Tag Archives: social media

Want to Vote on my SXSW Panel Proposals?

I’ve proposed two panels for SXSW this year. If you are interested in these topics, want to see me speak, or want to get me into the conference for free, you should vote for one or both of these sessions 🙂

Quiz Show: Brilliant to Stupid Social Media Moments

Watch our social media contenders compete with each other in a no holds barred battle of the brains to answer questions about a variety of social media moments in history from the brilliant to the ridiculous to the stupid. See which of our “experts” comes out on top. (Vote)

Reputation Systems Smackdown: Community Benefit or Detriment

People are devious. If they can game your reputation system to achieve a higher status, members will try to rack up points. People are motivated by awards, but can reputation systems really encourage people to be productive community members. Maybe, maybe not. Come argue your position with our panel members. (Vote)

Also remember that hotels in Austin fill up ridiculously fast during SXSW, so if you plan to attend and have not secured a room, I encourage you to register now.

UPDATE 8/15/08:

I should have explained more about how SXSW picks panels. The process for most conferences is that you submit a proposal and some committee selects the ones that they think are most appropriate for the conference. SXSW is different. They ask people who plan to attend SXSW to use their panel picker process to rate the panels on a 5 star scale. They use this as input to select the panels.

So, this means that you don’t tell me that you want to see my panels, you need to go to the SXSW site and vote!

Social Media: A Different Approach for Businesses

Jeremiah Owyang’s recent post about The Many Challenges of the Social Media Industry got me thinking about how social media requires a different approach from the way that many companies approach traditional marketing or customer engagement. Jeremiah’s post seems to be more targeted at companies whose main products and services are based on social media, but I’m going to take some of the ideas that he discusses and outline how they can be applied to companies using social media as part of their strategy for engaging with customers or communities or users.


Jeremiah talks about a current lack of profits where few bloggers have been able to generate significant revenues from their content. Companies (and even most individual bloggers) should not be focused on generating revenue directly from social media efforts. I always tell companies to think about social media as being in the early awareness portion of the marketing funnel (you know, the part way at the top far away from the bottom of the funnel where you generate leads and make sales.)

Blogging, community engagement and other social media efforts should support other efforts that generate revenue. For example, this blog generates $0 revenue for me; however, it has made a big difference in my career. I’ve been invited to speak on panels, been offered jobs, and had consulting gigs come my way as a result of the expertise demonstrated on this blog. In other words, I receive a substantial financial benefit indirectly related to my blogging efforts, while receiving no direct revenue from the blog. Companies can get similar benefits by using blogs and social media to get the word out about the company. While generating revenue won’t happen directly, it should be an indirect benefit.


Jeremiah also points out that “excessive noise drowns out signal“, which is an increasing problem for individuals and companies who create content. This is actually two separate, but related issues: first, how can you create content that rises above the noise; and second, how can you find what others are saying about you online.

Content creation. Too many companies and individuals have blogs that no one would want to read. Company blogs are often little more than press releases and marketing fluff (see my “Are Corporate Blogs a Joke” post for more details), and many individual blogs have mostly regurgitated content with little original thought and analysis. The outstanding blogs (corporate or individual) focus on thought leadership with interesting original ideas and deep analysis of industry trends. The posts focused on interesting original content will get linked to more often and will show up more prominently in search results; therefore, rising above the noise.

Monitoring discussions. You also want to be able to monitor and respond quickly to what others are saying about you, your brand, your content, your competitors, your industry and more. You can buy expensive software to monitor all of this, or you set up a few Yahoo Pipes with RSS feeds to track what people are saying. I go the Yahoo Pipes route with searches of Twitter, blogs, and other places to find where people are discussing the content that I create.


As Jeremiah points out, “brands –and individuals– can easily be brandjacked as others take their user name, domains, and assert themselves as someone else.” The best thing you can do to minimize the threat of being brandjacked is to be already participating in the community. Monitoring is also critical (see above), but even with monitoring, it can take a while go through the process of getting the content removed even if you find it quickly. By participating and having an active presence on places like Twitter and Facebook, it will be easier for people to figure out which is your official presence and which is the fake one. When you don’t already participate, it will be easier for people to assume that a brandjacked presence is the real one. The recent Exxon Mobile Twitter account is just one example.

