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The Listening Post
  • About

    In the technology era, there are a million-and-one ways to connect with the world. With a million-and-one different needs and personalities, it is difficult to choose just one channel that will allow us to most effectively listen to and communicate with our customers and partners.

    Through the wisdom of experts and research by the authors, The Listening Post offers insights into a variety of aspects of today’s communication with a more specific focus on communicating effectively G2G (geek-to-geek).

  • About the Authors

    Darcy Pierce

    I’m actually just a kid trapped in a semi-adult body, I love cartoons, coloring and mac and cheese. I enjoy listening to Claire de Lune while taking ballet classes, but at the same time, a well-tuned muscle car is like music to my ears. I thrive on opportunities to spin what others find to be completely boring (or overly technical like microchips) into exciting and engaging marketing programs, because of this, Synopsys is my Disneyland and social media is my platform.

    Geeky Confession: I secretly love math and numbers. I can recall phone numbers after only a short glance, and for some reason find it necessary to memorize my credit card numbers.

    Hannah Watanabe

    The “jaw-dropper” fact that most people are surprised to learn is that I was homeschooled K-12. I have never regretted this, and in the end, I am still just your everyday California girl—can’t get enough beach or sun. Whether it’s a day trip to Santa Cruz, a weekend in L.A., or an adventure on the other side of the world, I love to travel. My favorite outdoor activity is camping, and my true love is tap dancing. Other than social media, my passion is working with children because I’m reminded of the days when a crisis was not getting a second cup of animal crackers at snack time.

    Geeky Confession: I occasionally spend an hour clicking on the ads on my Facebook page trying to figure out why they are targeting me. Then, I enter keywords into my profile in an attempt to capture ads that I’m actually interested in.

  • Archives

Archive for the 'Web 2.0' Category

YouTube Helps Engineers

Posted by Darcy Pierce on 30th September 2011

The channel that gets to close our series on how social media helps engineers is YouTube. The only social media platform that we never hear anyone complain about or say they would never use is YouTube. Why is that you ask? Because everyone loves video! If you don’t have a Facebook page, refuse to open a Twitter account and are happy with your rolladex of business cards instead of LinkedIn, we still bet at one time or another you were on YouTube and enjoyed it.

YouTube isn’t just for funny home videos, music videos and movie trailers. It is a great place to learn and see things you would otherwise never have the chance to.

YouTube is especially great for engineers because it is a source for many valuable videos including how-tos, product demos, technical reviews and technical answers to questions you just can’t seem to solve.

Below is an example of a video that engineers could find useful. In the video MCCI explains how to migrate your drivers to USB 3.0 designs on Synopsys USB 3.0 IP.

If a picture can say a thousand words, then a video can say a million. YouTube allows companies to take you places you wouldn’t normally be able to go.

When you are watching a video on YouTube and realize that it has over a million views, I’m sure sometimes you think, wow, how did that happen? Well that is the power of YouTube. If people find the content valuable, for whatever reason that may be, people are going to share that content with their friends, family, co-workers and so on and so forth. A YouTube video can become viral very quickly.

Unlike some of the other channels, YouTube is very straightforward. If you can figure out how to record your own videos, you will definitely be able to start your own personal channel on YouTube. Finding videos is also extremely easy because it is just like any other search engine.

Everyone loves a good video. They are much easier to digest than an article or even a podcast, so YouTube makes it easy for you to share them whenever you find one you like on any channel you like.

What is your favorite part about YouTube?

This concludes our series on how social media helps engineers. Is there anything we missed that you would like us to touch on or anything you would like us to explain more? We would love to hear from you!

Posted in Social Media, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | No Comments »

Facebook Helps Engineers

Posted by Hannah Conrad on 19th September 2011

So far we have told you how we believe engineers can benefit from blogs, LinkedIn and Twitter. Now it’s Facebook‘s turn. Facebook is a tough one, because although people understand how to use Facebook, it is the one channel that usually gets the label “For Personal Use Only“.

Many may choose not to friend request their colleagues on Facebook to avoid a merge between work life and personal life. This aside, we’d like to share how valuable we find Facebook as an information source. The best thing about Facebook is you can choose who to follow and who not to follow. This also includes companies.

