Your Brand Is: Their Gut Feeling

First, a brand is not a logo. Second, a brand is not an identity. Finally, a brand is not a product. A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization. (…) It’s not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.

Good stuff. And straight to the point. Without further commenting, I’d like to share this presentation by Neutron‘s Marty Neumeuer:

(via Simon Dalferth)

Forrester: Online Community Best Practices


Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang shares this great presentation about Online Community Best Practices. It’s 51 slides packed with useful advices for those of you who are planning to launch an online community of any kind. Note that this presentation won’t save you proper consulting and/or experimenting. But it contains excellent guidelines and is a good point to start from.

Looking into social networks, forums and blogs and other ways of communication to leverage the power of your community? Look no further, or at least have a look at this presentation first.

(Thanks for sharing, Jeremiah!)

Study: Real vs Fantasized Identity on Social Networking Sites


FaberNovel Consulting has just published a study on best practices from social networking sites.

The whole study contains a great overview over what’s important if you analyze social networking sites. Two aspects stood out for me, though:

First, the authors pointed out four dimensions to help distinguish social networks:

FaberNovel: 4 Dimensions of Social Networks

Second, the study also covers the way, identity is constructed in social networks, and how different networks foster cater to different needs in this area. For instance, MySpace rather aims at exposing yourself and your fantasized identity, while Facebook serves more to expand your social network around your real identity:

FaberNovel: Real vs Fantasized Identity in Social Networks

It’s a great take and I highly recommend you scan this study. The whole presentation is also available in slide show format:

(via Read/WriteWeb)

Twitter vs Blogs, Revisited


Twitter LogoAfter a week of Barcamp and Web2Expo Berlin, I have to take a look back to what I’ve been writing about the relation between Twitter and blogs. (If you like to read up on the discussion, you can find my posts on Twitter here, the most relevant posts here being probably on inattentive trust, my reaction to Chris Brogan’s Newsbies Guide To Twitter, and the post on Microblogging vs the Good Old Blog.)

So what has changed since, do I blog less when I twitter more? Definitively. But the Berlin Web2Expo week with its Barcamp, Web2Expo, warmup and afterparties and the general expo frenzy made me think that maybe it’s not just a quantitative thing, i.e. it’s not just a matter of available time. Rather, blogging and twittering seem different tools for different communication goals.

In my blog I sort of try to develop ideas, or look more thoroughly at stuff. There’s feedback, but it’s more of an output thing, and it helps building some sort of archive, or knowledge base. Twitter, on the other hand, is where I go for shoutouts, but also for advice. My Twitter network (shall we call them contacts, friends, co-tweets?) gives instant feedback, it’s the folks I ask because they know more than I do. There’s a lot more input at Twitter. (Add me here.)

On a side note, there’s also a very different etiquette on Twitter, and it’s far from solid yet: Your Twitter stream is often very personal. Does that mean: No work here? Or all work, since that’s a big part of our lives? We’ll see, it’s an area we’re still experimenting with.

But what really got me thinking is how much easier it is to meet your online folks face-to-face if you know them through Twitter (or similar services, for that matter). Although we hadn’t interacted otherwise before, dotdean, nero and I quickly set up a loose cooperation between the inofficial (but recognized) Web2Expo group tumblelog BerlinBlase; I met the faces behind the screen handles kosmar, paulinepauline, Igor and jkleske; just to name a few. If you “know” each other through Twitter, you just have the simplest conversation starter, and already have a basic understand of how those people think.

(Although it does sound kind of funny, or sad, to hear yourself say “Haven’t we met on Twitter?” But that’s how it goes with new media.)

As Twitter is a classic Web 2.0 service, it gets “better the more people use” it. It’s not the kind of application that really shows its brilliance on the first glimpse, but over time. When I look for information on certain topics, my Twitter network is the first place I go.

But maybe we need a terminology for Twitter-related social interaction that doesn’t sound quite as nerdy.

Do You Know How to Use the Web to Innovate?


The internet isn’t just a means to send email and look up information. It’s a powerful tool for all kinds of networked communication. But it’s also a great tool to innovate – in your product, your business, or your organization.

Lately, I’ve had a number of chats with my buddies and collaborators Max Senges and Thomas Praus about innovation, how to create a culture of innovation, and how to use the web to foster it. While more and more organizations start their own blogs (which is great), not too many really use social media to realize their full potentials.

One of the main problems, from a company point-of-view, is of course: How can you measure the success of social media programs? Usually, your average company’s management can only go for a social media program if you can put a clear value to said program, right? (Yes, that’s even true for your not-so-average company, although it may depend.) As web strategist Jeremiah Oywang points out: “This is the year of ROI, measurement, and experimentation.”

Luckily, the consulting & social media community has put a lot of thought into the issue of evaluation and social media measurement. For a good intro, I’d recommend those readings:

But while (at least in the the social media sphere) the tools and strategies to measure success are emerging, so far there’s not enough companies that really know about those tools, and thus don’t have a chance to use them successfully. The idea of giving up control and openly sharing your information with customers can be very scary. But social media and other channels between organization and their stakeholders (users, fans and angry customers alike) offer organizations the chance to really learn what matters to their clients, what bothers them, what drives them crazy. That’s exactly the kind of information that an expensive survey, sent out to 10.000 customers, will not get you. It’s also exactly the kind of information that’s absolutely priceless: You get better feedback, often even great ideas on what to improve, and how. Which brings us right back to our starting point:

Not enough organizations use the web efficiently to foster innovation.

While we were chatting away and brainstormed a little about how to deploy web-based strategies and tools that allow to foster innovation, we came to the conclusion that this is a field to which a lot of companies don’t even have access to. Sure, you’ll find all kinds of stuff on the web. But between web 2.0 startups (who know this kind of stuff themselves) and major global firms (who might hire consultants to inform them), there’s a majority of small and medium-sized enterprises who just don’t have the time and resources to do it themselves. (Not to mention all the NGOs and non-profits.)

It’s time to offer some advice in that regard, and to make it easier to access the relevant information. We haven’t yet decided how exactly to go about it. But as a first step, I’ll try to collect more relevant information here on this weblog. As a second step, the three of us are thinking about offering some kind of consulting on the issues of web-based innovation, social media, and better access to new markets. As of now, it’s still very much up in the air how exactly this will look. (As freelancers, but working closely together, following the example of Stowe Boyd & The Messengers; Or rather as a proper company? Who knows.)

But first, I’d like to hear your story: Does your company know how to use the web to innovate? What strategies and tools have you deployed, what worked, and what didn’t? Are you a social media evangelist in your organization? What obstacles did you have to overcome, and how did you? Share your experiences, so others can learn from you!

Full disclosure: I’ve known both Max and Thomas for a long time and we’ve collaborated in a number of projects. Among other things, the three of us have co-written a book about Second Life (buy in Spanish, download for free in English) for Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Thomas and I have also worked together at face2net for a while.)

Update: For easier access to the collected information, you can find it in the (new) category web-based innovation.