Guidewire Group is committed to fostering the understanding and use of Social Media. That's why we're forming the Guidewire Group Social Media Research Panel, a large group of professionals interested in Social Media who Guidewire Group will occassionally poll about their Social Media interests, practices and experiences. From time to time, we'll also feature members of the Research Panel in our research products or as speakers or panelists in our events.
With the assistance of many of the BlogOn 2005 Social Media Summit partners and sponsors, we've assemble a group of tools and services to help professionals learn more about Social Media and connect with each other. We're making these tools and services available at no cost, not just to attendees of our BlogOn events, but to anyone interested in learning more about Social Media.
In return for access to these tools and benefits, and others we plan to add over time, we ask two simple things of you:
So long as you abide by these conditions and complete the surveys, you'll continue to receive all the benefits named above. And if at any time you want to opt-out of Guidewire Group's Social Media Research Panel, simply send us an email and we'll remove you from the list. And we'll never share your contact details with anyone without your express permission. It's that simple.
To get started, just complete the Social Media Research Panel Registration Form.
Within a few days after completing the registration form, you'll receive email invitations to BlogOn Connect and the BlogOn Network as well as instructions for accessing the BlogOn Webcasts. Shortly thereafter, we'll start sending you periodic emails with additional information and opportunities.
Well, it's a couple of days now since we left the Copacabana, and it's given me a chance to recover and reflect on how the conference went.
Feedback from audience, speakers and exhibitors alike was uniformly positive during the conference. People enjoyed the schedule that we put together, and it was great to hear them say so. If there was criticism, it was that the wifi (and also the webcast) was really flakey, particularly on the first day. We had two T1 lines out of the Copa, but it turned out that wasn't enough bandwidth - particularly when people are VPN-ing out and eating up capacity. I really don't know how we could have dealt with that beyond the polite requests we made, as it was really frustrating for those trying to use IRC or upload photos.
From a personal point of view, I had a great time, and really enjoyed playing host to such an interesting, smart group of people. Highlights for me included David Weinberger's What Blogs Are Not, and the Podcasting: Beyond Radio session, moderated by Cameron Reilly whose Aussie sense of humour certainly perked up the day. You'll be able to see the sessions in due course, as the video from the webcasts has been recorded and we'll be posting it as soon as possible.
I must say a huge thank you to everyone who contributed to making the event go so well, all the sponsors, innovators and speakers, as well as the Guidewire Group guys and gals who worked so hard to pull the whole thing together. And, of course, thanks to everyone who came on the day - without an audience, an event is just a wee bit pointless.
Keep an eye out for news of the next Guidewire Group event. If you missed BlogOn 2005, you'll really want to make sure you catch the next conference!
You can download a pdf of the executive summary here: Download file.
And please...if you have thoughts or questions, leave us comments.
I got so busy yesterday I didn't get to blog much, but have a moment now to get a post up.
We've just heard from David Weinberger, who talked about What Blogs are Not. Now, in true blogger style I have to disclose that I have been a big fan of David for a long time - he was one of the bloggers that got me blogging in the first place, over three years ago. But David gives a killer keynote. He highlighted the absolutely terrible blog put up by Juicy Fruit, and went through a few misconceptions that people have about bloggers, including the nasty and pernicious idea that blogging about your cat is somehow a lesser activity (I have a bugbear about people who judge blogs by the value they perceive it to have for a mass media-trained audience, rather than people's friends, family, or indeed just themselves).
Now we have the Can Advertising Be Social, panel, talking about the impacts of social media on advertising, and later another of my favourite speakers, Dick Hardt.
266 Broome Street
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A year ago, we identified social media as blogs, syndication, social networking, podcasting and other tools that were coming together to give individuals voice and choice in the market. We held our first BlogOn event in June of last year in a lecture auditorium at UC Berkeley. Today, here we are in a legendary nightclub, the Copacabana.
What that says about how far social media has come in the past 16 months, I’m not sure.
Sixteen months ago, as today, new blogs are coming on line at a rate that exceeds the adoption of any other media in history. Today, though, the drivers of that adoption aren’t twenty-somethings chronicling their daily lives or individuals giving voice to their political concerns. Today, the drivers of social media adoption are businesses who are increasingly incorporating blogs into their communications and marketing strategies.
This morning, you will receive a copy of Blogging in the Enterprise, a first-ever study of the adoption of blogging by communications and marketing professionals.
The findings are most interesting:
• Businesses of all sizes across, and in a wide range of industries a wide array of industries are adopting blogging technologies and practices.
• Almost 90% of those surveyed said they are or plan to use blogging in their communications efforts.
• We suspected as much when we outlined the survey, but we were most surprised to see that the adoption of business blogging has – in the last 3 months – taken a major uptick.
Whether this recent activity is an anomaly or a projectable pattern is really what BlogOn 2005 is all about.
We know that adoption of social media technologies is driven by the very specific desire to improve communication and company image – both inside and beyond the walls of the corporation.
We also know that some barriers stand in the way.
You are smart people; you want to see clear benefit before investing in new strategies. And as with any new strategy, there are associated risks – risks you want to mitigate, if not eliminate all together.
At BlogOn 2005, we’ll explore together the risks, the benefits, the best practices that can help you craft and advance your social media communications strategy.
