real influencers in social media may not be those who you think! – #blogbus

On day 3 of the blogger bus tour we had the opportunity to meet face to face with two young start-up managers from San Francisco based Social Chorus an “influence marketing” company named Social Chorus. We were able to spend a whole hour with them and discuss influence, influencers, people-powered marketing and … “the power of the middle”, a concept which I have found particularly appealing.

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Nicole Alvino (above) is SVP and co-founder of Social Chorus, she was “employee number two” in the company. Bobby Isaacson (below), senior Manager, implementation has been as Social Chorus for about three years now (he admitted “feeling like a dinosaur” which sounds strange for such a young man) and does business development that is to say that he sets up partnerships with other companies, in order to be part of their ecosystem.

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Social Chorus (the company was in fact renamed in February 2012 and is the result of the merger of youcast  and the halogen media group) is a social marketing/influencer platform. The main problem the company is solving is that it is virtually impossible for customers to figure out whether influencers are really influential.  This is in essence, what Social Chorus is about: it provides both a tool and service for finding influencers (they might not just be bloggers, but also power twitter users  for instance. There are two offices, one in New York City and one in San Francisco.

NYC and SF: a world of difference…

To European eyes, those two cities might appear very similar but in fact, according to Bobby and Nicole, they are very different. New York is more about media and advertising and agencies, whereas Silicon Valley and San Francisco have always been, at least since the seventies onwards, more about high tech. But this is not all. Mentalities are also very different. Bonding is more difficult in NYC, a very large metropolis where, according to our discussion, people and companies tend to keep things for themselves, rather than share and get together in Californian fashion. And this is what makes all the difference. As I described in my post about Rocketplace, a lot of what happens in Silicon Valley is down to the ecosystem. San Francisco has a leg up in that game. Only Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas are adopting the West Coast spirit our hosts both declared.

social media at the forefront of investment

Start-up investment has changed too according to Nicole. “2 years ago, investment was more into media and advertising, now it’s a lot more about social media” she said. This is changing the ball game, Nicole said, “now that agencies are becoming more social they are tending to move over to SF”.

topical and brand influencers … not who you think

Social Choris is aiming at “brands wanting to become more human and having relationships with influencers” Bobby added. But how do you identify them and how can you tell they are really influential? “it’s a combination of art and science” Bobby went on. “There are topical and brand influencers” he said. Social Chorus will traditionally tap into its 1.5 million influencers database but they might also use Kred and Klout. Sometimes the best influencers are niche bloggers through .

social media influence: the pyramid metaphor

“Imagine a pyramid” Bobby went on: “PR handles the celebs, super fans and topical bloggers are in the middle and at the bottom, you have the vast majority of fans and readers who click and comment”. They might not be bloggers, they could just be twitteres for instance. Social Chorus’s focus of the solution is measuring the impact of a conversation with influencers. Manage the relationship over time.

the “power of the middle”

As soon as I can, I will also post a video interview of Nicole in which she explains that most brands are wrong to focus on just the top celebrities. “This can become pretty expensive soon” she said. I would also add that celebrities are often too self-centred in order to be generous. All middle tier influencers on the contrary are more open and more prone to become brand advocates because they will want to develop a relationship in the long term with the brand.

only 10-20% of agencies are ready to do that for themselves

Social Chorus is working with agencies like Edelman, Ketchum and others. It’s mostly agencies who are delivering this service to clients, but there are a few clients like Gatorade for instance who do this for themselves. “What we find is that the interest in that space exceeds the knowledge of how it works” Bobby declared. As a result, only 10-20% of the brand on average are willing to do this by themselves.

One of Social Chorus’s biggest challenges though is to hire developers; there is a lot of competition for developers. A very skilled developer in the valley can be paid $100 k and even up to $ 200 k if he has very special skills it’s commonly said here. As a matter of fact, as an entrepreneur told me at an after work party last night: “the developer in question might even be paid more than the project manager he reports to!”.

Social Chorus can operate over 3 different countries: UK, US and Germany. They will soon launch a new version in 2013, which will extend the service to other countries.

my views on the Silicon Valley Blogger Bus tour – #blogbus (2/2)

For those who don’t know yet, I (as Director, Web & Social Media at Orange), I will be part of the Silicon Valley Blogger Bus Tour 2012, which will take place in September (17-22) as a blogger … and the organiser of that tour. Here is my take on why I am participating and what I am expecting to do/see there:

I’m a Jack of all trades. I’m not just a blogger, I’m also the organizer of the Tour. On this Tour we’re dealing with blogger PR in a different way than it usually is done in big companies like this.

