Archive for Social Media from United Kingdom

So What Did We Accomplish?

by on August 10, 2009 at 10:55 pm

Jeff observing Kensington resident grandson Harry This morning I spoke with Roland Harwood, our counterpart at NESTA, who did so much to make The Geeks trip to London as productive and beneficial as we all could conceive. We agreed it was an extraordinary experiment with a leap of faith that our formal and informal encounters would have both short and long term beneficial impact on the region as well as for everyone involved.

Our visit, sponsored by NESTA, EEI and other donors, was a pilot experiment to see what would happen if we could turn bloggers, authors, and videocasters loose to communicate about innovation in London/Cambridge. Using the connectivity and immediacy of the Web in service of extending “knowing” rather than just knowledge about London/Cambridge, we took the leap. (more…)

Tech Recap from Traveling Geeks

by on August 3, 2009 at 6:11 pm

sky-studio-2009JD Lasica interviewed me (for about some of the tech we used on the Traveling Geeks trip to London. Topics covered are connectivity using cellular modems (provided by BT), the FeedWordPress plug-in, Flip (Mino and Ultra) video cameras, video streaming (on Nokia n79 using, Google Latitude…

You can download and use Google Latitude in the US, but you can’t download Google Latitude in the UK because it is “voluntarily” blocked by BT for privacy reasons (it discloses your location to others).

I just can’t say enough about how much use I get out of the little Flip MinoHD and UltraHD video cameras. I use them for all of my interviews now, and for shooting “trailers” to serve as proposals for projects. (more…)

The World of the Crowd Surfer

by on August 2, 2009 at 4:45 pm

In a dialogue back and forth with Martin Thomas recently, we talked “crowd surfing.” Below are some interesting and amusing extracts from his book.

“There is a story, probably apocryphal, about an architect who designed a university campus. On the day of the grand opening, he was approached by the Head of the University, who commented that ‘the buildings look fantastic, but why haven’t you put in any paths to connect them?’

The architect smiled knowingly and replied, “I will come back in six months to put in the paths, once I have seen how the students have chosen to walk between the buildings.” Rather than impose his own views of where the paths should go, or use some elaborate computer simulation model, he believed that an enlightened architect should respond to the behavior of the crowd.

Welcome to the world of the crowd surfer: a world in which a new generation of business and political leaders have learned how to harness the energy, ideas and enthusiasm of today’s empowered consumers. They are not manipulators, demagogues or mere populists.

They have been smart enough to recognize that people around the globe – emboldened and enthused by a new spirit of enquiry and self-expression, and powered by the internet – have changed the rules of the game.

They realize that surrendering absolute control – giving their customers, partners and employees a greater say in the way that their businesses operate – is paradoxically, the most effective way to manage their corporate or political destiny.

Crowd surfers are the people that concur with racing driver Mario Andretti’s maxim that: ‘If everything seems under control you’re just not going fast enough.'”

SaaS Goes Open Source: Kaltura’s Yekutiel Tells Us Why

by on July 31, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Kaltura’s Ron Yekutiel talks to us about open source and video. They organized and participated in a SaaS Goes Open Source panel at AlwaysOn this week, together with SpikeSource, Zimbra, Acquia, Fenwick & West and Alfresco.

It’s disruptive he says, but tears down those gardened walls giving corporations better control, flexibility and better integration. More from Ron on the SaaS model, video and open source below.

Ribbit for

by on July 28, 2009 at 12:00 pm

I met up with the guys from Ribbit in London at BT’s offices earlier this month.

We saw the latest developments for the consumer market as well as Ribbit for Salesforce, which is a recently launched application from BT Business that features voice-to-text conversion. Ribbit for salesforce

Ribbit for Salesforce saves time and improves productivity for sales professionals and other mobile workers by making it easier for them to record customer information on the move.

Says BT’s Sandeep Raithatha, “think of it as an online personal sales assistant.”

Sandeep at BT

Available in both the US and UK markets, any user can now dictate notes and memos verbally on their mobile phones.