Ours is not an academic exercise – this conference doesn’t theorize about possibilities and outcomes. Instead, we have brought together a most excellent group of communications and marketing professionals – your peers – who, as early adopters of social media, will share their experience so that you can learn from and build upon it.
And I sincerely hope that you’ll be a full-on participant in the discussion, too, bringing your expertise, your questions and concerns to the conversation which is BlogOn 2005.
One thing we’re not going to spend a great deal of time talking about, though, is technology. Indeed, the research said that technology is not a major hurdle in the adoption of blogging for business communications.
I suspect that is because “social” in social media technologies compelled developers to build tools and services that are extremely accessible, adoptable, and easy to buy.
At BlogOn 2005, twenty Social Media Innovators are each a case in point. I encourage you to spend time getting to know these companies – they are the rising stars in the social media technology marketplace.
And I also encourage you to get to know Yahoo!, Six Apart, iUpload, Leverage Software, and Porter Novelli – the lead event partners and sponsors without whose support we could not have created this conference. Get to knows these folks because I know they can help you build your social media strategies most successfully.
BlogOn is going really well so far.
Seth Godin spoke about his new project, Squidoo, which is a site that allows people to aggregate all their various URLs and information about themselves or what they're interested in and which acts then as a jumping off point for visitors.
The first panel, Listening To the Blogosphere moderated by Elizabeth Albrycht with Mary Hodder, Jackie Huba and Randall McAdory, was great - good discussion about how companies can listen to what's being said about them online, what tools they can use, what is important to think about when monitoring blogs.
Right now, we have the first product showcase, Cymfony, who are displaying their analytical tools for tracking topics and discussions online.
From a personal point of view, I'm really enjoying the conference. We've a full house and I am really looking forward to mingling and chatting to people at the break. Mind you, I didn't get much breakfast so I'm starving!
Cymfony's Orchestra is a dashboard application that monitors the mainstream media, blogs, usenet groups and online forums. Cymfony will be unveiling Orchestra today at 11.10 with a product showcase from the stage.
Welcome to the Copacabana!
Breakfast is currently being served on the mezzanine of the Copa Ballroom, and we're all set up ready to rock and roll... or should that be bossa nova?
We have to great speakers lined up for today and tomorrow and we hope that you will enjoy the show! If you can't be here, then you can take part in BlogOn 2005 using our community tools - including a webcast, podcasts and an exclusive BlogOn social network.
BlogOn Innovators Attensa have launched Attensa for Outlook, a browser toolbar for both Internet Explorer and Firefox which allows you to easily subscribe to RSS feeds which you can then view in MS Outlook. Looks very cool - wish I had Outlook so that I could test it!
Jeff Nolan and David Hornik are organising a pre-Blog On meet-up on Sunday 16th October at the Copacabana (note: the venue might change so check the wiki). If you'd like to go, put your name on the wiki!
It's all kicking off...
The NewsGator Online platform provides a highly integrated and synchronized reading/viewing experience across multiple devices, including the web, mobile phones, televisions, and e-mail clients such as Microsoft Outlook. The recent FeedDemon acquisition extended this to the Windows desktop, and now with NetNewsWire, the premier RSS reader for Mac OS X, the platform extends to the Mac desktop as well.
"Many of our online customers who are Mac users have asked if we had plans to extend our product platform to the Mac desktop," said Greg Reinacker, founder and CTO of NewsGator. "NetNewsWire is the dominant RSS application for the Mac OS, and was an obvious choice for us. We’re very excited to integrate our advanced synchronization and other capabilities into the product and roll it out to our combined customer base."
"After hearing so many NetNewsWire users ask for synchronization – not just between copies of NetNewsWire, but with their PDAs, with newsreaders on Windows, with a browser-based service – we thought about how to make this happen, and found that NewsGator had the technology already in place," said Brent Simmons, co-founder and partner of Ranchero Software. "But they didn’t have a Mac client! So it was a perfect fit, and we couldn’t be more excited."
The Flock browser, which is expected to be released to the public in test form in about two weeks, does everything a regular browser does, but with several important additions.
For one, it makes blogging a snap by eliminating the need to do arcane coding in order to post, change fonts or add photos. Right click the mouse on a Web page, and a blogging wizard comes up that automatically creates links, citations, and quotes that are ready to insert into a blog. A horizontal bar on the browser also can load photos from the photo-sharing site Flickr, so they can be simply dragged and dropped into the blog post.
If you're interested in Flock, you can see them at BlogOn 2005, or you can sign up on their website for the sneak preview when it's made public.
At last, the ink has dried, the final invitations have been accepted, and we can now announce that we have our schedule finalised! We've got some fantastic speakers for you, including Seth Godin, David Weinberger, Gil Schwartz from CBS, Steve Wilson from McDonald's, Jeff King from Fox, Steve Rubel from CooperKatz & Company, and a whole long list of others.
We're also finalising the list of Social Media Innovators who will be attending. Chris Shipley has been putting them through a rigorous selection process and we can now announce that the successful applicants include Pheedo, Cymfony, Techdirt and Five Across. There are more on the Exhibitor's page, and we'll be announcing new additions there as and when.
So if all that tickles your fancy, register now to make sure you secure your place!
