Friday, February 27, 2009

Report from the Business Side of Social Media iBreakfast

What we saw at the February iBreakfast was the sudden embrace by businesses and professionals of a group of technologies that have been kicking around for several years – with the aura of diversion and not business.

Due to crash and the dramatic loss of trust in the financial system, we are looking at them with different eyes. At the macro level, we may be entering a new kind of economy – one that that has gone from the Post-Industrial Economy (1964-1984), the Knowledge Economy (1984-2004 to the Social Relationship Economy. We have exported industrialization, western education and now, thanks to the Internet, we can access those educated people worldwide and outsource our knowledge economy about as efficiently as we did the industrial and postindustrial economies. Since shipping is relatively cheap and globalism has undercut most of our protected markets, and our knowledge-based industrial economy turns out to be flawed and so we seem to be left up the proverbial creek.

The only thing we own that cannot be undercut, is our trusted relationships.

Many of the errors of the market and arguably, the stimulus is they pay no attention to this shift and are throwing resources at a dead economic model. (Some of the comments from my opening presentation will be available in a separate report.)

So we’re on our own with this new paradigm. Fortunately, with Social Media tools, we now have the means to reach, manage and, as we are learning, extract value from these relationships.

For many people out of work – their relationships are probably what is going to deliver their next job or consulting opportunity.

For companies looking to survive and grow, it is these relationships that will help them understand what their clients thinks of them and how they can promote it in the hopes of setting off the magic grail of this universe: viral growth.

Jared Hendler of EdelmanDigital showed how his company had successfully used these techniques to enhance the brand relationships for Pepsi and Axe using approaches that PR people understand: motivate the influencers in a group and the others follow. With Social Media they are using this techniques directly with the consumer and in that way, replacing or at least supporting, traditional advertising.

Rich Ullman of Ripple6, a Social Relationship engine that was recently acquired by Gannet, offers a controllable white-label product for corporate America with varies tools to monitor the feedback loop. Having customers talk back in a public forum is challenging area for many companies and they will have to learn to rethink their relationship to consumers. But in reality, for those who get it, it is an opportunity. Ripple6’s tool makes it possible to follow,measure and target. With his platform it is easy for the client typically, the marketer ,to monitor the conversation and the general rule is anything that gets people fired up – like Mom’s or people suffering pain – will garner a highly involved conversation.

Matt Peters of the relatively new marketing company, Pandemic Labs, discussed the taste test campaign his company did for Dunkin Donuts which is considered part of the reason many coffee drinkers were willing to forgo a trip to Starbucks. Neverthless an audience member asked the key question “how many cups of coffee did it sell?” The answer was awareness, mentions, etc. On the other hand, try asking that question to an ad exec!

In the end, this series of events has shown a deep need for companies and now, individuals, to develop a genuine Social Media Strategy - to understand what works and what they need to work at to get results. Contrary to the few “viral lottery” stories, very little of this success happens just by itself but at the same time, it is no longer a time-wasting luxury - it is a tool for survival.
To that end we will be launching a Social Media Council and a series of low-cost, hands-on workshops to deal with the issue of Social Media Management Strategies and Promoting Your Digital Footprint.

If you are interested in the Council and the workshops please send a note to

To download the Presentations go to:

Edelman Digital (Jared Hendler)
Ripple6 (Rich Ullman)
Pandemic Labs (Matt Peters)

Other blogs from this event:
Bloggers School
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