January 17, 2012
Statf.ly Simplifies Social Monitoring, Engagement, Reporting & Storage
Statf.ly, a social media management and analytics company just added new quick-switch multi-profile management and unlimited reporting. Targeted to brands and agencies managing brands, new features include team collaboration, unlimited report generation with data point annotation, real time search for both Twitter and Facebook and social data storage for up to one year.
Statf.ly enables users to store Twitter and Facebook history, keywords, and report annotations for up to one year, which is valuable for generating more compelling long term analysis, in depth quarterly reports and annual strategy reviews.
UBER Car Service: A Dream App When Flow & Timing Are Critical
For those of you who haven't heard of UBER, and because of the name, think it's some funky, hip device, think again. UBER is a car service that is as simple to use as calling a taxi. Many higher end car services require you to call them well in advance and they're often fairly pricey.
While UBER is definitely more expensive than a taxi (roughly about double in my experience), it's incredibly useful when you need a more formal sedan for business purposes, when it's late and taxis might take too long to get to you or you're in a location where taxis are tough to find.
I ran into the CEO Travis Kalanick recently on my flight to Paris for the LeWeb conference, the annual renowned Internet, social media & technology event held in Europe every December. The news was that while UBER had already been announced in San Francisco and other cities, Paris was to be unveiled that week as their first European location. And so, I had an opportunity to use their newly launched service in the world's most romantic city.
It was a simple free download onto my iPhone. Once you have the app, you can quickly request a car by telling Uber where you are. If you don't have an iPhone or Android app, you can text them your address. Cars typically arrive within 5-10 minutes. In Paris, it ranged from 6 minutes to 18 although most of the time, it was around the 8-10 minute mark and the accuracy of arrival times was spot-on nearly all the time.
As your driver is nearing your location, you can see exactly where he or she is on the map on your phone (the geo-visual element is part of the UBER app and you can see literally where the driver is down to the street corner, providing constant updates of the estimated arrival time). UBER also tells you the name of your driver and includes a photo so when you walk outside of your venue, you can recognize them more easily.
I also tried UBER to the airport and while taxis charge roughly E65-70, UBER costs around E120 for your black sedan, which of course has a bottled water waiting for you in the seat. For a taxi that may cost around E8-10, I found that UBER charged around E20 but bear in mind that the final cost which is automatically charged to your credit card, does include the tip.
They apparently raise prices for major holidays where demand is going to be high, and did so on both New Years and Halloween. According to the D post, 'when prices are about to surge, Uber sends a mass email out to its users, puts up a blog post detailing the pricing changes, and, barring technical issues, users should also get notifications through the app during times that surge pricing is in effect.'
Uber institutes a "surge pricing" system with the idea that they need to keep cars available for the customers who really want them, so as demand grows, prices would too. From UBER's blog about how surge pricing works:
"Without a surge pricing mechanism, there is no way to clear the market. Fixed or capped pricing, and you have the taxi problem on NYE -- no taxis available with people waiting hours to get a ride or left to stagger home through the streets on a long night out. By *raising* the price you *increase* the number of cars on the road and maximize the number of safe convenient rides. Nobody is required to take an Uber, but having a reliable option is what we're shooting for."
My experiences in Paris were nearly flawless but then again, bloggers and press were given credits so we didn't have to face $200 surge pricing rides and because the service was brand new, there was a lot of availability (60 cars on the ground at launch), which meant that I never had to stand in the Paris winter rain waiting for a half an hour for a car that may never come. We've all been in those situations before and they're not pretty.
So, while my experience was great (and btw, all the drivers were professional, courteous & shared useful information; one even brought me to a local place he knew for a crepe), the economics don't make sense for me to use it at home. That's the issue said a VC friend when I asked him what he thought of UBER. "The economics just don't work."
That said, UBER also gives you a sense of empowerment as well as freedom and control. If you're still at a dinner and don't want to disturb the flow of a conversation, you can simply push a button on your phone to see how far away your UBER car is...based on that information, you can either decide to push the button and order or wait for awhile.
For example, I just opened the app to see how many cars were available in San Francisco and was told that a driver was a mere 2 minutes away.
