Web 2.0 Blog – Discovering Innovation Opportunities using Social Media

Archive for the ‘New Media’ Category

The wikipedia entry has been updated since I wrote this post and now clearly seems define social media as content. So what about the technology? Can we call it social technology?

Is the technology used to post, read, sharecontent, improve navigation and relevance by making use of user behavior and input, the same as the content generated content itself? Are both of those the same as the interaction of users with that technology?

I looked at the wikipedia entry for social media and it seems to mix these three items (technology,content and interaction). It says:

“Social Media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and “building” of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).”
Then later it gives examples of “social media applications.”

So based on this, social media is a tool used by consumers to create content, an activity that integrates technology and social interaction AND it is the content generated by the interaction.

I feel it can’t be all three and that this should be clarified to help people understand the evolution of the internet and the new technologies and software. Also it would be useful to distinction those of us who create technology solutions vs those of us who create user interaction strategies for organizations.

I think we should start using the term social technology as:

1. Technology which makes use of input and behavior of the users of the technology to enhance its relevance, usability, content, navigation or function. Often this refers to tools which are used in web 2.0 or social media efforts.

Of course where does that leave the definition of social media? When people talk about social media they seem to be referring to the general methods to display user generated content. For instance “Blogs are social media.” But a blog is a general method to publish and invoke discussion. It is not a specific technology. Let’s do a quick thought experiment to illustrate this. We can imagine a large classroom blackboard being used as the host for a blog whose audience is only meant to be those in the class. An article could be published, comments put up, tags manually updated, and even a separate board if you like to match tags to content. Any blogger would recognize this as an internal blog. We also now have video blogs which users very different technology than text based. Let’s also imagine a pure video blog which uses no text and its tags and searches are audio based.

A text blog, a pure video blog and our blackboard blog share the same methodology to solicit feedback from a community but do not share common technology. So a blog is really a social media method, not a specific piece of technology.

Social media seems to be a collection of methodologies for sharing and discussing information as well as navigating and searching for information. This raises another question which is not covered in the current wikipedia article. Should mining of social media data to improve media experiences such as shopping, searching and giving related information? I think the answer is yes even though this is a substantial bifurcation of social media into its seen and unseen elements. Most people do not realize that google uses the behavior of its users to improve its search but I think google results are a form of social media. Here is the test: If you didn’t have the social input, would you have the results? In google’s case: No. Not the same results at any rate and these results are the reason it has won out in the search engine competition. So in plainer terms, crowdsourced content or ranking of content would also be social media. (I would argue ranking of content is content btw.)

Since I first posted this, Deb Lavoy challenged me that social media is actually what happens when technology enables collaboration. And conversations are simple collaborations. I think she is right, but still in the vernacular most people still refer to the actual methods as social media. We comprised on a slide which gives both. The technology enable collaboration definition seems the most powerful yet the more I think about it.

As for social technology, I really didn’t just make it up. (Well I did but then I found I wasn’t the first by any means.) There seems to be ample precedent both in published books and popular blogs to start use of the term more commonly. Below is a list of references I found which use the phrase:

In the news: A degree in Social Technology See also the school’s site.

Reference Web site
Forrestor Research: The Growth Of Social Technology Adoption

Blogs using social technology as a term:
Social Technology Innovation by Alex Vorbau
The impossible dream – Social Technology
Social Technology
The Pattern of Social Technology Evolution
Leveraging the Future of Social Technology

Books using social technology as a term:
Perverse Incentives: The Neglect of Social Technology in the Public Sector
By Theodore Caplow
Published by Praeger, 1994
Item notes: pbk. : alk. paper
Original from the University of Michigan
Digitized Aug 24, 2007
ISBN 0275949338, 9780275949334

Innovation and Social Process: A National Experiment in Implementing Social Technology
By Louis G. Tornatzky
Contributor Louis G. Tornatzky
Published by Pergamon Press, 1980
ISBN 0080263038, 9780080263038
225 pages

The Social Technology of Organization Development
By Wyatt Warner Burke, Harvey A. Hornstein
Compiled by Wyatt Warner Burke, Harvey A. Hornstein
Published by University Associates, 1972
Original from the University of Michigan
Digitized Mar 21, 2007
ISBN 0883901269, 9780883901267
340 pages

The Social Technology of Applied Research
By Alexander J. Matejko
Published by Sadhna Prakashan, 1975
Original from the University of Michigan
Digitized Feb 6, 2008
194 pages

There does seem to be a competing definition which I found in..

