Bob Pearson (Twitter at bobpdell) Vice President, Communities & Conversations at Dell invited me out to Microsoft’s Architect Forum to co-lead a session on social computing.
I let my twitter community come up with questions, and I took three from the dozens to pose to Bob, select questions from: Cece Salomon-Lee, Ravit Lichtenberg, and oemporor (can’t find his tweet)
Here’s the questions I posed to Bob, if I could only spit the words out as well as I could write them:
Is IdeaStorm increasing revenues?
Is social media impacting the bottom and top line of Dell?
How Dell has made $1mm in revenue from Twitter.
Is social media superficial branding, or does it truly change the company?
How does an economic downturn impact Dell’s social media efforts?
Is it better for customers to self-support each other rather than calling Dell Support?
What’s the URL of your corporate webpage?
It’s great to learn first hand from Dell how they’ve used these tools to increase revenues and reduce costs –it’s time we focus on the business aspect of things rather than the feel good branding only. You can see one of Bob’s recent video interviews on the Direct 2 Dell site.
Above Video: Come join me on my “walk through” videos (see others) to meet Boulder’s tech community.
I took the day off from work yesterday, and did some sight seeing of the Rockies (thanks to long term friend Kit who was one of the organizers of the Thin Air Summit) and had an opportunity to meet the large tech community at the “Tea House” in Boulder. I quickly learned that the tech scene is active, there’s many startups, events, and a VC community (including this incubator program called TechStars) that helps spur this eco system forward. What makes it attractive? The opportunity to be exposed to the great outdoors, the clean (yet expensive) Boulder area, great food, and healthy lifestyle.
Being in Silicon Valley, we’re so centrist in our thinking and don’t get enough exposure to the other tech communities around the country and globe (although I’m trying hard to meet each community) as a result we haven’t heard that much about Colorado’s tech corridor.
I observed that the entrepreneurial spirit runs high in Colorado, many folks want to strike it out on their own (I wonder if this is tied back to the silver rush and early settlers) vs many in Silicon Valley may prefer to join startups and exit rather than building their own sole-propertiership. The environment was warm and people shared –even with risk of sharing competitive information.
Despite the warmth of this community that’s nestled between the Rocky mountains and the great plains, they’re very insular and don’t share their story to the rest of the world. I’ve visited countries where they actually have government sponsored outreach programs just to tell their story in order to attract buyers, partners, and employees –Colorado could really benefit by not only focusing inward, but being a bit more extroverted and sharing their story with others.
Well, if anyone in Colorado was hoping to keep their ecosystem a secret –too late now, I just told my community.
I was pleased to see Frank Eliason (he just launched his blog) from Comcast cares join us at Forrester ‘s Consumer Forum this week. In fact, I talked to many of the world’s largest brands about social media marketing during my 1 on 1 sessions with clients (almost 14 of them), it was really the common theme throughout many discussions.
If you don’t know the story of Comcast Cares, well they’ve a pretty disliked reputation for service and support (see sleeping technician), but are trying to turn a new leaf by responding and supporting customers using Comcast Cares on twitter. I had to use this a few months ago, as my bandwidth was extremely slow at home, and they responded within a few minutes.
Frank has become somewhat of a a celebrity, they are frequently mentioned in presentations (mine included) and while many companies are now supporting customers on Twitter, the reason why they get so much attention is because, just like Microsoft and Dell did, the tarnished brands get extra community kudos when they stick out and try to connect with customers.
I polled my twitter followers (twitter is my social computer) to pose some questions for Frank, and I found these ones to be interesting, tune in to find out his responses.
seacatz: @jowyang what’s the most surprising customer experience or story he’s encountered so far?
davefleet: @jowyang does he have the power within Comcast to actually get issues addressed? Is there substance to the engagement or just words?
williamu: @jowyang Ask him how SM doesn’t short circuit p2p/community groups that are Comcast focused. Is it competition or collaboration?
Tabz: @jowyang Whose idea was @comcastcares to begin with – was there resistance from the Powers that be? How did he overcome it?
Despite this outreach on twitter and other websites, what’s going to matter if Comcast actually makes changes to improve their products and service –not just be responsive to problems as they occur. I’ll be watching.
Shel’s been getting a lot of press lately, some warranted some not, but for sure, a lot of attention. I’m less interested in the drama, but more focused on the impacts of these tools to marketing (that’s my day job) and have some questions for him about the purpose of his Global Neighborhoods mission, quite a few of the folks he interviews are companies I also cover, are my clients, or could be.
