Archive for September, 2009

Social Dialog v. Broadcast

September 29, 2009

From an inside-baseball perspective one of the more anticipated iPhone apps for this quarter is the CNN app.  It rolled live this week in the iTunes app store, and from what I can tell from an initial download and tour of the app its pretty solid.

For publishers like CNN (and CBS where I work), what has become core functionality is the way the app leverages social networks like Twitter, Facebook etc–as a means of sharing content.  Meaning, it’s a one-way broadcast of me to my friends and followers:

Hey there 1100 Twitter followers and 650 Facebook friends here is something I saw and thought it was pretty cool.  You may like it too.  Enjoy.

But there is nothing social about that from the publisher side.  Its a broadcast.  We are enabling the end-user to broadcast a piece of content (that links back to us) but we are not engaging our core user–or any part of their network.

And that to me seems like a missed opportunity.  Now, I don’t pretend to have all of the answers to this–but I think the soon to roll CBS News app starts to address some of this–but its scratching the surface.  We need to do more to not just be a voice in the social media darkness–we need to engage the end user.

That is the way to build our brand, build your loyalty to our brand and to be a part of the fabric of the social network-and not just a patchwork part of a broader quilt.

Rules of Engagement

September 27, 2009

Just how prevalent and meaningful has the “gibberish” of your Twitter stream or Facebook wall gotten? There are a lot of companies – both large and small that are creating policy for their employees about how they are expected to conduct themselves.  Not only conduct on “official” Twitter pages or Facebook fan pages, but extending that expectation to personal social media accounts.  And you know what-its a good thing.

I can tell you from personal experience-it was pointed out to me that at one point my Twitter stream (and downstream of that my Facebook wall) had gone too far.  And I appreciated that little heads up and I have modified my behavior since then because social media (even personal accounts) are and extension of our selves (as our jobs, families, background etc).

I did a quick Google this afternoon of the term “Twitter policy” and I came up with rules about the way NFL players can Tweet, guidelines for NBA players, rules governing social media for ESPN employees and tips about how to create policy and some blog comments about policies that have been implemented.

I did a quick read through some of the memos that have found their way to the internet–and there are varying degrees of regulation.  The important part though is no one flat out banner Twitter.  Some of made it a little more generic what can be Tweeted or posted–but the conversation is open, and the sides are engaged.

And that is a good thing, it’s about time.

Once those rules of engagement are open for discussion, implementation and modification an end goal is in sight.  Once the use of social network is defined-employees can begin to implement policy and reach the goal.

For a long time, social media has been an experimental ground-drive brand awareness, drive consumption, drive something.  But the scale to measure impact has not been there.

Now it is-and rules legitimize it.

Yes, it would be great to have the wild-west mentality and just a straight up land grab for every inch we can get.  But that’s not the way business works in 2009.  Business is as much about image and awareness as it is about customer loyalty quality.  Those business needs extend beyond company websites and official destinations–and now that conversation is engaged.

Scratching the Surface and Going Too Far

September 3, 2009

So, today I am blogging from 35,000+ feet, thanks to the magic of GoGo in-flight (and a free use card I got earlier this week on my west-bound flight that I did not use).  And as I kind of reflect back some to the week that was in our San Francisco offices–and how much I go that i got done, and how little social networking I did-I wonder if the services we rely on today are just scratching the surface, or if we have gone too far already.

There I was on the BART riding out to Freemont (its a lot further than I thought it would be) and I really wanted to do some Twit pics etc–after all I spend a good amount of time bitching about mass transit in NYC, may as well be equal opportunity, right?

I did some Tweets-but not a lot, and no pics.  The why to that is a simple answer-I was doing other things (reviewing some apps that are about to launch etc), but still my premise is always tha the social media stuff takes so little time that its negligible.

So, perhaps I have gone too far?

Yet, here I am on an American Airlines flight heading East, and not only do I have the GoGo fired up-but my TweetDeck is humming along and I am catching up on all things that I did not get to over the last few days.

Fare enough-but then there was the last conversation I had before leaving the SF office today-and it was about rolling some Twitter share functionality into an app I am working on.  Its kind of expected today-and obvious when its not there (yeah, I launched a BB app less than a year ago that did not have any Twitter hooks in it).

That basic core requirement now makes me wonder if we have only scratched the surface of what we can do with social media as a means of bringing content and ideas together.  As a publisher-we want to leverage the tools for discovery and to build brand, but its equally important to be where the conversation is happening–and now I am wondering if we are helping shape the conversation, or simply adding white-noise to the background.

I am pretty sure the answer is somewhere in between–we are only scratching the surface on what we can do, but perhaps we are going to far all at once….


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