5 Tips for Managing Social Media Overload

For years now, whenever I’ve told folks that I blog and tweet, the responses vary from, “How do you get time to do get any real work done?”  (translate: what a slacker) or ” Oh! You’re one of those..”  ie. typical singleton without any worthwhile aspirations. You can literally hear jaws hit the floor after the big reveal that I have an intense “day job” and am also ..gasp.. your quintessential working mom.

Over time,  the perception hasn’t changed much and once you step out of the social media bubble, you quickly realize that with the exception of posting personal updates to Facebook, the average working professional still continues to find social media daunting and mostly overwhelming. However, given the ubiquitous nature of social media and increased use in business, being active in this space has become a necessity whether you’re in HR looking for candidates or in sales, looking for viable leads.

Here are 5 tips for busy professionals to use social media effectively without drowning in data overload:

#1 Get yourself some “human filters”

Yes, there is great deal of content out there and more is being generated every second, the only way to keep from drowning in all the information glut is to get yourself some help. Start by connecting with folks who are in the know and this way you can save yourself the effort of having to cull through mountains of social content. For example: Two of my favorite people on Twitter are @avinio and @scepticgeek who share only the “good stuff”.

#2 Use  technology to your advantage

There are plenty of automated tools that will deliver information to you but you need to be strategic about what content is really important as you don’t want 200 emails/alerts every day.  A better way to manage your social media content is to use have alerts set up key topics and then use smart aggregators like Feedly that allow you to pull all the content in one place  for quick review.

#3 Make social media a priority

The reality in life and work is that if it’s important, you’ll find time for it so make engaging in social media a priority and you will find time for it. I love to blog but my 18hr day job makes it very challenging to post on my personal blog, so I’ve been getting up about half-hour early to blog and take a few minutes over lunch/coffee breaks to finish up a post. Another smart option I really like is to create the posts over the weekend and schedule them for publishing during the week when folks are most likely to read them.

#4 Schedule time for it

Social media may be real time, but unless your job includes constantly monitoring the social media channels for breaking news, you’re better off scheduling some time to do it. Time management experts swear by the benefits of blocking off some time for email so that it’s not disruptive to everything else you’re doing.

#5 Have a clear focus

Given the multidimensional nature of social media, there are many different ways of participating in social media for work, the key is knowing what you want out of it and staying true to that goal. This way you’ll get more value out of every minute you spend on it. If you are only interested in technology or a specific industry, then share/follow/fan/subscribe/join only those sources that can get you relevant information.

There you go, now even you can be the social media rock star without quitting your day job :) Now it’s your turn to share… what do you do to make social media less overwhelming?

Using Social Media to Reach a Local Audience

Typically, when the average user thinks about social media, the first sites that come to mind are Facebook and Twitter. These sites have formidable global reach and can help reach audiences from Asia to Europe. However, when it comes to reaching a local or regional audience, are these sites still as effective?

This is a key question for firms that operate in a niche industry or cater to a specific geographical region that requires a more tailored approach. As businesses contemplate investments in this new(er) media, here are 4 tips, for small and large companies alike, on using social media to reach as well as engage with a local audience.

#1 Create Location-Specific Social Communties:

Setting up a generic social media presence that appeals to a global audience but ignores your local customer base is a wasteful exercise. There are plenty of options that businesses can use to create social experiences that resonate with their local audience. Whether it’s through a location-specific Linkedin group or a regional Facebook page, it is possible to carve out highly engaging location-specific social presence on any social network. Moreover, sites like Linkedin enable highly targeted advertising based on location, which can be leveraged to reach your local audience.

#2 Leverage Existing Channels:

In their enthusiasm to use social media, many businesses forget to leverage the information that’s available, right at their finger tips. Unless your business was set up yesterday, your company already has a customer database that can be used to jump-start your social media community. Leveraging traditional channels like email and direct mail lists can be a smart and (cost)effective way of building your social media presence. And don’t just stop there! Make it easy for your customers to join/follow you on a social network by integrating social media links into all your traditional marketing channels to make the most out of every touch point with the customer, whether it’s through traditional or new media.

#3 Promote! Promote! Promote!

