Highlights From BlogTalk 2010: Day Two

Ruairí McKiernan speaking at BlogTalk 2010.

The second day of the conference proved just as valuable as the first, starting with Stowe Boyd talking us through his “web of flow” theory and how it is all about the streams.

He was followed by Ruairí McKiernan inspiring the crowd with the story of SpunOut.ie. Fergus Hurley talked about his experiences doing business in Silicon Valley and Laurent Walter Goix spoke of bringing it back to “context” from a telecoms perspective. Ronan Skehill outlined how “Apps Are Bad”, and after a healthy debate around this idea we went to lunch.

Perhaps one of my favourite sessions from the conference was Deanna Lee‘s talk about engagement and The New York Public Library.

Various other presentations filled the afternoon; but again the highlight of the day was the panel discussion on location-based social networks.

Location-Based Social Networking Panel Discussion

The panel discussion was one of great interest for those of us who live in Ireland as it seems we are the only ones in the country who seem to be using location-based devices so far. Equally important is the impact such technology has on our behaviour.

Mark Cahill led the discussion, walking us through the various location based networks: Foursquare, of course, WeePlaces.com, Google Latitude, Gowalla, Plancast, and now Facebook Places. Mark put it very simply: it’s about relevance and if you’re in the right place, right time… that’s relevant.

Fergus Hurley outlined that despite the launch of Facebook Places, Foursquare still has potential due to it’s gaming elements. I’d have to agree, considering this is the appeal that it also has for me at the moment. But I think what we needed to contemplate was what would be the motivation for “checking in”? Fergus also touched on this when he said that he thought people would check in somewhere that they wanted other people to know about. Say for example, me checking in when in Spain while I was on holiday to remind everyone that I was somewhere sunny and when they were probably stuck in the Irish rain!

A debate ensued about the behaviour from one generation to another (and how “generations” may not mean years now but months) and that younger generations will adapt to sharing where they are at all times. Only question left to answer is which one of the networks will be king. It seemed Facebook was the popular, but very unpopular, choice for most.

We Should All Support SpunOut.ie

Ruairí McKiernan spoke about SpunOut.ie in one of the morning slots, and I think most of the BlogTalk crowd learned a thing or two about social media for non-profit organisations. The organisation is using social media to activate the young people in Ireland, to inform and engage them with a number of different issues or challenges they face.

What we can learn from their case study? Always involve your target audience. SpunOut.ie wants to engage young people, so they have young people on the board and involved in making key decisions for the organisation. And remember to learn from one market to another. Use social media to share ideas and learnings but remember to bring it back to your local audience.

Clixtr Presented By Fergus Hurley

He walked us through what it takes to go from Galway to Silicon Valley. His network, Clixtr, is one that I admit to not hearing about before the conference and will certainly use now in the future. His presentation had a lot of great resources so looking forward to getting the slides. He also gave us a sneak peak at Picbounce which appears to be a faster version of uploading your pictures to sites like Twitter.

Engagement Is Key From NYPL

Deanna Lee of The New York Public Library gave us a great presentation on how she has seen success in the social space. The title of her presentation “Communications 2.0″ is something that stuck with me, because she made the point that while the rest of us have moved on to Web 3.0 and beyond, for institutions and corportations, many of them are still stuck in 2.0.

I would agree that this is the challenge from a marketing perspective that we face all the time. Consumers have advanced their behaviour; but organisations are still fearful of diving head first into this space. The key point from the presentation was that we have to think about ways for our content to stand out. We cannot live by the “build it and they will come” motto, as social media is about being proactive. We have to create new ways to be noticed in the sea of content.

She referred us back to the “basics of storytelling” and to always be relevant. She gave us a lot of great examples of what makes content stand out like Ghostbusters in the NYPL or Tillman the skateboarding dog. As someone who has always been a fan of the library, she was able to draw on this favourably disposed emotion by making the NYPL’s campaign not a brand’s campaign but a people’s campaign.

Additional Points Worth Noting?

In addition to the highlights featured above, there were several presentations that sparked intrigue and got me thinking about all of the things I now have to follow up on! Some of them have been noted here below, but would love for others to add some of their highlights!

Consider The Six Degrees Of Collaboration And Apply To Your LinkedIn Strategy

Ted Vickey presented his thoughts on the power of LinkedIn and outlined several ways he has used the network to build his own network and others. Reach out to your network on LinkedIn and source contacts that can help you provide solutions to problems.

How Often Do We Ask Ourselves “Who Am I?” When Thinking About How We Are Presented In Our Social Profiles Online

Gabriela Avram, University of Limerick and Brian O’Donovan, IBM presented their academic observations about social identity construction. They outlined IBM’s internal social network, BluePages, as an example for their research. They pointed out that internal social networks are used with promotion in mind. Their slides definitely provided some food for thought.