When we ask those who are aware that companies have Facebook pages if they follow companies, most shake their head because the misconception is that if they do so, they will get spammed. They don’t know that companies cannot send you private messages, and they cannot write on your wall. If you choose to follow a company, their posts will show up on your home feed, but many companies understand that the posts they share on Facebook need to be valuable and the quantity of posts reasonable. If you begin to follow a company that start clogging up your feed, you can back out at any time and “Unlike” the page.

If you have a few minutes, take some time to find your Facebook search bar and start typing the names of some companies and check out their pages. Some might have photos, others might have deals, an interesting video, or a link to a webinar you didn’t know about. The list of what you might find is long.

Both of us love to follow companies.  Each morning, we log onto Facebook and it’s like we each have our own our morning newspapers.

For example, Hannah can get on the her Facebook home feed in the morning and in 30 minutes she can…

  • See the top social media story from Mashable
  • Find out what the latest article from EDN is
  • Find breaking news from CNN
  • See the latest new toy on Engadget
  • Get a good digest of what the hot topics are from her favorite social media bloggers
  • Discover that Best Buy is having a sale on the laptop she’s been wanting
  • Get a “Facebook fan exclusive” promocode from her favorite airline for a flight down to L.A.
  • Hear about a boot sale that Nordstrom is having :-)
  • Catch a status update from her sister who is away at college

All the information Hannah wants each morning is in one place.

If you do happen to be friends with some of your colleagues or people with the same career interests, you too can be part of their morning digest of information and news.

Don’t be afraid to like and comment on the posts of a company’s Facebook page. This is exactly what they want. Liking a post lets them know what kind of content you find valuable, and commenting allows you to give the company feedback or showcase some of your own knowledge.

The beautiful thing about social media to us is the ability to share content, thoughts and information. If you find a post on Facebook valuable, chances are, one of your friends will to, so share share share.

Stay tuned for our next post on YouTube which will be out final entry in our series of how social media helps engineers.

Posted in G2G, Social Media, Web 2.0 | No Comments »

Twitter Helps Engineers

Posted by Darcy Pierce on 14th September 2011

When we talk to engineers about social media, most have a basic understanding of what LinkedIn is, what Facebook does, and how great YouTube is, but many openly admit that they do not understand Twitter. Most people have the misconception that Twitter is just people talking about what they had for breakfast and miss the value that Twitter brings. For this post, not only are we going to explain how Twitter helps engineers, but we are also going to explain some of the Twitter jargon, since many find the platform somewhat obscure and confusing to use. Twitter is a very powerful listening tool that also has an extensive reach, if you know how to use it.

We suggest that the best way to figure it out is to start using it. Once you have a Twitter account, observe how other people are using it. Start searching for people and keywords. You’ll find that Twitter is a great way to get news, share content and keep up with anything and everything you are interested in. Twitter is a great place to stay up to date with what is going on in your industry. By following key influencers, you can set up a feed that alerts you to the very latest content and the most up to date news.  Give it a try. Go to the search bar on Twitter.com and search some keywords like “engineering” and see what people are talking about.

The key takeaway of this post is that Twitter is not just about what you had for breakfast. Twitter is a source of endless knowledge that you can digest while you eat breakfast each morning. You just have to know how to tap into this knowledge. Inside Twitter, you can find topical conversations and a great deal of shared information. We only listed a few examples above because the possibilities are endless.

On Twitter you can follow people who you already know or those you think just have something interesting to say. Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, you do not send requests to be “friends” or become a “connection”, you simply follow people or companies that you are interested in hearing from and interacting with. By searching different topics, you can see the people that are talking about them and the conversations that are developing.

One you’ve figured out all of the topics that you want to be searching for and the content that you want to be collecting, you now need a place to aggregate all of this information. TweetDeck is the tool you are looking for. Don’t be afraid of its daunting appearance, TweetDeck is just a series of feeds and searches broken up into columns. One column is your main feed that includes tweets from all the people that you follow. All of the other columns are where you enter in your custom topics and #hashtags (explained later) that you want to be following. Once you specify a search term for a column, that column will aggregate every tweet made on that topic, even the tweets from people you are not following. New search columns can be added, deleted or moved to a different position at any time.

Now let’s talk about the 140 character limit. Every tweet you make should be adding some kind of value and with the limited characters, you have to think of the most important thing that you want people to know. You might have to word tweets differently then you would if you were saying it out loud, but with practice, the 140 character limit actually helps you to be a more relevant and concise writer.