Marketing and Communities

Jeremiah makes an excellent point about how “marketers move in without community consideration“. I spend quite a bit of time thinking about how marketing should / should not participate in online communities, and there are important nuances that marketing should understand before engaging with online communities. I won’t elaborate in detail in this post, but I suggest that you look at my recent Online Communities and Marketing presentation for more information. This presentation offers some fairly comprehensive advice for how marketing can participate in online communities. It is also worth the time and effort to put employees (not just marketing) through at least a little training before you turn them loose on the community.

These are just a few of the examples from Jeremiah’s post, but I think that this post is long enough already. If I missed anything critical, please feel free to elaborate in the comments.

Related Fast Wonder blog posts:

Social Media Policy: Does your company need one?

Maybe, maybe not.

I’ve been thinking about this topic for the past week or so. For some reason, it keeps coming up in conversation, and I keep running across discussions about blogging / social media policies while I’m reading about related topics.

Paul Dunay did a survey with a question about blogging policies and found that 63% of companies surveyed did not have a formal policy in place regarding employee blogs. As an aside, please notice that only 86 people responded to this question and his research does not include any demographic or research methodology data, so I would be cautious about using this data to make any significant decisions. With that said, it got me thinking about whether blogging policies were important or not. He also suggested in his analysis that it might be better to think of social media policies, rather than limiting it to blogging policies.

I also ran across one of Jeremiah Owyang’s posts about Social Media Policies from a couple of months ago where he suggests leveraging and building on the existing ethics policies while trusting employees to do the right thing.

In my experience, stringent rules and regulations encourage people to find ways to work around them. When companies come up with big lists of specific do’s and don’ts, too many employees use them as an excuse to skirt the rules (well, they didn’t say that I couldn’t do x, y, z). Broad guidelines based on good practices might be a better way to go. When I worked at Intel, we had frequent ethics training, and I remember an instructor saying that most things could be decided by thinking about the following 2 questions:

  • Would I want my mother to know that I did this?
  • Would I be embarrassed if I read about it on the front page of the Wall Street Journal?

As far as I am concerned, that just about covers it for me 🙂

It seems like quite a few companies go with a list of rules and regulations approach. While social media policies of the rules and regulations variety may not be the best way to encourage participation in social media sites, some social media guidelines for your employees might be a good start. The guidelines should cover blogging, podcasting, comments, Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites. I would keep the list of guidelines short and broad with a focus on helping employees participate in social media rather than restricting them to a list of “approved” activities. Again, this is not intended to be a list of rules and regulations.

Here are a few things you might want to include in your company’s social media guidelines for participation:

  • Be authentic, honest and conversational in your posts. Leave the marketing speak and press release format for other parts of the website.
  • Use good judgment about content and be careful not to include confidential information about your company, customers, or vendors.
  • Listen to people and respond to as many comments as possible with constructive feedback. Allow negative comments (delete the spam) – the key to managing comments is to respond rather than censor. Avoid getting defensive and ignore the trolls where appropriate.
  • When you talk about your company or competitors, do so under your real name making your alliance with your company clear (no company wants a repeat of the Whole Foods message board fiasco). If you are providing your opinion, it is also a good idea to make sure people know that you are giving your opinion.
  • Peer reviews, especially for lengthy or complicated posts, should be encouraged, but not required. It’s always nice to have someone double check grammar and technical details before it goes out to the world.
  • Personal blogs for employees should be encouraged. They are a great way to show the world that you hire smart, interesting people.

A few things that you might not want to include in your social media policy:

  • Lengthy approval processes for content. They not only stifle creativity and spontaneity, but they can also render many posts obsolete. Social media often requires quick, short responses to questions, trends, and issues. You want your employees to be involved in those discussions as they happen, not days or even hours later.
  • Restrictions about who is allowed to participate and who is not. Assuming that you hire great people, you should be able to provide employees with guidelines to participate and trust them to do the right thing. If someone isn’t playing nicely with others online, it should be addressed as part of a broader performance management plan with that specific employee.

