Posts Tagged social media

My Interview with Clay Shirky



During Web 2.0 Expo I was fortunate to snag a few minutes with Clay Shirky, the author of “Here Comes Everybody” at the Blogtropl.us Blogger Lounge hosted by The Conversation Group. One of the main issues I wanted to discuss with him was in this world where everyone participates, how do we get more people collaborating together to focus our energies for combined outcomes. Further, what do we do about the world of ‘hostile forks’ where people are working on the same problems but unable to work together due to personality or other conflicts. We also got into the central premise of his book, which he concisely describes here in this video… definitely worth the 10 minutes to watch it/listen to it.

PS – if things work out as we hope, we will be seeing you again for the Bloggers Lounge during the upcoming Web 2.0 Expo’s in NYC, Boston and Germany…

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It’s About Conversation, Not Marketing

After reading The problem with ‘conversational marketing’ I was inspired to express my views on the importance of conversation and the evolution of marketing.

Let’s be clear, the real problem with conversational marketing (other than the God awful term itself) is the ‘marketing’, not the conversation. The human problem with many traditional marketing practices is that they are exploitative in nature, selling/hyping goods and services in the market that are of dubious value, and only benefit those doing the selling. Of course this is not the case with the majority of marketing or marketers, but the extent to which a few bad intentioned actors can create a stereotype that is harmful to an entire group of people is quite stunning.

The gist of the article is correct that product and experience are the most important aspects of the business by providing goods and services to the market that create profits and satisfaction. I wrote about this after our awesome SxSW panel earlier this year in a post called The Golden Rules of Marketing. If you are more interested in the importance of great products as the first step to great marketing, listen to the podcast of the Self Replicating Awesomness session.

My problem is with the article’s dismissal of the importance of conversation over messaging to create understanding. It demonstrates how badly a few buzzword spewing charlatans can hurt the efforts towards transformation across an industry (communications in this case).

As I have demonstrated in unplanned exchanges in numerous workshops I have facilitated over the past year, it is very easy for people to mean the same thing, use different words to describe it and have an argument resulting from their different viewpoints. Conversation in this case, creates understanding, bridging cultures and differences in the use of language – something that a simple published statement or headline (aka message) can not do if no one is able to be engaged, listening and responding.

When those of us who understand what is happening say the words ‘listen and respond’, we are not limiting ourselves to the words we say back to someone after listening. We are talking about what we DO as a result of HEARING them as well as what we say. By listening, and truly hearing what is said, we are also showing that we are paying attention – it speaks volumes about the true intentions of our actions in the market place.

The post’s author sees the biggest proof of the failure of conversational marketing in a 2007 study from 9 months prior to their post:

According to the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, Dell was at the bottom of the pack in 2007 and actually lost 5 percentage points from the previous year

The author is correct in noting that it is much more difficult to provide a product that meets the market’s needs/expectations then it is to talk with them. Duh! The point isn’t so much that they are talking together, but what they do as a result. To expect conversations between representatives of a company and the market to turn around the culture and operational systems of that company within a matter of hours or days is of course impractical. These things take time. We are all human, people misunderstand, and of course, people make new mistakes which need to be understood and corrected all the time.

The article goes on to further state:

As such, companies should invest first and foremost in making sure that they do a good job of providing consumers with the products and services they want and need.

But of course, in order to understand what products they want, the companies need to listen to them FIRST, deliver the goods, listen to them again, change, deliver the goods again with improvements and so on. This quote shows how backwards the thinking is – companies need to do more up front to understand the needs of the market (traditionally thought of as research, which is of course a form of a conversation) before they invest in producing the goods.

The post goes on to say:

I would also point out what may seem counterintuitive to conversationalists – the fact that sometimes silence is the best indicator of consumer satisfaction.

Apparently, the author – Drama 2.0 – hasn’t read one of Kathy Sierra’s best blog posts called Be Brave or Go Home, which explains why customer silence is not golden if your company lives in the zone of mediocrity. Nor have they read Ken Blanchards book called Raving Fans, nor do they understand the importance and impact of Word of Mouth.

The thing is, that if I buy a computer from Dell (and I am a Mac guy, so the chances are slim), I hope I don’t have to talk to Richard Binhammer about a problem, but he hopes I talk to him about how much I love it. Either way, because I know that they are listening, as humans do to one another, I know that he will help to fix any problems. I know that their intentions are to serve us with better products and that sometimes shit happens. If the intention is made clear that they are not a faceless corporation here to take my money and harm me by selling me bad products/services, I would rather buy from them then anyone else.