For reasons that should be abundantly clear once you've read it, tonight's post is located on my personal blog.
If, after reading that post you don't understand why it's there and not here, you should go away and think very, very carefully about why what happened was so very, very wrong.
According to the BBC, people are starting to use blogs to do research into what what products to buy:
More than three-quarters of those questioned in the research said they had consulted blogs before shopping.
Respondents said they trusted blogs because they were written by real people and based on actual experiences.
The survey suggests that blogs could soon rival other media as sources of trustworthy information about products and services.
The press release says that 1100 people were surveyed, but doesn't say what the demographic was, so I do wonder if they were surveying the converted, rather than the general population.
In direct opposition to this is another survey which said that most people haven't got a clue what blogging is:
A survey of British taxi drivers, pub landlords and hairdressers -- often seen as barometers of popular trends -- found that nearly 90 percent had no idea what a podcast is and more than 70 percent had never heard of blogging.
Which seems a bit more realistic to me.
A recent survey by Blog Relations shows that blogs are getting a mixed reception from PR professionals. Some choice - and conflicting - results:
What are the top five issues you think are important in the world of social media in business? What keeps you up at night? What should be taking centre stage at BlogOn 2005?
For me, these are the five key questions that need to be asked:
In partnership with iUpload, we're launching a survey on the current state of blogging in enterprise, to find out what the common business blogging practices and strategies are. The survey will only take a few minutes to complete and highlights from the results will be announced at BlogOn in October. And what's more, by completing survey you'll be eligible to enter a draw to win an iPod Nano or a complimentary registration to BlogOn 2005.
Mmmm, iPod Nano...
iMedia Connection on Macromedia's blogging strategy.
Macromedia's blogs were started three years ago to build a better community and send information to customers more quickly than existing channels. Over time, Macromedia discovered that blogs could be used for the development of their products. This shift in product development thinking was gradual, and eventually a big change in thinking about the Macromedia product development happened.
Jeremy Pepper discusses whether or not it's a good idea for journalists to blog the pitches they are sent by PR agencies, or the conversations that happen around those pitches:
Well, first on the blogging pitches - I have no problem with it, because my pitches tend to be short and to the point, which is how all pitches should be (in my opinion). Now, blogging pitches is one thing. Would I feel comfortable with a full conversation thread being blogged? Not really, as with email threads the PR person and the journalist go into specifics, and possibly share information that is not for public consumption ... yet.
Guest blogger: Pito Salas
Here's something completely different. How about if a service scanned tons of blogs, decided what the 'mood' was of the authors, and made a graph showing the aggregated mood of the population?
Check out Mood-Teller. Here's a bit from that page:
LiveJournal enables its users to tag their posts with mood indicators. We currently analyze approximately 5000 LiveJournal blog posts per hour using statistical language processing methods and estimate, according to the textual features of the posts, the percentage of them which are "happy", "sad", "excited".
Ok it is a bit unusual but it is also quite interesting and makes you think!
If you don't know, LiveJournal is a huge blogging service, used mostly by high-school age kids. If you know or have a high-school-age kid, then it's likely that they have a LiveJournal blog or certainly know of them. (Don't ask to read it though - oh, but that's the subject of another post!)
There are of course plenty of services which analyze blogs and feeds for statistics like who has the most links and who is the most important who is the most active. (Bloggers are the most statistics-driven crowd you will ever run into.)
But the idea of charting the emotional state of a fairly large community against world events, well, I thought that was pretty cool!
All companies, large and small, know that reaching customers directly and influencing--and being influenced by--them is essential to success. Blog Marketing shows marketing and PR professionals as well small business owners how to do just that without spending a lot of money. Readers will learn how to tap into the power of blogs to create a direct line of communication with customers, raise the company's visibility, and position their organizations as industry thought leaders.
And from For Immediate Release:
In this edition of For Immediate Release podcast interviews, Neville enjoyed a 28-minute conversation with Jeremy Wright, blogger, author and consultant. Topics discussed include Jeremy’s business blogging book and his forthcoming launch of a new consumer blog network.
David Hornik, one of our advisors for BlogOn, blogs about a salutary example of why you should never allow your advertising agency to write your blog for you.
This bad advertising copy is labeled "BLOG" on the Juicy Fruit website and is, in theory, posted in chronological order (although the posts aren't dated). But beyond that, there is nothing bloglike about it. I'm sure it was devised by some advertising executive who wanted to capture the buzz around blogs. But it does just the opposite. Such is the danger of bad blogging.
I won't steal David's thunder and reproduce the bad copy here, but oh boy, it's bad!
Guest blogger: Pito Salas
Whether or not Ballmer reads blogs, it is quite amazing to see the amount of sanctioned blogging happening at Microsoft. I don't know how to take a reading of the impact this has on Microsoft's relationship with their customers, partners, and the outside world in general, but I have to believe it is really positive.
Yes, there are well known bloggers such as Scoble, but there are many others, deeper in the trenches: Check out the blogs from the Internet Explorer team, from the Office Team... and there are many many others. For anyone doing business (doing tech) with Microsoft, these blogs contain an amazing amount of very useful information -- nothing confidential per se (at least generally) but lots of nuggets which can profoundly affect you. Stuff that you might learn if you ran into one of these guys at a Starbucks but otherwise would never make it out.