If you hover over any of your messages, they’re converted into text. If a call comes into your mobile and you miss the call, they flow into

Ribbit’s technology takes the message and converts voice to text. It also assigns it to a sender and their account.

“The notes are transcribed and flow directly into and into the user’s inbox, eliminating the need to type updates, increasing user productivity,” says Sandeep.

The solution simplifies sales management by storing and organizing voicemail as email in, categorizing leads, contacts and in-progress deals.

All voice messages are delivered as SMS or email, so users can respond or forward immediately without dialing into voicemail.

British Telecom is the first supplier to integrate voice with the CRM solution through a cloud computing platform.

Ribbit has dragged the phone world over to the web world, whether it be for Salesforce or applications that can be used by consumers. It’s independent of VoIP.

Says Ribbit’s Crick Waters who was over from Silicon Valley during our visit, “we’re not just VoIP, so you can opt to take Ribbit on Skype, MSN, your mobile phone or over the web. We let the system figure out how to get in touch with you.”

Crick from Ribitt

He adds, “our objective is to make it easy to adopt for anyone.”

Econsultancy’s CEO on Innovation & Social Media

by on July 27, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Econsultancy logo We spent some time with the Econsultancy folks in London during our recent visit, which included a series of roundtable discussions.

Here’s a piece on their blog which touches on innovation through the recession. They’ll also be hosting an awards ceremony specifically around innovation next year.

They have had a Members Forum on their own site for over ten years and are active on LinkedIn and Twitter as they have found these platforms to work best for their target market of digital marketing and e-commerce professionals.

A few words from Econsultancy’s CEO and founder Ashley Friedlein on technology and social media.

Says Ashley, “we have over 10,000 followers on our Econsultancy Twitter account now, which is mostly automatically created tweets from our blog.”


Staff members also have professional twitter accounts, such as Editor Chris Lakey, and they’re starting to create more targeted feeds for their jobs.

Ashley says of their use of Twitter in a Q&A I did with him, “we use Twitter for a number of things. Partly just to drive traffic to our site, which is then monetized via advertising and membership; partly to drive more inbound links to improve our search rankings as a lot of Twitter activity migrate to blogs; partly for customer service where we respond to customers directly on Twitter; and partly for product and service development where we use Twitter to listen to what people want.”

On LinkedIn, they are members of over 80 digital marketing focused groups. For example, the Digital Marketing group, with over 16,000 members, is run by eConsultancy staff, as is the Marketers on Twitter group.

They use these groups less to drive traffic and to market to directly but more for ‘rifle marketing:’ targeting people they’d like to speak at their events.

I asked him, “what do you think are the most important changes in terms of technology implementation for you in the past year?”

Ashley says that the major change has been the complete rebuilding and relaunching of their website and web platform, which included a move from a Microsoft environment to Ruby on Rails. Another more in-depth interview about their relaunch and the unfortunate SEO implications they experienced as a result of the site migration.

“The area that we’re most excited about in terms of what our new technology platform allows us to do,” he adds, “is around data and APIs and the services that this allows us to create.

Services which add value to our site and external sites via syndication of content, functionality or data both into our site, and out onto other sites.

For example, we are already using the Twitter API to automatically post our blog content to our various Twitter accounts as well as import, and show on our site, what is being said about eConsultancy on Twitter in real time.

We’re using this for live event feedback too and plan to roll it out as a feedback and review mechanism for our reports and training too.

We’re also using the Google Analytics API to be much smarter with our analytics and starting to tie the quantitative data that GA provides us with to the qualitative data we get, say, from user surveys. This allows us to start to understand not just “what is happening” but “why.”

We’re also working on exciting new services, using the GA API, to automatically deliver great insight and reporting to our advertisers in our Digital Marketing Supplier Directory.

Things like the Google Charts API, is also giving us ideas for vastly improved user interfaces and ways of showing data in a more compelling and useful way.

And increasingly we’re using our own APIs to provide our clients and members with completely customised versions of our proposition. So, our site and content becomes a true blend of our knowledge and their knowledge.”

I asked him what kind of innovation he needed that doesn’t exist today. I laughed at his first response: a special gadget that turns one hour of normal time into five hours’ worth of time.