It is good practice to make sure that you are @mentioning a company or a person when you talk about them in a tweet.

A retweet is almost like forwarding an email. When you see a tweet that you like, or a tweet that you would like to comment on, a retweet allows you to do this and share it with your followers.

You can send a direct message two ways, either by clicking on the “message” button located on the top of a person’s profile (button looks like small envelope) or by starting a tweet with the letter “D” followed by the person’s username (without an @ symbol).

As mentioned briefly, one way you can find information and help your tweets to be found is by searching for and using #hashtags for topics.

A #hashtag is a great way to make sure that your tweet gets a farther reach then just the people who follow you. Anyone who is searching that particular #hashtag will also potentially see your tweet.

For more details on how to use Twitter, read Twitter 101: How should I get started using Twitter?

@YouWhoReadThis Thank you for reading. Have questions or comments? Please share your thoughts below. #twitter #engineers #engineering ;-)


Posted in G2G, Social Media, Web 2.0 | No Comments »

How LinkedIn Helps Engineers

Posted by Hannah Conrad on 31st August 2011

LinkedIn is the most adopted and respected social networking site in the engineering community. There are many professional advantages to using LinkedIn.  Below are several education slides that we created to discuss with engineers how they can benefit from using LinkedIn and take advantage of all that LinkedIn has to offer.

One of the best ways to increase your knowledge about a particular topic, especially one related to your job, is to discuss it with others.  Some engineers have used LinkedIn Groups to create very lively discussion groups on topics that they are interested in. Here are two  groups that serve as good examples: Low Power and Power Management Designs and Design Verification Professionals. To take a deeper look into how to use LinkedIn Groups, checkout the U.S. News article, How to Use LinkedIn Groups to Build Relationships, by Lindsay Olson.

Having a profile on LinkedIn not only allows you to search for jobs, but for jobs to find you. Recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates for jobs they are trying to fill.

By building your network on LinkedIn and utilizing all of its features, you are in turn creating an online portfolio of your professional experience that can be used to help you land a job.

From monitoring the metrics for our blogs here at Synopsys, we have discovered that the number of views for a particular blog post increases when the post is shared on LinkedIn. For example in the month of June, On the Move, a blog written by Hezi Saar, received over 1,000 views and 36% of those views were referrals from LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has realized the value in giving companies a voice as well. Many companies have groups where customers can discuss their products. Companies can also take advantage of Company Pages. A feature that was recently added allows companies to make updates, as if they too were a person, that shows up in people’s feeds. If you follow companies, you’ll receive their updates in your home feed.

Some people are selective about who they add to their network according to the relationship they have with the person. Others are more open to connecting with anyone.

If you maximize your profile on LinkedIn, you’ll maximize what LinkedIn can do for you, which is to tell other professionals about you.

How do you use LinkedIn? Do you have any questions? We would love to hear from you! Please leave your comments below.








Posted in Communication, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

How Blogs Help Engineers

Posted by Darcy Pierce on 13th July 2011

Like we discussed in our previous post, we are going to expand on the presentation that we showed during DAC 2011 and take a deep dive into each channel we mentioned and explain how they benefit engineers.

Below is a presentation that we created on how blogs help engineers through sharing and collecting knowledge, fostering relationships and being available in a real time, easy to find environment.

Did you learn anything new from our presentation? Are there any other ways you think that engineers could utilize blogs? We are here to answer your questions, if you would like us to expand on any of our points please don’t hesitate to ask.

Next week we will be sharing our presentation on how LinkedIn benefits engineers. Stay tuned!

Posted in B2B, Communication, G2G, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments »

How Social Media Helps Engineers

Posted by Hannah Conrad on 30th June 2011

In our last post about DAC, we mentioned that we would be expanding on the presentation that we displayed in the Conversation Central area of the Synopsys booth. Before we go into detail about how we believe each social media platform can benefit engineers, we would like to share the presentation to give you a brief overview.

Do you agree with our reasoning? Are there any additional ways you believe social media benefits engineers? Please share your thoughts with us!

Posted in Communication, Social Media, Web 2.0 | No Comments »

Google Wants a Piece of the Social Network Pie, but they are in the Wrong Kitchen.

Posted by Hannah Conrad on 8th April 2011

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Foursquare, Buzz, Digg, Tumblr, Delicious, Flickr….

