How should companies prioritize their social business efforts?
That’s the very question we’ve been asked to tackle at today’s conference at Bazaarvoice’s Social Commerce Summit (live stream) here in Austin, Texas. This room of 600 web strategists and social strategists (on brand side) are making key decisions for how companies will interact with their customers. My goal? To help these strategists at the world’s largest brands how companies must prioritize their social business efforts for the coming years.
We know through research that many companies are struggling to scale, the “1:1 customer conversations” do not scale, and the looming requests from business stakeholders only make the social business program more daunting as interest grows.
We recommend that companies quickly invest in these five scalable social business programs:
- Get into Hub and Spoke and develop a Center of Excellence.
- Leverage community for first tier marketing and support.
- Integrate both in the customer lifecycle as well as your corporate website.
- Launch a formalized advocacy program.
- Invest in Social Media Management Systems before you lose control.
There are two Open Research (see Mark’s review on Open Research) reports you must read that back these findings, read The Career Path of the Corporate Social Strategist, and How Corporations Should Prioritize Social Business Spending.
Related Read: Review by Kim
I’m writing from a Jetblue flight from Austin back to Silly Valley, it’s a great chance for me reflect on what happened in the last few days at SXSW and sober up both from last night’s party and the excess of stimuli –they both require some detox. First of all, this is the type of event people love talk about when they’re there, but those who aren’t there may find the noise excessive. I’ll try to boil down the key things I observed, caveat, this is just one person’s perspective, leave a comment with your experience.
SXSW, Bigger Than Ever
Attendance was up, many rumored that it was up around 30% over last year, which was also growing. There were so many events and panels that even spilled out of the traditional convention center to neighboring hotels some as far as 6+blocks up hill at the Sheraton. The attendees trend a similar look: often younger than older, stylish glasses, blinking device in hands, the occasional ironic tattoo, and glossy shimmer of sweat from last night’s drinking binge.
Panel Content: Hit or Miss
While I didn’t attend many panels, several folks mentioned to me the quality of content in panels was very hit and miss, often dependent on the quality of the moderator to draw out insights and guide the panel. Because SXSW deploys the scalable way of voting up panels to determine who will speak this leads to panels that have popular speakers (but that doesn’t guarantee the best speakers) or topics that are liked by the mainstream. Fortunately, given the vast assortment of panels, the opportunity to find niche topics is available, providing you can easily get to the physical location. Colleague Susan Etlinger blogs how Deb Schultz lead an insightful session on the ‘manners’ of the internet and social web. I think it was Robert Scoble who said that the best content at SXSW will just appear on blogs later, so Ill continue to keep a watch out for the panels that were a “hit”.
Yet Parties, Events, and Dinners Galore
There were many, many parties and events, even during the day. During the evening there were several events, parties, and dinners all happening consecutively. In particular, the Social Business crowd was assembled around the All Hat (pics) even held by David Armano and Richard Binhammer off campus, the Corporate Social Strategists and those that serve them were present, this was the market I serve, and was glad to see them all. To me this was the best event, as it was off campus, a mixture of dialog, meet and greeting, and good food and music, great mixer. I heard that the SocialMedia.org (formerly SMBC) event was a great mix for Corporate Social Strategists who glean a lot of value from peer to peer interactions.
Influencer Outreach: Samsung, Chevy, AMEX, Apple, Pepsi.
One of my mottos is to ABR (Always be Researching) and I did just that for clients. In fact, several brands were present, and sought to reach this influencer and early adopter crowd, notables include:
Samsung hosts bloggers, and showcases electronic products. I spent time in the Samsung blogger lounge, which was well attended by influencers, and featured product demos and their tweeting fridge. One nice treat was Guy Kawasaki was giving away signed books, Enchantment, (which I read and recommend) at the blogger lounge. Also, Samsung brought the social media space to their own devices and worked with Jess3 an information design firm to showcase hand-selected curated tweets in their large airport-styled screens for passerbys to see what the zeitgeist was of the event. I even was a panelist in an impromptu “unpanel” on the topic of curation.
