Blog World LA: The State of the Blogosphere & the New Media Wisdom Void (#BWELA)

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Blog World Los Angeles 2011

Last week, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Blog World Expo appeared in its fifth incarnation.  I spent a couple of days watching, listening, and engaging with a dense concentration of experienced and enthusiastic new media evangelists.

The keynotes were well done. Peter Shankman is hilarious and gifted. Amber Naslund shared passionately and enthusiastically her observation and exaltations to the digerati to change the future of business.

However, the keynote address that arguably provided the most valuable insights and takeawys was provided by Shani Higgins, CEO of Technorati as she shared findings from Technorati’s “State of the Blogosphere” report.

Keynotes: Shani Higgings – State of the Blogosphere

I’ve pulled out some of the most interesting slides:

Technorati 2011 State of the Blogosphere - Why Blog?

 

Passion, networking, and sharing are primary drivers behind what bloggers are doing, as evidenced in the slide above. One of the most interesting findings is that consumers prefer blogs for nearly every reason over news websites and mainstream media (see below). Overall, the passion and genuine pursuit of the interests of bloggers creates more trust and is the first place consumers go to learn about what interests them.

 

Technorati 2011 State of the Blogosphere - Why Visit?

 

However, instead of becoming more genuine and passionate themselves, brands seem to still be operating in a 1.0 world seeing bloggers as individuals to be leveraged for the distribution of the brand message (see below). It will be very interesting to see if the social web genuinely evolves as the platform of the empowered customer, or if the major brands once again seek to control the channel for branded information distribution – an interesting mega theme for the next decade.

 

Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2011 - Brands View For an answer to the megatheme question asked above, you might find a clue by finding what some brands recognize “that there really is no such thing as message control”. One respondent envisions a world where “social media will act as a campaign leader, rather than a supporter”, and greater fragmentation will continue to emerge as a challenge for brands and advertisers.

 

Technorati 2011 State of the Blogosphere Blogger Revenue

The fact that only 4% of bloggers use blogging as their primary income and the average salary amongst full time bloggers is $24,000 may give pause to anyone looking to make the full time jump. However, for those who are interested in improving their blogging efforts and results, Darren Rowse offered some sage advice from one of the leaders in the blogging business.

If you’re interested in the full deck, you can find it here

Blogging from the Heart and Blogging Smart

Darren Rowse is known to many as ProBlogger. During his session, he shared a great blend of stories from personal experience, coupled with sage advice and best practices as how success in a blogger’s world comes from a perfect blend of blogging from the heart (fuel and find your passion), while also being smart enough to generate revenue and make it worth the time and effort involved.

The core theme of his presentation was that if you want to blog, or improve your blog, be passionate. He underscored his point by sharing a short anecdote from Robert Frost:

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No Tears in the Writer
No Tears in the Reader

No Surprise in the Writer
No Surprise in the Reader

– Robert Frost

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The more passionate you are, the more passionate your audience will be. However, a focus on engagement, monetization, and revenue will help sustain you over the long run, as countless hours of pouring your heart, soul, and mind into anything without any tangible return inevitably leads to burnout and disillusionment.

If you treat it like a business; set goals, know your readers, build your brand, create hooks, create great products, market effectively, and continually experiment, test and tweak your approach, then there is a place for you on the widening road filled with the next generation of citizen journalists, and the barriers to entry are virtually non-existant.

“Google+ is to Facebook what Macintosh is to Windows.” – Guy Kawasaki

Bestselling authors and entrepreneurs, Chris Brogan and Guy Kawasaki riffed for a bit on Google+ and whether businesses and brands should spend any time there. Ironically, today (November 7) Google+ made pages available to brands for the first time. Quickly after their announcement, pages from Burberry, Dell, and The New York Times hit the network, and thousands more are springing up as you read this.

Guy Kawasaki highlighted several reasons why he believes in the future of the newest social network, and he’s placing a big bet with his time.

