February 2009 Archives

links for 2009-02-27

One of the more interesting sessions at BarCamp Charlotte was on using social media for social change. We didn't make much progress for the non-profits in attendance; mostly we learned that they need to connect with people who would like to help them. The session did, however, prime me to notice when two different programs focused on truly global issues wandered across my awareness the same day. What started as a discussion about building word of mouth for a fundraiser shifted to something much more ambitious.

I learned about zyOzy (zee-Oh-zee) when @zyOzyfounder followed me on Twitter. For me, at least, that still gets some attention. zyOzy applies a mix of events, social media and entrepreneurship to support efforts to end extreme poverty in Africa and India.

In addition to their blog, the site links to an extended online presence that includes Squidoo, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and a wiki. Who says you need a budget for an integrated media campaign?

An old friend who now works in the NGO world pointed me toward Ushahidi, a platform for crowdsourcing crisis information. Ushahidi's original project compiled and mapped incident reports in Kenya during its 2008 post-election crisis. Reports were collected from citizen reporters using mobile phones.

The underlying technology is now being developed into an open-source platform that will be available for public and private monitoring of active situations anywhere. While in private beta, Ushahidi is being used for current projects focusing on Gaza, Congo, and South Africa, as well as a follow-up Kenya project.

What can you do with almost no budget?
"Social media are free" is the first myth to be busted—especially in a corporate marketing context—but most of the costs are driven by the need to spend time building social media programs. Free social media tools and open-source platforms, such as Ushahidi or the BuzzMonitor, put a lot of capability in the hands of NGOs that are more likely to have time and volunteers than a big budget.

links for 2009-02-25

links for 2009-02-23

links for 2009-02-20

Reminder - News Moved to SMA

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If you're wondering when today's news digest is going to appear, take a look at Social Media Analysis. SMA has all of the latest news from the listening business, plus opinion and the latest from company blogs and press releases. And more to come...

5 Manly Things

I had seen a review of The Decline of Men earlier, but when I read Robert Rosenthal's interview with Guy Garcia for Ad Age yesterday, it made me think. About things I have learned and things I want my son to know. So while the 25 things meme circulates endlessly on Facebook, let's do something different: five manly things I can do and will pass on to my son. Tag, I'm it.

Male-targeted reality shows such as "Ice Road Truckers" and "The Deadliest Catch" tap masculine nostalgia for a time when physical brawn and bravery—not PowerPoint and spreadsheets—defined manly work.
—Guy Garcia
I work at a computer, and my last paid job with a significant physical component was lifeguard, but work isn't life. I have other skills that you would never see in an office.
  1. Might as well start with the basics. I can start a fire without using paper or chemical accelerants.

  2. I can empty and right a canoe that has capsized and filled with water without first moving to shallow water.

  3. I can build a pasture fence, from digging the post holes to stretching the wire with one of these. Not all work shows up on the résumé, you know.

  4. I am installing my own hardwood floor, starting with removing the old underlayment and repairing weak sections of the subfloor.

  5. I can carry on an informed conversation on current events, whether we're talking about bank bailouts, Pakistan's increasing instability, or the local school reassignment situation.
I could go on, but I have to leave something for you. So put down your copy of the Duluth or Griot's catalog, and tell us what you can do. Killing spiders at your wife's request doesn't count. :-)

Tagging David Armano, Mack Collier, Mark Hopkins, Marshall Kirkpatrick , and Jake McKee, just in time for your Friday Fun posts.

links for 2009-02-18

links for 2009-02-17

Most of the continuing saga of Facebook's updated terms of service (TOS) has focused on the implications for personal privacy and ownership of personal information and content. I have a different question: how many companies are considering the TOS implications when they use Facebook for marketing campaigns? Are they casually handing over rights to their intellectual property, too?

I group online TOS "agreements" with the shrink-wrap end-user license agreements (EULA) that come with commercial software. They may technically be contracts, but most customers don't read them and don't really agree to them. It's not really possible to read all the agreements that come our way, and in any case, they're not negotiable. When interesting or useful online services offer take-it-or-leave-it terms, most of us take it.

Usually, things work out. In real life—not the world described in TOS and EULA legalese—we are able to function because terms aren't enforced to the limit. Company statements, such as those coming from Facebook this week, tacitly acknowledge that rational management doesn't enforce every right that Legal tosses into license terms. So while it may be possible for Facebook to assert ownership of users' content, they're smart enough to realize that wouldn't be a good idea.

Yes, but...
Commercial contracts, though, should be different. Companies really shouldn't agree to unpleasant terms just because they're hard to read (you have professionals for that task, right?). If the standard TOS makes claims on company content that go too far, they should be negotiated. The question is, are companies really doing that, or are they clicking "accept" and moving along, just like most individual users?

I don't have the answers on this one. I suspect that big brands are negotiating real contracts with Facebook and others, while smaller companies accept the TOS. My parting thought for you is that if your company is getting into social media, your legal folks should pay attention to the terms. If something's not right, fix it before you start. If it can't be fixed—what other ideas were you working on?

Although my wife and I cross out publicity waivers in our child's permission forms, I am not a lawyer. Anything that looks like legal advice here is just my personal opinion.

