Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why I hate automation in human communication

The Twitter fail whale error message.Image via Wikipedia
Stephen Waddington was kind enough to ask for my thoughts on Bots (and specifically Twitter Bots) for his latest article on Reputation Online.

He's also blogged about his motivation for writing the article.

Stephen has compiled the thoughts of several social thinkers and you can read the aggregation in his article.

But I thought it may be good to share the interview Stephen conducted with me as part of that process, in full.

So, here it is:

Stephen: Is there a real world equivalent to script building in the virtual world? I'm looking for a metaphor?

Me: It's a little like someone who arrives at a university's Freshers' Week and goes about indiscriminately joining each and every club and society. And then they refuse to come to any of the meetings unless they first get appointed to the organising committee. By people they don't yet know and whom don't yet know them.
Or the speed dater who takes everyones number and doesn't call anyone.
Or the boss of a large org who expects everyone to greet him by name each morning but doesn't bother learning the names of his staff to respond with.
In short it's anti-social in the purist form: ie not the way humans expect each other to behave.

Stephen: Is the size of a network as a means of measuring influence/authority appropriate under any circumstances?

Me: If that network is a perfect match for the niche you are interested in. That is a perfect match, and a perfect match Right Now. But the reality is influence flows. It's a real-time web in a real-time world.
Think of a flock. Think of the times you tried to change the direction the flock was moving in. If you succeeded you may claim some influence. If you failed, where was the influence then? Same network - at least the same nodes - in play. But the interactions between the nodes vary on each occasion. And it is in the interactions that change-in-state occurs. Finding nodal start points is important, but the peer to peer mechanic itself is more vital.

Stephen: What is the downside of using a script to build a social network? Technically and socially?

Me: Technically it's likely you will be in breach of many networks' terms and conditions. Check out twitters rules, for an example. But more critically you will mark yourself out as using social networks in a broadcast, one-to-many way. No one wants to talk to someone who doesn't listen.
I have this dream that as us humans spot the bots we block them, refuse to follow them etc to such a degree that the fuzzy edge around our communities hardens against them. And we end up with a walled off Escape From New York scenario where the bots are all following each other, broadcasting welcome messages at each other. Every bot talking but nobody listening.

Stephen: Agencies are flogging bots as a means to build guaranteed follower numbers? How should an agency that deems this inappropriate counter this from a sale perspective?

Me: Well, we have to point out that follower numbers don't equal interaction or desired outcome. Social media means nothing in its own right. We have the best set of tools for connecting people in history. So what are you going to do with them? Harvest eyeballs? Come on! Ditch the spam-tastic waste machine of the 20th century - get efficient. Keep your million eyeballs, I'd rather connect with a small group of people who care sufficiently about the purpose at hand to want to make it better. These people find each other through genuine human interactions, not carpet bombing. Famous for 15 people beats famous for 15 minutes.

Stephen: What should clients/agencies be measuring?

Me: Outcomes.

Stephen: Are there any other points that you'd want to make on this topic?

Me: There is an exception to my anti-auto position. It is to take advantage of the growing Web of Things. Automated reports from devices, buildings etc that I choose to receive status reports from are welcome. I'm also ok with bloggers adding an RSS feed of their posts (and similar) provided that isn't the only or major representation of themselves in any particular network. If the content prompts conversation in the environment in which it is shared, or helps people with shared purpose find each other, that's a good thing.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Euan comes from behind the firewall

My good friend Euan Semple is running a series of workshops in London in the next few months covering various aspects of the business use of social media.

He has run similar events for many years inside orgs - now he's opening up to offer them outside. I commend them to you - I know from personal experience how good Euan's work is - it's one of the many reasons he was one of the first people I asked to join the 90:10 group of consultants.

I'll leave the rest to Euan:
"There are three workshops offering you a comprehensive understanding of the impact the web on the workplace and the information you need to do something about it."

Monday, January 25, 2010

10 Reasons Why Your Social Media Strategy Will Fail

I compiled this for a presentation - with the real-time help of @vero @andrewspong @picklejar - and thought it might be useful to share here. By all means add to it by making comments on this post.

Your Social + Media Strategy Will Fail If:

  1. You think of yourselves as owners rather than as an enabling platform
  2. You don’t place social + media at the heart of what you do (it can’t be layered on)
  3. You fail to listen – and join in
  4. You don’t go where your communities are
  5. Your message doesn’t match your actions (authenticity)
  6. You try to use peer-to-peer for push/broadcast (you can't use it, you can participate in it)
  7. You set yourselves up as a ‘brand’ or ‘corporation’ rather than as a human - and speak like a brochure.
  8. You approach it as a purely comms medium and make it just one department’s responsibility.
  9. You fail to think (honestly) about what’s in it for the user
  10. You don’t give it enough time (don’t do campaigns, do relationships)
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stowe Boyd joins the 90:10 Group

We announced it on the 90:10 site, and he's blogged it himself, but I couldn't let the arrival of Stowe Boyd, as part of 90:10's community of consultants, pass without comment on my own blog.