2. Technology which is entirely in the public domain and does not have restraints or restrictions on its use.

I found this in Human Rights & Social Technology: The New War on Discrimination By Rainer Knopff, Thomas Flanagan. I don’t think this is a popular or even solid use of the term and better terms have come to descriptions various public licensing arrangements.

Now to make the case in Wikipedia.. Anybody with me?

Note: I have not verified the list of the Mumbai victims referenced here nor do I take a stand on its authenticity, accuracy or morality. I think its a very interesting example of how a networked audience behaves differently than an non-networked audience.

The mention of the increasing intelligence of a networked audience is what really struck me about the 95 theses at cluetrain.com. Mass calloboration, a way to deliberately request help from an audience is talked about in more detail in James Surowiecki’s Wisdom of the Crowds and emerging intelligence from networked audiences in Howard Rheingold’s Smart Mobs. The premise in the 95 theses is that once the early free flowing social media sites got started we were permanently on the path to more networked audiences. And that the networked audiences behaved differently and according to cluetrain, more ‘intelligently’ than the former broadcast centered audiences. This is very appealing, but is it true? I decided to do a series of posts trying to understand this in depth.

So is this a networked audience more intelligent? It’s not hard to get consensus that it is definitely different. The problem with intelligence is there are so many definitions. At our last workshop I cited the google doc which listed the injured and dead from the recent Mumbai tragedy. This appeared on my twitter feed while the terrorist attack was still ongoing. While I don’t know for certain who was responsible for the list, it seemed to be created by netizens not journalists nor government officials. Before we go on I want to acknowledge the 2 big objections usually rise to this sort of unofficial information:
1. Is it accurate? Probably not 100%.
2. Is this how such sensitive information should be disseminated? I am not sure there is a good answer to that. It probably is different for each family member and the entire answer might turn on whether it is accurate.

My point in talking about the list is that it is unarguably a different type of audience behavior during a terrorist attack than we are accustomed to seeing. As to intelligence, the information which was sent sped through the network very quickly and was believed. So to the extent the networked vetted it for authenticity which is the intelligence process we seek out from the official news media, this could be perceived as a type of intelligence.

The list was disseminated around the world within hours, then was apparently reported on by one of the biggest news agencies on the planet as a source of highly relevant information. (I have heard a report that this list and twitter was referenced by the BBC during the early reporting (unconfirmed). ) I would argue it was the most personally relevant information during the attack which is why is flew through twitter.

So regardless of whether the list should be posted, I think no one can question, that the posting and dissemination of a victim list during a terrorist attack is a significantly different behavior made possible and largely due to the fact that the audience is networked.

I trusted the Mumbai list to be authentic and mostly accurate even though I only received it from a single source and only heard mention of the BBC reference only much later. And while I had only heard about it from one source, I had reason to believe it was being tweeted by many twitterers.

One reason for the trust that I gave the list is that the community through which it flowed is preestablished and highly active. I received the link from Shashi (Social Media Swami) at Network Solutions and he is a very active twitterer. I know he must have believed and probably received it from sources which he has heard from before. So length of time can be offset by trust in the community before this event and how well the audience members value their reputation. The social technology and community itself can affect how well one values the reputation. Twitterers value a large following and usually their goal is to achieve it. They can loose that following very quickly, because it is easy to start unfollowing someone. Of course if it is highly valuable to them to disseminate the message, then it is more likely they will risk reputation.

The message also plays a role in whether it is likely to be believed. The more detailed a message is and the more ways it allows verification, the more authentic it sounds. The Mumbai list quickly reached over 200 names, so it seemed to be authentic and verifiable. Also we hope that someone who would attempt to release false information about such an emotionally charged subject, would not be a part of our community.

There was a presumably false piece of information which flowed through twitter at the same time as the victim list. Apparently a college student in Boston originated a message asking people to stop twittering about Mumbai while the attack was still going on and claimed to be part of the Indian police or government. It is likely that this person thought they would be doing good by disseminating this message. Initially probably a lot of people accepted this statement to be coming from the Indian government, but it was within hours reported on Twitter as being inauthentic.

