Thursday, January 22, 2009

Intuit's First Virtual Conference vconf

I usually blog from real events. Intuit Academy hosted its first virtual conference (vconf) for customers for two days Jan 21 and 22nd 2009 and I had the privilege to attend as their social media strategy consultant.

It was fun and talking to customers is the best way to understand any real business.

Conference Technology: It was a conference in our web browser and once we logged in, it opened a real player plugin and we were in a second life like environment. At first my pc speakers didn't work and it felt strange to watch characters move around quietly, but once it worked, it was very engaging.

There were Exhibits with staff ready to answer (chat) any questions.

There were scheduled conference talks.

Quickbooks Guru Michelle Long moderated a talk on "Marketing Ideas for Accounting Professionals" at the vconf. See her blog post of her Day1 experience here.

There was a lounge area where one could post announcements or just chat with a fellow attendee.

We had a briefcase where you could collect interesting documents for reference later. It was beautifully integrated with Intuit's current web property and the scheduled chat led to a webex session.

It was social only to the extent that we could find other attendees and chat with them any time.

A great start, time and money saver as a virtual conference tool. As for the conference itself, its one of many innovative social media moves to come from Intuit.

As I was awestuck by the conference, I found Whuffie Factor author and barcamp queen Tara Hunt has joined Intuit at their Partner Platform.

Congrats Tara!

Congrats Intuit Academy on a successful virtual conference!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Facebook Connect makes TV social with cnn live inaguaration

Today I remember my first TV watching experience in India when I was 9 and a neighbor bought the first tv in my entire neighborhood and invited everyone to their house on a Saturday evening to watch the one movie they showed in the only channel available.

Not long after, tv became a personal family affair with cable and 100s of channels and in my family now its a personal affair as we got rid of the box and watch hulu for what each of us want when we want! Its of course very social as we discuss Lost and Jon Steward and Seinfeld (nostalgically) with co-workers and friends.

This morning as all America woke up to an exciting day for the inauguration of President Obama, facebook took us to live to show the live video stream along with a facebook connect feed.

A Screenshot of cnn live here

This allowed us to sign into cnn with our real identities and bring our real social graph to the site in a side bar to post our status and comment on our friends feeds sharing in the anticipation as we waited for Obama, revelled in beautiful music and poetry, fretted about how it felt to become free from the last 8 years of divisive politics, marvelled at Mrs.Obama's dress, took in the weight of the moment and let the promise of hope and optimism wash us.

Facebook had it setup privacy setting to let us decide to send each status update to go public to everyone and did you notice it allowed us to comment on only the ones made by our friends, all feeding into facebook feeds for rest of our friends to watch and join in.

It is not surprising to see the mindblowing Numbers From the Obama Inauguration - 600,000 status updates and 4000 comments/min and 14Mil of us viewing simultaneously by 1pm ET

Facebook Platform vs Facebook Connect

Facebook App Plaform excited me because of the power of the viral play and the entrepreneurial energy of developers. Facebook Connect takes the app platform out into the web (potentially into the desktop and mobile).

Facebook marketing has always been about delivering, building large scale support before a pr launch. Facebook is doing it again with Facebook Connect launching 1000 sites before we saw press coverage.

Facebook Connect Timeline

Launch @f8 July 23 followed by a garage Sep 29 2008

Luke's Q&A to Bay Area Facebook Meetup
Snap Summit03 Oct 2008 - Dave Morin's talk

How-to-add facebook connect to your blog in 8 min

Power of Facebook Connect

Cnn live of the Inauguration with Facbook Connect subtly shows the power of bringing your social graph for an event driven media consumption. As Don Thorson put it, "this is how all tv should be"

If you are have a web app or desktop app you have to tap into the power of facebook connect. Think - social commerce on web sites, and social influencer marketing for user generation and lots more to come building upon access to dynamic facebook user profiles! its a no brainer!

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Monday, January 19, 2009

iphone meetup live blogging @timburks good visual design and web vs sdk programming guidance

I am at iphone meetup at TIPS Palo Alto. Nice Energy in the room here, lot of friendly faces from the facebook world here!

Quick Qik of the audience energy here:
(use this to see if you spot someone you met and want to connect back)

7pm: Christopher Allen, author of upcoming "iPhone in Action" book and programming guru is talking about Web Development vs SDK

He compared web development vs sdk development. Interesting to see his comparison of what's compatible with other phone development.

