Monthly Archives: February 2008

Chinwag Measuring Social Media

Yesterday I attended the Chinwag.com event “measuring social media” chaired by Jim Sterne of Web Analytics Association with a panel comprising of:

Alex Burmaster – European Internet Analyst, Nielsen Online

Alex did a fair amount of pitching to begin with, and to be frank didn’t really give too much insight into what Social Media actually is. He enthused a great deal on how Nielsen has tools for measuring online conversations but lacked any real solutions for the crowd, he warmed up towards the end.

Robin Grant – Client Services Director, 1000heads

Robin started reasonably well and enthused on the power of Social Media although again didn’t really give any big insights to what it actually is and how you can use it. Little too much assuming I thought, although certainly a fan of Social Media.

Will McInnes – MD, Nixon McInnes

Will was the “gem” on the panel for me, he told it straight by stating “humans are slow and computers are dumb” (or was it the other way around?). Anyway he was basically stating that we cannot measure conversations, you cannot apply numbers to people’s emotions and cannot readily understand a conversation with a metric. I have to agree to some extent. Read more on his blog

Ankur Shah – Co-founder, Techlightenment

This guy was also enthusing well and was also “bigging up” the use of their Socialistics programme, based on collection of data for analysis.

I’ll state up front that I didn’t learn anything new from this event, ok sure it was great to network and meet new people, and some old friends, but in terms of the panel content I learnt nothing.

Why is this?

I think this is two-fold, firstly I am neck-deep in Social Media myself, much of that stems from running a virtual company for 8 years, I have had to build virtual communities and use social tools to engage with that community. Therefore I know first-hand what is needed, what talents and skills are appropriate and what works or doesn’t work. I’d say I was just as knowledgeable as anyone on the panel, certainly in terms of experience.

Secondly, the panel assumed that everyone in the audience knew what Social Media is, how it operates, what you need to do to get it to work for you. However, given that the majority of the audience were in fact PR agencies, I can tell you I am convinced that not a great deal of people do actually know what Social Media is, or more specifically how it can operate and work. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant, or expert-like, I’m just saying this is not new to mew.

One of most poignant questions of the evening was put by the Chair who asked “if you were given the job of Social Media Marketing Manager for Vauxhall, what’s the first thing you need to do?”. I immediately twittered this question and got the following answers:

@audio – Hi Chris, my first tool would be ears to listen. :)
Samantha_Grant at 18-02-2008 20:15

@audio demographics on target market and their media habits.
injenuity at 18-02-2008 20:07

@audio a thick skin?
GJD at 18-02-2008 20:02

@audio a super-high speed internet connection and great computer?
TamK at 18-02-2008 20:00

I like a lot of those tweets, and thank you for them because you proved my point. My answer to the question was simply “build a community and call them to action”.

It sounds simple when you look at it in print, but not one person mentioned that very important fact, in fact the very cornerstone of Social Media. Now regarding how to derive a metric from your community, I’m not sure about. Perhaps a call to action on a vote, an act, will in fact yield a metric. For example if 25% of my Social Media community act on a call to action, I do in fact have a metric, numbers, something for the CEO to consider. I know that’s not measuring engagement, connection, depth of experience, blah blah … but it is a number which CEOs “get”.

The dialogue went onto asking if we need an open source form of social media metrics, some kind of industry standard that we can all work towards, personally I’m not convinced of that either, but I could be persuaded.

I think to sum-up Social Media is currently a buzz-phrase, I’ve been socialising with my prospects for years, it’s not suddenly something new to me, though I understand it is for the traditional advertisers of this world. I also think that the strength of Social Media in terms of advertising will be the ability to extract highly detailed profiles of people in “the community”. Taking Facebook as an example, if the platform is sexy enough people will tell you “everything” about themselves.

Once we have highly detailed profiles of prospects we will be able to sell that data to be used to target individuals with specific information we know they will be pleased to hear about. This goes back to my argument around the Android Pocket Spy.

Of course the further we delve into asking our community to put forward detailed information about themselves the further down the privacy road we stumble.

Will you mind being profiled so deeply? Will you enjoy receiving targeted SMS notes about products in you geo area? It will come, believe me.

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Labour Take Liberty Away From You

Some time ago I created an awareness group in Facebook, aimed at pointing out what a dick Gordon Brown is, together with the legacy left behind by another first-class spineless tit, Blair.

The aim is to raise awareness at a few things, firstly that Brown is an un-elected leader of the UK, UN-ELECTED!!! As well as this the group is a protest about being governed by Labour, and all of their pathetic liberty stealing policies.

What pisses me off more than anything is the way that UK has become a police state, more and more liberties are being taken away from us week by week. It’s a scary environment we are actually moving towards here and YOU should do something about it.

