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Test post for C.B.

“New Comm Road Map” was the name of a regular segment of my former communications podcast, sale drugstore New Comm Road.

Peter Kim writes that social media has the power to transform business.

And he’s right.

Amber Naslund says that it’s time to move from the why of using social media to the how.

And she’s right.

But … it’s often not that simple.

For as anxious as many of us inside the social media bubble are to elevate discussions beyond the grade-school basics that we’ve been preaching over and over for the last three or four years, for sale there are plenty of businesses that are still taking baby steps and need Social Media 101-type handholding and education.

Want some examples?

  • How about the Belkin employee who was offering to pay Mechanical Turks for fake, glaucoma positive reviews on Amazon.com? He obviously missed the lesson on transparency.
  • Or the companies that worry whether they should comment on a blog post with negative and false information? Answer: Sometimes (For a guide to deciding when and how to respond with blog comments, refer to the outstanding Air Force Blog Assessment flowchart).
  • Or the organizations that are asking for Introduction to Blogging presentations and workshops? I am delivering one — and possibly two — of those sessions within the next month alone.
  • Almost nobody (16%) trusts corporate blogs. That tells me that most blogging business still operate with one of of these two mentalities: 1) We don’t want to rock the boat and piss anyone off, so we’ll publish a largely vanilla blog — but, hey, we’re blogging! 2) Our blog is our blog, so let’s make sure we talk mostly about ourselves. (Is it any wonder why these blogs aren’t worth our time to read?)

The reality, for better or for worse, is that many companies are anxious to embrace creative and groundbreaking social media programs that Peter and Amber rightly advocate for, but others are nowhere ready to do so and need to spend 2009 getting their social feet wet.

So just how should more experienced social media marketers and PR pros, consultants and evangelists operate in this duality? Here’s my road map:

Keep the Social Media 101 lessons going strong

A wise digital marketing friend once said that the point at which we’re sick of hearing ourselves repeat the social media basics is the moment when those lessons finally start to sink in and reach the masses. Recognition of the potential power of social media reaches companies at different speeds, and new, enthusiastic employees are pushing their own organizations to jump into social media every day.

Keep beating the drum.

Push the more experienced companies to take the next step

So your company or client is blogging, podcasting, and engaging with customers and community members on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. That’s a good start, but what’s next?

Challenge these organizations to answer hard questions about how social media meets their business goals. Take the ROI question seriously, as Kyle Flaherty does; track and expand what works. Rethink, reshape, or abandon what doesn’t.

Share what you’ve done

Yes, there are lists of companies and brands that are using social media for marketing, PR, and community building. But there’s still a dearth of detailed, thoughtful, and inspirational social media case studies from companies, either because they’re not properly measuring their efforts or because they insist on keeping their successes and failures close to the vest.

Whether as a white paper, blog post, or conference presentation, talk about how your social media programs are making a difference (or not) for your business, and what you’ve learned along the way.

Bryan Person is the social media evangelist at LiveWorld. He blogs at BryanPerson.com and can be found on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/BryanPerson.
J.D. Lasica has been calling for and writing about the evolution of the mainstream media for years. He’s a former print journalist and editor who’s been at the forefront of blogging (first post: May 2001), pilule online journalism, shop participatory media, visit this site and videoblogging. J.D. was even hailing the potential of podcasting as far back as late 2004, just as the medium was emerging.

I met J.D. face-to-face at last week’s inaugural East Bay Social Media Breakfast event, where he was the featured speaker. In this video conversation that I recorded just after the breakfast, J.D. addresses some of the challenges facing traditional media today:

Show Notes

* J.D. argues that mainstream news outlets must participate in social media rather than viewing it as a threat.

* J.D. talks about the need for a “great decoupling” of news.

* J.D. explains why “journalism is too important to our democracy to just let it die.”

* J.D. predicts that half of the remaining newspapers in the United States will be out of business within five years.

* J.D. is asked about business models that newspapers should adopt in order to survive in an era of “nichification of media.”

*J.D. challenges newspapers to improve their their efforts in innovation.

Running time: 9:27

Bryan Person is the social media evangelist at LiveWorld. He blogs at BryanPerson.com and tweets at http://Twitter.com/BryanPerson.
‘”New Comm Road Map” was the name of a regular segment of my former communications podcast, healing New Comm Road.

A few days ago I received an e-mail informing me that feedback from a presentation I had given a month earlier was on its way .. by snail mail.

What a far cry from conferring with the back-channel Twitter commentary for instant gratification, order huh?

But then, not every conference or event is like South by Southwest, PodCamp, or a Social Media Breakfast, where lively online conversations, fact-checking, irreverence, and criticism (some of it justified, some of it not) unfold publicly over Twitter — and in nonstop earnest — from the very moment a speaker takes to the stage.

