A little while back, I sent out a request via Twitter asking if anyone would be interested in being interviewed for a discussion on social media. With the medium meaning so many different things to so many people, as well as how it can be used, I was interested to hear the views of the people I connect with.
My original plan was to run a “round table” style of blog post – raise the questions and then have a mix of views as the responses. However, the answers I received back were all excellent, and showed why social media is the mix of interesting people and views that it is. So, I decided individual posts would be far more effective in an on-going series of interviews.
Sharing his views today is Keren Dagan, Director of Engineering at Unica, a software company specializing in marketing automation. My sincere thanks to Keren for taking the time to reply and share his views. To connect with Keren, or find out more about him, please visit his blog Webnomena.
If someone was to ask you for your definition of social media, what would it be?
I define social media by the Twitter model not the specific application. Everyone adds from their own to one big pile of content and news without forced context or agenda. Participants can choose to just sit and listen, to monologue about their life or to converse with others. Participants can start new discussions, share, react, complain, educate, and converse. Existing members bring and introduce new participants, expanding the pool of content.
The social crowd coronate influencers due to their communication, leadership and entertaining (fun) skills. Yet, the most notable characteristics of social media are generosity, authenticity and openness. Anyone can try and you don’t have to look good to succeed, yet most of the social media celebrities are working incredibly hard – maybe even harder than if they were working in traditional media.
What is your reason for using social media?
Honestly, I don’t know and I’m not yet sure where it is all leading me. A close relative inspired me into blogging and Twitter almost exactly a year ago. I knew nothing about this media but I think that I covered a lot of ground during the past year. I love to explore new applications and technologies. I’m very curious about performance; scalability, search, monitoring and discovery techniques, and I usually read and write about those.
Professionally, I can see how much of these activities helped me with my work. This year I introduce new development technologies and methods for building better and modern applications. It doesn’t come without effort, though – I blog late at night and I read a ton online every minute that I can.
Yet, I have to admit that I’m hooked to the interaction: getting blog comments, a tweet (@ and making new friends, fans or followers. Getting a vote of confidence like Digg, Delicious saves or StumbleUpon review is too exciting and fun to stop, and makes the effort worthwhile.
Do you feel that social media is being used to its maximum effect?
I think that lots of information is falling between the cracks of multiple social media applications and activities. I see opportunities for social graph aware applications bridging these gaps. The value: catalyzing building new relationships. I wrote about it here.
It is hard for people that are not computer savvy to discover how others react to their social media activities. If we want to see the social media going mainstream this kind of information should be constantly available and without an effort.
What social media tools or applications do you use? Why these ones in particular?
Twitter for my micro-blog, web presence, keeping in touch with the community and the million other things that one could do with this platform. WordPress for my blog. Twitter Search, Twellow, TwitScoop (through TweetDeck), Backtype, Google Alerts, and FriendFeed for listening to the web.
Delicious and Delver for smart searches. Twine – organized bookmarks – building knowledge bases. GoogleReader, Netvibe and iGoogle for feeds. Twhirl and TweetDeck – Twitter desktop clients – since each has its own advantages; I’m just waiting to see a winner.
Facebook (friends) and LinkedIn (professionals) – for scalable and dynamic contact management. Technorati, Google Analytics, Alexa, PostRank (aka AideRSS), Compete – for ego measures. I also use Technorati, Twitter and Google Chart APIs for my little BlogMon mashup for keeping track of bloggers’ progress. Google Docs – for sharing results from BlogMon and writing/sharing guest posts.
Where do you see the future of social media, both in general and for you?
I’m not experienced in making predictions. Here is my take on the business world and social media. I truly think that it could improve internal corporate communication and engagement.
Social media tools can help in improving vendor-client relationships and it is an extremely effective tool for marketing. Know your loyal customers – some are true influencers so keep them on your side. Arm them with the message and let the viral effect of their word of the mouth drive your growth.
Are businesses effectively using social media? If not, what can they do to improve?
In my opinion it is too early to tell. There is more than one way that businesses can leverage social media. Please see my previous answer speaking about a few.
I also don’t think that we know how to measure the effectiveness of social media investments. In the case of marketing, conversion rate is the leading business measure; turning leads to sales.
I think that social media could be used for acquiring new customers or retaining existing one but only indirectly. I think that when you try to use it explicitly people run away. Somehow social media seems more spiritual, and going with direct business messages feels like polluting it.
From my experience using social media I found that there are some people that others tend to listen to with trust. It is better for the business to build relationships with these influencers. If they find that this individual is excited about their product (or this individual approaches them) they should allow him or her to share their experience armed with all the available information about the product or service.
Maybe the measure should be something like how many relationships did the company build (relationship conversion). I actually see small businesses leading the way here.
What do you feel are the best and worst features/uses of social media?
Best – The way it changed browsing the Internet. I constantly get great content recommendations. I can also share it with others. Twitter and my friends’ news feeds are my new gate. The way it spares me on email storage – posting (perma)links killed the endless file attachments (although I’m still getting some from my dad, sigh). Replacing broadcast with self-cast – you got the power! Making new connections – the invention of the follower replacing the friend concept helps to eliminate the fear of strangers, especially if the stranger has a blog.
Worst – Splogs that copy blog content and spam your comments. Nasty comments. Some videos on YouTube. Services that can’t handle the load and go down occasionally. Twitter spam account. Remembering your login and password.
- You can find more “Discussing Social Media with…” interviews here.
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