This is our philosophy at The Conversation Group, and the main purpose we came together as an agency – to help more companies embrace the spirit of conversation with markets and to move beyond marketing by discovering, engaging and serving their markets in a more respectful and effective way.

Thanks to Rebecca Caroe from Creative Agency Secrets who pointed out this article called The problem with ‘conversational marketing’. (disclosure: two of the subjects of that post, Richard Binhammer and Shel Israel are friends) This is something I was writing about last summer in the post entitled, Stop the Insanity, Don’t Call it Conversational Marketing, and more recently in response to a Doc Searls post (keep getting better Doc, we’re with you) called Clues vs. Trains.

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Chris Heuer Speaks: PRSA SF

Chris Heuer stepped in for his friend Giovanni Gallucci to discuss social media and social networking at the San Francisco PRSA. Hear Chris’ comments from the presentation, “Buzz Generation, Guerilla Marketing and Branding via Social Media and Social Networking” here.

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Towards a More Social Organization

Chief Social Officer The discussion around social media at this point in time is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to the breadth and depth of change that is being created in organizations of all sizes around the world. While some like Steve Rubel will argue that this emphasis is a passing fad and social media is merely another channel that will be thought of eventually as media, I disagree. By looking at this era in such a short sighted way, you miss what Doc Searls talks about as the ‘greater significance ’ of this transformative technology.

I contend that the rise of Social Media is the catalyst that will ultimately transform our world of work, our economy and our entire society. It will propel us to evolve from being industrial organizations, focused on increasing throughput and efficiencies of production processes to becoming social organizations, with a true emphasis on people over processes and technologies. Surely, Steve and others who feel the same way are right in thinking that the technologies will one day be thought of as simple tools (like pencils are today). You would also be right to assume that one day, the newness of what makes this different will be worn down to the point that we refer to a lot of what is happening more broadly as simply media.

However, to de-emphasize it at this time destroys the all important context that contains the most valuable and nutritious part of the signal we are trying to send around the world. That it is time for us to return to being social with one another, to look at other people (especially those who are different from us) as our ‘friends’ and to really think about how our decisions and actions can positively or negatively affect other people. In short, our organizations and the way we operate them need to become more socially oriented, truly engaged in the market conversation.

In a recent discussion with my Social Media Playbook co-author Brian Solis , we started to bring together all these points that we have been discussing with others for the past two years. Social Media is not just about how an enterprise does its marketing, but how all the people in the enterprise talks with its market.

Yes there is an internal employee to external stakeholder communications path, but there is also a collaboration element added to this – a social sense of working together for common goals. To be really successful however requires more then proficiency with this one aspect of managing your organization. It also requires you to develop deeper expertise with your communications and collaborations process between employees; between employees and partners; and even in some cases between external stakeholders and other external stakeholders.

This includes marketing, customer support, product development, research, partner relationships, internal collaboration, information technology, and even facilities. There is no aspect of your organization that will go untouched. This is not some pie in the sky vision of a far off utopian future, this is what many people/consumers are clamoring for. Tired of being sold to ant talked at, advertising is less effective then ever before and efforts are underway to turn CRM upside down in favor of VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) .

This is not to say that we are supposed to turn away from profitability, far from it. By increasing the efficiency of market interactions, there is a greater chance for profitability; for good companies to become great companies; and for bad companies to just die off. Companies need to be profitable in order to grow and flourish and continue to do good for the world – as the saying goes, you are either thriving or dying and seldom if ever just stagnant. The difference between where we are today and where we will be tomorrow can be summed up as reasonable profitability with market cultivating behaviour as opposed to exploitative profitability and predatory behaviour.

While today you can gain a competitive advantage through the proper applications of Social Media, tomorrow it will be the price of admission for every market. So the question we are trying to help you answer with The Social Media Playbook is not how do I use Social Media for Marketing or Public Relations, but rather how do you transform your company into a social organization.

To this end, I see the potential for a new position in many larger organizations – for someone to wear the hat of the Chief Social Officer. While this responsibility could be held in any of the existing C-Suite titles, in larger organizations I believe it is necessary to have one person overseeing these efforts. Their needs to be someone with the authority, leadership, vision and yes, power, in order to effect change of this magnitude, as Michael Dell did over the past several years.

