Archive for May, 2008

Focused on Social Networks? Attend Graphing Social Patterns


My main focus as an analyst is on online communities and social networks, if you’ve the same focus, I highly recommend you attend the Graphing Social Patterns conference, started by Dave McClure. The conferences runs deep into the developer discussions, as well as is blossoming with more and more business and marketing discussions. View my blog posts from previous events, including an interview with Dave.

This upcoming east coast version will have at least a few discussions focused on white label social networks, in fact, I’ve been asked to moderate the panel. I’m really looking forward to this focus on these important vendors, as there hasn’t been any conferences that have done a sole focus on the discussion of corporate communities in the context of these tools.

The upcoming GSP East (The West Coast conference was in San Diego a few weeks back) will be held in June 9-11, 2008 in the Washington, DC area, readers of this blog can register with a discount (Save 15% Use Code: gspe08fo). As a partner, attendees will receive a copy of one of my latest reports on “Online Community Best Practices” so please watch for that

I’m giving away 2 free tickets (valued at $1195, each)

Update: 12 hours later While I encourage additional comments, I”ll be selecting the winners from the first 24 comments. I simply don’t have enough bandwidth to compare and contrast all the great answers. The winners will be contacted and announced on this post.

O’Reilly has offered readers of this blog two tickets, during this week, going to select from the comments, simply answer the following question:

Where you think the future of White Label Social networks is headed over the next 5 years, and why you back up that prediction?

If you’re planning to leave a comment, but know you can’t attend the conference, please indicate so, so someone else who is interested in attending will benefit, thanks.

Understanding Community Leadership: An Interview with a Member of Yelp’s “Elite”


Ellen M is one of Yelp’s premiere members called Yelp Elite, they are unpaid members that after meeting some requirements are considered “elite”. It’s often baffling for outsiders to understand how community leadership forms, but it’s often not because of their loyalty to the brand, but often due to the appeal to communicate with one’s peers and to gain ‘social capital’.

If you’re not familiar with Yelp, it’s a location based review community, which influences which restaurants, businesses, and events people patronize. This is a Groundswell example, as people find information from each other, rather than getting it from an institution like newspapers or restaurant reviewers.

Many brands are trying to figure out how to get their own members to take leadership, and many are trying to emulate Microsoft’s successful MVP program, with varied results. In the quest to understand community leadership, I interviewed Ellen M. who’s one of Yelp’s elite crowd

A bit about Ellen M: First, view her profile on Yelp, She’s very active in Yelp, is a member of the Chicago Elite (Since 2005) and has 251 Friends, has completed 1048 Reviews, hunts and finds new haunts and has 589 “Firsts”, is respected by her peers and has 78 Fans (an influencer), has over 1500 compliments, use media and has 103 Local Photos, submits a few events (3) and has created 28 Lists.

An Interview with a Member of Yelp’s “Elite”, Chicago’s Ellen M:

What does it take to become a member? What rights does it entitle you to?
I was part of the original Elite group in Chicago, after having written about 700 reviews (a whole other story – I was paid a small amount of money to write reviews when the site was in beta, along with a bunch of other yelpers). For most new users, the criteria for Elite is 1) having a photo of yourself, 2) using your real name, 3) writing a bunch of reviews (not sure how many – 100?) and serving as sort of a role model. It entitles me to invitations to Elite events, but that’s about it.

Do restaurants treat you differently?
Once, a nice restaurant offered to have me back for a complimentary dinner after seeing my negative review. Restaurants don’t know I’m a yelp user while I’m there though, unless by some astronomical chance someone recognizes me from my photo (which hasn’t happened yet). I have never mentioned that I write online reviews with the expectation of special treatment.

How does your ranking influence others?
I’m not sure…I don’t think it does influence others.

I used to have an additional badge, “Mod,” which meant I was able to MODify business listing information – it resulted in a lot of people mistakenly thinking that I worked for the site as a Moderator, so I had yelp remove the badge (I was getting a lot of email from people thinking I could reprimand users, etc.). Since then, they’ve dismantled the Mod program entirely.

How does Yelp reward/recognize you?
I get a new Elite badge at the beginning of each year. I’ve gotten several mentions in yelp weekly newsletters. I’m invited to the yelp Elite events, and I attend a few of them per year.

How much does it cost you? (effort, money, time)?
Since I’m well-established in the yelp community, it only requires that I remain an active user, which isn’t difficult. I would expect that new users who are trying to get Elite status would have to spend a good 20 hours or so writing reviews to obtain it.