One thing to keep in mind when building your social media presence is that, “Just because you built it, they will not come!” …unless, of course you promote (the heck out of) it. Many businesses set up their social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook, but they forget the basics, which is to tell their customers and prospects about it. If your audience is small and local, it is very likely that your presence on a larger social network will go unnoticed, unless you make a great deal of noise about it and that’s where #2 can be very effective in getting the word out. Local events that bring your online and offline community together such as Tweetups can be a very effective way of growing the online social engagement for a local audience.

#4 Try Location-Based Services:

With the growing popularity of  geo-location services and applications like Foursquare, GoWalla, and white-label apps like DoubleDutch, going local has never been easier. These services now enable you to build social networks for specific states, cities, and even neighborhoods. However, your audience may not be adept at using some of these new technologies so, businesses may need to help them along with some education and plenty of incentives to keep them engaged.

As you can see, the “one-size-fits-all” social media model is evolving and making way for highly localized experiences. The key is for businesses to stay focused on their target audience and optimize their social media presence to make it more relevant for their customer, based on where he or she is located.

Is Advertising on Facebook Really Effective?

eMarketer has predicted a 39% increase in advertising spend on Facebook for 2010.  The popularity of advertising on social networks is primarily based on the notion that sites like Facebook  have a great deal of data on their users and this information can be exploited to deliver highly targeted ads to its huge user base. In theory, it makes a great deal of sense. Afterall, users are going crazy and sharing every little detail of their personal lives on these sites so why not leverage that information for marketing to them? In fact, Facebook goes on to claim that businesses should advertise on the site because:

“People treat Facebook as an authentic part of their lives, so you can be sure you are connecting with real people with real interest in your products.”

If that’s true, it’s absolutely baffling why the site serves up inane and irrelevant ads when you browse through it. Take a look at the ads on these 2 fan pages - Microsoft and BMW. You’ll notice that ads on the right have no relation to the content on these fan pages. One’s pitching designer handbags (never mind that I am looking at a software fan page) and the other one serves up  a list of ads with the only unifying theme being they all have pictures of women (Did I mention that I am a woman?! How clever of them to figure that out).

 Microsoft Fan Page

 

BMW Fan Page

As if those 2 examples weren’t enlightening enough, the ads on the Harvard Business Review fan page are just mind-boggling. I am baffled as to the connection between HBR and pets. And no, there’s no information in my Facebook profile about my imaginary or real pets.

One would think there are advertisers in similar or related categories who would be interested in marketing to the same audience but apparently, that’s not the case on Facebook. Of course, one can just blame the clueless advertisers who don’t know how to optimize their targeting but when you look at the target filters Facebook offers, you soon realize their limitations. The site says you can,

“Target your exact audience with demographic and psychographic filters about real people.”

I am a “real” person, a female of “certain age” who also happens to be interested in luxury cars and operating systems (gasp!). Under Facebook’s current ad model, no matter which page/group I am on, it only serves up ads based on my profile. As an user, it’s annoying but as an advertiser, I would be very concerned about displaying ads to an uninterested audience and with zero context.

So here’s my theory: Facebook either has a very low inventory of ads and that’s why they cycle through the limited number of available but irrelevant ads or the ad targeting model is fundamentally flawed. In either case, I seriously doubt that advertising on Facebook is any more effective  than other advertising options like paid search or contextual ads on traditional sites.

I’ll try to get some data from businesses who’re currently advertising on Facebook and post the findings here as a follow up. If you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below.

Vignette brings Social Media to Enterprise Content

vignette2At the Web 2.0 Expo recently, I was pleasantly surprised to see the increased focus on social media offerings for the enterprise space.

So when I heard about Vignette’s introduction of Community Applications 7.1, as part of its Social Media Solution, I sat down with Gerardo Dada and Lee Shepstone from Vignette to learn more about their Social Media Suite for the Enterprise. 

 

My first question to them was How can Vignette’s new solution help large enterprises?

Gerardo Dada referred back to the beginning of the web, when companies wanted to capitalize the web content and Vignette started by helping folks manage their work flow and make the experience be more personal. He sees the same trend today in media and video. Vignette is leveraging its expertise in content management systems to help companies better manage social interactions in an efficient and user-friendly manner.

The advantage Vignette enjoys is its existing relationship with key brands and expertise in content management for large enterprises. In addition to enabling the creation and support of Web 2.0 capabilities such as blogs, wikis, forums, ratings and reviews, the solution allows companies to quickly and easily create unique social micro sites.