And for all the sanctioned blogs, check out Mini-Microsoft, an unsanctioned and unvarnished blog with lots of insight on what it's like to work at Microsoft. I am pretty sure they'd shut this one down if they could find it - but it's hosted on Google's BlogSpot so I guess the service provider isn't going to help MSFT track Mini down. :)
In a Business Week cover story package on the increasing employee discord at Microsoft, Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer demonstrated a clear lack of understanding of the importance and impact of blogs.
In a long interview, Ballmer said:
"I'm not sure blogs are necessarily the best place to get a pulse on anything. People want to blog for a variety of reasons, and that may or may not be representative."
Ballmer states that he does not read Mini-Microsoft and other blogs, although he "is aware" that these blogs exist.
The real irony here is that Microsoft's Robert Scoble is among the best known bloggers and has just wrapped up a book with Shel Israel on the importance of listening to markets. (Robert has his own view on the Microsoft morale question.) As I understand the story, Robert was brought to Microsoft, in large measure, because he blogs.
Microsoft's Channel 9 is one of the best examples we know of a candid, authentic corporately-supported blog initiative that has dramatically improved relations between the company and its partners and customers.
But Steve Ballmer doesn't read blogs.
It's not the first time that Microsoft has been way behind the curve and had to run to catch up. The company's history with the Web is a case in point. No doubt, some thing or some one will convince Steve that this whole blog thing really does matter, and Microsoft will lumber to its feet and take a run at it.
Still, this gross misunderstanding of the power of social media doesn't bode well for Microsoft's chances in this race.
Of all the different types of external business blogs, the ones I like the most are thought leadership blogs, where people get into the nitty gritty of their expertise and give away their knowledge for free. There are some fantastic blogs out there by business people who know their onions, and one I rather like is Joel on Software, by Joel Spolsky, founder of Fog Creek Software.
Joel writes some really great, incisive pieces about software, such as this one on why you need really great programmers to write really great software, and how one great programmer is worth a whole bucketful of mediocre ones. It's great stuff, if you're into software, which being a geek, I am.
It doesn't really matter what you're blogging about, thought leadership blogs are all about sharing what you know, your experience, your knowledge, with a wider audience who then come to look to you for good ideas, information and, if you're really smart, wisdom. That's the sort of quality audience that money just can't buy.
So how do you do it? One great way of sharing your knowledge is through writing white papers or research reports. Producing a document which can be freely distributed, say under a Creative Commons license, can extend your reputation, your audience and your brand. For tips on writing white papers, visit Barefoot White Papers, a blog I only came across recently but which makes for every interesting reading!
A couple of years ago a whole rash of blog-related book came into print, with titles such as 'We've Got Blog' or 'We Blog'. The market wasn't quite ready back then - blogs were still in the domain of the geeks and the early adopters.
Now blogs have entered the mainstream, with millions of bloggers and millions more readers, a new wave of blogging books are being published. Books with more to say and more people to say it to.
One such example is Susannah Gardner's Buzz Marketing with Blogs for Dummies, from which:
Traditional business marketing is changing. More ads, catchier slogans, louder television commercials, brighter colours . . . everything's been done to catch the consumer's eye. Your company may have a great product that people love, but if you can't make them pick you out of a crowd, you're sunk.
So what's the solution?
Stop talking at consumers, and start talking to them. Begin a conversation with them that encourages them to talk to others about your business or product. That's what buzz marketing with blogs is all about: getting a conversation going between business and consumer.
Or, in this case, the Early Bird discount.
Until the end of the Pacific day on September 15, you can save $400 and sign up for BlogOn 2005 for just $1,095 with our Early Bird rate. After that, the standard rate of $1,495 kicks in until we sell out.
We've also got a new Single Day Pass for just $795 per day, for people who want to come on one day but can't make the other. No deadline for the Single Day Passes, but we have a limited number and they're allotted on a first come, first served basis.
Guest blogger: Pito Salas
Not too long ago businesses would ask themselves whether they actually should put an email address on business cards. (Well, ok, actually that was long ago...) Not too long ago, business would ask themselves whether they needed a web site. Of course both questions are now a no-brainer "Yes", right?
Now businesses ask themselves if they should have a blog.
And if the answer is "yes" (it is) then the second question is how the blog should relate to the web site. Should the blog be below the home page, should the blog be the home page, should it be a separate home page?
Some of the trade-offs as I see them:
- To make your main web page interesting, it is a good idea to update it frequently (see "Knock-Knock")
- To make a blog be a blog you probably want post on a regular basis
- It's hard enough to get people to regularly visit your web site - do you want to dilute that traffic and send it to your blog?
I don't claim to know the 'right' answer, in fact I'd say there isn't a 'right' answer. But it's a tricky one. Here are two approaches to it:
In the case of this site, Chris and crew decided to have a conventional home page with the blog prominently included in the main web site navigation in the left margin and the headlines from the blog in the right.
In the case of my own site, the home page was mostly a blog, the right margin ("right brain", get it?) having the common blog-like links ("Archive", "Syndicate", etc.) and the left margin having the conventional web site links ("Home", "About us", etc.).
