Social Media Jungle Boston; A Snapshot

I had the pleasure today of attending Jeff Pulver’s Social Media Jungle in Boston (ok, Waltham, MA) today. First, the format worked out really well– a number of speakers, many volunteers, had a mere twenty minutes each to present. While that sounds like a short time to many veteran conference-goers, it is plenty to get a general point across, and really kept things lively. I thought a somewhat similar format worked well at the recent New Marketing Summit in Foxboro, MA.

Here are my scant impressions of the talks, from my point-of-view as a public relations and communications professional. These are my thoughts on what was said, not necessarily what the speakers actually meant (and I don;t quite cover all of the sessions). I was too tired/sick today to divine all that good brain juice. Feel free to weigh in with your version of events:

Jeff Pulver – “ Sometimes You Need to be Vulnerable”

Jeff told stories I heard him relate before about how he got into ham radio as a lonely youth, and how social media is helping make him- and us- similar connections. Since trading in his VoIP-world preeminence (has he? Jeff?) to concentrate on social media, he has really opened up in a way i wouldn’t have expected based on what I knew about him from afar 10 years ago. I often wonder- and did out loud today– if people realize the extent of Jeff’s prior contributions to the voice communications industry:

C.C. Chapman, The Advance Guard – “It Isn’t a Numbers Game. The Human Side of Social Media”

C.C. told of a Harvard student who asked him what his social media “followers strategy” was. That tells me that some folks have a long ways to go (was that Harvard Business School class, C.C.? Do we need to go Gillooly a whole cohort to set them straight?). Bottom line? High numbers are great, but are not a guarantee of results. Of course, the next question is, how do you measure quantity? I’m sure the Harvard students thought of that, and as a long-time PR practitioner I can tell you the answer is, “what’s your answer?”

CC Chapman at Social Media Jungle Boston 03-10-09

(By the way: this to my mind is the best way to represent C.C. in this photo array- plus the day was full of people taking pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures…)

Richard Dale of Sigma Partners – “Twitter as the universal Information Stream: What if the Twitter Stream Told us Every Time a Can of Soda is Sold?”

My gut answer? I think poor Oedipus would have had a new reason to claw out his eyes. But really, the wealth of data an automatic Twitter stream can provide for soda sales, or medicinal prescriptions (not attached to patient names of course) would be gold for people trying to find economic and other trends. Would you sign up for such a Twitter stream? I wouldn’t, but I might search it out. Would such a data stream have to be on Twitter? No, but Twitter is there- and it’s free.

Richard Dale at Social Media Jungle Boston 03-10-09

Joe Cascio – “The Compuserve Era of Social Media – When and How Will it End?”

Remember the Compuserve service? You would sign up, pay a fee, and communicate via “email” through their closed system, a precursor to AOL. I used to sell Compuserve kits in the 1980s. Memories…

Well, Joe likens current social media, with communications largely staying on their own separate platforms, to the Compuserve era of email. My question: rather than a completely open platform where everything is everywhere; Twitter, Facebook, etc. etc. etc., won’t we want to keep some separation of platforms to retain some control over our segmented worlds? Does the social net need to standardize like email did? After all, voice communications remains largely on a different platform (telephone). Just a thought.

Joe Cascio at Social Media Jungle Boston 03-10-09

Laura Fitton, Pistachio Consulting – “Social Media for Social Good”

She went over some recent happenings, such as WellWishes, Twestival, and Social Media for Social Change, as well as the Pink Slip Parties.

My biggest takeaway? “The influencers are not the people but the ideas.”

Laura Fitton at Social Media Jungle Boston 03-10-09

Steve Garfield – “New Media Tools You Can Use to Tell Your Story RIGHT NOW!”

Matthew Mamet, PermissionTV– “Using online video to strengthen your relationship with your online community.”

I group these together because I came away with one similar takeaway; a reinforcement of the idea that video does not need to be over-produced or over-polished, but you do need to take advantage of the simple tools and do it if it will help your marketing. “Just Do It,” right? That’s my attitude toward getting started in content creation.

