Please Vote! The Ants are Marching to SXSW Interactive 2013

My colleagues at Ant’s Eye View have submitted more sessions than ever before and we need your support to be selected to present at SXSW Interactive 2013. With over 3,000 sessions submitted for all of SXSW this year, the competition is stiff, so your votes of Thumbs Up and Comments on our Session Abstracts in the SXSW Panel Picker can help make the difference on whether the social sessions submitted by Ants will make the cut.

Here’s the Ant Lineup, many of them back by popular demand from this year’s SXSW Interactive:

1. Mosh Pit of Experts: The Future of Social featuring SVP, Sean McDonald
Description: Enough of the pontificating panel! In a rapid and fast paced (gameshow-like) session, we put the audience (that means YOU) in the hot seat as the expert on the future of social. How will social integrate into functional responsibilities? What kind of tools will need to evolve? How will the big players in the industry evolve? Where will innovation come from? We’ve done this before and the insights from brands, agencies, and consultants are fascinating. You will be cheered and revered by your fellow audience members (or not). Fun and insightful, this session promises more help in preparing for the future of social than anything in your future!

2. Two Weeks At A Time: A Marketing Transformation featuring SVP, Todd Shimizu
Description: Today’s marketer must challenge the status quo of campaign marketing. Digital storytelling and social engagement have turned marketing on its head and present incredible opportunities for innovation and creativity. This new energy is unleashing a transformation across marketing; marketers are starting to attack problems and measure their successes, literally, two weeks at a time with Agile Marketing. And in doing, they’re improving their velocity, precision, flexibility, and team morale. We will show how Agile development enables organizations “to build an uncertain product, for an uncertain customer, in an uncertain market.” For example, Cisco saw their first agile project deliver a comprehensive mobile advertising dashboard in one 2 week sprint, after months of inertia previously. Discover how Agile can be your blueprint for marketing transformation.

3. Social Media Against Humanity featuring Vice-President, Christopher Carfi
Description: Social Media Against Humanity is a celebration of remix culture, social media, snark and slightly embarrassed self-loathing. We’ve remixed the social card game Cards Against Humanity (CAH), adding SXSW and social media elements. After a brief setup and explanation, all participants in the session will compete in a competition bracket of four 15-minute rounds of the SXSW-remixed version of the CAH card game. Based on the number of participants in the session, we will break into groups and each group will play a round of CAH. The winners from each group will move on to the next round, and we will repeat this process until a winner is chosen. Participants who are eliminated in the early rounds will be encouraged to watch, mock and heckle those still in the game.*

(* footnote: This session is not associated with Cards Against Humanity LLC, and we are using the CAH concept under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. You can learn more about the source material at http://cardsagainsthumanity.com)

4. Tricks of the Trade: Grow Unity in Your Community featuring Director, Kat Mandelstein
Description: Community management is an art, not a science. To a degree, there is really no program out there to help you adequately learn all of the skills needed. Successful community leaders are part therapist, part den mother, part coach, part referee. But at the end of the day, running a thriving online community is not about U! For a community to grow and thrive, it is all about activating and strengthening the unity of the community members. When you get the culture right, it is truly magical. Learn from a panel who has been perfecting this craft for years in some of the most successful B-to-C, B-to-B and non-profit organizations. And because community is all about collaboration, we invite you to contribute your best practices and biggest challenges during the open mic jam at the end of this session. We promise, this is one session that you won’t leave empty handed. All attendees in this session will receive their very own Community Management Bag-o-tricks.

5. Now or Never: Leading “Social” Business Change featuring Sr. Consultant,Anthony Garcia 
Description: This moderated session will showcase three large enterprise companies – IBM, Walmart Canada, and 3M, all of which are embarking on real social business transformations. These world-class brands offer you an up close and personal view from the frontlines of driving an internal culture of social across multiple geographies, business units, and functional areas. It’s NOW or NEVER for you to go out and LEAD that change. Our panel of practitioners will share how they are integrating social into their brands, processes, and daily behavior. They will attest to the bumps and bruises along the way, and share some of the secret sauce. How can you overcome resistance? What’s the most effective way to align your leadership to an internal social program? How do you measure the impact of being social on your business? Listen and discuss with our panel as they share how becoming a social business engages employees to be productive, collaborative and smarter inside the enterprise.