There's no interruption or need to tell your colleague, business contact or the restaurant manager to call you a cab. Most of the time, you haven't a clue when that cab is going to arrive, not to mention the fact that often you're on hold for far longer than you want, with horrible elevator music playing in the background.
I find that most of the time, particularly in foreign cities, the accuracy of when a taxi will arrive isn't great. UBER can be particularly useful in a business meeting where timing and flow is critical.
I can also see UBER being useful in cities like Los Angeles and Miami where there's more of a "late night" scene and you could share an UBER car with friends to go to your next destination. Other cities where UBER is currently operating is: San Francisco/Palo Alto, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC and as noted, Paris, as of mid-December 2011.
Two other things to note: you can rate the driver immediately after the drive and provide real-time feedback if it didn't go well, which increases the likelihood of the service and quality of the drivers remaining high and improving over time.
Also, in my experience to-date, their customer service has been very responsive. I think if they can get their markets and target audience right and market to them effectively, UBER can be a dream app at just the right (or rather wrong) times.
Here's a link to a video that Bloomberg's Emily Change & Cory Johnson did where they share their own experiences using UBER in San Francisco.
January 08, 2012
Leonard Nimoy & Steve Wozniak Steal the Stage at DEMO Enterprise Disruption
I'm a long time fan of the DEMO Conferences and events and have been attending for well over a decade (since the start of their events really, but let's not date myself that much shall we?). This past week, they held an evening event called DEMO Enterprise Disruption at San Francisco's Temple Bay & Nightclub at was so well organized that it felt like a shorter version of their twice-a-year launch events. (in the states that is as they're now doing events around the world).
Not only was the event well organized with an agenda, but they had incredible food (soups, burgers, sauteeds and sushi), as well as a sake tasting station, wine, beer and cocktails. Fusion.io sponsored the event, who touts speed speed speed as their main value proposition.
They're a pioneer of a new storage memory platform that significantly improves the processing capabilities within a data center by moving process-critical, or active data closer to the CPU where it is processed. They announced breaking a billion IOPS barrier at the event (see full release here).
Also on the stage were student-run companies such as @teamitt who demoed their job app to motivate employees and @diffbot, who is combining news reading with natural language processing, machine learning and robotics.
Sococo, who develops and sells virtual environments for network-centric individuals to work and play (think: combining all forms of communication for employees to collaborate and more), originally launched at DEMO and returned to the stage to give the audience an update. Team Space is their flagship product.
Below, VentureBeat founder & DEMO producer Matt Marshall moderated a venture capital panel with Dr. Forest Baskett from NEA, Chris Schaepe of Lightspeed Venture Partners and Peter Wagner of Accel Partners.
The biggest highlight of the event however was the fact that they managed to get Star Trek hero Leonard Nimoy (aka Spock) and Steve Wozniak (now Chief Scientist for Fusion.io) on stage at the same time to have a "chat." Nimoy also gave the audience a mini-speech about some of the things he's learned over the years, including admitting to flunking Chemistry.
The more amusing part was Wozniak sharing with him the fact that you can easily download translation apps for your iPhone (among other devices) and the awareness for all of us how far away our "app" world was from his. It sounds like he may actually have a "life." :-) Below is a video short of his talk and here's a link to the follow on chat that Nimoy had with Wozniak.
November 28, 2011
Israel On Destination Branding: Giving a Place its Human DNA & Voice
Ido Aharoni of New York's Israel Consulate (aka @israelconsulate) spoke on the BrandsConf stage in late October about a project they did to "humanize" Israel.
They conducted something they refer to as the "House Party" study where they had survey participants create images of what they saw in the "house" of various countries around the world, including Israel.
For example, in the Brazil house, there were images of parties and dancing, in France, symbols which represented romance, Las Vegas, images which represented sin. In the Israel house, there were no images of women and children, but of guns and military.
People were not describing normal every day life in Israel, a clear indication that they had a global perception issue, one which could be rectified with clear communication and engagement to educate people on what Israel was as a "destination brand."