I’ve posted the video below which is part one of a series of videos that YOU must WATCH, and you must watch all of them. But more than that YOU should go out and tell people in the pubs, you should discuss this stuff with all your friends at work. Currently as a nation we are dumb, we need more expression of anger about all this…

Facebok protest Group

Twitter Without Images Google Feast

This is what Twitter looks like when their image server don’t work. Their images are stored on amazon big boys I believe, here: http://s3.amazonaws.com/twitter_production/profile_images/ (that won’t work by the way).

It’s interesting to note that this is one of the reasons why your Twitter profile ranks so well in Google, oh you never checked? You should.

What you see here is what Google would see, instead of images they would see the text profile names, just as you see here, typically used as an “alt tag” AND “title tag”.

There you go.

Some people I know have protected their updates due to their Twitter page out-ranking their blog or whatever domain they wish page.

You had that issue?

LinkedIn Clean Up Mailing List

A friend Shani Lee asked me directly today “How do you use LinkedIn? What do you see as the benefits?”

So here are 10 of them:

1. LinkedIn is considered a “business” network, that is to say, formal and corporate to some extent, the platform has kudos in that world, it is considered a “serious” medium for networking.
2. LinkedIn allows me to obtain recommendations for my work, which is then laid out professionally on my profile.
3. LinkedIn allows me to “clean-up” a mailing list (see below)
4. LinkedIn is low maintenance, I need very little time to devote to it.
5. LinkedIn allows me to export my contacts for use in other applications.
6. LinkedIn opens me up to a very large network (only work related), some of whom are seeking my services, or my recommendation of another person.
7. LinkedIn has no “social clutter” or annoying applications.
8. LinkedIn enables me to seek opinion in a business context quickly.
9. LinkedIn can be the first line in “breaking the ice” on a new contact
10. LinkedIn is a CV in a URL

One of my favourite aspects is number 3, where I can “clean-up” a mailing list. I’ve worked online in various capacities for about 10 years and one of the things I have always done (you should too) is to build up your mailing lists. I have built a mailing list for almost every project I have been involved with, this is essential as that’s the method for pulling them back to your content time and time again. I probably have around 100,000 email addresses in one form or another I’ve collected over the years.

LinkedIn then, allows me to import a list of contents and will find out if any of those email addresses are LinkedIn users. This is brilliant as I can friend a contact (stating how we contacted each other initially) and I can then export a clean fresh list for other purposes.

How do you use LinkedIn yourself, what have I missed here?

Social Media Mafia “sit down” #1 Summary

The first Social Media Mafia “sit down” took place in the East End of London in a swanky Asian restaurant known as the Scarlet Dot, a term which pays homage to the Hindu Bindi.

The food was great and the company even better, where new people were introduced to new people who were introduced to new people. There was a healthy blend of geeks present from a very wide spectrum of careers, with of course a common theme of Social Media interest between us all.

Within 5 minutes of introductions business cards and deals were being struck, clearly people needed to meet people, but meet people with an endorsement, a kind of fast-tracking of talent, and that concept is one that I love which is part of the point of this new project.

The conversation was vibrant and I list here the main theme or points I extracted from the “sit down”.

1. Corporate Social Capital – this seems to be more related to large organisations, let’s say a University, for example, whereby the members of the organisation are engaging with Web2.0 technologies and conversing about the organisation itself. If you took a University as an example where there may be thousands of students using a Facebook Group or an organisation network there exists a large collection of Corporate Social Capital. How this capital is to be used/garnered/marketed or otherwise is a question still to be addressed. How can an organisation utilise such capital? And what type of talent is needed by an organisation to foster appropriate dialogue in that space?

2. Human Resource Privacy – it was noted that some HR departments are known to be checking out their employees online activities and in some cases actually holding them to court over it. The general consensus was that this is unacceptable and exactly what an employer does or does not do outside of the office is in fact not the business of the company. This is a tricky grey area considering that most companies do not have written policy on the topic as well as being ill-informed of the benefits of using such systems too.

3. Human Resource Talent Sourcing – this conversation was concerning the potential of Web.2.0 spaces for finding and recruiting talent. Personally I have found that I do get recruitment agencies asking me to help in sourcing talent, this is mainly a product of my LinkedIn presence. It was also discussed what other types of networks and methods are appropriate for finding talent, is an non-formal environment such as Facebook appropriate for example?

Concluding

Number three in my list above is something I would urge you to think about with some depth, because through our informal Social Media Mafia “sit down” we managed to secure two jobs for two talented people, and correspondingly two professionals can now move ahead with their projects, proof that these “sit downs” are far more than a couple of beers.

The next Social Media Mafia “sit down” is taking place 7pm in London on March 1st.
FB Event or Upcoming

You should try to get to it.

Social Media Is Based On Mafia Mentality

As I see that title I am now wondering how I can now justify it, but let me give it a go.

