More post-conference thoughts

by francine Hardaway on March 2, 2007

(Update: I finally added the links on Sunday when I recovered from the conference. )Today I am a zombie. It’s a good thing it’s Friday and I get to decompress in Half Moon Bay.

It was a bear to put on the Revolution in Marketing Conference yesterday, but it was really worth it. (The bear part came because Joan Koerber-Walker, my trusty sidekick at these productions, became CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association just as the planning started, and was swamped by the morass of details that accompany settling into a new job. Thank God she re-emerged a week before the event to make us look good – I could NEVER have been the emcee. It was a free-for-all.)

Even with Joan keeping us on track, the conference ran an hour over the allotted time, – although nobody got up to leave. That was because the final speaker was Robert Scoble who, carrying his internet access (EVDO) with him (next time I see him it will probably be implanted), gave a real time demonstration of how to read 500 blog feeds a day using Google Reader, followed by a detailed discussion of why he reads what he reads and links to what he links to. He followed that with some tips for corporate bloggers, who have to content with PR departments and angry customers.

Along the way, Scoble gave general pointers about the next new things (Twitter) and reminded us how quickly customers “spray” words out on the Internet when they are disenchanted with products and services. Don’t ignore someone who has only five readers, he counseled. Stuff on the web spreads virally.

For example, he told us that when he was about to leave Microsoft, he told fifteen friends (and not his boss). He swore them to secrecy. An hour later, the story was out on the web, and not one of his friends had written about it. Another hour later and it was all over town, indeed all over the world.

That’s why he tracks how quickly a story “doubles,” – gets twice as many hits as it had before – to see if it really has legs. And he says if a story he thinks is a rumor stays up on the Internet for 24 hours and isn’t challenged, then he decides it is accurate, because the web will generally correct a rumor within hours if it is wrong.

You wouldn’t have wanted to leave during this talk. And Scoble went on late because the audience was engaged – mightily engaged. People wanted to learn how to use social media, and they demanded answers from the participants, lining up at the microphones and shooting questions at panelists who gave back in fine fettle.

Sanitized example: wonderful marketing VP from old line industry with cash (good friend of mine, my generation) asks how she can hire someone internally to handle the requests of younger employees for blogs, wikis, and collaborative tools for customers. Tried all the usual places, advertising for an electronic communications manager. No responses. Do we lack this talent in Arizona?

Panelists: Electronic? That’s not what it’s called. Do we lack the talent? Not at all. Outsource it.

Marketing VP: But we have a rich company heritage this person must know, and we want them internal.

Panelists: Tough. No one who can do the work you describe needs a job.

Marketing VP: But we have the cash.

Panelists: We don’t care.

It was the perfect Boomer v. Gen Y, pre-Web 2.0/post-Web 2.0 faceoff.

Chris Heuer, co-founder of Social Media Club
, kicked off the conference. And what he said, that indeed this is a revolution, and that those who “get it” should “share it,” was borne out completely by the audience response. Many already “get it.” Many haven’t got it yet, but know they need to get it.

It reminded me of fifteen years ago when I got on the Internet for the first time and “got it” about email and the web. All my friends told me they didn’t have to learn how to use a computer because they were too old, and they didn’t need it. To a person, they are all on the Internet today, emailing their jokes to me all day long and looking at the photostream of my daughter’s wedding on Flickr (I never even printed her wedding pictures for my friends. I just sent them a URL).

The same thing is happening to businesses and corporations around social media. The customers are blogging, spitting out their opinions formally or informally. Companies may not be monitoring Technorati or Google Blog Search to find out who’s writing about them yet, but they should be. The most forward-thinking already are. You are reading this now, perhaps thinking you won’t have to do it. But you will. I swear.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

lisa tucker March 27, 2007 at 6:46 pm

Wedding coordinators and day planners that are based in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Sedona. Serving all areas of Arizona.

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