Social Media: my conference take-aways

Another day out the office (I attended Interiors Birmingham Expo last week) and this time for The Future of Social Media conference, hosted at The Cumberland Hotel, London. Social Media is something that has varying degrees of understanding. I’m sure even the the Social Media pros still debate the true definition. Rohit Bhargava summed up Social Media neatly in a couple of words – demystifying the often over-complicated versions:

“Social Media is where people are sharing information socially like comments, discussions, photos, music, etc (not just blogs, twitter, YouTube)”
Rohit Bhargava, SVP Marketing, Ogilvy

As usual I took notes, but in the end I’ve decided to write this post on *just* one of the presentations – actually a workshop – from the conference. Kevin Lawver, Chief Architect, Music Intelligence Solutions entitled: Making Marketing More Human Through Technology

Making Marketing More Human Through Technology

Making Marketing More Human Through Technology

Here are some of my take-away’s from Kevin’s presentation:

  • Social Media is a “Silly Term” – all media is social, all media begs commentary
  • Cluetrain Manifesto (1999) – was a prophecy, not a manifesto
  • Social Media is about the all the conversation
  • Social Media is about: Following them , starting them and joining them
  • Every online community is a tribe
  • Feed reader – get it. It’s the fastest way to scan and track the right conversations
  • Google alerts – important
  • Twitter: The web’s dinner party
  • Constant partial attention phenomenon
  • Starting conversations: get a blog – validate humanity

On Twitter:

  • Don’t just broadcast
  • Be useful
  • Don’t follow everyone
  • Don’t be annoying
  • Do follow those who follow you
  • Offer support where you can
  • Follow: @garyvee, @zappos, @twalk, @railsmachine, @halcyon
  • Twitter’s not for marketing – it’s PR. Some argue that Twitter is Marketing and some argue that’s they’re both (My tweet and the subsequent responses from @EEPaul, @BenLaMothe and @kaigani)
  • Don’t inflict rules for bloggers in corporate environments – they’ll do their own thing.

The future:

  1. Reputation – biggest missing piece out there. Creating ‘Reputation Models’
  2. Aggregators – people love these. FB’s wall is interesting
  3. API Traps – need to make sure that they’re around for soem time – if they go down what happens?
  4. Activity Streams – slow uptake, but people love it.

The Presentation:


The Future of Social Media conference – January 2009

Last October I attended the Future of Social Media conference (FOSM) with my colleague, John Welsh (Digital Director, UBM Information), full of expectation. I was not disappointed. The content and speakers were good and found the practical real-life talks inspiring. After all, most social media-type events cater more for the technical geek-type audiences – not marketers actually going back to an office implementing Social Media (SM) campaigns.

Many questions like: what’s the ROI for SMM?, how does SM actually benefit our business? and commonly how do we actual measure SM success – is there a formula? weren’t fully answered in my opinion. British Airways – on the other hand – was particularly useful – managed to coach the audience through Social Media marketing campaigns like the Metrotwin one.

This years FOSM conference includes a music theme with speaker Spencer Hyman in the line up. A question I’ll have for Spencer is whether the now not-so-recent redesign has had any effect on their audiences?

I’ll be writing up notes from the conference, but only after the talks. Here are the speakers from the conference:

Determining the future and maintaining the momentum in Social Media marketing
Andy Hobsbawn, European Chair,

Counterintuitive new truths of marketing
Rohit Bhargava, SVP Marketing, Ogilvy

The new generation – reaching your audience through Social Media applications
Jackson Bond, Senior Manager Corporate Development, Xing

Understandign and leveraging future online communities
Mark Watts-Jones, Head of Innovation, Orange

Social Media marketing and social music revolution
Spencer Hyman, COO,

The future of search engines – exploring how the future of Social Media will be incorporated into search
Cesar Mascaraque, Managing Director,

A web analytics view of Social Media – the future and the measurement challenges
Vicky Brock, Strategic Programs Director, Web Analytics Association

Establishing tomorrow’s Social Media’s landscape
Hart Cunningham, Founder, PerfSpot
Kevin Lawver, Chief Architect, Music Intelligence Solutions

The full speaker line-up and agenda for this years show can be found on the FOSM website.

Social Portal – Sweetcron

I recently wrote a blog post indicating that I’d look into the new Sweetcron web app. So, over the weekend I dived in and explored its potential.