Firstly, let’s rid your mind of the romanticised stereotypical view of the Mafia; so that means you have to forget about horses heads in beds and machine guns outside of illegal underground casinos. You also need to rid your mind of anything criminal in fact, for my argument to work. So forgot about baseball bats and Las Vegas sand and lime too.

No, what I am talking about here is a mentality that, and we’ve all experienced this first hand, of something bigger and better, something worth much more than money, where money may actually be the by-product of the system.

The system of favours

The movement (loosely organised, and part of Folksonomy) of social media works by providing services that people want, typically information, or a bloody Dig, or a comment here and there, or something much bigger such as brand loyalty! People naturally migrate to providers and connectors of information and when and IF profit is made it is born out of a good relationship of those services and word of mouth endorsements.

If I help you in some way we have started to build a relationship, I have provided for you, without charge, something you want or need. In return you also provide for me or someone else in the social media family. This generosity is what builds trust, it is the currency of the movement.

If you assume money is the driver in this, you do not get the point, money will taint and in fact cheapen the exchange, the relationship. As I said money is a by-product of the favours and money WILL come if you play the game and focus on the exchange and relationships.

As an experiment (well and a bit of fun) I have now started another Facebook Page, called the Social Media Mafia (*update). this is an invite only group (you are free to request entry), where the members will have to have a “sit down” to approve newbies. The Family also now has an associated Social Media Mafia Website which the members will “take care of” very soon.

I’m chuckling a lot here :))

So, do you understand what I am trying to connect? Please tell me your thoughts.

Update: 30.05.08 I changed the Facebook link to point to a Page rather than group.

Google Releases Social Graph API

I’m excited about the possibilities of the Google Social Graph API as this will really open the potential for us all to use our connections much more openly than any current system in use. And more to the point we won’t have our hands tied with “walled gardens” like Facebook, we’ll be able to build our own using our social graphs.

The API already has a demo available which you can try out, I popped along to their demo and entered my twitter url and was impressed by the outcome which I have listed below.

Are you on my list?

Contacts you link to

People who link to you as a contact

Android a Spy In Your Pocket

So when Android, the open source mobile phone platform becomes the “normal”, you know, widely distributed, and of course I imagine it will, we will soon be carrying a cute little personalised Google spy in our pockets!

Hang on a minute, you what?

Ok think about this for a sec. Google Android is open source, it is an operating system, the thing which will make your phone work. Currently there are a variety of operating systems in use for mobile phones and depending on which provider you are signed up with will depend on how much access you have to “tweak” the that operating system.

Open Source

Yes Android is open source meaning the code is available for anyone to look at, therefore anyone can develop applications for. You know, all these widgets will appear, widgets like you see in your Facebook account? Well not exactly I predict many more useful applications will be available.

Personalised Info

Already your phone is capable of sending a signal back to HQ (where ever the HQ application is) stating “hey I am currently here at these coordinates”. Of course where this becomes particularly interesting is when your shopping habits and destinations are “learnt” by these new “lifestyle widgets”, yes folks when the crafty marketing peeps dip their toes in this, it will be game on.

Let’s say you often enjoy a morning pastry at the local Starbucks. Starbucks sign up with the application data service which sends the application server new information about offers they may have on at any point. You walk close to Starbucks and the suddenly “beep beep” you receive a text stating “Starbucks special offer half-price pastries today”.

Life Style Widgets

I’m going to go out on a limb and name these cute data mining packages Life Style Widgets. Do I mind this, will it bother me I can be profiled and offered various different products based on my geographic reference AND passed buying habits? Not at all, I’m really looking forward to the messages I’ll get when I walk passed a lap-dancing bar!

Seriously though folks it is coming, are you going to embrace that, or develop for it?

You Android you!

Microsoft Bid For Yahoo Why Not Twitter Too?

Microsoft today put a bid in for Yahoo!, which seems, and naturally so I suppose, has everyone excited, for good or bad reasons.

Apparently profits are down for Yahoo! and I guess Microsoft feel now is the time to strike, and gain so much. But what are they after here? What will they gain from this IF this is allowed to go through (I think there are clauses on fair competition about huge deals like this, which would have to be squared away first).

Microsoft have been aiming to get a big slice of the search engine pie for years, yes they have their own search but Yahoo! is well up the radar, of course not even close to the coverage of Google, nonetheless it is a huge player. But more importantly Yahoo! has a considerable user base, as an example I have a Yahoo! Messenger account, a Flickr account and I also have Yahoo! mail (albeit for my junk mail). I’m not in the minority either, I’m sure you probably have a connection somewhere too?

So, Microsoft would gain an even more enormous user base and essentially obtain serious channels into additional markets.

I’m not sure what all this will means yet but what has sparked my interest more that anything is the speed with which the “hot news” riffled around Twitter within minutes.

Microsoft to buy out Twitter? That would be a story too, exciting few days ahead I think.