6. Hey Nonprofits, You Better Innovate or Die! featuring Sr. Consultant, David J. Neff
Description: Welcome to the new normal: Soft global economics and increased needs. Demand has never outpaced supply on such a scale in the nonprofit community. It is time for a renaissance fueled by a culture of innovation driven by nonprofit leadership. Innovation in Technology shall become the new culture, mantra, and driving force in the coming decades. So where do you begin? Join us for a panel conversation with leading innovation advocates and nonprofit leaders who will share technical details on building a culture of innovation, and reaping the rewards. Hear case examples of how to find innovative ideas, develop them, and maximize the value of every employee … before it is too late!

7. Meetup: Social Scientists Unite! featuring Sr. Consultant, Sam Eder
Description: Social scientist of SXSW Interactive unite! As digital interactions start to challenge the primacy of traditional activities such as shopping, chatting with friends, and working businesses have increasingly turned to social scientists to understand current and future behavior on the web. This meet up is for practitioners, academics, and aficionados of the social sciences in how it applies to those digital interactions. Let’s discuss the current role of social science in digital, share best practices, and findings of interest.

Thanks in advance for your support!

A question of intent

 

The concepts behind Facebook’s rumored “WANT” button are rooted in the idea of the “intention economy” and are generalizable beyond the Facebook ecosystem. Both customers and enterprises, using today’s existing infrastructure and conventions, can create and listen for intention signals using open, lightweight mechanisms, with customers creating those signals and enterprises listening for them. The approach described here outlines one such mechanism.

The Facebook “WANT” button is the canary in the coal mine for the “intention economy”

On June 27, 2012, blogger Tom Waddington discovered that Facebook had included the ability to create a “WANT” button in its software development kit (SDK). According to reports from Waddington, as well as others including Inside Facebook, Gizmodo, VentureBeat and Mashable, the button will be a way for individuals to indicate their desire to purchase a product.

Inside Facebook had the following to say:

“Just as the Like button allowed Facebook to collect massive amounts of data about users’ interests, the Want button could be a key way for the social network to collect desire-based data. A Want button plugin will make it easy for e-commerce and other sites to implement this type of Facebook functionality without having to build their own apps.”

The fact that Facebook may be testing the “WANT” button is the clearest indication to date that we are on the path to the “intention economy.” Doc Searls has described the intention economy as “an economy driven by consumer intent, where vendors must respond to the actual intentions of customers.” Others, such as John Hagel, have stated that this thinking around the intention economy “is a graphic demonstration of the shift from push to pull that is disrupting our business world.

The “WANT” button, however, is hobbled by the fact that it only works in the Facebook ecosystem and, more importantly, appears as if it’s going to require a non-trivial bit of work to implement. Additionally, the “WANT” button is 100% driven by vendors who are selling items – if the vendor hasn’t indicated through a bit of arcane code that the “WANT” button is available for an item, the button will not appear. There is no way for an individual to initiate the conversation around desire for an arbitrary product or service.

Although definitely a step in the right direction, indicating interest through the proprietary “WANT” button within Facebook is a relatively coarse-grained way for a customer to signal intent.

Internet culture has already created conventions for signaling

That said, there are other pieces of the intention puzzle already in place that can be used. The expression of intention is, at its core, a signal. For the past few decades in particular, however, most of the “signaling” between vendors and customers has come from the vendor in the form of advertising, PR and the like. (In fact, one could argue that the whole discipline around creating “messaging platforms” for large enterprises is, at its core, an attempt to create clear, differentiated signals from the vendor side.) However, as more customer-driven publishing and communication methods have been created, first with blogs and more recently with customer-created conventions on top of proprietary platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, individuals have started to introduce their own signaling mechanisms into the fray. Here are two examples:

The hashtag (#) is a signal of topic, organization or keyword. For instance, including a hashtag of #bacon in a post or tweet makes it easy to search for posts that are about bacon.

In the example above, the #bacon hashtag makes it easy to find this post.

The interesting thing about the hashtag construct is that is was created organically. It wasn’t created by a committee, it wasn’t designed by an organization, it wasn’t created as part of a marketing campaign. The hashtag was simply proposed by Chris Messina (@chrismessina) in a single tweet in 2007 as a way to easily find related conversations about BarCamp that were happening online at that time.

You can learn more about the history of the hashtag here.

