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.

SpunOut.ie: A Highly Effective Use of Facebook for Increasing Awareness

In just four short months from April to August, 2010, SpunOut.ie have raised the number of people on their Facebook page community from around the 400 mark to nearly 12,000 participants, as of writing. This is a remarkable achievement for a small Galway based charity whose stated aim is to educate and inform young people in the 16 – 24 age on the issues that concern them and encourage engaged citizenship through social activism.

Ruairí Mckiernan, with the help of some friends, started SpunOut.ie from his bedroom in 2004 using a dial-up modem which would sometimes take half an hour just to send an email. SpunOut.ie, (the term ‘spunout’ comes from the notion that youth culture is fed up with spin; political spin, religious spin, spin from teachers, the media and advertisers.and they are ‘spun out’,) was always intended to be web-based. Taking advantage of platforms such as forums and informational pages to share information and have discussions about issues such as sexual health, mental health, drugs, alcohol and other matters of concern to young people.

Ruairí says, “The burning motivation for me was that at the height of the Celtic Tiger, seeing that the sole emphasis was on economic development, development, development. At the same time social development was going in the opposite direction. It seemed to me [to be an increase] in terms of suicide and mental health, particularly around younger people who were being developed as economic units rather than citizens. If you look around now and ask where is everyone and what are they doing and why is there no big big engagement, it’s because the investment was to bring people into the corporate world. Which is fair enough but it needs to be balanced with social development.”

He goes on to say, “The website provides a channel for people to discuss, debate and participate in a way that they don’t normally get. The internet provides the opportunity for people to discuss things that they feel a little bit more safer with. There is a degree of anonymity if there are taboo issues. And some of the major taboo issues in Ireland are around the issues of mental health and sexual health.”

These are sensitive issues and on the main site there are is a trained team of moderators in child protection and suicide preventions skills. Ruairí points out, “ Obviously there are risks in providing an open space so we mitigate against that in a way that Facebook mightn’t by resourcing with [trained] staff.”

What social networking platforms like Facebook can do is offer organisations like SpunOut.ie the means to reach a much larger audience that they might not normally have access to and tap into a new set of resources. There are roughly 630,000 people in Ireland alone that fit into SpunOut.ie’s target demographic.

Jason Coomey, the charity’s web developer, was tasked with helping build on the organisations significant development work to increase SpunOut.ie’s profile on Facebook. It became clear very quickly that this was almost a full-time job. Ruairí says, “It’s not every organization or company that would put somebody just on to Facebook. But it’s something we have made an organizational decision around for now.”

One of Jason’s first tasks was to work with the SpunOut.ie team in migrating user activity away from the profile page which allows friends to access other friends information directly to the more public although ironically more private space of a Facebook page. They found that advertising on Facebook took a different turn from using Google Adwords. The latter is focused on keywords while Facebook is focused on demographics.

To encourage people to like their page they decided to run competitions. The prizes were for such things as tickets for the Oxegen and Electric Picnic concerts. Another prize on offer was an ipad.

One of the things they quickly learned was to set up the promotion in its own tab and in the settings make that the landing page. Jason says, “When people land on the site they should be sent to the first page that you want them to see. This can be done by setting up a tabbed page and then change the setting on the page so when someone arrives they get sent to the relevant page immediately. People have a very short attention span. It’s 15 seconds, perhaps as low as five or three seconds or less and that’s it.”

But they didn’t want these competitions to be mindless affairs. Like every charity they need to come up with strategies and plans to justify why they should receive funding. Some of this information can only be gleaned from doing surveys which, traditionally at best, can only be referred to as being very dry affairs.

Jason tells what happened, “We ran an ipad competition to get people to fill a survey as part of our strategic review. Over fifteen hundred people participated in the survey. The quality of the information was amazing. It’s not as though we came away with 11k fans we didn’t know what to with. We had fifteen hundred people [participate] and we acquired an extra eleven thousand fans as well.”

The Facebook average is 0.04% (figures from 2007 so may well be dated,) return on click throughs. Naturally, Ruairí and Jason would wish to keep certain matters confidential but they do claim that the returns from their activities were significantly better than the Facebook average for the ipad competition.

There is a very small window of opportunity for an ad campaign. As little as a day or two before results fall away rapidly. But click through rates are not enough and a lot of statistical analysis takes place in determining if a rise or fall in click through rates results in more or less fans.
It is not a straightforward relationship and all the data has to be looked at very carefully.

But awareness is not enough. Ruairí, “I am passionate about the need for social change in Ireland and I see the internet as one way of achieving that. If you don’t have a passion about it, it won’t work, it won’t get off the ground.” SpunOut.ie now has an online audience of 500,000 people. “We are trying to engage them is social issues and activate them as active citizens. We want them to get interested in the big issues of the day and to do something about them.

“We’re in a really good position but we’re not in a really good financial position to secure that for the future. So not to lose the huge goodwill that we have built up we would like others to come in and row with us. We’re keen on suitable partners. We’re actively looking for support in developing, marketing and funding to realize our full potential.”

If you think you can help in any way you can find the SpunOut.ie team at their Facebook page or on their home site.

Ruairí Mckiernan is one of the speakers at BlogTalk 2010 being held this week in Galway, Ireland.