Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

How Important Is It To “Name” Company Bloggers?

May 15, 2008

I was at an informal meeting today which I quite enjoyed. We had bloggers, client-side people, agency-side people, all of whom were interested in social media. I thought the discussion was generally good, but one question in particular stood out.

Someone mentioned that if hotels wanted to blog, why not get the concierge desk to blog as the stories of what goes on on the ground as well as useful information about the city would be useful and relevant to travelers visiting the hotel or deciding where to stay. It was raised that there could be a number of authors running the blog or just one person, but they should be anonymous. Perhaps blogging as “Your friendly concierge at the Hyatt”, for example.

Bill and Coleman called him out on this and said companies who blog should have full transparency and name their bloggers. But the very reasonable reason of “one day they’ll leave” surfaced, and I’m having a hard time reconciling the two.

On one hand I am a transparency advocate. There are times when anonymity helps (ie when needing to talk about a sensitive issue), but generally for an external blog, I think the public should know who is the person blogging.

But I think the person leaving is a real concern. Take Matt Cutts for example, arguably Google’s “face” on the internet. If for some reason he jumps ship to Yahoo! tomorrow, would that be a problem? Thousands of readers may just migrate over. And who would take over that role at Microsoft and Google? How long would it take the new person to re-build a community?

Of course, I know, Matt Cutts is hardly the best analogy for concierge staff, but you get the gist.

So what would you do if you had to hire a community manager or social media evangelist? Would you be comfortable with them being your company’s Web2.0 “face” online? Would it worry you if they moved on? Would you be confident of replacing them with little to no loss in interest from the community?

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Why Students Should Blog – Almost Winning A T-Shirt!

May 14, 2008

You might remember my “Why Students Should Blog” post in response to HackCollege’s contest. I finally caught up with episode 26 of the Hack College Podcast today by Chris and Kelly, and was thrilled to find that I made the final four to win a Hack College t-shirt!

The segment starts at about 18 minutes and I think the collection of answers are really good. I appear in the episode as a tweet. I know people go on about how social media and blogging and whatnot in North America doesn’t always apply here, but this one does.

In any case, I didn’t win that t-shirt, but dammit I’ll keep trying. Failing which I’ll just buy one for myself when I head up there later in the year. (But that’s not an excuse to not let me win, HackCollege!)

If you want to discover more, check out “The Case For Student Blogging” by HackCollege, I think it’s pretty good stuff. If you’ve been agonising over the perfect phrasing of your resume since forever, why not take a look at this and find a better way to supplement your case for future employment.

By the way, need more case studies on Blogging Yielding Fruit? Look no further than my Social Media Breakfast co-hoster Derrick Kwa who scored one with the one and only Seth Godin, as well as Corvida aka Shegeeks who scored one at ReadWriteWeb.

It’s happening people. Stop ignoring it.

Blogging Yields Fruit (Like An Internship)

May 13, 2008

Remember why students should blog? Well I’m happy to announce that the third internship worked out and I start on Wednesday. Exact details won’t be posted because of confidentiality issues, but suffice to say it’s social media related.

To me the biggest value is to be thrown into the “real world” and see if the stuff I’ve been blogging about makes sense, or am I living in this dream from the outside looking in. Could be a harsh slap of reality, but better now than later.

The downside is that it’s only six weeks (because I’ve committed the whole of July and half of August to my previous employer, MTV to work on the MTV Asia Awards held in Malaysia. That is going to be a blast!

However, rest assured the blogging here will not be changed in anyway. I definitely won’t be blogging about work unless given express permission, and if I do, it will be fully disclosed. I might end up blogging less than normal because of work hours, but that’s what RSS is for! (Don’t know how to subscribe, here’s my handy guide).

Finally, I want to thank everyone who’s been reading, commenting or interacting with this blog in any way. This could be the best blog in the world (it’s not), but if no one was reading it, it would be useful. So thanks for supporting me by reading, talking to someone else about me, attending Social Media Breakfast: Singapore. It’s because of you that I landed this internship. So let me end this post with: thank you for reading

Don’t Look Any Further. Social Media = CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

May 12, 2008

I originally meant for this post to show some excerpts from Pat’s blog today, titled “The Holy Trinity Of Blogging“, until I realised she has it so spot on and so easily understood that there really is little else I could add by posting about it. (That said, do check out the link, relevant to individuals and companies alike.)

But as I sat down to start writing tonight, I realised there’s a bigger question here: Why, out of the many, many links sent to me and blog posts that I read a day, did I want to particularly highlight Pat’s? Someone who I have never talked to online or in person? Of course because it’s relevant and well-written, but there’s something else.

