Blogging, dunbar, social networks, stats

Sex, statistics and social media — the tough job of keeping up on emerging tech.

“Social is like sex… you can’t truly comprehend unless you do it”.

Okay so starting off the #blogoff2 blogging contest talking about sex is possibly a cheap shot for getting comments. And sex talk is not how I typically sell the need for professionals to get on board with social personal adoption to lead their corporate adoption.

But it comes from a still favorite post of mine from George Colony, founder and CEO of Forrester.  As one of few CEOs that twitters [well about 134 tweets anyways] and blogs, George shares his thoughts and quest getting other CEOs on board with personally using social media.

It’s a tough sell for those business owners and executives daunted by the learning curve and time investment for social media.  I know as I coach some reluctant learners on the value of social media.  Does an executive need to be on facebook?

Well.. last time I checked, you can’t see a corporate Facebook fan page without having a personal profile.  Nor can you update a wall and really engage.  But I can appreciate business owners and executives don’t see this as a starting point but it is an easy place to learn.  I hashed some of this out in an earlier post about the tough questions I get on the value social networking.

But what George hasn’t shared yet in his blog is his personal woes of keeping up with what’s happening out there for those CEOs who are social.   I’m not talking about the secrets of using twitter and adding alerts but how much our brains can retain and reaching our maximum manageable network size.   Case in point, George only follows 41 people [albeit Jeremiah O, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff included].

A worthy example.  George’s CEO audience, being early or late baby boomer generation, potentially lags in social networking adoption.   Check out Pew Internet and American Life’s generational differences in social media adoption – modified so that we can just look at social networking site profiles.
Generational differences in usages

Of course, this old chart dated late 2008, which I love, flies in the face of the +55 age group is growing enormously on Facebook – istrategylabs say up 513% in six months ending July 2009, not to mention Facebook across all age groups – up 50 million new users in the last 2.5 months to 350 million active users as of Dec 1st, 2009.
This points out the challenge with any social networking statistics; the exponential growth of social networking sites means the charts are out of date in a couple months.  Just as Mashable points out for E*marketer struggles putting out a forecast of active Twitter users at 12 million by 2009 year end but had to revise to 18 million [and now forecasts 26 million in 2010].

But the real challenge for a social media expert [god I hate that term] is agile development.

I find I have to preface things with ‘last time I checked’ since many of the social networking sites are constantly tweaking and adding new features at the speed of real time.  Major web releases seem a thing of the past.  And if I don’t read my social network blog or page, I don’t know about a new feature.  Yesterday I tweeted about switching to Hootsuite because of its twitter list integration.  Today, tweetdeck has a new version catching up to the Hoote.

This is complicated by the beta blur.  I somehow by election or heavy usage have access to a variety of ‘beta’ features on some social networks.   But honestly, I can’t keep track of what is beta and what is not.  I recently was showing off the value of tagging your Linkedin contacts, a feature that I’ve had for months, until someone mentioned that the feature is not public.  Oh yeah.. a beta feature.

I’m not complaining here but I’d enjoy hearing about how other business owners, social media evangelists or executives are managing with the real time speed of information these days.   I INVITE your thoughts on this.

consumer adoption, engagement, strategy

Creating exponential growth

I’ve been very intrigued by exponential growth and its typical the hockey stick pattern.

Exponential growth patterns have held true in many social networking sites or applications’ adoption and understanding this better might be key to architecting a desired consumer behaviour like the internal adoption of a community or collaboration tool or fostering social networking growth for an organization or event.

With the right integrated marketing support, right engagement strategies and adequate lead time, marketers can architect constant growth and, over time, experience exponential growth.   But the supports need to be present –

  • Integrated marketing support – god! if digital didn’t already suffer from a lack of integration with traditional media, now arrives social media which needs to be part of PR, operations, communications and much more.    It has to be clever integration too because the social media presence is not a broadcast of other medias.   Here is a post on my woes.


  • Engagement strategies – I’m not convinced there is enough thought given to how to create a strategy or environment where sharing is made easy, is built into a campaign and consumer contributions are encouraged and valued.  Mitch Joel, Twist Image, once tweeted or said somewhere that viral is a result – and I always liked that distinction because people try to sell ‘viral marketing’ but not everything ‘goes viral’.     That said, there are some elements that need to be planned in order to make viral easy and happen if the idea, content, widget is gonna go viral.


  • Adequate lead time – Importantly, if the wrong amount of time or support is given to marketing – then all we see is the first half of social media exponential growth – which isn’t impressive because the BOOM hockey stick hasn’t taken off.   Wouldn’t it be cool to measure the first half of the hockey stick and have alarm bells go off when an exponential growth pattern is established!  I’d like that.

I found a great discussion on exponential growth on Youtube.

social networks

Big corporate investments in social networking expected: Forrester Research

Forrester’s spending forecast for web 2.0 tools is out .   Big business is expected to spend heavy on social networking tools among social medias – calling enterprise 2.0 a $4.6 billion dollar industry by 2013.

forecast growth of web2 spendWhat I’ve started to observe in Canada is that these internal social networking or collaboration/community tools are mostly IT initiatives with, I’m guessing, moderate to strong executive support.

A big problem brewing for big business is that the IT departments as masters of the social networking tool implementation, are then charged with securing adoption.

And yet, changing behaviours and securing adoption are not traditional IT skills — they are marketing skills.   And so big business will need to employ good marketers to create the internal change required to maximize the use of these tools.

I see great opportunity for marketers who understand technology well and can fit themselves between the IT department and the stakeholders they serve.

Back to the research – the small widget growth surprises me but perhaps this is an indication of pricing & costs and not adoption of widgets themselves.  When I think of widgets  – I think of the growth of iphone or facebook applications.   I see great opportunities in this space and a need for the modern agency to retain programmer talent in this area.

See ZD net’s article on Forresters report.