Sweetcron - Rob Enslin

What is Sweetcron?

A Sweetcron is a free and open source solution for creating a self-hosted Lifestream; a blog-like website that shows your activity across the various websites.
A Sweetcron is very much like a blog that aggregates all your data feeds from your various websites into one site – a website I call my Social Portal. The real beauty of a Sweetcron is the ability to view and comment on individual data-feed inline (no need to wonder off to other websites). A Sweetcron uses the idea of a timeline and gives it the human feel of time progression. Much like the Meghan’s Lifecast where the time is represented horizontally, the Sweetcron uses individual blocks of activity down a mainly vertical axis (is fully customiseable too).

Why do a Sweetcron?

Because like all new technologies it’s important to discover potential solutions. It may not be the perfect type of web app, but with a bit of imagination and business vision solutions will inevitably ‘appear’. This portential is echoed by Web Designer Chris Coyier in his Sweetcron post on Nettuts:
Sweetcron is a relatively new software, but its ease of use, great user interface and extensibility are surely going to be help it take off. I could see it amassing a huge user base and even stealing a little market share away from blogging giants like WordPress.

What you need to setup a Sweetcron?

Unlike many web 2.0-flavoured hosted solutions (WordPress, Blogger etc) Sweetcron relies on you to provide the server platform and setup skills. The hardware/software and skills needed include:
  • Web access – get onto the web
  • Sweetcron signup and email address – download the files
  • FTP access – get the files across to your server
  • PHP Server – runs/understands the installed Sweetcron files
  • MySQL database – a place to store and sort the generated content
  • Text editor – edit the PHP files for configuration
  • Image editing software – amend graphics to personalise it
  • Follow and understand the technical instructions
  • Commenting app (optional) – I used Disqus

Benefits of a Sweetcron?

  • Free
  • Relatively easy to instal and configure
  • Good looking
  • User-generate content in the form of comments
  • Easily customisable
  • Self-hosted
  • Open source and some…


Files and Installation:
Lifestream examples: Chris Coyier, Yongfook, Rob Enslin (me) and Satish Kanwar.

My Social Friday – wiki, sweetcron, ia, contextual ads

It’s 7.00am and it’s a lovely morning in Dorking, Surrey. I’ve left my house and walking to the train station. I’m on my way to London Waterloo via Dorking. I chat a little about what I’ve got planned for the day – my Social Friday (media day).

Other than continuing with all my wiki rollout sessions – getting folk signed up – which is very time consuming, I plan to take a closer look at Sweetcron (The Automated Lifestream Blog) – web app pulling in all types of content – your social identity, news, videos, blog posts, pownce, tweets – personal social portal.

Sweetcron signup

Sweetcron signup

I’m also planning to continuing my work on information architecture documents for a few new projects. This afternoon, I’m looking at‘s spec documents for Firstlight ERA‘s contextual advertising project integration.

I’m really looking forward to it. Hope I can get onto at some point too 😉

Future of Social Media Conference

Future of Social Media

Future of Social Media

On the 28th October I’ll be attending the Future of Social Media conference at the Hilton Tower Bridge Hotel.

I’ll be live-blogging from the event so return to this page on the 28th October…

The program outline:

  • Social Media – Determining the future in times of relentless change
  • 7 Counterintuitive new truths of marketing
  • Assessing the knowledge, attribute and expertise required for future web 2.0 marketers to dominate
  • Understanding and leveraging future on line communities
  • Assessing social marketing tactics in the years to come
  • Guerilla marketing for big business: The liberalisation of online marketing
  • The future of search engines – exploring how the future of social media will be incorporated into search
  • Marketing, PR and Branding – how to internally operate these functions to effectively seize the future opportunity
  • Inspiring insights: unveiling excellence in social media marketing – ensuring businesses recognize and can adopt winning strategies!
  • The future winners and losers – debating the good, bad and ugly of Social Media in the next 5 years

Web 2.0 Expo: learn from the experts

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working on how to develop a social media strategy for an B2B exhibition. Once I’ve learnt how to create a strategy and its been defined I’ll look to integrate it and build it into the existing digital marketing plan. [It hasn’t been easy]

Research research research

I’ve been doing a lot of research on this topic – observing what experts are doing and saying. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time scouring the web, reading books like ‘Web 2.0: a strategy guide‘, talking to folk, reading related tweets (from Twitter) and following the #w2e discussions. It’s been extremely helpful, but I still don’t fully understand a total integratiion path (to creating a strategy). My situation is slightly unique, I think, as I’m not building a social media website – I’m ‘plugging’ social media into an exhibition website. I’m wanted to use social media to build new audiences, communities etc.. to support an existing face-to-face traditional exhibition website. Folk at these exhibitions have been meeting in-person for years – to do business, showcasing their products, be seen to being there, networking, etc.