Chevy doubles down on this influencer market. Last year, Ford had a strong presence at the event, which likely drew the interest of General Motors, who I learned was the sole exclusive sponsor for the show, I’d estimate that buy out certainly be in the millions as they had integrated branding, product demos, charging stations, sponsors of the Techset party, and had inter-city rides available to anyone using their vehicles. Ford was not present this year, nor other auto-manufactures. See Twitter exchange between myself and Scott Monty who commented on spending, here, here, and here. (Update: Chevy’s Mary Henige has updated me that Chevy has a 3 year exclusive sponsorship with SXSW for the automotive category)
American Express seeks WOM. I learned from Jennifer van Grove of Mashable how American Express has launched a form of a loyalty program that encouraged users of their credit cards to receive money credited to their account after purchases after they shared it on foursquare. This form of social commerce initiates advocacy at point of sale –increasing spread of the service. Very smart integration.
Apple pops up a store in downtown. Apple assembled a “pop up” store in downtown where lines went around the block to purchase the iPad 2 and hours extended to the wee hours of the night. The store was a former Gold’s gym, and was assembled virtually overnight to serve this specific market. I saw several proud owners of this shiny device with colored covers touting their purchase at a variety of venues, it was the hot physical product (see friend David Berkowitz with his orange topped one). I experimented with it and believe the features to be evolutionary, but not a major upgrade, that being depending on new software to emerge to take advantage of the cameras such as augmented reality gaming, or new forms of video conferencing.
Pepsi tells their story. Other notable brand out-reach booths was Pepsi’s touchdown station that let people recharge and learn about the variety of products. Clearly an influence play, as Pepsi as a lifestyle brand isn’t directly related to ‘interactive’ that SXSW sports.
No Technology Winners –Although “Intimate” and “Hyper Local” are Trends to Watch. I was at SXSW when Twitter, Foursquare ‘broke out’ in previous years, yet this year there were no clear winners our ‘breakout technologies’ that I saw from the space. Why? There’s an over saturation of products due to low barriers to entry –while innovation certainly isn’t stifled the number similar or ‘like’ products is hard to swallow.
The closest to it was SMS chat tools with a small social group of friends like GroupMe and Beluga were being used by this early adopter crowd, even the press picked up on some of these trends (thanks Julie Viola for the link). Secondly, I asked my network what technologies to watch for and saw some adoption of local Q&A tool LocalMind (screenshot from iPhone). This tool allows you to ask very specific question “where are the cleanest restrooms in this hotel?” and it shows it on a localized map.
In both of these new toolsets, they are less about mass broadcasting to your network like Twitter and blogs, but are more about intimate discussions with your most immediate circle and localized content down to the building that you’re present at.
So that’s my perspective: This year, SXSW was great for networking. New technologies trend towards smaller personal networks and hyper localized content, but I didn’t see any clear winners, at least from my limited perspective.
Please leave a comment or link to your experience so we can share what we heard.
Nothing like ringing in the new year with a look at where the industry is headed. My job as an industry analyst is to assess where the industry is going, and how vendors and brands should respond to changes. My upcoming research on the topic of the future of the social web will do just that, and perhaps the most effective way for me to learn from the best and brightest in the industry is to bring them all to one room.
A few months ago, I held an event to bring the industry top leaders together to discuss the future of social networks for my upcoming research report on the topic. I brought forth community platforms, widget companies, social networks, brand monitoring, web analytics, CRM, CMS search companies, and of course, brands that will implement these technologies. Thanks to SAP who hosted this event (thanks Giovanni for the intro) we had a day long working session to uncover what we see are the predictions of the social web, the challenges to overcome, and how they will be beat. Thanks to Kenny Lauer and the GPJ team for assisting me through the event. Special thanks to SAP for hosting this community event.
Folks flew in from around the country to attend this no-cost event, and we brainstormed and collaborated during the day to come up with the three things (and more) that will matter. Most would agree, none of the findings were earth shattering, but were confirmation for the different parties to attend. I’ll be hosting similar events throughout 2009 to bring the industry together, so we can learn from each other, and I can improve my research.
Update: For some reason the pictures aren’t showing in the embedded slideshare, although they are viewable in this version.
The embedded slideshare has more details about the event, if you’ve questions, leave a comment, I’ll answer the best to my ability.
Group findings at the very high level revealed the following, to see the specific three predictions, check out the slideshare. Note, these were not my predictions, but what I gleaned from the attendees.
