Tag Archives: social media


I’ve been exploring the potential of Google+, the new social media platform from Google. So far the platform appears to have a lot of potential as a platform for team collaboration and communication. It feels more professional (like Twitter or LinkedIn) than social (like Facebook).

Please feel free to add me to one of your circles there. Here’s my Google+ profile.

If you don’t have an invite yet leave a comment and I will send one to you (while Google lets me).

Get Your Twitter Client Fired Up for the Inaugural Competitive Intelligence Twitter Chat

I’ve written before about how much I enjoy using Twitter at conferences for the back-channel discussion. On April 21st at 5 PM EDT / 2 PM PDT we’ll all have our chance to immerse ourselves in the back-channel discussion without a conference. Along with Sean Campbell and Scott Swigart of Cascade Insights I’ll be hosting the first Competitive Intelligence Twitter chat.

A Twitter chat is a scheduled, semi-structured discussion around a given topic or subject using Twitter. Tweets related to each chat are united by the designated hash tag. For our chat that tag is #cichat. At the designated time run a Twitter search for that hashtag to follow along in the discussion. You can find out more about Twitter chats by reading this article. If you like the concept you can see a schedule of other Twitter chats here.

My Tweetdeck column devoted to #cichat

Our first discussion is going to be about how to move requests for CI support from information-oriented requests to decision support. This is a topic near to my heart because I believe this is a key to maintaining the value that CI can deliver for stakeholders. I’ve written about it here. I interviewed Merrill Brenner on his methods for decision-focused CI on the competitive Intelligence Podcast. After our first Twitter chat our tentative plan is to address another CI topic at that same time every week.

My hope is that #cichat will gain momentum and take on a life of it’s own. Seam, Scott and I will move from being like the expert speakers to being more like producers or facilitators. If there is a topic you would like to see addressed, especially a topic on which you would like to take the lead please feel free to let us know.

Use Twitter and Other Social Media to Add Value to Your Event

I attend a fair number of seminars, conferences and workshops in a given year.  I’ve put on my share of meetings and conferences myself.  I’ve observed attributes of the events that successfully leverage social media.  Social media offer opportunities to expand the impact and scope of an event beyond its finite spot in space and time.

The two most important things you can do to get the most from social media at your event are as follows and in order of priority:

  1. Define a Twitter hash tag for your event and communicate it often during your conference.  Make sure the opening speaker or organizer mentions it in her opening remarks.  Display it prominently on any collateral you hand out at the event.  Include it in the footer of your presentation template if you have one.
  2. Have wi-fi available for attendees.  While most attendees at a tech-oriented event are going to have smart phones with 3G or even 4G connectivity, having wi-fi available democratizes this connectivity and makes it easier for people who prefer to use their laptop or, increasingly, tablets such as the iPad.  Laptops and tablets may not have their own wireless connections.

The Twitter Effect (or is it “The Twitter Affect?”  Probably Both.)

At some events I’ve attended I’ve been happy to see back-channel conversations taking place on Twitter.  Sometimes these conversations have turned in to real-world connections.  These new connections are of tremendous value.

Creating a Good Event Hash Tag

A good conference planner will create a unique hash tag for her event and communicate it clearly and often.  The hash tag should be unique enough to be clear with what event the hash tag is associated.  It should also be short enough to be re-tweet-able.  Twitter messages have a limit of 140 characters, and your event’s tweets will have to fit into that space.  Subtract from 140 characters for the originating Twitter ID (mine is @8of12, most are longer), the characters “RT” to designate that it is a re-tweet, the “#” and then your hash tag itself.  That gives you the total number of characters available for any given tweet to be re-tweet-able.  For the 2010 SCIP conference we chose “#scip2010.”  We could have also gone with “#scip10” for greater brevity.  Both of thee are more re-tweet-able than #strategyandompetitiveintelligenceprofessionals2010conferenceinwashingtondc.

Use TwapperKeeper to Archive Tweets

Twitter does not make all of the messages shared by their platform available permanently.  If you run a Twitter search you’ll only see results from the last three months (or less).  You’ll want to create a permanent record of the tweets from your conference, both for your own reference and for your attendees.  Create an archive for your hashtag at the site TwapperKeeper.  This will create a permanent record of the tweets sent with your event’s hash tag.  You can also download those tweets to an Excel spreadsheet.  As a complete aside, TwapperKeeper is created by my MBA classmate John O’Brien.

