At least when we hold them, you can be sure there will be no grotty chicken vol-au-vents
Last Wednesday I spent most of the day at Online Information, the world’s no.1 event for online content and information management solutions, in Olympia, London. Alright, that’s a receipe for corporate-style boredom but I got to me meet and talk to several interesting people.
In the morning, I was chairing a panel with an impressive line up of people talking about Social Software - Delivering value to 21st century organisation. Alex Bellinger, Ewan McIntosh, Rob Scoble and Ben Edwards were discussing pretty much anything related to that.
My intro was simply deconstruction the title of the panel. What does social software mean? What is a 21st century organisation? What kind of value are we talking about? And can it be ‘delivered’? Perhaps it is no longer about ‘delivering’ but about enabling, introducing, optimising, sharing, innovating and gasp, inspiring…
The main focus for me was value and the objective was to give the audience ideas of where to look for the value of social media/software within their organisations. It may be that the value they bring is not vague or hard to identify but that it is multi-dimensional. Perhaps it manifests itself in several areas which do not correspond to the silos so beloved of business structures.
How about the following framework for where to find the value social media and social software brings?
Individual empowerment - helps individual employees with their tasks and everyday job; easier information managenent via RSS, tagging, social bookmarking for example, awareness of people within the organisation via their blogs etc
Organisational empowerment - enables the organisation to do, connect, carry out functions that were not possible before; communications and information flow, exnternal engagement of markets, community, media, customers etc.
Specific level - projects that are easier and faster carried out, e.g. using a wiki to organise an event or collaboratively produce a manual, or using a blog to document a project etc.
Systemic level - processes that emerge as a result of extended use of social media/software. People making connections that speed up existing processes and/or give rise to new ones. Communication channels and networks that overlay the silos and dysfunctional processes. Innovation and creativity that would not manifest themselves otherwise.
There was another panel with the same people (plus Matt Locke who couldn’t join us in the morning), this time chaired by Phil Bradley. Phil was a lot more strict than I as the moderator, especially needed as there were two more people in the conversation. I do prefer ‘conversational’ panels to powerpoint and it was good to see people thinking on their feet. I hope to talk to them again, there seem to be more and more people around who understand what will drive the changes inside organisations.
In between the two panels at Online Information I rushed off to another conference, Click Forum 2006 (Creative Review’s 2nd Annual European Online Creative Advertising Forum). It was taking place in Parsons Green, not too far from Olympia. There I joined the panel about Blogs, online communities and interactive environments. I particularly enjoyed meeting Tim Ryan, director brand marketing at AOL. He very kindly gave me a lift back to Online Information, in the car we have frantically talked about the state of the media industry and the future of agencies and marketing. Suffice to say that we agreed, make of it what you will, dear reader.
After all the conferences, it was off to a London Girl Geek Dinner, where the Scobles were guests of honour. It was a long day with social media overload but well worth it.
cross-posted from Media Influencer
When I was in San Francisco last month (with Adriana, who was speaking at Vloggercon on net neutrality), one of the best things that happened to me was meeting BrainJams‘ Kristie Wells and Chris Heuer. These are fiercely intelligent, open, unpretentious, generous people who are doing incredible things through the power of their own personal networks.
The format will follow the laws of open space as the ‘how to classes*’ offered will be determined by the participants. We ask that a small fee (average is $5) be given for each ‘how to class’ you sign up for, and all the money collected during the evening will be donated to a charity that will be decided by those in the room (majority rules folks).
Check out the Rent an Expert wiki if you can attend and want to share your expertise and/or learn from the expertise of others in attendance. If you go, tell them that I sent you - and thank me sooner or later, because you won’t regret the experience or getting to know Kristie and Chris.
Last Wednesday came and went. I was good fun, both during the day and evening. Days before the conference were busy and Lloyd managed to do three podcasts with speakers - Euan Semple, Lee Bryant and me.
Jackie Danicki took some good notes and reproduce them in a meaningful way on her blog. Lloyd Davis has blogged on the conference blog about his impressions from Open Space session and put some pictures on Flickr. For more, there’s Technorati.
For those who haven’t heard yet, there is the second Les Blogs conference planned for 5-6th December in Paris. Organised by Loic Le Meur of Six Apart for very good reasons , it promises to follow up on the concepts and blog geekfest that the first one was. And jolly nice that was.
I will be speaking on a panel about how blogging is affecting corporations together with Philippe Borremans of IBM, Belgium, Georges-Edouard Dias of L’Oreal, France, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, France and Martin Varsavsky of Fon. You can see the full programme here and the conference wiki is also worth a look. I look forward to seeing you there.
I was rather surprised to see this as a heading to a post describing my talk at the IAA Interactive European Forum last Thursday. This is what Jon Lund thinks I believe:
Is there money in blogs? Not in the advertising sense! That was the message from Adriana Cronin-Lukas, CEO at The Big Blog Company. To her, the blogosphere is a place for conversations - and a sphere where commercial messages are not really wellcome.