You see, Stowe has been an inspiration to me for quite some time.

I love his mantra:
"I am made greater by the sum of my connections - and so are my connections".

It's such a powerful expression of the power of the network; of the value of nodes connecting and the subsequent interaction; of none-of-us-is-cleverer-than-all-of-us. I quote it liberally, in presentations, online and in my book (The Power of the Network).

We met for a curry in London, a good few years ago - while I was still at emap/Bauer. We built on that in New York when we both spoke at Widget Web Expo there in 2008. I started writing the occasional post for his /Message blog.

We hit it off. We believe in the same stuff. He's wise. And good fun.

We've kept the connection live.

So it's fantastic to know a man of Stowe's global standing (he coined the term social tools in 1999, for example) believes enough in what we are doing with 90:10 that he wants to join us.

Every one of our consultants is someone I know and personally trust. And by implication those who join up trust me (and by association 90:10).

They also happen to form a constellation of stars with unparalleled knowledge and expertise.

We get to call on wonderful minds and they get to call on us - and we tell the world we trust each other.

If you don't know Stowe, find out more about him, and the rest of the 90:10 crew, here.

No 1 in the UK; No 11 in the world

I came across this recently. A list of blogs in which FasterFuture emerges as No1 in the UK (No 11) globally.
|It always interests me; the lists this blog ends up on. What is pleasing is that there is never one type.

On this occasion it's a list of the '100 Top PR Blogs' derived from those in the Adage Power 150 ranking (which lists advertising/marketing/pr/marcomms types of blogs). As an aside, looks to me like Neville Hobson's blog is missing from the list - and that certainly sits higher than FasterFuture in the Adage rankings.

FasterFuture has also been ranked among the top 10 'publishing' blogs globally.

And it's currently listed in the top 5000 of all blogs (there are some 300m globally) by the up-and-down-o-meter that is Technorati. Interestingly I saw FasterFuture appear in Technorati's top 100 small business blogs at one point, not so long ago, too.

Marketing? Advertising? PR? Publishing? Business?

Yep, FasterFuture is about all of that.

In a converging world where (as David Bausola so nicely puts it) Mess is Lore, I'm happy not to fit comfortably in any centrally contrived niche :-)
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Stowe Boyd backs inaugural Social Business Innovation Awards

Great news for the newly-launched Social Business Innovation Awards - Stowe Boyd will be featuring winners on his blog, too.

Nominations for the first month's are now open and are coming in thick and fast. Check the comments on this post for the latest entries.

If you'd like to nominate there are three simple ways:

2. email me (check out what we're looking for here first)
3. Tweet. Point us with a link and label it with the #SBIA

At the end of the month I'll be opening the voting which will take place on this blog. You have until then to continue with your nominations - and continue telling friends who may care :-)

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Social Business: The Show

Great to see my good friend Stowe Boyd responding to the blooming and booming interest in the world-changing stuff of social business with a new kind of event.

Social Business Edge is a 'show' not a conference. And it's powered by a cast of great minds (see The Swarm here). I'm delighted to say Stowe has asked me to join that Swarm.

Stowe himself is directing, Jeff Pulver (140conf) is producing.

It's on in New York on April 19, 2010.

As I keep saying, social business (and organisation) innovation is what the money has been waiting to follow; it's what our social tools are for.

It's how we are changing the world niche by niche.

And that deserves a great show. I'm sure Stowe will do it proud.

While you're thinking about such matters, a quick reminder that the Social Business Innovation Awards are now open for nominations.

Maybe the show should get one?

To whet your appetite, here's Stowe himself talking about social business in October last year at the LA 140conf.
"The Social Business will be more like a village than an army... where reputation is more important than title... connections more important than rank and authority derived from connections not from control."

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Seth Godin on how he uses social media

Seth GodinImage via Wikipedia

As I read Seth Godin's blog today we had a brief discussion in the 90:10 office about his use (or otherwise) of social media.

I had my thoughts and theories. I'm sure many of you do. So I thought I'd get it straight from the horse's mouth.

So here (with permission) is the email exchange that followed:

Me: "Hi Seth, please forgive the interruption.

"I've been following your work for some many years and always been interested in your apparent disengagement from social media (ie no blog comments on your blog, no follows or replies via twitter etc).

"I don't see you commenting on other people's blogs when they write something you've inspired, or linking out to others who have inspired you, either.

"But I've always made the assumption (you clearly aren't daft, after all) that you are paying a great deal of attention to what is said about you and your thinking via social tools; that you are listening, gathering, considering and incorporating - much in the same way as Apple does.

"Am I anywhere close? And if so what listening tech do you use, how do you go about filtering and why have you chosen to operate this way?