And the list goes on and on. All of these various social networks that seem to be multiplying on a consistent basis in an attempt to tap every part of your everyday life, all require yet another profile and a new way to connect with friends, colleagues or even just others who share the same interests. This over saturation can be both overwhelming and exhausting, and at the same time, it all seems to be a little redundant. Will all of these various one off networks stand the test of time? Probably not.

However, there is a very good reason why there are so many new social networks emerging, on what seems like a daily basis, it is because people and companies have realized the impact of this new form of communication and everyone wants a piece of the pie. This includes already successful and well known companies who seem to be feeling like they somehow got left behind and are worried they may be too late to get in on the new media surge.

For example, Google has made it obvious that they do not want to be left behind in the social media bandwagon dust. After the release of Buzz, that seems to have missed the mark, Google announced today the promotion of six new Senior Vice Presidents including Vic Gundotra, the new SVP of Social.

In an article in Mashable today:

“While Google is in very good shape by almost any standard, the rise of Facebook and its failure in social has scared it so much that all employee bonuses will be determined by the success of its social media initiatives. Fixing Google’s social strategy is a big reason why Larry Page is now CEO.”

We all know that Google wants a piece of the social network pie, but there are simply no pieces left. Or are there? Maybe the problem is not that there are there are no pieces of pie left, but rather that Google is looking for pie in the wrong kitchen.

As already stated, the everyday social network user is overwhelmed with the number of social networking platforms. In order to reach the average user, Google needs to take an indirect route. How can they do this? Google has its eyes on overtaking Facebook and winning the hearts of the consumer. The problem is, we are all too in love with Facebook to let that happen. Google has to get us to love them on the social level in another way. When we were discussing the Mashable article this morning, we realized that the average user does not have a social networking life while at work. For many of us, as employees, we do not encounter a social network each day on the professional level. Unless you are a social media specialist like we are, while at work, you probably only take a quick peek at your Facebook on your lunch break and maybe sneak a tweet in here or there, but otherwise, being on social networks while on the clock is a company no-no.

Google has an opportunity here. If Google could make an outstanding, kickass internal social platform for business, it might be able to win us over. There are several companies offering internal social platforms for business: Yammer, Chatter, Convofy, and Socialcast (to name a few). The problem though, is that you cannot use all of the features for free. One of our biggest pet peeves about personal social platforms is when they ask you to pay. For example, on an individual user basis, you can’t send an InMail message on LinkedIn to someone you are not connected to without upgrading to a paid account. Facebook on the other hand lets you do this. Facebook got it right. If you want us to truly love something, you have to give all of its features to us for free. Money comes later.

Here is what we would suggest to Google. Google should provide a free internal social networking platform for businesses. Offer it to each company as a single secure account with logins for each employee. They need to make it useful and productive to business in order to get companies to adopt it. More importantly, they must add an element that ignites a love for the platform that causes the individual employee to crave it. If Google can win us over as employees in the workplace, then perhaps we will be more open when they release the same social platform for us as consumers. Offer the platform as a product for businesses, use that niche route, and when it takes off, fork to the right into the heart of the individual consumer.

The best part about this is that Google has the perfect stage to test such a platform—its own company and its own employees. If Google can get it to work for their business and at the same time, get the employees to individually love and use it on a consistent basis, then we the public probably would too.

What do you think? Does Google stand a chance at successfully entering the social networking market?

Posted in Communication, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

High Speed Internet with a Limit

Posted by Darcy Pierce on 4th April 2011

Many of those who have AT&T’s residential DSL High Speed Internet have probably already heard the news that AT&T is putting a monthly usage cap on their broadband service. The average AT&T customer will not be affected by this. In fact, only the top 2% of users may be affected. Interestingly though, this group of customers use about 20% of the totally capacity of the network.

According to AT&T their average customer uses only 18 GB per month. This means that 150 or 250 GB is more than enough for 98% of customers. However, if you are in the 2%, you will be charged $10 for every 50 GB over your usage allowance. AT&T is being courteous though, giving users a grace period of 2 months to change their usage habits, and then subsequently will begin to charge overage fees.

Although we understand why internet providers like AT&T and Comcast have a cap on their broadband services, we can’t help thinking about who might be included in the top 2% and how their communication and business habits might be affected. Being that we are Social Media Specialists, we sympathize greatly with the large amount of social media consultants and contractors that work out of their homes. Since going over your usage relates greatly to how much you upload and download various content, we feel that any social media contractor, or any individual working out of their home may be affected by this.