Web App uses similar technology to iphone: Google Android, Palm Pre (goes beyond local storage AQLite on iphone to ability to put a web app inside the app)

7 types of iphone development
- iphone compatible web
- iphone friendly web
- iphone optimized web, not compatible w nokia or android
- iphone web app eg iui app
- Dashcode web
- native app sdk
web app examples google reader, facebook app,,,,

Here's part of Chris's talk here:

@ChristopherA drew a lot of audience interaction with excellent Q&A. (See video of q&a part below)

8.15pm: Suzzane Ginsburg of ginsburgdesign, presents good visual design for iphone apps with a Urbanspoon vs Yelp

Summary is urbanspoon is built for iphone, yelp expects you to got the web site and iphone app is a translation.

Here's Suzanne's slides: Awesome presentation. I don't know if Yelp or Urbanspoon who will move fast to hire her!

Suzanne Ginsburg's slide embed.

There's better HD video being taken by some folks here, will update w those links if you guys can ping me w the urls.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Excellent Twitterville Talk by @Shelisrael

I started blogging from the talk on "Twitterville--Using Global Neighborhoods to thrive in tough times" by Shel Isreal at the IT/Software development Execs Meetup Group in mountain view.

Listening to Shel sharing his wonderful stories all evening!

Tatyana Kanzaveli organized the event and did an awesome job. Her Flickr stream of the event is here I even got good selection of veggie food :)

Started with his Crowdsourced book building story:

He started by comparing his last book "Naked Conversations" which he co-authored with Robert Scoble vs the new upcoming book "twitterville". Here's a quick summary of what I grasped from this talk:

  • First phase of social media was about reducing marketing excesses where advertisements create lot of noise while blogs filter to create conversations.
  • Now, twitter was about optimizing the conversations.
  • Shel was genuine and his focus was on keeping transparency and the joy of having real honest conversations.

Twitter Story:

Next he shared Twitter's story of how the founders came with it, and how it got traction from SWSX 07.

Twitter for Business:

We got to this part very later and Shel has wealth of stories. He shared the Dell story of how they got started from SWSX07 and made $1million, motrin how they managed the pr fiasco to curb it within a week by coming out and being honest on twitter, Ford story, GM Volt story that broke a news on twitter about a plant closing just as GM was going in front of congress. Best of all was @Comcastcares. Nice mix of pr, communicating with customers for brand management and a customer support example.

Sorry, at this stage, I had to stop and listen so my video doesn't do justice to the evening. I have some zoomed out video from my flip atleast you can hear Shel's own voice. (ok I'll update back once my videos are uploaded.)

Hope you enjoy the initial part of his talk!

This was the best part of the evening. Shel engaged with the audience with the same passion and honesty to hear their stories. I noticed something today! He cares about learning new twitterville stories with a genuine passion and does not pretend to be the expert. Yet he has perceptive answers for audience questions. Here are couple questions I captured:

Question by @cathybrowne What do you think about twitter as a news feed eg Mumbai story.
Shel: "We in social media are feet in the street in every corner of the world. We have information that can be braided into traditional media. point where Mumbai made the key point was when a 19 yr old kid took pictures and posted on flickr, where associated press, bbc , reuters didn't have feet in the street there and used the kids story.
@cathybrowne shared her own twitter story story about a plane stranded passengers that the world didn't know that cathy tweeted about and got media in to change the situation. Looks this Shel got another story for his book.

Q: How can we trust the accuracy of information on twitter?
Shel: Every reporter has to validate the truth of any story within their means. Twitter validates it better by real people respond, retweeting and spreading it around for validation.

Q: When people are tweeting about your company and you are the marketer when is the good time to get involved?
Anytime is good, just be transparent. He addd 'talk to me, have a conversation, don't make it all about your message and do all talking to me". You can use tweets and Direct message (DM) and continue your conversation with the same customer.
Q: Another discussion was about using twitter for specific educational ngo goals.
Spurred good discussion about the community aspect of twitter and tapping into it. For anyone getting started important is to build reputation.

