Monday, September 28, 2009

Afraid to ask about social media? See you Friday

On Friday this week (October 2, 2009) I'm speaking in my home town (Huntingdon, Cambs) for the first time.

My seminar 'Everything you ever wanted to know about social media but were afraid to ask' will cover the basics of the 'media' part of the label - messaging; transmission; how content is created and distributed etc.

But it will also open a door on the 'social' side of the label - how the formation of groups, communities of purpose, has the potential to disrupt and reconfigure everything we do - from processes within organisations to politics, education, economics and beyond.

Really quite chuffed to say it's all-but a sell out with people attending from my local authority, business organisations, retail, training, a local engineering firm, marketing and pr teams, seo specialists and a global mobile tech company.

There's a handful of tickets still available so if you know someone who may benefit, please point them at

Tell them to use the discount code 'fastercommunity' and you earn them 33% off.

Tickets with that code are limited to just 6, so... well you know the drill.


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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Two mass media mistakes Twitter is making

Twitter is a great environment for adhoc communities to form around common purposes. Groups form for every niche. So why does it remain fascinated with mass media-style editorialising?

Here's two mistakes I think it's making:

1. Trends.
Showing what is most talked about by everyone isn't 'taking the pulse of the planet' - it's just broadcasting spam at the majority of us (and I don't just mean the spammers who take advantage of our interest in the trending topics to spam us).

The effect of seeing what is 'most talked about' is to surface the lowest common denominator and that, by definition in a world in which we can organise around things we care about, is spam for the vast majority (think of the long tail, folks).

It's not even a tyranny-of-the-majority model. It's an imposition by the biggest single group on all the rest of the smaller groups (which collectively make up the true majority). Tyranny by a small elite.

More valuable would be trends among friends: ie what is being talked about among the group of people you follow.

The things you consider useful and good would still be surfaced - the irrelevant (to you) avoided. This would work for everyone - not just those in the small elite.

2. The suggested user list:
A further expression of the mass media thinking at Twitter HQ is the Suggested User List, brought to my attention by a Twitter tirade by Robert Scoble this morning.

That's editorialising by the team - them making lowest common denominator suggestions for people to be broadcast at by (a lot of the SUs are not particularly conversational).

I would much rather be on my followers' suggested user lists than Twitter's.

You will make the intros and connections that are most relevant and therfore of most value to all parties because we know what matters to each other.

Twitter (no centralised authority) knows me like my peers.
  • The image used here is from the National Library of Scotland's Flickr account. I'm shocked to say it's there without a creative commons licence. I took a screengrab anyway. A National Library that doesn't share?

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lessons from the mass media wars

There are those in print media - newspapers/mags etc - who cling to the idea that they can 'do a cinema'.

When TV arrived as the latest mass media many predicted the demise of cinema.

They didn't count on its:
  • Ability to adapt with experience-enhancing technology (colour, stereo, Dolby, 3d etc) 
  • The power of that experience being shared.
If I was in a media company right now I'd be looking at how what cinema did could translate to shore up my properties. To start with. (image courtesy rivalee)

And then there's the elements that kept radio in the game when first cinema and then radio rocked up:
  • Convenience
  • Portability
  • Currency.
Print shares convenience and portability - but scores zip for currency against anything post radio. It's ability to enhance shared experience ain't the greatest, either (though this can be enhanced through events and digital communities, of course)..

Media properties need to adapt. And the obsession with print has to be questioned long and hard.

Those cinematic and radio survivors of the mass media wars give a guide.

Cinema uses technology to enhance shared experiences, radio is convenient, portable and current.

Combine all these and you have a proposition to take you into the age of the eighth mass media - us.
From (We are the eighth mass media)
I don't just mean that we create the content in a UGC vs Professional Content Creators kind of way. I mean WE are the distribution, the content, the 'user journey', how messages are transmitted... WE are the medium and the media carried within it.

We are the connections. We are also how the connections are made.

In the age of the eighth mass media, organisations must understand that serving multiple and ever increasing numbers of niches is the route to sustainable scale.

Those who wish to remain part of our lives must provide value to the adhoc self-forming communities of purpose our digital selves can't help but participate in.

We have already adapted. We are creating a new landscape. Are you fit for it? Are you prepared to become so? I wonder how this 'Twitter: The newspaper of tomorrow? matches up.
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Mixcloud goes public

The London-based outfit who have been working on a 'YouTube of radio' for the past long time have moved out of invitation-only to everybody-welcome.

Yes folks, welcome Mixcloud to the big scary world.

I've been talking to co-founder Nikhil Shah about the model, and how it could be developed, for what seems the best part of a year now.

We shared BETA invites on this blog back in March, too.

