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.
October 18, 2011
Mary Meeker: Silicon Valley Innovation May Be Unprecedented
Full of not only data but lots of fascinating commentary and unique perspective, she gave the audience depth and texture over the last year in the areas of mobile, social media, ecommerce, real-time data, advertising and the economy.
She covered the following areas:
1. Globality – We Aren’t In Kansas Anymore…
2. Mobile – Early Innings Growth, Still…
3. User Interface – Text - Graphical - Touch ���- Graphical T ouch / Sound / Move
4.Commerce – Fast / Easy / Fun / Savings = More Important Than Ever…
5. Advertising – Lookin’ Good…
6. Content Creation – Changed Forever
7. Technology / Mobile Leadership – Americans Should Be Proud
8. Mega-Trend of 21st Century = Empowerment of People via Connected Mobile Devices
9. Authentic Identity – The Good / Bad / Ugly. But Mostly Good?
10. Economy – Lots of Uncertainty
11. USA Inc. – Pay Attention.
We learn that Apple, Google, Amazon.com & Facebook remain the mega leaders.
81% of Internet users are outside the U.S. The below shows you usage in the U.S. versus rest of the world.
In other areas of global trends, mobile is booming. As astounding stat: 200 MM farmers in India are receiving government payments and subsidies via their mobile phones. Also, in China over three years, they added more Internet users than exist in the U.S.
Social networkers as of October 2011 by country below. You may be surprised to see Israel, Argentina, Turkey and Chile in the top four. You may also be surprised to see how far down the list the U.S. ranks.
Below shows interesting stats of UK-based Shazam (sound recognition and music discovery), Swedish-based Spotify (music discovery and streaming), Israel-based Waze (driving navigation) and European Soundcloud (sound discovery and sharing). The numbers are astounding and show a huge trend towards "creative discovery" on the web.
She notes that while iPods have changed the media industry and iPhones ramped even faster, iPad growth has gone through the roof. She also shows us that Android growth was bigger than we may have imagined (even faster than the iPhone).
Overall, mobile usage is exploding. It's big and its growth isn't slowing down anytime soon.
This is kind of a scary slide, suggesting that perhaps Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs needs to be revisited. This thought process hasn't hit the third world yet despite the explosion of mobile phones, yet I fear that Maslow's new hierachy of "musts" in Silicon Valley has already been transformed...from what I see, it may be above food/water but below shelter in some cases.
For a full peak at her slides, check out Kpcb's site to learn more.
Bill Gross Unveils Chime.In at Web 2.0 Summit
Bill Gross thinks that social media will be the connected issue across the planet that will enable us to communicate, connect and engage. He said at Web 2.0 Summit in his announcement speech of the new social networking service Chime.In, "I believe that social is going to be embedded in every kind of transaction in the next decade."
"There are only two real problems with social media today," he adds. "Relevance and monetization."
He talked about the signal to noise ratio issue that has been raised a lot since the Summit started, which Twitter's Dick Costolo addressed as well (last paragraph).
"We need better filters. Any system that has a billion people contributing to it is going to have a serious signal to noise problem. In addition to relevancy, there's the monetization piece. Some revenue needs to go to publishers and content creators and that isn't happening in a real way today. The people who make the great content don't participate it."
They hope to address that with Chime In, what Bill refers to as the first interest network. By focusing on your interests, you can get more relevant information in the way of streams that you follow every day.
You can just follow part of a person or the whole person. You can choose a chime thread, all of this addresses relevance. For example, you may want to follow Dennis Crowley's thread on LBS but not necessarily on fashion.
On the monetization page, you can customize your page with your favorite chimes, sponsors, polls and as a publisher, you can earn the revenue from that page: 100% if you find your own advertisers. Publishers can make money alongside the content they create. Ahhh, life as it should be.
They've already signed deals with E-entertainment, Bravo, Disney, Comcast and others are are going into beta now. See Harry McCracken's write-up on the new service on CNET.
