Blogworld 2009: Human Business and a Guinness World Record

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Social Media has definitely grown out of its infancy. Although, according to all the geeks that attended the first integrated edition of Blogworld and New Media Expo in Las Vegas. More than 2500 bloggers, podcasters, consultants and other new media mavericks visited Sin City for 3 days to talk about and share experiences on Social Media. Close to 300 speakers gave dozens presentations and panel discussions on a large variety of subjects. Without going into detail of all of them, I will give you the highlights of the conference.

Twitter rawks

If there was one subject that was mentioned in almost every discussion then it was Twitter. With great passion Twitt-lebrities like Laura Fitton (@Pistachio), Robert Scoble (@scobleizer) and Aaron Strout (@aaronstrout) shared the power of Twitter. “The power of unisolating people”, according to Laura. “And it’s not about the writer, it’s not about the number of followers you have but it is about the message you share. People are made to socialize, also in business. For that it is important to surround yourself with inspiring people. Twitter is a great tool for that.”

Guiness World Record

Thanks to Twitter a Guinness World Record was set during Blogworld. The highest number of social network mentions within 24 hours. And last Monday the record was confirmed by Guinness World Record: a total of 209,771 social network mentions of #beatcancer in one day via Twitter, Facebook and blog posts. As a result eBay/Paypal and MillerCoors offered a donation of $70.000 to four non-profit cancer organizations (Spirit Jump, Bright Pink, Alex’s Lemonade, and Stand UP to Cancer). As the campaign continues, you can still donate and help promote this initiative via Beatcancereverywhere.com.

shoe4africa

Shoe4Africa
More good causes-support from eBay/Paypal. Their booth was completely dedicated to this theme. One of the good causes was Shoe4Africa, a non-profit organization aiming at ‘empowerment through sports and education, creating unique health initiatives, and promoting AIDS awareness.’ Cornerstone project is the development of a children’s hospital in Kenya, which will be the first public hospital in Kenya and the largest children’s hospital in Africa. The project is supported by Anthony Edwards, who sat in the keynote Celebrity panel. Although not yet very active in Social Media, Edwards understands the difference he can make as a celebrity using Social Media to spread the word around this project. So at Blogworld, he lost his Twitterginity and made his first tweet. Follow him on @anthonyedwards4. We also had a short interview with him which will be published shortly.

Dutch presence
And of course we ran into Vincent Everts, a webexpert and trend-watcher. Vincent presence at Blogworld was to promote yubby.com, a video aggregator the collect videos from over 30 popular video sources. Previously known as Dik.nl, but you can imagine, not a name that would work well in the US (although, flickr didn’t change its name for Holland…) And of course, Vincent not only did his upmost for yubby, he also worked on his own brand. Being very present at various sessions and as member in one of the panels, the success of his quest was confirmed to be successful during the closing keynote. When one-time talk-show host Guy Kawasaki asked the audience who has not heard of Jenny the Blogess, Vincent raised his hand as one of the few. Guy looked at him and said ‘oh, that’s that guy in the white suit’. An interview with Vincent will be launched shortly.

Chris Brogan

If there is one Social Media guru that is reaching superstar status without losing it, it’s Chris Brogan. I think he is the most mentioned, quoted, RTweeted and appreciated speaker of Blogworld 2009. And true, Chris is a very sympathetic and respectable person, but moreover, he is a visionary and true knowledge expert in the field. His keynote on day one was for me the most inspiring of all sessions. ‘Stop tapping each other on the back, but get out there and start working. There is so much to do out there’. And he is right. Social Media has grown out of its infancy. As much as we liked the pioneering atmosphere at New media Expo 2007, those days seem to be over. Social Media is becoming true business. Moreover, we shouldn’t call it Social Media anymore. It’s Human Business.

For more details go to Chris’ blogpost on his keynote. Here you can find the entire keynote (and all other keynotes).

