Tag Archives: graphing social patterns

“The Social Graph is PEEEEOPLE!”

As the dust settles on last week’s latest installment of the social network showdown between MSFT/Facebook and GOOG/Everyone Else, the idea of a universal social graph looks a little clearer. But what is it and how does it affect PR and Marketing folks?

Supposedly computer science peeps have been talking about the social graph as a concept for a while. To be honest, I hadn’t heard anything about it until May when Mark Zuckerberg enlisted application developers to tap into the social graph. Then, in August, LiveJournal creator Brad Fitzpatrick wrote a well formulated, high level discussion of the social graph. It, to me, really addressed several problems and concerns that would lead to the development of–or maybe it was already in the works–Google’s OpenSocial platform, announced last week.

I almost wrote about all things that graph social after attending Dave McClure’s “Graphing Social Patterns” conference, and then again after the Web 2.0 Summit. Both times, I felt like the idea of the social graph was not quite there.

So, before I discuss what it is, I have to disclose that I am neither a computer scientist nor am I a mathematician. I am, however, a PR/Marketing/Tech geek with a Bachelor’s in Social Anthropology. Therefore, this type of stuff gets me pretty excited.

A social graph is loosely defined, according to Brad Fitzpatrick, as “the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related.” You may ask, “Isn’t that the definition of a social network?” My answer: Close, but not entirely.

For me (and Robert Scoble), a social network is a collection or a list of all my “friends” without the context. A social graph, on the other hand, explains why these people are relevant to you. On it’s lowest level, a social graph can be represented like an org-chart or a family tree.

When you add someone as a friend, Facebook asks the question: “How do you know this person?” This helps an outsider see that Audrey is a co-worker at SHIFT; Natalie is my cousin; Bekah is my housemate; Kathryn and I met through a friend while living in Berlin; etc. It’s almost like tagging, but, instead of a webpage or a bookmark, you are tagging people. This relationship information explains the social value that each person has.

Very quickly, social value is an important aspect of our lives. It let’s me know that I need to tuck in my shirt around the CEO, stopping looking at porn when my supervisor walks near my cubicle (JK!), and to respect cops. (Check out this essay on social value from 1908 by economist Joseph Schumpeter or look at Wikipedia.) For a marketer, being able to map that information is priceless.

But wait, there’s more…

When you fill out your profile, you enter in your interests. If you look at my profile, you can see that I like music, travel and photography. In terms of the social graph, I’m tagged (or plotted on the social graph) as someone who has an interest in boxing and chocolate. Paired with my demographics, Facebook now can show me as a married male in San Francisco in the (oh-so-old) 25+ demographic who likes camping. Great info for market research…or targeted ads.

On top of all that you also get… THIS INCREDIBLE JUICER!!!

Just kidding…kind of. The graph can get a little deeper than that. Take Amazon, for example. It’s constantly recommending items to me. I can evaluate these items on a scale of 1-5 or tell it “not interested.” After a while, it starts to know my behavior. All of these are tiny little tags graphing the bigger story: I like electronic music but am totally not interested in trance. You can also see that I’ve sent my grandmother a book on prayer for her birthday. Once again, more tags; more plots on the social graph.

What about digg or del.icio.us and the type of articles I like? How bout when I answer those surveys to get more points to buy caviar on the Facebook App FoodFight? Think about all that information you could mash-up to create highly-targeted marketing strategies or community outreach plans (eg hitting all the female members that live in Chicago and liked Spiderman).

Google and Facebook in the ring?

Once upon a time, the web was a mess. You sat at your computer and clicked around endlessly. One day, a beautiful search engine appeared to index everything on the web. Now users could find content quickly and easily, while advertisers could target people searching for a particular term. Then one day, social networks started appearing and the magic search engine could no longer get that information; all their users were in a wall…

Ok, I’ll spare the fairy tale and get to the point: Facebook keeps Google from accessing that information contained in the social graph.

