Not your average Social Media Cafe Manchester event: building the ‘Flickr of Dreams’ and US Corporate Social Media
Can you believe that November marks the two year anniversary of the first Social Media Cafe Manchester event? Unbelievable!!
The influential Social Media Cafe Manchester network, now at over 750 members started off as a ‘debate on blogging’ at the Northern pub in November 2008. I felt honoured to be invited to be part of the panel debate and remember being excited about blogging my review of that inaugural event.
Tuesday’s event at Revolution bar on Deansgate Locks was a stark reminder of how important ‘informal industry meetups’ like Social Media Cafe Manchester are for an aspiring ‘world class’ creative and innovative hotbed like Manchester.
Pictured above and in this very short video taken at the end of the event: Josh (aka Rajesh Joshi @technicalfault on Twitter), co-organiser, Social Media Cafe Manchester and guest speaker from the US, John Cass, (@johncass on Twitter).
The two sessions I went to were incredibly different but oh so inspiring and typical of the sort of creativity and vision that bubbles out of a convivial gathering of social media enthusiasts and practitioners at Social Media Cafe Manchester meets.
If you were there and remember anything different, please shout out in the comments.
The full session list for the event is available on the Social Media Cafe Manchester Ning network.
- Sept 2010 #smc_mcr session 1: mydreamscape.org by Ian Forrester, BBC Backstage
- A word from our sponsors: Simon Wharton from PushON
- Sept 2010 #smc_mcr session 2: Tweeting across the pond by John Cass, Pace Communications, NC, USA
Both sessions were fantastic and the ‘spoken commercial break’ by Simon Wharton (@psychobel on Twitter), MD of PushON, the Manchester SEO company, event sponsors at this first ‘sponsored’ Social Media Cafe Manchester meet was pretty insightful as well.
Thanks for the free drink Simon!
As is usual with these event reviews, this is a fairly long blog post. You have been warned.
“The Flickr of dreams. An idea where social media can really improve our understanding”
Ian Forrester of BBC Backstage, (@cubicgarden on Twitter) presented a fascinating vision of ‘building a Flickr of dreams’, a ‘dreamer’s social network’ at myDreamscape.org where people share dreams, analyse trends and consume from and contribute to a live dream dictionary.
All dreams are ‘public’ which allows tracking of such trends as “Everyone in Germany dreaming about the World Cup”, as Ian quaintly put it.
Dreams are categorised by geolocation, mood, object, people, vividness.
Dreamer info like sex, location, interests is also collected.
By hooking into trend analysis tools like those provided by online dating service OKCupid’s OKTrends platform (no pun intended!), the social network would publicise the best parts of the data.
The business model for myDreamscape.org
Have access to the live dream dictionary, unlimited storage and can tag (and categorise?) dreams.
Will be aggregated into such ‘ad pages’ as the ‘Phone 4 Dreams Page in Manchester’ (an example) and thus receive ads based on location (and more?)
Partly inspired by the movie Inception, Ian shared that the idea for myDreamscape had its origins in Into the Dream, a book by William Sleator about a man called Paul who has a recurring dream about trying to save a small boy from trouble but cannot.
His class mate is having the same dream.
Ian is passionate about the project because “the analysis on dreams is pretty low”. It is a “rich place to mine”.
The project asks important questions about dreams.
Are we just working out the previous day in our sleep? Is there such a thing as ‘an original thought’? Can we analyse nightmares? Can we track people’s actions based on their dreams?
People have suggested Ian should implement the idea as a Facebook app. He’s not particularly keen on this, preferring the Flickr model as “Flickr never exposes private stuff.”
A couple of people ask great questions about privacy and how easy the network will be to spam.
The points raised range from deciding to keep users anonymous to encourage people to share their dreams in detail to wondering how to stop the spammer that ‘keeps dreaming about ‘Coca-cola’ or Justin Bieber(!)
Some people make associations in dreams based on colour, so called ‘colour dreams’. There are also ‘anxiety’ dreams. There is a very strong metaphysical element to dreams.
Adrian went on to add that this ‘crowd-sourced’ emotional categorisation of dreams: ‘anxiety = red’, ‘peace = green’ etc lends itself to making such a social network a very useful psychoanalysis tool.
When asked about how ‘available’ the data would be, Dave Mee (@davemee on Twitter) from social and interactive design agency Tandot made a very silly joke about asking people to “sign Dream waivers”. Funny.
I actually thought of Minority Report at that juncture. In the movie, Tom Cruise plays a law enforcement officer working in a future where psychics help the police apprehend criminals based on foreknowledge.
I asked whether dreams shared on myDreamscape.org could become ‘libellous’ at some point. Would there need to be a Panic button on the site like on Facebook?
For me the appeal of such a site as myDreamscape.org is in encouraging more people to keep ‘dream diaries’ or ‘dream journals’. Whilst I’m not sure I would add content to such a site, this ‘Flickr of Dreams’ could help to crowd-source meaning from dreams.
