Author Archives: Brian Solis

About Brian Solis

Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm. Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging media on business, marketing, publishing, and culture. His current book, Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to build and measure success in the social web.

Sourced from TechCrunch and PR 2.0

At the Real-Time Stream Crunchup on Friday in Redwood City, Erick Schonfeld hosted a panel of industry heavyweights who are either building solutions or defining how they’re used in the world of business communications and customer service.

The panel included:

- Porter Gale, Virgin America
- John Ham, Ustream
- Eric Marcoullier, Gnip
- Ross Mayfield, SocialText
- David Sacks, Yammer
- Max Ventilla, Aardvark
- Maynard Webb, LiveOps
- Tim Young, SocialCast

The discussion was representative of the ever-changing flow of real-time streams, covering everything from the infrastructure of social technology and enterprise adoption of new tools and processes to how brands listen and engage in the social Web.

For the sake of brevity and focus, let’s zero-in on the conversation as it relates to the title of the panel, “Real-Time Business.”

Social Media has evolved beyond a series of platforms that enable content publishing, sharing, and discovery into a genuine, peer-to-peer looking glass into the real world conversations that affect the perception, engagement, and overall direction of the brands we represent.

Socialized media didn’t invent “conversations,” it simply organized and amplified them and established an opportunity for learning and collaboration.

Twitter and Twitter Search have ushered in a new genre of not only communications and associated search technology, but also dedicated ecosystems that transform and support how we as consumers share and discover relevant information in real-time.

Online discussions, rants, and observations are either alarming and motivating brand managers or fooling them into unforeseen entrapment. But the reality is that real-time dialogue is fueling connections and perceptions in the statusphere, blogopsphere, online communities, and the social web in general. It’s this swelling tsunami of chatter that will only intensify and heighten as it forces a new genre of Social Customer Relationship Management (sCRM). Social CRM is no longer an option. It necessitates brand involvement to proactively share answers, solve problems, establish authority, and build relationships and loyalty, one tweet, blog post, update, and “like,” at a time.

In the world of business, social media, led by Twitter, forced companies to augment the offshoring of reactive customer service with the nearshoring of proactive customer engagement. The conversations that power social media sparked a sense of urgency to identify influential voices and talk to customers where and when relevant conversations are transpiring.

For example, during its on stage demonstration, Peoplebrowsr showcased the ability to monitor sentiment associated with keywords. It also highlighted the ability to analyze conversational sentiment by industry through the alignment of positive, neutral, and negative conversations and perception by brand. One such demo was an overview of airlines currently on Twitter and where they stacked up against each other as represented by dialog and emotion.

Porter Gale of Virgin America (@virginamerica) represents one of the companies that understands the promise, prospect, and value of listening and responding today and tomorrow. And, judging by the snapshot of customer sentiment presented by PeopleBrowsr, people on Twitter agree.

Moderator Erick Schonfeld asked Porter how her team mines Twitter for the perception of the brand and also for determining how they contact customers.

Porter revealed that the Virgin America team is small and applies roughly the equivalent of 1.5 people to monitoring and engaging on Twitter and other social networks. To her and the team, social media is representative of not only a listening system, but also a complete engagement channel. The word “marketing” doesn’t even enter the mix.

With more than 20,000 followers, Virgin America is galvanizing a vibrant and active community of people who will respond in “Twitter time,” thus alleviating the modest team from having to engage in every discussion, whether it’s positive or negative.

The most common example Porter shared was a response to the question, “Should I fly Virgin?”

“The community closes the sale,” exclaimed Porter.

She also shared a story of how Virgin America invests in the good will of customers, simply by publicly acknowledging and supporting them in the same channels where they’re communicating.

During one flight, a woman who just graduated medical school to become a doctor, had tweeted her excitement about graduating and also flying @virginamerica. Instead of simply responding with a congratulatory Tweet, Porter and her team retweeted and asked someone on the flight to buy her a drink (the benefits of offering inflight wifi).

To her surprise, Porter triggered an immediate response, “Row 11 is going to buy her a drink.” And, to her further astonishment, the person who sent that Tweet was live in the audience at the Real-Time stream event.

Alexia Tsotsis, tech writer at the LA Weekly, shouted from the first row, “That was me!”

We were witnesses to a real-time demonstration of how interaction online extends into real world experiences.

