Internet Week New York kicked off yesterday with the conference formerly known as TWTRCON. Realtime NY 11 packed over forty speakers into its presentation stream of case studies, best practices and tools for the realtime web. Social, mobile, distilling down to 140 characters, coping with 1000 application choices, billion-dollar corporations and three-man bands were well-represented.
Couldn’t make it? Here are some of the conversations that resonated with me. How do they sound to you?
Twitter for Business
By now, we all know that more than tiger’s blood fuels Twitter. The conference’s early morning keynote was lead by Laura Fitton, CEO of oneforty, unquestionably one of the best and most accessible resources for professionals whose businesses use social media as a marketing tool. [That’s you, right?]
Fitton sees Twitter as the backbone of the realtime web and as important to business networking today as golf courses have been historically. People with more connections have always had more options. She observed that we are just starting to wrap our heads around how to use the “any-to-many” connection/communication schemes offered by social media. People important to us, whether for business or friendship, come to us from a network of loose ties facilitated when the sense of “other” is replaced by a sense of “connection.”
Influence used to be exercised by calling attention to one’s self; now it’s providing attention and value to others. “The message is the influencer,” she observed. “The notion that the message is the sender is a remnant of the old, one-to-many web.” Content? “Like standup, what really works on Twitter is the slightly weird thing that’s also common enough to be shared experience.”
Check out Fitton’s presentation deck that includes tips on successfully using social media by listening, learning, caring and serving.
The Business Case for Taking a Stand
It’s difficult for an Internet technology companies to be engaged in human rights activities or challenge local laws, as they may then be prohibited from operating to the detriment of the population. Other Than That blogger Cathy Brooks moderated a too-brief panel on reconciling business objectives, political idealism and international law with Ebele Okobi-Harris of Yahoo! and Susan McPherson of Fenton.
Okabi-Harris observed that people are using platforms for political expression, but the platforms are not the cause of the revolutions. Though most visible, she noted that China was just one country moderating its Internet; every country does it to some extent. Companies need to assess the risks of their activities with as much foresight as they can muster. However, events such as Egypt’s Internet shutdown cannot be predicted. [For additional perspective, see my April 2011 post, Experts Debate The Role of Social Media in Political Protest.]
Free speech is just one of the issues a company must address strategically, McPherson said. Companies cannot be opportunistic when it comes to environmental, working condition and other concerns that social media makes more visible.
Random, but Actionable Social Media Advice for Business
Victoria Harres, PR Newswire — Internal reports should not need to be written to justify listening to social media.
Recurring theme — Content pushed out on social media needs to be timely and useful.
Shiv Singh, Pepsi — Marry the realtime with the timeless.
Recurring theme: Whether you call them customer service agents or community managers, your social media monitoring, moderation and response teams must be trained and empowered to solve problems directly and as fast as possible. Responsiveness is a key to enhancing return business and can be used as a competitive advantage.
Tonia Ries, Realtime Report — Influence has become a third rail issue in social media. [I took this to mean it powers the system, but its danger needs to be respected.]
Gilad Lotan, Social Flow — If something [such as social media influence] is being gamed, it’s because we perceive its value.
Kevin Winterfield, IBM — Individual expertise and eminence yields visibility that’s an indicator of one being good at solving customer problems. That’s what makes an influencer. Start with what you want to have happen and work backwards to find who can do it for you.
Rick Wion, McDonald’s — Move fast, forget fast. [Referring to when it’s time to stop addressing a social media issue. Wion also showed packaging that McDonald’s uses when it mails something to someone in response to a Twitter complaint. The outside reads, “You tweeted. We listened.”]
Neil Glassman is principal marketing strategist at WhizBangPowWow, where he delivers malarky-free social, digital and linear media solutions. Join his conversation on Twitter or email Neil to talk about marketing or swap recipes.