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April 2nd, 2009

The Power of Less at Web 2.0 Expo 2009

Spent the day at Web 2.0 Expo (along with several thousand of my closest friends) sitting in social media sessions, networking and checking out the exhibitors on the floor.

I’ve heard murmurs that this year’s event is a much leaner showing than years past — but the folks who did make it are still happy with what they’re seeing. After all, the theme for the conference IS “The Power of Less.”

For those of you who couldn’t be here I wanted to share a quick recap from two sessions:

[1]. “Why Social Media Marketing Fails – and How to Fix It” and [2]. “Beyond Buzz: On Measuring a Conversation

The first session featured Peter Kim (Dachis Corporation), Charlene Li (Altimeter Group), Jeremiah Owyang (Forrester Research) and was focused on avoiding the basic pitfalls of social media.

The discussion centered on 4 main questions: “How do I get my culture involved?”

– Get executive buy in first. Having the “big guns” involved will motivate the rest of the teams. – Show the company that there is value in adoption by mapping to existing corporate goals. Show how SM will help achieve corporate goals, in a measurable way. – Avoid pegging one person as the only SM leader. In order for social media to really work for a company everyone needs to be involved.

“How do I get campaigns to work?”

– First and foremost, don’t look at social media like a campaign. To have the most benefits, it needs to be a longstanding initiative rather than a one-off campaign. – Think about and decide on what kind of relationships you want to build. It’s not about the technologies, it’s about how you want to engage with your community. – It’s not about YouTube or Twitter, it’s about new ways to foster engagement. – Tie your initiatives to your community’s lifestyle

- “What am I supposed to measure?”

– First, answer the question “What is my objective?” Then measure based on that. – Mirror how you are already measuring the reach and effectiveness of your business.

- “Does social media even matter?”

– Looking at the Motrin moms fiasco we see that at least initially there wasn’t that much attention–only within the echochamber. But the buzz was eventually picked up by mainstream media, and thus entered the public eye – Yes, but if you’re engaged in social media you have to be able to fail. You have to expect to fail. And,you have to know that if you’re not failing you might not be doing SM correctly.

Lots of generalities tossed around in this session, but I think they did reiterated the point that you need to focus on your existing corporate objectives, and who your community really is, rather than specific tools. Lots of folks who are just getting into social media now overlook these basic steps and get caught up in shiny-object-syndrome.


The “Beyond Buzz: On Measuring a Conversation” session was the most technical look at online conversations I’ve ever seen. I’ll be honest, I walked in the door feeling pretty confident–I mean, hey I love metrics, right? Wrong.

This was a Ph.D level conversation focused on social mapping, linguistics and three dimensional views of networks of connected individuals. While I won’t presume to say that I can effectively summarize all the data Kate Niederhoffer (Dachis Corporation) and Marc Smith (Telligent Systems) conveyed, here are a few takeaways worth sharing:

– In terms of relevency in conversations, you should let data speak for itself and then approach it from a more openminded perspective. The data doesn’t have to be one dimensional – you can combine two sets of data in order to give the overall set more context. – You can look at the types of words community members are using to get information on what demographic they come from, what world they live in and their personality. – Even in the workplace people need personal social interactions in order to get ready to foster productivity. According to the presenters, most real work occurs at the end of the day, and more specifically at the end of the week

I recommend checking out the Twitter feed of folks who used the #w2e hashtag to get the community’s (sometimes colorful) recaps from today. In fact, Twitter seems to be the means of communication of choice for both attendees–using it to meet each other and share feedback–and the panelists–who were taking questions from the crowd, live and in color.

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