It also allows aggregation of content on global sites which allows global companies to leverage information across countries. However, the ability to translate and search multiple language sites is still limited but their in-country offering is quite robust.

 So my next question to them was, What makes Vignette’s solution better than thousands of other enterprise social media offerings out there? 

 

vignette_ss11

According to Dada, the Vignette offering is much more comprehensive and eliminates the need to cobble together offerings by different vendors.  The company has incorporated advanced search and analytics feature into its social media offering that makes the solution very robust when it comes to finding relevant content.

Shepstone described how the Vignette solution allows companies to create an unified social microsite for their web audience that includes social features and tools like wikis, blogs, forums, and video-sharing capabilities. 

He went on to say that these flexible sites combines microsite features with social-centric benefits such as idea management, calendars and events and the sharing of multimedia-rich assets including videos and podcasts.

What impressed me about Vignette is that it’s still a fairly small and nimble company with about 700 employees it operates with the efficiency of a small company, yet it has the depth and breadth of experience working with larger enterprise companies.

What are the key challenges that an enterprise faces today in this social media age?

Dada was blunt in his assessment that many companies still lack a cohesive social media strategy, which is a great challenge and he went on to say, “..social media can not be done in isolation and you can not have community on the side. Community and social media content has to be a central part of an integrated strategy.”

At the end of the 90s, businesses needed enterprise grade vendors who understood web as a space. Today’s there’s a similar need for experienced vendors who can manage, govern, and publish end-to-end solution for enterprise social media. Here is Dada’s presentation – 20 Social Media Trilogy Vital Components for an Enterprise Strategy  on creating a social media strategy and building a community.

For anyone working for a large enterprise, one question always comes to mind, so How about those legacy systems?

Shepstone said that the advantage of the Vignette solution is that it can work with any legacy system. Even companies without a content management system can use it because it can be deployed as a standalone sytem. Existing website integration very flexible, modular. The goal is to bring the customers back to the site. There is content out there, where all commuity can host content, doesn’t need to be one place. Widgets and gadgets are used to share content in a single place for connecting around product. Integration of  content happens around community, be it external or internal community.

What does deployment , cost, & support look like?

The solution includes Portal license so it’s included at no additional cost for that. The solution costs approximately $50K (perpetual license)  and support is available at 20% annual cost. The solution comes with web API and advanced API, making it easier to integrate with other vendors. Vignette, says Dada, “..Drinks its own Champagne” and uses social media tools that it advocates for training and support.” They use wikis for training documentation on the product, making it easier to update and provide training to their customers.

Purpose-Driven Social Media is Key to Elusive ROI

One question that consistently comes up in social media discussions is the one about ROI on social media activities or lack thereof. Social media practitioners across companies seem to be struggling  to  justify their company’s investment in social media and many even question the value of doing social media.

Donald Bulmer, VP of Industry and Influencer Relations at SAP  hit the nail right on the head at a panel discussion recently where he evangelized ”purpose-driven” social media as the key to successful social engagement.

When planning a new marketing or customer engagement activity, the critical first step is to define the objective for that activity and tie to a desired business outcome. However, this critical step is missing in many social media activities and is often an after-thought. 

Social media enthusiasts find it challenging to determine social media ROI is because there’s no clear purpose to their social media activity or the purpose is very fuzzy. Without a clear purpose, it’s challenging to gauge what resources will be needed for that social media activity and worst of all, it’s nearly impossible to measure if that activity generated any value.

On the other hand, social media activities that are touted as successful are tied to some specific business need. Two great examples are Ford with its Social Media PR strategy or Dell with the exclusive discounts  (lead generation) via Twitter. Both these companies identified a specific need and used social media to solve that need and drive results.

Many social media enthusiasts justify the lack of purpose or goal by saying that they don’t know what to expect since it’s a new media and they don’t want to be associated with failure. Unfortunately, failure comes with the territory when testing any new media or channel, and without a clear purpose, it’s tough to build support for social media within any organization especially to get executive buy in.

Moreover, it’s challenging to justify resources for social media within any company, if you can’t articulate the business need that will be solved by doing the said activity, which takes us back to the point that Bulmer made about “purpose-driven’ social media. The era of doing social media because it’s cool is coming to an end, it’s no longer acceptable to engage in social media just because “everyone else is doing it”.