While agreeing complety with Adriana that corporate blogs gives great opportuinies for establishing a conversation with customers, and poses great threats as well if you havn’t grasped the basic idea, I’m not really comfortable with the “this is business and this is personal conversation” thing, that seems to run underneath Adrianas presentation.
Hm, I can attest that this is not my message. I’d like to turn tables on this interpretation of my argument. Jon’s distinction between business and personal conversation is precisely the kind of false dichotomy that I am fighting. As far as I am concerned that there should be no ‘commercial messages’ in the world where the eyeball can turn them off and even talk back the ‘messages’ are intrusive and annoying. Markets are conversations.
So blogs are ideal for marketing, but the kind that appears to leave the advertising and marketing industry out of the loop. This is because they are the one who perpetuate the distinction between ‘personal’ and ‘commercial’, both concepts needed a closer examination anyway. Very few of the blogs I read for my work are personal, in fact, I can’t think of any really. But all of them have a human authentic voice, simply because they are written by a human being not trying to be a brand or a commercial message. There is a distinction between human, personal and intimate and you can have a formal interaction with a human being, without the edifice of a commercial ‘constructed’ identity. None of this is new, again Cluetrain Manifesto has made this point ad nauseam.
As for advertising on blogs, I never said that this should not be done. True, I do not like it but at the same time I do not begrudge the revenue bloggers who attract large audiences can get from the eyeballs. Who am I to tell them how to interact with their audience?! What I usually point out though, is that ads are a channel format, designed to be produced as some content, packaged and then pushed through a pipeline directed at the appropriate demographic of eyeballs. Blogs are a network format, the content is not finished or packaged and they are connected creatures that distribute information not via pipelines and channels but via many-to-many and one-to-one overlapping networks. So I merely point out the clash and try to give a hint to advertisers that perhaps the best way to approach the blogosphere is not to litter it with the blog equivalent of banner ads.
One thing I noticed about the advertising and marketing industry is the sense of detachment on their part from the ‘consumer’. (I have started to use the word ‘audience’ where they talk about ‘consumers’ to try to undermine this but it’s a long slog.) Hence the use of the word consumer-generate media - it seems that as long as it’s got the ‘consumer’ bit in it, it can be categories and therefore it’s not threatening. I am remined of one of my favourite quotes.
That’s the big thing for me with advertising. There’s something really creepy - in a dirty trenchcoat and mismatched socks way - about people who are willing to expertly manipulate others, but not come talk to them as though they were human.
The recent Cillit Bang affair certainly confirms that. My message to the audience at IAA event was that there is a way forward but they have to respect the audience, the medium and the etiquette. Just like with any social interaction that you participate in.
It looks like I am going to be in New York in September (final dates yet to be confirmed) and would love that to provide an excuse for a geek dinner for the local bloggers and blog groupies. The date is 15th September and the venue, preferrable somewhere in Manhattan, is yet to be arranged. If you are in the area, please join me. You can add your name to a wiki I set up for that very purpose, following a highly successful tradition of geek dinners organised by Hugh Macleod and Lloyd Davis in London. By the way, there is one tomorrow - London Girl Geek Party, guy geeks eat your hearts out.
For those who look for meaning in everything, I shall be in New York after attending the Johnson & Johnson Global Communications Conference in Jersey City (for senior communications professionals no less) during 12-14th September, talking about… well, you’d have to wait and see, won’t you?
Will keep you posted. In the meantime, just add your name to the wiki, damn it. Don’t you like fun and bloggers and geeks? No need to answer that…
Alan Moore of SMLXL and one of the authors of the book Communities Dominate Brands will be speaking at an IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) event on Monday 25th July 2005. More details here.
Alan has much good stuff to say especially under the title of the talk: Consumers are doing it for themselves!
My only gripe is why do they still use that horrible term ’consumer‘? Grrrr!
On Tuesday I was talking at the NMK blogging event, Blogs: A Real Conversation, that took place at University of Westminster, in 01zero-one. The title of my session was Are blogs new voices of authority? Well, the blogger has spoken.
I have been to most events about blogging in London and think that NMK pulled it off in an intelligent and interesting manner. And that’s not just because I was on the panel. It was like a gathering of friends without the navel gazing. Interesting concepts about internet, online and blogs were explored, people spoke intelligently about them - metaphors all over the place. My kind of stuff…
Off to the NMA online marketing conference. I am going there today to have a look around, talk to passers-by about interruption vs engagement marketing, make sure my laptop and the ‘multimedia’ (read video clips and links) in my presentation work for tomorrow, and finally spend some quality time with Jackie Danicki on the Latitude stall. If you are around, do come and say hello.