He asked us, if Tel Aviv were a person, would it be a male or female, skinny or fat, fun or serious? "It's important first to learn how your customers perceive you, what they see as your strengths, your weaknesses and your core values," says Aharoni.
Every place has a personality and a DNA and how you determine what it is versus what you want it to be is generated through multiple sources of research, not just one.
For them, they wanted to create a "celebration of core values" for Israel, such as hoping, connecting, family and creating. As a result of the survey and "House Party" study, thjey identified six core areas that were relevant all over the world within the realm of humanizing through broader niche conversations:
1. Hi-Tech and Science
2. Lifestyle and Leisure
3. People and Heritage (diversity). How many people know that there are so many cultures living in Israel -- from Somalia, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Egypt among countless others?
5. International Aid
6. Culture and Arts
He says that they believe in the future of micromarketing, i.e., narrative over argument, engagement over dictation....humanization through targeted exposure events.
Finishing his talk, he emphasized the importance of identifying how you're perceived as a destination brand so you understand where it fits globally vis a vis others. "It's competitive out there," he notes and place branding is not just one country versus another, but it's also perception of a place between counties, cities and regions."
And adds, micromarketing will be key to engaging with your influencers in a world of social media, emphasizing what your core beliefs are, which translate into your brand voice, in their case, a destination "brand" voice.
November 25, 2011
Branding: Unique Voices & Humanization of the Web
Brands are trying to figure it out and get their "head around" community. Yet, community managers don't necessarily communicate with corporate marketing or PR. Someone said on a panel at BrandsConf in New York City in late October that customer service doesn't belong in PR.
I thought, are you kidding? If PR doesn't care about the customer, then companies are hiring the wrong PR people. If PR doesn't live and breathe to make the customer happy because it's something that makes their hearts sing, then they're not in the right job. PR should be instrumental in shaping that "human voice" on the web.
How do brands arrive at their human voice on the web? Dan Neely (@dneely40) CEO at Networked Insights, IBM's Ed Abrahams (@ibm), Oglivy's SVP of Digital Influence Gemma Craven (@gemsie), Jeff Simmermon (@jeffTWC), Director of Digital Communication, Time Warner Cable and Rachel Tipograph (@racheltipograph), Director, Global Digital and Social Media at the Gap discussed highlights, lowlights and provided some of their own tips and lessons learned.
Says Jeff, "The data is just about how stories get told. There's a story that your customers are trying to tell you and when you listen, then you deserve to tell a story back. If effective, you can either be a hero or a loser."
Says Ed, "Your marketplace will tell you what your value is. Secondly, stay true to your beliefs and third, do not be defensive, but rather use that feedback as leverage."
Says Dan, "Make sure your goals are wrapped up in business metrics, not social media metrics. Be real and listen for what your customers want, integrating that into your plan."
Says Rachel, "Define your shared interest in your community and listen to what they want, then deliver that to them."
November 23, 2011
Startups Pitch & Strutt Their Stuff at MUSIC Techpitch 4.5 in London
Recently, The Next Web reported 8 startups had been selected for MUSIC techpitch 4.5 in London. After a series of 3-minute pitches and Q&A sessions, Webdoc, an easy and creative way to share rich-media all in one place, emerged as the winner.
It took place at EMI’s HQ in Kensington, startups had an opportunity to get the word out about their ideas to investors, one of which was an opportunity to participate in an investment meeting arranged by Par Equity, which is one of the largest investment networks in Scotland.
While 3 minutes isn't long (less than half the time of the on-stage DEMO pitches), it is in fact longer than 140 characters. Trust me, I'm a fan of in-depth pieces and features articles; I still have a hard time cranking out short blog posts, yet I'm also prolific on Twitter...tweeting is a great exercise even if you're not a Twittaholic because it forces you to say more with less and trains you to write better headlines.
Enuf said. 3 minutes is enough time for an elevator pitch and most companies don't have them nailed even when they know an investor is listening. Also check out Dave McClure’s 10 tips for the perfect investment pitch.
Other startups which got call outs included Dizzyjam, an online service for independent music artists to create and sell their own merchandise and Hitlantis who presented a unique way of visualizing and discovering new music.
November 17, 2011
Associated Press & Twitter at the Altar? Hardly Hardly...