He highlighted one striking difference between Google+ and Facebook: While Facebook is about connecting and sharing with those you know, Google+ is for discovering those you don’t quite know yet around topics of interest and passion. When Kawasaki got 50 intelligent comments on his first post, he nearly abandoned Twitter and has been putting in several hours each day manually reading, commenting, and sharing new stuff on Google+. His overarching view on the network currently is that it is a landgrab. He’s paying the price now to build his tribe. In return, to date, he has nearly 300,000 followers, partially do to the fact that he is a recommended user for those just signing up for the first time on Google+.

Chris Brogan largely agreed, and has actually already written a book on the subject.

He likened Google+ today to Twitter in 2006, and Chris likes leveraging Circles functionality for segmenting those he is following. Circles gives the ability for users to narrow the stream based on topics and segmentation of users, whether you’re mutually connected with them or not. He also likes to push messages to certain circles. From my perspective, it’s a mechanism of targeted messaging, instead of blasting everything to everyone.

Another major consideration that both Brogan and Kawasaki mentioned is that Google search indexes Google+ content right away, while it does not index Twitter or Facebook posts. Brogan shared that his biggest piece of advice was to go back to your Google+ About page and work on your profile, as it will help you connect with others that are looking for what you can offer.

From my perspective, Google+ is early in its adoption. Today, it IS mostly filled with tech pundits, authors, speakers, and personalities. The masses aren’t on it yet, and don’t see a reason to be.

For those who understand the power of networks – connectors, marketers, and those that have or are trying to build strong personal brands, spending time on Google+ is a calculated bet that the company that intends to organize the world’s information will be able to layer Google+ on top and within a growing suite of ubiquitous tools and capabilities that reach deep into our lives (Google Apps, GMail, Android, etc.) The bet holds significant promise (as well as some risk) as the potential payoff will largely come down the road, if at all.

Giving Substance to Online Influence

One of my favorite sessions of the conference was led by Matt Ridings and Chuck Hemann and focused on the subject of influence. It’s a topic I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to, over the past couple of years, and even more so recently, as shared in my recent post: “In search of: A meaningful measure of Influence” .

Online influence and reputation are two concepts that will become central to the way the world works over the next decade. Their session triggered some additional thoughts, which I’ll publish in a follow up to this post.

In summary

My observations and research indicate that there is plenty of confusion in the marketplace about what these new mediums mean for business. Most execs are interested in learning more about how trends in human communication are shifting, what it means at the macro scale, and ultimately what it means for their companies, and respective customer and prospect communities.

Today, most executives are swimming in a sea of noise and data, trying to grasp what these new realities really mean, how much weight and attention to give them, and how it should impact how they communicate within their organization and to their customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders.

The tectonic shifts under way not only require organizations to shift to listen to what their customers are saying, but also will allow those who truly understand how to leverage new media to gain market share by leveraging network effects that social channels provide.

Sadly, however, there appears to still be a significant gap between the evangelism taking place amongst the digerati and the understanding and support of executives. The conference had its share of valuable insights to be learned, but was also rich with hyperbole and ephemeral euphemisms that have no tangible connection to the core practicalities of business leaders today.

We are largely in an experimental phase, with some success stories emerging, but most case studies highlighting some very successful individual outliers, or celebrated measurements sitting on the fringe of significant tangible impact to the enterprise. We will begin to see this shift dramatically over the next 2-5 years.

While many business leaders seek to understand the new media and communication frontiers, many of the digerati who understand the channel and tools well, still struggle with connecting the dots to meaningful business value. Those that understand both and can bridge the gap between the two will be in high demand now and into the foreseeable future.

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The Ultimate Social CRM Resource Guide – 1st Edition

Yesterday morning at Gartner’s CRM conference, it was said that Social CRM will be a $1 Billion market by 2011. (That’s right around the corner folks).

All of a sudden, there is a lot of noise in the marketplace about Social CRM. In a sure sign that Social CRM is racing towards the mainstream, Chris Brogan even recently named Social CRM as one of the three hottest trends to look for in 2010.

Below are the best resources to get you up to speed on Social CRM as quickly as possible, and capture first mover advantage in your market niche.

Number One:
Start Here: The Author of the “CRM Bible”, Paul Greenberg, recently authored what will soon be known as the “Social CRM Bible” in his 4th edition of CRM at the Speed of Light. Spending $20 and a bit of time in this treasure will go a long way towards helping your organization embrace the opportunities emerging now and in the future.