The social web industry was able to collaborate towards a single goal. Predictions generated weren’t “earth-shattering” yet group consensus confirmed industry direction. Most challenges indicated culture and change management processes within corporations –not a technology issue. The social web is still in early stages –standards have not been fully been developed nor adopted. Measurement continues to be a key issue to determine progress and value –as well as a lack of standards. Key relationships were developed pan-industry.
Here’s the roster of attendees
I invited others, but some were not able to attend, I tried to avoid pundits, and focus on those that really do the work not just talk about it. In some cases, I sent an invite to the company, and they selected who would attend, some of these folks were hand selected by me.
Scott Lawley, SAP
Len Devanna, EMC
Brian Ellefritz, Cisco
Faith Legendre, Webex
Bob Duffy, Intel
Joel Nathanson, Wells Fargo
Joshua-Michéle Ross, O’Reilly
Karl Long, Nokia
Paul Gilliham, Juniper Networks
Tom Diederich, Cadence
Justin Kestelyn, Oracle
Brand Monitoring, Analytics
Brad Brodigan, Biz 360
Aaron Gray, Web Trends
CRM, Enterprise Applications
Sandy Carter, IBM
Param Kahlon, SAP
Eugene Lee, SocialText
Rooly Eliezerov, Gigya
Will Price, Widgetbox
Jeff Nolan, Newsgator
Chris Schalk, Google
David Recordon, Six Apart, OpenID
Surya Yalamanchili, LinkedIn
Community Platforms, CMS
John McCormick, Documentum EMC
Adam Weinroth, Pluck
Bryan House, Acquia
Cameron Deatsch , Jive
David Carter, Awareness
Lyle Fong, Lithium
Michael Chin, Kickapps
Mike Walsh, Leverage Software
Rob Howard, Telligent
Rusty Williams, Mzinga
Peter Friedman, LiveWorld
Expect more on this topic as I dive into this research for 2009, I plan to host this roundtable each year, will try to circulate different attendees as possible.
Left Image: The panel: Dick Costolo from Google, Paula Drum from H&R Block, Chris George from MySpace, and Tom Arrix of Facebook. See more pics on Picassa.
Did you know that Google has a social media team intent on reaching brands and agencies? I didn’t either, and it’s my job to know.
A few weeks ago I spoke at Google Chicago at an event for interactive agencies, Scuba Chris has the details, I presented my latest research The Best and Worst of Social Network Marketing followed by VP of Marketing Paula Drum of H&R Block. She was absolutely amazing as she toured the agencies through all the different social media programs that they’ve done over the past year, one amazing feat, at least to me was she was able to get several of her agencies to work together on projects –nicely done.
[Although this newly formed Google Social Media product team has big backing and a hot shot product set, to truly be a solution partner to brands and agencies, Google will have to deliver the right services, support, and reporting --not be a one off technology vendor]
Perhaps what’s really interesting is that Google, often known for being a bit quiet on the PR front, invited MySpace, and Facebook to participate on a panel with us. I moderated a panel that included:
Chris George- VP of Ad Solutions, MySpace
Tom Arrix – VP of Sales, Facebook
Dick Costolo – Head of Product Management, Google Social Media (Twitter)
Paula Drum, VP of Marketing, Digital Tax Solutions, H&R Block (Twitter)
You see, Google has a story to tell about how they can help brands with social media, while most overlook YouTube, and Orkut as marketable social networks, there’s quite a few tools they offer such as iGoogle, Google Friend Connect, and the protocol they lead called OpenSocial.
To be successful, Google will absolutly need to open up and engage in the dialog that they want to participate in, being part of the social media conversation where agencies, brands and vendors are chatting and jockeying for every day. Why? I asked H&R’s Paula if she’d ever hire an agency that didn’t practice what they preach, and she said “no”. The interactive agencies, and Google know the importance of participating.
I then asked the agencies how many of them actually eat their own dogfood, a few sheepishly were bold enough to admit they do not –yet sell the social media services.
The panel was amazing, I had Facebook, MySpace, and Google there, and H&R Block to represent the demand side (the most important side), I asked a few hard questions, such as why Facebook hadn’t joined OpenSocial, the panelist punted and said: “That was a question for Mark Zuckerberg” MySpace talked about media and self-expression, and did a good job responding to my questions on why their CTRs were so low. Facebook jockeyed back and retorted that their community is for “real people” and not fake personas. The two were having a good time despite some casual coughing during each others questions –all in good fun.
