on social media marketing –even in the face of a recession. This is tremendous news for the social media space as it’s one of the few markets in the world that are increasing (that aside from human vices).
In a few hours, I’m boarding a plane and headed to Austin to meet some clients, then I’ll be at the SXSW conference for the interactive session along with thousands of others in the social media space. I’m not sure which events I’ll be headed to, there’s at least 4-6 parties every night, and dozens of sessions I want to attend each day. On Sunday at 10am, I’ll be on the mainstage (room A) that if I remember can fit a few thousands and we’ll be debating spec work (crowdsourcing design), I know it’s a fiery topic, but I’m going to take the stand that: It’s happening, so you designers and buyers better figure out how it works, or get out of the way. Update: our panelist is wired magazine, read their blog post. I’m avoiding scheduling any meetings at SXSW, instead, I just want to go with the flow, so I hope to meet you at SXSW, one way to track where I’ll be is by following my tweets. I’ll be very slow in responding to emails till the end of SXSW.
My job as an industry analyst is listen to pitches from different vendors, from small startups, to the web giants. I get paid (yes I’m a professional BS filter) to listen to their pitches –and then translate it into reality for reports and for our clients, the buyers.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned to translate, and I’m going to share with you here now –so you, as a buyer, will know the danger zones when you’re buying from a vendor. In most cases, you can skip the first 5 slides of any presentation, a great time to fiddle with blackberry, smack talk on twitter using your iphone, start a game of bullshit bingo, or figure out a way to sound relevant.
How to Translate Vendor Talk into Plain English
The Famous Two by Two Grid
For some reason, vendors think anything in a chart is believable, even if they made it up themselves! Typically, in the first five slides of a presentation, there’s a two-by-two grid (image: sample grid, not for re-use) where the vendor always positions in the top right. The competitors are scattered in all the other quadrants, but are never more further ‘up and to the right’ than the vendor. The funny thing is, the X and Y axis are often criteria that you won’t find on any research report –and every vendor’s 2×2 is different so they’re ‘up and to the right’. Update: I forgot about this post from former analyst Carter Lusher, now AR advisor, he says to get rid of grids all together.
Translation: We know up and to the right is best, so we created our own X and Y axis labels, we’re hoping you won’t read the small print “tallest CEO” or “best ping pong players in support”
We’re the “Industry Leader”
I’ve heard this one over and over, in fact everyone’s an industry leader at something. “Industry leader at wom in Facebook in Tuesdays” or “Industry leader in community interactions in Fresno at YMCA” The trick here is to ask them who determined they were the industry leader, and if the category is large –and believable enough.
Translation: Leading is a good term to use, but the size of the industry and how we segment is up to us, don’t ask questions as we’ll just tell you “We’ll get back to you on those details”
The Logo Smorgasbord
Vendors love to put many logos on one of the first 10 slides, it’s meant to amaze you and show that they are with it with the big brands. The trick here is that even the smallest of deployments will validate a logo on that slide –and sometimes without the permission of that brand. If you’re interviewing competitors you’ll notice that many of them share the same customers as others in their space, it’s likely true. I often see Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, and other big tech companies on nearly every logo slide from even competitors.
Translation: The more logos we cram on here the more you’ll be impressed, if you rotate your head back and forth real fast, it’s kinda like a kaleidoscope…but digital.
The Fallacy of Vendor Math
You’ve probaly heard vendor math before: “We’ve 39 of the Fortune 50” or a variation on a theme “17 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies use us”, or we’ve 150% year on year in new clients in enterprise space. While factual, deciding on numerators and denominators can be tweaked to fit the needs of every vendor. Secondly, the universe of “Fortune” companies changes annually, if not more frequently. Vendor math may sound impressive –but it’s likely skewed, of course, this is coming from the 7th most popular Jeremiah above in most Google searches. (thanks to analyst for this one Laura Ramos)
Translation: Whoever told you numbers never lie was right, ‘cept perspective is a son of a gun. We didn’t want to tell you that 150% year on year growth of new enterprise clients could be going from 2 customers to 5 (but one was my brother’s company)
Our Many Awards
Everyone loves a shiny trophy, and we see accolades and awards from just about every vendor. Contests from blogs, conferences, editors, and even analysts. With everyone getting awards, and touting it too, it’s hard to put any real value on any of them.
Translation: We’re hope you’re impressed with this shout out and award from this blogspot blogger in 2005 –it’s hanging next to our elk head in the den by the wetbar.
Most Successful Investors Ever
Hearing about investors is common in the nascent social media space, so there’s often a slide on company stats that touts the experience of the management team and vision. Notice that Reid Hoffman is on everyone’s investor slide? Me too, I think he’s invested in the entire internet!
Translation: Reid invested in the whole internet! No seriously, he really did! (Ok really it’s about 60 companies, but using Vendor Math, that’s nearly the whole internet, at least the north west side of the ‘nets.)
Now if you’re a vendor (or perhaps their PR agency), don’t be offended and use this information to improve your communications. In all due fairness, if someone has a list of ‘translating Analyst/Client speak’ I’ll link to it here too (I made fun of myself here). Oh, and for the record, Reid Hoffman really is successful, and I’m scheduled to meet with him soon.
Have you heard any other vendor talk that can be translated into regular English? If I like em, I’ll add it to the above and credit/link to ya!
Update: Who’s the best at making fun of vendors? Independent Analyst Jon Toigo who covers the storage industry created this creative spoof gallery clowning on the 3 lettered storage vendors (IBM, EMC, HDS, ESS-HP, NAP) I used to work at HDS, and always admired his photoshop skills. I think I’m going to start one for social media vendors, hmmmmmm.