Posts Tagged ‘network’

The Right Network for the Right Message

November 26, 2010

My recent brush with semi-unemployment taught me an interesting lesson about social networks (which I admittedly belong to far more than any one per should).  Each one has a unique place and when leveraged in a meaningful can drive results.

So among other places, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and right here on WordPress (which for the sake of this argument I will position as a social network).

Before I left my office at CBS News for the last time (this was late in October) I updated my Facebook status and put out a tweet.  Both were intentionally misleading, as people who knew my situation at work knew what was up–and those who didn’t had questions–but I really did not want to deal with it.

By the time I made my way to Penn Station (admittedly I stopped at a couple of bars) I had job interviews lined up one via a friend (who to this day I have never met in person) through Twitter and one through a good friend (who I actually know) via Facebook.

As the days rolled on, I came to realize that I could make connections to people or reconnect to people across the expanse of my social networks.

  • On LinkedIn I found some folks whose contact information I did not save to my file as I left my CBS office.
  • On Twitter I was getting @ messages and DM’s with links to posted jobs.
  • On Facebook came support and a few laughs.
  • On WordPress I found some tips for better presenting my skills and background.

I have always been a believer in karma when it comes to things professional–I help people (including employees) jobs.  Former employees always have a reference from me. Part of me wants to believe the great support I got was Karma coming back to me–because I will keep on doing what I do.

Beyond the notion of karma though is the reality that we can all be connected–and be there to support one another.  Knowing where to go and how to tap into that resource is part of the emerging field.

My quick takeaways–as I am not sure I have all of the answers on this–and the reality is the place I landed was born more from hard work than working the systems is something like this:

  1. Don’t try to solve all of your problems in an hour or a day.  It’s a process, treat finding a job as a job and make it part of your day-to-day.
  2. Accept help when it’s offered, and don’t be afraid to ask.  None of us have all the answer-but together we are a pretty good knowledge base.
  3. Make sure all of your networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) are presentable to anyone who does a Google search.
  4. Be an active contributor to the communities you want to work in.
  5. Be proactive.  This blog was born out of uncertainty about my job at CBS more than 2 years ago.  I wanted to have a place to send people to see my expertise.  Become and expert and have a place to share that expertise.

Let me know if you have any additions to my list–I am happy to add them on–and I always give credit.

The Front Door to the Information Superhighway

November 3, 2010

I am willing to admit to being old enough to remember the promise of “the internet” as promoted by AOL

Or even before that Prodigy

Those early “web” services provided access to a vast array of information–some of it cataloged, most of it untapped.  Along came independent browsers and broadband at that pretty much all but killed the relative beauty of the dial-up service provider:

For those who did it–who can forget that pleasure of surfing looking for dial-up ports that would work, the second number and more….

As what one of those companies promised “the information superhighway” evolved–along game our friends first at Yahoo then at Google who were able to bring order to the relative chaos.  (Yes, I am leaving out the likes of AltaVista, Lycos etc)–you know the search engine.

Open up the page, type in some keywords and you have a menu of options to choose from.

But as technology improved, so did the capabilities of the information providers.  No longer was having a lane on the great information superhighway enough–we needed attention.  So came the skill of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). In essence rigging the system–making my content the top of the search returns, after all we all know no one scrolls.

But alas, internet time waits for no one.  The AOL commercial at the top of this post is from 1995.  A mere 15 years later, and that front door to content has once again morphed.

Think about the way you discover things on-line (if you are even still using a computer or laptop).  Yes, search engines still have their place.  And yes you still have that Yahoo email, but how do you find things?

My bet is more than 70% of the time its through your social networks.  An interesting link on your friends Facebook wall like this one?  Maybe something from your Twitter stream that looks like this?

The reality is we are so connected to our networks, that search engines are a secondary source.  Case in point, over the weekend when Fox Networks and Cablevision settled the two-week imbroglio (it’s the NY Post headline writer in me-sorry) about retransmission, it was on Facebook I found out.  My confirmation was from Twitter, before I hit Google to find out the details.

{Couple of interesting asides here:  1-nornally I get this information first from Twitter, but on an early Saturday evening, my Facebook network was right on it.  2-the email from Cablevision came 5 hours later (a comment on email as a point of dissemination)}.