Out of everyone I met, the person I was the most struck with was Dick Costello, who was the founder and CEO of Feedburner which is now part of the Google portfolio, also impressive is Yvette from the social media team as well as her colleagues, Sarah Hoople, Google is known to hire the cream of the crop.
Until that day, I didn’t know that Google had a ‘social media’ team, and if I didn’t know (as an industry analyst) then chances are many others don’t either –Google, is slowly coming out of it’s shell, so watch these folks.
I go to a lot of conferences, more than I want to admit. Part of my job is to cruise the vendor rows and talk to folks to learn about what new offerings that they have. It’s rare that I ever see a booth that grabs my attention, forces me to take a picture and then share it with many others.
Last week at Online Market World in SF, I stumbled upon Doba appears to be an inventory middle-man that connects ebay sellers with companies with merchandise allowing for a marketplace where the sellers don’t have to have physical inventory, I guess in a way this is a digital wholesaler.
Have you been to O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 expos? There are hundreds and hundreds of vendors crowded in Moscone West, it’s an absolute jungle and I hide my badge so folks don’t see I’m from an analyst firm and get stopped every few feet. When the marketplace gets this crowded and everyone who walks by is a prospect, companies will need to stand out in order to get noticed.
Click on the image to read comments, the Chris Knudson of Doba ended up responding to me, a clever group.
Help me caption the above photo, leave a comment below, have fun with it.
Update: see this gallery of other creative outdoor advertisements.
My colleague Johnathan Browne has posted on his blog (and in Japanese) that we’re organizing a blogger dinner in Tokyo when I came out in a few weeks, if you’re in the area, please spread the word. I’ll be in Tokyo speaking at some events (including Zdnet) and advising clients, and getting some time to spend in this amazing city.
Forrester Blogger’s Dinner in Tokyo
Date & Time : Wednesday, October 22nd, 19:00-21:00
6-3-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Cost: 4,000JPY for Asian Tapas dishes and nomihodai.
Attendees: 20-25 bloggers
19:00-19:20 Jeremiah’s welcome speech
19:20-21:00 Q&A + free discussion
The tag blog posts, images, and tweets for the event will be #ForrTokyo
If you are interested in attending, please contact Ritsuko Tague at firstname.lastname@example.org / 03.5532.7684 with your name, company’s name, email address and your blog’s URL by October 3rd.
Left: Scale Venture Partners brought VPs of Marketing, CMOs and founders portfolio clients to meet with me last week.
When we think of influencer groups in the social media space, we often think of top bloggers like Techcrunch, RWW, GigaOm, Fast Company, Cnet, yet there’s a whole ‘nother influence group that rarely gets ink –I’m starting to spend more time with them as it helps me to better understand the space.
An inconspicuous influencer group . The last seven business days have been intensive full day sessions with vendors for my upcoming Forrester Wave research on community platforms. I’m always energized by the fire in the eyes and the passion that comes through when talking to founders and entrepreneurs. Sadly, a problem for entrepreneurs is that they often get tunnel-vision and forget to look up outside of the lab at the greater market, fortunately, they should have VCs (who often sit on their board) that help them to see further, connect deals, and provide guidance.
The interesting thing about VCs is how incredibly powerful they are in our space. Compared to the excessive noise in our industry, tou don’t hear too much out of the mouths of VCs, but believe me they are extremely powerful. Aside from the obvious power from control of funding for investments, they can influence the direction of their portfolio companies, and foster relationships between different companies. VCs influence the sellers, in my market, these are the startups.
On the other hand, industry analysts, while do have some influence over startups, have an even stronger relationships with the buyers, (and media) in this case is the the Fortune 5000 companies that seek help to make decisions on how to organize their company, staff, budget and deploy social computing.
VCs and Analysts are on a quest to answer the same questions
Despite these different takes on the same market, VCs and industry analysts are answering the same questions: 1) What’s going to matter in the future? 2) Who’s going to do it? In fact, while the methodology differs slightly, both analysts and VCs are conducting research, taking in pitches and briefs, and finding out what others think of companies before they fund or recommend them.