So I'm hoping you enjoy how it's shaping up and recommend you give it a go if you haven't already.
Nikhil says: "Mixcloud is democratic – anyone can upload to the site and the listeners decide who get exposed. It is social – with lots of great features to share and discover radio through friends. Finally it is personal – the team are busy in the lab working on cool radio recommendation algorithms that help users find shows they love."

Mixcloud places value on the quality of expert curation individual people (presenters) can bring - a role the media industry is desperate to continue to play.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

20 per cent of tweets are brand-related

Brands play a huge part in our everyday conversations, we are always querying each other about the products and services we buy or should consider buying.

So it should come as little surprise that 20% of tweets are brand-related. That's what the academics at PennState discovered and reveal in this report.
Twenty per cent of the tweets contain requests for product information or responses to the requests, according to Jim Jansen, associate professor of information science and technology in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) at Penn State.
"Tweets are about as close as one can get to the customer point of purchase for products and services," adds Jansen.
So true. And my best bet is that both the volume and percentage of this will only rise and rise.

Send an email to a company and it's usually a long wait before you get a response. Shout out load on twitter and wise brands get back to you real fast.

It's because it's an open network. The fact that no email comes back for hours is between you and the company. When you follow up the email, when your expressions of angst deepen and colour, it all remains between you and the company.

But when no one answers your cries on twitter, all your followers (and anyone else who conducts a relevant search) gets to see your increasing anger and frustration - the negative customer experience transmits so much faster.

The wisest people always were the best listeners...

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First ever Mobile App Stores conference (?)

My friend Ajit Jaokar is running what he believes is the first ever Mobile App Stores Conference, at CTIA in San Diego on October 8.

Great timing, since Apple just announced its billionth AppStore download.

The Mobile Application Stores, Strategy and Deployment conference is a
partner seminar of International CTIA WIRELESS I.T. and Entertainment.

Ajit reckons (and he should know) it is the only conference to focus exclusively
on the business of mobile applications - the opportunities in the mobile apps stores ecosystem.

Featured speakers include:

• Dr. Jin-Sung Choi Ph.D, Senior Vice President, Head MC Global
Product Planning Team, LG Electronics Korea
• George Linardos Vice President, Product Management, Media, Nokia
• Ilja Laurs Founder & CEO, GetJar.
• Tim Haysom, Chief Marketing Officer,OMTP
• Mike Merril, CEO-Smart Phone Technologies
• Ajit Jaokar, President-futuretext
Chetan Sharma, CEO, Chetan Sharma Consulting
• Jouko Ahvenainen, Founder, Grow VC International
• William Volk, CEO, PlayScreen
• Sena Gbeckor-Kove, Chief Technology Officer, imKon

Tickets and details here.

It's easy to think it's all about Apple, but everyone and their mother is busily setting up mobile appstores.
Recent additions include LG’s Applications Store and Windows
Marketplace for Mobile as well as Android and the Blackberry App World.

It's all come a long way since the likes of Nokia's Widsets blazed a trail.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Bored of Twitter

So, what if we get bored of Twitter?
What if the stream of interesting nuggets from people you didn't know you needed to know start to lose their shine?
To be honest you have no one to blame but yourself. Your Twitter stream is, after all, a collection of thoughts from, and interactions with, people YOU selected for their relevance.

No one is ever bored by a lack of quality. They are bored by a lack of relevance.

So, you can't blame Twitter for your boredom. You chose how bored to be.

Bored of Twitter = there's not enough really relevant stuff in my stream.

One reason is that your interests form and reform. You may have moved on.  Twitter is good at enabling adhoc self-forming groups of purpose.

It's low requirement for personal-data sharing means introduction to people you didn't know you needed to know is relatively easy. But what if your thinking has moved on but that of many people in your stream has not? Drop them?

What if their thinking is about to change, that they may say something unique and inspirational which may change the way you think or solve a key problem for you?

But this problem goes beyond retaining previously relevant connections on the off-chance they come good.

The tension is that for the evolution of ideas you need diversity but for our engagement we need relevance.

So, if we're wise, we strive to find relevant diversity. Eg I may follow a 'social media expert' (field i'm in) from Shanghai and a bookkeeper from Huntingdon (where I live).

But I probably won't follow a bookkeeper from Shanghai.

So we'll never know the moment when we could have helped each other solve a problem we share.

And unless and until everyone on Twitter can follow everyone on Twitter, and everyone is on Twitter (and we can all understand and communicate in all languages) the tension between relevance and diversity will remain.

How bored we are with Twitter depends on our personal solutions to that dilemma.

Tools which help us will shape the answer to the question: what comes after Twitter?