Web 2.0 Summit Kick Off: Twitter, Yahoo, eBay, Bluefin, Intel, Salesforce & More
Web 2.0 Summit kicked off yesterday afternoon at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. John Battelle and Tim O'Reilly are master curators of some of the best minds and storytellers in the technology industry, throwing CEOs of major corporations on stage to answer business and technology questions together with start-up entrepreneurs, an Intel anthropologist and a fireside chat between John Heilemann and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.
I spent my time listening, shooting and tweeting more than I did taking comprehensive notes, but here's a few memorable quotes and takeaways from day one.
Sean talked about how much easier it is for the independent artist to get noticed using social networks today. "You can take an artist to a number one position fairly quickly. I don't understand why any artist would sign on with a record label today. As an artist, if you're functional and don't have a drug problem, there's no reason why you can't pull yourself up as an artist today.
Artists today can be in charge of their own destiny. Maybe later on, you can sign on later on for distribution on Amazon and foreign markets, but not at the beginning."
He says that Spotify is an attempt to pick up where he left off with Napster. Parker also shared his thoughts on social networks and Facebook in particular, denying a down and dirty fight with Zuckerberg on Hollywood streets. On Facebook, he says that there's a balancing act between active and passive sharing and felt that they don't give users enough control. He adds, "the concept that the best content rises to the top can only work if there's a conscious definitive and targeted decision about where your content actually ends up."
He was very deliberate about where he sees eBay playing today and in the future. He says, "eCommerce and retail are crumbling fast. People can now access information with red laser and do product exploration in the store in real time. We're taking all of our properties that we have and putting them onto one open platform so developers can build.
Consumers can now take a photo of a UPC code using Red Laser and see what retailers have it locally. With one click, you can buy it locally or click on Paypal and order online. This is huge innovation in retail which hasn't really moved at all in twenty years."
He continues to reference an example of how bad the search experience is today for fashion. "You don't go to Google and type in blue shirt and expect to get what you want. You can search by images today and get "like-products" based on an image you choose and like. Image-based search will be huge in the future, especially in fashion."
On how they compare to Amazon, he nailed it from a marketing perspective. Rather than get caught with his pants down on what they're not doing right, he fixated on the fact that they don't compete with retailers so they're knocking at their doors. He says "we are not a retailer and never will be. Technology is having a huge impact on their businesses and they need help. We can provide that." He also noted how huge mobile has been for them and will continue to be, throwing out a staggering stat: eBay sold 2,600 cars from their mobile app alone in a day.
"You can make a direct connection between user interest and engagement," he says emphasizing how important social media is and will continue to be for their enterprise customers.
"Companies must embrace social media or embrace the consequences," noting that when issues arrise today in corporate America, crisis is accelerated in a very public way via social media that didn't happen ten years ago, even five years ago.
Marc told Toyota that they should have a car called the Toyota friend. "I want to have a conversation with my car...car manufacturers should have social cars."
Aside from his emphasis on getting their enterprise customers to not just adopt but take social media seriously, he added that he has bought into gamification as a layer on top of businesses and the increasing importance of it in the future.
Ross said he joined Yahoo for a very specific reason: to build great products, build them across platforms including their own, personalize those products for their users and then program those products. He also noted that its the best job he's ever had, "not easy, but the best."
"A black box won't solve everything...there has to be a human touch.
The signals we give off today are about getting the right content to consumers and the right opportunities to advertisers."
When asked What is Yahoo today, a question that arises at nearly every industry conference, Ross says: "Yahoo is a really rich premium, personalized experience for consumers on every platform." Yawn.
Marketing spin and well rehearsed but it doesn't really paint a rich textured picture of who the company is nor does it show me a sustainable business model. Onward.
Poole focused on identity and the mediocrity which has been created around it. "Who am I on stage is very different than who I am in my personal life," he says.
