Archive for the ‘social media’ category

Debate Hub: How Did C-Span Get So Cool?

2, October, 2008

C-Span–the tediously even-handed, eat-your-spinach, 24-hour civics lesson–has somehow caught the Cool2.0 virus. As you prepare for tonight’s debate between Sen. Loose and Gov. Moose, check out C-Span’s Debate Hub.

Okay, nothing that special here–your basic interactive platform that lets you dig into the debate several different ways.

But the cool thing is this: Using the hub, you can pluck snippets of video in near-real time, snag the code and circulate it to make whatever mischief you want.

See a condescending Biden scowl? Grab it, post it to YouTube, and Tweet the url before he’s bloviating on the next question.

Like the way Palin crinkles her nose like a schoolgirl when she’s trying to discourage additional questions? Grab ‘em and e-mail ‘em to your brother in minutes!

You can mash the content up into comic repartee worthy of Neil Simon before Chris Matthews is on MSNBC praising Biden’s stalwart performance!

This is all possible thanks to the Debate Hub’s near-real-time debate timeline, which will spill out transcript and video as the action progresses. Here’s the timeline from the Oxford, Miss., debate between Obama and McCain.

I suspect C-Span didn’t realize it was creating a mischief-o-matic when it launched this site. But it certainly knew it was stretching its brand image. Why else would it include this graphic representing the words used most in the debate by each candidate?

And why else would it publish a real-time Twitter feed? And live blog entry aggregation?

If C-Span–whose average viewer is probably about as old as John McCain–has gone so deeply into democracy 2.0, something truly revolutionary is happening with our politics.

People are participating in it.

Are we sure we want to encourage this sort of nonsense?

LiveBlog Interact08, cont’d: Creativity

29, September, 2008

Pith load from panel on creativity

“Creativity is not being a designer or programming, it’s the ability to solve a problem.”

Joanna Champagne, National Gallery of Art, on government use of social media

In process of expanding digital programs. Why not still use the “best architects” in the digital program? We want a website that does the same thing.

Must be true to the spirit of our founding…Andrew Mellon! How do we make the digital world that’s. . .as solid and fundamental? He said: “This is a new relationship between paint and stone.” We want to give the gift again in the digital world.

Website hasn’t been touched in 10 years. How to be true to the mission in the digital environment? Ideas:

Pilot and Play. It opens doors, sounds unthreatening.

Launched a mobile tool, a cellphone tour, to learn where the audience is geographically–and to provide a remote way to tour the museum. “Endears” people to the collection.

Example two: Interactive tables–touchscreen in the midst of the exhibition hall.

Iterate until you have enough successes to win support.

Be Yourself Online. Even for government organizations.

Postal service site is “gorgeous,” partnered with John Adams and Star Wars. Department of Education also very good. “Improve morale” as image of agency is transformed via consumer-facing web.

Leave the Building. Hard to get outside the office.

Put reprints outside on walls to literally get out of building.

Use Facebook. So many museum sites on Facebook–it’s become a forum for museum insiders to connect and share good ideas.

Nick Law, Creativity in the Digital Age

Two examples of leveraging user involvement with technology to elevate the brand experience.

NikeID.com: User-generated shoes, online. Not a matter of art director and copy writer going off somewhere. It’s about creating an interface–needs to be emotional, have brand texture to it.

NikePlus: Links music [iPod], athletics [running], technology [sensor in shoe] and social community [web interface for events, personal information, real-time dialog, sharing information, post-race creativity]. 780,000 ran a 10k with NikePlus, linking this all.

Ted Leonsis, Superstar

29, September, 2008

Liveblog from Interact08

Opening session: “Shift Happens,” by Ted Leonsis, vice-chairman emeritus AOL, sage, sports franchise co-owner–all around investor, booster and mentor to many web startups. Said to have coined the phrase “new media” [fact-check that one].

Consumer currently feels “shattered”–in New York last week, it felt to him “like the week after 9/11″

Presidential race is a “turning point” for the integration of Web 2.0

New products, etc. need to be created for 3-screens

How consumers consume: Free, on-demand, mashed up, shared, raw and authentic.

“Our children are growing up in a world where free is better than paid.” Pay-based businesses will “die.”

“People ask me, ‘Where are your people?’ I don’t have people.” Part of being “authentic,” people can smell b.s. a mile away.”

Globalization: We don’t know how to translate international uniques into currency. [Chinese will develop 300,000 math PhDs this year. We'll graduate 20,000. Marketing is increasingly for math majors. What does this mean to U.S. business?]

What do consumers give you? Money, time, pixels. You need to think in terms of those currencies.