More impressively, is Virgin America’s use of the social Web for real-time customer service. They’re actively monitoring issues, frustrations, and recommendations to solve challenges as they arise. In several such instances, Virgin America has used Twitter as a real-time guest service recovery system in flight to address concerns and problems by contacting service staff in the air to alert them to issues – again, the perils and associated benefits of offering inflight wifi.

Ross Mayfield, founder of SocialText offers a dashboard for enterprises that wish to collaborate internally with coworkers and externally with customers and stakeholders.

Ross referenced the engagement iceberg, where he observes only a smaller portion of customer conversations and engagement as truly visible, with most occurring beneath the water line and thus, out of view.

He then discussed the nature of the dialogue and how conversations require more than one person or department to engage.

He’ s right. In my research and experience, we’ve identified that every online conversation worthy of response directly matched specific divisions within an organization and usually rank in this order:

1. Support
2. PR
3. Marketing
4. Sales

It highlights the reality that every depart eventually needs to socialize.

Ross then asked his fellow panel members as well as the audience, “Who’s going to own Social Media and the process of responding?”

My answer? No one.

Social Media, is for the time being, tuning-in new channels of influence for incorporation into the brand and marketing mix. While it takes a station manager to receive the signals and in turn, coordinate outward broadcasts, it is the divisions within each organization that will need to shift from an introspective support infrastructure to an extrospective union of proactive collaborators.

And as Ross cautioned businesses and eager social media teams, “Before they collaborate with the community, they have to collaborate with themselves.”

If responsibilities and workflow isn’t established and most importantly, if guidelines aren’t drafted and disseminated company-wide, the intention of helping influential customers and advocates can quickly transcend into social, and very public, chaos.

We need rules of engagement.

As Erick pointed out in the discussion, “It used to be unhappy customers who would call into customer service lines to express frustration. Now if businesses don’t immediately respond with resolution and nip these issues in the bud, they have the potential of spreading and going out of control. And at the same time, companies need to identify and amplify praise as it happens.”

Virgin America’s Porter Gale is trying to rally her team as well as the other departments that are affected by real-time conversations and the issues they raise. She hosts brownbag lunches, where PR, customer service, and other teammates discuss what’s happening with Twitter and other social networks. They also share and review strategies and tactics to teach and learn from each other based on their experiences.

There are social networks, there are tools in which to identify conversations and facilitate interaction, but everyone agreed, that in the world of new service and marketing, we need to improve the literacy and education among the teams who occupy the front lines.

The “now” web is powerful. It’s building new bridges, networks, and channels. It’s absolutely changing the way people communicate, research, and ultimately make decisions.

Yes, the real-time Web is powered by conversations. But, what’s important to remember, is that conversations are personal and therefore sacred.

Broadcasting messages, or even worse, sponsored messages as a form of resolution or participation is foolhardy.

Companies such as Pizza Hut that relegate Twitter interaction to a summer “Twintern” will indubitably get what they pay for. We’ve already witnessed the public backlash when a twintern abuses Twitter on behalf of an unsuspecting brand. #habitat #hashtagabuse

The point is that it’s not whether or not an intern or junior staffer on the marketing and communications team is competent or incompetent. The reality is that businesses should view the role of engaging with customers, prospects and influencers as a strategic competitive advantage as well as an earned privilege.

As panelist Maynard Webb of Liveops pointed out, “A brand can get damaged faster than ever nowadays.”

The true shift represented by the social and real-time Web is not simply the ability to surface relevant conversations as they happen, it represents the opportunity to learn from public sentiment and create a more aware and adaptive organization that leads communities through action.

We’re moving away from an era of monitoring to an age of engagement.

To see more pictures from the Real-Time Stream Crunchup, please view my album on Flickr. For more on Social CRM, please read, “Time to Put a Stake in the Ground on Social CRM” by Paul Greenberg.

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Twitter, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Plaxo, Plurk, Identi.ca, BackType, or Facebook

Now available (click to purchase):

Sourced from PR 2.0

When it comes to savvy, proven, and incredibly successful tech investors, Ron Conway is among the top of the list. He has a gift or an uncanny sense of shrewdness, or a fusion of both, to identify real opportunities that will transform into successful exits and also fuel and inspire aggressive innovation in the process.