Since then, the humble hashtag has become the de facto signal that the text that follows it is related to a topic or is a concept of importance to the author of that post. In contrast to the “WANT” button, which needs to be supported by Facebook and explicitly supported by the vendors of products or services that a customer might “want,” it’s important to note that there is no central organization that creates or approves hashtags. Hashtags follow the “NEA” protocol of the open internet:

  • Nobody owns them
  • Everybody can use them, and
  • Anybody can improve them

The NEA concept is important. If something conforms to NEA, it can scale, grow, evolve and morph as a market evolves, without constraint. This enables the possibility of a very fast, very efficient process of innovation and improvement.

If the hashtag is a signal of topic and organization, then the at-reply (@reply) is the de facto signal of social connection. The at-reply convention has evolved to signal that the message contains information that is of particular interest to a particular individual or entity.

Lou really, really loves Zappos and wants to make sure that Zappos knows it.

Like the hashtag, the concept of an “at-reply” evolved organically, though a conversation of individuals on Twitter. You can learn more about the history of the at-reply here.

Sometimes these conventions get combined. For example, Micah Baldwin (@micah) proposed the concept of a “Follow Friday” online event, when he sent a tweet and named a number of individuals with the at-reply notation. In doing so, he started a ritual that many people invoke every week on Friday. Now, every week tens or hundreds of thousands of people recommend others in their networks as individuals who are worthwhile to follow on the Twitter service using the #followfriday and #ff hashtags coupled with those individuals’ Twitter handles.

Although both the hashtag and at-reply conventions were initially invoked on Twitter, they are concepts that are platform agnostic at their core. Since then, both concepts have jumped to other platforms including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+, underlining the fact that useful, simple solutions to individuals’ needs are not constrained to any one technology silo.

A question of intent

In the same way that the hashtag is a signal of organization and the at-reply is a signal of connection, the question mark (?) could be a signal of intent. For example, including ?rentalcar in a post could indicate that the poster has intent to procure a rental car, the inclusion of ?flight could indicate that the poster is looking for airfares for an upcoming trip, and so forth.

The first example of this I’ve seen in the wild occurred earlier this week.

For vendors, this approach triggers a number of things, the first of which is that it turns on a lead-generation mechanism with extremely high fidelity. If an individual has explicitly stated intent via this mechanism, that individual is the hottest possible prospect. This mechanism is beacon to vendors: “Here is a customer who wants to buy what you’re selling.”

Organizations are already using tools such as Radian6, Sysomos, Attensity, and even free tools such as Tweetdeck and basic Twitter search to seek out individuals who are mentioning their brands. The extension of those listening efforts to additionally listen for intent signals of this type are nominal. (Listening tools like NeedTagger are already starting to move in this direction.) From the customer’s side, there is a similarly minimal learning curve required. Anyone can state intent in this manner using existing tools in a matter of moments.

We saw that explicit technical support for concepts such as the hashtag and at-reply did, after a period of time, eventually become a part of the systems upon which they were built. It is a similarly straightforward effort for platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to support this question mark based notation for intent. In doing so, those platforms would be also able to generate highly valuable trend information on the types of intention signals that are “trending” across various geographies and demographics, in the same way that Twitter and Google+ today highlight trending topics within their services based on the frequency of use of particular hashtags.

A statement of permission

There’s a flip side to this idea of unambiguously indicating intent with a statement such as ?flight. By explicitly indicating intent, an individual is indicating interest and is also explicitly giving permission for vendors to contact them. This is the grail for marketers. In the current state of affairs, there is still a huge differential between what vendors, advertisers and publishers of information believe that a particular individual is interested in, and the actual reality of the situation. We’ve all received “targeted” ads on social platforms that are so off the mark to be laughable. With clear intention signals, however, that guesswork is reduced to near-zero; the interaction is all signal and no noise. (Huge kudos to @lisastone for this insight on how the flip side of intention is permission.)

So…what do folks think about using the ? as an indicator of intent, in the same way that we’ve used other signaling mechanisms as noted above?

The Social Engagement Journey presentation and webinar on Tuesday

Looking forward to working with the Future of Talent Institute on a webinar tomorrow on the Social Engagement Journey at 10am PT on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012. If you’re interested in attending, here is the teaser and here is the link to sign up for the webinar.