Given the similiar goals, last week, my long term friend Jennifer Jones, a marketing expert who is known for her work with VCs such as Mayfield, Versant Ventures, Scale Venture Partners, and Levensohn is my go to guide to meeting these folks. In fact she helped coordinate a dinner between myself and Scale Venture Partners with a handful of their web portfolio companies (VPs, CMOs, CEOs and founders) and potential investments. So what did we talk about?
Over dinner we discussed that:
We all see the same direction of the social web, the social graph is going to separate and be available from many different websites.
Micromedia tools are powerful for support and marketing, but monetization is still a mystery.
Jokingly, Microsoft and Yahoo aren’t known for innovation and flexibility, yet we are in awe with Google, Apple, and Facebook.
There are too many players in the space due to commodity technology, the need for segmentation and stratifcation is needed.
Funding for social media in the marketing space slowly grows as it gets pulled from other traditional marketing channels, many are looking at where other buckets of money can come from within the enterprise in IT, HR, and maybe even Sales. There’s a need to bring the varying vendors together for roundtables to discuss how data will be shared from site to site as the entire web becomes more social.
As you can tell, we all learned alot from this trifecta of entrepreneurs, VCs and industry analysts; it was healthy to bring forward a larger part of the ecosystem to share with each other. VCs also want to demonstrate to their investments and investors that they’re highly connected, influential, and have a broad set of connections. Jennifer is setting up some future VC/Entrepreneur/Analyst dinners, if you’re a VC firm and want to participate, I recommend you contact her, as I’ll be spending more time with this powerful influence group as I move forward, it gives me a greater viewpoint to how the market is shaping for my research as well as providing portfolios with access to brief analysts on what they’re working on.
Above: Over 1000 developers attending Facebook’s F8 Conference, picture above the developer showcase, photo from Brian Solis use with attribution by creative commons
Facebook’s Developer Conference F8
I attended Facebook’s F8 developer conference in SF last week, and met with many of the application developers on the floor, or at their booths. First of all, for those that had booths, it was expected they were demonstrating success within Facebook (who allowed them to showcase). The event itself was a real production, from food, drinks, sessions, panels, the night ended with a private conference from Thievery Corporation, a popular down tempo artist. I also recommend you read my take on what Facebook Connect means for corporate websites.
["Applications are the Microsites of Social Networks"-Social Media Employee]
Opportunities for Brands
Corporations want to reach communities and customers where they currently exist, and many realize that they are gathering in social networks. Brands have several options, but among them include using widgets (mini-applications) to reach them, there are two main ways: 1) Build their own application (or work with a developer 2) Sponsor, advertise, or latch on to existing successful ones.
Overview of Widget and Application Developers at Facebook’s F8 Event
I talked to as many vendors as possible, to understand what’s new, and report back to readers at corporations (who I write for)
Focusing on improving applications like Funwall (the top application with an estimated 1.6 million active users), Topfriends and Superpoke. In addition to deploying on Facebook, they are also on MySpace. Slide says they have a strong sales force, and goes direct to brands. Suggests that advertising on slide apps are greater than going with Facebook themselves. Why? Facebook is a utility, when most are interacting with an application.
Example: Brands like Estee Lauder has been working with Slide to advertise across superpoke.
Example: 10 million vitamin water ‘top friends’ drink on the first eight days. It’s not an ad, it’s an integrated part of the top friends experience. People sent them ‘virtual drinks’. Coke.
Adding more applications and helping more developers to monetize. Rockyou is now more like an ad networks, although Slide and RockYou were compared as competitors in previous months, their business models appear to be diverging. They’ve an active sales force that goes to brands to sell ads across their network,. As well as working with agencies.
Revenue model: Rockyou is doing a lot of ads and cost per install (CPI)
Example: Tropic thunder is an application that used, Superwall, and there was a tab added for top videos that promoted the movie.
Viral application developer mainly focused on Facebook (as the name suggests). Have about a dozen employees. Their current clients include apparel companies such as Adidas and consumer companies such as Pedigree and other Fortune 500 brands. Partnered on projects with RockYou, such as Supewall and Likeness. Price point for deals, Minimum for 30-50k range. They do guarantee the app is up and running, do not guarantee visitor numbers.
Example: Adidas, they designed the app, includes education in hourse, then they do a product spec. then they make the app and manages it for an ongoing basis. Its on fan page
This application let’s users review products of six major types: books, music, movies, restaurants, video games, beers. They’ve recently received 5 million in A round funding. Planning to monetize through advertising and affiliate marketing.