One of Brad Fitzpatrick’s ideas was that there would be no one social graph, because every site kept the information to themselves. That was true until OpenSocial. Details on OpenSocial are still a little sketchy (to me at least), but it’s probably best described as an open API led by Google that allows cross-platform interoperability and integration (partners include Orkut, MySpace, Bebo, LiveJournal, Plaxo, and others). Basically: Where Google once created a table of content or index of everything on the web, OpenSocial will allow all of your interests, relationships, etc. to be indexed.

Of course, there are already talks of security concerns, but for a marketer (or anthropologist) there is a lot of really cool data out there that can now be harnessed.

What are your thoughts on the social graph? Is it useful or just another catch phrase?

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Filed under Future of Media, Marketing, New Media, New Media Masters., Public Relations 2.0, Social Graph, Social Networking

“PR to Enterprise: Beam me Up!”

In PR, it’s often difficult to determine how to use social media tools for our Enterprise clients. Also difficult: how to use social media tools for internal PR.

Last night, at a Social Media Club event, the topic of the evening was “Enterprise: Moving Forward.” The panel for the evening was moderated by “Naked Conversations” writer Shel Isreal. Panelists included Dave McClure (500 Hats, Graphing Social Patterns), Jeremiah Owyang (Senior Analyst, Forrester Research), Jennifer Jones (host of “Marketing Voices” on PodTech Network), Eleanor Wynn (Enterprise Architect, Intel), and Bob Duffy (Community Manager of Intel’s community, Open Port).

I tried to Twitter-cast the event, but even on a T9 predictive text enabled phone, it was tedious. For those interested in watching the 119 minute discussion, Ustream.tv captured the whole evening here. Lots of great ideas presented. Here are a few things that I brought back that could apply to PR and Marketing professionals:

Internal Communications:

  • Blogs hosted on a company’s intranet can boost internal communications
    • Remember: Allow an open forum
    • Leave comments enabled and respond respectfully
  • Internal Wiki’s can increase team collaboration
  • For large, multi-national companies, an internal social network can really help bridge the distance and increase team rapport
    • Allow tagging of photos and interests
  • Close the feedback loop
    • Show employees what suggestions have been implemented
  • If you really want to shake it up:
    • Digg-like voting on suggestions
    • Video, video, video!

External Communications:

  • Look to existing conversations and communities before implementing your full-strategy
    • If your product is a finely-focused niche, there may not be a community. That’s your chance to facilitate the conversation with your brand as the moderator!
  • Company blog makes a HUGE impact in the enterprise space
    • Position spokespeople as thought leaders
    • In addition to your products, discuss current and future trends
  • Enlist community managers to comment on other blogs and address negative conversations threads in a thoughtful manner
  • Create communities where company reps ask questions about product development or allow users to suggest new products/changes
  • Go Geek!
    • Many companies (incl Intel) have gotten heavy traffic by using their sites/communities to publish White Papers, behind-the-scenes videos, production notes, demo videos, etc.
  • Once again, close the feedback loop:
    • Show customers that their thoughts count and have been implemented
    • This helps establish a realm of trust that opens dialog. Instead of pushing your message, you allow many voices into the discussion about your product/brand
  • Feeling bleeding edge: Customer/Company Wiki’s blur the line between intra- and inter- nets
  • Bottom Line: It’s all about a conversation with the customers
  • Check out Intel’s Open Port or Dell’s IdeaStorm [my earlier discussion of Dell’s social media tactics here]

Has your company used social media internally? Have you implemented social media tactics to help build a community around your Enterprise product? I’d love to hear about it.

Also, feel free to comment on any of these ideas.

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Filed under Enterprise Public Relations, Future of Media, Internal Public Relations, New Media, New Media Masters., Public Relations 2.0, Social Networking

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: Charlene Li, Forrester Research”

TGIT! You know what that means: it’s time for our regular Thursday feature, “3Q’s in 3 Min.” In the spirit of citizen journalism, SocialTNT puts bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. In addition to helping PR peeps pitch these individuals more effectively, the videos are meant to encourage dialog between reporters and communications practitioners on the future of media .