Like any other media, social media practitioners will have to build a solid business case for their social media activity and demonstrate how it can be used to drive real business outcomes. Starting on the social media quest without any clear direction is a primary reason why social media practitioners find their projects floundering. As Yogi Berra once famously said, “You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

Ford Case Study: Control is an illusion in the social media age

freeI recently attended a brilliant presentation on “Setting Content Free at Ford” by Scott Monty, Digital Communications Manager at Ford and Maggie Fox, CEO of Social Media Group. The presenters led a packed house at the Web 2.0 Expo through an insightful case study on how Ford and Social Media Group partnered to turn traditional PR on its head to create a highly impactful social media content strategy.

Like many other large global firms in traditional industries, Ford retained tight control on its digital and other marketing/ communication assets including images and videos, by allowing access to only a select few accredited automotive journalists and typically distributed those assets by request only, both out of habit or fear of unflattering mashups. Monty said, “Ford recognized that “control” of digital assets was an illusion. So they stopped pretending.”

In 2007, Ford Motor company recognized and accepted the changing dynamics of an environment where everyone was a publisher  and this model no longer made sense because the bloggers were not interested in traversing the walled garden to get to the restricted content and on the flip side, there were dozens of organic digital content projects were popping up within Ford – from “semi official”  YouTube channels to small-scale, one-off sharing of images and other content with enthusiast groups. Monty described it as, ”A thousand points of light, not focused enough to truly illuminate or accomplish anything.”

Ford adopted an open and pragmatic approach to their content strategy where they started by helping online content producers to start conversations and tell richer, better informed stories by providing them with great content that even the “Citizen Journalists” could access easily and use to tell their own stories.

Here are the key learnings from Ford’s experience:

#1 Create rich content that’s ready to share: Ford established its first Social Media Press Release (SMPR) filled with rich content ready for sharing. Ford also aggregated its digital content and made Creative-Commons licensed assets available for use by anyone who was interested in talking about the company or their brands – good or bad. Moreover, all Ford content is hosted with third-party plaforms, like Flickr and YouTube, to leverage their native sharing properties and popularity.

#2 Eliminate the need to pitch: Ford provides individual and global RSS feeds for their SMPRs, meaning subscribers are automatically notified of updates – and only get what they’re interested in. They found many anticipated and unanticipated benefits, including an unsolicited placement in Wired magazine shortly after Chris Anderson’s infamous “Blacklist” post. Giving traditional media and bloggers access to what they’re most interested in, made pitching content irrelevant. Wired and other news media are subscribed to Ford’s SMPR feeds and they regularly pick up stories without having to be pitched.

#3 Reduce fear of the unknown: Monty rightly pointed out that social media is scary mostly because people don’t understand it. So  they helped people understand it, epecially legal people. By sitting down with the legal folks and demonstrating value to the folks who are most interested in controlling the content, they were able to change the way content was treated at Ford. Another big issue, they ran into was digital rights management (DRM). For images it was simple – in most cases digital rights were already being obtained for the online editions of print publications.

Video is another issue, and Monty pointed out, “We’re not the only ones wrestling with that challenge… if we put them online, it’s usually only for a set period of time until the rights expire.” Like many companies, however, Ford is working with its agencies are working together to get digital rights in place to manage their digital content.”

#4 Take a long-term approach to social media:  Ford’s approach was so successful because they didn’t use this as a trendy one-time campaign but rather as a  revolution in the way Ford, traditionally treated its digital assets and controlled access to them. Starting with Focus, Ford began making all of their content digitally available to everyone under a license that would permit publication under almost any circumstances.  All of the images, video and text on Ford’s first and subsequent SMPRs are licensed under Creative Commons non-commercial.

When asked what’s next for Ford, Monty said, “We are weaving digital influencers into every program we run for mainstream media. We’re also establishing digital-only events and programs for online influencers. Integrating with MSM programs – digital should not exist in a vacuum, it goes farther when amplified and paired with traditional efforts, which it can assist and compliment.”

So, how successful has this new strategy been for Ford?

When asked about the ROI on social media, Monty quipped, “What’s the ROI for putting on your pants every morning? But it’s still important to your business.” That was was probably the most profound quote of the event and highlights how doing social media is no longer optional for large companies, but rather a necessity for every business.

