The Consumer Matters is the blog of Leslie Grandy, aka Gearhead Gal.  My passion is creating and delivering compelling products that delight customers through simple and elegant user experience design.

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Entries in social networking (7)


Understanding The Relationship Between Social Networks And Social Media

Despite the title that's overlaid on this frame, the video is not about a circular argument. It's worth the three minutes to listen to Matt explain the consumer intelligence that has grown through the creation and maintenance of trust and admiration networks, technical networks, and advice networks.



Lessons From BlogWorld: What Goes On In Vegas Shouldn't Stay There

So you couldn't make it to BlogWorld and New Media Expo this weekend? Don't worry, though, because I had a Technorati press pass and headed to Vegas to get a little taste of the South Pacific...Ballroom, that is. The Mandalay Bay Hotel Convention Center served as host for the event, and while hotel guests toured the Shark Aquarium a couple of hundred yards from the conference, bloggers and digital marketers dove into the deep end of the social media pool. Corporate exhibitors like the U.S. Army, Ford, Southwest Airlines and Kodak shared space with Co-Tweet, Radian, Rackspace and Tungle,to participate in the business of conversational media.

Interview with BlogWorld Co-Founder Rick Calvert

If you search for job openings with the keywords “community manager,” LinkedIn will return over one thousand results. According to Rick Calvert, co-founder of Blogworld and New Media Expo, the popularity of job listings on sites like Linkedin or Monster is an indicator of how bright the future is for social media in corporate America.

“Companies know they need Community Managers,” Calvert says, “because they know they need to engage with their customers in a range of ways through social media, even though they are still learning how to manage those conversations.”

Education remains a primary goal for Calvert and his Blogworld team. “These attendees reach a global audience of over 250 million people.” he pointed out. “Their influence is undeniable.” In an interview conducted halfway through this year’s Blogworld event, held in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Hotel Conference Center, Calvert indicated that attendance has doubled in the last three years of the conference, but at 3000 attendees, what’s billed as the World’s Largest New Media Conference, is still pretty small given the nearly 200 million blogs that have been created worldwide.

Calvert acknowledged that it is hard for corporate marketers to know what technology platforms will stick with consumers; Calvert admitted even he “missed the point of Twitter at first. I wasn’t sure if it had real value or would turn into FriendFeed.”

Education is why he says he is committed to growing the conference over time.  Read more...

And more about my experience at BlogWorld on 



Why Being a Mensch Matters in Social Media

A recent year-end post by Guy Kawasaki on American Express's Open Forum highlighted twelve tips on how to be a mensch, a Yiddish term that is synonymous with being a person of integrity or honor. Each item on the list is built on a variation of the Golden Rule, and that makes for a great checklist for social brands. After all, it's a barter economy out there in the Twitterverse and blogosphere, and in order to receive, you need to give. And, of course, authenticity is the difference between making noise and creating meaning for brands on any platform.

I've taken the twelve resolutions and have tried to match them to lessons from the last 5 months I've spent exploring social media. Hopefully, in the spirit of karma that underlies this list, I hope you'll find something useful here.

Give people gifts other than those that you buy.  Thank people for enlightening you with a good post. Comment on their blogs, and tell them you appreciate them by a re-tweet. Credit them when you use their material.

Become a talent hunter.  Explore your followers.  Find people who have something to teach you. Seek out global experts and small businesses because, after all, it's the world wide web and a bad economy. It's a buyer's market for free agent talent. Reviews and references make it easier to find someone qualified to do business with, so there is no excuse not to strike gold through social media.

Sharing ideas and information that can enrich.  It's too easy to write a snarky post, a cheap headline or perpetuate a rumor. Anyone can be a critic. But taking the effort to be constructive and productive will pay dividends by creating more valuable discussions with your customers.

Spend more time in the “beginner’s mind.”  Who doesn't want to hear 'I can relate'? Empathy is a powerful emotion for brands that engage in social media. Whether you engage in customer support online or want to impress your customers with how innovative you are, consumers just don't have the time to figure out why or how you want to interact with them. Make it simple to find you, talk to you and enjoy your service.

Don’t tell people what they can’t do. When social media inspires audiences to act for causes you can appreciate the power of the positive. Mobilizing fans, followers and friends to act is the big win in social media. It's about motivation.