Jeremiah: As a new video blogger, you’ve had a rough start, the interview you did with me received some criticism, and equal praise for those who focused on the content. What is the biggest learning from this mixup?
Probably to leave my owl out of the picture.
More seriously, there were three connected lessons:
(1) Don’t even try to become a great video expert. There are plenty of experts, who have training, knowledge and passion for the AV portion of this. When a sponsor comes in, that problem will be promptly solved. That being said, I’ll continue to improve. It’s two months since you became my first interview. I’m a lot better now, although I’m no pro in this area.
(2) Focus on what I do best. I have a pretty good track record as an interviewer. One of my favorite comments–I’m not sure who placed it or where–was a guy who said that when he stopped looking at the video, and just listened, he thought it was quite good. I think this problem also goes away once we get sponsorship. In fact, you were my first interview and I appeared unfocused because I was worried about the camera frame when I should have just listened to you. I also should have cut you off a couple of times. You did go on pretty long now and then.
(3) Make clear who the show is intended for. I think there’s a perception that this show is for people already immersed in social media. Robert and I had a similar problem with bloggers when we wrote Naked Conversations. They thought the book was supposed to be for them, rather than just ABOUT them. Naked Conversations was intended to evangelize blogging to those who didn’t yet know about it. GNTV is intended for professionals who are still struggling over how to use social media in their organizations. They may have never visited Twitter; know nothing about Seesmic or Qik. There are a great number of these people all over the world and this show is intended for them.
Why Global Neighborhoods TV? (GNTV)? Why this show? What’s the story you’re trying to tell?
This show has been my dream for a long time, long before Robert got the chance to start a global tv network for business innovators at FC. I’m primarily a writer and for a very long time have been aware that the best I could ever do is to tell you ABOUT what a person or an event was like. A video camera lets you actually SHOW viewers what you see.
I became aware of the potential when I was writing a book with Robert. For his day job, he was walking around Microsoft with a camera on his shoulder, just talking to people. The result was that he played a role in perceptions of Microsoft improving, of the “Borg” becoming human. I could have written a million words, but they it would not have changed opinions as effectively as a few minutes of handheld video by Robert.
GNTV grew out of a project I’ve been doing since last June on my text blog, with the lengthy title of the SAP Global Survey on Social Media Culture and Business. [http://globalneighbourhoods.net . [Go to the "SAP Reports" category to see them]. So far, I’ve interviewed 71 people in 32 countries, on six continents. They have ranged from Michael Dell, Founder CEO of Dell Computer, to Wael Abbas who posts videos about Egyptian police brutality and posts them on YouTube despite the fact Egypt has incarcerated a fellow blogger to Ethan Bodnar, a Connecticut High School student who said he’s never work for an employer who did not trust him enough to talk about his job on a blog.
The concept was to take this and move it into video, where people could see these diverse believers in social media for themselves. That vision holds firm. In the initial phase, I’m focusing more on business people and service providers who have broken ground for social media in business. It will also be more US based until we get going. My next clip will be an interview with Bob Lutz, vice chairman of GM. Then, I’ll probably post my interview with Biz Stone and the Twitter guys. After that, we’ll probably post a clip I just did on Disney Interactive, mostly on Club Penguin and how it’s bringing the next generation into social networking at such an early age.
Again, GNTV is a program FOR people still struggling with social media, primarily in business, but also in their lives and cultures. It is ABOUT pioneers and smart movers.
Jeremiah: What is the biggest finding from the many interviews you’ve done on the SAP Global Survey, what’s the one trend you’re finding?
That’s easy. in every country, youth is driving social media adoption. That means that when the Club Penguin generation comes into the marketplace, most traditional marketing simply won’t work. So companies really need to start understand what SM tools work for them.
Jeremiah: What can we expect from you and GNTV going forward?
Jeremiah: Thanks Shel, I look forward to hearing what nuggets come out of these interviews with folks embracing social media in companies and cultures around the world.
Which department should take leadership of your corporate web strategy? Earlier this week, I flew out to Vegas to speak on a panel with Alastair Duncan is Chief Executive of MRM, at Intel’s sales and marketing event.
I was really impressed by his nuggets, that I got him on video in the Sands conference center to talk about ownership and governance of web programs within corporations. Alastair’s blog is located Participation Marketing.