Our social networks are the touch point we use between information and our day-to-day–and its possible that the front door to the vast reaches of the information superhighway have changed again–from 256k dial-up–to 140 characters.

Where we get and share information is an evolving point of contact, and very individualistic–because it has to serve our needs.  I know 90% of my Twitter is mobile, and less than 5% of my computer based Twitter is on twitter.com.

Think about where and how you get information–and see if perhaps its time for a tune up, or realignment.

From Film at 11 to We are Here Right Now

October 14, 2010

I don’t consider myself to be old, however, my daughters (the older one especially) likes to remind me that I am creeping up there in years.  So it’s with that backdrop perhaps that I got a little nostalgic as I was watching the live video of the miners being pulled safely from their underground home of more than two months.

I am old enough to remember the tag line “Film at 11.”  Now I don’t remember it in my professional experience–but growing up I can remember Chuck Scarborough on WNBC (Channel 4 in NYC) or the late Bill Beutel on WABC (channel 7 in NYC) saying that line during what I later learned was the :57:30 cut-in.  You know it as a tease for the late news that comes during primetime viewing.

For those without the reference–here is a one time ABC News colleague of mine Christina Lund with the familiar tagline (this one delivered on KABC-Los Angeles in 1976)

And that’s what happened.  If you wanted to see the story you waited for the news to come on.  In talking to some of the long-timers at places I work or have worked, by 1976 the conversion to videotape was well underway-but the myth of film at 11 lived on for years beyond that.

Fast forward to Tuesday night into Wednesday and the miners.  Gone was the quaint notion of video.  Obsolete the idea of waiting 10 minutes, much less until 11.  This (like so many events) played out in real-time in bits and bites transferred in real-time around the world–with instant commentary from Twitter, blogs and news organizations like CBS (where I work) CNN, NBC etc.

And as all of this was going on — generally in that lull when the rescue capsule was being sent back down to the miners and being reloaded and resurfacing — I was able to think about the change I have seen in the news model both as a consumer and a professional.

I did wait for film (or video) at 11.  I can remember when a reporter going live was a big deal.  I’ve sprinted across snow-covered fields in New Hampshire to a feed point to make slot.

I’ve also pulled out an air-card or MiFi and upload a video file, used QIK to send breaking news video back and updated a story via Twitter using my smart phone camera.

I am not sure I know the “tipping” point in all of this-when the idea of waiting became quaint, but its a good thing.  News  is a commodity as is information.

While I truly do not think “back in the day” that information was being hoarded and doled out–there was a certain eloquence to it.  I also would not have been subjected to Ali Velshi on CNN cramming himself into a model of the rescue capsule.

And that’s not to pick on Mr. Velshi (whom I do not know). It’s the rest of the story.  Because we demand to see these things unfold in real-time and unedited, the ability to package and present may be a victim.

Flashback to January of 2010 and the Miracle on the Hudson.  Gripping pictures, a story with a happy ending–and miles of instant analysis.

Even when the news is bleakest–9/11 is the moment that leaps to mind the need to “fill the void” was evident.  I can even think back to the crash of TWA flight 800 off the coast of Long Island–and the long night I spent on a boat listening to coverage that did not equate with what I was seeing (my Nextel died so I was on my own until the boat came in)–but it’s not all bad, it really is not.

Because all of those sources, all of that information–gives us the power to be the packager.  Yes, news organizations need to be the gatekeeper.  But I can be my own editor and decide what makes sense.

So turn to Twitter, see what your social network is sharing via Facebook–check the blogs watch the video–its part of the human experience and its the job of my colleagues and me to make sure its there for you with context.

Would You Believe?

July 15, 2010

It was one of those days when through varied implied and implicit connections I managed to have conversations I had a seven in the morning ring true by four in the afternoon–without having any knowledge that one would lead to the other.  It’s a true Maxwell Smart, “Would you believe?” moment.

In the morning I was talking to a commuting buddy of mine about how blogs and social network can drive the news cycle.  The example we were discussing was the issue reported in the iPhone 4 device.  Here’s a good write through on that if you need the background.

The upshot of the discussion though was how a few bloggers can grab hold of something–and drive via Twitter, Facebook and comments a story until the “main stream” media picks up on it.