Trend for 2010
On the exhibition floor, there were several companies that demonstrated applications based on aggregation of content. We already mentioned yubby.com as a video aggregation site, but aggregation goes beyond video. Zemanta is an application that helps you look for content related to the blogpost you are writing. While you’re writing, it ‘looks over your shoulder [..] and gives you tips and advice’. It analyzes your content, suggests keywords and related articles. With Zemanta, your blog becomes more visible and generates more traffic.
Regator goes even further in aggregation. There is an enormous amount of content available within the blogosphere. Regator ‘gathers the world’s best blog posts and organizes them in a way that’ makes it easy to find the things you need’. This selection is not purely done through some fancy algorithm, but through a team of editors. Yes, real people that search the web for valuable content. In fact, they decide for you what’s valuable or not. Regator uses criteria like regular updates, topical, well written, originality and whether or not your blog is ‘awesome’ based on which you can be added to the selection. The last criterium is rather vague and subjective, but that’s admitted by Regator.

Content is still king in new media. But finding the right content becomes like a monk’s job. For that we need aggregation, and we predict aggregation becomes the trend for 2010.

Audio Bummer
Was it all highs in Vegas? No, there was definitely a bummer. As there were more than 5-6 simultaneous tracks, you had to make up your mind what session to attend. Obviously, that was challenging as interesting presentations were scheduled at the same time. At New Media Expo in the past all participants were given the opportunity to download the audiotracks of all presentations. For free (or better, at no additional fee). Blogworld changed that policy: audiotracks are now available for $15 per session. Not funny. I can’t split myself up in 6, but feel that I have paid close to 1200 bucks to make all these sessions possible. Therefore I plead that all participants should have access to all recorded sessions (at least audio). And I was not the only one complaining about that. Organizer Rick Calvert should make up his mind or consult Tim and Emile Bourquin, former organizers of New Media Expo.

Another disappointment was that there was not much on the use of New Media for internal communication, in our view the way to learn what New Media is, to gain experience and in addition, to improve your internal communication, which in many organizations is underdeveloped. Truly win-win. A separate track should have been developed for this topic. Hopefully the organization considers this for the next edition.
Further, there was a strong focus on blogging, too strong to my liking. New Media is more than just blogging and Twitter. The focus overall was too much on the technology. There was hardly any attention for the development of a New and Social Media strategy. If we really want to go out there and help companies adapt New and Social Media, we need to understand that this is key to success. From that perspective I didn’t really hear anything new in these three days.

Conclusion
Conclusion for Blogworld and New Media Expo 2009: a lot on technology (and then mostly blogging) and too little on strategy. A lot of panels, some good and some which had a tendency towards too much ‘incrowd’. Some very inspiring speakers, a good atmosphere and at night awesome parties. Overall, a more than average event. Rick Calvert only has to solve this audio issue and I will certainly consider attending Blogworld and New Media Expo 2010.

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New Media Expo takes off like a rocket with Gary Vaynerchuk

The New Media Expo 2008 took off like a rocket. First keynote of Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. Gary, a first generation Russian immigrant who loves the NY Jets and dreams of buying the tam one day, just gave a very energetic presentation. He produces and hosts a very successful podcast show on one of his biggest passions, wine. His key to success:

  • Know your DNA, and do what you want to do
  • Know the 2 C’s: Community and Content
  • We all know it, Content is King, but don’t forget that Marketing is Queen and the Queen runs the household.
  • Be everywhere, on every platform available
  • Love your fans, and answer all their e-mail
  • Patience, patience, patience and you will get there

His biggest mistake: his twitter name, garyvee. Why? Nobody can find him, it’s damaging his brand.


This kick-start sets the tone for the rest of the coming three days.

Can social networking sites make money?

Remember Rocketboom on The Business of Social Networks in November last year?

It’s clear, social networking is the fastest growing activity on the web. We all know about MySpace and Facebook as the two giants in this field with 72 million and 34 million unique visitors a month (January 2008). But also the smaller players see a lot of people: Bebo (what’s small: 22 million unique visitors a month), Club Penguin (5 million), LinkedIn (nearly 5 million) and Ning (3 million). And all are growing.