Just when you think the two shall meet at the altar or even three might meet at the altar, there's a glitch aka one of those social media hiccups that more established companies have a hard time handling.
In the news this week, there's more clashing between social media aka Twitter in this case and traditional media. In other words, the two still don't meet, don't understand each other and the rules are yet to be defined.
According to the Washington Post, Twitter has gone after the Associated Press for upbraiding its staffers for tweeting during Tuesday’s predawn Occupy Wall Street raid, during which AP reporters and many others were arrested. As written up in New York Magazine, the wire service sent its employees this e-mail:
In relation to AP staff being taken into custody at the Occupy Wall Street story, we’ve had a breakdown in staff sticking to policies around social media and everyone needs to get with their folks now to tell them to knock it off. We have had staff tweet — BEFORE THE MATERIAL WAS ON THE WIRE — that staff were arrested.
Crikey. Tweets came pouring out in response. The below was taken from the personal Twitter account of Mandy Jenkins, social media guru for the Huffington Post:
AP staffers scolded for tweeting ahead of the wires from #OWS. http://bit.ly/smSmj8 i.e. The AP tries its damndest to be irrelevant.
Lou Ferrara, who is the AP’s managing editor for sports, entertainment, lifestyles and interactive piped in to comment:
Reason No. 1 why AP staffers should not tweet out news that hasn’t yet been produced on an AP platform, Ferrara said, is that “we put news on our products first. That’s what our customers expect.”
Reason No. 2 is a strong imperative: “As a news organization, our first priority is the safety and well being of our people, and we shouldn’t be putting anything out till we have a clear understanding” of exactly what is going on. That’s standard AP policy for situations in which reporters are taken into custody, Ferrara emphasized, both in the United States and abroad.
Frankly, having formal "control" around this isn't so much the answer as much as it is setting guidelines and letting employees know why random tweeting without knowing the "facts" can be harmful.
I'm astounded still how often Twitter is used at times where it isn't the best platform. I use Twitter extensively and yet sometimes email or text messaging may be a better way to "find out information", clarify it and then send out a tweet...or not.
If you don't understand what's going on, and you're dying to tweet because its so easy to hit that button, perhaps use the 3 minute rule, the one that can save you a lot of hassle later on. Hmm, perhaps I could get a second opinion before I send out a random tweet. Secondly, think twice about what your tweet, which lives on the net forever could meet for your reputation and who you're tweeting about. Third, a direct message, text message or email clarifying the details and getting a better understanding before you tweet is just smart and thorough "reporting." If Twitter isn't reporting when its now breaking news, I don't know what is. Sure, it's a marketing machine, sure it's an engagement tool, sure it's a way to interact with customers and friends, but it's also a short form news reporting tool. (and a great one when you're on the ground, particularly in a crisis situation).
Clearly, I drink the Twitter coolaid and love the tool, but I do think we should encourage people to use the 3 minute rule before they tweet more often, particularly around more sensitive situations, the result of which could just "up" the quality and callibre of the tweets that get sent out.
Quotes and references on the "news" were taken from the Washington Post article who covered this story at length. For the rest of the read, click here.
November 04, 2011
Technorati's Shani Higgins on the State of the Blogosphere
Technorati CEO Shani Higgins presented the annual State-of-the-Blogosphere at BlogWorldExpo this morning. Below are some of the more interesting stats Higgins released in a shotgun array of slides after slides with stats after stats.
When Mitch Joel, who has been blogging for about as long as I have, asked "what defines a blog today? Is Huffington Post a blog? Is an economist who presents an opinion on a site that looks like a blog a blog? Says Higgins, "the independent web is what blogs are...." In other words, not necessarily controlled by a brand or a publisher.
Of bloggers today, 61% are hobbyists. Professional part-timers make up 13%, corporate bloggers make up 8% and entrepreneurs, which is a new category this year is roughly around 13%.
Of bloggers geographically, 50% of bloggers still comes from the US, which apparently hasn't changed much from last year. 65% are aged between 18-44 years old and 59% are male, which is down by 5%, meaning more women are blogging than last year this time.