Promote Your Event and Hash Tag In Advance

Before your event you will want to send some promotional tweets that include your hash tag.  Make sure that your promotional messages include key vernacular terms related to your topic.  This will make your tweets more likely to show up in search RSS feeds and alerts that those interested in your topic may have created to monitor chatter on Twitter.  For example, if you include “competitive intelligence” in your tweet it will show up on my RSS feed that I have created specifically to show me all tweets that use that term.

At the conference itself its likely that your attendees who are actively tweeting will also tweet those keywords, increasing the likelihood that awareness of your conference will permeate the virtual world.  Ideally leading authorities on your topic will re-tweet a message for their own audience.  Thus begins a growing awareness of your event within the broader community of interest.  This creates connections for your attendees and gives you a broad base to which you can market your next event.

Other Social Media Tools

So far this blog entry has focused on Twitter.  That’s because the platform lends itself to the real time communication that can create an active back channel for an event.  You may have goals that go beyond the back-channel, including establishing a platform for on-going conversation and connection.  Here are a couple choices:

Create a blog: It’s easier than ever to put up a quick blog on WordPress.com (my platform of choice), Blogger, SquareSpace or another platform.  These do not require advanced technical skill.  Here you and other authors can add posts of interest to your community.  Make sure to open up comments so your attendees can provide feedback and add on to your postings.  A blog is particularly useful if you want to expand the community around your concept or idea and if your community is willing to share their thoughts in the open.

Create a group on LinkedIn: It is the rare professional who is not on LinkedIn.  You can create your own open or closed group on LinkedIn.  A closed group will create an administrative overhead for you to approve people for access to your group.  This overhead may be worth it if you want to engage in a more focused or limited discussion around your topic, create some level of exclusivity or your participants will want to keep their opinions less public.

Create a dedicated social network on Ning: This is a very involved option and will require considerable effort on your part.  There are also fees associated with creating a Ning community.  This should be considered a viable option if you expect there to be a particularly large and dedicated community around your concept that will need to connect with one another and communicate in multiple modes.  The social network can be as open or closed as the administrator chooses.

A Curated News Stream: My Google Reader Shared Items

Google Reader logo

One of the primary benefits the social media cognoscenti put forward for the value of Twitter is the human-curated news stream. On Twitter you follow people you trust, know or who interest you for some reason. As they come across news, blog posts, YouTube videos or other items on the web that interest them they will tweet about them. If these are people you have chosen to follow, it is highly likely that the items they share will be of interest to you as well based on some shared interest or personal connection that led you to follow these people.

My own experience is that the human curated news feed I capture from the people I follow on Twitter is extremely valuable. This is probably the most consistent value I have captured from Twitter. A number of interesting and highly relevant items have come to my attention solely because somebody in my Twitter stream chose to share those news item.

There is another Internet tool that I find extremely valuable: Google Reader. I use Google Reader to track hundreds (yes hundreds) of RSS feeds for blogs, publications, search alerts from Google, Bing and activity on RSS-enabled social networks (sadly Facebook is not among them). I scan through well over 1,000 news items on a daily basis in a series of relatively painless quick sessions of 15 – 20 minutes max. So in under 1 hour each day I am exposed to over 1,000 unique news items in the domains of general news, telecommunications, strategy, competitive intelligence… the list goes on.

Several months ago the people at Google Reader added a “Share” function that allows people to share items of interest with their Google Reader social network. Your Google social network generally defaults to your fellow Gmail users you have added to your Google Chat contact list. Recently the Google Reader team have added tools that enable you to find fellow Google Reader users with shared interests and subscribe to their shared items.

I am a promiscuous sharer on Google Reader. How I structure my marathon review sessions to get through the large volume of news items that are in my Google Reader at any one time is that if there is an item that I find interesting I actually share it so that I will come back to it when I have more time to read it. My thinking is that if I find the item of interest it’s likely that the few dozen people following my shared items on Google Reader might also find it interesting.

My default cognitive model is to share (my own version of “publish, then filter”). If you are interested in the latest news about strategy, competitive intelligence, marketing, social media and knowledge management this is a well-curated stream of information. Not all of it may be of deep interest to you, but the odds are high that a large proportion of the material will be worth at least a momentary glance. I’ve featured the most recent shared items on the right-hand side of this blog page for some time now below my Twitter stream and above my Delicious bookmarks.