I also have several other posts on similar topics about best practices for blogging and participating in social sites:

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, and it probably wouldn’t work for every company; however, I do think it provides an interesting starting point and approach for working with employees to help them participate in social media (rather than restricting them from participating).

What do you think is important to have in a corporate social media policy?

Gary Vaynerchuk at Legion of Talk

Tonight is the first in what will hopefully be a series of guest speakers for Legion of Talk, a Legion of Tech. event. Gary V. is in town for his book tour at Powells, and we were lucky enough to snag him to talk to us about how he has used social media to grow his family wine business.

Here are my raw notes from the event:

Gary would like to meet every human on earth, and it looks like we’re bringing him about 150 people closer to his goal at this event.

He comes from a traditional retail background in the family wine business. His original passion was selling baseball cards, but when he realized that people collect wine, and he could bring those passions together.

He went from running the company to walking away and spending 18 hours a day working with the online wine community, but he loves it. If you aren’t loving what you do right now, you need to embrace your DNA figure out what you want and do it now. Figure out what you want to accomplish and work backwards from the goal. Right now we are in a gold rush – the early adopters will get the gold. By sitting and talking about what he knew, he’s been really successful with his book deal, speaking engagements, consulting and more. If you really do what you love, you can work the ridiculous hours it takes to win. 99.9% of people out there don’t know what Twitter is. It isn’t over. It’s just getting started. Email is over (especially with the younger crowds), but social media is really just starting.

You need to be patient. He loves his community, and he answers a thousand emails a day. It isn’t scalable, but he loves the community more that he loves himself. When people ask a question that he doesn’t know, he researches it and finds the answer. He really likes people and what he does. Giving back is in his DNA.

Go to the niche of what you love, and really narrow it down. Get specific. Put out awesome content, but the show isn’t important. Content is king, but marketing is the queen and the queen runs the household. After you publish the content, It’s all about building the community and spending as much time as you need. If you love it, you’ll be doing this anyway. Become part of the conversation for what you love, and then really attack it. This works for your brand (as a person) or your corporate products. Be good to the consumer and build businesses by word of mouth. Word of mouth is out of control right now with existing social media tools. The conversation will happen, nothing is hidden, and you have to completely embracing it. Bring your dark secrets out on your terms before someone else does.

The long tail is way longer than we know. Twitter, Facebook, Pounce, and other social products will continue to grow, and everything is at our fingertips. There are so many cool and interesting things that people are doing with technology that you can embrace if you are passionate enough about it. Make it about you. Gary talks about wine, and the NY Jets, and WWF, and … You need to look for excuses about how you can, not how you can’t.

The platforms now are basically free. It isn’t about the platform, and don’t chase other business models. If you do something really good and unique, people will watch it. You have to be authentic and real to build your personal brand. It all comes down to how good you are. It’s all about the advertising and monetizing around your passion. Advertisers are moving into it slowly, but they are moving into it. It is about the patience. Tier 1 advertisers have to die and the tier 2 advertisers are going to move into this area and be successful. You have to hustle to make the money. Look at Google ads to see who is already purchasing advertising on your keywords. Talk to people about advertising.

Don’t look at where the money is; look at where your passions are. Doing something because there is a lot of money in it won’t be authentic. He missed the whole blogging thing because he doesn’t like to write. He saw Lazy Sunday, and knew he had to do this video show.

People are people. It’s about the people and having a clear message that is authentic and not over-polished. He wants people to be real, authentic rats. Don’t worry about whether it is new media, old media, whatever.

Force the world to come to you.

The most important question is “how can I help”. The reason he is here at Legion of Talk because Raven worked with him to donate wine to iPhoneDevCamp. You get a lot back when you give to people. Give 80% to every relationship & that 20% that you get back will be so delicious that you won’t need anything else. You have to give back to your community.

He pumped out 200 shows before he started getting much interest. Stop consuming content and start producing. He doesn’t have time for reading or TV. He’s popular because he puts out.