"There are so many lenses of who I am but Google and Facebook wouldn't want you to believe that. In their world, we're merely a mirror.
Facebook treats our identities like mass market fast food. I have more choices in the eye of a toothbrush in a shopping aisle than I do in how to express myself online."
Strong statement and at that juncture, I wasn't sure where he was going, but his message got stronger. On Google+, he is spot on. "They've just copied the same broken model that Facebook created. You can incorporate identity without giving up quality, but give users a choice."
He goes on, "Facebook and Google (with Google+) are dictating how we share our identity and our creativity...consolidating our identity and making us so much more simple than we really are. We deserve choices and options. Over time, our identity is being eroded by large industry players and how can we, as an industry think this is a good thing?" Hear hear Chris. Hear hear.
In other words, Silicon Valley and other early adopters, stand up to the giants and demand higher standards than what we're being dished today, including how we're told to behave, what we can share, how we can share and with who, down to the exact number of "friends" we're allowed to have.
Deb showed some very cool visualizations of what they're doing with TV data in case you ever wanted to know what TV programs diet coke lovers watch. He says, "it is now possible to link impressions to expressions."
They take content from TV stations and build out a semantic content graph of TV and the social web, resulting in what they claim is the most comprehensive semantic index of TV online today. They call it the TV Genome.
Through their live feeds, they're adding 200K shows, 2 million ads and 40 million links per month. Show by show, they can create graphs that show the number of impressions versus expressions, focusing on expressions whereas Nielsen focuses on impressions.
He says, "this view is a different window of consumer behavior and their mindset than what has been offered in the past, which will be a game changer. We're building out a data audience sentiment, so that within the TV Genome, brands can decide where they want to put their time and effort."
I loved what Geneieve brought to the table, which was a look at data from a human perspective. As an anthropologist, she asked the question, "who is data? rather than what is data?"
There are things in our life which will only want to be physical data, she notes, not digital data, such as buddha statues for example.
"Data loves good relationships," she says. "And, data needs to be social, have a country (a home) and be feral. By this, she means that data will run wild, beyond the current boundaries of what we now imagine. We will have to think about privacy and security differently within this framework.
She also adds that "data has responsibilities. We have to tell a story in the right spirit, in the right place, and to the right people. Data also likes to look good. People are always actively choosing how we represent ourselves online," noting that in the online dating world, 100% of Americans are known to have lied on their online profile. In the UK, it is about 60%.
She ended her presentation with a provocative question which I felt could have been a talk on its own (a nice, long healthy interactive talk): "What if we designed for data the way we design for people rather than for devices?" All I could think of was "crikey, we need more women in this business."
Brad centered his whole talk on the differences between digital marketing strategy and digital business strategy and what it means to have both.
"The first rule is around social," he says. "You can't buy friends, even if you give away lots of free things to get them.
You have to ask yourself when you make decisions on social networks to buy influence - 'what does that mean for my business long term?' Business success is driving engagement to your properties if you're a company with many," using MTV as an example.
His best line of the night: "the data has to burst out of its silos and make sense for your business and show an impact. How does it affect your business strategy?" He adds that mobile must be key to your strategy moving forward, suggesting that when you think out your mobile strategy, think about how customers can motivate your brand from a mobile device.
Spoken like a true marketing guy he ends with this: "Today's CMO who owns digital and understands customer intimacy will be tomorrow's CEO." I happen to agree with him.
On how Twitter is going to play and compete in the marketplace, Dick says, "we're going to offer simplicity rather than complexity. Apple thinks about the world the same way.
It's much harder to edit out than add features. Bradley Horowitz talks about Google+ and the fact that they're going to compete on and add more features. Our focus is to compete on simplicity."
There's a lot of signals coming from each tweet. Battelle asks if this is Twitter's biggest challenge? Noted as a significant challenge, Dick says of the 250 million tweets a day they see, that they need to surface that data into something that is more meaningful: global things that matter to everyone and regional things that matter to your own community.