“Social business” isn’t something that happens overnight. It requires fundamental change and discipline to transform from a traditional enterprise to one that is fully engaged with its customers, partners, and employees. This conversation about the social engagement journey illustrates how leading enterprises are combining social business strategy with pragmatic tactics to engage and achieve measurable results.

Embedded below is the conversation we’ll be going through, based on the phenomenal work that the Ant’s Eye View team has done over the last three years.

Really looking forward to it! Here’s the link to attend the webinar.

Wendell Berry – The Real Work

Wendell Berry – The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

(via Jerry Michalski)

Most customer service tweets still go unanswered

Some good data and info from the folks over at CRM Magazine on how brands are starting to integrate social customer support workflows into their processes. Here’s the link: Most Customer Service Tweets Go Unanswered

The problem is that a majority of companies are still letting these opportunities fall on the floor.

In total, the study involved 1,125 tweets delivered between April 1 and May 15 to the following retailers: Amazon.com, Zappos.com, Staples, Dell, Office Depot, Wal-Mart Stores, Sears Holdings, QVC, Office Max, Best Buy, Newegg, Sony, Costco Wholesale, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret Direct, Hewlett-Packard, J.C. Penney, L.L. Bean, Target, Systemax (TigerDirect.com), Gap, Williams-Sonoma, HSN, Overstock.com, and Toys ‘R’ Us.

All told, among the top 25 retailers, an average of only 44 percent of customer tweets were answered at all.

However, a number of companies are starting to get it. On the good side, the article does note:

Of all those companies, Zappos and L.L. Bean—replied to every single tweet within 24 hours. Rounding out the top five most reliable Twitter performers were Overstock.com (replying to 98 percent of all tweets within 24 hours), Dell (98 percent), and Best Buy (89 percent).

It’s no game…

 

This one should be a lot of fun. Sean O’Driscoll will be presenting with the folks over at Badgeville on the topic of engagement and gameification in a webinar on April 25th at 10:30 PT. (Register here.) The quick agenda:

  • How to use the Journey to the Engaged Enterprise as a benchmark for your external and internal social engagement plans
  • Critical milestones at each stage of the Journey, and common obstacles that can prevent you from reaching them
  • Why the principles of Badgeville’s Behavior Platform are critical to driving the kind of successful, sustainable customer and employee activities that will help you evolve into a Fully Engaged Enterprise.

The Social Engagement Journey event, April 23

 

REGISTER NOW

Sean O’Driscoll, our fearless leader at Ant’s Eye View, is keynoting an event next Monday here in the Bay Area. Here’s the description:

“Becoming a fully engaged enterprise in today’s social world isn’t about creating a “social media strategy.” It is a journey defined by stages of operational maturity, milestones, and ultimately, a destination. The successful journey requires practitioner experience, pragmatism – and perseverance. But the payoff is immense. The fully engaged enterprise discovers on this journey that customers again trust them, recommend them, and equip them with new insights. Connected and impassioned employees in the fully engaged enterprise lead and foster the online conversation and attract the industry’s best talent. Companies willing to embark on this transformative journey can, and will, re-emerge as powerful connected brands.”

The event will be at EMC’s campus in Santa Clara. Hope to see you there! Details are here:

REGISTER NOW

The Social Journey
2831 Mission College Blvd
Santa Clara, CA, 95051
April 23, 2012
5:30-8:00 PST

	

The Hunger Peeps

 

Katniss Everpeep volunteers as tribute.

 

Katniss Everpeep startles the judges.

 

Katniss Everpeep cuts down a Tracker Jacker nest.

 

Katniss Everpeep destroys the supply pile.

 

Katniss Everpeep avenges Rue.

 

Katniss Everpeep buries Rue in flowers.

 

Katniss Everpeep and Peepa are crowned victorious.

 

No, you can’t control your own data, says the travel industry

 

A big thanks to Jennifer Cobb for the link to this New York Times article entitled “Swatting Down Startups That Help Consumers.” The gist is that there are a raft of startups that act on the behalf of customers in interacting with big brands (These kinds of services can be thought of as “fourth party” services.) Some examples:

  • Customer-benefitting booking engines for car rentals
  • Airline milage program points aggregators (think Mint.com, but for points)
  • Airline seat watchers that automatically rebook you to a better seat when one opens up

A number of brands (American, Soutthwest, Hertz, etc.) have acted in ways to restrict the ability for customers to use these services to attempt to improve their travel experience.

The linked article above is worth a read.

image: NYTimes