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Facebook Advertising announcement – a few first thoughts…

Where to begin – the idea of Social Ads is a really interesting announcement by Facebook.  I guess Zuckerberg is as big a fan (or bigger) than me of the notion of Word of Mouth as the power tool in driving influence in the marketplace.  It’s been no big secret something significant was in the works to attempt to monetize the network effect and relationships across Facebook.  From a business, social and personal standpoint this is going to be really fascinating to watch.  Will it work?  I think it will, but there is a lot here to consider – here are some random thoughts about this as first impressions:

  • The Social Graph – without re-debating the concept, what is interesting to me about the social graph is researching the meta-data associated with the relationships between people in a network.  Add to that, mapping out a persona model in the network to identify conversation starters, stoppers, branchers, trolls, accelerators, inactives, etc.  Instantiating social ads on top of the network will be a very interesting way to study this meta-data and further develop the concept of social network personas.  From a business and academic standpoint this would greatly enlighten the approach to defining and executing on influencer programs.
  • Influencer effect – If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know I’m a strong advocate of the importance of influencer participation in innovation and brand advocacy.  Next week, I’ll be talking more about this at the WOMMA Summit in Vegas and co-chairing a WOMMA council focused on Influencers.  I’m a strong believer that real influencers are peer users, vs the spokesperson model.  Celebrities and athletes can drive brand awareness, but they don’t necessarily lead to brand purchase.  You see this transformation already taking place in the media.  Apple’s recent man on the street advertising is a great example of this.  And perhaps the mother of big endorsement deal makers, Nike, recently announced changes focused on adding more “authentic” influencers.
  • Privacy – This is the potential deal breaker here.  How much are people willing to share about buying behaviors for use as “food” for social ads.  Do I really want people to know what I’m buying.  Some things I research a lot before I buy and I would feel good about sharing the decision – other things I don’t and wouldn’t want to be seen endorsing.  Take the Travelocity example in the announcement.  Get real, I’m not endorsing Travelocity when I book a trip – I shop the big 3 online services and buy the cheapest.  Worse yet, maybe I don’t want everyone in my network to know I’m traveling!  Hey everyone, my house is empty!!  This will be great someday when I have teenagers and all their friends figure out when I’m out of town – party time!
  • Friend taxonomy – I blogged on this before and it relates heavily to the issue of privacy.  The fact that today all Facebook friends in my network are treated equally by the network is a usability issue I want solved.  The arrival of social ads makes resolving this even more important to me as a user.  I’m less likely to approve of using my data until I have greater control of my network. 
  • Influencer, stalker, voyeur – I couldn’t help but having this thought in a world where so much data is moving around about not just my network, but my patterns and behaviors.  Is this about the influencer effect or enabling digital stalking / voyeurism.  It just felt a little dirty.  That said, I have to admit I am interested in what my network is buying!!  I do want to know and I feel very certain that knowing what my network is buying will drive my buying patters.  Ack – personal conflict – let’s see how this plays out.
  • Personal Brand – As a blogger, tweeter, social bookmarker, facebook-er, linkedin-er user, etc, etc, etc…I can’t help but be a little focused on thinking about managing my personal brand online.  I’m not sure I want to dilute (or disrupt) my personal brand with advertising in this way or create implied affiliations with a brand.  This inherently feels like risk vs reward.

Ok, so there’s a first take.  Now I need to go read what others are saying.



November 7, 2007 at 11:24 am 5 comments

Announcement: may go offline temporarily…

Just an FYI that I’ve been going through a re-design of my blog.  As I transition over the next few days, this blog url may experience some failures.  If you want uninterrupted access or just can’t wait to see what’s changing, go to



November 3, 2007 at 2:18 pm Leave a comment

Will I see you at WOMMA?

November 13-15 is the annual Word of Mouth Marketing Summit & Research Symposium.  More information and registration information here.  I got involved with WOMMA less than a year ago, but the relationship has really been beneficial to me in expanding my thinking on the implications of communities, social media and influencers.  I have the pleasure this year of both speaking on the topic of influentials and co-chairing the launch of a new Influencer Council with Steve Hershberger and Brad Fay.

The topic of influentials has really taken off this year and I’m excited to present and help launch a council focused on thinking through the discipline of finding, thanking and engaging the enthusiasts that are radically changing the conversation on the web about products, brands and services.  Whether you’re a customer service/support, product development or marketing leader with robust communities or staring at the cold start problem, there’s no more important place to begin than with the enthusiasts.  Far to often our functional silos are disconnected from one another, but this is a critical place to bring these groups together.  Marketers often talk about the conversation starters.  Find those starting brand/product conversations and work to reach and engage these word of mouth leaders.  I prefer to think about finding the conversation stoppers.  Why are your users in your communities?  A substantial number of conversations started on the web (in forums, blogs, newsgroups…) are actually questions – requests for help.  This means I want to capture two things…what are people commonly asking for (feeding a voice of the customer process- a post for a later date) and who are the people giving all the best answers – the conversation stoppers!  And guess where word of mouth (both positive and negative) usually comes from?  Someone requests help and gets either exceptionally good service or exceptionally poor service.  You know who talks more about a brand than someone who loves it?  Someone who has a bad experience.  Any idea who talks even more than that person?  Someone who had a bad experience that the company shows up and makes it right.  Take a look at this well known example from Dell.

