Reflections from Social Media Breakfast 9 in Boston

Here are a couple of things that stuck in my head a day after the event. It seems like mainstream corporate types (ie enterprise customers like EMC) are taking it slow with social media.  Like other new technologies, they are carefully evaluating it (in this case inside the firewall first) as another tool to help them improve their business. Absent a  a clearly articulated ROI, there will still be alot of testing with social media before acceptance in the enterprise C-suite. I heard my first fear-based argument for social media engagement.  David Alston of Radian6 used an analogy of someone standing in front of your company shout bad things about you at the top of his lungs.  If this were about your company would your PR team ignore them?  I enjoyed the demo of his their platform but it probably makes him nuts when people say “why can’t you just use a Google alert to track these things”. As Peter Kim reminded us, CMOs are general managers typically with short tenure.  They need to think about ROI first and coolness second. There are still more vendors and consultants at these events than prospective clients or end user types.  The irony is that I’m a potential customer looking for solutions and no one even tried to sell to me. For more from SMB9 Boston, check out Twitter with hashtag #smb9.  Twitter may have jumped the shark but it is still the medium of choice for real-time sharing.  And you can still follow me at...

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Real people and social media interview: Kel Kelly

In this interview, I talk with Kel Kelly, Founder and CEO of Kel & Partners.  As you will see Kel is enthusiastic about Web 2.0.  This is no surprise as it is a cornerstone of her practice.  She explains how they are now seeing interest in social media spreading beyond a narrow band of Web 2.0 start-ups and into mainstream corporate America. FM Days: What are the marketing trends affecting your business in 2008? Kel Kelly: Web 2.0 baby! The Web 2.0 KoolAid is finally getting served and consumed by the big guys. Heading into 2008, the bulk of our clients were Web 2.0-based companies. This year along with a continued strong Web 2.0 client base, we have seen a tremendous tsunami of business coming in from big brand companies looking to Kel & Partners to help them build and blend Web 2.0 initiatives into their overall marketing strategies. FMD: How are your clients measuring success with social media? KK: Our clients who are social media-based measure it based on things like # of members, stickiness, etc. Other clients using it measure it against the objective we established prior to defining and executing the strategy. In some cases it’s based on connecting with clients, in other cases it’s based on expanding their brand association, and believe it or not in some cases it’s directly tied to a goal in the CMOs bonus plan. FMD: What do you see as the biggest hype at the moment: KK: “Web 2.0 is dead and it was just hype.” Note to self: remember to tell the 100 million Facebook members, Wikipedia, Slide and the rest of the gang! Seriously. The web as a platform, user-generated content, aggregating the wisdom of crowds, service above a single device and all the other attributes that define Web 2.0 are alive and well. They aren’t going away. What makes me laugh is that most people who are talking about Web 3.0 and Web 4.0 don’t have a Facebook profile, don’t know what Twitter is, and wouldn’t know a blog if they happened to be reading one by accident. FMD: What do you see as the next big thing in online marketing: KK: Since nobody ever could have predicted things like Facebook and all its glory, I never even attempt to answer these types of questions. I feel it would be arrogant for me to even begin to guess. All I can tell you is that if it is Web 2.0-based, I hope to be a part of it. We’re having a blast and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. FMD: Kel, thank you...

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Real people and social media: PJA Advertising

With all the hype surrounding social media these days, I decided I would find some “real people” using Web 2.0 to improve the way they do business.  Over the next few weeks, I will be interviewing a series of marketers and agency people to better understand what it all means to “the rest of us”. In my first installment, I interviewed Mike O’Toole, Partner and SVP of Strategy at PJA Advertising + Marketing in Cambridge Massachusetts. Tangyslice: What marketing trends are affecting your business in 2008? Mike O’Toole: A renewed focus on demand generation, based on the shaky economy and declining marketing budgets. An accelerated emphasis on analytics and accountability. Online channels moving to the center of marketing spends. TS: How are people measuring success with social media? MO: We have a couple of clients who have hired firms (specifically, Nielsen Buzz Metrics and Cymphony, now part of TNS Media Intelligence) who specialize in monitoring and analyzing the social media conversation relevant to their brand and products. These firms combine software and professional services to measure volume and (more interestingly) tonality of blogs, bulletin boards, consumer reviews, etc. We encourage investment in these tools because it gives our clients a finger on the pulse of market opinion, and also gives them an additional yardstick for measuring the success of marketing campaigns (i.e. does a campaign help increase the positive buzz among key audience segments?). TS: What do you think is over-hyped at the moment? MO: Social media-as-marketing-strategy is over-hyped. This will sound obvious, but social media is by definition user-generated and user-controlled. Corporate marketing can’t exert control, and this makes a lot of marketers nervous. We counsel our clients to be careful, not to mention courageous. The best strategy is to participate in relevant communities and conversation, and to create interesting content that might be share-worthy. And to have appropriate expectations. You will be bashed at times, and measuring the return is tricky at best. It is critical to participate, though. PJA has done three waves of research with ITToolbox (an online community of more than a million technology professionals), and we have found that social media content and communities are top influences on purchase decisions. And when companies participate in the right way, we have seen their efforts make a real difference in brand and product perceptions. TS: What do you see as the next big thing online marketing? MO: Creating moderated, online communities of customers, prospects, and other key influencers. Web 2.0 tools and technologies have made it much easier for companies to tap into virtual audience segments to get feedback about products, customer satisfaction, and brand...