Minimize the space you take up.  This seems contrary to the goal of growing fans and followers, but in fact it can be the secret to building a big audience. A well written comment on another expert's blog post, a tagged video or a carefully edited tweet can end up reaching orders of magnitude more folks thanks to the power of sharing that is foundational to social media. You don't have to shout to be heard across the web. However, you do need to contribute something valuable so everyone will want to share it. 

Become a relationship anthropologist. Understanding what makes your audience tick will help you engage with them on the platforms and in the ways that are most convenient for them. Understanding how groups behave will help you develop and support communities that will ultimately grow your business. It's a relationship, so lshow you listen.

Get rid of grudges.   Social media does a great job of keeping companies honest about the service they provide or the quality of care they show their customers. Reviews and ratings and comments live on forever, even after a company has tried to make amends. The best advice is for brands not to allow a grudge to develop in social media forums, because forgiveness usually doesn't come with a written retraction. 

Be happy for others.   If you highlight other's wins, you make it easier for them to highlight yours. If you are a start-up CEO, share lessons on a blog or encourage other entrepreneurs with your feedback. If your customers are loyal, reward their satisfaction. Pay attention to the joy others have, because people share when they are happy, and who doesn't want happy customers?

Help others caress the rainbow. It takes a village to be successful, and just like you need help with your start-up or need to grow your audience, so do others. Social technologies are all about sharing the wealth, paying it forward and not hoarding traffic or monopolizing the conversation.

Make people feel better about themselves. Consumers like to choose brands that make them feel they can fulfill their aspirations. The voice that a brand uses  across social media can turn someone off in an instant. Your customers won't engage if they feel reprimanded or rebuffed for trying to connect with you.

View all promises you made in 2009 as an unpaid debt.  You've amassed fans on Facebook and MySpace, you've created a mobile app, you tweet company news, but have you created any new value for your customers through social media yet? If not, it's time...






Meet Dorthy and Jinni, Your New Search BFFs

First published on Technorati

Meet Dorthy and Jinni: they're virtual friends of yours. They understand your hopes and dreams, and some days, they know just how you feel and suggest things to suit your mood. Dorthy and Jinni don't really know each other, but they both seem to know you very well.

Semantic search engines have existed for years, borne from the same university science and math labs that spawned companies like Google, Bing and meta-search.  Unlike keyword-based search, semantic queries look at the language and context to derive meaningful results.

Semantic search sites have not widely caught on with consumers, despite the fact that they claim to provide a broader topical perspective by seeking related content and associated concepts, not just the keywords entered. Google rolled out semantic search capabilities early in 2009 to respond to critics who suggested Google has not done enough to increase relevancy since becoming the search juggernaut. Both Jinni (in Beta) and Dorthy (in Alpha) attempt to put a consumer-friendly experience around the science of natural language processing and semantic search by providing a way for the average web user to extract immediate value from robust results sets faster than scrolling through a single list of tens of thousands of linked pages.

Web search has become the de-facto browsing activity for many Internet users, and consequently the prime advertising vehicle for many websites. It's often the first activity a user does when they open their browser. However, semantic search tools and natural language processing can enable related concepts to surface, turning what otherwise would look like a flat map of the world into a 3D satellite view, giving any topic more dimensionality and texture.

Dorthy is a social search engine, which means it hunts and gathers content related to topics you choose across the web and creates a dynamic page on its site that it populates with relevant content continuously. If you check back on how Dorthy's research is going, you can meet the people Dorthy has met along the way who are also looking to learn or accomplish the same things. Dorthy touts herself as a "topic based social network" and, rather than bringing back content from keywords, Dorthy looks at the semantics of a phrase or queried topic and builds a story about that topic on a page she creates just for you. Aggregating "content, communications and connections" empowers Dorthy to introduce you to people who share your interest in a topic, or a personal goal.

While Dorthy is more of a cocktail party host, making social introductions to new people and interesting things, Jinni is the friend that gets your particular moods and favorite things. Jinni focuses on very specific recommendations about your taste in movies, and while she'll introduce you to people with similar likes and dislikes, Jinni isn't really the host of the party. Rather, Jinni performs like a food taster who tells you what dip you'll love and when to stay away from the sushi. And Jinni will support you at any party where there is movie talk, enabling you to watch via Amazon, Netflix and other online entertainment services. Jinni's expertise comes from around 50 genes she has identified for each movie, which makes her much more succinct in nailing what you're going to want to watch.