At the Real-Time Stream event in Redwood City, California organized by TechCrunch, industry pioneers and pundits discussed the state and future of the Real-Time Web also referred to as the “now” Web.

To help entrepreneurs, startups, and industry leaders monetize this tremendous opportunity, Ron Conway offered his vision for the Top 10 ways to profit from Twitter and the real-time Web:

10. Lead generation
9. Coupons
8. Analytics, analyzing the data
7. Enterprise CRM
6. Payments
5. Commerce
4. User-authentication, verifying accounts
3. Syndication of new ads
2. Advertising – Context and display ads
1. Acquiring followers

According to Conway, if you add these up, initial estimates equate to roughly $5 billion. In comparison to traditional monetization in search, Google earns about $20 billion in ads per year.

To view additional pictures from the Real-Time Stream event, please visit my album on Flickr.

To see pictures from the 4th annual TechCrunch August Capital summer party, please visit this album on Flickr.

Connect with me on:

Twitter, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Plaxo, Plurk, Identi.ca, BackType, or Facebook

Read more from Brian Solis:

Blog: PR 2.0
Book: Putting the Public Back in Public Relations
Social Map: The Conversation Prism

Sourced from PR 2.0

I’m blogging from the Real-Time Stream event in Redwood City, California organized by TechCrunch. I will share more of my thoughts and observations in a series of posts at a later time – there’s just so much too process in “real time.” Let’s just say that the future of search, streams and the concept of the “Now Web” is blindingly bright.

One of the presenting companies here is Collecta, a new take on Web search, social aggregation, and real-time aggregation..

Collecta recently launched a new platform in public beta that fundamentally changes the way people find and access information on the web.It is especially interesting for any brand manager attempting to harness and organize conversations across the social Web.

What we’re learning through Twitter Search, is that people want access to the immediacy of conversations tied to keywords, regardless of the authority, Page Rank, and SEO.

This is the dawn of real-time search…

It’s the difference between finding the right content on the Web and finding the right content, right now across the Web and Social Media.

As Collecta CEO, Gerry Campbell puts it, “I want to know what are people saying about my topic, right now. The minute you put rankings and filters on search, it stops representing real-time.”

Last year I introduced the Conversation Prism with Jesse Thomas to map the social landscape as a way of discovering REAL insight into the conversations transpiring across social networks, where and when they occurred.

Initially, I expected brand managers and marketers to use the search boxes within relevant networks to search for past and current conversations. The dream was, of course, to have a search window into the social web and the social graph, in real-time. Collecta, among other specialized tools such as One Riot, Topsy, and PeopleBrowsr are peeling back the layers of society, focusing the our attention to enhance and amplify listening, and plugging us directly into the conversations that shape impressions and perceptions.

While searching the Conversation Prism is real-time is not yet fully realized, it is imminent.

Essentially, Collecta enables Internet search to finally keep pace with the real-time information streams on blogs, microblogs such as Twitter and FriendFeed, traditional news sites, Web sites, and social networks such as Flickr, YouTube, and Digg. It then centralizes the search results in easy to read, continually updating streams.

While not every search requires the immediacy of real-time, Collecta’s technology can dramatically transform the end user experience in countless applications, such as watching a live stream of comments on a sporting event or television show, following breaking news or a natural disaster, or keeping a close eye on brand or product comments.

I asked Gerry about the inspiration behind Collecta and his response paints a picture representing a true shift in technology and behavior, “The evolution of media needs to catch up to the pace of how people are consuming data now. We need to rethink search from the user perspective, not trying stuff results into existing paradigms and products. We have to start from scratch.”

He continued, “Every minute, stories are told on the Web. Yet in traditional search, most are usually ranked out of the results and therefore, people don’t get a chance to see them. With Collecta, you can see these stories break and unfold.”

Unlike other aggregator or search tools that are simply a mashup of information built on top Twitter Search, Collecta has built an entire ecosystem and infrastructure based on the open messaging standard XMPP. Over the past decade, the Collecta team has placed an early stake in the future of XMPP. And the recent launch of Google Wave ups the ante on XMPP’s position in the real time web.

Collecta is a river, while traditional search architectures are oceans.