Overall, Ford has seen its content come back to them in thousands of unsolicited posts and stories. Here are the concrete  success metrics that Monty and Fox shared on their content:
 - Their content has been used in over 5,000 posts since Sept 2007.
- SMPRs are regularly used as a source of news and assets by Autoblog.com (Technorati Top 50), Wired, NYTimes, ABC News & many others, both traditional & “new” media.
- Approximately 1.2 million video views on YouTube, 499 channel subscribers, 120,000 views on Flickr images.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lights_out_222/2996484787/

You can access the presentation on the Web 2.0 Expo website.

Transparency is the Keynote Theme at Web 2.0 Expo

webexsf2009_logo1The second round of keynotes yesterday at the Web 2.0 Expo focused mainly on transparency, both in business and in government.

The first to take the stage was Douglas Rushkoff, the author of “Get Back in the Box”. His perspective was both radical and refreshing. He said, “It’s not distraction from core competency to be transparent, transparency forces you to be competent.” According to him, companies with core activity and competency in their industries find it easier to be transparent.

He gave the example of the outgoing Gap CEO who said when he joined the company that “I’ve never worked a day in the garment company.” He asked a thought provoking question, which was – How did management and business become generic? He also narrated how creation of corporations prevented free market competition and hindered creation of value. He supported his assertion with related instances in history where the first companies were chartered monopolies by the government, like the East India Company.

He said that Web 2.0 has ushered in a new era that allows people to create value from the peripheries again where central bank and VC lending were not needed unless you’re setting up a ponzi scheme. Laughter and applause broke out, when Rushkoff said the banks fell for their own ponzi scheme.

He ended by saying that using the traditional currency model in the digital world with abundance of value is not sustainable. It’s up to the net industry to create value with the purpose of making a living rather than to cash out.

Anssi Vanjoki from Nokia followed this fiesty presentation with some bold predictions of his own. According to Vanjoki, by 2015, we will have wireless network connecting us 24×7 globally. His second prediction was that everything will be based on context because it’s awareness that separates us from other creatures.

He repeated multiple times during his talk that there was an emerging trend of marrying reality with virtual world and added that this new behavior required a new device.  According to him, this a “mobile computer” that would replace all current phones. This device will have hundreds of gigabytes of memory and allow users to store and leave your own traces on coordinates.

Nokia has invested a lot in the location services and recently bought a digital map maker, Navteq because it’s their belief that everything on this planet can be described with coordinates. He ended his speech by giving a glimpse at phone of the future, which looked like a watch and ended by saying -  “We (Nokia) will bring the net to everyone, everywhere.

“Tim O’Reilly sat down to talk to Ellen Miller from the Sunlight Foundation who is working on getting more transparency in the government. She said that the foundation is not interested in digitizing the information just for academic use but put it into hands of the citizens – feedback loop aka accountability. Here are the Open Government Data Principles that that they have put together: Data should be Complete, Primary, Timely accessible, machine processable, non-discriminatory, nonproprietary and license-free. Miller said, “For data to be useful, it must be consumable.” She also mentioned that databases are already created, which show who’s lobbying for whom and where the campaigns are coming from.

She alluded to an ongoing contest between Republicans and Democrats on who is more transparent. Ellen said that the house and executive branch are not open to being transparent, but they don‘t have a choice, as she so eloquently put it, “Transparency will be done to them (government).” She went on to say that government needs to be held accountable and that it’s not non-profits like Sunlight who should be responsible but rather it’s the government’s responsibility to provide transparency.

Kevin Lynch, Adobe Systems Incorporated followed up with a short but effective demo on the Adobe Flash Catalyst, which is still in beta. This is a professional design tool that automatically generates the Flex code for any static composition created using Adobe’s other design tools like Photoshop or Illustrator. This allows the designer to deliver a finished application to the developer for additional functionality without losing any of its original fidelity.

Last but not the least, John Battelle, Federated Media sat down with Will Wright, from Electronic Arts for a discussion on the online gaming business. Will mentioned that EA is focusing on getting more transparency in the gaming business especially when it comes to data that‘s being shared online. When asked about the Wii, he said he liked it and that it highlighted a trend in non-immersive gaming. Immersive is when the gamer is so absorbed in the game and tunes out everything going on around him/her. However, games like Wii make the environment part of the game and he sees the trend continuing with virtual worlds meeting reality.

