Tag Archives: social media

What I Did in Wellington

photo by Glynn Foster I was in Wellingon, New Zealand, this week, where my old friend David Earle had arranged for me to give presentations/seminars hosted by the Ministry of Education. These were open to all, and the attendees were a cross-section of government, NGOs, and local community representatives. Monday: Extending Conversations Through Social Media Read More…

photo by Glynn Foster

I was in Wellingon, New Zealand, this week, where my old friend David Earle had arranged for me to give presentations/seminars hosted by the Ministry of Education. These were open to all, and the attendees were a cross-section of government, NGOs, and local community representatives.

The attendees seemed to find the info useful, and I was at least as interested in hearing their stories: the usual problems with nervous managers, unwieldy systems and software, and Terms of Use that make it illegal for government departments to use some popular online tools (e.g., Google Analytics – but that’s being worked out).

I took the opportunity to mention slx.com, Sun’s soon-to-release SaaS video platform, which could be a useful solution for some departments which need to be able to publish video easily and without restrictions on length, and possibly limit access to insiders and/or a predefined set of users.

Producing Social Media

Last week was a big one for Sun conferences, with CommunityOne on June 1st and 2nd, JavaOne starting on the 2nd. Like many other Sun folks, I was very busy with preparations in the weeks leading up to these, and played several different roles throughout conference week. For some of us, C1/J1 were preceded on Read More…

Last week was a big one for Sun conferences, with CommunityOne on June 1st and 2nd, JavaOne starting on the 2nd. Like many other Sun folks, I was very busy with preparations in the weeks leading up to these, and played several different roles throughout conference week.

For some of us, C1/J1 were preceded on Sunday, May 31st by the Open High Availability Cluster Summit. Unlike our previous “specialty” summits for Open Storage, this one was organized mostly by the cluster engineering team themselves (though we of the community team like to think we’ve set a good example), who did a fantastic job of marketing it, achieving over 170 registrations.

They did ask me to cover video and social media for the summit. As I was doing it, I realized the job should be called “social media producer”. It’s more work than you might think.

In this case, I assumed my tasks to include:

  • live video streaming of the talks (double tracks in the afternoon), with monitoring of any chat on the stream
  • recording video for future editing and posting (NB: the video stream site can also capture the video, but the quality is poor)
  • live-Tweeting the proceedings with the hashtag #ohac (why these tweets are no longer available via search.twitter.com is a mystery).
  • assembling and managing a team who actually did most of the work (in part because I was ill, and not up to doing it myself all day as usual)

Room sound and lighting were handled by SWANK Audio Visuals, who were a pleasure to work with. I let them know  in advance my requirements for camera position, with an Ethernet connection for video streaming and electricity for the camera, and found everything ready for me as requested Sunday morning. I set up my usual videoblogging gear, with the SWANK crew there ready to make the last-minute adjustments that are always needed.

Some things we figured out the hard way:

Unlike the the Open University’s FlashMeeting that I used for the last Open Storage Summit, UStream requires a separate feed for the audio, into the mic jack of the laptop you’re streaming from. [NB No longer true in 2012 with more recent UStream Producer software.] We took this from the sound board, but it needed an XLR grounding adapter (which, fortunately, the A/V crew had) to eliminate a very annoying hum. I was alerted to this hum by Mark Carlson, who was watching the stream remotely, via SMS – how many different forms of communication can I use in one day?

The fact that I learned about the problem from Mark tells me that it’s necessary to periodically monitor sound levels and quality into both the camera and the UStream. I used my iPhone headphones for this – not great, but better than nothing – or carrying around yet another piece of dedicated gear.

Another UStream gotcha: it requires you to press two different buttons to start broadcasting and start recording, whereas FlashMeeting simply stores everything that goes on during your broadcast. Because I wasn’t used to this, and not all of our ad hoc social media team had had the UStream training offered by Sun’s media team the previous week, we may not have hit the record button on every talk (don’t worry – we still have videotape).

UStream in its normal configuration includes a chat window which I had planned to use to encourage conversation among the online audience and to take questions from them. (It’s also useful for monitoring stream quality – people complain instantly on the chat if there’s a problem.) But for this event I was using the Sun UStream account, which, for reasons unknown to me, has disabled chat. All I could do was hope people asked questions via Twitter. No one did, which was disappointing – we had had good participation this way at the Open Storage Summit, with online questions to relay to the room for almost every talk.

I had one user contact me via email afterwards to complain that he had not been able to get the stream to work from his home. He’s an engineer and certainly knew enough to try it on various systems, so I’m at a loss to know what went wrong. Hoping the Sun media team can figure it out so it doesn’t happen again.