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My love-hate relationship with LinkedIn

Over the last few months I’ve seen a significant decrease in LinkedIn connection requests and a corresponding increase in Facebook friends.  It seems that Generation X is waking up to Facebook and may start nibbling on LinkedIn’s user base.  While these two sites serve very different purposes, they are still fighting for my online attention. Here are some of ways I believe LinkedIn can update their site to become a more integrated part of my online life: 1. Make it easier to “friend” someone – I don’t know how many times I’ve had to go fishing through Outlook for  an email address to friend I know really well like my sister-in-law. 2. Better integration with other sites – Lifestreaming is coming to a laptop near you (See FriendFeed, Socialthing, etc) .  LinkedIn could take a lesson from Plaxo on how to connect with people’s lives.  It would be nice if I could easily import my blog posts, photos and other content into my LinkedIn profile. 3. Standardize status updates – Their 98 character status update is pretty short for people familiar with Facebook and Twitter.  It is also challenge to use a third party site like Hellotxt or PingFM to push your oversharing to LinkedIn. 4. Encourage greater use of their API – Much of the success of sites like Twitter can be attributed to the third-party applications that use the API to pull and add value to live data. 5. Better RSS feeds -It is nice to have LinkedIn feeds at all.  I can, however, imagine an infinite number of permutations for RSS feeds by company, region and education. LinkedIn will continue to be a key part of the social media ecosystem.  I just wish it were more connected.  That is the point ofsocial media after after...

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Post Mortem: Social Media Sites I Use

So here were are almost a month after the completion of my social media journey.  As promised, here is the list of sites I am still using: Twitter: Now that their major outages seem to be behind them, I can regularly share my microdrivel with my “followers”. Facebook: Gen-X is now embracing Facebook and I am regularly getting friend requests from my World 1.0. Flickr: I like their desktop application for uploading pictures. HelloTxt: One click and I can push my status updates to over 10 sites. LinkedIn: My professional network still uses this site. Netvibes: Nice interface for aggregating news and other feeds. Finetune: My 20 something friends rave about Last.fm but I find Finetune site much more intuitive. I just made my final donation to my online fundraising page bringing the total to $340.  Thank you again to all of my supporters. Going forward, I plan to regularly add to the Tangy list as the supply of social media sites is virtually endless.  Keep the recommendations coming and stay...

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Day 30: Crossing the Futility Line

Well my friends, the end is here.  I learned many things on this journey and plan to share them over the next few weeks.  In particular, I discovered that a couple of weeks of Twitter use can’t make you a social media expert (BTW, it takes at least a couple of years in a busted consumer Internet firm or a short stint as a used car salesman to seal the deal). As always, these picks are for entertainment purposes only (no wagering, please). Digfoot -I thought I had seen it all with aggregation sites until I found Digfoot.  They take things to another level with a list of 3,701 sites (yes, you read that right, 3,701 sites).  I believe we have a winner. Diigo – I can just hear their PR guy prepping their CEO for the big press briefing: “We’re powerful research tool and a knowledge-sharing community, not a social bookmarking site.” I dunno folks, looks like another bookmarking site to me. Orkut – A social networking and discussion site with an odd name operated by Google. Disqus -I can use this site to turn my blog comments into an online discussion.  To be honest, I am a little short on comments right now.  You could help with that, please… Skyrock -Share pictures and video… Meet friends… Does this sound familiar?  It does, however, seem to have some traffic. GetSatisfaction – “Get Satisfaction is a place where people can get the most from the products they use”.  These guys provide a free community where businesses and their customers can share ideas and solve problems.  You should check out the list of companies using this site. Kirtsy – In their words: “Kirtsy is a social media platform of pure goodness. A plaza for the peachy. A portal to the pretty. A place to find cool things…. And more.”  Wow, I am speechless. Funny or Die – You know the end is near when celebrities a piece of the VC fueled action.  We can thank Will Farrell for his support of this site. Orangutag -And finally we have number 100.  As if I don’t already watch too much TV, I can now create a watchlist for my favorite shows and get a personalized RSS feed to share them with everyone.  I just need a super BigGulp, a half gallon of ice cream and a bag of Doritos to go with this site. I’d like to thank everyone who made this happen.  My parents, my friends at Firstgiving, donors to my fundraising page as well as that aspiring social media mogul...

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