A really interesting perspective was provided by Dr. Werner Breitfuss of Hypios, who presented his company’s “problem solving” platform that really shows the power of social media for our future. In my basic understanding of his product, Hypios helps people find experts with social media. If you have a problem that needs a solution, source the people that know the answers best. Take his Kraft example, where a small restaurant in Italy ended up providing the answer to something that Kraft was trying to solve on their own. The small restaurant was found using social media.

I haven’t commented on Ronan Skehill’s argument for why “Apps Are Bad” because I’m afraid I’d need to do a bit of research before I would be able to participate in that debate! His presentation did prove valuable in providing us with key stats about the future of native apps vs. web apps, and really drilled down the growth in this area. I had heard about Android’s growth, but didn’t realise that they had increased market share from 2% to 10% from Q1 2009 to Q1 2010.

Laurent Walter Goix of Telecom Italia was able to give us insight into our changing social behaviour from a mobile network’s perspective. His presentation was all about context. He outlined that we must always be “context aware,” considering the where, when, how, by what, and by which network? With this context awareness, there will a new role for telcos, whereby they may become the “context sensors” for the data we share and consume across the mobile social web. He also pointed out the importance of filtering content on your mobile due to the small display screens on mobile devices.

All in all, the conference was really valuable for a social media marketer/enthusiast due to its fresh perspective in speakers, as mentioned in my post about BlogTalk 2010 day one! From someone looking at social media with my brand and organisation hat on, it was useful to think about the technology behind what makes social networks work. The debates about the future of social media left us all buzzing. I look forward to staying in touch with those that myself and Aoife Murphy of Radical met along the way; as well as keeping up to speed on the blogs, videos and opinions shared from the speakers on the day. Thanks to John Breslin and other event organisers.

Emer is the Social Media Manager for Radical, a full service online marketing agency in Dublin. You can find her on Twitter at @emerlawn.

SMXQ: Mark Cahill

Over the last 13 years, Mark has worked with major corporations such as Dell, Airtricity, Trinity Biotech and Johnson & Johnson. Mark is one of the founding organisers and speakers at Bizcamp Limerick. He is also a member of Engineers Ireland (IEI), the Irish Internet Association (IIA) and the MBA Association of Ireland (MBAAI). Mark is also a guest lecturer in the University of Limerick, Ireland, in entrepreneurship and marketing, with a focus on social networks and social media. Mark is also a co-founder of Social Bits, an Ireland-based consultancy firm specialising in the application of social media and Semantic Web technologies. You can follow him on Twitter at @markcahill.

1. Could you tell us about your background (where you’re from, what you’ve done)?

My background is in engineering and information technology. I have a BEng in Computer Engineering, and I have always had an interest in anything computer related. I worked with Dell for over 11 years before leaving to work for myself. Before leaving Dell, I commenced my Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA) which I completed in 2008.

2. What was your route into social media?

As part of my MBA, my thesis was titled “To what extent have online social networks changed business to consumer marketing”, so it looked at how the marketing landscape has been disrupted by online social networks. I had already started to use Twitter in January 2008 and I was fascinated with how you could communicate with so many “like-minded” people. 

3. Tell us a little bit (if you can) about what you’re interested in or working on right now.

Late last year we started Social Bits, which is going from strength to strength, and I also lecture to university undergraduate and postgraduate marketing students, as well as MBA students in the field of marketing via online social networks.

4. What social media services do you use regularly and why?

Twitter is probably my top one. The reason I use it is to stay informed. The real-time nature of Twitter is incredible, when something happens you usually hear about it on Twitter first. If there is an event worth going to you hear about it on Twitter. If there is an event you can’t make it to you can usually “listen” to the live tweets to get an idea of what is important.

5. If you could only keep one service or tool, what would it be, and why have you chosen it?

Twitter again, but this is cheating, because Twitter is linked to so many other services such as Plancast. It is hard to separate Twitter (or most other social media tools for that matter) as they are all interrelated to some extent.

6. Including your own area of expertise, what developments in social media do you think are particularly important?

I think the development of location-based social networks are very important. Location-based social networks enable brick and mortar businesses to build customer loyalty in a new and exciting way. It is also a good way for someone who is a stranger to a town or city to locate what they need to find, whether it is just a coffee or some type of service. I can also see the relevance of layering the Semantic Web on top of, or integrating it with online social networks, as context gives more accurate information: this is good news for marketers and good news for customers.

7. What can you do now that you couldn’t do before the arrival of social media?

Talk to lots of like-minded people.
8. What issues, either technical or social, do you see with social media?

Privacy it the big one. Because you are not paying for the use of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter to name a few, you don’t have real control over what is put out there. The best rule is, if you don’t want anyone to know, then don’t put it out there.

9. What one piece of advice would you give to someone entering the social media world?

Learn about the social media tools, and start to listen, observe and lurk, once you feel comfortable with the conversations, then jump in and participate. Like learning a new language, the best way is to immerse yourself in the language and the culture, therefore you need to immerse yourself in the language and culture of “social media”.

10. How do you see social media helping and improving things for us in the future?

  • More transparency.
  • More accurate advertising.
  • Better internal communication within businesses, and better communication between businesses and their customers.
  • Better communication between people.