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!


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
* Kristin Burnham (@kmburnham), Staff Writer,
* Tom Langford (@tom_langford), Reporter, NECN
* Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman), New Media Contributor,

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?

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:


The Importance of Measurement

The Boston Social Media Club had a great event on Thursday on the importance of measurement for both small and large companies. I encourage you to have a look and listen.

The video from last week's great panel is up, thanks to Brilliant Video (see below)!

Christopher S. Penn's slides, and more video content, is available at the Blue Sky Factory website.

There's a great write-up of the event on Janet Gershen-Siegel's blog.

SMC Boston 4/29/2010 Measuring Social Success (Big & Small) from Brilliant Video Productions on Vimeo.


Social and Search

Photo by Gerlos

Last week I was invited back to a panel at the ninth "Marketing to the High-End Bride" event, held at the newly-opened W Hotel in Boston -- you can hear the audio and see some photos on the WeddingProf site. At the event, I finally got to meet Scott Smigler of Exclusive Concepts. I really enjoyed our conversation -- both on the stage (where we disagreed about ghost writing but agreed on most everything else) and after the event. Scott's organizing an upcoming event for SEMPO Boston, and asked what I thought about the intersection between search and social these days. Here's my response -- I hope to be able to share my perspective at the event -- I'll let you know as soon as it's organized.

In Fresh Ground's opinion, there are two approaches to social media: proactive and reactive. Proactive social media is content-driven, reactive social media is conversation-driven.

Either way, search is often a second thought -- most practitioners take a "if you build it they will find it" attitude when it comes to social media and search. They figure that either way -- by virtue of good content, frequent updates and a large community -- search will just happen. This is partly true, but there's still a disconnect between these two fields that can only be bridged through analytics and metrics: understanding the direct relationship between social, search and web traffic.

I think most social media people don't think about the other way around -- that search can drive social. This negative bias was reinforced recently when Facebook overtook Google in terms of site traffic sources. We perhaps need to be reminded that it's still a two-way street, and that a stronger emphasis on search can still be very rewarding.

What do you think about this intersection?


The Future of…

Social Media Club BostonLast night the Social Media Club Boston met to discuss "The Future of..." a number of subjects: from video to music to money and a couple other topics in-between. The presentations were fascinating, touching on everything from Marxism to augmented reality, trust, underwear and several other sequiturs and non-sequiturs. But the one thing that wasn't touched on by any speakers -- until, prompted by one Twitter comment in particular, I forced all of the speakers back up on stage at the end to speak to it -- was what the heck social media had to do with any of their predictions and explanations.

"So Why and How, Social Media?"One of the best answers I got was that social media has both nothing and everything to do with their passion, both now and in the future. I was reminded by one of the speakers that not too far in the near future, we might as well call the "Social Media Club" the "What I Do Every Day All The Time For Work And For Fun Club" -- it's going to be that ubiquitous in the future.

Last week, the Society for New Communications Research Fellows met and made their own list of trends and predictions for 2009/2010, while I'll share with you next week. Not all of them have to do with social media directly, but social media touches on almost all of them. It is becoming ubiquitous. Time to find a new name for the Social Media Club.


Social Media Breakfast Club

In my very first post on this blog, I wrote that "social media is about change management. It's really about changing the way you do business." I went on to argue that "integrating social media across the many customer touchpoints (not just the website and phone system, but every single employee of your company) requires a new way of thinking about your business. In reality, it needs a few key characters. In that vein, and with all due respect for the Social Media Breakfast, the Social Media Club and John Hughes (and with all credit to Adam Zand, who first mashed up social media and high school and who lately specifically mentioned The Breakfast Club), I offer:

The Breakfast Club

The Social Media Breakfast Club

  1. "The Change Agent" When you first look at the change agent, he might seem like "The Criminal." He's not satisfied with the status quo and is willing to go to lengths to challenge the system, even if it causes a little trouble. But he's a necessary character in the Social Media Breakfast Club.
  2. "The Champion" Call him "The Jock" if you want to, but you're still going to need him, because he's the guy who can rally the troops and, if necessary, force some of the change that needs to happen down the team's collective throat.
  3. "The Creative" She might seem like "The Kook"or "The Basket Case" to some, but that doesn't mean you should lock her up and hide her from the world. Tap into her creativity to help lend some authenticity and originality to the content that you develop.
  4. "The Nerd" While social media is getting easier and easier, it doesn't mean that throwing a little technology savvy at it can't significantly improve the end product. Tap "The Brain" -- or find your inner nerd -- to work with The Creative to find some news ways to do old things, and maybe even some new brand new things!
  5. "The Collaborator" She may seem like "The Princess," but she's not as stuck up as she seems -- she's just intensely aware of what others think and feel. In reality, she's an incredible collaborator, and can be great at finding and working with others to achieve a common goal.

None of these characters can, by themselves, succeed at implementing social media across an organization. But together, they can find common ground and work to make a much better place for everyone.

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