Introducing SMA

Do you read the news digest I post here every week? Since June 2007, it's been an outlet for items that didn't quite rate their own posts, and if it got companies in the social media analysis market to pay attention—well, that was no accident. At this point, though, they're crowding my recent posts list, so I'm moving them to a new home: Social Media Analysis. If you're interested in the listening business, I think you'll like it.

Lucky for me beta is the fashion
SMA is more than a news site. The plan is to create a resource for everyone interested in the market. In this initial release, it has five main sections:

  • News
    Company and product launches, investments, leadership changes, upcoming events, new papers... Everything you're used to from the Friday news digest, but in its own home—and no more waiting for the end of the week.

  • Commentary
    A separate blog section pulling content from the Net-Savvy Executive. This section will grow to include more contributors (interested?).

  • Scanner
    A tag feed with commentary; this will grow to include more contributors.

  • Press releases
    A sidebar listing press releases from any vendor who provides an RSS feed (hint).

  • Company blogs
    A sidebar listing recent posts from vendor blogs (companies, not individuals).
Feed me!
RSS is an important component of SMA—I've used my RSS and Delicious tricks to build some of its sections, and the site provides several feeds for readers. If you like press releases, for example, you can subscribe to the aggregated press release feed. The systems running behind the scenes will keep subscribers up to date as new sources are added.

Starting with Social Target's database of social media analysis companies, I looked through 182 company sites to find 89 company blogs and 19 PR feeds. I used Dapper and Page2RSS to make synthetic feeds for many more, but so far, the result isn't clean enough for SMA. As more companies offer PR feeds, I'll add them to the system.

Plans to grow
Today's SMA is the first take. In addition to new contributors, I plan to add more sections, such as white papers, research, events, and jobs. I'm thinking about some more ambitious developments, but that's what the future is for.

Now, go. Subscribe. And send me your news. :-)

News from the companies of social media analysis.

Companies and services

  • 12 February - BuzzLogic announced a strategic alliance with Walnut Hill Media. The partnership, which includes a minority investment by Walnut Hill, will focus on business development in the advertising and media business. press release

  • Software updates: Trackur
  • Dan Vetras joins Visible Technologies as CEO. Vetras was previously president and CEO of Talisma. Former CEO Adam Selig transitions to a new role as divisional president of strategic alliances. press release

  • George Emmanuel joins EmPower Research as sales director, US. Emmanuel was previously the western regional services sales & marketing executive at Computer Associates. press release
New research and papers
  • Pew Internet & American Life Project released Twitter and status updating (PDF). The key finding in the memo is that 11% of US Internet users use Twitter or other services (potentially including social networking sites) to update status messages.

  • Razorfish released Digital Mom (PDF), a report developed with CafeMom on technology usage by mothers. via Guy Kawasaki

  • Nielsen introduced Economic Current (PDF), a new monthly report on retail trends and consumer confidence globally, with regional analysis and country breakouts.

links for 2009-02-09

links for 2009-02-05

News from the companies of social media analysis. Football, anyone?

Companies and services

New research and papers

links for 2009-02-04

I'm always curious to see how others summarize the social media analysis market. A couple of weeks ago, Forrester revisited the space, which they now call "listening platforms" (get a free copy from Nielsen Online). No surprises on the list, except that all the companies aren't really substitutes for each other. I was particularly struck, though, by the insistence that software and services should come from a single provider. The market is more interesting than that—in fact, just the range of services is more interesting than that.

I track the market for tools and services that companies can use to listen to, learn from, and engage with their markets through social media. It's a project that has led me to over 170 companies worldwide, and as I explore the edges of the market, I keep finding more. In the process, I've learned a lot about the available options, which I use to help companies understand their own requirements and make decisions about vendors.

Which services do you need?
I learned a key lesson from my first client: grouping requirements by categories opens the door to considering specialized vendors who don't do it all. The value becomes apparent when you consider the range of services that might be labeled consulting:

  • Software training
    Software companies typically provide technical support and training for their products, especially for the more sophisticated workgroup platforms. As these products become more tightly integrated with business processes, training and implementation suppport become increasingly important.

  • Research and analyst services
    The most common services in the market are outsourced analyst services, which develop insights from the data and deliver them to clients. The choice between software and services is a build-or-buy decision on listening and analysis, which should be based on the client's capabilities and needs. Outside analysts can get a client up to speed quickly, and many companies may never have the information producers to generate their own analysis.

  • Strategic marketing/communications counsel
    After listening comes engagement, and clients seem to want help with engaging effectively while avoiding mistakes. They could choose a vendor who offers both listening capabilities and agency services (strategy, creative, interactive, etc.), or they could look at the many marketing agencies and consultants who incorporate a social media analysis platform in their work. For an example, see Josh Hallett's description of how Voce layers agency services over the Radian6 platform.

  • Management consulting
    Companies that get serious about making social media listening and engagement part of their business run into a predictable set of management issues. Professional services geared toward process integration and organizational change will help them make the most of their social media investments.
Whether they build or buy, companies need all of these capabilities as they wade into social media. A few vendors offer one-stop shopping, but making that a requirement eliminates a lot of solid specialists.

Besides, don't companies like to avoid overdependence on a single supplier in any market?

About Nathan Gilliatt

  • ng.jpg
  • Voracious learner and explorer. Analyst tracking technologies and markets in intelligence, analytics and social media. Advisor to buyers, sellers and investors. Writing my next book.
  • Principal, Social Target
  • Profile
  • Highlights from the archive


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