What comes when we can connect with anyone anywhere right now who wants to solve the same problem/serve the same purpose we do.
What is relevant, and therefore engaging is a moving feast. Discovery of one another requires open-ness (never ending diversity). But we have to remain engaged and committed, which requires ever-focusing relevance.

What seems likely is that solid state tools will not serve this. Fluidity and flexibility are key - which is why Twitter is our best stab yet.

How could we make Twitter even more able to manage the relevance/diversity tension?
Let's start with a better interface to help us judge each follower's relevance to the area we wish to engage in right now - and a set of tools to help measure that relevance and some temporary Off switches to take some less relevant folk out of your stream for short periods.
Note: it will need to be able to cope with AplusK levels of followers but let's start with 10,000.

Moon on a stick or vital next step? Your thoughts, as ever, very welcome.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Your mother was right

A short video from Red Hat (via Chris Brogan) which makes some well worn points in an elegant way. You may find it helpful if you are one of the many working hard to convince others of the need to adapt to the networked world.

It explains how a billion dollar company became what it is, by giving things away. That is - by contributing to and participating in communities.

Red Hat lived a line I like to use: "The people who can make the biggest difference to your business don't work for it."

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Monitoring Social Media 09 and Everything Faster updates

Pleased to say Luke has now fixed (a very nice) venue for Monitoring Social Media and released earlybird tickets (£100 off) which will be available during September. The event is on November 17 at Lewis Media Centre, Millbank, London.

And in other speaky bits news, my own seminar (Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Social Media But Were Afraid To Ask...), on the morning of October 2 in Huntingdon, Cambs, has just five earlybird tickets left. Which I'm personally blown away about - so thanks very much to everyone who has helped to spread the word on that (please don't stop now!).

Here's the official blurb on Luke's Monitoring Social Media 09:
With the phenomenal growth of social networks, blogging, video & image-sharing and micro-blogging, Social Media Monitoring (SMM) is becoming one of the hottest areas of marketing and PR innovation. Enabling companies to listen to conversations, track trends, engage with consumers and monitor the effects of their interventions is a highly competitive and fast-moving industry.

MSM 09 will bring together global Social Media Monitoring experts, suppliers, PR & marketing professionals for a one-day conference in London on 17th November 2009.The first event of its kind in Europe, MSM 09 offers attendees a series of high-value talks, panel sessions and demo’s, featuring some of the worlds leading social media monitoring companies.
 Speakers so far include:
  • Marshall Madson - Director for Digital Strategy, Edelman UK
  • Neville Hobson - blogger and podcaster, The Hobson & Holtz Report
  • Alan Moore - Author, Communities Dominate Brands, Social Media Marketing
  • Giles Palmer - CEO, BrandWatch
  • Paul Alexander - CEO, Beyond Analysis
  • David Cushman, Director of Social Media, Brando Social  
 Nice to be sharing a stage with Alan again - and for the first time with Neville (who I know from Tuttle etc). 

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Speaking and meeting you?

So here comes the Autumn - and with it a flurry of events and things I'll be speaking at - where I'd be very happy if you came along to say hi.

The first is my home-town event - a seminar run by me and optimistically titled: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Social Media But Were Afraid To Ask. It's on the morning of October 2 in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. Details 10 earlybird tickets left last time I looked :-)

On October 8 I'll be interviewed on BlogTalk Radio's PI Window On Business by Jon Hansen. That's set for 5:30pm UK time.

I'll be doing a session at Monitoring Social Media 09 in London on November 17. Venue is still TBC - keep an eye on Luke's blog for more.

And on December 1 I've been asked to do the keynote in the social media seminar theatre at Online Information 09. I believe for most people entry is free. Check the site for details
  • October 2: Everything you ever wanted to know about social media, Huntingdon, Cambs
  • October 8: BlogTalk Radio Interview
  • November 17: Presenting at Monitoring Social Media 09
  • December 1: Keynote at Online Information 09.
Hope I'll see you at one of them.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Top of the publishing pops (almost) - lucky no7

Nice surprise today: Si Alhir (an active and supportive member of this blog's community) shared with me an email he'd received telling him FasterFuture is ranked No7, globally, for publishing by BlogRank.

BlogRank claims its algorithms are better than anyone's etc etc. If you want to know more about the methodology try here.

What I should point out is that it only tracks 20,000 blogs at the moment. I'm sure there are plenty of worthy publishing blogs which should be appearing. Scott Karp's Publishing2.0 springs immediately to mind.

Anyway - we'll be happy with the No7 spot for now. Thank you magic algorithm.

