Left: Several Press, Analysts, and Bloggers met with executives from Cisco and Warner using Telepresence from NY, SF, to San Jose. Cisco’s Eos (their community platform for media brands) landed an enterprise wide deal with Warner Music.
Attendees included John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, Dan Scheinman who heads Eos, and Edgar Bronfman, CEO of Warner music and Michale Nash of Warner.
Rather than focus on the details of the deal (you can read WSJ, Reuters, and GigaOm), I’m going to discuss what it means to the industry at large.
[Media companies will adopt social technologies to respond to the Groundswell in social networks –yet to be successful, the change isn’t about technology –but instead, their business model]
Media companies know that they’re not the only voices in the auditorium –the audience now talks back. They create media, content, and share it directly with each other on social sites —now brands, like Warner seek to embrace them closer. Rather than allow this inevitable social interaction on social networks like MySpace, they want to take it back by launching their own social features.
Although EOS was announced earlier this year (read my take), this is their first major client, hence the fanfare. What’s taken EOS so long to clinch a large deal? Their hefty enterprise system is designed for media brands to cascade across multiple properties –not one-off installations. Community platform players that also compete in the media space like Kickapps and Pluck (and to some degree Ning) have self-serve features, are modular, and even have credit card payment systems so individual brand managers can get started –bypassing IT.
Impacts to Community Platforms, and CMS Vendors
Incumbent community platform players (learn more about this crowded space) like Kickapps (who power artists U2, Madonna and Food2), Pluck (who powers USAToday/Gannet, The Guardian, and the NFL), and incumbent CMS systems like Vignette, Documentum, Interwoven need to demonstrate they’ve enterprise viability by proving their systems to brands that can scale across multiple entertainment properties at media conglomerates. Warner is an ‘end to end Cisco customer’ so the aforementioned vendors should immediately reach out to their customers with a large Cisco footprint in the datacenter.
Impacts to Social Networks: MySpace, Bebo, Facebook
As media companies develop their own communities this takes some power away from social networks like MySpace, Bebo, and Facebook. Fortunately, not all fans will interact with artist created communities –so they will need to quickly distinguish how their community base is different (perhaps in a different part of the marketing funnel) –but still valuable.
What It Means: Opportunities –and Challenges for Media Brands
Consider this the first day in which Chief Media Officers recognize that social is a key component to fostering a brand amongst an audience that wants –and will talk back. Expect other media conglomerates to start this evaluation process.
Rather than punt the community to MySpace and Bebo to monetize, media companies can now aggregate the data from the community to quickly identify trends, memes, and hits and wins from the community. Artists can foster a tighter relationship with fans as the communication goes both ways.
They could monetize by providing premium products (exclusive content, backstage passes, or special venues). Additionally there are WOM opportunities, and harvesting data to identify new trends, top influencers, and market trends. Creating premium products for fans and evangelists will spur their business forward.
Media companies need to develop a strategy beyond technologies that encompasses dealing with process, roles, and allowing for the voices of the customer –not just the media brands. Remember my 80/20 rule about communities, only 20% is about technology, the majority is strategy.
Lastly, media companies will need to reformat their business model, as the people formerly known as the audience now join artists on stage. Given how media companies have responded to this movement with a clamping and silencing motion –this is a big change for their culture.
Media Companies Under Extreme Change as Fans Join the Stage –Changing Biz Model
Summing things up, media brands that recognize the party is happening without them on MySpace, Bebo and Facebook will build branded communities for fans and artists closer to the corporate domain. This means the structure of the business will need to change, not just to allow fans to participate on the ‘online stage’ but to also develop new ways of monetizing through premium products, cross sales, and lean on efficient word of mouth marketing.
Invest 20 minutes to listen to this podcast focused on how Facebook Connect helps brands connect with existing communities. This podcast, hosted by Aaron Strout of Powered, was joined by the digital editor of AdWeek, Brian Morrissey and marketing blogger/consultant, Susan Getgood, and myself.
I’ve participated in dozens of online and virtual events, including created my own, below is a playbook to think about virtual events as they intersect with the social web. While the scope of this article is focused on online virtual events, many of these tips can be used in real world events and the like.
[To be successful, virtual –and real world events must have a strategy that integrates social technologies, before, during, and after]
Three Principles Of Modern Events
To be successful, virtual –and real world– event planners must abide by the following principles:
Events should integrate with existing communities and social networks where they exist.
Events should have a strategy that includes the before and after –not just during.
The audience can assert control over the event, so encourage audience participation and know when to get out of the way.
Planners must develop a Pre, During, and Post strategy that integrates social.
Today, event planners only think of the fixed event that occurs in a day, they often overlook that a community talks, discusses, and chatters before, during and after an event. They should:
Have a “before’ strategy. Use social tools before an event to increase signups by first locating where their target community is, and use social tools to reach them. Encourage members to tweet and share an event before it occurs, they should create events in Facebook so it triggers updates on the newsfeed. Assign a hashtag so that excited attendees can interact with all tweets, blog posts, tags, photos, and videos can be easily found, tracked, and then measured. Savvy organizers will source questions and topics from the crowd before the event occurs, both to increase the relevancy of the content and spur word of mouth. Truly advanced organizers will allow members to connect to each other before an event by allowing users to connect in an online community, or login using existing social network profiles to ‘find their friends’.