If you are a person that needs to cast a wide information net I highly recommend you consider creating your own Google Reader account. You don’t need to be quite the addict that I am, though I am confident you’ll find value from Google Reader. If you share an interest in the topics that I’ve mentioned in this blog entry (you’re reading this blog, so that is probably a “Yes”) you should follow me on Google Reader (I also want to follow you back). If you are using another RSS reader you can subscribe to the RSS feed of my shared items. If you are kicking it old school and still not ready to step up to RSS you can see the web page of my shared items from Google Reader.

An Alarming Technology That Threatens Capitalism Itself

This morning I came across a presentation in my RSS feed that describes the real threat represented by an alarming “social media” technology that threatens the modern corporation.  We’re all familiar with the threats that Web 2.0 both inside and outside the corporation represent.  I thought I was on top of things, but clearly I didn’t know the HALF of it.  Look at this distributing presentation from Norman Lamont of Lloyds Banking Group and you will be as concerned as I am:

Social Networking More Popular than Porn: What it Means for Competitive Advantage

A CI colleague of mine passed along a story that had been brought to her attention.  According to Hitwise, social networking web sites have become more popular than porn sites.  I’m sure that there is a lot that can be said about the methodology of this headline-grabbing conclusion.  For the moment I want to either assume that the study is true or that it’s close enough to being true to support the suppositions that I am about to make for the consequences to competitive advantage.  My colleague asked in her e-mail “What is the significance of this?” and I responded thusly…

The take-away for me is that the connectivity delivered by social networking meets a fundamental human need even more ingrained and needed than sexual gratification (to put it bluntly).  

It’s not a fad or flash in the pan.  While the cast of players may change (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) the concept of social networking and subsequent threats and opportunities are here to stay.  Many business leaders are planning to wait out what they see as a fad, and many corporate leaders are maintaining or instituting misguided policies that are based on the assumption that you can separate human employees from something so fundamentally human.  

Policies in information security, public relations, human relations, marketing, sales… the list goes on all have to take this reality into consideration.  Old “sledgehammer” strategies are not going to work going forward.  The best and the brightest are going to go where they can maintain and grow their self actualization through social tools both inside the company, with partners/customers and their social lives.  Many boundaries are going to collapse as a consequence.  It’s not going to be all flowers and happiness because everybody involved is going to have to be a lot smarter.  

Those managers and employees that can apply a modicum of common sense (I hope that I fit in that category) are going to do better than the “zero tolerance” models that existed in the command-and-control world.  Business models that take advantage of social media will do better than those that don’t.

The long and short of the case I am trying to make about social media in general is that it is here to stay.  This is not to cast myself as all ra-ra social networking, web 2.0, this-time-the-revolution-will-not-be-televised dilettante.  I am, however, a firm believer in the human desire for self-actualization and socialization as a fundamental need and a higher level of desire.  While the recession may temper Generation Y’s selectiveness or job hopping looking for that perfect job, these needs are neither temporary nor generational in their nature.  Over the long term (Five years?  A decade?) the need for employers to utilize technology to accommodate those needs among customers and employees is going to become business as usual.  On its way to becoming table stakes some companies will take the smarts needed to satisfy those needs a competitive advantage.

More Ideas on Giving Away Conference Content

Jon Lowder of the Competitive Intelligence Marketplace blog had some excellent suggestions on alternative business models for giving away conference content.  These are some excellent alternatives to my own suggestions from my previous post on giving away podcasts of conference content:

  • Make certain videos free from the get-go.  Just one or two to keep the buzz of the conference going.
  • Make all videos free to SCIP members behind the SCIP firewall,
    similar to what they do with magazine articles.  Perhaps there’s a 3-6
    month delay in doing this so that there’s still a premium for attending
    the conference.  It’s always a good idea to have more membership
  • If you’re going to charge for the video then forget what I said about lower quality being better than no video at all.
  • Sell sponsorships of each presentation, and by extension the video.

Sadly, Jon was not able to post his suggestions in a comment to my own blog.  Previous run-ins with crazy volumes of SPAM led me to be perhaps a little overzealous in limiting readers’ ability to comment.  I have made some changes to the blog srttings and hopefully have fixed this as an issue.  Just know that any offers for herbal Viagra you see posted in the comments of this blog do not come with my endorsement.