“Ted’s Take”: I blog every day. I don’t like it anymore when people type my name into Google and see the first thing that comes up is a bad [Washington Post] article. My content is now at the top. “It’s important you take control of” your search results.

How this is blurring work and pleasure: A worker arrives at the office and logs first into fantasy football on Monday a.m., yet handled 300 e-mails on Sunday.

Discusses “filmanthropy“–movies with messages, creating a second bottom line. Just launched snagfilms.com, in partnership with Clearspring [in which he invests]. Cuts films into film widgets–now 61 million views. In U.S., there are 500 indie theaters; we have 12,000 virtual theaters.

The Internet is powerful because it enhances all of the following. It’s what all my businesses are designed around.

  • relationships in communities of interest
  • self-expression
  • giving back
  • pursuing a higher calling

Free Social Web Presentation: A $495 value!

24, September, 2008

I’m about to go do a presentation on social media. The topic this time: How to use various search-and-discover tools to monitor what’s being said in the socialwebosphere about you, your company, your partners or competitors, your spouse, your enemies, etc.

The audience is a group of people who do PR, marketing and communications for non-profit groups in the healthcare field. The people in attendance paid $495 to hear my presentation–though, to be fair, a lunch, dinner and a bunch of other, far more interesting speakers are part of the deal too.

But I thought I’d share the useful stuff right here in my blog, where everything is free. And–this is a guarantee–worth every penny.

The presentation lists a bunch of tools you can use to monitor what’s being said out in the social web. I know there are many others, but the ones I’m listing are both user-friendly for late adopters and likely, at least as a group, to produce a good scan of what’s being said in blogs, on Twitter, on discussion forums and hyperlocal news sites.

If any readers of this blog know good tools to supplement or replace the ones I’ve listed here, please leave a comment below. I’ll update the list and republish the full list in a later post.

Anyway, it’s about 12:30 p.m. and I’m on at 1 p.m. Better run.

Here’s the handout I’ll give out.

Learning to Listen In

The following tools help you monitor the many conversations happening all around the Internet. Some comments may involve your business, institution or key people. You may not want or need to respond. But knowing what people are saying is vital.

Listening is also an easy way to familiarize yourself with the baffling world of social media. Later on you may want to use these same techniques in marketing, branding, communication and customer service efforts. Talk like a marketer, though, and they’ll hate you.


Hints:

Most of these tools let you save your searches. Some send results to your e-mail, your iGoogle page or any RSS reader [Yahoo360, Netvibes, Bloglines, etc.]


Be sure to “listen” not only for your institution or firm’s full name, but for its nickname, short name, common misspellings, etc. Don’t forget about the names of key people.

The following tools are listed in approximate order of value. Start with Google Alerts, and see which others turn up content you’d otherwise miss.

  • Google Alerts The most basic way to monitor what’s being published on important topics and events. If nothing else, set Google Alerts for keywords and have results delivered to your e-mail box. http://www.google.com/alerts
  • Filtrbox Can dig deeper and help analyze content that turns up. Monthly fee for high-level use. For some, it may be worth it. http://www.filtrbox.com/
  • BlogPulse A Nielsen service, it monitors blog content http://www.blogpulse.com/
  • Omgili or Twing Both of these monitor the “deep web”—message boards where most search engines don’t prowl http://www.omgili.com or http://www.twing.com
  • Twitter Search To listen in on what’s being said on this annoying, oddly compelling platform http://search.twitter.com/. For alerts: http://tweetbeep.com/
  • Topix Aggregates local news better than most. A good way to see what your local press is reporting without having to visit their sites http://www.topix.com/

On “Thought Leaders” and Other 2.0bservations

16, September, 2008

I admit I’ve developed fairly low expectations of web 2.0 conferences. At this point, I consider them a success if:

  • I take away three nuggets worth remembering
  • I emerge unhurt

And so I’m pleased to report that by these standards the Tech Council of Maryland’s “Growing Your Business Through Social Media” meeting was a smashing success.

As is usually the case, the crowd was teeming with fear and hope about the social web, and eager to learn more. As usual, the panelists recommended various degrees of engagement and caution. There was plenty of coffee and free wireless.

Here are my three takeaway nuggets:

Nugget No. 1: Regarding those who wish to use social media to promote themselves as thought leaders, Mark Hausman, President & CEO of Strategic Communications Group,  issued this unsettlingly insightful remark: “If you want to be a thought leader, you need to have some thoughts.” You could almost hear the deflation in the crowd.

Nugget No. 2: Regarding those paralyzed by legal ramifications of the social web, Shashi Bellamkonda, Social Media Swami of Network Solutions, offered this simple piece of wisdom: “Take your lawyer to lunch.” [Yes, Bellamkonda's official title is Social Media Swami. I'm guessing if he gets promoted it would be to Boddhisatva, but I'm not very good with org charts.]