On the non-business side, others who may be affected are those who do not have cable television and instead stream all of their movies and regular TV shows from the internet. Some groups of college students may be affected as well, such as film production and photography students who may frequently upload and download large files.

Another issue that could arise with this new usage cap is the increased importance of network security. Although most people already have their wireless networks password protected, there is now an added risk if they do get hacked with the addition of overage charges.

Internet usage caps like the ones we just described can also have an influence on less obvious areas. GigaOm, who posted a similar article about the issue, expresses how caps like these may potentially hinder innovation.

Here is a chart provided by AT&T that breaks down what you can get out of you allowed monthly usage.

What are your thought on broadband usage caps?

Posted in Communication, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Brian Solis and the Conversation Prism: “The idea is to pull the dashboard off, get under the hood and start to see what people are saying and feel it.”

Posted by Darcy Pierce on 9th February 2011

We had the privilege of interviewing one of the most well known, respected and influential figures in new media (basically a celebrity to us), Brian Solis. After seeing Solis speak at TWTRCON San Francisco in 2010, we discovered his original creation, the Conversation Prism. The Conversation Prism visually articulates the organization of the social web. We knew that gaining insights from Solis would be invaluable and relevant to our goal of effectively communicating with engineers and educating ourselves and others about the ever-changing state of the social media environment.

Brian Solis is the author of Engage, the complete guide to build, cultivate, and measure success in the social web. Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing, communications, and publishing. He is principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning New Media agency in Silicon Valley, and has led interactive and social programs for Fortune 500 companies, notable celebrities, and Web 2.0 startups. BrianSolis.com is among the world’s leading business and marketing online resources.

(Please see end of post for key takeaways)

Darcy & Hannah: We were very intrigued by your Conversation Prism. Can you please share with us why and how it was created?

Brian Solis: My post introducing Version 3.0 of the Conversation Prism has a very deep view into the why and the what. In the comments section of the post someone had asked for the first time ever, “Why is it called the Conversation Prism when it looks like a color wheel? If it has nothing to do with a prism, why is it called that?” That’s the first time I had been asked that, so I decided to address it because there is a reason. It was originally a prism because of the way a prism works—it is a refraction of light. The Conversation Prism was a play on “light” and “enlightenment”. Instead of taking the conversations that are happening on the social web and looking at them as one stream from an audience, run it through a prism; it bends the light so that you can see the light refract, and therefore see all of its separate conversations taking place. That was the premise of the Conversation Prism. We eventually had to put it into a circular format because after the first round of research, there were too many players to fit in the design of the original prism. If you can envision what Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album looks like, which was basically a prism, that was the original concept for how the original Conversation Prism would look and work: one light bending into the prism that was tiered from top to bottom. There are just too many solutions out there, so it had to become circular in order for it to make sense.

The inspiration behind the Conversation Prism was two-fold. One was that it was to visualize the social media universe. At that time, there had been an attempt to do just that where people were saying, “Show me all the networks for imaging, show me all the social networks, show me all the networks for music,” etc. Of course at the time, the popular ones were YouTube, Pandora, Facebook, Twitter and everyone seemed to attack it the same way. They would start in PowerPoint and create a slide to depict whether or not a business should be present in all networks, which was a popular theme several years ago. Another motive for these social media universes was to demonstrate the need to pay attention, because it was a big universe. I decided to bring a little more structure, or intelligence, to the understanding of the social web to demonstrate that consumers/individuals were using social networking in ways that could be compartmentalized. It was organized by how they were using these types of networks, hence each of the categories. The second inspiration for it, was to then say, (and this was in direct argument against all of the people saying you needed a presence in every one of those networks) “look, these are the four tools. Each one of these networks has a search box where you can use traditional Boolean logic search techniques to figure out whether or not that community was active for you and your market.” Using the Conversation Prism as a template, you should go through it and try to see where you customers are active, so you can put together a social map of where you should focus your attention and prioritize based on the results that come back. It also serves as a foundation or blueprint for how businesses should listen to conversations and put a structure around it. In fact, many listening tools today will tell you that they use the Conversation Prism as their framework for putting together their listening systems.