Such a rich topic to debate and discuss and a core place to tear down organizational silos as you think about flat companies!  I hope you join us in Las Vegas or at least stay tuned here for more on the topic from me.

One final thought on WOMMA.  Ultimately, I judge the value of my participation in events and associations pretty simply.  I take a one year view and as I get close to that anniversary, I ask myself about the quality of learning and people I have met through the activity and it’s likelihood to continue to impact me professionally, personally and/or academically. By this measure, consider this post to be positive word of mouth on the Word of Mouth Marketing Association

WOMMA Facebook group here:

WOMMA Blog: 

Sean tags: , , , , ,

October 20, 2007 at 10:03 am Leave a comment

Real Influencers – Profiles in Action…

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to meet Patty Seybold and Matthew Lees of the Patricia Seybold Group, at the Forum One Online Community Business Summit.  Patty has long been a thought leader on customer experience and more deeply connecting the voice of users with business innovation.

Recently, I was contacted by Matt who was working on some research titled:  Active Community Members:  What Makes them Tick?

Given the work I’ve done the last several years leading the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award program, I’m often asked about the DNA of community influentials.  In the 4+ years I’ve been leading this program, I suspect I’ve met personally more than 3000 Community leaders from well over 50 countries.  Whenever I meet with press, analysts or peers from other companies, a common interest is why do these community leaders do what they do??  Sometimes I just want to say: “if you have to ask, you just don’t get it.”  (that of course is not a very helpful answer.)

In some ways it’s easier to just be really explicit about what isn’t the reason.  It really starts with one which I think is key to the ethos of understanding communities:  Community leaders don’t do what they do to help you – the company.  They do what they do to help their fellow users.  The benefits to you (the company/brand) are by-products, not motivations.  Failure to understand this difference is one of the most common errors I see in how companies try to engage in communities focused on their products.

When Matt contacted me, he was anxious to talk to one of our MVP’s as part of pulling together some profiles of real community leaders.  He connected with Bharat Suneja, Principal Exchange Architect at Zenprise; Microsoft MVP and member of the Microsoft Exchange Server Community. 

You can read a synopsis of Matt’s research outputs here which includes not only the outputs of his interview with Bharat, but several other community leaders as well.

On a side note, I’m honored to be joining a group known as Patty’s Visionaries for an upcoming event November 6th-7th in Santa Monica California.  Another great chance to connect and learn from others!


October 17, 2007 at 6:32 pm 1 comment

So many "friends," so many "streams"…

So many colliding streams, I’m nearly ready for social channel surfing.


I blogged earlier about the one feature I really wish Facebook would address.  I’ve friended about 500 people in Facebook.  As I described in the earlier post, I’d like the ability to create, manage and publish to a variety of “friend populations” that I control.  Not all friends are the same, nor do I want to share the same media and or content with all my friends – and frankly, many of them likely could care less about much of what I share.  The current model sets up a lowest common denominator experience or shotgun approach when what I really want is to create and follow social channels.

So, not only would I like to be able to create and manage discreet channels of friends, I’d like to be able to toggle through and or subscribe differently to these different groups.  For example, maybe I have one group I want mobile updates for what they are doing, but others I only want to view on-demand.  Ok, this adds complexity and the use case may be at the margins today for how people are using FB, but it doesn’t seem that big a stretch for where this stuff needs to go.

Would love to know how others are handling this.  Heck, maybe there’s a slick way to do this in FB today and I just don’t know it!  Fill me in, quick!


October 16, 2007 at 7:50 am 2 comments

Social Media: Fad or Trend…

Sharing another in a series of slides I’m using in talks this fall:


I generally can’t get through this slide without some reference to Maslow’s hierarchy and the role the age of individualism is having on the portability of talent – more and more people operating at the level of self actualization. This also interplays nicely with Friedman’s notion of a Flat World and my own expected emergence of flattened companies.

Input, ideas and additions welcome.


October 14, 2007 at 2:36 pm Leave a comment

Busy week ahead (actually 2 weeks…)

I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks.  I’m off Monday to the Bay area where I’ll be meeting Monday with Support Space and going onsite with the online team at Tivo.  To say I’m a fan of Tivo as a user would be an understatement and their community is legendary, so I’m anxious to learn about any secret sauce they might share.  I’ll have some 1:1 time Monday driving from Tivo to Downtown San Fran with peers from the LA Times, Citrix and

Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be participating in a two day event hosted by Creative Good.  This event brings together senior leaders from a wide range of companies to discuss best practices, current challenges and networking for ongoing business collaboration.  Looking at the list of my fellow attendees, it promises to be an amazing 48 hrs.

I close my trip to the bay area Wednesday night with Dinner with Bright Ideas.  I’m anxious to learn more about what they are doing to productize innovation via the “wisdom of the crowds.”

On Thursday I’m off to Orlando to attend and speak at the Consortium Member Summit put on by the Consortium for Service Innovation. 

I’ll be happy to get back home to Seattle for the weekend ahead of leaving for MVP Events in South America the following week.

I’m sure I’ll have some insights to share from these visits in the weeks ahead.


October 13, 2007 at 11:23 pm 1 comment

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