Category Archives: Social Networks

Quotes for the week ending 24 July, 2010

Resuming my snapshot of the best quotes from around the world on communications, marketing, media and social media.

“An increasingly addictive activity”

SocialMediaAtWork on a recent Experian study that says social networking may be addictive.

“The future of infographics will be about telling stories. Telling them in an interesting and compelling way.”

Charles Apple, on the use of info-graphics

“the journalist isn’t a writer; he is a technician.”

Jolie O’Dell in a gret long post on ‘How to tell a journalist from a blogger.”

“When people feel they have some kind of social relationship with others in the company, there tends to be greater collaboration between them.”

Human Resource Executive, on the potential and perils of social networking in the workplace.

“The $35 iPad lookalike from India”

The rage about the Indian tablet developed by the government of India.

Blurs the Lines Between Online and Offline.”

Guest post by Yael Davidowitz-Neu at Convince and Convert, on the ‘Six degrees of influence’ in C to C programs.


Thanks for attending the webinar!

Webinar on social media - US Embassy, Colombo Sri LankaQuick note of thanks to all the attendees at the webinar on blogging, yesterday. (Sunday night here, although it was still the 21st in Sri Lanka.)

Dan Wool Steve England, and I enjoyed being able to share our ideas, and answer your questions.

The application, DimDim, did cause us a hiccup for the audio at the second location, but we know exactly what the problem is and how to fix it in the next sessions.

Since this was a session on blogging 101, I created a basic blog for the attendees, on the fly. I will be using it to update content for the next few sessions on the other key elements on social media.

Here is a link to it.


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Passport to ‘Digital Citizenship’ Webinars next week

Really happy to announce a series of Web conferences that I will be starting next week for the U.S Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Webinar on social media - US Embassy, Colombo Sri LankaThis follows a digital video conference I conducted last year for the U.S.E, in association with the US State Department.

These six workshops –Webinars– are designed to be more interactive; the majority of participants will be at one location in Colombo. They were selected based on their application and response to a survey on the state of social media in Sri Lanka.

We are covering the usual suspects: Blogs, social networking, micro-blogging, video sharing and social search.  The attendees are from diverse backgrounds: advertising, corporate communications, government, web-based businesses, management, universities, media and non-profits.

Presenters: To make these sessions more focused and relevant I have brought on board some top practitioners to co-present with me. They are:

Dan Wool, a corporate communications and PR consultant for APS, a large electric utility in Arizona. Dan co-founded one of the world’s top blogs on public relations, marketing and social media.

Steve England, Chief Technology Office of MobileSoft, an advocate of on-demand digital printing who advises large tech companies and international advertising agencies on interactive marketing.

Gary Campbell, a communications manager at Arizona State University, a former print journalist turned digital, who has led numerous university training sessions in social media.

I will also bring in a few ‘surprise’ guests who will pop-in with some real-world examples of how they are using a particular strategy in their communication!


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How ‘passive’ networks will make use hyper-active citizens

The explosion of sharing networks and apps are being primed for the mobile experience, anticipating a time when many of us will slip in and out of our roles as employees, Friends (yes, upper-case kind!) and corporate citizens.

These ‘social mapping’ services may seem more like games in their early iterations, rewarding users for certain tasks. But just as how Twitter looked like a status update service in its early days, these mobile-based services will soon let us do more than vainly record our location.

GoWalla, a location mapping app for the Android, iPhone and Blackberry, lets us check-in’ to locations, as does FourSquare., awarding badges and mayor-ships etc.

A term I have come across in some of these networks is that they “are only acting as a passive conduit for online distribution and publication” of user content. In other words, the intent of the application is to tether people and content.

We may be transitioning to that time soon. But we are still toggling between active, in-your-face social networks such as Facebook, and the passive ones. Someday these could be rich social spaces, albeit passive and invisible. Also reward-based.

Like to see where all this is going? Check out these four services:



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Google’s Caffeine rocks, but don’t shut your eyes to offline information

I’ve been waiting for Caffeine for a long time, since I heard it being mentioned at SMAZ last year. So this week we get a taste of what a caffeinated search looks like.

It’s Caffeine, and it’s finally a way to see real-time information (not archived results).

If you’re concerned about page ranking, keywords, meta-tags and most importantly rich content, it’s worth trying to understand how the complex Google search algorithm works. Not that even the so-called experts know, because there is the secret-sauce factor that Google will not disclose.

However, this video from Google is as far as they will go. serving as a refresher course in search:

But is it that all?

Now while I find Caffeine a terrific improvement, I don’t only rely on (or recommend) Google to deep dive for all information. It’s easy assume that ‘everything’ is out there online, having been spidered and indexed online, when the fact is there are stacks of information you may never see or know exists.

Unless you make a trip to a library!  Or visit bookstores, read journal abstracts –the ones that have not gone digital yet — or scale the walled gardens of subscription-only sites.

So I have two questions to the search experts:

  1. Do real-time search results change how archived content shows up? All those white papers, videos, sample book chapters, podcasts etc. Do they get buried and pushed down away from the main results page?
  2. Is Caffeine –the real-time engine — trying to be Bing –the relevance engine? Or is it the other way around?