And in a way, that’s a real shame, because it isn’t only the audience members who are learning by live-tweeting; speakers and event organizers stand to gain, too. Here’s my road map that lays out how all sides can benefit from the Twitter crowd.

Nail down the hashtag(s)

As soon as a conference or event is announced, a primary Twitter hashtag — a phrase, leading with the hash (#) symbol, that users add to their tweets to identify an event, meme, etc. — should be established. The best hashtags are short, logical, and easy to remember — like #PAB09 (for tweets about the upcoming Podcasters Across Borders conference), #SXSW (for all South by Southwest-related tweets) , and #RedSox (for all tweets about the famous baseball club from Boston).

Organizers should encourage speakers and registered participants alike to include that hashtag in their Twittering, even days or weeks before the event itself, as a way of generating buzz and online discussions. Hashtag tweets can also link to blog posts, podcasts, the registration page, and other relevant content that has been published.

For larger conferences, each session or presentation can also be assigned a unique hashtag. SXSW handled this structure reasonably well, making it a cinch to review specific tweets about, say, the “New Think for Old Publishers” (#SXSWbp) panel.

Consider the possibilities!

Some presenters are unnerved by the prospect of their every utterance being twittered out to the world, when they should be viewing this scenario as an opportunity for a richer, more meaningful interaction with their audience. To wit:

  • Twittering a presentation is similar to note-taking — only the white board is out in the open for all to see and contribute to! — and can actually enable participants to better remember and synthesize a speaker’s remarks.
  • Much like open criticism of a company or brand in a blog post or comment, negative tweets are often a reflection of what people are already thinking or would otherwise mumble to each other after the presentation. Why not tap a non-speaking panelist or helpful audience member to monitor the hashtag during the session itself, so that objections or negative feedback can be addressed immediately?
  • Live-tweeting actually extends speakers’ audiences beyond the physical walls of the rooms they’re presenting in, often generating questions and insight from Twitter users following the tweetstream from another session or even from their own desks/mobile phones at locations hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Reflect on the feedback

Once the conference has ended, organizers should aggregate all of the hashtagged tweets and parcel them out to the appropriate speakers and panelists. At the same time, the Twitter feedback should be studied to help sort out what worked and what didn’t, and what might be improved for the event’s next go-around. Was the registration desk understaffed? Were too many presenters unprepared? How many blog posts were generated from the conference? Could there have been more power outlets for the laptop crowd? Was there enough time for Q&A? Were there trends that should have been included in the program?

From connecting participants and keeping speakers on their toes to giving organizers invaluable real-time feedback about their conference, Twitter has emerged as a critical component at many live events. That trend isn’t going to reverse itself, so here’s hoping still-skeptical conference teams will embrace the new reality, and the potential for good that public microblogging holds.

Bryan Person is the social media evangelist at LiveWorld. He blogs at BryanPerson.com and can be found on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/BryanPerson.
Jayme Swain is on a mission to shed PBS of the remnants of its “old and stodgy” reputation.

“There’s actually a lot of innovation going on around … new ways to really engage the [online] audience, see ” says Swain, pharmacy who directs PBS Engage, the social media arm for the public television broadcaster.

Engage was established in late 2007 largely through a grant from the Knight Foundation and now features a multi-platform, interactive web presence, both on PBS/member station sites such as the Engage Blog and the WGBH Lab, as well as externally on Twitter (@PBSEngage), Facebook, and YouTube.

Swain says that from the get-go, Engage’s approach has been “opening up the conversations and seeing what the community would say.”

“It’s really a like-minded, smart audience going to talk about some really critical civic issues. I think once we opened the door to that type of participation, people really walked through.”

Video interview with Jayme Swain

<embed src=”http://blip.tv/play/Af+MIY+5TQ” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”400″ height=”319″ allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true”></embed>

Show Notes

  • PBS Engage director Jayme Swain explains how PBS has learned to listen and better engage its audience through its social media platforms.
  • Swain discusses how the Engage project has changed the programming mindset at PBS.
  • Swain addresses the challenges of identifying and working with the right business model in social media.
  • Swain notes the importance of experimentation at PBS.

Running time: 5 minutes, 24 seconds. Recorded at PBS’ Crystal City, Virginia offices on Wednesday, April 29, 2009.

Bryan Person is the social media evangelist at LiveWorld. He blogs at BryanPerson.com and tweets at http://Twitter.com/BryanPerson.
Jayme Swain is on a mission to shed PBS of the remnants of its “old and stodgy” reputation.

“There’s actually a lot of innovation going on around … new ways to really engage the [online] audience, see ” says Swain, pharmacy who directs PBS Engage, the social media arm for the public television broadcaster.