A side note / insight from Gary: Naked women on the internet is good business 🙂

Want to see other cool people talking to the tech community here in Portland? If you know of any other big names in the tech community coming into town for other events, Let us know, and we’ll try to schedule them into a Legion of Talk event.

Are Corporate Blogs a Joke?

Yes and no. Many corporate blogs are neglected, dull, and unimaginative, but they don’t have to be like this.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Many businesses have launched corporate blogs in an effort to better communicate with customers and capture a little Web-2.0 mojo. But Huffington Post they ain’t: Not only are these corporate blogs boring as paint, but the businesses behind admit they don’t have much value. (quoted from the WSJ Business Technology blog)

The WSJ article also refers to a Forrester report (I don’t have access to Forrester data):

Forrester found that most B2B blogs are “dull, drab, and don’t stimulate discussion.” Seventy percent stuck to business or technical topics, 74% rarely get comments, and 56% simply regurgitated press releases or other already-public news. Not surprisingly, 53% of B2B marketers say that blogging has marginal significance or is irrelevant to their strategies—the rest call it somewhat or highly significant–and the number of new corporate blogs among the companies Forrester tracks has dropped from 36 in 2006 to just three in 2008. (quoted from the WSJ Business Technology blog)

This doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen many corporate blogs that were as dull as dirt: filled with press release content, marketing fluff, and old content. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Corporate blogs can be interesting and useful with a little focus and time devoted to it.

Here are a few tips to help turn your boring corporate blog into something successful

  • Have a person who is responsible for your blog (probably part of someone’s job). He or she will need to be responsible for driving (but not necessarily writing all of) the content for the blog. Nagging and writing will be a big part of this person’s job.
  • Create a content roadmap to map out the next 5-10 posts, identify an author for each post, and make sure that the author has everything needed to complete the post (data, etc.)
  • Diverge from the content roadmap frequently to allow for serendipitous blogging.
  • Monitor popular blogs, news sources, and events in your industry and respond to what others are saying. Join the conversation.
  • Focus on thought leadership. Blog about the things in your industry where your employees have expertise that can be shared with the world. Don’t just talk about your products; focus on your entire industry.
  • Talk about a variety of topics. Don’t get stuck in a rut where all of your posts have essentially the same or similar content.
  • Monitor and respond to comments on your blog. Also monitor what people are saying about you on other blogs, forums, Twitter, etc. and respond where appropriate.
  • Have fun. Don’t be so serious. You can include interesting things that are happening within your company that aren’t necessarily work related (photos from a company ski trip).


There are a few companies that do a good job of corporate blogging from a content perspective.

  • Vidoop. A wide variety of employees pitch in on the corporate blog (not just the execs) to talk about a wide variety of topics. You’ll find some very interesting perspectives and thoughts about their industry (OpenID, identity, etc.) mixed in with links to important industry news, interviews, new features, announcements, site maintenance, and more. One of the more interesting topics lately is a series describing their move from Tulsa, OK to Portland, OR.
  • Google. While this blog has a lot of posts that look like they could be press releases for new products, most of them don’t read like press releases. Google has a pretty good mix of product pieces along with general information (keeping kids safe online, fighting spam, etc.) and a few fun posts about activities that Googlers participate in.
  • Southwest. Along with announcements about when booking opens for the winter holiday flights, the Southwest blog talks about environmental concerns, awards, burgers, beer, and water balloons.
  • Zappos. This is probably one of the most fun corporate blogs I’ve seen in a while. They talk about the origin of French heels, running tips, history of the penny loafer, baby quail, rock band, Mexican food, and much more.

I have noticed that corporate blogs, even many of the good ones, tend to get fewer comments than other types of blogs, but I’m not sure that the number of comments is a good measure for the success of a corporate blog. I would be curious to hear in the comments whether others have noticed a similar trend. Does it matter how many comments you get on a corporate blog post?