When realizing that venture capitalists invest huge sums of money (remember Microsoft, who paid US$240 million for a 1.6% share in Facebook) you might think these sites generate a lot of income through advertising. Well, that’s not really the case: this year MySpace will earn US$100 million less than predicted and Facebook will even face a loss of US$150 million. The fact that many of the smaller players do not reveal any of their revenues doesn’t sound promising either. Is there another bubble-burst at hand?

Bryant Urstadt asked the same question and looked closer at this issue in his Technology Review article ‘The Business of Social Networks‘. He notices the low (and declining) CPM rates for ads on Social Networking sites (MySpace US$2, Facebook US$0.15) compared to for instance Mashable (varying between US$7-33) and TechnologyReview (US$70). But even these low rates do not persuade advertisers…

The problem with advertising in social networks is around three main issues: attention, privacy and content, according to Urstadt. Looking at the traditional advertising model, targeting is the key. And that reveals the difficulty; it is not so easy to target a specific group in a social network as it is for, lets say, Google. There people are specifically looking for clearly defined information, which makes targeting relatively easy. Not in social networks, where people are more busy with conversation with friends and can’t be bothered with commercial messages. Even stronger, many of them dislike it.

Getting in between users of social networks is very complicated and tricky, as you do not want to violate their privacy. Facebook tried with their Beacon program but failed (partially) and MySpace has developed its HyperTargeting system. Advertisers are moderately interested. Even stronger, looking at the US ad spending on social-networking sites relative to total US online ad spending, the odds are against social network-monetization.

Still, with all those millions of consumers at hand, their must be a way for advertisers to reach them (and to keep the social networks alive!). Although there is this fear of history repeating (Bubble 2.0), I do not really believe this, not more than a natural selection, a survival of the fittest (say Darwinism 2.0).

Two things to consider. One is that advertisers should reconsider their approach, their traditional targeting model. Maybe there is a more successful approach in cooperative marketing, co-creation and interactivity in relation to social networks. It’s the classical marketing paradigm: talk with them, not at them. Two, new technological solutions will be developed shortly that give way to another approach between consumers and advertisers. How that will look like, I have no idea (yet) but I agree with Bryant that the key is in the balance between openness and control. These new solutions prevent social networks to remain walled gardens, but where we can communicate across the borders of these communities, which opens a whole new ball game for both users and advertisers.

With that in mind, consider Google’s Open Social and the activities of Plaxo: take a look at the interview with Joseph Smarr, chief platform architect at Plaxo.

And then I haven’t mentioned the virtual worlds…but let’s talk about that another time

Again National Marketing Day

As mentioned earlier, the recently National Marketing Day in The Netherlands was a great success and there will be a next version in 2009. Based on what we have seen definitely worth a recommendation.

Here a short impression on some of our (and others’) experiences…

Inspiring National Marketing Day in Holland

Yesterday, June 25, the first (Dutch) National Marketing Day (NL) was organized in Nieuwegein, which is in the center of Holland. Quite comfortable for me, as I live in Utrecht, just a few kilometers away from the Business Center where this event took place. The entire event was free of charge(!), which is special on one hand, but not so surprising on the other as we currently live in a world where we give away a lot in exchange for contact, conversation and knowledge. Main sponsors for this event were Marketing Tribune (NL), Marketing Facts (NL), MEC (NL) and Emerce (NL), so, to all three, a great big thank you from DigiRedo in making this event possible.

Not only free, an exiting event as well I must say. A lot of interesting and inspiring speakers, among which Richard van Hooijdonk from Marketing Monday (NL). Richard is one of the most important consultants in Holland on Marketing 2.0. We had a short interview with him.

There was more: Joris van Heukelom (NL), the new CEO of Ilse Media (NL), the largest internet publisher in The Netherlands, told us that the internet is still in its infancy, more and more changes are to be expected within a short period of our time. Those of you who think that we’ve just passed the biggest wave of change are wrong. Says van Heukelom.