It would hard to imagine much value in disseminating the Mumbai list and it would be a very high risk to reputations if it was false. It traveled through a network which can punish false messages quickly but it is highly emotionally relevant would also make it go through the network quickly as well. It also provided ways to verify itself eventually, though not immediately. These seem to be the elements which helped it to be accepted as true.

So elements which would made this message seem more authentic are:
1. Pre-established Community
2. Valuing of reputations.
3. Flowing through the community through multiple pathways.
4. Detailed information which could be verified later.

Elements which made it more likely that a message would go quickly and not be carefully verified
1. Timeliness on the importance of delivering the message.
2. Highly emotionally relevant.

So do these combined components make the audience more intelligent by trusting it to be a lie detector?
Of course lie detection is not the only type of intelligence we want to see in a crowdsourced or collaborative activity. We want original ideas which solve real problems or at least original ways to send information in a more relevant fashion (i.e. better marketing).

By the Surowiecki analysis, it seems this kind of event comes up short in a number of ways. Independence of contributors is definitely a problem in online social networks. Surowiecki himself questions how collborative the blogosphere is in a Ted talk.

Aggregation is also a bit tricky, its hard to see if the networked really aggregated the list or it was merely passing already aggregated information and people assumed it was organized by individuals?

Certainly there was a strong focus on a common goals of getting important information spread quickly and discovering more facts.

Well.. I still believe the list is real….Am I part of the problem?

I want to thank everyone who came and made this first in our series of workshops a success.

First an error in omission. Jill Foster was not properly announced as the blog-reporter in the audience. Her review of the workshop is at http://solutionsarepower.com. Also I want to thank Gabriel Key, a participant, for setting up a Mostly Plain English group on linked in. Look for “mostly plain english” on linked in to find it.

Of course this was only possible through the support of our sponsor
Enigma Business Solutions and it’s E-learning offering.

Thanks Mayra for taking and posting pics as well.

Now for the workshop.. ok ok… We tried to do a complete overview with examples and did not have time for all 9 activities. In the future we will try to keep focused on solving particular aspects of an issue or on part of the framework, so we have time to dive into it tools and all. We wanted to present an overall strategy this time and see if our audience-centered framework is useful and comments seemed to be in favor of that.

Some comments I want to share..
“Being someone who is of an older generation and lovely Computer literate this was great workshop and was actually a lot to understand everything.”
An early gift from ‘Santa’ who basically summed up our first goal of making this accessible to non techies.

The other goal was to test the audience-centered framework as a way to think about what is needed in a Web 2.0 app. A comment we received on this was..
“Something to really start thinking about ,in web 2.0 world of choice and customized everything it seems critical to always operate with a target audience in tenses in mind.”

Another comment suggested we have a more structred seminar then breakout groups which I think would especially work well when are trying to do an overview.

I welcome any other comments and hope we can continue to improve the methodology and frame work in future workshops.

Again thanks to our speakers as well as Jill. Please feel free to contact them online or off:

Jill Foster
202 203 0255

Mayra Ruiz
slides are available on her LinkedIn profile and at:
Blog: http://www.mayraruiz.com/

Andrew Bates
Slides at http://marketing.networksolutions.com/seminars/

Tony Arko 571-238-6882
Blog: http://www.loudounstats.com/

Ken Fischer
Slides at http://www.clickforhelp.com/Presentations.aspx
Blog: http://web20blog.org/
Linked in:http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenrfischer
Twitter: http://twitter.com/web20blog_org

I have been struggling on how to think about the Web 2.0 or social media phenomenon. It seems to have taken on its own language now. And I made the mistake in 2007 of trying to explain Web 2.0 using those infectious terms of blog, tweet, follow, friending etc. This tool centered explanation by example, I found, does not work too well among the uninitiated. Besides that, today’s tools will not be tomorrow’s tools but I think there are underlying communication principles which drive the sucess of the current Web 2.0 experience and can be used a guide for future innovations. I also think these guiding elements can help discuss new pure Web 2.0 innovations, but also reveal opportunities to improve more familiar processes in business, government, and non-profits.

In this blog, I want to start a conversation about what is in the audience experience of Web 2.0 solutions have made them so successful among the much sought after consumer audience. I have noticed 5 reoccurring core themes which underlie the recent successful web 2.0 applications and companies.

