Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reflections from the Social Media Jungle/Boston

It is about time, that I complete my reflections from the Social Media Jungle held in Boston (Waltham) on March 10th. #SMJBOS

Social media jungle – the word, jungle conjures up images of tropical heat, long creeping vines, the chattering and squeaking of wild life. The event was far from this picture. SMJBOS was held in a corporate complex carved out of the side of a hill overlooking a multi-lane highway. Specifically held in a room with the straight back chairs arrayed in rows facing the projection screen. Coffee and refreshments located on a table in the back

Indeed the jungle really is more like the woods Dorothy and friends entered on their way to the Emerald City chanting “Lions, tigers and bears, oh my. Lions, tigers and bears, oh my.” You see going into the woods or jungle together is one of the best practices to follow. Whether you use Twitter or LinkedIn, or any number of the social media tools, you need to remember that they are just that, tools! The connections they enable are amongst real people with like interests.

Social media should emphasize the social part of bringing people together in a community. Leah Busque (@RunMyErrand) picks up on this. She puts errand requests together with people who offer to fulfill the errands. She creates “service networking” with her application

Jason Jacobs (@runkeeper) taps into peer pressure and builds a fitness community by making it easy, indeed seemless. His application uses the 3G iPhone to track and update your running or biking workout. The results mapped provide more data that you normally would provide by hand in a log book, if you used one. The 3G iPhone makes it so easy, you won't need the manual log. Jason says, “I started a fitness company and nine months later, I am on a social media panel discussion.”

Laura Fitton (@Pistachio) made the comparison of Twitter as the stone in the stone soup story. The story goes back to the Brothers Grimm. While there are many variations, a stranger generally comes to town looking for food. The natives decline to provide him any. He picks up a good size stone and asks to borrow a pot to make some stone soup. He fills it with water, builds a fire and starts cooking. As he tastes the soup as it cooks, he remarks that it would taste better if the soup had some carrots. A carrot or two appears. And so on, he asks for something miraculously, the items appear and eventually he has a real soup. Started with a stone. Twitter is a communication stream, that's all. But look at what has developed around it.

Justin Levy (@justinlevy) put his passion for grilling to the test. His acronym HELP outlines this keys to success. Hustle (there is no easy way but hard work). Engagement (in conversation, building community and credibility). Learning (continuous learning, trial and error is required). Passion (bottom line, this drives it all).

Christopher S Penn (@cspenn) puts his analytic mastery to use. The two keys, knowing what metrics you use and how do you adjust the process/operations to meet or change the metrics.

Steven Dill (@srdill) talked about writers having an advantage in social media. They already have the “idea translator to words” working for them. Yes, they should.

Matthew Mamet (@msmamet) talked of the use of video to augment the story. Start with a healthy mix of scripted and unscripted lines. Gradually move from the heavily scripted lines to be more courageous by mixing in unscripted lines. Makes a whole lot of sense. Heavily scripted reduces the fear factor. As time goes along and the video recording experience becomes more comfortable, more natural, then you can go with less scripted lines and be more unscripted but still on target.

Maria Thurrell (@MaThurrell) and Alexa Scordato (@Alexa) together told the story of how they met via social media. The best idea from their session was to use reverse mentoring to help the elders “get it”. Pair elders with millenials. The pairing can help share the social media knowledge the millenials have picked up naturally and help the elders continue to maintain and foster the relationships they already have but may loose as they loose mobility. “We can't solve the world's problems by segmenting ourselves”, together we can succeed.

Mike Langford (@MikeLangford) raised a good question: “Are the frames of reference the same for each group coming into social media?” When you think about it, the answer should be “no, they are not”. So how to deliver one application to have the ability to adjust for elders, for millenials, for boomers? Very interesting question. Some sites today have a text enlargement capability. That is only one step. What about other usability factors?

Thanks to Jeff Pulver (@jeffpulver) for taking the lead to put this together. I enjoyed going into the jungle. This was a great group of folks to enter the social media jungle with.