Dick says, "when you only offer authoritative tweets on a topic, then you lose the roar of the crowd. When we do that, we are sucking the life out of an event (i.e., world cup) by taking the volume out. We have to show the volume while also separating the signal from the noise. The key is showing this visually in a way that is compelling and simple. And, we're working on that."
One of their core values says Dick is to "respect and defend the user's voice. Not using your real name means that in countries where you can't speak as freely as you do here, you can speak up." He noted a situation in Tunisia as an example. "We're the free speech wing of free speech," he adds referencing the words of their lawyer.
He ends with more of their core values, getting away from money questions and other controversial topics: "Rather than focusing on a $8 billion market cap, we think about whether we're doing things that we can be proud of as a company and whether we're building things that are sustainable and scalable."
October 18, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Geo-Location, On Mobile & Wireless, On Social CRM, On Technology, On the Future, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
October 14, 2011
Augmented Reality to Transform How We View & Interact on our PCs & Mobile Devices
Augmented Reality (AR) technology enables camera-equipped smartphone and tablet computer uses who have downloaded apps to point to an object and retrieve information.
The apps overlay is what can be seen in plain sight with digital photos, videos, text or more.
Point your smartphone at an Italian restaurant, and diner reviews of its lasagna pop up on-screen. OR, you aim your tablet computer's camera down a residential street, and over images of the houses you see which ones are for sale — along with the asking price, number of baths and square footage.
The technology is called augmented reality, or AR, and businesses are racing to incorporate it in as many consumer applications as they can. It's essentially the same technology TV sportscasts use to digitally paint a first-down line on a football field, adapted and updated for camera-equipped smartphones and tablet computers.
The mingling of the real and virtual worlds works by overlaying what can be seen in plain sight with digital photos, videos or text. It's similar to the sophisticated bar codes known as QRs, but has a much wider range of applications. A QR requires a digitally created image, or code, printed on an advertisement or product.
With AR technology, a consumer simply points at an object to get information. Aim at a house, for example, and find out whether the resident is selling anything on eBay Classifieds. Or point to an apartment building, and find out whether there are vacancies and what the landlord wants for rent. For a more extensive read on this, check out the LA Times from which a summary/overview of this was retrieved.
An interesting and informative video below:
October 13, 2011
Google+ Users in Decline & Google's Management Doesn't Even Use It
Numbers on Google+ were on fire when they first unveiled with traffic spiking a wopping 1,200% in the first few days following its public launch on September 20, but has since plummeted by 60%, according to a report from Chitika, a data analytics company.
Chitika tracked Google+ traffic before and after the social networking service opened its gates to all users. According to a Mashable post on Google+ traffic trends, Google CEO Larry Page revealed the Facebook-challenger had 10 million users who share 1 billion items each day in mid-July. The most recent unofficial count pegged the number of Google+ users at 43 million.
And yet, what's interesting if you look at the infographic below. Look at how few Google execs in management actually use the tool with the majority of them being at zero.
If they're not embracing their own coolaid, how do they expect the rest of us to? Fear for being left behind and out of the Google (SEO) fray is what is bringing some on board, but what a tactic. See my original Google+ blog post on why I have issues despite liking some of the things they have done and are doing.
Hootsuite on Fire with Acquisitons & Integrations
Among the new developments are a geo-location marketing tool, LinkedIn Company Pages and Groups, and tools for monitoring Twitter trends and archiving Tweets.
Each of these additions will help brand marketers increase communication and understanding of audiences as they participate in the conversation.
HootSuite acquired Geotoko – a location-based marketing tool – rounding out the existing geo-location capabilities in the dashboard.
They also added deeper LinkedIn integration with the addition of LinkedIn Company Pages and Groups, along with Profiles.
These features will help companies enhance sales lead generation and HR recruiting efforts by sharing professional expertise, publishing company status updates, and promoting job opportunities – all from a centralized, secure communications hub.
