Archive for the ‘Collaboration’ Tag

Social Media: Conversation for the greater good

A friend of mine used to work for the Los Angeles County Department of Health and would often tell me about their proposed initiatives and how they were working on new ways to spread the message about health issues using social media.

Like many companies, they followed the typical route:  creating a MySpace page and/or a YouTube channel, and would regularly publish content. However, unlike most companies, any Health company or Department has the added luxury of having to sell a “product” that is often incredibly “unsexy,” which often results in lower CTRs and a harder sell. They also bear the burden of marketing a product that people are often unable to interact with or, in some cases, are ashamed to interact with.

Think back. How often do you scan the internet, looking for the latest public service announcements? Probably never. And, if you’re like most people, if you do see one on TV, online, or anywhere else, you probably don’t talk about it with your friends or family because it just doesn’t have the same “appeal” as talking about the latest movie trailer or tv show you watched, right? For the few of you who said that you DO actually talk about the PSAs you see on TV with someone you know, 9/10 chance that the PSA you watched had to do with drugs or alcohol. And the person you talked to? Your child/parent/dependent, right?

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Review: Sysomos

sysomosLast week I spoke with Steve Dodd and Nick Koudas of Sysomos, a social media tracking/monitoring service. They walked me through their product, features and showed me how it could be successfully implemented in a business or even by someone with a successful personal brand. Below is my review. Please note that this review is based on a presentation given to me by the Sysomos team, and I have not had an opportunity to actually try the Sysomos product or implement it firsthand.

Structure of this review: I’ve broken down the core elements of the product into categories and have reviewed them based on their merit. I’ve also included a brief review of additional features that are “added bonuses” or things you’d expect to see in a service like this towards the end of the review.

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It’s all about the STRATEGY

True “experts” like Robert Scoble and Chris Brogan have argued that the term “social media expert” is, for most people, a moot title– a point I agree with. In an industry that’s constantly changing, it’s impossible to be an expert in a field that has no predefined boundaries. (Perhaps the only exceptions are Scoble and Brogan, who have proven themselves champions in multiple battles, though the war has hardly been fought). 

With that being said, it comes as no surprise that an article published on cnet today discusses just that: the title, and role, of the social media “expert.” The article, which covers the high ticket price many social media-ites demand(ed) points out many of the flaws many companies are seeing in their current social media “strategy.”

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The Emerging Role: Community Manager

I previously worked for a start-up called, Passenger, where I was as a Community Manager for brands like Nike, JcPenney, and ABC. While at Passenger  I posted to the company blog about the role of a Community Manager. Though the post remains mostly relevant, it does read much like an advertisement (ironic since at the time I clearly remember trying to ensure that it didn’t feel like an ad, but instead embraced the voice of the company, just as any Community Manager would do.) 

I’ve included my post below, and have amended it slightly to reflect my current views, noted in purple

Please note, that this was written while working for Passenger, not Yahoo!, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the company at this time. 

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Practice what you preach

When I attended Graduate school at USC I started to go through the steps of having my thesis published, mostly because I thought it would bring me fame, fortune, and a great job. (Clearly I had no concept of how many people actually read a thesis. For those of you in Graduate school, it’s about as many people as you have fingers on your hands. Advisor, parent(s), significant other, editor, and maybe a roommate). 

Midway through the submission process I stopped because I realized I was losing my mind, and publishing my thesis on paper didn’t really embrace what I had written. My thesis was on User-Generated Content and Viral Media, and it’s Impact on Broadcast and Marketing. I was committed to the fact that the topic was changing, so the medium should be changing. (In retrospect, that’s oh so McLuhan of me).

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Pottery Barn: Where’s your Community?

Back in July I bought my first place– a purchase that has completely changed the way I shop. Now, instead of only perusing stores and websites for jeans, tops, and accessories, I find myself checking out the home section too. I’m excited by looking at paint swatches and watching HGTV’s “My First Place” and seeing how others “pull it all together.” And right now, I’m also quietly obsessed with Pottery Barn. 

Pottery Barn‘s website is pretty robust– they have a “Style House” section that features videos, design tips “for every room,” design tools, and heck, they even have a “furniture facts” section– where you can learn about your new sectional. But what their site lacks is a community element– something that surprised me. Continue reading

Transparency is King

It never fails: as soon as a company decides they need a blog, online profile, or heavy online presence, the first question they ask is: how much do I have to share?

Without a doubt, the response they’ll typically get is: As much as you can.

This gradual shepherding of information into the mainstream is part of what makes sites like Dell’s IdeaStorm a success– the ability to listen and respond is becoming more and more valuable. But just how transparent do you have to be? Naturally, you shouldn’t share anything that is considered a “company secret” or the “secret sauce”– you want to set yourself apart from the competitors, not give your competitors an unnecessary edge.

Open source products only work when the focus is continual collaboration, like freeware or shareware, so unless that’s your goal, it’s best to keep it under your hat.

However, the best things to communicate openly about are bugs, issues, site outages, or the inability to meet a specific deadline. Today, bloggers all over are praising BrightKite for wearing their heart on their sleeve, and essentially enabling users to laugh while being frustrated. Rather than shrinking behind the “its coming soon” moniker like so many large companies, BrightKite acknowledged that yes, they’re behind, and they haven’t released a product they said they would.

The amazing thing about the internet is that it’s powered by people– so when you treat users as people, instead of numbers or earnings, the response is astounding. People are much more tolerant of delays when their patience is acknowledged. Just read some of BrightKite’s user comments, if you don’t believe me:

KJB: Awww… not going to throw the little red fruits… but I am glad there’s an update. Gracias.. gracias.. gracias..
chartier: I’ll second Robb’s comment. Transparency is much appreciated, and the sense of humor is a nice touch. I would much rather wait for good software than download a 1.0 that barely works. Keep up the great work guys!

By addressing the issue up front, BrightKite removed the fuel from the fire, and made way for a different kind of complaint: Did anyone else notice that there’s mo variation in the size of the tomato splatters? Shame. 🙂


Fashion Collaboration

I’ll admit it: I like love to shop. So, when I find a shopping site that enables collaboration I get just a little excited– my two favorite things in one spot… what could be better? 

A prime example of this dynamic duo are the ShopStyle sites– designed for fashion, home, and children, each site also provides a collaborative counterpart that enables you to shop, match outfits, and share your best looks with your friends and other users. Much like a lot of tech sites out there, these sites inform you of what’s hot right now, what other people are buying, and what to watch for.

It’s the natural, online evolution of Cosmopolitan, Glamour, People, etc. but in a more accessible, consumable format, as these sites offer what those magazines’ advertisers can only dream of– point and click purchasing. 

So get out there– start shopping and collaborating, and create your dream look book, or join a trend group.