Archive for “March, 2008”

New Communications Forum – Sonoma in April

ncf08-logo.jpgI’ve been asked to take part in a discussion about the evolution of the Social Media Press Release (SMPR) at the New Communications Forum, which is being held April 22-25th in Sonoma. The event is put on by the Society for New Communications Research (pron “snicker”), a a global nonprofit think tank dedicated to the advanced study of new communications tools, technologies and emerging modes of communication.

Here’s the official blurb for the Forum:

Now in its fourth year, NewComm Forum is the premier conference that brings together senior level communicators from around the globe to explore and discuss the impact of social media and new communications on advertising, marketing, public relations, corporate communications, media, business, culture and society.

I’m thrilled to be invited to participate in this event, and look forward to a lively discussion with Todd Defren, Principal of SHIFT Communications and originator of the first social media press release template. Here’s our session blurb,

Debate around the merits, uses and format of the Social Media Press release was reinvigorated in 2008, with major newswires launching Web 2.0-enabled platforms and Fortune 10 firms like Ford using SMPRs to reach new audiences. Join Todd Defren of Shift Communications, creator of the first social media press release template, and Maggie Fox from Social Media Group, developers of the new Digital Snippets platform, for a conversation about the evolution of the SMPR, moderated by SNCR Founder and Executive Director Jen McClure. Defren and Fox will discuss uses, formats, various efforts to standardize the model, and whether the SMPR means the end of the traditional press release.

Hope to see you there! Online registration is available here.

17 things I learned from Paul Gillin's presentation.

I was fortunate enough to attend a speaking event of Paul Gillin’s, author of The New Influencers. I, and about 30 other interested learners, sat in on a presentation on social media for businesses. The list I’ve complied includes a lot of social media essentials that I got out of that event. Sometimes those of us that work in social media can get so wrapped up in our work that the obvious isn’t so obvious anymore. Remember, these fundamentals are what motivate us to take part and where our innovations and ideas emerge.

You may ask, “Why 17 things?” No reason really, other then that’s just how many things I was able to write down.

1) You can’t know everything on the internet. You can however, know something really well. Choosing wisely is important and where some business finesse is necessary.

2) Get involved in small markets. You have the opportunity to be really specific in your needs because geography is no longer an issue. Mr. Gillin’s wife has a successful blog about rabbits. Yes, rabbits. Yes, it’s successful.

3) Billboard advertising is the only media that we haven’t learned how to block out. Yet.

4) Social networks are developed and filled with organized influencers.

5) Customer service is the weak point of a company.

6) Why bother with a homepage?

7) Less than 10% of people believe what they read in traditional media.

8 ) When a company makes a customer service error all people want to hear is “I’m sorry. This is not indicative of how our company runs.”

9) 2011 – The predicted year that internet ad spending will overtake ad spending in all other media. A good example is Fosters, the Australian beer. They say that 100% of their advertising budget is in internet ad spending (p.s. some may disagree that Fosters is actually beer).

10) Be painfully open, honest and transparent.

11) Write about what you are passionate about, not about your business, people don’t care about your business objective. Butler Sheet Metal has a blog titled The Tin Basher. It has nothing to do about the business and everything to do about the people that work there. Since its inception business has increased 5-fold and the stats on the blog are pretty impressive. You know, for a blog about sheet metal workers.

12) Traditional media: Production is the end point. Social media: Production is the beginning.

13) There are three keys to a social network:

  • Profile – this adds personality
  • Friends – access to my information is the currency of our relationship
  • Groups – adds a sense of belonging through a common interest that is no longer defined by geography

14) There is an illusion that every topic already exists on the internet.

15) Regarding social networks – “People are not running away from creeps and pedophiles; they are running away from marketers.”

16) Work backwards. The first thing you need to figure out is what it is that you are trying to accomplish and then figure out what tool will help you accomplish those goals.

17) Did I mention that you need to be painfully open, honest and transparent?

It's never too late to join the conversation

This is my very first blog post. I have spent the past five weeks trying to think of something profound to say but have come to realize that all the conversations that interest me have actually been going on for some time. That’s the price you pay for getting into the game so late.