The other novelty was that most of the content on the site starts it's life as a blog post, and if it's important enough, gets captured as part of the conventional web site navigation (see for example the FAQ.
It's a tricky question that I know we spent a good deal of time (and false starts) thinking about.
Perhaps lost in the hype over Apple’s iPod Nano last week were the stats on podcasts on iTunes.
According to Steve Jobs, in the two months since iPod made podcasts available, the site has registered some 7 million podcast subscriptions. The iTunes directory hosts 15,000 podcasts and that number is growing by 1,000 per week.
The most intriguing stat: iTunes features podcasts in 21 different languages.
Guest blogger: Pito Salas
Seth Godin (a speaker at BlogOn) has written a second installment of what looks like a really great, free ebook series.
The first one was Knock Knock, for me a really great, quick run through of ideas and pointers for making an effective web site.
The second one, that he just shipped, Who's There?, is all about the impact that a well done blog can have on a spectacular impact on your product, company or yourself even.
These are both excellent reads, especially the second one.
Hmm. Knock Knock, Who's there? I wonder what the third installment will be called.
Earlier this month I spent a fair amount of time discussing the opportunities for using Skype for social media based marketing with Stuart Henshall of SkypeJournal. We agreed that there was likely going to be lots of interesting things happening in the future...and I guess EBay's acquisition qualifies.
This morning, I spent an hour on the air at KQED with Kara Swisher, co-host of the D Conference and staffer for the Wall Street Journal, and Quentin Hardy, SF bureau chief for Forbes. The guest host of the Forum program, Dave Iverson, did a great job managing our lively discussion which managed to come back time and again to the challenges and opportunities of social media.
You can hear the program on the KQED site.
Back in June I published an in-depth case study examining the use of blogs by a European pharmaceuticals group for the collection and dissemination of competitive intelligence. Combining a questionnaire and lengthy interviews, the case study examines the full project lifespan, from how they decided on which software to use to implementation and roll out.
The CIO put together a small team which began examining the CI problem in late 2002, beginning development with Traction Software in 2004 and soft launching that autumn. They decided that, due to the nature of the material being published, an editorial committee was needed to ensure content had been validated before publication. They created a clear publishing process, with a private editorial blog to which readers could submit potential content via email or a web form. This content would then be assessed by a member of the editorial committee and posted to the appropriate blog. This semi-open publishing process is balanced by a fully open commenting system which allows any reader to post comments on any article.
The blogs were promoted via word of mouth, coverage in the company's internal magazine and viral marketing, with the CIO and his team mentioning the project in any presentations they gave. The initial user group was drawn from a pool of employees already active in the competitive intelligence field. Users were introduced to the software in informal face-to-face meetings where they could explore it at their own pace. Formal training procedures were deemed unnecessary due to the simplicity of the user interface.
With all of the buzz around corporate blogging, we wanted to understand the real value of it for companies. Why would a company want to start blogging, who should blog, what makes a blog successful, and how can a company use this type of website to make a positive impact on business?
To answers to these questions, we asked bloggers at hundreds of companies to participate in an online survey and conducted in-depth interviews with leading individuals from six corporate blogs that were selected as representative of the diverse spectrum of the corporate blogging world. What we discovered was that for the majority of our survey sample, (which includes some of today's biggest corporations and scrappiest underdogs), corporate blogs are living up to all the hype. We discovered that corporate blogs are giving established corporations and obscure brands the ability to connect with their audiences on a personal level, build trust, collect valuable feedback and foster strengthened relationships while and at the same time benefiting in ways that are tangible to the sales and marketing side of the business.
Great white paper by Jeneane Sessum explaining what blogging has to do with business, and giving a step by step guide to starting up your own corporate blog.
Imagine if you could talk to every individual in your market, one on one, or in informal coffee-shop talks, about what matters to him or her. Imagine if you could engage your key audiences and influencers in a discussion, or join a discussion they were having, about a problem your product or service resolves. Imagine if you could give a voice to your customers—who, in turn, give you immediate, valuable feedback about what delights or disturbs them about your product or service.
Well, actually you can. These are exactly the types of interactions taking place where blogs intersect with business.
Blogging: Bubble or Big Deal is a report by Forrester's Charlene Li examining the use of blogs in business:
Although Weblogs (blogs) are currently used by only a small number of online consumers, they've garnered a great deal of corporate attention because their readers and writers are highly influential. Forrester believes that blogging will grow in importance, and at a minimum, companies should monitor blogs to learn what is being said about their products and services. Companies that plan to create their own public blogs should already feel comfortable having a close, two-way relationship with users. In this document we recommend best practices, including a blogging code of ethics, and metrics that will show the impact of blogs on business goals.
The report include a primer to explain the blogging phenomenon and sections on monitoring the blogosphere, blog policy and best practice for external blogs.
A veteran of high-tech PR, Elizabeth has worked with companies such as IBM, Sony and Inprise/Borland, as well as with many start-ups and non-profit organisations. She is co-founder and co-producer of the New Communications Forum, a conference series which focuses on providing journalists and marketing/PR professionals with an understanding of social media.
Until recently, Elizabeth ran a consultancy, Albrycht McClure and Partners. Prior to that, she worked for TSI Communications Worldwide in New York and Silicon Valley as senior vice president in charge of strategy, account management and business development.