Steve Garfield at Social Media Jungle Boston 03-10-09

Matt Mamet at Social Media Jungle Boston 03-10-09

Justin Levy, New Marketing Labs – “ How Small Business can use Inbound Marketing/Social Media to Help Increase Their Business”

Justin talked about how social media helps his restaurant business do effective low-cost marketing, and most helpfully espoused his HELP acronym: “Hustle, Engagement, Learning and Passion.” Being helpful myself, I added “Savvy” to the mix and rearranged the letters to spell SHLEP.

Justin Levy at Social Media Jungle Boston 03-10-09

Christopher Penn, Financial Aid Podcast (Student Loan Network) – “It IS a Numbers Game – Thinking About What Numbers Actually Matter”

Christopher always cuts to the point, and likes to kick his audience in the pants. If you don;t know what metrics are important to you, find out why you are still in business. How? Verbs. Verbs are actions. Actions reveal the results you want– there are your numbers, go get ’em.)

Chris Makes His Point
(Photo by C.C. Chapman)

Stephen Dill – “Social Media Lessons Learned: From the Perspective of a Skeptical Online Marketer”

The main lesson Stephen imparted? Own your Google results. In particular (but not solely), he demonstrated how effective Twitter is at generating Google results, by (and I am flattered) bringing up my user name, “DougH,” as an example, along with Laura Fitton’s “Pistachio,” two common words that we own on Google thanks to Twitter.

Stephen R. Dill at Social Media Jungle Boston 03-10-09

Leslie Poston -”Bringing Generations Together For Success In The New Millennium”

Leslie brought up her unique perspective on bridging generational divides in the workspace, and marketing, by understanding the differences, such as those between her and her 12-years-different colleague. Always good to be reminded of these differences.

Leslie Poston at Social Media Jungle Boston 03-10-09

Alexa Scordato and Maria Thurrell – “Social Media: Make New Friends but Keep the Old Ones.”

These two shared the story of how they met (“The ROI of an Email”) and became friends through, well, a good pitch by Alexa- and how Alexa found her job through social media (Twitter, actually- hey, that’s how I found my current job as well).

Alexa Scordato and Maria Thurrell at Social Media Jungle Boston 03-10-09

Mike Langford – “The Evolution of Conversation”

OK, I’ll admit that by this time I was, to paraphrase Joe Cascio, “all out of Schlitz.” But I do recall Mike making a great point: social media is dominated by young(ish) educated white people– what happens when “everyone else” comes in?

I think “everyone else” is already a lot of people– we social media bubble people tend to stick to our own kind, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There is more “mainstreaming” of social media to come, and I am looking forward to see how that forms up.
Mike Langford at Social Media Jungle Boston 03-10-09

Thanks again to Jeff Pulver for putting on a great event, and to Intuit for hosting!

Resource: Twitter Search for “#smjbos” hashtag

UPDATE: For more wrapup posts, see Jeff Pulver’s post here.

Blog readers: I am riding the Pan-Mass Challenge this summer, a 2-day bicycle trek across Massachusetts to raise money for the Jimmy Fund in support of cancer research. Will you join the generous folks who have sponsored my ride? Click any part of this message to go to my fundraising page– and thank you!

Social Media Top 5: Obama Interactive-ish, Twitter Grump & Friends Get Ink

Maybe This is More Important Than Having a Blogging President: President Obama responding directly to New York Times columnist David Brooks’ criticisms, in a direct, thoughtful and – most importantly- winning way. That’s open two-way communications. Is the administration still at arms-length with the blogging world? Yes (see the last two paragraphs of this article; “social media president?” Not in this sense); but in form, it seems he understands that two-way communications are important, even from the highest office.

You Kids and Your Twitters: Esteemed columnist for The Miami Herald, Leonard Pitts, writes about how he is annoyed with Twitter and he will never do it. Gosh, I would never believe that anyone who would write such a grumpy post about how Twitter is so stupid would ever become a regular user of the service. In my latest monthly column for Media Bullseye, I declare that Pitts will join Twitter, despite himself.

Lawyers in Love (with Social Media): A good, and as expected, thorough and reasoned article in the National Law Journal about lawyers and social media. The fact is, many lawyers are blogging and participating on other social networks already. Start with the Lexblog network to see what’s out there, and then Google yourself silly. Lawyers may be better known (unfairly?) for throwing obstacles into corporate social media plans, but many of them have social media chops (just ask my Twittering buddy David Austin).