Still happier with a personal recommendation from one person who cares to another one that also cares though, to be honest ;-)

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

This is what the money has been waiting to follow

I'm pleased to see Dachis extolling the notion of 'social business design', expanding into Europe through acquisition and picking up mainstream media coverage for it.

As I commented on Dave Armano's blog (Dave is part of the Dachis revolution), I'm delighted to see social business design (and all other descriptions of making business more efficient through crowd-sourced solutions) being legitimised. (Image courtesy)

I've always seen business transformation as the end goal of any organisation's involvement in social media. (It ain't social media if it doesn't change your business). It's behind presentations such as 'Adapting Brands to the Networked World'.

This is true for all forms of organisation - from businesses to institutions.

And I have a growing sense that this is what the money has been waiting to follow.

Because this adaptation of business to the networked world shows direct return on investment - it streamlines businesses, creates new orders of efficiency in everything from product development, to marketing, to recruitment, to you name it...

It delivers business models (and businesses) adapted to the networked world. It enables businesses to exist in a rapidly transforming world.

One small example: The people who can make the biggest difference to your company don't work for it. Adapting to the network means they can.

If there is a part of your business that can't be disrupted by adhoc communities of purpose (forming online to improve on what you currently do) you are in an extremely enviable position.

The social business design thang (and I'm not sure that'll be how we end up describing efficiency through social technologies, but it's a neat short-form for now) is a cost-effective launch model, too.

To deliver you don't need millions of users
on 'your' platform , a gazzillion servers and more bandwidth than Twitter when a celeb dies, before some fantasised micro-payment model starts paying back the millions sunk by scale-fixated VCs.

That's why I think investors will find this 'use' of (we really mean participation in) social technologies so much more exciting and potentially rewarding than throwing cash at the next Facebook or Twitter.

So that just leaves one question for me... who is going to pay for the tools and platforms which deliver the real-time, beyond-silo, connections on which social business design relies (the next Facebook or Twitter)?

Perhaps that leads us back to my previous post....

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Why we need an Adsense that values relationships

So why don't I have Adsense on my blog? Google keeps pushing it at me. Why don't I take this free money?

The first reason is simple and mercenary. The payment I may receive via Adsense is too low to tempt me. The return on my time not sufficiently rewarding. ( I know, I've tried in the past).

That may be because there are insufficient advertisers for the Adwords related to the stuff I blog about. And that means the ads served seem rather less like the helpful content that Adsense promises and more like the spam it seeks to avoid. (image courtesy)

And I don't want to put you off, dear reader. I value our relationship more than I value a few cents from Google.

A lot more actually, which is where RoI comes in. Or perhaps we should call it RoR - return on reputation and/or relationship?

By allowing advertising which could sell you something I have not tried myself, I can't give it my endorsement.

I can't recommend it to you. In fact an ad may pop up for a product or service I will actively recommend you do not use. Each time this happens our relationship is damaged and my reputation with you is diminished.

Adsense takes no account of the value we both place on this.

I'd like to think the niche nature of this community is such that should I recommend a product, service, event etc you will give it quite serious consideration.

Our conversations can be – and regularly are – one to one. And this is the reality of the future online as more and more we become The Eighth Mass Media - the publishers, advertisers, marketers, distributors, connectors.

You'll give me the time of day because over time you have come to learn from experience that we share the same thirst for knowledge about certain things, have similar problems to solve etc. We are one of my favourite things - a community of purpose.

In short, we have a relationship in which we exchange trust to build reputation.

I described a simple model previously which could value reputation using something like Adsense. It may be worth reviewing again.

I think if a model could be devised and implemented which raised the valuation of reputation and therefore of our recommendations, one to another, it would kill the incumbents.

Who would stick with the few cents of Adsense if instead you had a way of being rewarded for the recommendations you give freely to those you know will value them?

It’s a micro-relationships model, but not a micro-payment one. Car manufacturers have been know to pay up to £300 to large media outfits for a lead which results in a test drive. We as individuals will come to expect equal returns in our niches.

That’s mostly because our recommendations come with our reputations and micro-relationships tightly bundled to them.

We don’t give our recommendations lightly. False recommendations are taken personally. We lose friends. Your recommendations would become ultimately worthless. And we understand that recommendation is in the eye of the perceiver – and we don’t want to lose face by giving friends something they perceive as ill conceived. (Yes, I do think my recommendation to you is more valuable than a recommendation from some form of mass media broadcasting at the lowest common denominator of its audience.)

We know our friends (our communities of purpose) in ways advertisers – even Google – can’t touch.

The future is not in-context, related, targeted. It is in conversational flow (with all the real-time that suggests), peer-to-peer recommendation and consistently and constantly validated reputation - otherwise known as human relationships.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?