I had been so ill the week before that I wasn’t thinking clearly, and spaced on the fact that I’d need a laptop with a FireWire connector to connect the camera for the UStream, so I’d only brought along my MacBook Air (which, horribly, lacks FireWire). Fortunately, we had two Toshiba Portegé R500 netbooks along, which have FireWire and mic jacks and were easily set up to be our streaming stations. If I were to spec out a portable social media production station, one of these would be part of it.

What went well:

The C1/J1 conferences function, in part, as an opportunity for current and former Sun employees from around the world to gather and see each other. Everyone was looking for a reason to be there, so I had volunteers to help out with video and other social media tasks: Aaron Newcomb (who already knows his way around a video camera), Alan McLellan, and Alta Elstad – the Triple A team!

Alan and Alta attended the UStream training on Friday, so they were able to start and stop the UStream recordings for each session. They also jumped right in to live tweeting (using my Twitter account part of the time, hence all the activity) – as Sun tech writers, in fact, they were far more effective at this than I would have been.

Alan was confident enough to take over the videocamera in the main room so I could go rest (still ill), and Aaron arrived in time to run the camera in the second room in the afternoon. (I had hoped he would also do some video interviews on Monday, but he found himself disabled by an unexpectedly drained camera battery. Another lesson: always have a charged backup battery.)

Results:

  • 8+ hours of video recorded (requests for it to be posted quickly started coming in the next day). Like most of the highly technical video I produce, the viewing statistics on this stuff may never look impressive. It’s certainly not viral video. But it will be immensely valuable – and most of it will remain so over time – to a select worldwide audience.
  • Up to 9 or 10 people on the video streams at any given time – people who couldn’t join us in person were nonetheless able to participate. This number may seem small, but the conference itself wasn’t that big, maybe 150 attendees total.
  • Lots of Twitter coverage

Costs:

  • Time and effort by people who wanted to be there because they had direct interest and expertise, and didn’t have to be paid (extra) to do the social media work. All parties benefited.
  • (My) time to produce the event, then edit, post, manage, and measure the final video.

I’d call that a fair return on investment.

photo at top: me and Alan, hard at work (photo by Lynn)

Speaking in Chicago in June

Here’s the marketing blurb, I’ll write something more personalized… umm, when things calm down a little? June 16-17, Chicago: Join us in Chicago when INNOVATING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT meets EXECUTING SOCIAL MEDIA FOR INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS. Communitelligence presents two full jam-packed conference days on the most essential aspects of employee engagement, HR and social media for internal Read More…

Here’s the marketing blurb, I’ll write something more personalized… umm, when things calm down a little?

June 16-17, Chicago: Join us in Chicago when INNOVATING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT meets EXECUTING SOCIAL MEDIA FOR INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS.

Communitelligence presents two full jam-packed conference days on the most essential aspects of employee engagement, HR and social media for internal communications. Conference includes 4 keynotes, 11 case studies, 8 roundtables, 20-plus expert speakers, a networking reception and dinearounds. Plus a $200 travel rebate! One trip, two great conferences, tons of ideas to take back to your office. Full details here.

SxSWi: Is Privacy Dead, or Just Very Confused?

I attended this session because : danah boyd (one of my heroes) and Judith Donath of MIT Media Lab and Harvard’s Berkman Center (whom I happen to know personally) were speaking. Also on the panel (and interesting in their own right): Siva Vaidyanathan (author of the forthcoming “The Googleization of Everything”), who said (among other Read More…

I attended this session because : danah boyd (one of my heroes) and Judith Donath of MIT Media Lab and Harvard’s Berkman Center (whom I happen to know personally) were speaking.

Also on the panel (and interesting in their own right):

  • Siva Vaidyanathan (author of the forthcoming “The Googleization of Everything”), who said (among other things) that privacy is not the opposite of publicity. Privacy is not a substance. It means different things in different contexts.
  • Alice Marwick, doing her dissertation on the Effect of Social Media on Social Status

What follows is a transcription of my notes, with [my own thoughts and comments].

CEOs these days expect their staff to be familiar with social technology. [Yay! I can haz job!]

There is social value to online relationships – people get real emotional support online.

But the information we put online is valuable to marketers.

[D here: So what? I just wish they’d make it valuable to me. Personally, I would be happy to see advertising that I’m actually interested in.

Take car advertising. How often does any of us buy a car? Yet it seems that every other ad on TV or at the movies is for a car. I’d like to know which is larger: the number of cars sold in the US each year, or the number of car ads shown? For most people, buying a car is a relatively rare event. Much of that advertising must be a waste of car companies’ money, and it’s certainly a waste of my time and attention, which I resent.