An oustanding stat is that on average, bloggers have 3 blogs, 50% have been blogging 4+ years, 80% have been blogging 2 or more years, 44% blog 2-3 times per week or more, with pro segments blogging daily. One third of bloggers work in the mainstream media as a writer, reporter, producer or on-air personality.
Reasons Why People Are Blogging:
- To share their expertise and experiences with others – 70%
- To become more involved with their passion areas – 58%
- To meet and connect with like-minded people – 50%
- To gain professional recognition – 42%
Success Metrics - how bloggers measure their success in order of importance:
- Personal satisfaction
- Number of unique visitors
- Number of comments
- Backlinks from other bloggers
Social Media Use:
- Google+ = 66% of probloggers (58% of all bloggers are on Google+)
- Facebook – 92% of probloggers
- Twitter is used to promote their blogs: 71% of all bloggers agree, and 90% of all probloggers agree.
- Facebook – 50% of all bloggers have a separate account for their blogs, 75% of all probloggers. Of this group, bloggers are primarily using Facebook to promote their blogs. 37% of all bloggers say they link their Twitter & Facebook accounts.
- Google+ users, 10% of all bloggers have a separate account for their blog, 27% for probloggers. Bloggers who primarily use Google+ to promote their blogs is 27% of all bloggers, 45% of probloggers. Only 13% of this group syndicate their content.
LinkedIn comes in after Facebook, Google+ and Twitter and Digg fell below Tumblr and Foursquare.
Social Media Drivers - in order of driving traffic:
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Stumble Upon, Google+, Tumbler, Flickr, Yelp, Vimeo, Plaxo, Picasa, Orkut, MySpace, Friendsster, Foursquare, and Delicious, with Digg coming in last.
The number one influence for bloggers is other bloggers. In other words, 68% of bloggers look to other bloggers which determine things more than anything else aka "the influencers influence the influencers" says Higgins.
Brand behavior is important, but just how important is the perception of the brand to a blogger? And, what is a blogger prepared to accept on their blog? Compared to last year, bloggers have increased their criteria for the kind of brand they're willing to accept on their blog. Whether bloggers are influenced by a brand or company’s behavior:
- 25% encouraged other bloggers to discourage other bloggers from using a brand.
- Bloggers still boycott products and write about the fact that they boycott products and companies.
The biggest complaint is that 60% of bloggers feel they are treated less professionally by brand representatives than traditional media, down from 64% in 2010, which isn’t significant.
- 15% of bloggers characterize their interactions with brands as very favorable.
- 34% of bloggers characterize their interactions with brands as favorable.
- 51% want to work with brands directly
- 49% want to work through an intermediary.
There are mixed reviews on brand interactions: less than 25% say brands provide value, or are knowledgeable about their blogs. In describing the communications bloggers receive from brands, bloggers felt that brands are not very knowledgeable about their blog, their content and blogging style, nor are they genuinely interested in learning about their content and what they cover. In other words, brands have to work much harder and get more personal. And, I'd add, listen.
86% of bloggers disclosed that a post was sponsored or paid.
58% disclosed they had received a product they reviewed.
The highest is product reviews, followed by sponsored posts, focus groups and spokesblogger or brand ambassador in that order. In terms of what their audience liked the best of this list, it was product reviews.
Tools that Brands Use:
Blogger outreach 12%
Majority of the above have only been using social media for only 1-2 years.
34% of them have their own blogs.
- 4% of all bloggers and 37% of full time pros say blogging is their primary income.
- 14% receive a salary for blogging with the average being around $24K, the highest report was $140K.
- Display ads represents 34%
- Affiliate ads: 31%
- Search ads: 27%
- Paid Posts: 34%
- Spokespeople: 5%
The following results came from bloggers when asked what was the fee they’ve been paid for a single instance of the following:
- Being a brand or product spokesman: $1,365
- Paid to give speeches: $1,560
- Paid to attend events: $1,018
- Paid for a broadcast media appearance: $796
- Received an item of high value to review or endorse: $409
- Print or other media contributor: $935
November 03, 2011
What is REAL Influence? Will Klout & Other Tools Define & Control You or Will You Define Them?