CRM at the Speed of Light - 4th Edition

Want to know who Paul reads and listens to? Check out his recent blog post on “Social CRM: The Conversation” on ZDNet – “Following on More than Friday: The Ones who teach me”

Number Two:
This one is a must read and there is plenty to chew on and ponder how these changes will effect your business. Graham Hill’s – A Manifesto for Social Business outlines 15 key mega-themes of changes happening to the corporate landscape and how businesses must evolve. Take note. This is almost too much insight for just one blog post and triggered some great back channel discussion between many of us several months ago.

Number Three:
A great list of conversations and posts from the Social CRM Accidental Community who have been actively participating in the seminal discussions of Social CRM “industry” for the past 18+ months. This list has been largely curated by Prem Kumar Apraranji. This is a great resource list in and of itself.

Number Four:
Mitch Lieberman, Jacob Morgan, and Connie Chan did a nice job on their recent white paper, Chess Media Group’s “Guide to Understanding Social CRM”, which speaks about the evolution of CRM to Social CRM, and how corporations should look to adjust their business model(s) to engage with the Social Customer.

Guide to Understanding Social CRM

Number Five:
Jeremiah Owyang and Ray Wang of the Altimeter Group did a fantastic job bringing structure to a fragmented conversation and laying the framework for assessing where the market opportunities are now, and where they’ll be as we journey forward. Use this document to frame your conversations about leveraging Social CRM tools in your organization. Where will you start, and what are the greatest opportunities for your organization now and in the future?

Number Six:
Ready to start looking at vendors? Jim Berkowitz has assembled a comprehensive list of Social CRM vendors broken down by their specialty. Start your vendor research here.

Best Damn Social CRM List Ever

I have a thought or two, too!

If you are interested in reading some of my musings, click here for some of my articles on the topic of Social CRM

Join the Social CRM conversation


Want to join the real time conversation as it happens?

Here are a few ways to participate:

1. On Twitter

Follow the #scrm hashtag.

Looking for a list of people to follow on Twitter? Here are a few places to look.

2. Social CRM Pioneers Group
Get involved in the Social CRM Pioneers discussion group

3. Share your thoughts below or send me a private note

Have some other suggestions for the list? Please feel free to add them below.

Oh, and if you found value in this post, don’t forget to tell your friends!

CRM Magazine Announces 2009 CRM Market Awards (Social CRM gaining ground)

This morning, CRM Magazine released their 2009 CRM Market Awards to be announced at the CRM Evolution Conference.

Somewhat surprising recipients appear in the area of Rising Stars include Google, Facebook, Lithium Technologies, and Visible Technologies – internet and social media platforms. In addition to traditional CRM leaders Marc Benioff and Anthony Lye, more social and traditional media stars showed up in the Influentials category including Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki, Tony Hsieh, Tim O’Reilly, Jeremiah Owyang, and Ross Mayfield.

One key takeaway for me is this high profile validation of the rapidly merging worlds of Social Media and CRM – recently officially named Social CRM.  Please join the conversation on Twitter by using the #scrm hashtag.

CRM Magazine Announces Winners of 2009 CRM Market Awards

Companies, Customers, and Industry Visionaries Honored for Successes in the CRM Marketplace over the Previous 12 Months

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CRM magazine, the industry’s leading publication, announced the winners of its 2009 CRM Market Awards here today, in conjunction with the magazine’s CRM Evolution 2009 conference.

With its eighth annual CRM Market Awards, CRM magazine honors the vendors, consultants, and end-user companies that focus on customer relationships and the customer experience through the sophisticated integration of people, processes, and technologies. In each of 10 categories, the magazine named one Market Winner, denoting the highest score compared to its peers. Each category also produced four Market Leader awards and “One to Watch.”

“To stay competitive in a challenging economy, companies must come up with innovative ways to improve their customer relationship efforts. This is exactly what the recipients of the 2009 CRM Market Awards have done,” said David Myron, CRM magazine’s editorial director. “Congratulations to this year’s award recipients for their achievements over the last year. May their CRM efforts continue to succeed.”