Example: Recently did a campaign with Sony, and promoted a movie (that was an book adaptation) they then used cross-movie promotion on books by that author.
WMS Widget Management system for creation workflow and ad management. This website let’s website owners (non-technical) to create a widget that can be embedded on Facebook. They are opensocial compatible. How they monetize? They have an ad on each of the widgets for tiered CPC, brands can pay to remove the logo of iWidget
Example: A brand that has interesting content on their site (that is frequetnyly update) can quickly and easily use iWidgets to reach the newsfeeds on MySpace, Facebook, iGoogle and Netvibes. Coming soon is Bebo and Hi5.
Wants to reach brand, media, companies. Can help increase exposure of brands on social networking platforms, motto: “Apps are the Microsites of Social Network”.
Example: BMW joyrides application, that lets users create and configure a car, and select friends and where they want to go. They worked with the agency to devlope, although core competency of social media is to leverage their network 95,000 installs. Also working NBC, American Gladiators
Claim to fame: a Social Marketing Company. They aim to build ads, build widgets, and advise.. these are really ‘interactive ads’. Current client base includes EA, Spore, Bank of America.
Example: Microsoft office did a campaign called ‘office poke’ that sent Microsoft branded pokes to each other with business humor. There were millions of pokes were sent. 700.000 installs and continues. Even though the campaign is over the application is downloaded and spread –over successful.
While not a Faecbook developer, I was able to spend time with the founders, as an outlook plugin, that makes outlook a socially aware utility. Recently, they announced a partnership with Linkedin so their social graph is displayed on Xobni, an outlook application. How they can make money? They are evaluating the different ways to monetize such as premium models.
Although startups exhibit great passion…
It’s really great meeting folks at startups, you can often see the fire in their eyes, hear the passion in their voice as they share their dreams. On the flip side, it’s also very hard when you see that they’ve commodity technology, are entering an already crowded market, or have rough marketing skills. I can see the pattern of companies that come and go, after attending so many STIRR events, startup events, and seeing the many early (seed) startups at the Techcrunch party two nights ago.
…Most startups will fail
Many of the early stage startups don’t make it, which is the natural selection process that we know as the market. The ones that are standing on their own (often A, B round stage, sometimes C) are mature enough to have a communications person, or hire a PR firm and eventually brief analysts. This means two things: 1) They’ve traction with their products, 2) They want to reach Fortune 5000, and are getting ready. I care the most about these later stage startups, as they are the ones that I may
Facebook embracing successful apps, punishing others
Mark declared in his keynote that providng a safe and successful experience for users is key, as a result, they are creating methods to filter applications that provide respectful user experiences that are non-invasive and protect users’ identiy first. Others will be penalized. Expect developers to clean up their act.
Developers struggle telling their story to brands
Applications/Widgets are very complicated story to tell to corporations, many corporate folks don’t “get it” and would rather rely on tried and true forms of web marketing like microsites or traditional advertising. More than one widget vendor told me they are having a hard time explaining their story to brands. There’s a lot of truth with this as when I give presentations to Forrester clients about social computing, I often have to explain what a widget is.
Business models rapidly changing
Unless you’re directly in the space it’s very difficult to keep track of who’s doing what, with low barriers to entry (400,000 developers currently exist) there are many entrants. As a result, this petri dish is constantly flexing and remorphing, business models, revenues streams continue to change.
Funding fuels more innovation –but doesn’t guarantee success
In Mark’s keynote, he said there was $200 million total of funding to developers from a variety of investors. This large influx of capital is allowing for many startups that may not have had the chance to launch products. A year from now, it will be interesting to see a string of dead applications that were once funded –but not adopted by users.
Many Developers Pan-Platform focused
While Facebook was the first to offer an open platform for developers, there’s been many containers that have opened up, as such, developers are seeking to widen their network by expanding to new communities.
How Dell’s Regeneration Campaign allowed customers to build their own ads What ‘Facebook Connect’ Means for Corporate Websites Many Forms of Widget Monetization Forrester Report: Google’s OpenSocial: Good News For Marketing Widgets But No Silver Bullet Forrester Report: The Best and Worst of Social Network Marketing, 2008
Although many brands forget that what happens offline echoes online, Sony is using a combination of digital and in person evangelism for a powerful concoction. Last night, I had dinner with Sony Electronics President Stan Glasgow and Top Blogger, Rick Clancy who publishes on the Sony Electronics Blog.