I took a screen shot of similar searches for the keywords “Gulf of Mexico” on Google and Bing today. Big differences!

Google Caffeine - search for "Gulf of Mexico" 9 June 2010

Bing search results - "Gulf of Mexico" - 9 June 2010

Take this one from the Associated Press. A story about a reporter who dived into the oily waters in the Gulf. It’s up there on Bing, but not on Google.

The story is probably a good metaphor of how murky it is when you dive into search as well. “I open my eyes and realize my mask is already smeared,” the unnamed reporter says.


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Is your company ready for a private social network?

Mixed signals. That’s what’s out there when it comes to social networks.

A few weeks back some UK companies approved of banning social networks in the workplace. A few years back organizations such as the CIA embraced such collaborative spaces. They created their own private network called A-Space, and another information sharing hub, Intellipedia.

But did you know that despite the rush for ‘corporatized’ LinkedIn or Facebook groups, many institutions have adopted private social networks?

Sometimes called ‘walled gardens’ these networks are created using free of paid platforms where smaller communities can share their ideas and –to use that overused word again -engage.

Two examples of this trend:

ResearchGate. This social engagement hub for scientists built by scientists may not be as well known as other networks, but it’s quite a hangout. Population 400,000! While groups on Facebook plan boycotts of oil companies or befriend brands, these specialized networks discuss topics such as the Human adenovirus A-31 genomic sequence, or neural networks and artificial intelligence. Groups range from American Society of Plant Biologists to a one discussing Zebrafish husbandry.

Pluck is one of the popular platforms used by media, insurance and marketing companies. It offers more than the bare template, lending editorial support – for what it calls a “curated, professionally produced content library.” I find it interesting that Pluck is not standing around building fortifications around its clients’ private social network, but making it easy for them to provide pass-through integration with Facebook, for instance.

You know your organization is ready for a private social network when you see the following signs:

  • You mention a document posted to the web site and you get 80 percent blank stares. You mention a statistic about your competition, and 95 people already know about it –via Facebook.
  • People complain that they can’t find anything on the company Intranet. They whine that “the search engine is so nineteen-ninetees.”
  • You overhear that there are unauthorized LinkedIn groups within the company because they hate having to share ideas via email
  • Someone in HR complains that someone has created a FriendFeed room in which designers are chatting; the guys in Marketing are equally ticked off.

Three things to do before you ‘sell’ social media to anyone

I hate using the word sell in a way that really means ‘influence’ or inform. But there are some times when you as a communicator need to sell the idea upstream because, frankly, no one seems to have the courage to broach the subject.

I was talking to someone in an association the other day and he sort of shielded his mouth and lowered his voice to tell me “our website sucks.” I’m sure you have had that kind of experience. Then he went on to say that most people agreed that the content was so badly laid out, and the delivery was soooo not in keeping with new media, that the higher-ups had decided to revamp the site. But still, no one wants to be the first, or loudest, to say that ‘we need to plug into some social media strategies – fast.”

How do we tell them and prove to them these are the things we need to do, he asked? I was tempted tp say make a list, but I held back.

I came across a “Five things to do” article (on executive buy-in) at Ragan Communications that was one of those. It is a great list and I happen to agree with the steps. But I worry about numbering these, and even putting a finite number to it.

I know, I know! I titled this post “Three things” but you will discover why in a bit.

The writer, Frank Strong, asks you who dare to sell the idea to the big guys to take these steps:

  1. Get the facts
  2. Identify customers and prospects
  3. Review the competition
  4. Know your ‘Use Cases’ –a  buzz phrase that means what-if scenarios. Among  many other things!
  5. Manage expectations

To which I would add:

Identify related topics and conversations that the company ought to be addressing. He covers part of this in#3. But apart from responding to queries, senior management might like to know the blind spots and what might not seem obvious, and why this ‘chatter’ could be responded to.

Provide a plan of action. Sounds simple. But most people tend to want to wait for the green light to provide the steps that might be taken. By outlining, however basic, the road map you will might take, makes the executive more confident that this is not just another “let’s throw something and see if it sticks” idea.

Work the back-channel. Execs often have their ear to the ground and randomly check the pulse of people who have opinion credibility. Get to these first if you can. See if you can have their buy-in even at a basic level, so that they may not be the ones who make of break the deal.

So here’s my list of things to do.

  1. Seek out the blind spots
  2. Sketch your road map.
  3. Get lower heads to nod
  4. Ask permission later

On that last point, sometimes you need to get things moving before you can bring the heavy lifters in. Social media always lets you try-before-you-buy. (Can’t see that happening with say, a  TV campaign or magazine inserts!) Start a Twitter account even if no one has approved of one. The worst they could do is shut it down. This gives you the up-seller a way to reach deep and wide and check the pulse, so that you can then say you have dabbled in this thing and have acquired … (provide numbers and details here.) Same with other channels whether it is starting a LinkedIn group, a Flicker account, or guest blogging for a friendly vendor or alliance.

So yes, there are four suggestions in my “Three Things.” The point is, there could be four or fourteen; they can (and should) vary for every situation.

Make your own list! Don’t follow mine, for goodness sakes!


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