Two overall takeaways from the evening are:
  • Twitter is about the real-time response from the market, its fast
  • The real purpose of marketing is to build relationship and somewhere along the way we forgot it as we made ads. Twitter brings it back to the basics of having real conversations with customers.
My personal interest in this topic:

I am a facebook fan, and use twitter a fairly decent amount. I have been wondering about the overlap of our private vs public social graphs. How do you see it merging or moving away for you as a user? How do you see it impacting your social media mix as a business? let me know!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Facebook, Feed Me More Feeds In the New Year!

2008 started differently for me when a friend posted a facebook status saying "baby looks like an alien in the ultrasound" bringing me into his home as he opened his heart.

All through the year, thanks to my facebook friends, I have
hoped as we voted in my first US presidential election
shared excitement of friend's cool dates
pondered the meaning of life, career and dreams
mused over spontaneous valley events
comforted the heartbreak of atleast one divorce
helped with couple job losses
shocked and pained with friends as Prop 8 passed
supported parenting nightmares with toddler power struggles
stayed up to chat with insomniacs and twitter addicts
shared the joy of new babies and many baby's first holidays
and fretted with growing-up parents as their kids grow up.

My life before my real friends were on facebook:

I have spent 14 yrs of my life mostly in Boston and thelast two years in beautiful Silicon Valley, enjoying America, making it my home and loving it. I have many friends, we have lived in our own worlds and meet at work, schools, temples, churches, gyms, play groups, hobby groups and recreation centers. There, we exchange a common american humor, curiosity towards other person's diversity and chat about what we share in common with sincerity which in my case is a lot of technology aka facebook, social media marketing, startup stories, mommy saga and yoga.

Once we moved to the valley, I was amazed at the diversity and the self segregated societies of the valley that preserve their cultures. Everything was new, our friends were all in Boston and the geek groups were the first to accept us. There's the Chines New Year in SF, Vietnamese Parade in San Jose, Durga Puja in Sunnyvale, Polynesian festival in Foster City, India Day in Fremont, Independence Day fireworks at Stanford, Garlic Festival in Gilroy and several geeky meetups including my own Bay Area Facebook Meetup each month. I've chanced occasional peeks into two separate corteries of 'serial entrepreneurs' and 'hungry wannabe-entrepreneurs', the two prominent groups that co-exist in the valley. I am not even listing the many sports hangouts, charity fundraisers and kids shows. (I cannot share all videos I like as they are in facebook limited by the privacy of friends who posted them)

Facebook has enriched my year by helping me cross the politically correct workplace boundary into the lives and hearts of friends.

In 2008, I have had more birthday wishes than all my past years, and wished everyone with wall posts and virtual gifts. I have visited more places on earth and shared special and scary moments with friends and made real friends of distant business acquaintances as they opened their feeds and their hearts and homes to us on facebook.

I've gotten a glimpse into the real lives of many of my friends who I knew professionally and bonded with family across miles. The best part is feeds come as everyone does whatever they do in their real lives - across boundaries of political correctness into their religions, culture, priorities near and dear to their hearts and ways of lives.

I've seen what holidays are important to each of my friends and what they really do to celebrate their holidays, thanks to facebook.

I've seen my friends Naveed, Raymond, Junaid, Shammara fast for Ramadan and wait for the moon for Eid. I celebrated Diwali by sharing a picture of a Diwali light arrangement we made at home and tagging 30 (facebook's maximum tag limit) Diwali celebrating hindu friends on facebook . I saw ghosts, fairies, Joe the Plumber among my friends. I have gotten a real Xmas cheer as I saw Luke share his Xmas tradition of making cookies at home with his wife. It put a smile on my face as this feed brought back childhood memories of the smell of an Indian sweet called Mysorepagu made by my Mom. Wed 25th was Christmas and the third day of Hanukkah, a gentle reminder thanks to Josh's feed.

For the past two weeks, I've joined the cheer and delays of of travels locals and far, shuddered at the ice storm pictures from my east coast friends, smiled at a cheeky video " All I want for Christmas is some jews" and at Jesse sharing the real christmas story video on facebook asking us to spread it around.

I have truly arrived in America, and though I am known to be obsessed with facebook, this time I think all credit goes to facebook to let my real social graph flow through facebook and getting me one step closer to my friends and to America.

Wish you all a wonderful new year 2009! Thank You all for enriching my life, looking forward to a new year as we continue to grow, share, learn, live and let live our connected lives.

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