Integrate existing social tools during an event, thereby increasing interaction. During the event, organizers should be monitoring the social web and chat rooms to see how the crowd is reacting –be ready to react in real time. Make it clear what the assigned hash tag is, and source questions in real time from audience members as appropriate. Integrate chat features and tweets live into the event, centralizing the fragmented discussion in your event. Take for example, virtual events company InXpo already provides Twitter integration to experiences and offers some best practices, see how Cisco has coupled their physical events with online events.
Follow up using social tools to aggregate and identify opportunities. Event planners shouldn’t quit once the event is over, the opportunity to further relationships is at hand. Event planners should immediately launch a survey to gauge quality and experience, and ask if there are follow-on opportunities. They should aggregate all created content (remember the hashtag) and create blog posts that highlight the top reactions. Advanced events will have a community where attendees are ushered to and can continue the conversation on after the event continues on. Finally, a brand should respond using the same tools as attendees in Facebook, Twitter, or leave comments on blogs and continue the dialog. There re more best practices available to study.
In the Future, Virtual Events Must Integrate Social
Virtual events will integrate with existing social networks. Brands need to fish where the fish are, and find communities where the exist. Virtual events will need to deploy in Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, and Twitter communities, allowing them to login and register with their accounts on those platforms –and then message on these platforms. See how Gigya’s Socialize product has helped Turner Broadcasting with the online event for the NBA finals.
Virtual Events won’t be a limited duration, but will become a persistent experience. Today, virtual events are often a limited duration experience (2-6 hours on average, perhaps longer for global events). We should expect them to be persistent longer term experiences that span days, weeks, and in some cases be permanent fixtures.
Integrate with existing corporate communities. Expect virtual event vendors to develop partnerships with community platform vendors, InXpo has staked a claim in early integration.. The first folks they should talk to? Leverage Software (who already has a strong community event module) Jive, Telligent, Awareness, Mzinga, Lithium, Neighborhood America, all cater to the corporate B2B market. These vendors provide long term community experiences for brands, and virtual events should integrate with the identity of existing customers, and foster experiences before and after the virtual event.
Event planners will need to measure their influence on the social web. Assign team members to monitor and track occurrence to a spreadsheet using Twitter search tools or Technorati, or hire a brand monitoring vendor that will provide a report.
Certainly, this isn’t a comprehensive guide, please provide your tips as social and online events integrate.
If you found this helpful, please share it with others, kindly tweet: “Web Strategy: How To Integrate Social Technologies with Virtual Events http://bit.ly/Y6xmP via @jowyang”
A few months ago the Facebook and Twitter deal fell apart, and Facebook knows it must open its community to the open web –not just behind a login in order to benefit from generating revenues through advertising and search advertising.
This Friendfeed acquisition make sense as it’s primarily a buy of the talent and team –not so much the website itself. Why? This team of ex-googlers have roots in gmail and google maps, they know how to build scalable social apps, and are also located in Silicon Valley (I’ve visited them a handful of times).
Friendfeed.com doesn’t have a tremendous amount of visitors (monthly uniques are under 1mm says Compete, compared to Facebook’s 250mm registered users) so the acquisition is for the cherry features like Search, Best of Day, and elegant and rapid procuring of social content in real time.
Expect information in Facebook to continue to become more public, and this acquisition will help fuel this. Previously, Facebook allowed profiles to be made public, and spurred a landgrab from vanity URLs.
Although the teams haven’t made any indicators of their long-term plans, I’d expect the Friendfeed features and technologies to be folded into the larger Facebook. The terms of the deal must have been great for Friendfeeders, who have often indicated they wanted to go it alone.
Facebook’s acquisition is truly about getting a seasoned team on board that’s done it before.
Facebook was smart to purchase this young player who has yet to reach critical mass.
Expect Friendfeed features to be folded into Facebook.
Expect Facebook to continue to show more public content.
Update: It’s an interesting job to watch the rapidly evolving web industry, and during my many meetings with companies, I learn which companies are fearful of others, my most retweeted Tweet is the following:
“IBM is afraid of Microsoft who is afraid of Google who is afraid of Facebook who is afraid of Twitter who is afraid of whales.”
Cute, sure. But in all seriousness, this acquistion is a way for Facebook to circumvent and harnass Tweets, as Friendfeed aggregates tweets in real time.
What makes a company successful with their employees, partners, and customers? Culture is perhaps the biggest driver. I spent time reading these slides (you should invest 10 minutes) to understand what makes Netflix so unique. Out of these drivers, which ones does your company actually live?
It was interesting that working harder isn’t valued as much as working smarter. I once worked at a company where they would hire 3 mediocre people to accomplish the job of 2 people and pay those three less than the average as they were easily replaceable (it didn’t work out for them). A top salary was the most important, as the employees could then apply it towards whatever benefits they preferred.
Here’s a link to their Google Finance chart, their stock continues to rise during the recession. Love to hear your reactions
Despite a downturn in the economy, we continue to recognize those moving 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:
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, leave a comment below, or if you’re feeling shy (it’s cool to self-nominate) send me an email. Please include a link to your announcement, and ensure you’re really living and breathing in the social media world –this is not a small aspect of your role.
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)