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Social Business: Finally Here?

I very much enjoyed today's "Awareness Exploring Social Media Business Summit," but not for the reasons I thought I would.

The event was an excellent overview of how far we've come. According to Jeremiah Owyang, the opening speaker, 71% of businesses have had some form of social media program in place for more than a year (his slide deck from the program is below).

The event was also an excellent illustration of how far we have yet to go. When I saw the phrase "Social Media Business" I thought there would be more exploration of how social is moving beyond the marketing department. The Altimeter Group itself shared some interesting survey results on social's expansion into other departments back in June (see below), but the focus of today's program stayed very much in the marketing department.

Departments where Formalized Customer Facing Efforts Occur

That's definitely not a bad thing -- there is plenty of work left to do when it comes to realizing the full potential of social media marketing. And as a PR guy, I should be happy about where we are. But so much of my success as a PR pro is dependent on the quality and reputation of the company or product I'm promoting -- and that can only be helped by involving more than just the marketing department.

Those of you interested in continuing the conversation outside the marketing department should tune in to Tuesday's Social Product Innovation Summit and SPIKE Awards event, being sponsored by the Social Media Club and Fresh Ground client Kalypso, among others. The free virtual program starts at 11am and runs through 3pm -- sign up at http://www.spikesummit.com/, even if you can only make part of the program!

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Five Years of Social

What did we do before Facebook? Before Twitter? Before most of what we think of as social media and smart phones and all of today's connected technologies existed?

Five years ago, much of what we think of today as social media was either in its early days or still stuck on a whiteboard somewhere.

Five years ago, we felt the same pain that we do today. We felt overwhelmed by new media (there were millions of blogs in 2006). Our filters sucked only slightly more than they do today.

Five years ago, I had the honor of being there, at least in a virtual sense, for the first meeting of the Social Media Club, or at least the meeting that started it all. Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells sat down with Todd Defren, Brian Solis, Sally Falkow, Tom Abate, Seth Mazow, Tom Foremski, Mark Nowlan, Jen McClure, Pat Meier-Johnson, Russell JohnsonShannon Clark, Lisa Chung, myself and (also virtually) Jason Baptiste to talk about the changes that social media was bringing.

In November of that same year, a group of about 100 of us teamed up with the Society for New Communications Research and hosted our first Boston meeting of the club. Jen was there, as well as Chris Heuer, and we were joined by a great group of Boston folks, including the following folks who really helped get the word out and share their thoughts: Adam Weiss, Adam Zand, Alison Raymond, Amanda Watlington, Barbara Rudolph, Brian Cavoli, Bryan Person, Chuck Hester, David Meerman Scott, Doug Haslam, Geoff Livingston, Mike Spataro, Paula Slotkin, Scott Monty, Susan Koutalakis, Tom Francoeur, Tony Sapienza and many others who you'll recognize in the photos below.

In the five years that have transpired since then, so much has happened. There's a great blog post on some of the milestones, and this great infographic from JESS3:

Social Media Club, The First Five Years

Here are some thoughts from Social Media Club Founder Chris Heuer on our 5th anniversary:

I'll share my own thoughts on our 5th anniversary at our November 8th "Evolution of Social Business" event at IBM. I hope you'll join me for that!

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Hyper-Everything Video

Last Wednesday, the Social Media Club Boston met out in Framingham for the latest in a series of programs we've run touching on the intersection of journalism and social media. My business partner Chuck Tanowitz has been very passionate about the subject, so it was only natural to invite him to moderate the program. Here is the video of the program:

Social Media Club Boston June 2011 Journalism Panel: "Hyper Everything"

From the front line to the local coffee shop to the courthouse, journalism faces pressure not only to remain profitable, but to remain relevant. This panel of journalists gives an in-depth discussion of the pressures and possibilities facing the journalism profession today.

Our panelists included:

* Ed Medina (@surfermedina), Director of Multimedia Development, Boston Globe and Boston.com
* Kristin Burnham (@kmburnham), Staff Writer, CIO.com
* Tom Langford (@tom_langford), Reporter, NECN
* Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman), New Media Contributor, NESN.com

The event was sponsored by IDG and Business Wire. Thank you to both for their continued support of the Social Media Club Boston!

What did you think?