There's been so much buzz -- on and offline -- about Klout's decision to unveil a new formula which supposedly recalculates scores more accurately, the result of which brought most people's "popularity" scores down a few notches, including my own.
While I think what the guys over at Klout are trying to do is admirable and truth be told, we need really smart analytics and measurement tools to break through the noise, what we have today simply isn't accurate enough or "whole" enough to give us the real truth on who's influential and more importantly, in what circles and why.
Wouldn't it be more interesting to know who had a Klout score of 80 in food and wine, 80 in social media, 80 in fashion, 80 in politics and so on?
Wouldn't it also be more interesting if tools like this took into consideration a person's offline influence as well as other things they may have done, such as a bestselling book or created a program that made an African village sustain itself?
Part of the issue is that we're early and all of the vendors trying to innovate in this area are trying to figure it out. I spent time talking to Klout's CEO and founder Joe Fernandez in Dublin recently at a web conference and I think he's a great guy who's trying to do the right thing.
I jokingly complained that I've seen 21 year olds who are new to social media, new to Twitter and new to business whose Klout scores have been higher than mine on some days. There are many things they take into account when dishing out a Klout score, including the level of engagement. Crikey, if you're my niece's age and have thousands of Facebook friends who have a ton of time on their hands and can chat away all day with their friends, regardless of how big the circle is, then no doubt, that online "activity" gets engagement brownie points which goes into the Klout analysis.
While engagement could be high in this 'circle', it is its own ecosystem and the real question is: will this voice influence a certain number of people to buy a certain product or take a certain that builds brand awareness?
I have 3 Facebook pages attached to my name, all of which are mine, but I don't get credit in the Kloutsphere for any of them because they can only give you points for one Facebook account - your personal one. When I asked Joe about this, he had a logical explanation. There are far too many people managing a celebrity or brand's Facebook fan page and they shouldn't get credit for that level of influence when the page is about someone else. Fair enough. But what about those whose Facebook pages are legitimately connected to themselves? Small business owners would also fall into that category.
Yet, despite the fact that the numbers aren't accurate or "whole," tons of vendors and brands are jumping into the lions den and testing things out. Frankly, there's nothing wrong with that. With every evolution and revolution, you need to learn by trial and error just like we did with email after fax, blogging after websites and Twitter after AOL IM.
One of my issues is how much credence we (as an industry) give these early tools and how much of a time waste they are for so many I know including me at times before I kick myself back into perspective, nevermind the cultural impact which has quite honestly turned into a popularity contest. I feel as if everyone is competing to be Ken or Barbie and we're back to high school behavior in a way that's not healthy.
Scores are one way for brand marketers and PR folks to create a list of targeted bloggers and tweeters they can go after, aka a list of the most influential voices who must hear about their product or service. I get it as I've been on the pitching line - both in front of it and in recent years, on the receiving end with We Blog the World.
As Geoff points out, the most influential people in any given sector aren’t necessarily on social media. They hire other people to serve as community managers. As one example, Klout only gives President Barack Obama an Influence Score of 48.
While we do need analytics and tools for measuring, they need to take offline influence into consideration as well as more complex elements and texture that can extracted from people's social graphs.
It's time to bring in the socialogists and anthropologists. One of the best talks I've heard in awhile on a Web-something stage was in October at Web 2.0 Summit by Intel's Genevieve Bell, an Australian born anthropologist and researcher. She is the director of Intel Corporation's Interaction and Experience Research and her talk was begging the question: what if we built data for humans rather than devices?
Looking at data from an anthropoligical and "human" perspective (bring on more women please), means that we can take the science out of the analytics just long enough to get the pieces that make up the multiple facets of what makes someone who they are into the "measurement" pool.
Christopher Poole (aka @moot69 on Twitter) also raised the point at the same conference that who we are online may not necessarily be who we are offline. In other words, my social graph online may be very different from who I am in my personal life or frankly want to be...the games we have to play with social media to be part of the conversation -- authentic voice or not -- in order to keep up with metrics and measurement are currently robotic and linear at best.