HootSuite also acquired What the Trend, a web service which shares user-defined explanations of trending topics on Twitter. This tool provides constantly updating, crowd-sourced definitions and explanations for why the topic is trending. WTT is already in the dashboard, take a look when you search.
HootSuite acquired TwapperKeeper, a handy tool for tracking campaigns, and collecting all related Tweets in a “scrapbook.” Expect to see this functionality added to HootSuite for another way to save your stream.
October 07, 2011
Great Women at WITI: Isn't it Better to Have a Life of Oh Wells Than What Ifs?
Clearly I don't get to New York often enough, by now I would have met writer and products guru Maya Baratz, who is currently working on new products at The Wall Street Journal.
She started out by asking the nearly all women audience at WITI (Women in Technology International): How many of you are still waiting for your mentor? How many of you spend your time trying to prove someone wrong?
Mentors were a common thread throughout her talk. It's not that she doesn't believe in having them, but if you can’t find a mentor, don't wait around to get ahead.
"Waiting for a mentor is like waiting to follow someone else’s lead," she says. "Follow your own."
On innovation, she says, "innovation is about being unreasonable and along the way you sprinke it with reasonable."
She encouraged the women in the room not to be reasonable. "You don’t need to succeed," she says. We can fail. Women are shy of taking big risks and want to ensure they can succeed before moving forward.
Hear hear Maya. And to add to that, not only are women more afraid to fail, but they're more likely to hold back when they've accomplished something great. Many entrepreneurs will tell you to fail fast, early and often.
Failure is nothing more than feedback. And, when you do succeed, she encouraged, "don't just move yourselves forward, but move your female colleagues forward with you."
AND, taking risks was emphasized and re-emphasized. In other words, isn't it better to have a life of oh wells than what ifs? True innovation is about taking a leap of faith and that almost always means taking risks which can lead to failure.
"When you do fail," she adds, "speed up your recovery process. You shouldn’t spend your time reacting to failure. If you get stuck on the anger side, you’ll probably be stuck there for awhile. Leading a proactive life is dusting yourself off, getting up and trying again."
Women-led start-ups fail less than men yet women make up less than 10% of venture-backed startups.
The bottom line is that we don’t toot our own horn which makes us feel a lot more boxed in. We also don’t have role models to look up to....at least not enough of them.
It’s important for every one of us to tell our own story and get it out there, embrace what we've accomplished rather than be afraid of it.
She spoke of actionable things we can do now to further our lives. I can't agree enough that this is what it takes to grow. There's nothing truer than this (and having the our belief systems) to get ahead. We can have dreams and goals but if we don't get them down on paper and take steps to get there, it won't happen. When we have a little "win", it's human nature to own that win and use it as ammunition to move forward. It works for me.
I call them baby steps. Rather than think of the magnitude of the project OR all the potential obscacles that could get in the way OR the skillsets you don't have, just act. Baby steps are important because baby steps = action and action leads to results.
It's a bit like serendipity versus having a strategy, where serendipity is reactive and strategy is being proactive, infused with passion of course. Ask yourself what action can you take to make things happen?
Says a woman in the audience, "look at the way men talk about entrepreneurship – it’s okay for a man to take crazy risks and put themselves out there." Another truism.
Yet, how many times have we all thrown an idea into the wind and received negative feedback? So have hundreds of other entrepreneurs. Success stories today had dozens and in some cases hundreds of no's before they got to yes.
If it doesn't have immediate positive feedback, it doesn’t mean that its not a good idea. It may just mean that it’s new and it hasn’t been tried yet.
It's also okay for men to get tons of exposure and not just be okay with it but embrace it. I'm working on a photo book and have been turned down by a few women. Two very prominent women in the industry declined because they said they were "overexposed." I was in a bit of disbelief when I heard the response - twice. Overexposed? Really? Would a man decline an opportunity and say I'm overexposed?