Look at likeness

So while all my research was taking place I missed one most obvious place – an exhibition/conference website that does social media extremely well (in my opinion) and organised solely for this intent – Web 2.0 Expo New York. The only difference between the two is that Web 2.0 Expo is principally a B2C conference/exhibition whereas my project deals with B2B. I might need to adapt the strategy (perhaps not?), but I think the principle stays much the same (I hope).

Hidden treasures

So, I started looking around the Web 2.0 Expo website and soon found myself discovering ‘little gems’ splattered everywhere. (Doh – why didn’t I think about this sooner?) The most obvious revelation was the ‘Stay Connected‘ table displaying the various ways visitors to the expo can stay in touch and share their experiences. What better way to communicate with your customers (delegates/visitors) than through a multitude of social media communctaion channels. The principle: use the website’s social channels to communicate (and market the event).

The ‘Stay Connected’ table of channels include: Backchannel, Social Network: CrowdVine, Twitter, Facebook Group  Attending? Add to Dopplr, Web 2.0 Expo RSS Feed, Tag with and Sign Up for the Newsletter.

Reversing roles?

So who’s doing the marketing now?

Looking at what some folk are saying about Web 2.0 Expo seems that most of the commentary is positive (Dion Hinchcliffe on twitter for example is just one comment). Even if they’re not directly praising the event they’re giving a tangable and non-commercial feel about the expo. As I’ve mentioned most commentators are raving about the event… essentially doing the marketing the job for Web 2.0 Expo. Simple social media principles – communicate on a local level and ‘trust’ is earned. Take a look at the Web 2.0 Expo hashtag tweets. Even the organiser (w2e_NY08) has helped set a non-corporate tone that resonates with the audience (albeit mostly informative tweets).

This sort of social media integration doesn’t work within all sectors of business (B2B) exhibitions. In the agricultural sector, for example IOG Saltex, customers are not so digital connected or astute (It’s a huge assumption I know). Even so, by tayloring our social platforms to accommodate our customers, it could work. Perhaps we should be looking at de-commissioning traditional marketing techniques as we know it.

What should WE do (or try and do)?

1. Mashup of ideas (social media)
2. Really understand our visitors/customers and their needs
3. Create the social media entities
4. Develop their personalitites
5. Bring these personalities to life
6. Keep listening and talking to your visitors (repeat repeat…)
7. Reward your visitors (incentivise)

Jumping on the social media bandwagon

Social media is everywhere… not more so than in the enterprise environment. Lets face it senior marketers and digital managers need to be involved (or seen to be involved). If you’re thinking about it it’s already too late.

While there’s nothing wrong with engaging your business in a social media soup (Twitter, Flickr, FriendFeed, Ning, Upcoming, YouTube,, etc..), I can’t help wonder how these managers are forgetting that social media integration must form part of a structured content strategy. Successful social media efforts cannot simply be added on to existing products and expect to work perfectly.

Evan Gerber recently wrote and article, Is your brand at social media’s ground zero? where he expresses his concern over brand neglect through badly planned project goals:

Like many other business ventures, a successful social networking campaign revolves around using good information to drive smart decisions. Gather qualitative and quantitative information and then use it to define project goals. An ill-defined project is substantially less likely to succeed.

Ever heard “It looks cool, just put it in the website“, “find somewhere to put it!” or “Just plug it in!“? A common knee-jerk response by many digital managers is to jump on the bandwagon and simply plug these easily-malleable platforms into their websites. Enterprise has been left behind and now needs to catch up. More and more senior stakeholders feel left behind. So, their immediate reactive response is add add add. Everyone’s talking about it so it should be good, shouldn’t it?

Carefully integrated social media efforts can hugely benefit a brand and generate a buzz.