ADDED JUNE 27:
After the event, IDG's Colin Browning interviewed Chuck to dive a little deeper in a few areas. Here is a recording of that interview:

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TechCrunch, Texting While Driving, Are Hatchbacks Back?: Fresh Ground Podcast #23

The Fresh Ground Podcast will return to its regularly scheduled Mondays (hopefully) next week, but in the meantime, please enjoy Todd’s guest appearance on another great podcast that has resumed after an even longer break than our summer one: PRobecast. Launched under Doug Haslam’s watch at Topaz Partners, Tech PR Gems grew to become a well respected podcast before suffering from “I have a day job” syndrome, as many podcasts do.

PRobecast episode #91 featured special guest Todd Van Hoosear along with Topazers Alison Raymond, Joanna DiTrapano, Tony Sapienza and Evan Siff talking about the recent purchase AOL made, content curation, texting while driving, hatchbacks, etc. Here are the issues we covered:

Has Social Network Content Creation Plateaued – Research from Forrester is saying that while social media use is on the rise, social media content creation has shown no measureable growth over the past year. Are you a creator or a curator?

When it’s the Case of TMI, Curation is Key – Paul Gillin recently had an article in B2B Magazine talking about the importance of not just creation, but curation. There is almost too much information out there – and to find the important things, you must find ways to sort through all the information coming in.

AOL’s New Purchase: TechCrunch – AOL bought TechCrunch for around 40 million dollars. What does this mean for the future of TechCrunch. Can they really be unbiased when owned by a public company?

Bye, Bye Texting While Driving – There has been a lot of discussion over the texting ban. 30 states and the District of Columbia have banned it. However, research has been finding that since the ban, crash rates rose as people where trying to go “under the radar” while still texting. Living in a society that is always connected, what do you think of these bans?

Can RIM’s PlayBook Run Up Against the iPad? – RIM recently announced a new tablet called the PlayBook. This seems to be the most similar competitor to the iPad. Do you think the PlayBook has a chance against the giant that is Apple?

Are Hatchbacks Cool? – Ford has reported that 60-percent buyers are opting for the new Ford Fiesta hatchback, stating that just over 8-percent of cars last year were hatchbacks. Is the hatchback a new trend?

Vote for the Fresh Ground Blog!

We need your help. The Fresh Ground blog has been nominated as one of the Best Up-and-Coming blogs in the PR world and we need your help to win. Voting started today, Wednesday, and continues through Tuesday, June 22. If you've found this blog interesting and useful over the past couple of months, please link over to Communications Conversations and drop in a vote for us. We'd really appreciate the help.

Of course, you may also want to sign up for our newsletter!

If, however, you think we could be a bit better in some areas, just let us know! You can leave a comment or drop us an email at info (at) itsfreshground (dot) com. That address gets to both of us at once.

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PR: Whose Minds are You Changing?

A few days ago I wrote about change, and how "social media, if done right, is first and foremost an exercise in change management."

I was speaking about changing how businesses operate and communicate, but if you look at PR in a more specific sense, it's about changing minds (and subsequently creating action).

Often, it's not the minds of customers and prospects that good PR practitioners need to start with -- in reality, a good PR practitioner concentrates on changing minds (and processes) inside the organization first. This can be a challenge, but is critical not only to ensure success, but in reality, given where PR is evolving, to make sure that PR practitioners remain relevant as the media landscape continues to shift.

Whose minds are YOU changing?

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Manish Mehta on the Social Grid, Shiny Objects & Three Mile Island: Fresh Ground #16

Manish Mehta is Vice President, Global Online for Dell Online, where he heads up strategy, social media, community and search worldwide. As one of the founders of Dell.com, he has been a key player in Dell’s evolution. This is the second excerpt from Manish’s keynote at last month’s NewComm Forum, in which he draws parallels between the rise of social media and the rise of nuclear power. In this part, he describes the value of social grid and the risk of shiny object syndrome, and asks us what our Three Mile Island will be.

Listen Now:

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Our opening music is "D.I.Y." by A Band Called Quinn from the album "Sun Moon Stars" and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

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Manish Mehta on the Nuclear Option: Fresh Ground #15

A little less that two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on how big and small sized companies made the culture shift necessary to realize success in the world of the truly social company. The panelists were Andrew Sinkov of Evernote, and Manish Mehta, one of the original founders of Dell.com and VP of social media and community there.

Due to the #ashtag incident, the original keynoter, Neville Hobson, was unable to attend the event, and Manish was asked to step up and present, which he did. His story, in which he draws parallels between the rise of social media and the rise of nuclear power, was provocative and thoughtful, and we’re including an excerpt of it as this week’s Fresh Ground podcast. You can catch the full audio on the Fresh Ground blog.