Connect with me on:

Twitter, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Plaxo, Plurk, Identi.ca, BackType, or Facebook

Read more from Brian Solis:

Blog: PR 2.0
Book: Putting the Public Back in Public Relations
Social Map: The Conversation Prism


Mark Zuckerberg introducing Facebook Connect: Shot at f8

Source: PR 2.0

Facebook Connect is connecting people across the social graph to fresh content and furthermore it’s channeling outside Web events into individual lifestreams. Essentially, Facebook is solidifying its position as not only your primary social network, it’s also a emerging as a central hub for your attention, updates, news, promotion, and enlightenment.

Now, Facebook is extending its network to the World Wide Web, allowing brands and personalities who have or will host Fan Pages to embed a widget version of the page directly into Web sites, other social networks, social networks, and blogs. This builds a bridge between the 200 million strong Facebook network and outside visitors to strategically concentrate on promotion and community building.

For example, here’s a sample widget of the Facebook Fan Page for my new book with Deirdre Breakenridge, “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations.”

Interactivity is key and by embedding the Facebook widget, site owners can augment, eliminate or reduce reliance on custom brand-building and attention grabbing site development while still amassing a significant following or fandom.  It also extends the updates and content live, providing site visitors with the latest activity from inside the network to wherever the widget is placed.  It’s a simple matter of adding a bit of automatically generated code to the site, not unlike how we embed YouTube videos or Flickr pictures today.

Visitors to outside branded pages can securely login with their Facebook credentials to interact with the widget to comment, become a fan, and view the latest pictures, videos, posts, etc. As fans participate, their activity is simultaneously shared within the Facebook community, further promoting the branded content within the personal “News Feed” for Facebook friends and contacts to potentially view and click through.

Here are a few examples of the Widget in action:

Lance Armstrong

BlackBerry

World Wildlife Fund

NPR

Kings of Leon

Lenny Kravitz

Roger Federer

Newsweek

ABC News

Connect with me on:

Twitter, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Plaxo, Plurk, Identi.ca, BackType, or Facebook

Read more from Brian Solis:

Blog: PR 2.0
Book: Putting the Public Back in Public Relations
Social Map: The Conversation Prism

by Brian Solis

Internet Week NY 2009 has come and gone, but its legacy will carry us throughout the coming year until we convene again at IWNY 2010.

PepsiCo and the TechSet were charged with kicking-off Internet Week by bubbling-up innovation and spotlighting global entrepreneurship at the Bubble Lounge on a beautiful New York evening. Dare I say that it was bub.blicio.us?

PepsiCo has been among those companies that truly understand and consistently demonstrate the activity, engagement, and potential for genuine participation and community cultivation.

It’s about people. And, that’s serves as the very foundation for the TechSet.

PepsiCo, along with the TechSet (Stephanie Agresta and yours truly) and a venue filled with new creativity and passion , indeed commemorated the vivacity of imagination and the people who transform ideas into realty – embodying the true essence and spirit of InternetWeek.

We toasted to the artistry of innovation and basked in the inspiration that spilt over not from our glasses, but from the vision and personality that fills NYC during Internet Week.

I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story…

Your hosts – Brian Solis and Stephanie Agresta

Maria Sansone of Poptub

“THE” Rock Band

Melanie Notkin

Anthony Casalena of SquareSpace

Loren Feldman, Dan Farber, Michelle Feldman

Dan Patterson, ABC Radio

Chris Heuer

Brant Bonin Bough

Aubrey Sabala, Brian August

Joel Dreyfuss

Oz Sultan, Brett Petersel, Gregarious, Coutenay Bird

Leora Israel

Brett Petersel

Ayelet Noff

Oz Sultan, Brett Petersel, Jolie O’Dell, Jacob Mullins, Courtenay Bird, MG Siegler, Brian Solis

Nicole Jordan, Rana Sobhany, Stephanie Agresta, Brett Petersel, Anand Iyer, Jacob Mullins, MG Siegler, Michael Jacobson, Bryan Barletta, Courtenay Bird, Damien Basile

For more pictures from the Pepsico – TechSet IWNY party, please visit my album on flickr.

Video highlights from the Pepsico – TechSet party now on PopTub:


Connect with me on:

Twitter, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Plaxo, Plurk, Identi.ca, BackType, or Facebook

Read more from Brian Solis:

Blog: PR 2.0
Book: Putting the Public Back in Public Relations
Social Map: The Conversation Prism