Why do you do it?
I love to write reviews, but I think the social networking and interaction with yelp friends is what really compels me to continue. There are certain yelp reviewers who are so entertaining that I could probably spend an entire afternoon reading their stuff – way better than television.

Regarding the question, “does your ranking influence others?” we know from trust research that people trust those like them or peers, far more than anything else.

In a future post, we’ll discuss how restaurants need to do to understand and respond to Yelp, stay tuned.

Finished reading Groundswell for the first time … again


Just finished reading the official Groundwell book poolside in the warm CA sun. I’ve actually read the book, but before it was even close to print, that version was slightly different and incomplete than the one on bookshelves today.

Before I started at Forrester, Charlene suggested I be one on the advance readers, she stopped by, handed me a spiral bound print out, and asked me to read it and provide my input. I read the book during my trip to Hong Kong, and marked the book up, some of my suggestions I hope were helpful, I do know that one of my examples made the book. The example about Scoble’s wiki not working well was my submission.

If you’ve read the book, you’ll realize it’s based on a solid methodology, case examples, and cites data from Technographics, this is a practical version of previous social media books. Which books in particular? Cluetrain, then Naked Conversations are really desktop references and preludes to this book, I recommend all of three of these.

This Thursday, I’ll be speaking at the 10 year anniversary of the Cluetrain event, Doc Searls to give the keynote at SAP in Palo Alto, hope to see you there. I was with Shel and Robert at their book launch party for Naked, and then started to learn under Shel, he taught me a great deal. Now, I’m working with the Groundswell authors, it’s an amazing adventure.

I’m somewhat biased being a Forrester employee and working with the Groundswell colleagues, but I’ll tell you what it’s missing: tactics. This book is a strategic framework, a real methodology that tells you the right way to approach social media. It doesn’t give you specifics on technologies, and how to use them, which of course would make the book have a very limited shelf life, so the tactics will be found on blogs, twitter, podcasts, that you, and you, and you, will write.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Groundswell book, what did you like and dislike? Will you apply the POST methodology at your workplace? What did your boss say?

Related note: If you have one of my latest business cards, turn it over for a mesmerizing effect.

Is your Company Market Driven or Product Driven?


The battle between Marketers and Engineers has been going on for a while, Engineers claim that building the best product is enough to succeed, and Marketers claim that understand the external forces (competitors, customers, needs) is the solution.

Update: saw an interesting tweet from tomob: “@jowyang – the engineer’s pipe dream = product so good we don’t need sales or marketing”

We’ve seen cases of heavy engineering companies like Google, with little marketing efforts become the most well known brand online. On the other hand, companies like Coke spends a major portion of their corporate budget on Marketing, to become the top brand in the world.

Or, take Apple, which has great products (although it was debated that Sony had a superior MP3 player –but didn’t know how to market it) also does sophisticated brand and emotional branding aimed at a be different lifestyle.

To add color, andrewparadies tweets: “@jowyang I’d argue that it takes a pretty strong combination of both to succeed. Apple has great marketing, but they also make solid product”

Now add social computing, where we companies are using blogs to market their companies, or SalesForce’s Ideas or Uservoice to let customers define how engineering will focus, things start to mix up, the lines blur. In the end, marketers need engineers, and engineers need marketers, but the balance will vary.

With social media, how will your company improve it’s marketing or engineering? Or do things stay the same.

What happens when you become a Facebook Fan


Above Image: Dan Schawbel noticed I was endorsing Career Builder within Facebook, after I became a fan

Dan Schawbel, an energized social media practitioner at EMC emailed me, and said he noticed that I was endorsing Career Builder, within Facebook, he wondered it this was intentional and if I was aware of it. He’s not the first to tell me, this, and I explained I had become a “Fan” of their site (I do this for many brands in Facebook, for research purposes, to see what happens) and apparently it surprises a few folks. I should say, I’m not really a fan, as I don’t even use their site.

When a member becomes a Fan of a brand within Facebook, it signals an affinity giving the brand the opportunity to cross promote among the members network. I covered the opportunities and challenges of being a ‘fansumer‘ in this earlier analysis this year. This is not new, as I noticed David Berkowitz endorsing Blockbuster and he requests and opt out as the process appears to be difficult.

Questions for you:

Is your company engaging in network recommendations?
Are you making your fans aware of this endorsement ahead of time?
Is becoming a fan, consent of brand endorsement?