Why do we need a Chief Social Officer? Because embracing social media is embracing change management; changing the way teams collaborate; improving our relationships with customers; affecting our interaction with partners; overseeing customer support; empowering sales people to be purchase support; altering our product innovation and creation processes; and ultimately, bringing us out of the industrial age, beyond the information age and into a new age of enlightenment. It requires us to break down, once and for all, the silo walls that separate groups, the moats that have created fiefdoms of power and the interpersonal bullshit that prevents us from seeing that we all want what’s best, even if we have different ideas of how to do it.

In a recent McKinsey report, they talked about The Evolving role of the CMO , and the increased demands (related to these responsibilities) being put upon the position. I believe, as the report suggested, that the CMO should be the voice of the customer across the organization. The CMO/CEO and Chief Social Officer can and should co-exist and work together to bring about organizational transformation.

This is a new world of work, where knowledge, applied with compassion, creates a sustainable economy and a more peaceful world by transforming the very heart of business.

What are you doing to make your organization more social? How are you “being the change you want to see most in the world?”

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Friend Feed Rooms Replace Mailing Lists

Friend FeedI won’t bother with an in-depth comparison right now, but it is seemingly obvious how Friend Feed Rooms replace mailing lists.

We can have them

  • public or private
  • open or closed (members invite other members or not)
  • we can message each other
  • we can share links
  • we can let people know what we like
  • we can have a comment thread
  • we get to have it on the Web instead of locked in our email inbox
  • it has RSS feed so I can access it in my Google Reader

This is the first real step that I have seen towards what I originally wanted to do with Insytes back in 2005… it still has a long way to go to get that full potential, but maybe I can get a consulting gig with them, or some options or something and I can help them really build it all out as the best communications and collaboration tool on the Web.

For now though, join us in the Social Media Club Friend Feed Room and lets start sharing and learning from each other as it was originally intended 🙂

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Is Social Media bad for the environment?

Sunset in JamaicaOdd question isn’t it?

I mean, surely Social Media is doing a lot for the cause, helping people spread the word via blogs, organize efforts and make everyone aware of our global climate crisis. Sarah Perez (love her stuff) even has a great post just today on How to Use Social Media for Social Change. Of course I agree, as evidenced by my early post on the Importance of Social Media and Amanda Chapel’s constant attacks against me (which I gleefully laugh at as he continues to give me more attention).

So what made me stop trying to fight my insomnia and get out of bed to write such a seemingly silly blog post at 430am this morning?

During the course of the work I have been doing with Intel lately, I have been researching the enterprise IT market and learning a lot about what they have been doing to reduce power consumption while maintaining performance across all there product lines. This CIO survey from March has some interesting details on “The Greening of IT”. It’s a very big and important topic for the industry and each of us. My friend Bill Kircos from Intel tells me that Intel is the largest buyer of reusable/renewable energy as ranked by the EPA (story on Treehugger.com). They are also extending their Greening Efforts across their operations in other important ways such as removing lead from their chips. Even my wife (Kristie Wells) is researching carbon offsets for her company Joyent.

At the same time, I have been thinking a lot about the big data portability issue (which I fully support) and whether or not the recent Facebook/Google challenge over Friend Connect might mean that we are seeing “The Twilight of the Open Web” (a topic of discussion for next months Social Media Club meeting in San Francisco – details to come).

In talking with some folks at the Executing Social Media conference last night, I mentioned this event idea and Nathan Gilliatt remarked we will always have some walled gardens and I replied with my standard “we can’t have walls, we need semi-permeable membranes”, meaning there needs to be some trust filter to keep the bad actors out and the good actors safe – which is the role Facebook claims to be playing in safegauding its users privacy from Friend Connect sites.

This is similar to the debate around Flickr and Zoomr and an open API for user portability which was basically about (paraphrasing) not allowing people to have all their data and photos transferred to a site where they may not be able to take it somewhere else in the future. As Stuart Butterfield said “we definitely should approve requests from direct competitors as long as they do the same … fair’s fair”. Or as Marc Canter infamously said at BloggerCon IV, “If you’re gonna suck, you gotta spit“.

Now look at the great and hugely popular service that FriendFeed and SocialThing are providing, a true value for sure, but it is duplicating, and in some cases tripling the amount of storage used for the same content.