Head or Corp Comm spearheading Blogging Efforts
Rick, who is actually the head of Corporate Communications has decided to establish himself in the front (read his bio) as the lead blogger. This is unique, as in many cases corp comm folks find the product experts to come front and center in the blogs rather than themselves.
Outreach: Visiting 42 Stores in 40 Days
Now, in many cases, blogs created and run by corporation communications folks tend to be sterile rehashes of press releases, and feature pro-corporate content. While the Rick’s blog is certainly squarly on the party line, he’s doing something that many do not, he’s getting out in front of the browser and actually meeting customers. He’s on a cross country tour to visit 42 stores in 40 days, the goal? to learn from customers at Sony Style stores, and to evangelize their latest offerings such as PlayStation, HDNA, Vaio, DSLR cameras, Blu-ray players and whatever cutting technology leaps forth.
Taking a closer look at the blogging efforts
I’m not the only one to enjoy Rick’s blog, as Heart Interactive’s CTO Mike “Glemak” Dunn proclaims via Friendfeed: “i think he’s excellent – a great example of using a true voice as a corporate blogger – he was good from day 1, a natural – “.
I enjoyed how they have a flickr stream (but should embed flickr pics directly into the post) and have a Google Map Mashup to track his future locations.
While Rick is certainly heading the right way, I made a few suggestions to him over wine, since he’s incorporating this as live event, I recommended he use Twitter to help pre-announce where he’s going to be (for example, today he’ll be in Portland) to help encourage technology early adopters to show up and meet and greet. Although I didn’t mention it, uploading pics in real time with Sony Ericson phones as well live streaming from the Vaio line could only help draw the connective tissue.
Lastly, I just reviewed some of the incoming links to the Sony Blog on Technorati and see that their successful Mommy blogger event was covered by an influential mommy blogger –Rick should link back into the conversation.
A room full of journalists and one Twitter user
Perhaps it’s a sign of the time, but the room was filled with journalists from the top newspapers, (this was a press and analyst event) who were scribbling furiously during dinner. While the quality is by no means a comparison, I was live-tweeting the highlights in real-time, getting feedback from you all, in 140 characters or less on my twitter account. Is it game changing? Maybe if I took it more seriously, but then again, reporting isn’t my job.
Sony’s vitual/real blogging outreach a good model
Good wishes to Rick and the Sony team on their outreach, a good example of social media as an overlay to the real world –and important story for a company who captures these stories and displays them with digital devices.
This is an advertisement for Forrester services. I share a lot on this public blog, and we should be thankful my employer is so gracious to encourage this, so please show the same respect as you would to my other posts. For some history, I promote other events, workshops and conferences that are not ours, as long as I think they will help you.
But first, a story: A few weeks ago at Forrester’s Marketing conference my CEO George Colony (he blogs too) in front of everyone (hundreds in the room) asked me how I approach blogging. This was during his keynote, and he handed me a mic, I told him that companies can give away the appetizers for free, in order to entice customers of how great the food is inside the restaurant. To me, this blog is the appetizer, but the full meal with dessert and wine (literally) is at our 1:1 sessions, conferences, and consulting.
One of the ways that we are able to fuel our research, reports, and this blog is by generating revenue from giving workshops. Forrester Research has a 5% off Discount for those that want to attend my upcoming workshop (with Peter Kim) in San Francisco on July 17, 2008 San Francisco, CA.
We’ll cover the POST Methodology (how to approach social computing/media) from a high level perspective, and show data of how consumers actually use these tools. Then we’ll get into the weeds and discuss the five different objectives: listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing along with several case studies for each. During this interactive session, you’ll be able to ask questions, get answers, and network with industry peers in this small classroom setting.
Social Computing Workshop
To get the 5% discount: Call 1 Call +1 617/613 – 5905.
At the end, groups will break out, dig into exercises and come forth with actual strategies that could eventually apply back at the home front. The last one we conducted, the ratio was two instructors for a class of 10, you’ll get a lot of specific questions answered.
If you’re not planning to attend, you know I give away a great deal of information on this blog at no cost, thanks for taking the time to read this. Hope to see you there!