He says, “our biggest challenge isn’t coming up with ideas or innovation, but it’s having the time and resources to implement those ideas. And, knowing how to prioritize our ideas.

Perhaps the hardest challenge now is less around technology and more around user experience and user interfaces. It is really hard to come up with brilliant user interfaces to make the mass of content and information we have, let alone all the other stuff we could aggregate, easy and useful to interact with.

So good interaction design, and good copy, are as hard as they’ve ever been, and even more important. Further innovation in user interface design would be good to see.”

Below a few shots during our Econsultancy roundtable event.

EConsultancy roundtable lunch (2)

EConsultancy roundtable lunch

Updates From the Folks at Think London

by on July 26, 2009 at 4:23 am

Thinklondon A few updates from the folks at Think London.

A topic which is currently hot in is clean tech. London’s Mayor Boris Johnson (one of THE TIME 100 Most Influential People) has declared he wants to make London the ‘electric vehicle capital of Europe.’

Many of Think London’s clean tech clients, such as Tesla Motors, are setting up in London because of the Mayor’s clean tech and renewable energy policies.

They are planning quite a few events this year in the US, all based around business opportunities for US companies and the London 2012 Games. See the event schedule.

Another interesting development they are seeing, is the amount of Chinese companies setting up or expanding in London. They seem less affected by the economic crisis ‘angst’ and see it as a great opportunity to invest elsewhere.

Big Chinese financial services companies are particularly keen to set up or expand their operations in London, such as China Construction Bank and China Merchants Bank.

And, Think London is adopting all the social media tools to keep tabs on and in touch with people. More from them in the coming weeks and months.

Thinklondon social media

Reaching Advocates and Influencers

by on July 23, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Traveling GeeksRather than blasting out advertising indiscriminately to everyone, firms are finding they can target individuals who like their brand and can influence others to see the brand more positively. There are more and more ways to find out who your brand’s advocates and influencers are. That’s because software is now tying the data together so we can actively decide how to reach and, more importantly interact with, our passionate customers. Social media allow us to openly and transparently interact with and have conversations with our customers.

Susan Bratton, JD Lasica, Renee Blodgett and Robert Scoble discuss these aspects of marketing and customer relations in this roundtable in Cambridge as a part of Traveling Geeks 2009.

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Social Listening, Appvertising and “Give to Get” – Social Influence Strategies for Marketers

by on July 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm

I spoke on a panel at the University of Cambrigdge as part of my Traveling Geeks blogger junket earlier this month.

The panel was entitled: “Energizing your Business through Social Networks” plus Show & Tell How businesses should be using social media/ social influencing marketing
An interactive event led by Omobono and created by East of England
TG Panel:Robert Scoble, Susan Bratton, Renee Blodgett & JD Lasica

Here’s a clip taken by Jim “Sky” Schuyler of me talking about how companies can get involved in social media. Thanks go to @ShivSingh of Razorfish for coining the term Social Influence Marketing and to Lorrie Thomas of Web Marketing Therapy for bringing to my attention the importance of Give to Get in the social sphere. Both are recent DishyMix show guests and the links to their excellent interviews are below.

Here is the clip Sky took and and his blog post about it.

Image of Shiv Singh from Twitter
Image of Shiv Singh

Shiv Singh, Razorfish on the Social Influence Marketing, the Portable Social Graph and Friendsters

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Image of Lorrie Thomas from Twitter
Image of Lorrie Thomas

Lorrie Thomas, Web Marketing Therapy on Chill Pills, Give to Gain and the Four Agreements

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Nokia and Social Media: We Learn it All

by on July 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm

In Cambridge at Nokia Labs this month, I met Nokia’s head of social media Mark Squires. I asked him, when did Nokia come up with a social media role at Nokia and how did he get involved?

He says that he looked after UK Communications for Nokia and during that time, he started a Nokia UK blog. As a result of his experiences, he wrote a paper on why SM was important to their followers and Nokia. Soon after the role of Director of Social Media was created, Mark slotted into it.