This week, SocialTNT caught up with Principal Analyst Charlene Li from Forrester Research. Charlene researches social media/web 2.0 technology and relates its uses to the marketing professional. In today’s “3Q’s in 3 Min,” Charlene talks about entering the conversation, letting go of control and the idea of “attention economy.”

More about Charlene and the video, after the jump…

As one of the analysts that “get it,” Charlene is a social media rockstar. If your client has anything to do with Web 2.0, you best book a briefing with her ASAP. Not only will she offer valuable insight to your client, she is one of the most quoted analysts at Forrester.

She also happens to give amazing presentations, like this one from this week’s Graphing Social Patterns conference. It was hard to follow such an amazing presentation, so I was a little nervous when it came time for the interview. On the way to find a suitable filming location, I felt like Charlene’s bodyguard; she was swarmed with fans and groupies intent on asking a question or two. Even though she was pressed for time, she remained personable, answering all their questions.

Some insight garnered from eavesdropping:

  • user adaptation of social networking comes in waves–currently, “older” demographics are joining as their colleagues, organizations or reunion groups utilize social media
  • there is a lack of Facebook applications intended for enterprise
  • Salesforce has the membership to become a truly professional social network, and should not be overlooked

Facts about Charlene

As the next session was about to start, Charlene was finally clear of groupies. We headed out into the (HOT) San Jose sun to do a quick interview. Although coming from a marketing perspective, Charlene’s answers can provide some valuable lessons for setting up a social media campaign.

Take a look:

I know. I know. I broke format again with FOUR questions, but HEY, it’s not that often you get to have uninterrupted face time with an analyst. I could have chatted with her all day.

I’m really diggin this idea of “attention economy” that Charlene touches on. As PR–read “Public Relations” not “Press Relations”–it’s often important to remind our clients that slowly seeding discussion is often about raising awareness of the product, service or company. Any thoughts?

It’s also interesting that interest itself should be considered a form of low-level tagging. As some of you know, I’m nuts about tagging. To me, its easy utilization with Facebook photos gets mad props. As tagging becomes easier and is presented as valuable to the consumer, it will become an amazing resource in charting the “social graph.”

So, any thoughts on Charlene’s interview? Please feel free to discuss anything she touched on in the comments below.

Thanks so much for your interview, Charlene!

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Citizen Reporter, Marketing, New Media, Public Relations 2.0

“It’s a Conversation, Stupid! Part 3: The Approach”

So hopefully you’ve had enough time to catch up with Part 1, a short introductory post, and Part 2, a brief history of the social aspects of the internet. Although very basic, Part 2 is particularly crucial as it gives us all the same frame of reference.

Today, we continue reminding our PR, advertising and marketing friends how to have a conversation. I would like to build on the last two posts by listing what I consider the keys to launching a successful social media campaign.

Yesterday at the Graphing Social Patterns conference, Charlene Li at Forrester outlined her best practices to approaching a Facebook campaign. (If you weren’t able to make it, check out the slide show from her presentation.) Surprise! She stressed “Facebook marketing is about communicating, not advertising.” I couldn’t agree more. (Charlene will be my interviewee this week for Thursday’s “3 Q’s in 3 Min” segment.)

To me, as the web evolves, our online world becomes closer to mirroring the way we interact and communicate in the real world by making our online experience easier to manage and use. You wouldn’t go into a private party and start shouting at random people; that would get you beat up and thrown out. Likewise you shouldn’t approach a social media campaign in traditional one-sided manner. The key to planning your social media campaign all revolve around this concept. Hopefully these 6 tips can help you out.

1. It’s a Conversation, Stupid!

The number one thing to remember is that it’s a conversation. (I can’t stress this enough. I mean, it’s the title of the series. You see it on every post. Hopefully it’s getting drilled into your head!).

The nature of the medium creates a very private space. Yes, there is a lot of sharing. Yes, the pages may be open to anyone on the internet. But these are members not users and they are involved in a community. To them, it maybe like a bar, private party, support group or private journal. In all cases, you wouldn’t go in and start shouting your message.