It started with a tweet:

This is the second direct message she sent me, the first was even more targeted, saying something like “for the social media junkie” followed by the URL.

Let’s go back to CRM, according to Wikipedia, it

helps companies understand, as well as anticipate, the needs of current and potential customers.

Isn’t that exactly what happened here? Unlike the mass tweets about a “new blog post” (which I don’t mind at all), this really makes me sit up and take notice, because I know it’s a careful, considered move to bring the level of interaction one step closer (from general tweets to a direct message). And the reason why that step would be taken is because she knows that that post would be particularly relevant to me.

“So what” you say? Well, what if you could do that for your customers? Companies are obsessed about CRM, about data, interactions, trends and the like. And here they are in front of you. What if you knew Person A particularly likes a biscuit flavour that you happen to be bringing in? A personal email with an invite to be the first to taste it? Or an ad in the newspaper in hopes the general population will pick up on it and drop by?

It’s a lot of work, no doubt about it. But hey, people pay money for CRM software and hotels notice how guests shift their furniture so that they can do it for them for future visits. Is this really too much? Especially in Singapore?

How Would You Help Lucky Charms?

May 10, 2008

I know there is a percentage of the population who misses Lucky Charms. That cereal with the marshmallows in the shape of four leaf clovers and horseshoes and stuff like that. I know that because when we were in New York over the December holidays, a group of us consumed it like it wasn’t from this earth. I don’t know why, but the cereal mysteriously disappeared years ago, never to be seen again. I don’t know about you, but Froot Loops took the place of my favourite cereal. Guess I just like some colour in my cereal.

Interestingly, my girlfriend e-mailed the major retailers in Singapore and couldn’t find the reason why it was stopped, but confirmed the fact that none of them were bringing it in.

Until two weeks ago.

Jason’s Marketplace at Raffles City is apparently bringing it in, as well as a whole line of cereal from the same brand.

So the question is twofold: What would you do if you were the agency tasked to bring Lucky Charms in and generate some sales? After all, unless you’re looking out for it, it would be just one of the 34,632 other cereal boxes on the shelves.

And from the other side of the coin, what would you do if you were a consumer wanting your sorely-missed Lucky Charms to reach the shores of Singapore again?

Remember, it’s not about whether it would work, it’s about how you’d use social media from either side of the fence. Or maybe… you wouldn’t use social media at all?

Are You Collaborating Enough?

May 8, 2008

Listening to Marketing Over Coffee on the way home, there was a very small section talking about GoogleDocs and how you can activate a form to collect data for you. It also made me think further on the question about how much we’re collaborating (or not collaborating) online.

We had to create a wiki for our social media class, and of course, wikis tell you how much (or little) someone edited the final output. It was noted that a handful of people contributed the majority of the content, which made our Professor, Michael Netzley, less than thrilled. I brought up the point that though a few people may have been the actual ones to enter the text, doesn’t mean the whole team did not collaborate together. Both sides are debatable, but that’s not the point.

I’m an assistant scout leader for my alma mater’s scout troop and every year around this time we have a camp. As with previous years, the emails pile up, meeting minutes get distributed, camp schedules get sent and changed and re-sent and re-changed until eventually, no one knows what in the world is going on anymore.

To solve this, I set up a wiki for the leaders. It’s a private wiki so I’m sorry I can’t share the link. I will however say that we’re using PBwiki, which I find to be superior to Wetpaint in terms of editing as well as help. But that aside, so far it’s been helping us keep track of personnel and manpower, topics of discussion, a couple of things to be noted, schedules, equipment lists and so on.

No more losing of minutes on paper, no more “can you send me the latest schedule? I can’t find it”. Everything is up there and updated. To the minute.

So why aren’t more of us doing this? Is it the challenge of working alone as Michael brings up? Or an unwillingness to change our styles of working?

Does it make sense for us to share our items on Google Reader (my shared items are here)? Or on del.icio.us? How about collaborating on Google Docs in the classroom? In the office?

To me the biggest problem is convincing the people you’re working with that it’s worth their while. In my scout case study, I knew the people who were primarily going to enter the data would be the younger adult leaders, while the older leaders would keep and eye on it from time to time. To both of these groups, you gotta speak their language.

To my peers, it was the idea of collaboration. To see everything in one place, to have links and for easy reading. To the senior leaders, it was the idea of streamlining information. Not losing paper, not having to distinguish whether schedule(final).doc is the true schedule or schedule(final)THISISTHEREALFINAL.doc is the true schedule.