Experts Discuss 4 Key Reasons Why Social Media Fails

webexsf2009_logo1Today at the Web 2.0 Expo, a panel of industry thought leaders – Peter Kim (Dachis Corporation), Charlene Li (Altimeter Group), and Jeremiah Owyang (Forrester Research) discussed “Why Social Media Marketing Fails  - and how to fix it.”

Keeping true to the spirit of social media, Peter Kim invited input for this session before the show, on his blog where folks responded with what they wanted to see at this session. Not surprising, it was standing room only for this brilliant panel of former and current Forrester analysts.

Here are the key highlights from this insightful discussion where panelists also provided concrete suggestions on overcoming major hurdles to social media success in companies.

#1 How do I get my culture to adopt? (Lack of buy-in from C-level executives)
This was quoted as the No.1 reason by the panelists for the failure of social media adoption and success in companies. Charlene Li bluntly stated that, most companies are not ready for change. “Big guns” need to get involved and for those executives to get onboard is show the connection to bottom-line/revenue. Li highly recommends “Go for the sweet spot”, which are corporate (financial) goals that the management is focused on and to demonstrate how social media can help drive those results.

Jeremiah’s experience was different in that executives are usually the last to adopt. Smaller groups at lower level management were more likely to drive social media adoption. However all three agreed on the need for a champion at the executive level to make social media successful in the long-term.

Peter Kim asked whether companies needed a ”Chief Social Officer” to help social media adoption in companies?  Li disagreed and said that it was a fallacy. Social media shouldn’t be just one person and that it would be “dangerous” to have just one person responsible for social media. She believed that it’s everybody’s responsibility. She gave the example of Charles Schwab, which is focused on a customer engagement strategy and for them social media is just one of the many ways to achieve that strategy.  

Kim pointed out another dangerous fallacy and that was the perception  that social media ia young person’s game and many companies hire interns to do their social media strategy. Li thought a good practice she has seen is that many companies are pairing up marketing folks with younger people. Owyang suggested using the Hub and Spoke model, where various cross-functional groups drive the initiatives but coordination is done centrally. The other two models he discussed were: Tire – social media is initiated from the edges and grows organically without any coordination. Tower – social media is initiated from upper management levels and can be inauthentic.

#2 How do I make my campaigns work? (Using the “Campaign” model)
All three panelists pointed out that it was wrong and misguided for marketers to treat social media as just another “campaign”. Li said that attitude is the biggest problem, because social media is not a campaign. She went on to add that it’s about relationships and conversations,  not about technologies and she also said that very few brands do this right. 

Kim interjected with a question (and reality check) - How do we align the need for conversations in public companies with quarterly pressures, which necessitates focus on campaigns? To which, Owyang responded there should be a balance between business objectives and community objectives with equal counts of both. He cautions marketers against using campaigns, which are short-term and instead focus on long-term objectives of the company.

Kim pointed out there is need to change how public companies work and the way they think of their external and internal stakeholders including detractors. He also acknowledged that it’s a difficult road ahead. Li agreed and found that there’s much more collaboration going on. There are conversations already happening, folks are asking recommendations, and it’s all occuring very naturally for local brands and business.

He also acknowledged, the real fear for many traditional marketers, with this question – Should we get rid of the marketing dept? He was alluding to how social media is changing the role of marketers in the organization. To which Li responded that marketing is all about promotion and advertising. Social media helps get those other parts get elevated however, she also pointed out that advertising on social network advertising is a bad idea and it doesn’t work.

One interesting idea that came up was around some type of educational courses, credentials or ”certification” for social media practitioners. Li was in favor of having some type of certification however, Owyang was against it, saying that he himself was a practitioner and believed that experience was more important.

#3 What should I measure? (Lack of measurement)
Kim pointed out that the biggest fail in social media and marketing in general is measurement.  Owyang said the traditional marketers measure using on dashboards that show them the page views, visits, and other metrics. However, he said that’s not very meaningful way to measure social media ROI. He advocates the use of a directional system, similar to GPS system rather than a dashboard. In order to measure social media success, he suggests using business metrics around what you trying to accomplish such as customer retention and satisfaction measures rather than web metrics.

Li brought a great point - start by asking yourself why are you measuring? Are you trying to decide the allocation of budget or do a comparison with other channels? She said that social media shouldn’t be measured in isolation but rather as part of the overall measurement of other efforts. She said, “How can you measure social media if you don’t measure in other areas?” She did an informal poll of the audience at the discussion and many hands went up when she asked how many were working on social media initiatives. It was very telling that very few raised their hand, when Li asked how many were able to measure their results.