What we do here is we partner with the bloggers : we work together as a team, and the fact that I’m also a blogger makes it possible. It’s a matter of us going over there together, reporting and sharing our enthusiasm and content.

To me this is very important : it’s how good content is produced and engrossing stories started. And I’m not even talking about the friendships that are being initiated between members. Undoubtedly those who are taking part in these tours are invited to other tours, depending on their skills and focus.

my views on the Silicon Valley Blogger Bus tour 20    12 as an organiser

We also want to look at the way we organise the tour. A member of my team is going to have a subjective look at what other bloggers are seeing, through their blogs and contents. So we’ll be able to tell a story about the story as well.

And finally, how are we going to tackle the main subject, which is innovation in the Valley? I really wanted to give a different angle about this SoLoMo (social,local,mobile) approach in the Valley, so we’re going to see many innovators to understand whether or not innovation is still thriving in the Valley although I don’t have much doubt about that, knowing how it is over there.

It’s my 7th time there and I’m sure we’re going to have an exciting time. So stay tuned to the live.orange.com and don’t miss a thing about the Orange Blogger Bus tour 2012.

Top Blogging Team at Mobile World Congress for Live Orange Blog

In the telecommunications industry, everybody knows about the mobile world congress. The yearly event, which has been hosted in Barcelona for quite a few years now, is the obligatory focal point for all the players in that industry: carriers, service providers, infrastructure and equipment manufacturers, software vendors etc. In a word, this is where it all happens. The 2012 edition of MWC is bound to be even more exciting for all our live.orange.com readers because we have decided to send a team of high profile bloggers on location who will be reporting live from Barcelona. So if you want to know in near real time what is happening at MWC all you have to do is tune in to live.orange.com and read our coverage of some of the most interesting announcements as well as of what is happening behind the scenes on location. Some of our partners English, some not, but most of our content will be posted in 4 different languages as usual. Don’t forget to follow our @orange twitter account for live news about this blog and our live coverage. Let’s find out who our blogging partners are in this introductory post (in no random order):

It’s not everyday one gets someone from Asia (in this case, Australasia too) in one’s team and I have thought it to be an interesting experiment to bring in a partner from China, after a discussion with our representatives at Orange lab in Beijing. Jason Lim has been an Editor at TechNode since December 2010, a prominent Chinese tech blog written in English . Jason’s area of expertise is very broad and covers are start-ups, e-commerce and emerging technologies. Jason is also the Developer Relations Manager for AppStoreConnect, a white-label Android app store in China that powers brands such as HTC, BenQ and Wondermedia Flytouch. Before coming to China,  he was a management consultant in strategy, operations and marketing as well as an accountant with Ernst & Young in Sydney, Australia. Jason currently lives in Beijing. Technode’s Twitter handle is @technodechina. for a sample post from Jason, check this piece on mobile payment on the TechNode blog

Mohamed Ali Sousissi is from Tunisia and is the facilitator of the Tunisian blog malissonline.com. Judging by the football shirt, Mohamed is bound to be a good team player. Mohamed can be traced on Twitter at @MedAliSouissi and on  Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Mohamed.Ali.Souissi. Malissoline.com is Tunisian portal written in French which specialises in local and international high tech news. Mohamed’s positioning resides in its ability to explain the high tech world in simple terms, understandable to all.

Anybody in the French-speaking blogosphere knows (or at least knows of) Eric Dupin who is the creator and facilitator of the second to none presse citron blog. Presse Citron has established a serious reputation in the high tech world and it is often one of the first to break the news that side of the Channel. Eric writes in French but is fluent in English. His posts will be duly translated in other languages. Our French-speaking readers can get a flavour of “Presse Citron” at http://www.presse-citron.net/microsoft-presente-le-logo-de-windows-8, a post in which Eric and his teams disclose the forthcoming Windows 8 logo. Eric’s twitter handle is @pressecitron. Eric works and lives in Lyon, in the south of France. Eric is a long time partner of the Orange team.

Leigh Geary is the editor and founder of Coolsmartphone a well famed blog in Britain with a (very) cool domain name. Leigh is of his own admission “the one who films hands-on videos in the car” but we assure him that London Police officers aren’t reading this blog. Leigh is passionate about everything mobile, be it smartphones, tablets, phone-related innovations etc. Leigh’s Twitter handle is @gears which makes him once again number one in the name coining exercise. For a sample of the coolsmartphone blog I recommend this piece on how easier it is now to take pictures with IOS5 (Apple’s latest OS for the iPhone). Well spotted!