After more than thirty years in IT, I am exploring something new, exciting and, on a personal level, very meaningful. When I think of how I got here; all the jobs, all the companies, all the countries, it wouldn’t seem to be much of a stretch to sit down and write a blog post. Yet this is unlike anything I have ever done before. I come from a generation where I have always felt as though I needed permission to speak. From growing up during South Africa’s darkest days in a generation where children were meant to be seen not heard and only speak when spoken to. From a colonial school system where the concepts of hierarchical authority were reinforced every single day, to every company I’ve ever worked at until now, I have always felt the need to seek some level of permission before I could speak. Amazingly, today I can save this post and have it published immediately (well almost immediately) without any corporate filters whatsoever. I had no idea it would feel quite so liberating.

I suspect though, that I may not be alone. There are probably a lot of people in middle and upper management who can relate because they grew up with the same values. Spare a thought for them because I’m not sure that the concepts of social networking come naturally to this generation. I can feel the frustration in the writing of people on the leading edge like David Churbuck who desperately want us to pick up the pace, but, unfortunately, I think that we may be closer to Jeremiah Owyang’s view of social media in the corporation because these attitudes are so deeply ingrained. So even though everyone involved in the social media space recognizes that the movement is irreversible, it will take time, patience and a lot of understanding before Enterprise 2.0 becomes the norm. I am thrilled at the opportunity to come along for the ride at my new job here at Social Media Group and I look forward to finally being part of the “conversation”.

SXSW – a summary of Tweets

I’ve been using Twitter a lot as a way of bookmarking thoughts before I lose them, and ever since I Twittered Mesh in April 2007, I’ve found it an incredibly useful way of retaining those “aHA!” moments I always come away with when I hear incredibly brilliant people talk about what makes them passionate. So here, forthwith, a summary of Tweets from today from the SXSW Keynote conversation between Henry Jenkins (Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program) and Steven Johnson

Henry Jenkins was one of the most popular speakers at last year’s SXSW Interactive Festival, so we are very excited to have him return to the event in 2008. His foil in this conversation is best-selling author Steven Johnson, who served as the Keynote Speaker at the 1998 event. This presentation will be simulcast in both Ballroom B and the Day Stage Cafe.

In talking about crowdsourcing, Do we need to release fully formed products/results/models any more? Can we start with a “stub, and flesh it out together”?

60% of kids are producing media, what about the “participation gap” the other 40% who don’t? A resource/cultural/skills issue = new literacy

A challenge of crowdsourcing is not reinforcing the status quo – encouraging diversity to get maximum benefits of all perspectives.

How do we balance the fact that many of the environments utilized for co-creation are governed by commercial interests? Very good Q’s.

Jenkins: it’s the terms of participation that are up for grabs – that’s the whitespace that commercial interests could really f**k up.

But how do you pay the bills if you do stuff outside of the commercial economy? Focus on value of your attention rather than your content.

Commoditization is inevitable, but can we adjust what we think of as a commodity to create the model we need not to mess this up?

More tomorrow… we’re just getting started!

Time to register for BlogPotomac!

blogpotomac-rgbweb-thumb.jpg I am extraordinarily pleased and honoured to be participating in BlogPotomac 2008 this coming June, a social media best practices unconference organized by Geoff Livingston and Debbie Weil. Here’s the official blurb:

Sponsored by Livingston Communications, The Point, Viget Labs, WordBiz, Inc. and The Social Media Club, BlogPotomac seeks to provide a local “un-conference” on best marketing practices for the social media community in DC. Our goal is to provide advanced marketing insights beyond the average social media 101 event.

Which is something I am absolutely all over – being recently very inspired by David Churbuck’s (Lenovo’s social media guru) post lamenting the lack of more Social Media 201 examples.

Here’s the lineup:

  • Lionel Menchaca, digital media manager and chief blogger, Direct2Dell
  • Frank Gruber, community manager, AOL and author of Somewhat Frank
  • Kami Huyse, Communication Overtones on ethics
  • Author KD Paine on measurement
  • Jeremy Pepper from Pop! PR Jots on strategy
  • (I’ll be doing a session on integrating social media into your overall marketing/communications plan, and Josh Hallett will co-host with Debbie)

    Personally, I’m really looking forward to meeting people I’ve heard a lot about and getting to know others a little better. This should be a great event – the lineup is incredible; I am in some very good company!

    There are only 150 seats available, so register now if you’re planning to attend. Any profits from BlogPotomac will be donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.