So today–what would happen if the BP capping of the well spewing oil in the Gulf was staged.

Step away for a moment.  How easy would it be for them to design a set similar to the one we’ve seen for more than 80 days from the bottom of the Gulf of oil spewing.  But this time–with no oil and this cap in place?  Switch the video source–and what do you know, it’s a capped well, right?

A few conspiracy theorists blog about this.  Spread it via Twitter.  A few Facebook shares–and you have a rumor ready to rumble along.

The final connection to all of this was an email today that CBS News was going to support the News Literacy Project.  One of the goals of this project is to help primarily students differentiate fact and fiction in this connected world.

Play it out–in Dallas in November of 1963.  Imagine a wired world, with instant mobile images and video.  Twitter to share the news far and wide and the second gunman theory? What would that look like today?

Would you believe we have the power to make things happen–to make people listen.  I guess it’s equally important to have something to say.

Your Social Media Influence

May 9, 2010

Something I spend time thinking about is how to gauge influence on social networks and how to gauge the impact social networks have in propagating ideas, content and ultimately in the commercial sense–clicks.

In full disclosure, I think about this from two perspectives-1) as a professional working at CBS News and charged with helping to grow audience in no small part by leveraging social networks and 2) as a straight up user of social media who would love for people to be active on this blog, view my You Tube channel (maybe not that so much) etc.

So, I can go into my Twitter and be pleasantly surprised that I have 1200+ followers. I can go onto Facebook and see that I have 700+ friends.  I can go onto Plurk and realize I have 150+ fans and friends.  I can hit up Friend Feed and see 350+ friends.  But what does it all mean, outside of the fact that I am not the only one with too much free time? (As an aside, one day I would love to figure out how much overlap there is).

So, the question then is I am able to reach 2500+ people on any one of several social networks, but what do they think of my message?  and how do I measure the value of my contributions? And then how does the way I influence my network mimic the way CBS News Twitter influences the 1.5 million followers it has, or the 73,000+ that Katie Couric has on her follower list (after all this is my bread and butter, right?)

For that answer, fortunately the smart folks at the Harvard Business Review have some thoughts, and its more than just a straight up numbers game.  HBR did a follow-up on some great thoughts and research by Adi Avint from August 2009.  His “Million Followers Fallacy” post opines that just the number of followers a user has is not a true indication of their reach.  Yes, a million people may read your thoughts 140 characters at a time–but given the nature of Twitter, probably not.

Instead, HBR suggests looking more at @ mentions and re-tweets as a better gauge of influence.  Meeyoung Cha opines that follower count as a stand-alone metric is a popularity contest, and not a true measure of influence.

follower count is not sufficient to capture the influence of a user (i.e., the ability of an user to sway the opinions of her followers). It only shows how popular the user is (i.e., the size of her audience). But, as we showed in our paper, retweets and mentions, which measure the audience responsiveness to a user’s tweets, do not correlate strongly with number of followers.

I have long argued that Twitter is more about conversation-and being responsive to what the people I follow post and more importantly be able to control the information flow that I consumer and tap into a stream of personal interest.  That can be Mets updates from a variety of sources, or the latest on the Islanders–the value of Twitter to me is the connection to information I am searching for, in real-time and in a passive state (all I have to do is open up a Twitter client on my laptop or mobile device).

Now I work for a major mass media news organization–and there is little doubt of the influence that CBS News will have on today’s news and ongoing stories throughout the news cycle.  But for me, Twitter (and the others listed) are more about niche topics and that is where the true value of Twitter comes from.

Cha says early research shows smaller publishers and smaller business-not just collecting followers have a competitive advantage:

But when it comes to non-popular or even niche topics, small businesses and opinion leaders were far more effective in engaging audience than mass media.

But the true measure of influence is still a work in progress.  Twitter is an easy study because of the open nature of the platform–but is simply counting RT’s and @’s enough to say “A” is more influential than “C”?  Because it’s a matter of what the interaction is.

The interesting Twitter data though comes from a different (June 2009) HBR study–the 10% most prolific Twitter users are responsible for 90% of the Tweets.