So how’s collaboration working (or not working) for you? Are you using wikis regularly? Online document processors or software based? Is it a challenge convincing your classmates/colleagues to use it as well?

Podcast Of The Month: April

May 7, 2008

Without doubt the podcast of the month for April goes to For Immediate Release which I usually have problems keeping up with (it’s released twice a week, one hour each), but the content for April was excellent and I found myself listening to it first among my podcasts.

  • #336 highlights: Using Twitter/Friendfeed differently for business, conducting proper blogger outreach
  • #337 highlights: Facebook tools that can really help you
  • Live call in show #5 highlights: How should companies reach out in social media without offending the people in it? Great analogy of standing at a party table and interjecting about insurance while they’re talking about something else.
  • #338 highlights: Kami Hyuse Seaworld case study and talk of the virtual internet
  • #339 highlights: Dan York & Sallie Goetsch take over. Lots of Twitter news and I have a comment left via Twitter!

I have to say, hands down, if you’re doing anything in the digital/social media space, you need to be listening to this podcast.

Other notable listens this month:

  • Inside PR #106 – Live episode with a great question “Who owns the social media space?”
  • Managing the Gray – Manic Mummies episode, great case study on GM and how to do sponsorship in social media.
  • Marketing Over Coffee – “Captcha and Turk“, lots of stuff on startups as well as a whole slew of WordPress plugins I never knew about.
  • Shill #6 meandered a little this month, but still a worthwhile discussion about whether there’s any value in re-posting news.
  • Six Pixels Of Separation #98 (interview with Collin Douma), #99 (very interesting, almost counter-intuitive information regarding online reviews) and #100 (long conversation between Mitch, Brian Eisenberg and Avinash Kaushik).

Did you listen to any of these podcasts? Are you listening to different podcasts? I’m always on the lookout for great social media related podcasts, recommendations always welcome.

Blogs Worth Reading: April

May 6, 2008

I’ve decided to take a page out of Louis Gray’s book and highlight six blogs (in no order) that have really caught my attention in April, as well as one link that I feel is a recent notable read.

1) Bryan Person – BryanPerson.com, brains of Social Media Breakfast

2) Dan York – Disruptive Conversations, correspondent for For Immediate Release.

3) Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff – Groundswell, authors of Groundswell.

4) Brian Koh – Harmless? Bananas!, Ogilvy PR and co-creator of The Open Room.

5) Eric Berlin – Online Media Cultist

6) Tara Hunt- Horsepigcow

The amount of new blogs I’m subscribing to monthly is decreasing (I suppose there’s only so much information I can process), but if you know any great ones, recommend them in the comments space below!

Are Bloggers Really Influencers? More Thoughts

May 4, 2008

A few more thoughts on the influence issue, part one is here. Once again, I’m exploring this from the consumer’s point of view based on how I surf and am affected (or not) by what the blogs I read say.

Case Study 4: Podfire Soft Launch

The Podfire soft launch got pretty good coverage on ping.sg. I think that night and the day following, easily 3-4 of the top then most read posts were on blog coverage of the Podfire launch. One thing about influence and popularity is network effects.

One person talking about it positively on ping.sg is very different from five people talking positively about it. Again pulling in the “people like me vs bloggers” debate into the picture, I’m thinking someone who knows some or all of the five people talking about it (or any other topic) will probably feel a compelling reason to at least check it out.

Will it lead to the complete viewing of a video? Will they be repeat viewers? I don’t know, but by that stage, the product has to speak for itself. But leading them to click is the first step.

It’s Not About Reach Or Circulation

I read a comment somewhere ridiculing the buzz of the Podfire launch saying some people didn’t hear about it. Completely missing the point. I’m always asked in school whether I saw an article in the newspapers, or a good/bad advertisement on tv last night, and the answer is usually no. So…. people didn’t hear about it via print or tv either and therefore it’s useless?

The important thing for Podfire (and how blogs should be approached), is to try to reach the immediate community (small as they may be) and work from there. It’s targeted as opposed to the shotgun approach.

Get Help!

Su Yuen has a Facebook application called Get Help. It allows users to post out a question and get replies back from friends, acquaintances or maybe strangers. Again, the idea of influence seems relative. Anyone can help on the app, to varying degrees of influence. Would you discount a brilliant idea via Get Help just because a person who replied is a stranger?

Even “Weak” Links/Influencers Play A part

Case Study 1: Camera Buying
When I was deciding which dslr to get, Ingrid recommended a friend to of hers to help me out. I didn’t have any idea who that friend was prior to this, but I did continually go back and ask her what she thought of product A over product B, and bought the final camera based on that advice. Could I have made my decision by reading a professional photographer’s review? Sure. But the fact that I could interact with this person and listen to firsthand experiences made a difference to me. It just happens in this case she isn’t a blogger. But… what if she was?

