Monthly Archives: September 2008

The Evanglist’s Toolkit – Part One

Thanks to everyone who attended the recent webinar.  Here are the slides from that presentation.  The “slideshare” icon will allow you to download the set from Slideshare.   I would love to hear any follow up questions or issues you might have.   I am going to try and take many of the questions that I had today and post responses here.

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Filed under Presentations, Social Media, strategy

Listening Devices: Part One

In the network economy Listening beats Talking:  Listening is another way of finding answers – and finding answers from new places – from customers, partners and employees outside of the leadership circle.    Why is this important?   Most of our companies are structured to talk.  Marketing, PR, Tradshows and events –  are all vehicles for advocacy – for talking.    Listening companies reap the benefits of reduced cycle time, open innovation and better customer intimacy and loyalty.

Ultimately, listening is a commitment to take action on the part of a company.  Because they do this so well, Starbucks is often cited in this regard.  “My Starbucks Idea” definitely gets it right.  Despite the fact that I am no fan of Starbucks they are part of the dialogue on improvement and they take action when ideas reach critical mass in the community.

But where do you start?

While there are paid services and tools for monitoring online brand conversation, I often counsel clients to begin with setting up a very basic set of listening devices;  free tools that allow you to get a sense of how your company is being represented on the Social Web.   Here is the dead simple starting kit.    I would love to hear of any additions.

Set up Google Alerts – you can track what is being said about your company quickly and easily.  Google will send you a daily email.

Set up a good RSS reader If you aren’t getting your news customized and delivered to your browser daily – you are missing out.   I use NetVibes because it is elegant and also signs me into my social networks at the same time.  In the workshops I run this alone is worth the price of admission since it will save you hours of time.

Search Facebook for groups with your company name (you may also want to check Bebo, HiFive and Ning if you are industrious).  I had a conversation yesterday with a business owner who was stunned that his one-state restaurant chain had 37 dedicated groups in Facebook.   You can also try adding adjectives to your company name (+sucks, +rules etc.)

Try this same procedure on Technorati to go back in time and see what has been said about you in the blogosphere.   A friend at a major clothing retailer built her case to fund  Social Web initiatives by collecting customer quotes/complaints gathered on Technorati.   Add worthwhile bloggers to your Netvibes page to get a sense of what else they are talking about and tracking.

Use Twhirl to eavesdrop on Twitter and other microblogging platforms.

This is a good starting place – I would love to hear of other free listening devices that people are using.

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Instrumenting the world – The web as a sensory net

As Google turns 10 they posted a great summary about where collective intelligence is headed:

we’ll … see a rush of new devices customized to particular applications, and more environmental sensors and actuators, all sending and receiving data via the cloud. The increasing number and diversity of interactions will not only direct more information to the cloud, they will also provide valuable information on how people and systems think and react… Thus, computer systems will have greater opportunity to learn from the collective behavior of billions of humans. They will get smarter, gleaning relationships between objects, nuances, intentions, meanings, and other deep conceptual information.

In other words more devices and more people are connecting to the global Internet every day.  100 million new people join the 1.4 billion people every six weeks (these figures pulled from worldwideinternetstats.com) This holds a lot of promise to instrument the world and help address big issues.   As Tim O’Reilly says in his post, Web Meets World:

there’s a huge contribution that Web 2.0 techniques can make specifically to the world’s biggest problems. Instedd’s approach to early detection of infectious diseases, Ushahidi’s approach to crowdsourcing crisis information, Witness’s harnessing of consumer video to report on human rights abuses, and AMEE’s APIs for exchanging carbon data between applications, are all part of the “instrumenting the world” trend

The other key factor driving the next phase of collective intelligence is that more and more this data will come from sensors such as the GPS in our phones and Internet connected sensors monitoring our homes, buildings and vehicles.  This data will drive a whole new class of potential decision-making and problem solving that could include energy, food distribution, emergency management and disease control.   It will also open new opportunities for start-ups that harness these data types.   Google’s primary advantage comes from it’s data on user searches for web pages.  There is fertile territory to conquer these new classes of data coming from sensory devices and wrap value added services upon them.

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Web 2.0 Expo comes to NYC

I am excited to be speaking at the upcoming Expo in New York -but more interested in hearing from this year’s line-up of speakers. Over the past few years the focus of the Expo has become a more sophisticated spectrum from alpha-geek to business-practical; from technology to social. As usual my focus will be on the social challenges that Web 2.0 represents for traditional business.  My talk is entitled The Moonwalking Bear; what traditional businesses need to know about Web 2.0 – You will have to come to the talk to actually see the moonwalking bear.

I will also be grabbing some informal video interviews with speakers that will appear on the O’Reilly network as well as in this blog.
Stay tuned…

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Digital Storytelling – off the shelf

Back in the early ’90s The Men’s Wearhouse’s George Zimmer would come on the radio and play audio recordings of happy customers. It always struck me that this was the quintessential, brilliant campaign. Open up a phone line and let your customers tell their stories. Then broadcast those stories to other potential customers and invite yet more people to tell their story (and possibly get on the radio). Fast, cheap and effective; Word-of-mouth marketing given a platform.

For a long time customer testimonials have been a staple of online marketing. In an open, networked marketplace it makes perfect sense. We want to hear from other people like us. Yet beyond the highly functional but sterile Ratings and Review modules, there was no formalized way of capturing these stories. Now Bazaarvoice, the service that helps companies put ratings and reviews on their websites, is releasing Bazaarvoice Stories, which lets manufacturers, retailers, and e-commerce destinations invite consumers to talk about their experiences with a product.   That’s a good idea.  I guarantee it.

The real battle will come between company sites that want customers to market for them using something like Bazaarvoice Stories and new aggregator sites like Get Satisfaction that allow customers to share stories about all kinds of companies.   This is like the difference between a company brochure and Consumer Reports… who will you trust?

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