Relationships are what really matter and building them take time. I've been working on (yes, while I LOVE it, it's work and takes time), building relationships for over twenty years and yet, my Klout score is lower than someone who's barely been in business or is even old enough to have a relationship with someone longer than a few years of their adult life.
Geoff also refers to this in his post: "without a relationship, it would be extremely hard to get that high scoring influencer to invest energy into your effort. Instead you would have to focus on the magic middle and build your own influence from the ground up."
Gavin Heaten refers to Granovetter’s “strength of weak ties”. While the original post is now a few years old, his point is still relevant. "Social influence and its impact on action is determined by a large number of “weak ties”. So those blogs which are built around an identity which is well-known to its audience (strong ties) is less likely to carry social influence."
Yet, buzz agents, PR people, marketers and large brands are deciding who's influential or beyond that, who can move their brand or sell products inside that brand....all based on these scores.
I went to the Travel Blog Exchange (known among those in the biz as TBEX) in Vancouver for the first time this past year and it was loaded with travel vendors, resorts, hotel chains, restaurants, retailers and more vying for travel blogger's time and ultimately "ink."
While I spend a few hours a day nuturing a travel and culture blog, I also run a business. Many of these bloggers are doing this full time so are spending a lot of time gathering content from the world's most popular destinations and there is an inherent value in that. Yet, many of these 21-25 year old bloggers are enjoying free trips around the world on some brand's dime based on Klout scores and other things like it.
Fair enough, trust me, I wish blogging were around when I backpacked through SE Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe when I was 22. But I think some other form of value will be necessary in the future as online publishing is being rewritten.
I often wonder if I were blogging and tweeting at 22, whether I would have spent less time chatting with a villager next to a fire on some remote mountain had I been loaded down with technology? When I went on those adventures, I wore nothing but a mid-sized rucksack on my back and an old Fujica AX3. My main consideration was making sure my film didn't get roasted in the Southeast Asian sun or when I went through security lines at airports.
Today when I travel, Foursquare and Twitter (via Hootsuite) are close companions. I often tweet in real time as I'm walking down an escalator and see something interesting and at times, can get so wrapped up in following streams, that sometimes I forget to have a conversation with the guy from Chicago or Tokyo standing next to me.
It's far too easy to get caught up in check-ins, status updates and Klout scores and there's no one who can disagree, that its addictive. It's precisely what makes gamification a godsend to marketers today. And yet with all these distractions, what are we losing and are we forgetting what "real influence" and "real relationships" are in the process?
Refer to my Google+ blog post which talks about data overload and over consumption.
Two decades ago, I would have had a Klout score of zero in the travelsphere and yet by the age of 25, I had been to more places than many travel writers at magazines and newspapers I met along the way.
I didn't spend any time building relationships with influential 'travel sources,' but with the locals I met en route and here is where I captured magical stories, most of which were written down in an old fashioned diary every night by a fire or from a rickety bed.
I would argue that in a world where the lines between marketers and content creators and publishers are muddy, that large brands should ask for more than a little link love, or a certain number of tweets. How about strategic feedback based on years of valuable insights, experience and perhaps connections to people where both sides benefit in a mutually positive way? Airlines take note. It's not rocket science, it's called listening to your customers, and not just those with high Klout scores. Pay attention to what customers are saying -- on and offline -- and implement changes so they're singing your praises alongside your marketing department.
Another example of a missed opportunity for "influencer collaboration". This past summer, I was flown out to a conference with about six other bloggers and while I was given hashtag and Twitter data as well as the program in advance, I had no knowledge of who was attending the conference so I could connect with people who shared similar interests and passions in advance.
Imagine the power of my writing a story about the work of a few of the attendees as well as their speakers? Ammunition for selling tickets the following year, especially if a new initiative formed as a result.
At events where everyone is interesting and has a story to share, the magic of what can be discovered doesn't always happen on the stage. 90% of my best stories are gathered off the stage and compelling input is often found from those who are not asked to speak or haven't written a book.
And, did those speakers who authored books know the bloggers and journalists who were attending? They should have known in advance so they could have taken the opportunity to send us a copy of their book to read before their presentation. Insights would have been much deeper and after-the-talk conversations much more powerful.