With such great experience in the use of social media in PR and Marketing, we're delighted to have Elizabeth moderating the first panel discussion of the conference:
What You Don't Hear Can Hurt You: Listening to the Blogosphere
The first step in understanding social media is to start listening. Your customers are already talking about you, and tapping into that conversation is like tapping into a real-world focus group. So how can you use social media to monitor these conversations about you brand, and your competitors? What tools and techniques can you use to gather information about your products?
A social software expert, Judith Meskill has been blogging since September 1st, 2001 and is now Editorial Director of Weblogs, Inc., for whom she manages over 100 bloggers. She has 20 years of experience in internet research, specialising in collaboration, knowledge transformation, social networking systems and enterprise architecture. She is well known for her blog, The Social Software Weblog, as well as her eponymous blog.
An experienced speaker, Judith regularly gives presentations to a wide range of audiences about online social networking and the use of blogs in business. Her in-depth understanding of the way that blogging works and how to start, nurture and grow public-facing blogs makes her a great speaker for BlogOn. Judith will be talking about the best ways to make sure your blog presses all the right buttons.
How to Blog Professionally
What do good business bloggers have in common? What makes for an engaging, interesting blog? What are the important watchwords to keep in mind? And what do we mean by 'blogger values'?
Sometimes I wonder why social software has become so popular. We've never seen a phenomenon like blogs before - 16 million blogs tracked by Technorati is undoubtedly an understatement, because of all the dark blogs out there that are hidden away behind firewalls or passwords. There may be millions of blogs that just don't ping Technorati - such as Korean blogs - so are 'invisible' to their indexing spiders. Who knows how many blogs there really are, but it could well be in the hundreds of millions.
Cast your mind back to the beginnings of the World Wide Web, to Netscape Navigator, to the days when a website had to be hand coded and blinking text was all the rage. Back then, the predictions were that soon everyone would have a home page. Everyone would have a presence on the web.
But that didn't happen, because even with the eventual development of WYSIWYG HTML editors, the barrier to entry was still far too high. People didn't know HTML and didn't want to know HTML. It took Blogger to bring that barrier down and make publishing on the web as easy as writing an email.
Five years on from the launch of Blogger and the spread of blogging shows no signs of slowing down. Dave Sifry's State of the Blogosphere posts show that the blogosphere appears to be doubling in size every five to six months.
Yet I'd argue that the technology behind blogging hasn't changed all that much in five years. We've added bells and whistles - comments, trackbacks and tags - but the basics of blogging have remained the same. We are still publishing our thoughts on whatever topic we're passionate about to the world (or just our friends), the same as we were back then.
The success of blogging has nothing really to do with software or technology, but is instead down to the fact that it allows us to interact online in the same way we do offline. With chit chat and cat pictures and discussions of the best recipe for teriyaki salmon, interspersed occasionally with a bit of cooing and billing over the latest gadget/car/mobile phone/knitting pattern. Blogging allows us to get to know people gradually by reading their blog, by leaving comments, by having a blog for them to read, so that communities form unhampered by geography. It allows our personalities to shine through, allows us to be who we are (or who we wish to be).
We have a long and lustrous history of epistolary relationships, from letters between lovers exchanging heartfelt paeans to their devotion, to professorial colleagues discussing the advances they are making in their research. For centuries, the letter has been the key to strengthening weak ties. The phone seems still alien to some of us - that disembodied voice burning our ears - and email is fraught with a lack of emotion that can accidentally engender arguments. But blogs provide what letters once did - persistence, context, presence.
With blogs, we can converse with our friends and with strangers who might one day turn into friends. We can embrace the world and transcend the limits of geography. But most importantly, with blogs we are free to be who we want to be.
A very cool post just showed up in my BlogOn Search Feed
and I wanted to write about it because, well, I think it's cool and deserves to be noticed.
If Guidewire didn't have a reasonably slick database/workflow system that lives behind our application for Social Media Innovators Chris would be totally overwhelmed with the huge number of terrific product and company applications we get for BlogOn, DEMO, Innovate!Europe and our other projects and events.
But every so often, our somewhat rigid system sometimes fails to capture the standout characteristics of an applicant...like when someone blogs their candidacy. Maybe someone can help us figure out how to let all of our applicants submit their applications on their own blogs...and have both the structured data and the rich unstructured stuff syndicate directly to our database.
No guarantees on being selected as an Innovator, but Chris will definintely give OBBTV's coBRANDiT serious consideration.
Co-founder of Marketing Vox, Steve Hall is an experienced media and marketing strategist who also runs the award-winning blog, Adrants, providing marketing and advertising news and opinion from industry experts. Steve will be taking part in the Can Advertising Be Social session, sharing the knowledge and insight he's gained during his career at such companies as RDW Group, where he was media director and responsible for clients such as Blue Cross Blue Shield and Timex; and BlackSheep Marketing, Starcom/Mediavest and Leo Burnett where he managed marketing budgets up to $75 million annually.
Steve regularly writes and speaks about the integration of public relations and advertising, the future convergence of media and the impact of the internet on advertising. He specialises in understanding how new forms of media and technology, such as TiVo or SMS, affect consumer behaviour and habits, and how marketing is shifting towards a two-way conversation between marketer and consumer.