#4 Does social media matter? (Real impact of social media)
This was yet another very interesting point that was brought up in the discussion. Owyang mentioned a recent informal poll by Adage, who asked mainstream folks about Motrin Twitter Moms controversy. Most hadn’t heard about the incident or didn’t know much about it, so that begged the question whether social media was even relevant to mainstream. One thing Owyang mentioned was that when social media buzz such as the Motrin Moms, starts getting picked up by the mainstream media, that’s when it starts becoming relevant. 

Li followed up with a fascinating perspective, that it’s failure in social media that really matters. She went on to say that it’s more important to understand whether your culture can adopt it. It’s also all about extending yourself and learning.  According to Li,  if you’re not failing, that means you are not doing anything and not learning anything in the process.

Throughout the discussion, the panelists took questions from the audience on a variety of related topics. Some had questions around liability issues arising from social media activities especially, in sensitive industries like finance.  Li gave the example of Wells Fargo, who had recently launched a Twitter account. The panel agreed that it was all about experimenting and learning. Li cautioned against companies starting in social media with Twitter. Companies need to have some experience under their belt in social media, before they start on Twitter so they already have processes built to effectively engage their audience.  

Another question was around multi-national implementation. Owyang suggested using the hub and spoke where hub is corporate, while spoke represent the regions. Both Li and Kim suggested learning and aggregating learnings from other countries. Li also pointed out something interesting, which was that social networks might be global but folks limit their social media activity to specific geographic regions. Some exceptions might be industries like movies and media. Kim reiterated this by saying that rather than using global presence as a barrier, company should use it as learning opportunity.

Addressing the question around use of social media in gathering intelligence, Kim said that all the information in the world won’t help, if the companies are not willing to do anything with it.

Lastly, when someone asked about companies that gotten it right, the panelist mentioned Dell as an example of a huge social media failure but also as a success story as a company that also learned from those failures to get it right? Another example, Li gave was WalMart, who has been blogging since 2006. She commended how they keep trying and don’t give up. Overall, the panel was unanimous in that companies need to let go and that continues to be a challenge. 

You can follow the conversation around this panel discussion on Twitter #smfail.

Web 2.0 Expo Sessions Focus on Best Practices in Social Media

webexsf2009_logoThis year’s (non-sponsored) sessions at the Web 2.0 Expo have a heavy focus on the tactical aspects of social media. This is symptomatic of the current state of social media, which has finally moved past gee whiz, with many companies firmly in implementation and learning phase of social media adoption.

There are some quality sessions devoted to healthy introspection of what has worked in the social media space and learnings from those experiences. Here are the sessions on best practices in social media marketing that I am looking forward to attending (more details on these sessions to follow in future posts): 

Why Social Media Marketing Fails – and How To Fix It
Peter Kim (Dachis Corporation), Charlene Li (Altimeter Group), Jeremiah Owyang (Forrester Research)
8.30am Wednesday, 04/01/2009
In order to make social media marketing matter, brands must answer key questions like: – How can companies measure activity? – What about scalability? – Why does our organizational structure prevent participation? This session will propose answers to those questions and attempt to help marketers think through the issues that will make social media marketing matter.

Best Practices in Social Media Integration for Web Publishers and Content Providers
Bob Buch (Digg)
2:40pm Wednesday, 04/01/2009
This session will explore some of the best practices employed by publishers who have been successful in gearing their brands, user experiences, and content toward increasing traffic from social media sites and providing a relevant experience to help engage those users and monetize the traffic.

It’s the People, Stupid
Brian Oberkirch (Small Good Thing), Deborah Schultz (deborahschultz.com)
1:30pm Thursday, 04/02/2009
The most interesting problems on the Web are social, not technical. Once the open, social stack moves into wide use, the real work is going to be on us to create ongoing experiences that inspire, inform, evolve. his session will pay particular attention to what happens after launch, as the presenters think – an attentive to and fro is the intimate secret of success.

Applying the Social Dimension to the Lockheed Martin Mission
Steve Wylie (Techweb), Shawn Dahlen (Lockheed Martin), Christopher Keohane (Lockheed Martin)
2:40pm Friday, 04/03/2009
This is the session I am most interested in attending, since it’s the only session that covers social media deployment in a specific large enterprise. In this session, Lockheed Martin will share the details behind their Unity program (new methodology) and explain their roadmap to assist the IT community in rapidly developing mission-specific applications that leverage their social media investment.