Recipients were determined through an extensive three-month process and a proprietary rating formula that involves industry analysts, financial and corporate information, product and functionality assessments, and scores reflecting customer satisfaction.

* Enterprise Suite CRM — Winner: Salesforce.com
Leaders: Microsoft, Oracle, RightNow Technologies, SAP
One to Watch: NetSuite
* Midmarket Suite CRM — Winner: Salesforce.com
Leaders: Microsoft, Oracle, RightNow Technologies, Sage
One to Watch: NetSuite
* Small-Business Suite CRM — Winner: Salesforce.com
Leaders: Maximizer Software, NetSuite, Sage, Zoho
One to Watch: SugarCRM
* Sales Force Automation — Winner: Salesforce.com
Leaders: Microsoft, Oracle, RightNow Technologies, SAP
One to Watch: NetSuite


* Incentive Management
— Winner: Xactly
Leaders: Callidus Software, Merced Systems, Synygy, Varicent Software
One to Watch: Makana Solutions
* Marketing Solutions — Winner: SAS Institute
Leaders: Alterian, Eloqua, Silverpop, Unica
One to Watch: Marketo
* Business Intelligence — Winner: IBM’s Cognos Software
Leaders: Information Builders, Oracle, SAP BusinessObjects, SAS Institute
One to Watch: Microsoft
* Data Quality — Winner: SAS Institute’s DataFlux
Leaders: IBM Information Integration Solutions, Informatica, SAP, Trillium Software (Harte-Hanks)
One to Watch: Pitney Bowes Business Insight
* Open-Source CRM — Winner: SugarCRM
Leaders: Compiere, Concursive, SplendidCRM, xTuple
One to Watch: vTiger
* Consultancies — Winner: Deloitte
Leaders: Accenture, Capgemini, Hitachi Consulting, IBM Global Business Services
Ones to Watch: Appirio and Bluewolf

Eight members of the CRM community were named by the magazine as 2009 Influential Leaders: Marc Benioff, cofounder, chairman, and chief executive officer at Salesforce.com; Chris Brogan, president of New Media Labs and social media thought leader; Tony Hsieh, chief executive officer at online-retailing trailblazer Zappos.com; Guy Kawasaki, author and cofounder of aggregation site Alltop; Anthony Lye, senior vice president for CRM at Oracle; Ross Mayfield, chairman, president, and cofounder at collaboration specialist Socialtext; Tim O’Reilly, founder and chief executive officer at publisher and event producer O’Reilly Media; and Jeremiah Owyang, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

The magazine also named six Rising Stars for the year, including nontraditional CRM players such as social networking behemoth Facebook and search-engine giant Google; information-from-the-cloud upstarts InsideView and Jigsaw; Lithium Technologies, a community-platform provider; and Visible Technologies, which offers brand monitoring and social media analysis.

Lastly, the magazine named four customer implementations as winners of its CRM Elite Award: ISS Belgium, for a large-scale Microsoft Dynamics CRM rollout; NBC Universal, for a sales and marketing effort using Salesforce.com; ShipServ, for its holistic use of Marketo, Salesforce.com, and social media; and Wrigleyville Sports, for its NetSuite e-commerce success.

The 2009 CRM Market Awards are being presented at the CRM Evolution 2009 conference at the Marriott Marquis in New York (http://www.destinationCRM.com/evolution). An expanded version of the results have been published in the September 2009 issue of CRM magazine—available in print and, as of September 1, 2009, in digital NXTBook format (http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/crmmedia/crm0909/index.php) and online at http://www.destinationCRM.com.

About CRM magazine

CRM magazine is the leading publication of the customer relationship management industry, covering sales, marketing, customer service, and strategy. The magazine also administers and hosts the annual CRM Evolution conference. Each of these properties is designed to serve customer-centric business initiatives, and leaders who recognize CRM as a key strategy for creating enhanced customer value in any industry. For more information about the magazine, its editorial calendar, or CRM in general, please visit us on the Web at http://www.destinationCRM.com, or on Twitter at @CRM (http://twitter.com/CRM) and @destinationCRM (http://twitter.com/destinationCRM). The destinationCRM Web site (which is updated daily) and the monthly magazine are properties of CRM Media, a division of Information Today, Inc.