Darcy & Hannah: In your blog post titled, “The Business of B2B Social Media”, you stated that “B2B. . .is faced with a prime opportunity to not only cultivate communities in social networks and other social channels, but also amplify awareness, increase lead generation, reduce sales cycles, and perhaps most importantly, learn and adapt to market dynamics in real-time.” Elaborating on this, how can B2Bs, in general, apply the Conversation Prism to their efforts and their strategies?

Brian Solis: It’s interesting because I get a question similar to this a lot . . . It’s usually asked this way: “Brian we always see examples in B2C, but what’s the real play for B2B? How do B2B’s get something out of social media?” I stop and think, “You know what, I actually understand what you are talking about. Everyone is talking about the same examples over and over again: Virgin America, Starbucks, Dell.” I have this saying, this motto or mantra that is, that I really just encourage people to read the success stories of how people are using social media today, how businesses are increasing sales and attracting customers. At the same time though, you can’t make any assumptions that these successful companies had a strategy plan, had metrics going or anything like that. At the end of the day, every business is unique, the culture is unique, the market is unique, the conditions are unique. The answer for B2B is the same as it is for B2C, and it brings us back to your first question. The Conversation Prism is designed to get you answers, it’s designed to tell you what, when, where, how, why and to what extent. Most people approaching social media right now do not have those answers. Even those who are listening, monitoring and reporting on what they find, they’re still not able to tell you what the top-down strategy is and what the exact goals and predicted outcomes are. Most only know that that they want more fans, more friends, maybe some coupon redemption, maybe some sales or conversions, but really what we need to be looking at is “What is it that you want to know? What is the outcome? Where is this activity taking place? Who is leading that activity? Who are the influencers? Really, what you do to figure this out is you start to reverse engineer. So for business-to-business, I do the same thing that I do for business-to-consumer or the government. I go and research and try and figure out everything I need to know beforehand, and that is the big element that companies are missing in a lot of this. Many are reluctant to study between the lines and do the research. We’ll use a monitoring tool to say, “Ok, there were 4,700 conversations on Twitter this last quarter, 600 blog posts with mentions and the sentiment was 80% negative, 20% positive, and 60% neutral.” That doesn’t tell you what your social network strategy should be, it just tells you what is. The idea is to pull the dashboard off, get under the hood and start to see what people are saying and feel it. What are those negative sentiments all about? Where are they coming from? How is this conversation segmented throughout your organization? Are they for sales, for customer service for lead generation? Is this for marketing, for product development? And then you can really get a lay of the land and start to emphasize what you see, what you read and what you hear, because it’s really that which should inspire what your program should be. So for business-to-business the only thing that changes is the answers to who, what, where, when, why and to what extent? That tells you where you need to focus.

I’ve been hired by B2B companies in some of the most verticalized industries, only to find that there is always some level of online activity that is worth at least paying attention to. It’s funny because the ones that are really gung-ho about socializing don’t want to hear that their activity isn’t warranted or merited on Facebook or Twitter. They’re hoping they can bring a personal touch to their brand, because they are on the same platforms as individuals. Many times though, I have to tell them that they have no business being on Facebook or Twitter right now.

Darcy & Hannah: We find that reaching engineers (our customers) through social media to be very challenging. It seems like many have not adopted the use of popular social networking sites. Can the Conversation Prism be more specifically applied as a road map on how to communicate with engineers?

Brian Solis: It’s true for a lot of B2B companies, and even some B2C companies, it’s just too early. You know they’re going to be there, but why spend the time and resources cultivating a community that isn’t there. Time is finite. Money is finite. You need to focus where attention is focused, and in some cases that is in user groups and forums, and in the Conversation Prism there’s a section for those. There are master search engines in forums and groups that at least show you if anybody is talking about the space or the market. But in all reality, you see a lot of business-to-business companies, and even some on the business-to-consumer side, who are not using social media, are starting to leverage their email and newsletters to promote their presence and to start to attract audiences in order to force them into using specific domains which, in some cases, is working. At the same time it’s like fishing, you don’t necessarily know if you’re in the right spot, or if you’re going to catch anything with the right bait, so sometimes it’s just paying attention to where the early adopters are, and those early adopters are usually in the blogosphere.

Darcy & Hannah: Do you think for things to change, that it’s going to take Generation Y moving into more decision making roles?