I was intensely interested in information about cars for a few weeks last summer, and again this March when I was buying a first car for my daughter. For myself, I ended up leasing a Toyota Rav4. I knew I liked this car because I had driven it as a rental for several weeks, but I didn’t feel comfortable with the sticker price. Then I discovered (on the Toyota website) a great lease deal that I qualified for, so I was able to get my dream car. I only test-drove one other (a used Hyundai SUV). No doubt the fact that the Rav4 was available as a rental at that time and place was part of a marketing effort – in my case, a very effective one.

For Ross, I did a lot more research, entirely online, for a good “starter” car that would last a while. She drove only one model – the Honda Fit – and that’s what she now owns (or rather, what the bank owns and I’m now paying for). A key selling point was Consumer Reports’ safety rating on this model (a big concern for me as the mother of a new driver).

If I’ve ever noticed either of these cars advertised in print or media, I don’t remember it. I do remember examples of advertising that had a negative impact on me, e.g. the painfully obvious product placement of Lexus in Desperate Housewives and Fiat in Montalbano.

So all the money spent showing me car ads was wasted. As Judith Donath said, there should be rewards for accurate targeting. In fact, there would be: I would buy!]

Judith Donath is interested in visualization of online identity/history.

Is online identity meaningful? You have different public faces for different spheres. We try to maintain control of our various public personas, but the web is causing the collapse of personalities.

[Which is to say: It’s hard to be one kind of person in your private life and a very different kind of person in your professional life, if much of both is viewable online. Coincidentally, a woman at another session I attended described trying to juggle two identities in Second Life. She said: “I’m trying to live two lives. And it’s killing me!”

I guess I’ve been lucky that I’ve always been myself, online and off. ]

It’s hard to know how others see you. We need technology to show us a mirror of the trails we have left behind (an area of research interest for Judith right now).

SV: There was a movement towards privacy in the mid-70s which resulted in current laws, e.g., no branch of government can share information about you with any other branch.

danah boyd: Young people see privacy differently. They do not see their homes as private spaces because they do not have control there – their parents can invade their rooms at any time.

Young people are also very aware of the role of power imbalances in privacy, and they find ways to trick the system.

“Because she puts so many things online, people think that’s all that’s going on.” [Now there’s a topic I could write reams on. But not today.]

SV: personal information is a currency.

JD: Time is also a context.

Discussion on health insurance, privacy and employability [ a topic I’ve written about myself].

Privacy and personal presentations of the self:

Privacy is a historically recent concept. People used to live in small tribes/communities in which everyone knew everyone else’s business.

[Me again: If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you know exactly what this is like.

It seems to me that the solution is simply not to do anything that you would be ashamed to have held up to public scrutiny. Obviously, this requires a society in which very little is grounds for shame. And this may be exactly what is happening in America. As Judith said: “We are creating what may be the most open and accepting society [in history] because we can see so much [online] about people’s divergent behaviors.”

The film “Milk” portrays how (some) young gay people living in middle America in the 1970s saw Harvey Milk – an openly gay man – on the news, and realized that they could go and be themselves in larger cities that had gay communities. For that to happen, Milk had to make enough of a stir to appear in the national news, and perhaps he died for it. Nowadays, all sorts of “differences” can be researched online, and anyone can find kindred spirits and support. (Yes, there are some cases in which this is worrying.)]

JD: In a society of millions of people trying to keep up with what their norms are, that’s the function of celebrity: to give us a basis for comparison/discussion. [D: I find this idea frightening. Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as social norms?]

We want people to pay attention to us. What is the value of that?

SxSWi Report – Social Media: Connecting with Customers

Note: This was listed in the catalog as “Social Media: If You Liked it, Then You Should Have Put a Digg on It…”, which I wouldn’t have bothered to attend, but when I walked by the room the title had changed to “Social Media: Connecting with Customers”, which was a lot more obviously interesting to Read More…

Note: This was listed in the catalog as “Social Media: If You Liked it, Then You Should Have Put a Digg on It…”, which I wouldn’t have bothered to attend, but when I walked by the room the title had changed to “Social Media: Connecting with Customers”, which was a lot more obviously interesting to me. This was also one of the few panels that didn’t seem to treat large corporations (and those of us who work for them) as the enemy.