Etiquette 2.0: The best part of following the writing of B.L. Ochman is I never have to write posts sounding off about bad manners and other behaviors on the social web. I can just link to one of her posts. Lots of good stuff there, but the admonition not to send constant messages via Facebook, etc. had a funny coda; “You’re not that interesting.” While I counsel people to believe in their own interestingness, let’s remember this before we bombard people with direct messages of any sort.

Friends Getting Ink (gratuitous Boston social media name-dropping alert): As I finally get to the Sunday Boston Globe this afternoon, I was surprised to find my friend C.C. Chapman right on page one in a story called the “Loss Generation.” C.C. was none too pleased with how the story came out. that’s an old complaint from people interviewed for print stories that take a slant they didn’t expect. The “Read/Write” nature of the blogging web allows us to reshape these stories after thy are published- something not so easy with the Globe stories even now, but something we will see more and more of.

Meanwhile, in the Business section of the same paper, another of my social media buddies,Chris Brogan, was quoted in an article on Twitter (yes, Twitter again). Where was my favorite pal and Twitter maven Laura Fitton? Too busy getting quoted in Forbes and US News & World Report, I guess.

Uttercast: The Web Site Gave Me the Skittles


There has been plenty of back-and-forth on both sides of opinion about the new In short, they replaced the home page with redirects to live social media sites optimized for Skittles. I don’t care if they broke any unwritten social media "rules;" there are none, and the Mars company can do what it wants.

– Is it a "bold experiment?" Sure, a lower-tier brand can take the risk. You won’t see this on the main M&Ms site.

– Is it content theft? I doubt it. But rather than participating fully in these outside domains (not that they aren’t) or building their own community, they just linked out.

– Is it confusing to visitors? No, it’s absolutely bewildering. I had such a visceral reaction to the site I actually got angry. I know all these social media sites, but l can’t figure out what to do there, and can’t easily find the info I look for in a product site. How did my 11 year-old son, a big Skittles fan, react to the site? He shrugged.

Anyone want a peppermint?

Mobile post sent by DougH using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3

Blog readers: I am riding the Pan-Mass Challenge this summer, a 2-day bicycle trek across Massachusetts to raise money for the Jimmy Fund in support of cancer research. Will you join the generous folks who have sponsored my ride? Click any part of this message to go to my fundraising page– and thank you!

Pan-Mass Challenge Update: Fundraising, and What You Can Do

As February has come to a close, I would like to update on my progress in training and fundraising for the Pan-Mass Challenge.

As for fundraising, thanks to an increasing number of you, I reached a total of $585 towards my $4,200 goal, or 14%. That’s quite a ways ahead of last year, where I stood at $375, or 10% of last year’s goal. This is remarkable, considering the state of the economy.

What Can You Do?
I am not shy about asking you to donate as a sponsor for my ride. This link will take you straight to my donation page. Any help of any amount is appreciated, and 100% of your donations go to the Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston.

But I am also sensitive to the fact that more people who might normally want to cannot give money this year. What I would ask of any of you in that situation is to pass my PMC profile link to five (or more) of your friends. The profile page tells a bit about the PMC and why I am doing it.

Here is the URL, spelled out for easy cut-and-paste:

One thing my involvement in social media has shown me is the ability for connections to multiply, and for people to do good things for each other. There is a reason I raised almost all of my sponsorships through social networks last year, and expect a similar thing to happen this year.

I would like to single out my friend and former colleague Allison Yochim, who with a single message to her mother unleashed a network of her mother’s friends in Illinois, who have already begun to sponsor me. Amazing!

I would also like to single out for thanks my friend Liz Page, who has kindly let me crash her spinning classes, and is offering further advice to get me into real cycling shape. I have mentioned that before, and how her spinning classes have totally kicked my butt to get me ready for the grueling two-day PMC ride in August.

It is selfless people, giving in ways beyond merely sponsoring, that have made participating in an event like the Pan-Mass Challenge a real community effort.