Which can lead to an easy conclusion that Twitter is a great content filter, able to sort through a cacophony of data.  Yes, some of it is gossipy, and yes there are still those who want (or need) the validation of the million follower club…

But the goal has to be engagement–both personally and professionally.  Imagine the folks at NASCAR if they read my Tweet taking a swipe at NASCAR:

Kind of a NASCAR in suburbia feel, no? http://mypict.me/6E8p73:11 PM May 2nd via UberTwitter

Knowing their social media strategy is to fan me up–and follow me?

It’s not the follower count, but the message.  As Mel Karmazin once said (in my presence at a meeting), “Content is King,” it’s up to us to maximize its value–and engage our audience.

The People Have Spoken: I’m Not So Bad Off

December 15, 2009

I very accidentally found out that just when I think things are going as bad as they can, from the outside it may not be so bad.  Perhaps the grass can be greener.

Last weekend a bunch of stuff went on (family, friends, loved ones, holidays)-you know just a bunch of stuff.  I was talking with a friend of mine who reminded me of FML–you know what you may say in a bad situation, “F*ck My Life.”

And as advertising has taught us–there’s an app for that as well.  So, I added the FML app to my iPhone and started sharing the happenings of my weekend and why I feel FML.

And much to my surprise, the community-hundreds of people at a time, determined that things are not as bad as I think they are.

My FML’s have been rejected.

And I think that’s a good thing for me.  After all, here I was thinking, “Wow, I am f’d.”  And hundreds of people didn’t think so.  Its kind of cathartic actually.

While I am not saying that every issue can be helped by simple crowd-sourcing, it is a powerful tool.  Let the people speak and they will determine just how worthy the cause is.

My friends at BNet recently pointed out some of the intrinsic value of crowdsourcing and why it makes sense.

From a business perspective–increased creativity, new voices in the decision making process and a true look into what I like to call vox populi (Google it).  It comes with some downside too, because business can’t control the conversation or the expectation.  Its a bit of sharp edge to walk.

However, it also answers the question–now that I have Tweeted, shared, Digged and Wiki’d everything-what happens?

Well the answer is conversation–and perhaps as I learned, things are not as bleak as they appear, or at least that is what the vox populi is telling me.

Its the same as all the other deals: Location, Location, Location

December 11, 2009

For the last five years I’ve heard, read or been told that “this is the year of mobile.”  Well, I don’t think it’s a matter of a year of mobile.  Rather I think its a progression of the way data flows and the ubiquity of better devices.

And as data flow gets better (despite what my friends at ATT are saying) and devices get better 2010 may finally be the year of what was called LBS (Location Based Services) a long time ago.  And by long I mean three years ago.

Now there are core mobile based products like Foursquare, Gowalla, Aloqua, Where that let a user find friends, locations, places, things to do all based on current location and a database.

Now this should be hugely appealing to sales folks and brands because when I am in the heart of Manhattan and looking for a burrito chances are the top item closest to me wins–and that has value.  The problem right now is figuring out what that value is.

The other problem is conveying that value.

Yeah, any sales person will tell you its all bout location.

And any brand will tell you its all about proximity

But is this the year it all comes together?

Guess I’ll Have to Go Old School This Time

December 4, 2009

12/5 UPDATE:  So it took two calls, but got the appointment I needed.  Still, it would have been better to search online for the test–would have cost everyone less in time and resources.

I’d like to think I am pretty tech savvy.  Yeah, there are some things I don’t get and probably don’t need to get, but overall I am certainly more than able to leverage the tools of my trade to do research, fill in blanks and  get things done.

As I tend to remind people though from time to time, at the end of the day we can do 1000 things exactly right, but when you have garbage in, you get garbage out.

Case in point is my five-day quest to find a lab to perform a very specific medical test that my doctor has prescribed.  Now, I don’t think there is anything wrong.  But I did a blood test a few weeks ago and there were some abnormalities–I chalk that up to mostly being north of 40.  So my doctor asked me to go have this test done.

Pretty easy I thought.  My health insurance company has a pretty good website, I am sure I can put in some keywords, locations and piece of cake–data.  Not so much.  I can get a list of labs near my house or near my office but I have no idea if they perform this test.

Sounds like a solvable problem right? Just a quick call, because this data has to exist somewhere in the insurance company database, right?