I suggest that a ‘Claim this Dream’ option is included to allow people to use the ‘cloak of anonymity’ to share dreams rather than the ‘levels’ system Ian proposed which means a guy could hide his “recurring dream about Claudia Schiffer” from his girlfriend using a ‘private level’ setting.
My suggestion is based around the notion that if the social capital of sharing dreams attracts significant numbers of users to myDreamscape.org, people could then choose to reveal those dreams they previously shared anonymously.
I also suggested developing the site with input from psychologists and other medical professionals who work in areas relating to mental and emotional health as this could invite lots of participation from ‘dream interpreters’.
In theory, this would add a lot of value to the crowdsourced dream data.
In a conversation with Ian and Social Media Cafe co-organiser Josh (@technicalfault) after his talk, we discussed what I think is the killer application for such a project: a mobile phone app that combines access with the social network with a dream diary linked to the phone’s alarm clock.
As soon as you wake up, you are prompted to record your dream into a ‘What did you dream today?’ interface rather like Twitter’s early ‘What are you doing?’ question.
Different media types could be introduced later on so people would eventually make voice or video recordings of their dreams. That would rock.
I think a couple of posts I wrote two years ago about building online communities after meeting Flickr’s Director of Community, Heather Champ and teen friendly virtual world Habbo Hotel’s Senior Manager, Moderation and Safety, Emma Monks might be helpful reading for Ian as he takes this exciting idea further.
Please share your thoughts about myDreamscape.org in the comments!
My notes on Simon Wharton’s ‘commercial break’:
There is no business for what you do if you work in Social media. “It’s all airy fairy…”
Explain why you have value.
The sector needs to collaborate more
SEO is ‘valuable’ because we are interested in Data. SEOs were early adopters of social media, great at engaging people.
If you work in social media, better form partnerships with freelance SEOs, PR people, developers because you can add significant value to clients.
It’s not just about ‘creating a Twitter account and a Facebook page’. PR companies that do social media well realise it’s about audiences.
Where is your audience? Give them something of value.
Developers have historically disliked SEO, seen it as black magic.
However, SEOs need websites build to accessibility standards. Accessible sites convert easily.
Viral marketing is a conversation.
It’s a video on YouTube until you get people who don’t know you saying “this is interesting”.
Sentiment management, find value and insights here for your clients.
Understand analytics so that you can show a client a bit of paper and say “Here’s the value I’ve brought to you”.
– Simon Wharton’s ‘commercial break’ ends –
A lot of food for thought as Real Fresh TV is currently beta testing a managed corporate copy writing and social media marketing service. Thanks for the feature improvements Simon!
A couple of people made announcements about events including:
Ian Forrester about BarCamp East Manchester
“Discussion: what lessons can we learn from the US/UK social media scene?”
John Cass was born in Stockport, Manchester but has lived in the US for 20 years. He works for Pace Communications, a content marketing firm in the US and has worked for Forrester Research, the firm responsible for nurturing social media gurus like Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff, Peter Kim and Jeremiah Owyang.
He’s moved around a lot in his time in the US, and has lived in the Bay Area and Boston, which is a big SEO and Social Media base with ‘social media rockstars’ like David Meerman Scott, author of the number-one bestseller The New Rules of Marketing & PR - published in 22 languages, acclaimed author and blogger Chris Brogan and PR measurement expert KD Paine all based there.
He is now based in North Carolina, where Red Hat, the Linux distribution vendor and open source software company is also based.
He will be discussing the state of US social media associations and corporate social media, focussing on similarities and differences with the UK, via some corporate case studies.
WOMMA – Word of Mouth Marketing Association
WOMMA is the trade association for Word of Mouth marketing in the US. It has strong corporate backing and a strong code of ethics. This is unusual in the sector as the PR and Marketing US trade associations, (I didn’t catch their names) do not abide by such a strong code of ethics.
WOMMA was started to prevent litigation being thrown at the ‘word of mouth’ marketing sector.
He shared about the ‘Wal-Marting Across Americ RV’er revealed’ fake blog controversy that US PR giant Edelman faced a few years ago. As an example of them enforcing their strong code of ethics, WOMMA suspended Edelman for organising the campaign in which a journalist posed as ‘an ordinary customer’ touring the US in an RV (recreational vehicle) sponsored by global retail giant Wal-Mart.
He asked if there was a similar organisation in the UK and we all agreed that there wasn’t.
WOMMA ensures that bloggers reveal associations with companies, particularly if they are being paid to blog. John cites a study that revealed that bloggers that disclose if they have been paid fare better.
When asked about a UK equivalent, a couple of people around the room (Simon Wharton and Adrian Slatcher) shared about the recent news that the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) is now considering legislation for ‘social media advertising’.
John made a great point about encouraging ‘social media practitioners’ like the those present to get involved with the process being implemented by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) as this means they “get a good state of what the rules should be”.