Frederic Lardinois despite his Gallic sounding name was born in Germany and is a graduate of Potsdam. He is a PhD student at the university of Connecticut and the writer of SiliconFilter, a blog which focuses on consumer technology related to the Internet, and deals with Web apps, mobile apps and devices, as well as Web-connected TVs, cars and similar technologies. Frederic Lardinois, has written, 1,500 stories for the highly acclaimed ReadWriteWeb tech blog before starting his own venture.

[picture courtesy of Olivier Ezratty]

Philippe Lagane (Twitter handle @philippe_lagane) is the creator – amongst many others – of the Accessoweb blog. He is one of our most knowledgeable experts and having done business with him, I can assure his work and that of his teams are really top notch. Tune in to Accessoweb if you are a French speaking reader, and you want to know everything about devices, mobile services, mobility in general and all things relevant to that domain. Philippe will be teaming with Christos Ionnitis (@newsmobile) who already was one of our reporters at Le Web 2011 last December. Philippe lives near Perpignan in the South West of France, Christos in Annemasse, in the South East. Both Philippe and Christos blog in French but their reports will be adapted to other languages. French readers should check this piece on the ZTE smartphone announcement by Accessoweb (available in French only).

[picture AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Frédéric de Villamil]

Glenn Le Santo (@lesanto on Twitter) is our high tech events wizard. Glenn has had a very lively and varied business life. He is a seasoned reported who is passionate about technology, usage and innovation. He is the Twitter driving force behind Exeter Like Minds events (at which I met him) as well as the successful organiser of LincUpLive (check the February conference schedule here) in Lincoln, England. Glenn has been a long time partner of Orange at our Orange Business Live events as well as Le Web 2011.

Raphaelle Laubie is French but she mostly blogs in English. She is probably one of the most passionate business person I have ever met and her range of skills is amazing. She is a Health 2.0 Entrepreneur and her business – a registrar in the heath Internet industry – has even filed an application for the new dotmed “gTLD” (a new generic top level domain which will be devoted to healthcare, due to ICANN’s decision to open the registration of new extensions on top of existing ones (.com, .info, .net etc.). You are invited to check Raphaelle’s blogs on management at http://raphaellelaubie.com/category/marketing/branding-management. Raphaelle is also affiliate Lecturer at ESCP Europe and has even a Doctorate in Progress… On her spare time, Raphaelle is also helping with the Orange team with the coverage of live events.

Stewart Baines (@stewartbaines)  is both the co-organiser of our trip to MWC and a contributor to the live.orange.com blog and the Orange Business blogs.  He is one of the founders of Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes (@antonyplewes) who will also be present with us. Stewart has been writing about technology for 15 years.  His focus is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, he has studied futurology & foresight to post-grad level. Stewart is bound to be our futurologist in that team and will tell us about the future trends in high tech. Check his numerous contributions on behalf of Orange Business Services on the connecting technology blog, the Orange Business Live Blog [French] or the Orange Business Virtualisation blog [French].

Yann Gourvennec (that’s me), is Director, Web, Digital & Social Media at Orange and an Internet writer since 1996. He writes in English and French on his Website (http://visionarymarketing.com) and blogs. He writes in English and French, mostly about Marketing, Web, e-commerce, Management and Change Management.

matters of no consequence

“Ha tutte le carte in regola per essere un artista”
and I have a valid passport to the land of artists
Piero Campi

As we are getting ready for a massive event in Paris with Likeminds and Media Aces, with an impressive line up of speakers including Brian Solis, Jeremiah Owyang, Loic Le Meur, Molly Flatt, Olivier Blanchard and yours truly, our friends from Likeminds in Exeter have asked me to write a little piece about me and the Web and it didn’t have to do with business matters, so there it is, with a few literary references of no consequence.

Businessmen, as the Little Prince found out, are only dealing with matters of consequence and they have no time for balderdash. Yet, I don’t think that my Web work is restricted to matters of consequence. Besides, I’m not just a blogger blogging about bloggers either. I am also an artist; at least I wish I were regarded as one.

The Web has been my oyster for the past 15 years. The place – is it a place? – where I could not only write things but express thoughts, mostly about marketing;  e-commerce too was on my agenda. A serious business tool in other words. But this is not how it all began. As a matter of fact, business was not my primary objective at all in the beginning. I believe that mere curiosity was the main motive.