Brian Solis: I think so. I think it’s a little bit of many different things, for example, this is not unlike the challenge that the art industry is facing. If you look at the local ballet company in your city, you know they live off of ticket sales and donations. Their whole business infrastructure is around emails, newsletters and events to try get people to donate and attend events, and those who do have generally been an older demographic. The organizations in this industry are freaking out because their target market is getting older, and organizations are saying, “wow, what do we do? We’re losing our source of income.” So, simultaneously they have to create a second augmented strategy to go after the younger individual so that they can start to cultivate their interests in the arts. In this case your hybrid is the blogosphere, because people are being sent links to posts that might be worth their time via email, so you’re still getting eyeballs outside of traditional media into this gray zone that helps people start to figure out what social media is all about. Usually at this level people are connecting through interests, not relationships, and interests would be around whatever industry you’re in. Now the second thing that I’ve learned about what inspires people in this direction is the social object, you have to give them some reason to pay attention, and that social object in many cases is a blog post. Another is video, for instance, a YouTube video is a social object. We did a project with a B2B robotic arm manufacturer whose customers were looking for automation solutions for workflow and work-lines. The company would create these videos to show what the robotic arms were capable of doing in a real life setting, which were just short snippets of things that were remarkable, and they would put them on their YouTube channel. Then, they would optimize the videos for social media with keywords, descriptions and links. More importantly they would take those social objects and reach out to bloggers, not A-list bloggers, but peer engineers that were sharing their thoughts and looking for solutions, and say, “I was reading some of your posts and decided to create this video that we thought addressed XYZ, here you go, feel free to share it if you like.” We would start to see these videos get 70,000 to 80,000 views because bloggers were taking the embed code of the videos and writing a post around it. That got this particular industry and other industries that I’ve done the exact same thing with, moving in the direction of engaging online, and some are still not on things like Twitter, but it got the conversation started.

Darcy & Hannah: On a slightly different note, where do you see social/new media in the future, say five years down the road?

Brian Solis: I realize that I don’t know that I have an answer to this generally or conceptually, and I really try to stop thinking about it that way. I’ll tell you where I am thinking about it though. Five years from now, the way people are connected to one another will change, today it’s about relationships. How you social network today is nothing like how you network in real life. In fact, you as an individual maintain maybe six to ten life groups; there’s your professional group, your family, your tennis club, your church, your best friends, but you don’t network the same way online. In fact, the way you network online today is exactly what we have accused media properties of doing wrong for so many years; broadcasting one to many, to one audience, and that’s exactly how we’re using social networks now. Five years from now, we’ll be far more sophisticated in what we share, where we share it and why we share it. Understanding at some level that this contributes to a digital persona that we will define online intentionally, it’s not what we’re doing today, but a few years from now it will be intentional, and that intentional persona that we create is going to affect us in the real world too. It’s going to have an impact on the way we see ourselves and act. Now on the business side, businesses are also going to mature as they understand the idea of how influence plays a part in information consumption and sharing, and they’re going to, as individuals are, be much more cognoscente about their role in all of this. They have to understand this in order to earn a position of authority, rather than trying to woe people all the time. It’s not scalable that way. You’ve got to make people want to come to you. Those two concepts working together will create a more enriched and complicated experience, but one where we are in control of the findings. That’s what the end goals look like, but I don’t know what that visually looks like five years from now.

Darcy & Hannah: What do you believe will happen to the skeptics of social media who are holding on to the idea that it is a useless trend that will eventually go away?

Brian Solis: The market for skepticism is finite, and one of the reasons I talk about Digital Darwinism quite a bit is in this exact example. The skeptic will become extinct before they ever realize that they were wrong.

Quotes & Summaries

We’d like to thank Solis, for lending us his time and brilliant professional insights. Looking back through the contents of this interview, we’d like to highlight some key takeaways:

  • The Conversation  Prism is a map designed to get you answers by pointing you in the right direction to help you find the what, when, where, how, why and to what extent, but you have to jump on the research road
  • “The answer for B2B is the same as it is for B2C. . .”
  • “I go and research and try and figure out everything I need to know beforehand, and that is the big element that companies are missing in a lot of this. Many are reluctant to study between the lines and do the research.”
  • You can’t just look at the quantitative aspects that come out of your social media efforts, you need to dig deeper and figure out, “What is it that you want to know? What is the outcome? Where is this activity taking place? Who is leading that activity? Who are the influencers? Really, what you do to figure this out is you start to reverse engineer.”
  • “You need to focus where attention is focused”
  • “You need to figure out who the influencers and early adopters are”
  • “The skeptic will become extinct before they ever realize that they were wrong.”