SNCR – Society for New Communications Research
John is a founding fellow for this organisation which does a lot of research in developments in new media and communications, and their effect on traditional media and business models, communications, culture and society.
It publishes a regular Journal of New Communications Research.
John shares that the network brought people together by gathering practitioners who then promoted the network.
The Society for New Communications Research recognises that a lot of social media practitioners, by virtue of blogging are learning from industry, making them ‘accidental academics’.
John invited people to apply for a fellowship if they are doing any interesting research in this area; the Society would like more international research.
I’ll be applying for a fellowship for Real Fresh TV’s ongoing study on Social Media use amongst FTSE 100 companies!
The society also organises the New Comms Forum, “the premier conference for unlocking the power of social media”.
This influential network was founded by social media heavyweight consultant Chris Heur and has 200 chapters across the US.
John suggested the Social Media Cafe Manchester network link with this which I think is a fantastic idea.
He also asked about links with colleges and educational establishment, Simon mentioned the great work done at Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford’s Search and Social Media marketing courses.
I also added that Salford University also has a Social Media MA degree which I’ve blogged about.
Social Media Breakfast
This informal social network was started by Bryan Person who is now paid to run it by his employer!
Interesting observation: it takes place in the US capital of Social Media, Austin, Texas.
John pointed out these networks help create valuable professional relationships: Steve Rubel, the acclaimed PR blogger became very well known because he went to events, met people and then blogged about them.
Adrian Slatcher adds that a UK example is the first South Manchester Tweetup (Twitter hashtag: #southmcrtweetup) which saw 40 attendees and was incredibly successful in terms of business engagement for a non city-centre event.
John also mentions BostonTweetup.com, a collection of Tweetup events in Boston for which the organiser shares a video blog of the highlight of the week once a week.
He suggests that we train the community to do this, something that the Manchester Social Media Surgery is working towards by providing free social media advice on a monthly basis.
Social Media Business Council
The Social Media Business Council, formerly the Blog Council, is a brands-only community that helps large organizations build successful social media programs.
Founded by blogger and author Andy Sernovitz, author of the Word of Mouth Marketing industry bible, the community is run as a project of Andy’s company GasPedal which teaches word of mouth marketing and social media to companies of all sizes.
I was really impressed to hear of the work done by Social Media Business Council and think there’s a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with interested Social Media Cafe Manchester network members to create a UK arm/version of this network. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
Corporate Social Media Models
John finished by presenting a number of corporate social media models in use in the States. He did this by way of case studies of big brands and their approach to engaging online using social media.
Microsoft Social Media: ‘organic and inspired’. This activity has a roadmap that is left to chance somewhat, in the early stages. In Microsoft, early corporate use of social media was ‘Slashdot-inspired’ arising as way of combating negative sentiment about the company during the ‘browser wars’ between Internet Explorer and Netscape/Firefox.
It is relatively ‘low cost’ requiring volunteers and significant in-house social media content production. As an example: tech celebrity Robert Scoble got his start as Microsoft’s first video blogger publishing interviews with the company’s product development teams.
This turned the negative sentiment to neutral. John adds that he thinks the social media story of 2010 is Windows 7, the latest operating system from Microsoft and the way it was released with the community.
Dell Social Media: ‘Structured approach’. This highly systematic activity has a high implementation and political cost. Computing giant Dell got involved in social media as a corporation after influential blogger Jeff Jarvis blogged about having a bad experience with their customer service team.
Dell’s structured corporate social media activity turned negative sentiment about the company online from -46% to 22% in 18 months. It was probably very expensive but considering the company had sacked its CEO over the ‘Jeff Jarvis’ brouhaha, it’s done them a world of good since.
General Motors (GM) Social Media: “Immerse and Disperse”. This strategy was employed by GM to train people within their central social media centre who were then sent to support different product teams. GM was actually an early adopter of social media tools, starting in 2005, relatively early for a non-tech company.
The social media-trained employee was then able to support the product manager they were assigned to. This technique, though lower cost takes time.
The end result is a corporation very experienced in marketing and engaging with social media.
And that’s it! Thanks for reading this far!!
What do you think, do you think UK corporate social media is behind or ahead of the US?
Do you have any case studies to share?
Please let us know in the comments.
In related news, some ‘corporate social media activity’ being championed by Real Fresh TV is making waves on Twitter!
The aim is to net an interview with celebrities Stephen Fry, Bear Grylls and Professor Brian Cox by 6pm tomorrow by using the principle of ‘six degrees of separation‘ separating any two people on the planet to reach them on Twitter’s network.
Professor Brian Cox is the star of BBC television series, Wonders of the Solar System. Yesterday we discovered that the production behind the show have agreed to ask him to be involved in the 7 Wonders in 7 Days project!
This stuff works!
Play the 7 Degrees of Separation game by sharing the tweet that pops up Twitter.
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