I first heard about the World Wide Web, back in 1994, and so I went and grabbed a cheap Internet access package from the computer shop next door. People would come to my house and “see” the Internet. They had no idea what it was and I felt proud for being able to show them the way; not by sheer hubris but just because I love to share and exchange with friends, old and new.

My grandfather was like that. He could hardly get anywhere without bumping into at least one old pal. I believe one can’t escape one’s heritage. Some of us are social animals and I feel like I’m one of them. As I said above, the focus of my interest in the Web at that time wasn’t business, let alone computer science. Instead, I felt attracted to Art like a magnet, and I still do, now that I have practised watercolours for the best of the past thirty years.

Way back then, a person who went – and probably still goes – by the name of Nicolas Pioch had decided to reproduce the Louvre online and I had spotted that gem (this “webmuseum” is still available at http://www.ibiblio.org/wm). That’s what people came to see at my house at the time: online replicas of the Mona Lisa and other masterpieces, miles from today’s technical perfection, but then most beautiful of all … because this had never been done or seen before.

A few years later, I created my own picture gallery in which I could show my own work, and which eventually evolved into a blog, however poorly maintained nowadays.

Soon, I hope, I will be able to use this space to the full, mixing video, painting, etchings and music as well as creative writing and possibly organise happenings and exhibitions online and off-line. This is too early stages right now, as I have more work than ever on my plate, but I am looking forward to that day on which I will be able to devote all my time to my passion for Art, pictures, poetry  and all things of absolutely no consequence.

SAP on its SAPPHIRE annual event: “SAP wanted to take this live event and make it virtual”

SAP is one of the founding members of the Social Media Business Council. On November 9, SAP was hosting Blogwell, SMBC’s open event dedicated to social media in which each presentation (8 in total) is delivered by a SMBC member. The opening presentation by SAP was dedicated to spicing up events with social media. SAP began working on its community 7 years ago, and it now comprises 2 million members. This community is about engaging with clients and starting conversations.  The SAP presentation was delivered by Brian Ellefritz, Global Social Media Marketing at SAP. Brian is a former Cisco representative and joined SAP to head their global Social media team. He is a seasoned Internet expert.

Very few in the audience had tried live video when Brian asked the question. So this kind of Social Media usage added to live events is still very new to many professionals (note: Orange Business Services is doing this quite regularly in all regions, check the http://orangebusiness.posterous.com live blog for details).

Context

Sapphirenow is SAP’s most important sales event, it’s about a decade old. In 2010 SAP organised two events in Germany and Orlando at the same time, that was quite ambitious. Social media took a big part in that event.

The objective was to treat the audience as peers, not recipients and showcase SAP as a savvy user of social media. They had done something the year before but they wanted to move beyond that in 2010. SAP wanted to “take this live event and make it virtual”.  “SAP had more bandwidth than CNN” during that event Brian added.

The social media Ambassador concept

Influencers, customers, partners were going to be active pushing the news that they were being told. SAP also wanted to talk to those who couldn’t be there. The way it played out was that most of the content was pushed to Twitter in realtime. The stream started in Germany in the morning and was taken over by Orlando in the afternoon. The Sapphirenow twitter feed was central to that event. Giant touch screens were also implemented.

The ambassador programme was started 2 months in advance. 6 topics were selected, and 6 ambassadors per location were recruited. They had to have large followings and had to be comfortable with social media and have a set of skills which fit in the programme. The initial expectation was 2 blog posts a day. Flip cameras were given and SAP explained what their expectations were. “permisssion forms” were signed and social media business cards were handed out to people as a courtesy. An audit was given to an impartial agency in order to “assess whether that was impactful or chaos!”

The outcome was 1.5 million views in Twitter reach (tweetreach.com), 41 blog posts written in 3 days, 152 videos were uploaded and 15,506 video views generated.

Lessons learnt

  • Picking personal or business account was an issue
  • Broad diversity of skills, it was very challenging (some didn’t know what Twitter was)
  • hastags were an issue (should we have one, one per topic etc.)
  • video “live” blogging: the camera team was just overwhelmed with too many cameras being brought to them and it was chaos
  • Once underway, “it’s just like one giant mashup !”
  • over time, we “stopped concentrating on the number of tweets and blog posts and starting enjoying the live experience” Brian added

The “1.5 million reach” Brian added when asked about what numbers really meant “is when management stops asking question” and the value is when you stop talking about the numbers and when people and managers start seeing the value in the energy and dedication put behind the event and the endeavour.