2. Listening: The most important part of conversing


Imagine stumbling upon a heated discussion in a park. A lot of people are gathered around watching while a few people talk. Ideas are being exchanged–some agree, some disagree. Before you can say anything, you have to listen.

Look at this quote from Wikihow’s article on“How to Have a Great Conversation

Listen. This is the most important part of any conversation. You might think a conversation is all about talking, but it will not go anywhere if the listener is too busy thinking of something to say next. Pay attention to what is being said. When you listen attentively to the other person, injecting a thought or two, they will often not realize that it was they who did most of the talking, and you get the credit for being a good conversationalist – which of course, you are!

While listening, you can learn a lot. What are they talking about? How do they use the media to communicate? What are they interested in? Maybe they’ve already started talking about your client. If so, what are they saying?

This isn’t market research and analytics. This is preparing to engage in a conversation.

3. Add to the conversation, thoughtfully

After you’ve gotten a feel for the conversation, then you can respond. Remember: It’s not a shouting match. You can’t come out swinging and you can’t just repeat messaging. Nobody likes the guy that’s always talking about himself. You have to offer some insight back to the community.

In Todd Defren’s hypothetical anti-depressant pharmaceutical campaign, he suggests the marketer not tweet commercials, but instead post things that “could change a sufferer’s life.” This is crucial. It helps make your brand or client a resource engaged in the community, not just another advertisement. You meet them in their venue, on their terms. They’ll respect that and gain loyalty.

4. “Why I oughta…”

https://i2.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/202/476387693_e63962cfeb_m.jpgNobody likes the guy at the party that won’t budge and acknowledge he may be wrong, neither do consumers. If you come across some negative comments, you can’t ignore them and pretend nothing is wrong. You have to thoughtfully (and timely) engage with them. Look at this tip from conversationtalk.com on how to handle “unpleasant conversations”:

To have a good conversation you need to be flexible and
be ready to handle difficulties that crop up. The art of having
good conversation does not mean everything goes smoothly
at all times.

If you can remain calm and fairly pleasant during the tough
talks you will improve and acquire good conversation skills. You
will also earn a reputation as someone who can easily be talked

Do you remember Jeff Jarvis’ “Dell Hell”? He had some problems with Dell and voiced them on his (high-trafficked) blog. Dell ignored the conversation as more bloggers continued dishing negative reviews of Dell’s products. When they finally did launch a blog, Dell blogged as if everything was ok. Finally, after it had gotten pretty out-of-hand, Dell’s blogger responded as a human to other humans, and it made a splash. It was a move that said: “Hey, maybe we’ve been out of touch, but now we are ready to listen.”

Consumers like to be taken seriously. If you think the negative comments will just disappear, think again. Remember the last post: Consumers can now share ideas at an alarmingly viral rate and people can search more effectively. When they google your client’s name and see a thoughtful response (whether on a company’s blog, response to someone else’s post or response in a user group) alongside the negative comments, it can significantly diffuse negative PR while also building loyatly.

5. It’s not all about you

Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” said “It’s much easier to become interested in others than it is to convince them to be interested in you.”

If you open up to them, they will open up to you. Give them insight into the company, product, behind-the-scenes, etc. Make the content easily available and let consumers share this content. Let them use your logo, your mascot, your videos.

Don’t be afraid to let go of a little control. If your brand message changes in the process, maybe you were wrong about your audience. Nobody likes having a conversation with someone who controls the conversation. It’s boring and participants become easily disinterested. If you let your consumers participate, it builds trust.

6. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”


Transparency! Yes, everyone at the party is a private detective. Any one of them can pull off your mask and then no one at the party will want to talk to you.

Take note of Walmart’s flogs or Whole Foods and the “Rahodeb” incident? It all comes out, so don’t even think about not disclosing your affiliations!!

What do you think?

That may have been a lot to take in. I’d like to know what you think. Agree? Disagree?

In the next post, we’ll take a look at the tools that are currently available.

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Filed under Future of Media, It's A Conversation, Marketing, New Media, Public Relations 2.0, Social Networking