Nugget No. 3: None of the panelists or audience members reported having any staff devoted exclusively to social media. Usually the responsibilities for maintaining blogs and discussion boards, working Facebook and LinkedIn for intel and monitoring the social web fell to 2 or 3 people in various departments, who do it essentially on time carved from the rest of their duties. Which is to say: For now, in most of corporate America, the social web is still treated like the idiot bastard stepchild of the communications/marketing/customer service/strategy functions.

Bonus Nugget No. 4! Jeremy Epstein, who did the keynote, is really smart and funny about this stuff. Subscribe to his Igniting the Revolution blog if you don’t believe me. His idea of “tribal marketing,” and how he used it to promote a funky post-careerist-era book by Daniel Pink, is a great illustration.

Photos by the Swami himself, coverage of the event by BisnowTech.


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VanityFairer: The Magazine’s Social Faux Pas?

2, September, 2008

Seems like everybody and his posse is trying to figure out how to use Twitter to promote a business. A lot of these feeds are loaded with ham-fisted promotions that are as likely to repel as attract. Mainstream media have been no more skilled than your typical supplement pusher, for the most part.

Which brings us to Vanityfairer, a Twitter “fan”feed by someone who identifies “her”self only as Vanity Fair Wayfarer and whose bio reads only “I heart Vanity Fair magazine.”

“Her” updates are really pretty good–mainly pointers to stuff about, in or related to content from the celebrity-addled, scrumptiously visual, annoyingly literate and therefore-hard-to-ignore glossy.

So is this a real fanfeed, or a Twitter Potemkin village?

I couldn’t find any reference to the Vanity Fairer feed on VF’s website.

But back in June VF Daily did a characteristically high-ironic item about the magazine’s new Facebook page. Editorial assistant Bill Bradley writes that he’d been charged with getting 10,000 members for a VF page in two months, at pain of losing his job. [As of this writing, the Facebook page has 8,610 fans, and according to the site, Bradley is no longer in the employ of VF. Of course we have no idea whether this is true.] So clearly someone at VF has been pondering what the magazine should do in the world of social media.

[In fact, read this wonderful entry from Vantiy Fair Daily about VF mid-level editorial staff's recent indoctrination to social media by Conde Nast, which led to the whole Bradley gambit.]

Back to Vanityfairer: It looks to me like the Twitter feed is an undisclosed VF inside job. Vanity Fairer is following a conspicuous list of 51 prominentos from the worlds of technology and media [including Tim O'Reilly, Esther Dyson, WSJ's Kara Swisher, 2.0 author Sarah Lacy, John Dickerson of Slate, Gawker, Ana Marie Cox and TechCrunch, A-list tech bloggers plus a few C-list hangers-on like me].

The trick to building a Twitter posse, as savvy Twitsters know, is to “follow” people whom you hope will follow you back–or actually maybe write a blog item about the Twitter stream to gain some 2.0 brainshare [!]. So there is clearly something tactical and ambitious about Vanity Fairer’s “following” list. Vanity Fairer appears to be following none of her own personal friends, for instance. A bit curious.

[I should point out that as of this date, the only people who have taken Vanity Fairer's bait are CNN social media ubiquitist Rick Sanchez, MSNBC cartoonist Daryl Cagle and someone named Vitor Fasano, who Twitters, I think, in Portugese. And me.]

I direct-messaged Vanity Fairer to see what’s up. “She” wrote this:

Good to hear from you, am actually a fan of *you*rs (Drama 2.0) too! Yes, I am just a fan of VF mag; pretty sure they have no idea I exist. [The reference to "Drama 2.0" regards a mysterious fellow from the world of online advertising and marketing whose schtick is a hilarious bitter cynicism about web 2.0 foolishness. Which is to say his blog is kind of like mine, but his is really good and apparently makes money.]

Then this, an hour later:

p.s. I wish VF HAD put me up to this, it’s something they should be doing!

Then this, after I asked why she was following only media luminaries but not friends:

Have another acct on Twitter 4 friends; this acct lets me “play” a bit anonymously. Media lums I follow here r people I think VF wld follow?

Huh.

For now, let’s have some sport and, what the heck, assume the worst about Vanit Fairer.

If Vanity Fairer is an official VF venture–someone doing the corporate flagship magazine’s bidding but disguised as an independent fan–that’s a bad move by Conde Nast.

Rules No. 1 through 10 of social media are “Don’t f*ck with people.”

Don’t use social media to play pretend. If you want to make a cool Twitter feed for your publication, go for it. But don’t make like it’s not yours. If you’re a real independent fan of the magazine, launch a Twitter feed. But if you have some some sort of entanglement with the pub, say so. No shame in it.