Panel:

  • Chris Bowler – VP Social Media Lead, Razorfish (moderator)
  • Jordan Corredera -  Director of Online Marketing, Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Paula Drum – VP Digital Marketing, H&R Block
  • Malini Ratnam – Digital Media Mgr, Avenue A/Razorfish/JCPenney

First, each panelist gave an overview on what their company is doing in social media (comments on the companies themselves are partly my own, for the benefit of non-US readers who may not be familiar with these companies):

H&R Block

Well-known in the US as a tax preparation service, H&R Block’s problem is that their business is extremely seasonal, running from January (they kick off their advertising season with the SuperBowl) through Tax Day on April 15th. They are trying to use social media to stay in the public consciousness year-round. The overall theme is customer connections to build lifelong relationships.

Tactics include:

  • a tax news widget for tax professionals
  • YouTube contests
  • online community
  • tax-themed content related to other times of year, e.g. back to school, company benefits enrollment periods
  • provide customer service via Twitter and Yahoo Answers
  • helping tax professionals participate in these programs as well
  • along with the Social Media Club, have organized/participated in Tweetups in 10 cities

JC Penney

Penney is a very old retail company, and is trying to overcome a rather musty reputation with younger shoppers: “Trying not to be ‘your mother’s store’.” They have chosen to actively participate in women’s online communities.

Their first big project is the extremely funny “doghouse” video (which I had seen long before this conference, though I had probably forgotten that it was done by JC Penney):

At the time it had had 4.1 million views with a 60% completion rate, resulting in 600 (new) Twitter followers and 1100 tweets/retweets. It was initially seeded from a Penney microsite using Facebook Connect. Traffic crashed the server and led to higher fees. Offloaded the traffic to YouTube.

They’ve also set up a Facebook group targeted to women, after finding that segmentation by Penney sub-brands did not work. And they’ve got a customer service Twitter account.

Someone asked what was the ROI on the doghouse video campaign. The answer was that brand awareness, not ROI, was the objective; a hard sell would not have been as successful.

Carnival Cruise Lines

In 2005, Carnival set up a group planning tool built on Community Server. The Cruise Talk forum there grew to 500 posts/day, and was followed by a “scrapblog” and a Twitter account with 1300 followers.

Then came a blog by John Heald, a cruise director, which has become immensely popular, as measured by 100 comments a day [visitor stats were not given].This has grown into a multimedia extravaganza including live chats, videos (quality was an issue), etc. Cruising is inherently social, so this has worked well.

[D here: This is an example of how effective social media marketing can be when tied to a real personality. You can also build community around that person: Heald fans want to talk to each other, there are now even Heald-themed fan cruises.]

Then the moderator asked questions:

How do you set up your organization to participate in social media?

H&R Block: You have to figure out where does this fit. Customer service, communications, marketing, field coordination…? The company isn’t yet on board, we’re still in a skunkworks phase. We’re trading off media dollars with human capital – we have only one person for Twitter, which is a 24/7 job. [But she said later that some resources are being shifted to social media.]

Also, the Federal Trade Commission is changing the legislation about blogging [as relates to professional tax preparers]. We’re still figuring out how to train people, what legal disclosures are needed. Ideally, we’d like tax preparers to be blogging. Education and support are difficult. People need to understand that it’s okay to have your own personality.

JC Penney: Similar situation, we have no dedicated social media team. [Some problem of] brick and mortar stores vs. jcpenney.com. Facebook took off for us when it became a two-way conversation, but that takes dedicated staff.

Carnival: We have an online community manager with two moderators and a social media strategist. Not seeing any particular efficiences from online yet.

How can we measure the results of social media?

Page views, links to transactions.

How does this tie back to brand? How do we make the brand relevant to the new generation?

Word of mouth as brand tracker, but it moves over multiple years.

ROI = Risk of Ignoring

creating spheres of influence, measuring awareness

Traditional ROI isn’t the be-all and end-all – Twitter is free! [except for staff time]

Use Radiant6 to monitor buzz.

Facebook charges $300k for a brand page – Carnival elected not to spend this. Buying a YouTube channel can cost $500k plus media costs.

But you can get started for free.

If you’re going to lead social media [teams], you have to be doing it yourself.

Content creation is expensive.

How might employee culture affect the use of social media in older companies?

An interesting question, but, frustratingly, I didn’t note the answers. Maybe there weren’t any.

D’s Conclusions

A good and useful session, one of the few at SxSWi to address the needs of large companies and their employees.

I was very frustrated that Sun was not speaking on this panel, as we have one hell of a story to tell in this space.

And, even absent Sun’s support infrastructure for blogs, wikis, and video, I could have told them that there are cheaper ways to do this stuff than what Facebook and YouTube are charging for branded offerings.