Mike-Squires head of social media for Nokia globally at Cambridge Nokia Labs (3)

Additional questions I presented to Mark below:

Renee: What is your favorite thing about what you do in the social media space for Nokia?

Mark: The first thing the team did was to create the BlogHub, a Nokia intranet site to gather all internal blog conversations to one place.

BlogHub lowers the barrier for Nokia employees to find and participate in relevant conversations. People can communicate more laterally rather than going up and down the organization.

In this way the Nokia company culture is not just a set of values in a slide set or posted on the intranet, it is a dynamic community.

With BlogHub, individual bloggers do not have to market their own blogs because all posts and comments receive visibility within BlogHub. I am very proud of the teams work on this, its commented on by all levels of the organization and it brought a lot of peoples thoughts to a wider audience.

Renee: Why do you think social media is important for Nokia and other companies of its size?

Mark: The world has changed, information has become democratized. As a result social media activities require a strategic shift from broadcast to a dialogue with those folk who are passionate about their opinion and our products.

In large organizations who are serious about their work it requires cross-functional partnerships between marketing, traditional communications and the social media. Our team frequently speaks with product teams to help them understand how social media can enhance the work they do.

The team has joined forces with traditional communications to create several social media releases, internal and external conversations and new ways of working. This is a real change in our outreach that makes what is a very large organization more responsive to those people inside and outside the company who care.

Renee: What is your favorite new Web 2.0 app that helps you be most effective and productive in your role?

Mark: No question, Gravity – it’s a great Twitter tool it runs constantly on my Nokia 5800.

Renee: What’s the most interesting relationship you have made using social media tools?

Mark: I have a friend in Thailand who is a tattooist, during an on-line conversation on phones I ended up discussing him in a conversation with folk on the West coast, one of them had been inked by him too, small world.

Most of my on-line time is spent on the UK pinball group, I maintain the Wiki and am a very active participant in the scene. When you have a hobby with 300 Kg machines, getting together virtually has lots to recommend it!

However because of the on-line engagement we now have an annual meeting where more than 100 of these machines and owners come together for a weekend, this year we are also hosts to the world championship, the first time the competition has taken place outside of the US.

Mike-Squires head of social media for Nokia globally at Cambridge Nokia Labs

Renee: How do you see the role of in-person meet ups and events changing as a result of social media?

Mark: These days we like to meet influencers on their terms. By holding a series of casual gatherings and “tweet ups” we speak to influencers about what is most important to them and allow them the opportunity to explore the devices and individual services that are relevant to them.

Some are interested in Mobile Journalism while others are more interested as mobile devices running social networking applications while still others are interested in messaging functionality. Whatever the feedback we value the conversations and share them with our own folk so we can all benefit.

The Social Media Communications Team at Nokia was established in early 2008 with the aim of improving inter-company communications and engaging employees.

The Objective of the team is to:

  • Encourage the use of social media internally to bring out the company’s unique authentic voice

  • Engage in social media externally on behalf of Nokia, contributing to product and service announcements by opening up a dialogue and online engagement

To this end, we outreach via our Nokia Conversations Blog, specific SM led activities and on-line engagements. As a founder member of the Blog Council, we try to lead by example in this area, therefore the team are not involved with paid marketing activities or on-line advertising, preferring to speak either through comment or face to face at events.

When we formed our first task was to write guideline to allow our own bloggers (we have nearly 1000) to post on Nokia during their work hours, these guidelines have since been widely shared on-line.

We also designed and maintain the Nokia BlogHub an internal aggregation site that allows everyone in Nokia to search, read and comment on the various blogs.

Externally our homemade videos (using the companies devices) of Nokia products and services has propelled our YouTube pages into the top 100 best read and our video of the Nokia flagship N97 product has been watched by a global audience of millions.

The feedback, both internally and externally, we have received so far is helping to shape both our products and our approach to the marketplace, you can read more about us on our blog

Finally, we also provide consulting to business leaders and Communications teams on how best to participate in the social media space, for example one of the team is about to visit China to talk to the Nokia team there about their engagement.

Check out Nokia’s internal voice.

Listen to their Blogbite.

And, join in their conversation.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!