JinniIn Jinni's case, limiting the search domain to movies helps her create deep content expertise and use that to unravel nebulous, subjective concepts like mood and taste, which then map to the films' meta-data and provide an understanding of a movie's content. Beyond a social referral, Jinni looks for patterns in story line, character archetypes, and plot devices which can help associate the right results with the consumer's taste or mood at a particular moment. Dorthy, on the other hand, continuously works 24/7 to find people, places, and content across multiple sources related to the nouns and verbs in the "dream statement" you create. When Dorthy returns from her mission, she represents views of that concept from many dimensions and through a perpetually updated collection of knowledge she creates just for you.

As the Internet has become flooded with content, we all look to referrals from taste-makers, analysts, and friends, to help discover what is called "the long tail" of content, those shining lights of original insights and particular bits of information that are just right for us at a particular moment in time. Now though, it could be that we've all got new BFFs in Dorthy and Jinni, and the other smart girls we meet in this Internet search class.


Majority of Internet Users Don't Share

CXP2WR2VBQHG - A recent report by eMarketer on the trends in user-generated content indicates that less than half of the world's Internet users maintain a social networking profile or upload photos and videos to a website. In addition, with more than 130 million blogs indexed by Technorati, less than 13% of US users surveyed engaged in writing a blog.

See the complete story on Technorati by clicking here.

And if you are wondering about the funky alphanumeric at the start of this post, Technorati elves are using it and you can ignore it.


Facebook Friends, Sort Of

RT@peterpham Shldnt be this hard RT @joshelman: I think I got FB privacy set up right. I used 4 test accts to check from friend, fr of fr,nonfriend, etc.

All of us Facebook users by now have wrestled with the idea of who to "friend" and ignore, and now that the new privacy settings are live, it appears we are all doing it again. Although most of us have adapted to the notion that we had only two choices - confirm or ignore - we now have to adjust our thinking back to the idea that there are levels of friendship.

On the surface, privacy settings are an obvious evolution for Facebook, and these tools address a big concern that has potentially blocked some consumers from joining the juggernaut of social networks or adding more people to their networks. But for the more than 65 million of us existing users, users who have debated the 'confirm' or 'ignore' question with every invitation, it presents a bit of a quandary. With so many combinations of settings when there were so few before, will it be easy for me to remember who has access to what information anymore? Life was so simple when I knew if you were a friend or someone to ignore. The relationship between my content stream and my friends was clean. You saw it or you didn't.  But now there are tiers of disclosure. And that means more settings.

If you know me at all, you know I am a huge proponent of giving consumers control and choice. But adding tools like this seem to "complexify" what was a pretty simple, binary communication experience - we're friends, and we share.

I recently connected with my older brother on Facebook, who became my second family member to join my network. Both live and work in different cities, not where I live or where we grew up. And I don't know either of their friends at all. Their "friends of friends" network looks a lot like the category now called "everyone" to me, and so that distinction seems especially insufficient for publishing personal posts.  In turn, the things I communicate to my family about my day to day has changed dramatically over the years, especially since I moved away from home. The current privacy groupings fail to help address the special kinds of communications families share.




The Trouble With Social Apps

I recently downloaded the new version of Bump for Android. It is billed as cross platform because you can bump an iPhone and myTouch and exchange files. On both phones, the app performs similarly, except for a few differences like the interaction with the menu being button driven on a myTouch. With the iPhone in my right hand and the myTouch in my left I could tap the two phones and make a photo move "magically" from the iPhone on which I took it to the Android powered device.via

It all works very much as merchandised, but the problem is without both phones having the app, there's no value. If my friend doesn't have the app downloaded, it's just as simple to attach the photo to an email and send it along. In that scenario, I don't have to wait for my friend to download the app and set up their profile so they can receive my file, which I would have to do if Bump wasn't on their phone already. And what if they don't have a phone with an app store? Couldn't I use Bluetooth to accomplish the same thing? Bump without ubiquitous "bump-ability" is like the sound of one hand clapping.

Which brings me to the problem with social apps.

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