With a little effort, you can have a successful corporate blog. It just takes focus, dedication and resources; however, the payoff in search engine optimization and thought leadership in your industry is well worth the time and effort to put together a great corporate blog.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts

Shel Israel at Community 2.0

In this session, Shel talked about his work on the SAP Global Report on Culture, Business & Social Media. It was an interesting session with a lot of stories, which are always harder to capture in notes, so I didn’t take very many notes from this session. The upside is that you can find most of the content that he talked about on his Global Neighbourhoods blog in the SAP Research Report category.

Again, these are my notes from the findings portion of his discussion, so these are his words, but there could be some errors.


  • youth is the killer app
  • youth driving more adoption than geeks
  • communities have universal apeal
  • the most generous have the most influence
  • culture matters
  • culture belongs to the community

Business findings

  • adoption is faster than you think
  • resistance is found in the middle
  • small bands of evangelists making a big difference
  • behind firewall accelerating
  • measurement is a key issue

More details about the findings from Shel’s blog:

User-Generated Censorship at Web 2.0 Expo

Annalee Newitz held a great session talking about how users can censor other people’s content at Web 2.0. Here are my notes from that session.

Social media censorship

  • Bottom up, not top down: not imposed by an authority figure, like traditional censorship. Users tell each other what they can / can’t say and reporting it to the owner by flagging.
  • Collaborative: groups of people work together to censor content that they don’t agree with or like.
  • Punitive (cruelty of crowds): censoring content because a few users don’t like it even though it may be within terms of service and OK for the site otherwise.
  • Not within terms of service: This really isn’t censorship. This is an appropriate reason to flag content.

Why do I Care?

  • Censorship makes user-generated content less valuable
  • Creates divisiveness w/in community
  • Drives community away
  • It is unjust

Let’s collaborate to destroy free expression!

Blogger: Flag blog. Annalee asked someone trying to get a job for her to start a blog, but it got flagged by another user. Blog got shut down, she was unable to modify it, and it was a long process to get the blog unblocked. It could have cost the girl her job.

Flickr: Flag photo. Violet Blue had her photos flagged as unsafe and her account reclassified as restricted even though most of the photos were fine. You can have a person review it, but there is no phone number and no time estimate for when it will be reviewed. The process to remedy user censorship is just not very helpful.

YouTube: much more granular lists of reasons to have something flagged, which helps them respond and forces the user to be specific about why something is inappropriate. They will act w/in 24 hours in certain cases (filmed murder, etc.)

Digg: There are a lot of debates about what it means to “bury” a story. It isn’t transparent. Creates controversy, since some groups use it to prevent stories that they don’t like or don’t agree with from going to the front page.

Wikipedia: They have very elaborate rules for content, which makes it harder to censor (unverifiable claims, references & sources not properly cited, etc.) You are less likely to see censorship, since there are so many rules around it.


  • Clear content guidelines
  • Clear and fast methods of redress when censorship has happened
  • Easy ways for readers to use filters that prevent them from stumbling across content that upsets them.

Crowds can be wise, but they can also be destructive.

BlogHer Recap: Day Two

Here are a few nuggets of information that people have been talking about at BlogHer Business.

It is important to be a real person with a real personality when working with online communities. You have to be authentic, and in order to do that your personality has to come through and you become the face of the company for that community. You represent the company, but you also represent yourself, and it’s important to maintain your personal credibility.

People’s identities can get too wrapped up in their company, especially when it is a startup, to the point where their online identity is entirely based on their job at one company. What happens when they need to move on to the next thing? Will they be perceived as credible on their own merits?

Human part of blogging is that people will make mistakes. The biggest way to overcome an issue is to be transparent, honest, and admit mistakes. People will be more forgiving if you are transparent and honest. Allowing negative comments can also increase your credibility. People will say negative things about your product or your blog whether they say them on your site or their blogs. The way that you respond to the negative comments can help you rather than hurt. If you delete the negative comments, people will find out, and you (or your company) will look bad when people find out that you delete opinions that you don’t agree with. Delete the spam and discriminatory comments, but leave the objections as an opportunity to respond and engage in the conversation.

It is amazing how many senior managers at very large companies are not aware of what people are saying about their brands online on blogs and other sites. More people are becoming aware of what people are saying, but it doesn’t always make its way to the top.