That significant changes are to be expected shortly was demonstrated by Menno van Doorn (NL) of VINT, a research institute in new technology. Together with VINT colleagues, Menno wrote the book, Me the Media, about the history and future of the third media revolution. An interesting book (which we immediately have ordered, a review will follow).
But that was not the most astonishing of the presentation, the demonstration of augmented reality was. Soon, it will be possible to pull up graphics out of your tv, computer or mobile phone that will become an integrated part of you environment. (See also How stuff works). In the demo a virtual car appeared on he table. And if that wasn’t enough, someone in the audience was asked to park the car in a parking lot, that was drwn o a piece of paper. Talking about experience…

We’re curious where marketing is by the time of the second National Marketing Day…

Testing the water – Social Media and the Pharma industry

While I am waiting for my flight back to Amsterdam, I might as well share the experience I had today in Berlin. I was invited by a pharmaceutical company to help them understand Social Media. I gave a presentation to the European Marketing Managers explaining what Social Media is and how to use it. As one of the participants mentioned to me at the end of my presentation: “Of all the industries, I feel that banks and pharmaceutical companies are the most cautious businesses in getting involved in this new phenomenon”. And he is right. Big Pharma, heavily regulated as it is, is indeed very, very careful. On one hand understandable, as their hands are tight when it comes to open and direct communication about their (prescription) products. They are simply not allowed to do so. But on the other hand, just realize what great opportunities lay ahead of them. Let’s face it, what is more precious to people and their love ones? Exactly, their health!

I shared best and worst practice examples of New Media and social computing of both FMCG as well as pharma. Some of the big pharma boys are testing the water, some even quite successfully. From blogs and podcasts to viral marketing. And similar to the responses of the community to the famous Dove evolution commercial, we see exactley the same response to some pharma products, in this case in the USA (click for pharma commercial and parody).

Therefore, my message is: get involved, test the water, learn to understand the power of new media and experiment. Reach out and try to locate your community and listen to what they have to say.what they tell you. And if you dare, talk with them. Yes it is scary, and yes there are risks involved, but the benefits can be tremendous, if applied in the right way. And no matter what, they will talk about you anyway, so you’d better be involved.

It was a great afternoon, with a very enthusiastic audience that was open and willing to investigate the opportunities of social networking further.

And, of course, another Amazing Moment, together with the Berlin Bear

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DigiRedo does Barcelona (again)

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We just returned from an exciting trip to Barcelona (see previous post). So what are our experiences?

First and foremost, it seems that Big Pharma is really getting interested in Web 2.0 and the implications it has on the business. The second day was devoted mainly to Web 2.0 and new media in general. After an interesting presentation of Craig DeLarge (Novo Nordisk) we kicked off with our presentation about internal podcasting. The day ended with a panel discussion about the do’s and don’ts of Web 2.0 in pharma marketing, how to start Web 2.0 initiatives in this very regulated market and how to overcome internal hurdles. There was quite some interaction from the audience.

We did interviews with the following Key Speakers of the Pharma Marketing and the Generics congress:

  • Reinhard Angelmar – Professor of Marketing (INSEAD, France)
  • Ian Talmage – Senior Vice President Global Strategic Marketing (Bayer Schering Pharma, Germany)
  • Craig A. DeLarge – Associate Director eMarketing (Novo Nordisk, USA)
  • Keith Allan – Head of Global Advocacy (Novartis, Switzerland)
  • Brian Tempest – Chief Mentor and Executive Vice Chairman (Ranbaxy, India)
  • Nazmul Hassan – CEO (Beximco Pharmaceutical, Bangladesh)
  • Georg Cubuk – Managing Director (Esparma, Germany)

These people really had a very interesting story and we’ll sure link to these interviews as soon as Jacob Fleming puts them online.

It goes without saying that such conferences require a lot of preparation. The team of Jacob Fleming did a wonderful job and we sincerely would like to thank Samuel, Marina, Veronika and Petra for their contribution.

More news about these congresses later.

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Our ‘studio’.

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The post production editing room.

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3/5th of the Expert Panel on Web 2.0 in Pharma.

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The Jacob Fleming Team (Except for Samuel, who should be on this picture too. We promise to do that the next time we meet…)

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