Have you used Brian’s Conversation Prism in a B2B setting? Share with us!

Posted in B2B, Communication, G2G, Social Media, Web 2.0 | No Comments »

Create Your Own Facebook Ad Spam Filter

Posted by Hannah Conrad on 1st February 2011

Are you a B2B employee who hates all those B2C ads on Facebook? Or do you just dislike Facebook Ads in general?

If your answer to either of these questions is, “yes”, we’re here to tell you that you can make some of those annoying Facebook Ads magically disappear. If you answer is “no”, please keep reading because you will learn something that you probably didn’t know about Facebook Ads and how they target you personally.

Some of you may have noticed in Hannah’s bio, in the right hand margin, that she confesses to spending up to an hour clicking on Facebook Ads on her profile to figure out why they are targeting her, and then she enters keywords into her profile in an attempt to capture ads that she’s genuinely attracted to.

We’re here today to teach you how to do this.

Many people hate Facebook Ads. Some have even gone to such lengths to create groups and fan pages to express their feelings.  An “I hate Facebook Ads” search on Facebook brought up pages upon pages of groups to join.

Now let’s all just fess up and admit that no one really like ads. Ok, cool. Now that we all have that off our shoulders, ask yourself, “why is this?” For Hannah, it was because she found most all Facebook Ads to be completely irrelevant to her as an individual.

Hannah has both a professional and personal Facebook account. She has not personalized her professional account as much, so it has some perfect examples of ads that are simply irrelevant. Check out what Hannah has to say about these ads:

(Clockwise starting top left)

Ad #1: First, I’m 22 years old and fresh out of college, and am therefore not in the market to buy a house. Second, I don’t live in Irvine.

Ad #2: Diapers? Infant formula? Last time I checked, I don’t have a baby.

Ad #3: Some of you may disagree with this one, but I already have enough problems controlling my sweet intake by just opening my fridge, please don’t tempt me online.

Ad #4: ……..I’ll pass.

Now, before we show you ads from Hannah’s personal Facebook account, allow us teach you how to get ads with content that you might actually be interested in.

  1. Go to your Facebook profile
  2. Click on the “Info” section of your profile
  3. Scroll down until you reach your “Activities and Interests” and click “Edit”
  4. Go down to “Interests”
  5. Start typing in any interest you have, and we mean ANY: Running, Electronics, Gadgets, Engineering, Microchips, My Children, Traveling, American Airlines, Chinese Food, etc.
  6. From the drop-down menu that appears, select an interest  (the first one is usually the best)
  7. Repeat until every single one of your interests has been entered
  8. Click “Save Changes”

So what did all that just get you? When a company creates a Facebook Ad, they enter a set of interests and keywords that they think their target audience will have. Now that you have entered your own set of interests, Facebook will display ads that are more aligned with your interests. In a couple of days, you will start noticing ads related to the interests you just added.

Hannah’s interest list on Facebook use to be small. She had “Tap Dancing”, “The Beach” and a couple of other things.  But once she learned how Facebook ads work, she started entering in interests that may seem odd to some, such as “Sweatshirts”, “Shoes”, “Purses”, etc., but these are things that Hannah is actually interested in buying. She enjoys the ads that tell her about a new clothing boutique or that advertise a 20% off coupon for a trendy purse.

Let‘s use Hannah’s personal Facebook page to demonstrate this:

Of course you will still get some ads that don’t interest you, but you can do something to even further minimize the amount of these ads.

You’ll notice in the corner of each Facebook Ad, a little “X”. When you click the “X”, this comes up:

It’s probably best to choose “Uninteresting” or  “Other”. Once you make your selection, you’ll see this:

Did you read that last sentence? You can teach Facebook what you like and what you don’t like.

Pretty cool eh?

Are advertisers going to be mad at us us for teaching you the secrets to Facebook Ads? Absolutely not. In fact they should be thanking us, because if more people expand their interests section on their Facebook, advertisers will be able to target more people and receive more clicks. And what does that get you? Perhaps 20% off that little (or big) something that you’ve been wanting ;-)

Posted in Social Media, Web 2.0 | No Comments »