Of course, circumstantial evidence notwithstanding, it’s possible that Vanity Fairer is an independent effort. In which case I am once again spewing nonsense into the digital void. The only consolation is that this is not the first time, nor likely to be the last.

But if I’m right. . .

Vanity Fair has made its reputation by illuminating the world of tuxedo-and-ball-gown “high” society.

Wouldn’t it be a hoot if it stomped into this foreign new social swirl like a drunken hillbilly?


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Salesconx: Business Slow? Sell Your Contacts!

25, August, 2008

I’m getting really skittish about proclaiming some new Web 2.0 scheme spectacularly stupid, wrongheaded, or immoral.  It seems like every time I do so the scheme immediately gets traction and the perp gets rich.

So it’s with some trepidation I introduce you to Salesconx, a marketplace for the sale and purchase of personal business connections. Essentially you can sell access to your contacts–I mean the actual live people you know personally and/or have done business with–in an open marketplace. You can also buy access to others’ connections.

Connections are priced anywhere from $35 to $1,000 and up.

I know, I know. I had a hard time wrapping my brain around this at first too. Could this marketplace be as nakedly crass it appears?

Let’s look at one current listing, which appears in the “Buy” section. This is where people make their connections available to buyers.

In this case, Kris N says he has a “strong connection” to the chairman of an oil drilling company in Thailand. He is offering anyone who wants to buy crude an introduction to that chairman for $100.

It’s not clear whether the CEO knows that Kris is charging $100 for a meeting with him (or if the CEO thinks maybe he’s going too cheap). Whether Kris’s connection to the CEO remains “strong” will depend, I suppose, on whether Kris’s introduction is beneficial to the CEO or just time-waster.

Let’s look on the other side of the market, where people say how much they are willing to pay for connections to certain kinds of people.

This guy sells high-end custom men’s clothing. He’s hoping to get introduced to some agents that represent professional athletes. [Good prospect targeting, by the way!] He’ll pay $35 for an introduction.

The secret sauce of salesconx.com seems to include aspects of eBay, eHarmony, LinkedIn and those blood banks that pay for pints of plasma.

It is easy to ridicule this as a tool by which grubby salesfolk pimp out their Outlook files for some extra cash.

Let me strain to view this another way.

The charitable view is that Salesconx is a marketplace that can produce win/win/win scenarios. Mr. Thai Oil gets someone to buy his crude. Someone who needs oil is hooked up with a key decision maker. They are unlikely to have met otherwise. The fact that Kris got $100 for his trouble is kind of icky–dishonest, if it’s not revealed to Mr. Thai Oil–but not intrinsically harmful.

[An actual real-life salesguy from Salesconx called me on the real live phone an hour or so after I signed up for an account. He thought I was a real community member; I told him I was a blogger. He told me the site will use a ratings and recommendations feature, like eBay offers, so anyone who makes a bad match will get rated down by the community. And (he said) Salesconx will either refund money or give credits to anyone disappointed by the quality of a connection.

[I tried to find written elaboration on this but the Salesconx FAQ isn't posted on the site yet. Beta, I know.]

Taken up a notch and viewed from 30,000 feet, Salesconx is a remarkable economics testbed. It provides a platform by which the most important intrinsic currency of commerce–personal connections–is assigned a transparent market price.

So why does this all seem so spectacularly stupid, wrongheaded and immoral?

For me, it’s because I can’t imagine being on either end of that transaction.

I like it when people I know match me up with talented people, point me to a good deal or recommend a product. And vice versa. Social media like LinkedIn, Yelp and Twitter have oiled that machinery. So have pleasant nights of drinking and chatting.

But no money has changed hands in those transactions. If someone in my personal network who knows I buy software silently recommended a vendor hit me up–and quietly pocketed $60 for his tip–I’d be disgusted. If LinkedIn had a Circle of Hell [not a bad idea, by the way] I’d send that contact there with one brisk click.

Now I’m no salesguy. And sales culture appears more tolerant of things I consider vulgar. I also realize that transparent “introductions” are different from stealth pointers toward unwitting sales prospects.

Who knows? Maybe Salesconx will help millions of people unlock the value in their rolodexes, and help billions of dollars change hands efficiently and legally. As a press release on Salesconx points out, a lot of money is spent trying to develop sales prospects. This could just be a faster way to do it.

Hey, maybe by 2011 “free” networking sites like LinkedIn will be seen as sweet throwbacks, relics of the days when people actually helped each other along without collecting anything in return.

As I said, I’ve been wrong about this kind of thing before.

Which brings me to the punchline: According to the press release, on Sept. 9 Salesconx is expected to announce series A funding.


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