Yeah, not so much.  After waiting on hold for 15 minutes the guy at my insurance company offered to do the same search that I did and give me a list of places I can call.  So I ask him, “Can’t you search by procedure or test?”  “No,” is his response.  “Did you want me to send you a list?”  “No,” I responded.  “I already have that.”

So I figure I would ask my pals at Google.  After all Google knows everything right?

Yeah, not so much.

Now, I can do some deep reading and scare the crap out of myself with what if’s about results of this test, but I still can’t find a place to actually get this test done.

So, to the phones I go.  A little old school for you.

The Social Network v Google

October 30, 2009

So lately I have come to realize that I can get better information (and get it faster)  by tossing a question out to my social network than I can get by doing a Google search.  It makes me wonder if there is some real possibility that my social network will replace Google as a core source–and probably sooner rather than later.

A lot of brands are spending a lot of money to “work the system” and be in the top three results for Google.  These strategies include among other things SEO, buying keywords and keyword optimization in metadata on sites.

Or, I can just float a Tweet, or post to Twitter, Facebook and MySpace all at once–and sit back and wait.  Generally speaking in the time it would take me to go through the paid placements on Google and get the information I am looking for–I not only have the data I am looking for, but I have a link that is on point for my query.

Try it yourself.

My case study was a search for cool extensions for Google Wave–I am determined to truly figure out how to make Wave work for me and make it a cool experience (this is a subject for another blog perhaps-but I think the framework is there, just need to figure out what to do with it).

As my list of Wave contacts grows–its kind of interesting to see how people are using the product–and how they are innovating within the environment.

 

The Implied Digital Divide

October 23, 2009

Yesterday I spoke at an event I have spoken at the last four years and five of the last six years…the Fair Media Council hosts an annual “Connection Day” designed to put professionals from across industries together with media types.  Sometimes, at least to me its kind of when media folks come out of the ivory tower some–but that’s just my perception.

A quick word about events–I get invited to speak at a lot.  I could do three a month or more if I wanted to.  I don’t want to though.  I speak at events that serve a purpose and offer me the chance to learn something which is why the FMC event is on my schedule.

Even though my background is in traditional media-I am the cross over guy so I talk a lot about new media–from blogs, to text messaging to yesterday’s topic on social media.  Makes some sense since I am an evangelist.

Yesterday’s panel was about how to use social media–and there were probably 50 or so people in the room.  Brian Edwards from Astoria Federal Savings led the panel which included Andrew Jacobs from Linx Communications, Andrew Hazen from Prime Visibility, Gurmeet Dhaliwal from CA and me.  It was an interesting bunch–because we represented an assortment of uses for social media.

The Andrews were interested in lead generation for their businesses.  Gurmeet from the CA perspective eventually tries to drum sales up–but is a little closer to the way I use social media at CBS–for brand awareness and loyalty.

But it was the demographics of the room that I thought was fascinating.  One of the stigmas of social media in my opinion is that it’s for the young only.  Yet from IM clients to LinkedIn to Facebook to Twitter the ability to be in the space is prevalent and in fact more people are in social media than even know it.  Brian mentioned a stat that 66% of users in some survey (I can’t remember) said they were on social media.  I would put the number closer to 96%.

Yet some of the older people in the room started their questions with the preface that, “I can’t even turn on my computer.”  Now I always find that a funny way to start a question about new media–because I always find it hard to believe. The reality is these people are imposing their own digital divide.  Here is a reason why I can’t do this–rather than jumping in.

Then from the younger skewing crowd in the room–came questions about where and how to start.  And these were great questions–but its a matter of just jumping in.  Again I have to think that this is a self-imposed digital divide.  The tools are out there.

Yes, there are some learnings to be had in terms of best practices–but until it’s in practice it’s all theory.

I am always amused when someone tells me they are going to a seminar (or worse even a class) on Twitter.  There are 3 fields to fill in to create an account (and a capacha).  After that there are 140 characters to fill in and hit send.

If you jump in–read a little from others its pretty easy to catch on.

Its time to break down the digital barriers we impose on our selves.  It’s not to say social media is for everyone and every occasion–but there are no rules or barriers to entry.


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