One other way to help; the Pan-Mass Challenge is now accepting sign-ups for volunteers. Last year, nearly 3,000 volunteers made the PMC go smoothly, from registration, to food and water stops, to moving luggage and fixing bikes. The event doesn’t happen without these folks, and I can tell you the cyclists and organizers show their appreciation, every step (pedal?) of the way. New volunteer applications are being taken March 17. More information at the official PMC blog.

PMC 2008: Day 1 Water Stop

Now if this snow will only stop, maybe I can actually get out and train on my new bike!

One last time for good luck: a link to my PMC fundraising page– and however you show your support, thank you!

Social Media Top 5; Rocky Mountain Low, Loic’s Nuclear Option, and What Beats Who

A Newspaper Goes Dark, with Dignity (?): The Rocky Mountain News produced its last edition Friday, after the sudden announcement that it would do so after the Scripps company was unable to find a buyer. Is this the beginning of the real end for print newspapers? I’ll defer to true experts in the field, but it feels like we’ll see more recognizable papers go the way of the Dodo before the stronger brands and businesses figure out the new reality for the new media.

I should mention I am a bit of a partisan, as I and my agency (SHIFT Communications) represent The Christian Science Monitor in communicating its transition from a daily print to a Web-first news publication with a new significant weekly print edition (coming in April, stay tuned). The Monitor is uniquely positioned to try something new like this where other organizations may be afraid or unable to make a similar leap, and it will be interesting to see how it is received once it actually happens and we see the weekly print rolling out.

Back to the “Rocky;” see the photo slide show at the Rocky home page; it is heartbreaking yet fascinating. Also, this 20-minute documentary is a remarkable look into the announcement and the surrounding events and feelings (hat-tip to ReadWriteWeb, where I saw it).

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

One other thing to add. Aside from being a publicist now, I was a producer for The Monitor’s “Monitor Radio” operation from 1994 until it was shut down in 1997. The Rocky’s shutdown brought back a lot of memories of our last days at Monitor Radio – though it was a far less bitter ending, we did have a similar sense of family and pride in our work as the last days, and our last programs, approached. I hesitate to bring this up as I do not want to get my experiences caught up in negative associations, but I do have a real sense of empathy with the Rocky’s staff. While I’m at it, here’s a picture of the final day at Monitor Radio in 1997, courtesy of colleague and Facebook buddy Mike Wilkins:


Re-Thinking “Followers on Social Networks: Loic Lemeur, the entrepreneur behind Seesmic and Twhirl, generated a lot of discussion when he decided that following thousands on Twitter was “fake following,” and nuked his whole following on the message/social network service, building up a more intimate followers list from scratch. This is in opposition to Robert Scoble, who has no problem following back tens of thousands of people who friend him on Twitter. Is that “fake following?” I agree with Scoble and others that following everyone back is a courtesy, and that it entails no obligation to intimately know someone within the network. It’s impossible, and we (and a growing number of tools) have ways to group and track the small number of folks we actually do want to know more closely. Loc, how about this? Build some really cool grouping functions into your Twhirl tool. I’m not nuking the people I follow just prove a point.

Twitter “mainstream?”
No, still not yet, but as I have called Facebook mainstream and Twitter not in recent posts, it’s worth calling out an entertaining piece on ABC’s Nightline (no embed code– cowards), not to mention their use of Twitter during President Obama’s first address to Congress, and a much more staid piece from The Financial Times as proof that Twitter is becoming closer to being a household word. When Twitter is mentioned at all parties the way Facebook is, then it’s mainstream. Soon, I am sure.

Senator Roland Burris’ PR Guy Deflects Blame: Every family tree has a crazy branch and in public relations we have our friends the political flacks. I clip stories like these to call up whenever I think I might be tempted to do PR for politicians.

Is It What You Know or Who You Know?
What! What! What! I am firmly aginst the notion of “Rolodex PR,” though I suppose it works in some strains of the profession. As kevin Dugan quoted it in his post:

“A personal relationship will not get you coverage of a bad pitch. A good pitch will get you coverage even with a bad relationship.”

Give me a good storyteller over a backslapping jackass any day- though it’s ok to be both.