Will try to do some moblogging on my other blog while I am there, if there is anything worth capturing…
Last night a Geek Dinner was held in London at the ‘Texas Embassy’ at Trafalgar Square, attended by over 200 people and with the guest of honour being none other than Microsoft’s A-list blogger, Robert Scoble.
After everyone had gorged on Tex-Mex food, he talked about how blogging has significantly changed the way that Microsoft develops its products by giving their people the ability to explain what they are trying to do and quickly get useful feedback from users. He also described how Microsoft’s ‘chain of command’ protected MS in-house bloggers from undue pressures from vested interests in the company, enabling people like Scoble and others to become very credible sources and thereby putting a human face on the corporate leviathan from Redmond.
All in all, an interesting event.
I’ve been working on a side project for top SEM company Latitude (formerly Corporem Global) in preparation for New Media Age and Marketing Week’s Online Marketing Show 2005, which is Wednesday and Thursday at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London. Past NMA centrefold and interview subject, tBBC’s own Adriana Cronin-Lukas, will be giving a talk at Latitude’s exhibition space, and I will likely be hanging around the place both days. I am looking forward to it a lot, if only to survey the extent to which traditional marketers ("RSS? You mean the extreme Hindu nationalist party involved in the murder of Gandhi?") are hanging on for dear life and job justification in the UK.
Anyway, I have a couple of spare tickets to OM 2005 up for grabs. Want them? Email me. And if you’re going to the exhibition, do keep an eye out for us and say hello!
Update by Adriana: I will also be speaking at the Brand reputations session. That should be interesting… I hope I won’t get lynched.
Not a deep philosophical question but the topic of the roundtable session on blogging organised by Netimperative last week in London. It was a good opportunity to discuss blogging not only with people who are bloggers but other who come into contact with them in their professions. There were some PR/marketing people, some consultants and a (full list is here)
All in all, it was an enjoyable event, I even managed to get a few points across. What struck me most was the debate and most of the arguments have already been had in the blogosphere proper (i.e. the first few waves before the moneyed people started to take notice). Of course, people anywhere can discuss whatever they wish, even if it had been discussed in the US. My approach has been to check if all the big pointy questions have been asked somewhere and catch up on them. What with google and RSS and technorati, it’s not like one does not know where to go.
In any case, see for yourself as the digest of the debate is available.
Yesterday I attended a conference Marketing in a Digital World organised by i20events. I was asked to talk about the ‘empowered consumer’ and the embracing thereof.
I really liked the venue, in London’s Natural History Museum and its scheduling - the event was later in the afternoon (4pm). This is good as one’s attention does not have to be abused sustained all day for a number of interminable sessions. The audience consisted of people in the UK “new media marketplace” and the panel had speakers respected in the industry.
Faith Carthey, MD, i-level
Rob Horler, MD, Diffiniti
Janet Winslade, Managing Partner, M-One
Glen Drury, MD, Kelkoo UK
Dan Clays, MD, Quantum
James Hamlin, Media Director, Match.com
Anthony Rhind, SVP of Strategy, Media Contacts
The moderator was none other than the entrepreneur and blogger, Andrew Carton, of Treonauts.com. Predictably, I talked about blogs, while trying to explain that they are the tip of the iceberg, a symptom of broader trends that are emerging from the online world and have so far largly passed under the traditional radars.
There were a few points that made it clear to me just what a different world it is. For example, someone complained that there is too much information online these days and one does not know where to start. Now to me, this sounds like the surreal dialogue from Amadeus:
EMPEROR: My dear, young man, don’t take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Cut a few and it will be perfect.
MOZART: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?
There is indeed a glut of information and I speak as a blogger with about 200+ feeds in my aggregator… But that is a good thing as it drives home the point that you can no longer control the message or its distribution. As for knowing where to start, there are so many ways to monitor the blogosphere or the internet and find out what’s happening as new tools appear almost weekly (or so it seems).
Another thing that struck me was that the overriding attitude towards online and the ‘empowered consumer’ was one of caution, fear of ‘fat lawsuits arriving’ as ‘big corporations are going to fight back’ and recognition that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE ABOUT IT (the ‘empowered consumer’ not the law suits). I did not get any sense of what that something is other than continuation of slicing and dicing, counting the legs and dividing by four, bringing in the sheep to use the Cluetrain vernacular.
Kudos to the organisers for letting me speak about the online ‘underworld’ and the impact it will have (and already is having) on the marketing industry. I highly recommend reading and listening to Bob Garfield’s Chaos Scenario for a fuller picture of what people like us and their friends have been banging on about in the UK.
I’ll be flying back to LA on Thursday, but only until the 22nd of April. If you missed me during my last trip, drop me an email and maybe we can get together.
I know that some people contacted me about meeting during my last trip and I wasn’t able to find a slot for them, but it all depends on both our schedules. I had very productive and interesting meetings with everyone I did manage to see last time, though, so I think I’ll keep blogging about upcoming travels - just in case the stars align and one of us ends up with a (genuinely) free lunch.