Two more sessions on the Enterprise 2.0 space that also sound interesting:

The Open Enterprise: How Web Tools And Culture Are Remaking Business
Stowe Boyd (The /Messengers), Oliver Marks (Sony PlayStation, )
2:40pm Wednesday, 04/01/2009
This session covers long-term research project starting in November 2008 to examine the impact of Web 2.0 technology and culture on the enterprise: The Open Enterprise 2009 Study & Report. The presenter intends to discuss the motivations for business adoption of Web 2.0 tools and technologies, and the barriers to their adoption; the types of tools and technologies involved; the sorts of investments being made; and the ways Web 2.0 is changing the way business is conducted.

Collaboration at Scale: Why Technology Alone Doesn’t Work
Doug Solomon (IDEO), Gentry Underwood (IDEO)
1:30pm Friday, 04/03/2009
The session will address key principles for maximizing the value of technology in Web 2.0 systems that have been derived from IDEO’s own experiences. The decisions made will be illustrated through actual live demonstrations of how these choices have been implemented in an operational intranet.

Guide to Enterprise 2.0 Tools, Frameworks, & Platforms at Web 2.0 Expo

webexsf2009_logo1This is the first in series of posts covering the Web 2.0 Expo starting tomorrow at the Moscone Center, in San Francisco, California. I am very excited about the number of companies offering Enterprise 2.0  tools, platforms for developers and end-(business)-users at the event this year. Many of these companies  have plans to announce exciting new social-sharing features and tools at the show, stay tuned for more details. 

 Here’s a sneak peak at some of the more interesting Enterprise 2.0 collaborative platforms and developer tools at the show this year:

logo_oovoo

ooVoo provides a high-quality video chat and communication service for people to call and connect over the Internet. ooVoo’s technology enables people to experience a face-to-face conversation and share a full range of emotions as if they are in the same room together, whether they are across the street or across the globe.

Huddle.net combines unified collaboration with social networking. The two year old company, based in London UK, provides asynchronous collaborative tools (document management, project management, discussions, team management) and live collaboration (web and telephone conferencing) via their online application and rich API. Huddle’s founder Alastair Mitchell will be talking at Web 2.0 Expo on April, 1st.

vertical_white_bg2MindTouch is an open source enterprise collaboration and community platform that enables users to connect and remix enterprise systems, social tools and web services. The MindTouch Deki i’s built with a Web Oriented Architecture (WOA), enables users to connect teams, enterprise systems, publishing systems, Web services and Web 2.0 applications to create unique content oriented experiences while maintaining IT governance.

ProtoShare

ProtoShare is a collaborative website prototyping tool for teams to build, discuss, and refine clickable website wireframes and their creative design comps. Team members, management, clients, and marketing can all  participate in the discussion at an early stage of the interactive development process. ProtoShare is a web-based tool, it supports a wide range of interactive prototypes, from gray-box wireframing to rich Internet functionality.

dreamface_logo2

DreamFace Interactive  develops and markets an Open Source Ajax Framework for creating Enterprise Web 2.0 Applications and Mashups. The new DreamFace version, called Outsider, allows tech-savvy business people to create, personalize and share their own web applications through a unique and innovative concept called Web Channels.Web Channels are mini dynamic applications designed for change. They incorporate DataWidgets; widgets which use diverse data sources coming from both corporate data and the internet, to display information and interact with other DataWidgets.

coremedia_logo2

Last but not the least, CoreMedia CMS is a content management system powering corporate websites, Intranets, public and high traffic media portals. CoreMedia CMS provides a foundation for strategic content platforms for corporate websites, intranets and high-traffic media portals. Soeren Stamer, German entrepreneur, CEO of CoreMedia and Author of “Enterprise 2.0 – The Art of Letting Go” will speaking at Web 2.0 expo on Wednesday, April 1st.

I’ll be blogging on social media tools and platforms for the enterprise space throughout the show, if there’s an enterprise-focused company/product that you would like to see on here or if you want to tweet up, you can find me at Twitter.com/MiaD

You can also follow the conversation on the Web 2.0 Expo website or on Twitter (#w2e).