What you’ll learn?
Who really is in charge of web strategy programs? Which department (listen to his insightful answer)
How to avoid making your website an irrelevant ‘picture on the wall’
I was just at Intel’s Sales and Marketing event on Tuesday, and was really glad to meet Intel’s EMEA Web Strategist (which is what I call decision makers), Taj Peyton. He’s responsible for understanding each of the unique needs of cultures in his European market and developing localized versions of the corporate Intel site –no easy undertaking.
Watch this video and you’ll learn
-Why you should or should not localize
-What you research
-Other than language, how are regionalized sites are different than corporate website
-How to get started
-Management is a nightmare, what tools to use?
I ran out of memory, so the interview got cut short a few seconds, but there’s a lot of meat in his presentation. If you’re planning on localizing you website, be sure to really understand the demographics (who are they), physhographics (how they think/feel), and technographics (how they use technology) before deploying, otherwise you may have just wasted your resources.
And yes, that’s the Wynn in the background, one of Vegas’s newest hotels. Intel put me up at the brand new Venetian extention, the Palazzo, each room is a suite (3 HD flatscreens), it’s opulent. I’m pretty sure I was the first person to every stay in the room as they just opened up last week, why do I think that? I had to plug in a lot of the appliances, I’m sure that’ll never happen again
Tristan Nitot, (his blog on open source in French) CEO of Mozilla Europe talks about how Firefox spread mainly through word of mouth and people just sharing it and advocating it to others. He suggests that the open source initiative first resonated with people, thus spurring word of mouth. They encouraged users to have the software loaded on a portable thumbnail flash drive, and install it wherever they went. Blogs were a big component of how it spread, as well as local communities that would be passionate about their region, self-supporting each other, and spreading the word.
Un traditional web strategies
As you may know, Mozilla hasn’t done a lot of traditional marketing or advertising (except for at least one full page add in NYTs with the launch of Firefox 1.0) and is really relying on social media to spread the tools. Exactly how fanatic is it’s customer base? So fanatic that some users created an actual crop circle and it’s featured all over google images searches, as well as in Google Earth! Or they’ve leaned on the community to create and submit videos (30 second commercials) with Firefoxflicks, some of which actually went on major TV networks, sans production costs.
If you’re looking for stats, you’ll find that Firefox is the second most used browser in the world, and it’s primarily spread through grass roots adoption, against a Microsoft product that comes embedded on many platforms. Users have to go out of their way to download the software, let alone spread it to others.
This is fascinating, if I substitute the word ‘Firefox’ and insert the name of ‘any religion’, it still makes sense. For many, it’s almost as if Firefox is gospel.
I asked Connie what to do when detractors criticize your company, brand, or products, we also talk about dealing with an overwhelming negative community or forum.
I also recommend setting up a process in advanced that helps to identify what type of detractor you’re dealing with, as some should be responded to quickly, and some should never be responded to (ongoing trolls). Develop a plan on what to do, as you’re going to have to deal with different personalities throughout your community program.
As I travel around, I do quick interviews with interesting folks, some of them are speakers, thought leaders, or people I interview for my reports. Marcia immediately impressed me as she was asking very key questions during my keynote, and we furthered the conversation over lunch.
Marcia Kadanoff, who I met at the Web Community Forum up in Seattle, gives her insight on the future of the web. Search will be the common interface, yet the future is distributed, and people will be communicating in many different locations. She suggests that we stop focus on interruption marketing, focus on engagement marketing, and look at widgets.
So what do you think? Is her predictions for 2008 right? I’m in complete agreement, the distributed web is a concept I’ve been discussing for some time.
Many know him for his evangelism at Apple, speaking, companies he’s funded, the 8 books he’s been involved with, or the sharing he does from his blog (although he told me over lunch that he’s shared almost everything he can). I met Guy at the local ice rink, where he spends lunches playing hockey. He asked me where I wanted to shoot the video, and I said down by the ice, I had on a jacket, and turtleneck, but he braved the interview for me in just a t-shirt.
Guy shares with me some of his predictions for Marketers in 2008, companies he’s interested in investing with, answers “is entrepreneurship born or bred” (a question from David Wescott in Twitter), about Twitter and it’s impacts to Truemors (from Yama-sami). Oh and here’s the site Guy was raving about, PopURLs. Most recently he’s launched his passion Truemors, which as many of you are seeing in Twitter.