Companies who want to blog need to either have time or money to dedicate to the effort. You need to have someone to manage the content, keep track of comments, respond to feedback, etc. Either you have to devote someone’s time to it or you need to pay someone to do it for you.

In social media, figure out success indicators & how you are going to measure them before you do anything. If you don’t, they can change the game on you halfway through. Focus only on a few basic metrics ~3 things. Pick the most important ones to measure success, especially in the beginning. Then start looking at other metrics to figure out where and how to improve.

It’s all about the content. Write really compelling content before worrying about stats, digg, whatever.

Yahoo’s new Shine site for women. Hugely unpopular with the women here. One panelist referred to it as like a car wreck on the side road that is terrible, but you can’t help but take a look on your way by. Women don’t want to feel like they are being targeted to as just women/

Print is being funded by dumb marketing dollars right now, and the move is shifting to searchable content online. Make it easy for people to find the information they are need quickly. Trend is also moving toward video. This doesn’t mean that you want to have everything as video. You want to have video as an option along with written content. This gives people a choice of how they want to receive the information: written or video.

Many others have been blogging about the event in much greater detail for anyone who wants more information.

BlogHer Recap: Day One

The agenda for the first day has been focused mostly on case studies with people who have been successful using blogs and other social media.

A few interesting takeaways:

  • The kick-off had a bunch of interesting data about women in blogging and social media. Many more details can be found in the presentation.
    • 36.2 million women actively participate in the blogsophere every week (15.1 publishing, 21.1 reading and commenting)?
    • More than half of women maintain the original blog they started
    • 24 percent of women surveyed say we watch less television because we’re blogging. 25 percent of us say we read fewer magazines because we’re blogging. 22 percent of us say we read fewer newspapers because we’re blogging
  • Find sponsors that *add* to your goals. For example, Manic Mommies got GM to sponsor the Mommy Escape by providing something useful for the attendees – transportation to and from various parts of the event. It was a way for GM to be involved without distracting the attendees with sales pitches.
  • Listening is so important. “Participate” in the community by watching and learning first. Once you understand the community and the audience, then you should start contributing in a way that helps to build the relationship. This is especially important in business conversations to avoid coming across as a jerk with a hard sales pitch.
  • Don’t send bloggers press releases and pitches – it is really easy for bloggers to delete those. If you have a relationship with them and you send them a personal email with information that is really useful for them – those are harder to ignore and much better received.

Social Strategies for Revolutionaries Session at sxsw

Social Strategies for Revolutionaries was Charlene Li’s presentation to a full audience in one of the big rooms at sxsw. She will also be posting the slides on SlideShare after the presentation, so this post just covers a few of her key highlights.

There have been a few social revolutionaries driving campaigns like reviving Jericho with peanut shipments. This is a groundswell, a social trend where people get information from each other (also the name of her upcoming book).

Four-step approach to groundswell:

  • People – assess customers social activities.
  • Objectives – what are you trying to accomplish
  • Strategy – Plan for how you will get there
  • Technology – decide which technologies to use after you figure out the above 3 points

Age is a major driver of participation. Participation in social networks tends to drop off as you look at older populations, since much of the content isn’t geared to older people on social networks, but this is gradually changing.

Blendtec has increased sales dramatically from the viral nature of the “will it blend” videos on YouTube. Ernst & Young is successfully using Facebook to recruit college students, not by using it as a marketing tool, but by having conversations with students and answering questions at the executive level. She also used Josh Bancroft as an example of someone who made something happen inside a big company using social software (wiki) to create Intelpedia under the radar of the executives (bonus points for a little Portland geek cred) 🙂

Find and support your revolutionaries within your organization, and let those people use their passion to make the company better, but this involves education for executives to help them understand what is happening and why. You also need to make it safer to fail for the people who are driving these initiatives. It also helps to start small, but think big and iterate to make corrections and adjustments as you figure out what works and what doesn’t. The social strategy also needs to be the responsibility of every employee and not just one person or group. These transitions and cultural changes take time. It can’t happen overnight and requires a great deal of patience.