First let’s talk about the difference between web 2.0 and web 1.0. The use of the internet in the web 1.0 era (which of course was a continuum to 2.0) was to convey information through web sites. The use of Web 2.0 is instead to evoke a response from the audience and turn that initial response into an ongoing engagement or conversation.

The Web 1.0 sites hoped to have the audience do something in response but it turns out evoking a response through simply conveying information on how they should respond is not very effective. Yet that was the hope all along for businesses, government, and nonprofits that by conveying information passively, they would get the audience to behave actively in some way. Even when a response was achieved it did not have a high probability of getting future responses from that same individual.

Web 2.0 has been much more successful at evoking responses and turning initial responses into a longer back and forth or engagement with and among audience members and this is why the tools which use these response-oriented techniques and technologies have become the focus of so much attention.

A good place to start finding opportunities for brick and mortars or more traditional organizations to better evoke a response from and create engagement with their audiences and in general to improve traditional processes is to identify what seem to be the underlying communication principles which drive the success of Web 2.0:

1. Interactivity
Use methods which make it clear and easy how an audience can interact or respond online and give multiple pathways to respond without violating element #4 (revelance). The interactivity must be highly accessible and match the information habits, styles and preferences of the users

2. Connections
Make connections and relationships with real people whether the connections are with people inside an organization or with others in the audience.

3. Outreach and listen to communities.
Think of your audience in terms of communities not demographics and actively outreach to the targeted communities. Communities are interconnected so they are pre-organized for communication to flow them and therefore provide more potential avenues to communicate with people in the community.

4. Relevance.
Provide highly relevant content to the audience. Content should be individualized to the individual’s interests when possible. This should not be confused with providing everything under the sun. Making content overwhelming makes is less relevant not more. Quality not Quantity.

5. Empowerment
Empower the audience whenever possible. People want to be heard and feel heard and wherever possible make a difference.

I know what you are going to say. I missed a lot things which also underlie some if not all sucessful Web 2.0 solutions. Such as the authenticity, social content, a human voice, crowdsourcing, interoperability, the networked audience effect, etc. But for now I want try to dissect what it is in the audience experience which makes social media so compelling. As with all web 2.0, this is up for discussion though. Hope to hear you opinions on this. In future posts, I will attempt to expand on this and discuss how these 5 themes can guide us to create better process in business, government and the non profit spaces.

This is meant as a 101 intro to new media uses by nonprofits who have not yet ventured beyond their own website.
Increase Visibility
Motivate Sponsors
Engage your Members
1. Make a badge.
A small icon which can be put on on members’ online social networking pages (myspace, facebook etc) and also on your corporate sponsors’ websites.Badges can increase visibility in search engines, enhance your sponsors’ reputations in the community, and your members will feel good about showing their support online.
2. Make your events known and remembered.
Use Meetup.org, upcoming.yahoo.com, evite.com and other similar sites to remind members of events and make events known to the community. Social networking sites such as facebook.com can also be used to post events.
3. Tell your story.
Ask those you helped to write, record or videotape how your organization helped them. This easy to insert or link to your site from a free blog site or youtube.com or dogooder.tv.
4. Provide easy ways for your organizations to collaborate.
PBWiki.com and WikiSpaces.com can be used to share documents on projects and FreeConferenceCall.com can be used to host a free call (though it will not be a local number but people could call in from their cell phones usually without incurring long distance charges).
5. Fundraise from Online Social Networks.
The “Causes” application on facebook makes it easy to collect online donations.
6. Newsletters.
ConstantContact.com is a newsletter tool which can help track whether people are reading or clicking on the newsletter articles. It is a paid service but affordable for mid sized non-profits. Newsletters can be used to demonstrate to both sponsors and members that they are a part of something interesting and active.
7. Blog.
Blog about your events and activities on a free blog site and invite your members to comment on the blogs. The difference between blogs and newsletters is that blogs can go more in depth than newsletters normally would and blogs invite comment which help to keep your members engaged.
8. Participate in Discussions.
Participate or start discussions about causes you care about and encourage your members to jump in. This could be on a social networking site such as facebook or other appropriate discussion venue. Look for places with large audiences. Some of your members will find this a fun and fulfilling way to participate. (I mention facebook a lot because it has 30 million plus users per day).
9. Announce ongoing progress.
If you have activities which have frequent updates from one or more teams of participants, use twitter.com to create a space for your organization and give small frequent progress reports for everyone who wants to to follow. This can build excitement and teamwork.
10. Share Photos of Events.
Create an account on Flickr.com for your organization and post pictures of meetings, events and activities. These can be cross linked from facebook, your newsletter, blog and organization’s website. The same applies for video and YouTube but of course video takes more time to edit and select.

