Brian Solis

OK, first session….I’m here at the Hilton listening to Brian Solis. He’s talking about brand.

For the record, brand is one of those words I hate. Its overuse has killed what used to be a useful word IMHO.

His premise is that social media is changing the way we communicate and connect. I’m thinking I take issue with that. We still need human connections and relationships. Social media is another channel for creating and maintaining relationships. But does it CHANGE them?

[Side note: there’s actually another panel on that topic over in the convention center right now. But I’m not there.]

Here’s a point I definitely agree with: We don’t control our message once we release it into the public. And social media allows you [your company, whatever] to connect with your community in order to assess things.

Solis is making a similar point to one I just read in Rework [by 37Signals’ Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hanssen]: Who owns social media? Not marketing, not PR….everyone in your organization does. [Rework says, everything you do is marketing. It’s not a department. It’s how you run your business.]

Solis shows a slide that makes my head hurt. It’s called the Conversation Workflow, and it’s showing how conversations are initiated and travel through an organization. You know, a customer says something. And PR or customer support notices, and then it goes to someone for a response and then tech or legal is involved and then someone says, hey we gotta run that by the COO — you get the picture.

OMG. Here’s a true statement fr a Solis slide: Attention is the currency in content commerce. That is a great statement.

Solis asks, Why are we having our interns represent our brand on Twitter? Do you have your interns call up Walt Mossberg [tech guru for the WSJ] to pitch a story? NO!

We have to provide value with social media, or it’s worthless. Make something happen.

Majority of social media users are women….except on Digg.

So now Solis has introduced Jeremiah Owyang [], Frank Eliason [], and Dennis Crowley from Foursquare.

Eliason telling a great story about how social media is a personal connection, even when you represent a brand.

Owyang: Social media doesn’t scale. You can’t respond fast enough to meet the demand from customers. New report on how you should use social media to connect your customers with existing customer service, how people are doing it right.

Foursquare is 1 year old yesterday, with approximately 540,000 users to date.

Dennis Crowley talks entirely too fast.

And he just used another expression I hate: The social graph.

Solis makes great point: Many companies are not fixing legacy customer service or the root problem, they’re just applying social media on top of a broken system.

Eliason agrees. Says Comcast CEO has a Twitter app on his desktop so he can hear the conversation, and says his own team has the power to work throughout the organization to promote change when they see a need for it.

Owyang says social media still important for B2B because relationships are still between people.

Solis tells about a customer who asked him to do social media research and he found very little about the company on Twitter, but thousands of things in Google Groups — people talking about their product, needing information. You’ve got to meet the people where they are.

Great question: Is it right to completely restructure your org to respond to social media, or do you simply add a little walled-off community management group?

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