Case Study 2: Iron Man
Twitter has been alight with raving, positive Iron Man reviews. I’m reading about people from all over the world (majority of whom I’ve never even met) saying how good it is. The Straits Times gave it three stars. After watching the show, I’m glad I didn’t listen to an “expert” reviewer, because anyone who’s watched the show will know it’s not deserving of three stars. Would you like to listen to an “expert” reviewer and forgo the show? (Assuming three stars is your threshold for “not watching”)

Ultimately this issue is still a tough one to tackle. My point here is not to say bloggers are the influencers, but that pointing to the various research without considering the intricacies of it is probably a bad idea. We know about the Long Tail (The ants have megaphones) and about the Wisdom of Crowds and crowdsourcing, and blogging fits squarely into the realm of these phenomena.

Are Bloggers Really Influencers?

May 4, 2008

The topic of “influence” has appeared a number of times, generated out of the “Why social media struggles in Singapore” post. I was writing that post from the corporation’s point of view, and questioning whether a certain factor (size) may be a factor that has hindered social media’s growth.

But let’s look at this from the point of view of the consumers: Are we really influenced by bloggers?

What The Research Says

Forrester\'s Research

Edelman Research

Result summary: People trust “people like themselves” the most, an “bloggers” the least. Okay wait, before you stop reading this right now and say “Okay, let’s cancel our blogger relations initiative”, read on.

Are Bloggers Really Trusted The Least?
When I saw the findings, my first thought was “But, what if a blogger is someone like me?”. This is something lacking in the research, and is brought up by Jason Mical and Jeremiah in the comments:

[By Jason]I believe about marketing and the direction it’s going in the digital space, and you have a proven record of posting insightful things that I find useful in thinking about this as well. So I would classify you as ’someone with my interests’ before I would classify you as a blogger in this regard.

[By Jeremiah]I agree, I wish I had more insight to how the questions about “do you trust blogs” were done. We need to see the context, as it could be broken down to:

“do you trust bloggers with similar opinions, that you read frequently”

or

“do you trust random blogs you stumble across”

Perhaps the questions could even be posed a different way: “do you trust the opinions of bloggers?”

I don’t think the lines between “people like me” and bloggers are as far apart as the research shows. And I definitely do not think the results are as disparate as the research claims.

I have a couple of case studies I thought of off the top of my head, tell me if they make sense to you, and keep in mind this is written from the point of view of a consumer.

Case Study 1: Xiaxue
I don’t read her, definitely don’t identify with her, to me she’s a “blogger”. But how about the 20 thousand people who read her blog daily? Does she have no influence over them? From the amount of comments generated in her defense whenever someone slams her, I’d say she has considerable influence over them.

Case Study 2: Kenny Sia
I had the privilege of meeting Kenny at the IDC Conference and he blogged about it, linking me. That one post generated almost 1,500 traffic to my blog, the next closest being tomorrow.sg with about 500. I’m not sure how you want to classify tomorrow.sg, but looking at the data, clearly 1,500 people think Kenny is not “just a blogger” but someone who influences them and makes them think “I identify with Kenny, he thinks Daryl is worth putting a link to, so that might probably be interesting to me too”, and hence the clicks. I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s definitely my personal thought process when browsing blogs.

Case Study 3: FriendFeed
FriendFeed is growing in popularity in North America. The level of activity after it opened from beta is exponentially higher than the level of activity before. Let’s look at the other categories from the research. Review on tv? Review on retailer site? I don’t think so.

Friendfeed was spread via word of mouth online from people who follow the early adopters and advocates like Louis Gray. Certainly I don’t know Louis personally (though we’re mutual readers of each others’ blog), but neither is he some anonymous blogger online. He’s someone I know covers a great niche in the social media space on rss aggregation, and I’m interested in all things social media, hence I definitely trust and believe his opinions. In fact I also signed up for LinkRiver, AssetBar and Yokway based on his recommendations. Admittedly I only use LinkRiver with any frequency, but I think that’s attributed to the product rather than the medium (Louis).

This post has gone on a little longer than I thought it would and I have a few more thoughts on reach as well as “weak” links or influences which I’ll try to post this evening. In the meantime, what do you think? As clear cut as the research suggests? Or are there intricacies at work that are unexplored? Do you classify bloggers in the same category as “people like me”? Or are they clear and distinctly separated?