Seth: "David,

"Thanks for your note about comments. I'm delighted that you're interested in my blog, and commend you to: for my post on this topic.

"I actually often link to blogs when it's directly on point, I work hard to give credit when it's useful to reader and source and I used to comment on blogs that mentioned me quite frequently.

"I do in fact get an astounding amount of inbound info, and I think if you look at my outbound in terms of impact and number of words, it's pretty big, it's just all in one place.

"Anyway, I hope that link helps you out. It's a disability, but I deal with it.

Me: "Cool. I understand, I think, - something approaching Clay Shirky's 'Fame' thinking (abundance of attention - which Clay and others discussed a little here) combined with the desire to lead (in a triiibes way)?

"Would you mind if I blogged your response; your approach is one often discussed among the people who hang out in the networks I share :-)"

Seth: "sure thing".

So there you have it. Fully engaged.
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Announcing: Social Business Innovation Awards

Social business innovation: Efficiency and tranformation through the use of social tools.

We have the best set of tools in history for people to find each other and act together to create and improve on the things that matter to them.

What are we doing with them?

Some businesses and organisations are grasping them to wikifix their products and services, to deliver best-fit R&D and NPD and join in waste-free people-powered communications and marketing. The wikifixing of the world has begun.

Those engaging in the process reach new levels of efficiency thanks to an ever-better fit with the needs of their partners - those formerly known as the customer. (By way of disclosure, that's what we at 90:10 Group help organisations with).

I hope you will join with me to celebrate the best of them - and through this find a path to the communities-of-purpose-driven future of the organisation.

So each month this blog will host a Social Business Innovation of The Month award, nominated by you and voted on by you. The format is very much inspired by Neil Perkin's ThinkTank.

The awards are to recognise great work in open/social business/organisational design/innovation/tranformation/efficiency using social technologies.

The winners will enter a case-study Hall of Fame to be shared with all - and in which the winners can revel in the glory of their peers' admiration ;-). More importantly, we can all get inspiration and guidance.

We'll have some (digital) badges for nominees and winners too (logos etc in production, and if you want to contribute ideas/creative talent please drop my 90:10 colleague Ilkut a line. Make them better than my hastily assembled effort.)

I'm less concerned at this stage about the niceties of defining specific rules (they will emerge), more with encouraging your participation - and that of those you know will care.

So at this stage, let's just nominate what we think is great from anything that's been done right up until now.

I hope one of the side effects will be discovery for those of us working, or planning on working, in this space, too.

But, before we get a chance to vote, we need some nominations.

Just post yours as a comment with a link to anything relevant (slidedeck, blogpost, video etc) and at the end of January we'll open the voting.

Please share with those who will care.

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M-Football: Your team as social object

Outside the Emirates Stadium.Image via Wikipedia

I'm running a roundtable at James Cameron's M-Football event on Jan 21.

A group of us will discuss the social side of the mobile tech in a footy context.

If there's anything that qualifies as a Social Object it's a footy team. Yet I'm struggling to find good apps or tools which do more than broadcast information at silo'd individuals. Big opportunity there and one I'm keen to explore in my session.

Appropriately, the event is at Arsenal FC's Emirates Stadium in London. Among the keynote speakers are two very good buddies of mine; Tomi Ahonen and Jonathan Macdonald.

Both are brilliant and disruptive mobile minds and this represents a rare opportunity for all three of us to be in the same place at the same time. Bit like planets aligning - or buses arriving, depending on your perspective :-)

For my small contribution I get to share a 40% discount code: It is
'speaker-HJRQTSEC' making the ticket cost £180+VAT. To access it go here.

The event starts at 08.30 and the final agenda can be viewed here
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Vote for social production

Great deck from my chum John Willshire on the subject of social production (communities of purpose; innovation through collaboration and all that good stuff). It has already won one vote - help it score another over on Neil Perkin's blog

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Director of Engagement at 90:10 Group

I'm looking for a Director of Engagement to join the fast-expanding team at 90:10.

You'll need to work out of our London office and be highly experienced in the very human skills of engaging communities in peer-to-peer (primarily digital) environments.

You will have been doing this successfully for a good few years now for a range of high profile brands and organisations and have the social media marketing case studies to prove it.

You must be able to demonstrate thought leadership in social media strategy and combine this with hands-on account management skills and high-quality presentation and leadership abilities acquired in 8+ years in marcomms.

You'll be brilliant at networking both online and off and bring with you a wide range of high-level contacts.

In return you'll join the senior team of a unique, multi-national, future-facing and rapidly expanding organisation with the freedom to grow and adapt a team under you. We offer a competitive salary, opportunities to develop your skills and travel AND equity to the right candidate.

If that's you, drop me an email david AT with relevant links and personal details and I'll get back to you asap.

If it's not you, tell someone it'll matter to. Thanks!

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?