Are you kidding I quietly thought when I heard the response. Deep inside, my reaction wasn't quiet - it was miffed, saddened, disillusioned and frustrated. I also couldn't help but feel that important female voices and insights wouldn't be part of an important project. Moreso, as a woman who's struggling to get support and access to great people to make the project succeed, I thought, "am I going to rely mostly on my male industry buds to help move this book forward in places I can't?" Again. (I had to say it, but yes, again).
We need to support and embrace women's journeys around us and there's no better way to do that than to be aware of their journey, where and how they're struggling and step in to help, even if its in a very small way. Baby steps. They matter.
It's also important that in the entrepreneurial process that we don't self judge ourselves but even moreso for women.
Obviously it's not the first time I've attended women events and conferences. I have been a regular at BlogHer since the very beginning, have been a member and attendee of various women organizations, attended an all girl's school and was active in 4H as a child which, while it wasn't for women only, there were predominantly girls in my club and the same applied to other clubs in my immediate area.
Yet attending WITI, a three-day event full of inspirational women in technology who are embracing challenges and hearing great talks like Maya's and others, is a reminder that while it's not easy out there and we may even recall some of the common mistakes we have made as we hear other stories, its freeing to talk about it and in the process, get feedback. Feedback can lead to action.
Not once in that session did the word confidence come up, not that I remember at least, although it certainly came up elsewhere and throughout the three days. Women don't have enough of it. Period.
I notice lack of confidence more than anything else and not just in business situations but in our personal lives as well. We need to remind women around us that they shine and tell them often.
When I got home from WITI, it was ironic that I ended up watching two episodes of Mad Men, two I had seen before. Yet somehow, watching it immediately after attending WITI made me view it with new eyes. If you're a woman, you can't ignore how women were treated at home and in the office on Madison Avenue in the 50s (and elsewhere in the world). Yet, the writing is so brilliant and authentic, and the program so great, the art wins. The storytelling wins. It was our history. America's history. AND, at least for me, I saw all of it in my grandmother's kitchen, my aunt's house, my school.
Here's one scene from the episode re-watch: Betty's friend comes over to borrow a dress for an occasion and then flops down on the bed as she says, "it doesn't matter, I'm invisible." Women were invisible in the Mad Men era and in some cultures around the world, they're less than invisible today.
Sure, we've made great strides, but we still need to step up, embrace our experiences, share our stories, toot our own horns and take more chances.
While I didn't do individual write-ups on all the speakers and panels, other women who particularly inspired and moved me include IBM's Sandy Carter, Xerox Corporation's CTO and President Sophie Vandebroek, Coca-Cola's CIO Miriam McLemore, professor Diane Pozefsky, AT&T's Alicia Abella and of course WITI founder Carolyn Leighton. (left)
On that note, I'll end with a few reflective, incredulous and humorous quotes to ponder not necessarily in that order: (what do you subscribe to? Feel free to share your own in comments).
"Men are allowed to have passion and commitment for their work ... a woman is allowed that feeling for a man, but not her work" - Barbra Streisand in 1993
"Every woman should have four pets in her life. A mink in her closet, a jaguar in her garage, a tiger in her bed, and a jackass who pays for everything." - Paris Hilton
"The happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history." - George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss
"The strength of women comes from the fact that psychology cannot explain us. Men can be analysed, women ... merely adored." -- Oscar Wilde, The Ideal Husband
"Modern women are just adored. There's nothing but media telling us we're all supposed to be great cooks, have great style, be great in bed, be the best mothers, speak seven languages, and be able to understand derivatives. And we don't really have women we're modeling after, so we're all looking for how to do this.." -- Jamie Lee Curtis in 2010
WITI's Panel on Social Media & Social Enterprise Provides Big & Small Brand Insights
The WITI (Women in Technology International) Summit had a social media and social enterprise panel at their annual event in San Jose earlier this week.