Engage was established in late 2007 largely through a grant from the Knight Foundation and now features a multi-platform, interactive web presence, both on PBS/member station sites such as the Engage Blog and the WGBH Lab, as well as externally on Twitter (@PBSEngage), Facebook, and YouTube.

Swain says that from the get-go, Engage’s approach has been “opening up the conversations and seeing what the community would say.”

“It’s really a like-minded, smart audience going to talk about some really critical civic issues. I think once we opened the door to that type of participation, people really walked through.”

Video interview with Jayme Swain

<embed src=”http://blip.tv/play/Af+MIY+5TQ” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”400″ height=”319″ allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true”></embed>

Show Notes

  • PBS Engage director Jayme Swain explains how PBS has learned to listen and better engage its audience through its social media platforms.
  • Swain discusses how the Engage project has changed the programming mindset at PBS.
  • Swain addresses the challenges of identifying and working with the right business model in social media.
  • Swain notes the importance of experimentation at PBS.

Running time: 5 minutes, 24 seconds. Recorded at PBS’ Crystal City, Virginia offices on Wednesday, April 29, 2009.

Bryan Person is the social media evangelist at LiveWorld. He blogs at BryanPerson.com and tweets at http://Twitter.com/BryanPerson.
If you spend any time at all reading blogs about the craft of online community management, doctor you likely will have already heard of Connie Bensen, mind
the subject of the second profile in our Managing Communities 2009 series.

From sharing best practices on her blog to presenting at conferences, Connie has been an a leading voice for community managers over the past two years. She offers some insight insight into her work below.

Connie Bensen
* Community strategist for Techrigy, Inc.
* Twitter ID: @CBensen

Day-to-day role and responsibilities

My position is the ideal community position–but then, I created it! When I was invited to join a young startup, I was given much freedom in defining my role. I report to the CEO and work cross-functionally with PR, marketing, customer service, and product development. My responsibilities include creating customer resources, training customers, teaching internal staff, quality assurance (QA), reporting and tracking bugs (yes, I have access to that database!), and suggesting new feature requests.

I consider communication to be my most important function, and my role is a mix of strategy and tactics. I enjoy both approaches, and appreciate the opportunity to assist my company as we scale.

Techrigy is a very transparent organization. We have a free version of our product, so there is nothing proprietary about that. Internally, I appreciate having complete knowledge of the organization, including financial aspects. My CEO is very open to ideas and encourages teamwork.

Overall, my team is the whole company. Because we are a business-to-business (B2B) company, we have a sales team. I have trained everyone on utilizing and participating in social media, so Twitter and LinkedIn are key for us.

For listening, we use our own product, Techrigy SM2, to monitor real-time alerts and identify trends in regard to our brand and competitors. also use Google Alerts and Twitter Search (integrated into TweetDeck).

Key skills needed for community managers

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Able to think on your feet
  • Willing to work tirelessly for the community and company, 24/7
  • Strong leadership skills and ability to motivate others
  • A creative spirit

If you spend any time at all reading blogs about the craft of online community management, surgery you likely will have already heard of Connie Bensen, and the subject of the second profile in our Managing Communities 2009 series.

Whether it’s sharing best practices on her blog, otolaryngologist presenting at conferences, or just offering an encouraging word to a newcomer in the industry, Connie has been an a leading voice for community managers over the past two years.

She offers some insight insight into her work below.

Connie Bensen
* Community strategist for Techrigy, Inc.
* Twitter ID: @CBensen

Day-to-day role and responsibilities

My position is the ideal community position–but then, I created it! When I was invited to join a young startup, I was given much freedom in defining my role. I report to the CEO and work cross-functionally with PR, marketing, customer service, and product development. My responsibilities include creating customer resources, training customers, teaching internal staff, quality assurance (QA), reporting and tracking bugs (yes, I have access to that database!), and suggesting new feature requests.

I consider communication to be my most important function, and my role is a mix of strategy and tactics. I enjoy both approaches, and appreciate the opportunity to assist my company as we scale.

Techrigy is a very transparent organization. We have a free version of our product, so there is nothing proprietary about that. Internally, I appreciate having complete knowledge of the organization, including financial aspects. My CEO is very open to ideas and encourages teamwork.

Overall, my team is the whole company. Because we are a business-to-business (B2B) company, we have a sales team. I have trained everyone on utilizing and participating in social media, so Twitter and LinkedIn are key for us.

For listening, we use our own product, Techrigy SM2, to monitor real-time alerts and identify trends in regard to our brand and competitors. also use Google Alerts and Twitter Search (integrated into TweetDeck).

Key skills needed for community managers

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Able to think on your feet
  • Willing to work tirelessly for the community and company, 24/7
  • Strong leadership skills and ability to motivate others
  • A creative spirit

(Managing Communities 2009 is a series of profiles on online community professionals.)

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