Deadblog: What I Actually Said at a Web 2.0 Conference

Well, I’m done paneling at the Digital Media Conference. As expected the discussion didn’t go entirely as I planned. Which is good.

This is because for the panel, titled Social Media: What’s Next? , I shared the stage with a group of guys all demonstrably smarter (and considerably more stylish) than I:

  • Nick O’Neill, proprietor of The Social Times, the top social media intel blog
  • Greg Johnson, CMO of GGL, a booming gaming social networking site
  • Michael Chin, SVP of Marketing for KickApps, which sells social media software (and just did a major partnership with widgeteer Clearspring, creating a dominant force in the commercial widget-and-social-apps world)
  • Terry Farrell, Senior Product Manager for Microsoft’s Zune, which is using social media in ambitious ways to build the brand and user base of the way-behind-the-iPod MP3 device,

Our moderator was Rohit Bhargava, SVP of Digital Strategy & Marketing for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. He’s used all sorts of social media tactics to promote Personality Not Included, his book about how companies can lose their authenticity–and can get it back.

So here is my attempt at “deadblogging,” to coin a phrase–a recap, after two cocktails and a long day, of a panel in which I participated. [I’m not sure this is a good idea. But hey, it’s a 2.0 world! We’re all about experimentation and iteration.! Run with it! And, fellow panelists: If I’ve gotten anything wrong, please let me know.]

The major points I remember:

Nobody’s really sure how social communities can make money, but all of us are convinced they have value. Terry talked about an “exchange of value”–that the Zune community gets value from participants, who in exchange get value from the others. Since his community is designed to support a brand, and not directly bring in money, that exchange is sufficient.

It’s not enough for a network to be social–the real value is the context, which is to say, what the socializing is about and for. Michael talked about how the DIY (do-it-yourself) Network uses its software–instead of people just using a social network to goof around, they actually share an interest and can benefit from the other people’s attention. Greg agreed–his network is by and for gamers, and their shared interest creates the community.

There are too many social networks tugging at limited attention. The panel seemed bearish on the social-to-be-social networks like FaceBook and MySpace, and bullish on those dedicated to a specific purpose. Nick mentioned how a lot of social media tools are used outside of social networks proper.

Even though as someone who does not own or work for a social media company I have no skin in the game, I think I was the most bullish about the magnitude of the transformation social media is bringing to the culture.

It’s true that so many 2.0 gambits and tactics and businesses are inane and shallow–“toys for teens,” as they’re often dismissed. Twitter can be pointless, Digg a fool’s errand, YouTube an arterial bleed of American energy. Mainstream media embarrass themselves regularly by lurching blind into the social space. This not only gives me plenty to blog about. It makes it hard to see the larger patterns.

The Big Fact: Millions of  people worldwide have access to tools that allow them to communicate, organize, think, share, congregate and conspire, in near real time, with whomever they want, without the permission of established media, corporations, government or civic institutions. This transformation is fundamental, accelerating, irresistible and irreversible.

The political implications alone are huge. But so are the commercial and social. Non-adopters put their livelihoods at risk.

Web 2.0 is bigger than Web 1.0, though not as big as Gutenberg. [Or fire, for that matter.]

Mike said something interesting in response to a question about how people can make money from social media. Paraphrasing here, he said companies ought to go out and hire as many anthropologists as possible to try to figure out what’s going on with this new behavior–and then figure out how to make money.

After the presentation, a woman from Motorola came up and introduced herself, said she enjoyed the panel. She handed me her card. Her title read “Anthropologist.”

For real. Not a winky-funny-hip-corporate-title. Her actual job title.

Yes, Motorola has an anthropologist on the payroll.

I’m telling you, this thing is big.

Explore posts in the same categories: media, social media, social networks, Web 2.0


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6 Comments on “Deadblog: What I Actually Said at a Web 2.0 Conference”

  1. Taylor Walsh Says:

    Thanks for the summary Craig. Your Major Point #2 is my mantra:

    “It’s not enough for a network to be social–-the real value is the context.”

    Content may be King, but Context is Muse. At least we think so. The problem with context is that it can lead down, down deep into verticals and their communities of limited eyeballs. At least for some that is a problem.

  2. Michael Chin Says:

    Great summary, Craig. Great to meet you. I’ve linked to this from my ‘much less’ impressive summary on the KickApps blog (written late into the evening on Amtrak back to NYC.

  3. […] posted a great summary of the panel on his blog. He writes about a point a I made during the session. [Michael] said something interesting in […]

  4. […] social networking make money? Posted on June 29, 2008 by John Welsh  Craig Stolz asks, among other questions, in his blog following the Digital Media Conference in Vermont […]

  5. […] Here’s fellow panelist Craig Stoltz’s take on yesterday’s panel. Craig is a web strategist, blogger and former journalist. We […]

  6. […] Here’s fellow panelist Craig Stoltz’s take on yesterday’s panel. Craig is a web strategist, blogger and former journalist. We […]

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