A self-confessed 'card-carrying flack', Michael O'Connor Clarke has been in marketing and communications for 20 years, most recently as President of Mansfield Communications, a boutique PR firm in Toronto/New York. Prior to that he was Senior Vice President of Weber Shandwick, the world's largest PR agency, where he worked with clients such as AOL Canada and Agilent Technologies.
On Michael's blog, Flackster, he puts the PR industry under the microscope and examines in detail how marketers interact with bloggers. Michael has a deep understanding of social media and the relationship between traditional PR/marketing and the internet.
Michael will be in conversation with Jeremy Pepper from POP! PR, discussing how agencies should view Pitching to Social Media.
Deborah Branscum of CMO Magazine did a great piece on the challenges and promises of marketing and advertising with RSS.
The article explores some of the key issues marketers face given the early state of measurement standards and the fact that RSS represents a channel that gives consumers far more control than email or web-based advertising.
Scott Rafer of Feedster, Dick Costolo of Feedburner (both BlogOn Advisors) and a number of other pioneers provided Deborah with some insights into how early adopters are overcoming challenges and making good progress.
Shel has just wrapped production with Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble on Naked Coversations, a book that addresses how blogging is changing the way businesses communicate with their customers.
He's going to share some of his in-depth research before the book is published as a panelist at BlogOn, but if you want a preview, you can check out some early chapters at Naked Conversations Blog or listen to Shel's recent Podcast interview with John Furrier.
For those of you who haven't seen it on the event site yet, we've just posted the newly updated (and detailed) BlogOn Press and Evangelist Policy.
Moderating the Power of Communities panel, Susan Mernit is a great addition to our speaker list. A former journalist, Susan has ten years experience of brand creation and and has led brand development for companies such as Netscape, American Online and Scholastic.
Susan's consulting group, 5ive, helps online businesses build communities and develop business strategies for using blogs, social networking software, and syndication feeds. Working with museums, corporate clients, and IT businesses, they focus on retail branding and publishing/digital media.
Susan has a huge amount of experience with community building and a deep understanding of how communities grow, and how to keep them functioning smoothly. It's a privilege to have her at BlogOn 2005.
UPDATE: Since originally writing this post earlier in the week, I've had a delightful dialog with Tara Hunt, which further punctuates the point I'm trying to make below. Tara summaries the exchange well.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been discussing the challenge of handling crisis PR in the blogosphere with Lisa Poulson, who will chair that discussion at BlogOn. We’ve dissected some high-profile cases trying to find for the conference the right speakers with the right experience and the willingness to let others learn from it. Little did I realize that Guidewire Group would find itself in the middle of a minor crisis communication exercise of its own this weekend.
The details aren’t worth rehashing here – a quick Feedster search on “BlogOn” will provide the back story. Suffice to say, though, that this little incident is a near-perfect example of how a PR problem goes from zero to 60 in a couple of posts, and how the blogger community is as likely to solve the problem as to fan the flames.
In this case, a prominent blogger posted a criticism (fair enough) and took a swipe (not so fair) at our public relations agency. In short order, another blogger picked up the torch and posted a pot shot at our company. I got email from one of our speakers, questioning the posts and our practices.
This, in short, is how the blogosphere can create a PR problem for an organization.
In response to the original posting, we first sent an email to the blogger. Then, practicing what we preach about open dialogs, we posted a comment to the blog. Both of these approaches only fanned the flames, and as we debated internally whether and how to respond, a funny thing began to happen: readers of the first blog began to post comments that countered the blogger’s criticism.
This, in a nutshell, is how the blogosphere can quell a PR problem for an organization.
In our case, we decided that to comment further on the original post or to confront the blogger directly would only fan flames that other bloggers were dousing for us. We’ll keep our eye on the embers, to be sure, but we’re convinced that for now this is the right decision.
Not all PR problems rise and fall so quickly, and plenty of crisis are much, much larger than this annoying blip. In some cases, such as ours, the blogosphere is self-correcting, and this is one of the great advantages of social media. In other cases, though, ignoring a crisis will not make it go away. The key is knowing when to fight and when to walk away.
UPDATE: I've had a couple of questions about whether Mary will be speaking at BlogOn. Mary's told me she plans to attend, she's given us some great recommendations for speakers, and I'm looking forward to her typically vibrant participation.
Mary Hodder, who was one of the key architects of BlogOn 2004, recently posted some terrific materials (here and here) which give marketing and communications professionals a deep view into the workings of current blog search and measure tools. She also posted a lot of great ideas and commentary from the blogosphere on other measure of relevancy (here andhere).. Finally, she's posted the slides from her session with Sally Falkow on Metrics at the recent Blog Business Summit.
I'm really pleased Mary will be at BlogOn 2005 to help move the conversation forward.
Over the next few days I'd like to introduce you to some of the speakers who've confirmed their attendance at BlogOn 2005. The first person I'd like you to meet is Cameron Reilly, Co-Founder of The Podcast Network and Australian podcasting pioneer.