We are attempting to raise read-write or new media kids. Kids that can create content as well as consume it. For now this means, no TV or movies, an emphasis on reading and a healthy diet. (no sugared foods..even Cheerios have a lot of sugar and he even gets flax oil on his bread rather than jam — he has a milk allergy).

My wife is vegetarian so we eat vegetarian at home and the other day we had veggie burgers, to which the 2 year old immediately said upon seeing them “Hamburgers!.” He has seen hamburgers mentioned in only one or two books and around the house we always call them veggie burgers. He now insists they are hamburgers despite our corrections and the fact he heard “veggie” burger before ever reading a book with a “hamburger”. He was also very excited about having a burger and its the kind of “trademark” excite kids have when they get a “real” pooh bear or other media replica. We had a similar example the other day when he made “pretend” toast for us, then decide to spread “pretend” butter on the toast. Not only has he never had butter on toast, but he has never seen it, as we prefer jam.

So he already prefers the reality which he finds in nicely printed books (albeit read to him by us) than the real reality of our lives. Looks like despite any restrictions we might put on, we are in for an interesting ride as he discovers the world.

Of course I am sure a lot of parents out there are shaking their heads saying “Newbies!”

Traditional media measures impressions, the number of times a viewer saw your message for a certain time. What does that mean? How does that translate into a PSA serving it’s purpose of informing the public and resulting in positive changes in behavior.

Recently we started measuring the impact to a website which is featured in the PSA. Also calls to a dedicated phone line featured in the PSA can also be used to some measures to correlate the PSA to those specific actions. A visit to a website and a phone call certainly shows definite interest but this is information gathering behavior in most cases. Was the PSA adopted by audience members in a deeper way which changed their behavior and had a lasting effect?

So how could we PSAs link more tightly to measurable behavior to have a hint about long term effects and deeper changes than just measuring information gathering?

We would need a media which allowed for a behavior to be captured and for it to be clear that the behavior has a relationship to the PSA. Behaviors which we would want to measure include:

  1. Asking for additional information, (not just once but whether is done repeatedly and in depth)
  2. Telling a friend about the information and measuring whether the friend responded.
  3. Giving input about the message such as comments or relevant past experiences.
  4. Checking for updates or news concerning the message.
  5. Creating personal goals to adopt or spread the message.
  6. Providing visual or written examples of how the message has been adopted.
  7. Discussing, adopting or spreading the message.
  8. Continuing these behaviors over time.

All of these are behaviors which can be measured using new media or Web 2.0 techniques through an iPSA or interactive PSA. The set of behaviors above and others correspond to what is termed engagement in new media parlance. Engagement constitutes a deeper connection between the audience and the message and message provider. Engagement behaviors while not a direct measurement of the everyday behaviors which the PSA is intended to effect, do measure behaviors which demonstrate significantly more effort than traditional information gathering behavior.

For example if we wanted to spread the message of exercise, we could create a widget which allowed audience members to:

  1. Get more information about exercise, drill down in depth and return for additional information later.
  2. Send the information about exercise to others
  3. Express preferences for types of exercise or examples of how it helped them in the past or outcomes which they hope to change through exercise.
  4. Create an easy to find location where they can check on updates or sign up for updates to be sent to them.
  5. Create personal exercise goals.
  6. Announce whether they have met exercise goals and provide photos or video of their progress.
  7. Provide discussion boards for audience to discuss their exercise efforts.
  8. Maintain a location for these activities and measure the return of the audience or the active audience members.

We can measure all of these behaviors and know for certain they are directly related to the original message because the behaviors were only possible by encountering and acting directly on the message content.

The interactive PSA or iPSA allows more measures of behavior change which the traditional PSA on its own, cannot offer. The iPSA or new media component of a PSA campaign will be a critical component of any successful PSA in the near future because it allows for the audience to become engaged and for the ais more measurable.