Sure, we all could have done our own homework and sure, if we were interested in a particular speaker over another, we could have proactively ordered their book on our own. That's not my point. In a world of over data and over pitching, we need aggregators and curators, and human ones are often the most powerful ones.
Proactively faciliating those connections in a way that is more powerful and intimate increases the likelihood of more stories, especially ones may include more depth and texture.
I think that marketing and PR people have to not only become content creators on multiple channels but also strategic faciliators, aggregators and curators as well. I also think that asking bloggers, tweeters and other online influencers for input into their processes, products, services and ways of communicating will be critical to making this new ecosystem purr.
Events like TBEX for the travel industry, BlogWorldExpo for bloggers and social media addicts, TED for those who thrive on ideas and innovation, DAVOS for those who are participating in the global economy in some way, the national auto show for those who live and breathe cars and thousands of others were created for a reason. Sure, someone thought of an event that would draw people together including sponsors and they could profit from the outcome.
But the real draw for those who attend, even those who fork out the money to host, is the networking and the value of that "in-person" networking over the years. It was one of the reasons people were so upset when COMDEX died, the largest computer show of its kind in the U.S., an event that drew together anyone and everyone who mattered in the industry once a year in the ugly sprawling city of sin Las Vegas.
There, we built a community, and old timers still talk about memories they shared -- in the flesh, not online -- where stories, drinks, food, dancing, ideas, demos and deals were all shared. TED is a great example of a community which has been created both on and offline, and now extended through TEDx events throughout the world.
Relationships are built by investing time in people. In Dublin recently, a group of us were brought to the Irish President's residence and a day earlier, we all listened to the Trinity Orchestra at a college older than the U.S. - there's nothing in an online world, social influence or not, that can take away from those shared memories and moments, some of which may have showed a precious vulnerable side to someone you dare not share online for online is not where that "exchange" belongs.
A deeper dive into what really makes up influence, which includes trust, will improve the current ecosystem we now embrace. It may also change the cast of characters we currently hold in high esteem when honesty, real openness and "human influence" replaces old schoolXYZ networks that keeps things in status quo, maintaining the same dozen voices we hear from again and again, particularly in the online publishing world.
Here, Geoff is spot on when he says "when we focus on influence rankings — tools that quantify a media form’s participants like it was run by journalists — we walk away from the basic truth about these particular types of media. They are relational. They are SOCIAL media.
So, by focusing on lists and not dialoguing and adding value through relevant content and investment, a practitioner is not present. Their effort is bound to have fundamental weaknesses. Building relationships in real life at events, meetings, and through social media are the ways to cultivate better influence.
And oh man, I love his ending: "what is the real reason to quantify big social media influencers? If relationships are your desired outcome, why waste time?"
We've paid so much attention to data for data sake and the last century has paid an unfair advantage to scientific knowledge and stats, that we need to rewrite the rules of what holds value in and out of the boardroom. Francis Cholle in his book The Intuitive Compass takes 223 pages to tell you why our intuition (the quadrant which is defined by relationships and creativity) is critical to succeeding in the next century. (book review coming on We Blog the World before the end of the year in the Books category).
A fundamental question to think about is this: will Klout & other measurement tools like it define and control you or will you define and control them? If we are to innovate, shouldn't we step up and tell the data what really matters? In a Genevieve Bell world, we'd start with humanity and relationships and build up and out from there.
Photo credits in order of appearance: Garagehangover, Obama shot unknown, John Ryan & Associates, a Facebook stream, Selfleadership.com.
November 3, 2011 in America The Free, Europe, Magic Sauce Media, On Blogging, On Branding, On Geo-Location, On Innovation, On Journalism, On People & Life, On Social CRM, On Technology, On the Future, PR & Marketing, Reflections, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 31, 2011
GigaOm Event on Nov 10: How will Connectedness Transform Everything?
Blazing fast networks, cheap silicon, always-on devices and a torrent of data will fundamentally change everything — how we consume media, how we work, how and what we buy, and even who we are.
They plan to expore how connectedness will transform every industry and facet of life.
Here's a snapshot of the opportunities they plan to examine.