A resident of Melbourne, Cameron has been working as an internet/e-business consultant since 1995 and his resume includes notable names such as Microsoft and OzEmail. In February 2005, Cameron joined forces with Mick Stanic to start The Podcast Network, a collection of the best podcasts they could find. Unlike a directory, The Podcast Network is centrally managed to ensure consistent production and audio standards. There are now over 30 shows hosted on The Podcast Network, from golf to gay parenting, from movies to Mac users, and even including a radio drama.
Cameron is going to be moderating our panel discussion:
Podcasting: Beyond Radio
Podcasting is a way of delivering audio content to a huge number of listeners via RSS. How can your business use podcasting to reach your customers? Which companies are already podcasting, and what reaction have they had from their listeners? We hear from companies who are making best use of this increasingly popular medium.
A year and a bit ago, my colleagues and I were celebrating a successful inaugural BlogOn Summit. Some 300-plus people packed the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley to learn about what we were just then calling social media. The day-long event was a handoff of sorts. The very earliest innovators in blogging, social networks, and syndication presented a framework of issues and ideas to an audience of early adopters and advocates seeking to understand the opportunities presented by social media.
We marveled that, in the 120 days between our initial planning of the event and the 60 days after it was held last July, investment in social media companies increased from a total of less than $10 million to more than $100 million. The needle was moving, and moving quickly.
Twelve months later, the market has continued its steady march toward the broad market adoption of social media. Personal blogging and blog-based communities are growing at a tremendous rate. The word “blog” has made its way into common nomenclature. Major metro newspapers are covering blogging as a cultural phenomenon and fanning the flames by hosting community blog sites of their own. By some estimates, some 50 million people are writing and/or reading blogs, participating in social networks, and otherwise adopting the tools of social media.
With so much growth in the past year, one has to ask how the momentum can be sustained.
At Guidewire Group, we believe the market grows from 50 million to 500 million as businesses embrace the tools of social media to create communities of customers and to open dialogs with the people who buy and use their products. We’re already seeing the beginnings of this. General Motors. Purina. Cannondale. REI. McDonalds. These are just a few of the name brand companies that are adopting social media to engage with their customers.
Some of these companies are engaged in experiments both grand and modest. Others have made significant commitments to an on-going customer relationship facilitated by social media technologies. Along the way, all have made mistakes, experienced the unexpected, discovered the things that work and don’t work.
And we are glad they did. Because these experiences are at the heart of BlogOn 2005: The Social Media Summit. These are the people we’ll hear and learn from. These are the catalyst who will drive the market through its next stage of growth.
And that’s exactly what BlogOn is all about. From the outset, this conference has been about spurring the momentum in this emerging market. It’s about the hand off from early innovator to early adopter to early market majority. If we are successful at BlogOn 2005, 12 months from now we’ll be writing about social media reaching the tipping point of mass adoption.
The market is on its way. Now is the time to get into the game to maximize your opportunity and learning.
Every few years, it seems, some pundit announces that this time it's different, that all the rules have changed and the big guys should watch out.
Let's see, the last time that happened was seven years ago. And we saw the music industry tank, politics change forever, JetBlue mop the floor with Delta and American, Amazon continue to give agita to retailers in the real world and, oh, yes, the TV networks destroyed.
Well, it's happening again. But more so. In this fast-moving talk, marketing gadfly Seth Godin shares his take on how the rules have changed (again).
A renowned speaker, best-selling author, and entrepreneur, Seth is an authority on the new marketing paradigm. He's written six books, including Permission Marketing which spent a year in the Amazon.com Top 100, as well as accruing accolades from Fortune, Business Week and the New York Times. Seth's most recent book, All Marketers are Liars, is already in the Amazon.com Top 100. In it, Seth discusses how marketing a product based on the facts no longer works, instead advocating the use of powerful stories to connect with customers.
I have to say, we're very excited to have Seth on board and his keynote will be a real must-see opener!
Technorati Tags: BlogOn2005
We're working hard behind the scenes here to get BlogOn 2005 organised, and in the great blogging tradition of making things as obvious as possible, we're going with 'blogon2005' as our Technorati tag:
<a href="http://technorati.com/tag/BlogOn2005" rel="tag">BlogOn2005</a>
We've also prepared some badges for your blog:
Available from: http://www.blogonevent.com/archives/BlogOnButtonlg.gif
Available from: http://www.blogonevent.com/archives/BlogOnButtonSm.gif
Let the blogging commence!
Even as the concept of RSS – Real Simple Syndication – is a mystery to the vast majority of Internet users, the technology is seeping into popular use, propelled most recently by America Online, as Idil Cakim, Director of Knowledge Development for PR agency Burson-Marsteller, writes for Guidewire Group.
“At last the consumer will gain more control over content choice and the power of online syndication will be unleashed.”
Interestingly, consumer businesses may be doing more to drive an understanding of RSS as any technology destination. We found one simple, clear description of RSS on the Purina Web site, which is using RSS to build information-based relationships with its customers.
Welcome to the BlogOn blog, where we'll be keeping you up to date with the preparations for the BlogOn 2005 Social Media Summit at the Copacabana in New York, October 17-18.
Here's where we'll be announcing speakers, introducing you to our pre-conference networking tools and setting the stage for the summit. We'll also be including posts from our Advisory Board and any other tidbits we come across as we put together the schedule for you.
Comments are open, so please let us know what you think.