Was also thinking about TubeMogul, which Tim Street mentioned during a session yesterday and which I also happen to love. It allows you to send your video to any and all of the video sharing sites you want all at once, saving us a great deal of time in distributing our video. Of course, there are also the people who take copies of it and upload it to other servers and other sites…

So these thoughts and discussions lead to me wondering about the impact that all of this data duplication we are creating with our Social Media is creating. Multiple hard drives, redundant systems, ultimately needing to head to a landfill or get partially recycled and replaced. Perhaps it is merely distributing the consumption we would have had anyway, but I have over 8,000 photos on Flickr and if I put them on Zoomr too that would be (@3MB each) 24 GB of extra storage space I am taking up on primary systems, plus backups – then the electricity to run it all.

Jake McKee talks about how he and his wife upload the same photos to their different Flickr accounts, what if they switched and then switched again. Of course, we also have a ton of different equipment we are using for creating and consuming media. Just today I had my M-Audio podcast rig, my Flip video camera, my phone and my iPod sitting in front of me next to my 3rd iBook/MacBook. The impact of manufacturing and disposal and power consumption of all this stuff we are using is just huge.

Of course, this is, most importantly, the method through which the whole of our society is improving, growing smarter and becoming more connected.

It’s obviously ok for the storage folks bottom lines and the power company and even me as a Social Media evangelist, but is Social Media bad for the environment? Shouldn’t we all be thinking more about Storage Conservation instead of Duplication?

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Chris Heuer Speaks: Social Media for Internal Communication

Chris Heuer is leading an interactive group session at the ALI Social Media for Internal Communication conference on February 6, 2008. In the session participants will interact and discuss how to implement the latest technology tools to assist them in meeting their social media challenges. Chris’ exercise focused on tagging can be viewed below.

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Social Media Jobs, Turn Your Passion into a Profession

Social Media JobsA few weeks ago I got an offer for one of the domains I own, socialmediajobs.com/ then I got another, and another. Since they were all through brokers, except for one, I never really had a conversation with any of them to see what they might really be willing to pay, but I did realize I need to start doing something with all the domains I own. So I decided I should just go ahead and finally launch it myself rather than accepting the offer, which was around $1,000.

Fortunately, I remembered talking with JobThreads a year ago, which has since made their service much easier to use and much more friendlier to launch in this way. At the moment, and for the next month, job postings will be free, but after that I hope to start charging some fair fee. So that’s where you come in. What’s fair for a job posting site? Is the $75 Craigslist charges fair?

In the meantime, check it out and let me know what you think I should do to make it better…

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The Conversation Group: Excited to be working with Utterz!

Utterz LogoI am very happy to announce we signed an agreement between The Conversation Group and Utterz a week or so before the holidays where we will be providing Utterz with Market Relations, Marketing, Business Development and Consulting services. This is the perfect example of the types of agency services we are providing clients in the age of conversational marketing – a mix of strategy, relationship development and communications that helps an organization grow by getting closer to the markets (or more specifically, the people) they serve. Both our organizations believe we have a great opportunity to demonstrate how smart startups can effectively engage customers in the modern world.

Talking with several friends over the last few months (the blog post is still in draft), I have stressed how important it is in the modern world to really respect any company for whom you are working. Whether it is traditional PR, Advertising, Consulting, Branding or Social Media work, a true passion for a company’s products, services, employees and values is incredibly valuable in providing great service. With Utterz, I not only respect the product and the company, I am also a raving fan.

As you know from reading my blog, I have been an active Utterz user for the past 2 months since being introduced to them at BlogWorld Expo by Chris Brogan in early November. It really is the exact sort of service I was waiting for – providing an easy to use system for mobile content creation and publishing. Better still for me personally, they are at the right place in their development where some of my ideas and insights as a “Social Media Guy” can hopefully make a difference in the product development and road map. Now that I have seen a bit of what is coming, I am even more excited because they are already working on, or soon will be working on, many of the things that I really need/want as a user of the service.

In working with the some of the members of their team (Michael Bayer, Randy Corke and Simeon Margolis) over the last few weeks, I am very glad to now think of them as friends as well as colleagues – I am also extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with them, as they truly ‘get it’, which makes our job at The Conversation Group so much easier. There are too many client opportunities out there to waste our time working with people who don’t ‘get it’. I feel truly blessed that at The Conversation Group, we have such an amazing group of clients – I am even more excited, that we get to contribute to the growth of a great company like Utterz...

BTW – this post is intended as both an announcement and a disclosure

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Chris Heuer Speaks: Social Media Summit NYC

Chris Heuer directed an interactive exercise designed to give conference attendees a better understanding of the new technology tools at their disposal. The exercise he used at the NYC conference can be viewed below.

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