The keynote will also be featured in an upcoming For Immediate Release Sessions & Speakers episode.

So here are some excerpts from the first part of Manish’s presentation on measuring social media and business value:

Listen Now:

icon for podbean  Standard Podcasts: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download | Embeddable Player | Hits (0)

Our opening music is "D.I.Y." by A Band Called Quinn from the album "Sun Moon Stars" and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

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Reagan Gray on the Advertising Shift: Fresh Ground #11

For over 20 years Reagan Gray has worked in the advertising industry, helping businesses of all types find and talk to the right target audiences. Prior to moving to Boston a few years ago, Reagan owned an ad agency in southern California that is still thriving. Now, she’s bringing her creative thinking and integrated viewpoint to the region.

Fresh Ground Principal Chuck Tanowitz had a chance to speak with Reagan about her current projects and perspective on the shift going on in the advertising industry today.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“Clients are seeing … social media as this great way to get into the marketplace, but they’re doing it … haphazardly and we think they’re really missing an opportunity to extend their brand….”

“[Social] media [is] advertising…. You can control [it], to a certain extent, and you can make it work for you … just as hard as your offline or paid media.”

“Your … creative people [need to ensure that your social media] brand matches and complements … the website.”

“The reason why SuperBowl ads are still expensive is because they work.”

“[Broadcast] ads have to work a little harder. Ads don’t just create top-of-mind awareness…. They’re becoming much more interactive….”

“You shouldn’t buy anything unless you’ve got a great creative direction.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

icon for podbean  Standard Podcasts: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download | Embeddable Player | Hits (0)

Our opening music is "D.I.Y." by A Band Called Quinn from the album "Sun Moon Stars" and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

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Join Me at NewComm Forum April 20-23

Speaking of events, I'll be heading out to the San Francisco area in a few weeks to speak at the NewComm Forum, which takes place in San Mateo, CA from April 20-23. I want to take a quick opportunity to invite you to join me there! So please join me at the premier conference for unlocking the power of social media for business.

Take advantage of some special discounts!

Come for the entire conference or just for a day for as little as $395!

NewComm Forum will feature a who’s who of social media experts and practitioners from leading companies presenting 40 sessions in five comprehensive tracks including:

  • Online Communications & Communities
  • Social CRM
  • Markets are Conversations: From Theory to Practice
  • Understanding the New Media Landscape
  • NewComm Essentials

Keynoters include:

  • Jackie Huba, online marketing expert and author
  • Dave Carroll, singer/songwriter, "United Breaks Guitars"
  • Scott Monty, Ford
  • Jack Holt, US Dept. of Defense
  • Tim Westergren, Pandora
  • Neville Hobson, WeissComm

Choose from a variety of intensive ½-day and full-day workshops on Tuesday, April 20th. See details at: http://www.newcommforum.com/Social-Media-Workshops. Use discount code NCFW100 to save $100 on a pre-conference workshop. Get a 1/2-day of education for just $195!

And, wrap up your Forum experience on Friday, April 23rd in our special one-on-one workshop with conference faculty and SNCR Fellows - included in your conference fee. It's like getting a half-day of expert consulting FREE! See more details at: http://www.newcommforum.com/Social-Media-Strategy

Or, just join us for one day on Wednesday, April 21st:

The NewComm Forum 2010 One-day Pass Includes:

  • Full Access Pass for Wednesday, April 21st
  • 3 Keynote Sessions: Jackie Huba, online marketing expert and author; Dave Carroll, singer/songwriter, “United Breaks Guitars” and Tim Westergren, founder, chief strategist, Pandora
  • Access to all conference sessions – choose from 16 breakout sessions in five tracks. Featured presenters include: Shel Holtz, Jen McClure, Paul Chaney, Eric Schwartzman, Francois Gossieaux, Brian Solis, Katie Paine, Dharmesh Shah, Beth Kanter, Kami Huyse and more!
  • Networking Activities and Food & Beverage Events: Breakfast, Luncheon featuring Dave Carroll of “United Breaks Guitars” & Cocktail Reception

Register now and use code NCF1D to attend for one day for just $395.

Register for the full conference with discount code NCF300 and save $300 off your registration fee.

I hope you’ll join me for NewComm Forum, the premier conference for unlocking the power of social media!

Finally, I have a few special Speaker Discount Codes left that I can offer that will get you $500 off your registration fee! just DM or @ me at @vanhoosear or email me at


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