How You Use Me: Web Strategy Results 2/3


Earlier this week, I published my findings from the survey to find out who reads the web strategy blog (part 1/3). Now that we have a good sense of who’s in the community, let’s see how you use me. By the way, I’m extremely happy that you use me, as I’m publishing these thoughts and content so you trust me, expand my platform, you’ll grow with me, and eventually work with me.

Here are the findings of how people use this blog, see the finding, my thoughts, and the associated data. Please note this data was compiled by an official Forrester survey, over 88 responses.

A bit of humility…
These findings are overall positive, and I’m gracious and thankful for you being part of this community. I make a lot of mistakes (and consider myself an average, rookie analyst) but am glad to share my passion with you. Regardless of these marks, I’ll still strive to learn, improve my weaknesses, and help others. Thank you!

Finding: Readers would recommend this blog to others
To me, this is the strongest metrics of the entire survey, this net ratings score indicates that you’d be willing to share this blog with others –the highest commendation possible.

“Would you recommend this blog to a friend or colleague?”

Would you recommend this blog to a friend or colleague?

Finding: Many posts read
Many readers are digging into every post that is published, and that’s great. Based upon the Google Analytics time on site (attention data) it’s clear that most skim, but some meaty posts have up to 5 minutes attention rate, suggesting true in depth reading. I’m constantly in a state of learning from the commenters, you help me (and the community) to get smarter.

“How frequently do you read Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang?”
How frequently do you read Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang?

Finding: Most have been reading since the last half year
This is interesting, while many new readers came around since I joined Forrester, there’s still quite a few older readers that have been with me since Hitachi. Forrester has been a tremendous platform, I’ve doubled my readership since I started.

“For how long have you been reading Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang?”
For how long have you been reading Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang

Finding: Most somewhat agree this blog helps to inform the actions I take at work

“This blog helps inform the actions I take at work”
This is a powerful metric, and it’s skewing towards the right bar graphs, which indicates that this blog influences workplace behavior. To what degree? that’s debatable, as it could likely be ‘what not to do’, heh.

This blog helps inform the actions I take at work

Finding: Most strongly agree this blog helps to gain industry-specific insights
Similar to the finding above, this suggests that the community is heavily learning on where this blog suggests the market is headed. I’m in the blessed perched position where I can talk to many vendors and clients, and you’re seeing just some of the output on this blog.

“This blog helps me gain industry-specific insights”
This blog helps me gain industry-specific insights

Finding: Most somewhat agree that this blog helps to keep up on cutting edge marketing tech
“This blog keeps me up to date on cutting edge marketing technologies”
This blog keeps me up to date on cutting edge marketing technologie

Finding: Many strongly agree that this blog is a cheap way to get analyst info
Not sure if this is good or bad, but I can assure you, you’re only seeing a small percentage of the insight that I give to clients in the form of reports, advisory, inquiry, and in person meetings. Also, blog posts are clearly no where near the accuracy nor specific insight and recommendations that you can get from reports.

“This blog is a less expensive source of Forrester information than becoming a client”

This blog is a less expensive source of Forrester information than becoming a client

Finding: You come here to learn dammit, no f*cking fun allowed
Apparently, I’m no fun. Heh, well that’s ok, this blog is intended for business people, read the tag line on my banner, this is my mission. Although it skews slight to the right, as a somewhat, the goal of this blog is to educate, not entertain.

“[Does]This blog provides me with entertainment?”
This blog provides me with entertainment

Finding: Most somewhat agree that this blog helps with marketing program performance
I don’t discuss marketing mixes, nor do I discuss pricing, but I do discuss measurement, being effective and efficient so no surprises here.

“This blog helps me improve marketing program performance”
This blog helps me improve marketing program performance

Finding: Most somewhat agree that this blog helps to develop effective marketing strategies
I’m somewhat scared that marketers would rely on my blog alone to develop marketing strategies, so I certainly hope this is a supplement. Some of the content here is editorial, and you should recognize what is a best practice and what is not.

“This blog helps me to develop effective marketing strategies”
This blog helps me to develop effective marketing strategies

Finding: This blog doesn’t impact finding technology vendors
Yup, no surprise here, I often list out indexes of industries, but I don’t make specific recommendations, that’s reserved for Forrester clients.

“This blog helps me find technology and/or services partners”

This blog helps me find technology and/or services partners

Finding: This blog doesn’t impact building teams or skills
No surprised here, either. I don’t discuss team building, or what the right skills are (except for the emerging social media strategist and community manager), no worries.

“This blog helps me build the right teams and skills”
This blog helps me build the right teams and skills

Thanks again for reading, and keep on using me!