WITI is the premiere global organization empowering women in business and technology to achieve unimagined possibilities.
Financial Times reporter April Dembosky moderated the panel which included Senior VP of HR at Adobe Donna Morris, Coca-Cola CIO Miriam McLemore and Heather Meeker, VP of Corp. Comm at GOGll.
What would your top social media tool be if you had to choose one? Of course, I couldn't choose one since that would be like choosing one medium over another or one audience and not another and nearly every product I've ever represented targets more than one and has more than one need.
They also keep tabs on employees LinkedIn profiles - how they represent themselves and what their interests are. "It's good to know how people are branding themselves," says Morris.
Adobe's marketing obviously uses analytics so they can get an idea of how long people stay on their career site so they can learn what kinds of things they should focus on. Says Morris, "if we see that students are not going to our career site that often, we might put more effort on Facebook & Twitter to reach students."
They spend a lot of time evaluating what tools are actually sticky. She adds, "with LinkedIn, we use measures to attract talent. Being very focused and targeted is very important, so make sure you put measures in place with all those tools, otherwise your approach is very fragmented.”
A question from the audience to Morris about the boundaries of LinkedIn? Is your employee going to be Big Brother or Big Sister, will they get that signal that they’re not as engaged internally at the company?
She says, “all of us are our own brands, we’re all our own agents. It’s up to the company to recruit you on a regular basis. People are not as wise today to keep their brand alive – it’s important for you to keep yourself as an asset. It’s always good to have a choice and it’s great when your choice is your current employer."
We are our own brands and the big brands that get that are the ones that are going to keep the best talent around.
On handling mistakes and marketing issues, what went wrong, what went right? McLemore talked about Coca Cola's Diet Coke and Mentos bottle incident and while the "exploding bottle was getting millions of views over YouTube", they stood back and distanced themselves.
"We kept saying we care about children's safety when it could have been an incredible marketing opportunity for us."
For most marketers, there are a couple of audiences they are trying to reach, but for Coca-Cola, they have dozens of audiences in numerous countries around the globe. AND, that message needs to be consistent.
Think about it. They have investment communities, collectors, sustainability supporters, shareholders, NGOs, the government, fans and health practitioners. "We need to take a much more holistic approach," says McLemore. "People interact with us, but all of them communicate and reach out for different reasons."
She adds, "Spray and pray doesn't work. Liquid and Linked marketing...it has to be linked. We have to have liquid content but it has to be linked so it shows up everywhere. It has to flow. That link for us is storytelling." They can't have completely different messages coming out of Latin America, Europe and the states. AND, they also have to make sure they're consistent on the technology side as well.
While they like to be on the leading edge and use new technology tools in the market, they have to be sure that it scales. Measurement and moderation is big for them so they tend to use much larger companies to handle that for them. They need to be big and robust to be able to handle their needs.
Heather comes out of the start-up world so therefore uses social tools a little differently than a lot of major brands do. She also faces different kinds of corporate communications issues, since it's much harder to build traction and get a less known brand out there amidst so much social media noise.
She echos what Morris says in that we are all our own brands. This is more vital for start-ups and smaller companies.
They use Twitter extensively to reach influencers and monitor trends, but she also uses Google+ to see what early adopters and tech VIPs are thinking and saying. I'm in the same camp of course and utilize both for similar reasons and in similar ways.
"Having a Twitter profile is a huge asset," says Heather. "It’s important for people to see your brand out there on other social networks. As much as you’re allowed to do, you should do. Being a brand ambassador for yourself is very helpful for the brand you represent. It’s a power for building relationships on and offline." Hear hear and spot on.
Great panel and great follow up discussion with attendees in the room who largely came from giant brands, some of which had legal and compliance issues around social media outreach. That said, the playing field has changed and if you're not online and not creating a voice for yourself, someone else will. Don't be left behind.
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