(see English translation below)

Le 8 avril dernier, je présentais “Les médias sociaux: ne ratez pas l’occasion !” devant plusieurs centaines de personnes présentes à la conférence Boule de Cristal du CRIM. Ma participation à cette conférence était décrite comme suit:

Les médias sociaux numériques tels que Facebook, Twitter et les blogues bouleversent le Web. En effet, plus de 80 % des internautes canadiens visitent régulièrement un de ces sites et une grande proportion y participe activement. Plus qu’un phénomène passager, il s’agit de l’apparition d’un puissant média de bouche à oreille qui amplifie les commentaires des usagers Web. Quelles sont les meilleures pratiques pour les entreprises ? Y a-t-il des opportunités d’affaires intéressantes ? Sébastien Provencher, spécialiste des médias sociaux, partagera sa vision du Web social dans le futur du monde des affaires et ses conseils pour ne pas rater le bateau.

J’offre dans cette présentation des conseils stratégiques et des tactiques détaillées pour l’utilisation des divers médias sociaux (Facebook, Twitter, blogues, etc.) dans le contexte d’une entreprise. Voici la vidéo de 27 minutes sur SlideShare. Vous pouvez suivre cette présentation vidéo avec le document de présentatique ici. Ce billet est aussi une excellente occasion de vous rappeler que je suis disponible pour des mandats de consultation et pour donner des conférences et formations. Vous pouvez me rejoindre ici.

Sebastien Provencher Conférence Boule de Cristal CRIM avril 2010

Sebastien Provencher Boule de Cristal CRIM avril 2010

Last April, I presented “Les médias sociaux: ne ratez pas l’occasion !” in front of hundreds of attendees of the CRIM’s Crystal Ball Conference. Loosely translated as “Social Media: don’t miss the opportunity!”, I offered strategic and tactical advice to companies wanting to start leveraging social media in a business context. You can watch the 27-minute video presentation (in French) and/or follow with the actual document as well.

On day one of the BIA/Kelsey Marketplaces 2010 conference, Steve Marshall (Director of research at BIA/Kelsey) shared highlights from two studies they’ve been doing regularly for years, the Local Commerce Monitor and the User View.

First, the Q3 2009 Local Commerce Monitor. The survey measures where small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are spending their advertising and promotional budgets and how their media usage and spending habits are evolving

  • Penetration of online media (77%) exceeds Traditional Media (69%) for the first time in Q3. That’s the percentage of SMBs using each type of media to promote themselves.
  • Newer businesses much more oriented to online media. For businesses created less than 3 years ago, 30% of their budget is dedicated to online. Overall average is 21.8%.
  • 32% of businesses plan to use social media and blogs to promote themselves in the next 12 months.

Second, the February 2010 User View. The survey focuses on how U.S. consumers are evolving their use of traditional and online information sources to find and locate local serving businesses.

  • BIA/Kelsey is seeing more and more fragmentation in local shopping. Consumers say they used 7.9 different sources to for local shopping information in the last year. That’s up from 5.6 in 2007.
  • 82% use Internet as Primary or Secondary source for product purchases smaller than $500
  • 45% use Internet to research non-routine purchases before buying
  • 27% completed most recent product purchase bigger than $500 online
  • Membership in social networks continues to explode: 67% are on Facebook, 30% on MySpace, 20% on Twitter and 14% on LinkedIn. Two years ago, only 16% were on Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist!

LeWeb, the major European conference (the equivalent of the Web 2.0 Summit in North America), just released their complete schedule for the next event happening in Paris on December 9 and 10. The theme of the conference is the real-time Web.

As I wrote about a month ago, I’ve been selected as one of their official bloggers. Here are the speakers I’m most looking forward to:

  • A fireside chat with Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s creator. Will be interesting to hear his vision about where Twitter is going.
  • Ryan Sarver, Director of Platform, Twitter. His background as a “local” expert makes him an interesting speaker for anyone interested in local media.
  • “The Platform Roundtable” with representatives from Facebook, Ning, LinkedIn, Ustream, SixApart, MySpace and Twitter. Expect the discussion to revolve around APIs and open ecosystems…
  • A fireside chat with Robert Scoble. Always interesting perspective as a good observer of the Web scene.
  • Niklas Zennstrom (of Kazaa-Skype-Joost fame). I want to hear more about their new venture in the music industry Rdio.
  • The Money Roundtable with a group of very interesting VCs including David Hornik and Fred Wilson. Expect them to say they’re still cautious but that 2010 should be a good year.
  • “The rise of emotional Web” by Yossi Vardi. Should be a fascinating session.
  • Gillmor Gang Live. Always explosive!

Loic Le Meur, the organizer, often has surprise guest speakers as well. If you want to attend and haven’t bought your ticket yet, you can get a 10% discount if you use the following code: BLOG09 .

LeWeb, the major European conference (the equivalent of the Web 2.0 Summit in North America), just released their complete schedule for the next event happening in Paris on December 9 and 10. The theme of the conference is the real-time Web.

As I wrote about a month ago, I’ve been selected as one of their official bloggers. Here are the speakers I’m most looking forward to:

  • A fireside chat with Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s creator. Will be interesting to hear his vision about where Twitter is going.
  • Ryan Sarver, Director of Platform, Twitter. His background as a “local” expert makes him an interesting speaker for anyone interested in local media.
  • “The Platform Roundtable” with representatives from Facebook, Ning, LinkedIn, Ustream, SixApart, MySpace and Twitter. Expect the discussion to revolve around APIs and open ecosystems…
  • A fireside chat with Robert Scoble. Always interesting perspective as a good observer of the Web scene.
  • Niklas Zennstrom (of Kazaa-Skype-Joost fame). I want to hear more about their new venture in the music industry Rdio.
  • The Money Roundtable with a group of very interesting VCs including David Hornik and Fred Wilson. Expect them to say they’re still cautious but that 2010 should be a good year.
  • “The rise of emotional Web” by Yossi Vardi. Should be a fascinating session.
  • Gillmor Gang Live. Always explosive!

Loic Le Meur, the organizer, often has surprise guest speakers as well. If you want to attend and haven’t bought your ticket yet, you can get a 10% discount if you use the following code: BLOG09 .

The Self-Media Decade

November 18, 2009

We’re almost at the end of the first decade of the 21st century (yes, it went by really fast!) and it’s probably time to reflect on what characterized the last ten years. Each decade gets its own descriptive “brand” and this one won’t be different. The seventies were all about “the peak of hippie culture“, social change and related values. The eighties were all about the individual, economic liberalization and some would say money and greed but it also saw the end of the Cold War. The beginning of the 90’s was very nihilistic with the grunge movement but finished on a high note with the start of a long period of economic growth, an amazing era of technology innovation and the dotcom boom.

So, what defined the 2000’s? We obviously could talk about September 11, the dotcom bust and the recent worldwide financial crisis but those are punctual events. They definitely influenced the zeitgeist but they are not the zeitgeist. I believe the decade that’s ending was all about “me” and the extreme democratization of media. I call it “The Self-Media Decade”.

It all started with the reality television phenomenon in 2000. Survivor, the famous TV show, ignited the genre and there’s been no looking back since then. Every time you watch television today, you see “real” people in “real” situations. In parallel to that, blogging and blog platforms arrived on the market (LiveJournal in March 1999 and blogger.com in August 1999). Throughout the decade, millions of people took up blogging. Some blogs became a real alternative to newspapers and magazines, journalists started blogging and the line with mainstream media started blurring. In the newspaper industry also, Craigslist democratized classifieds, allowing anyone to post a classified ad online for free. Their first real expansion out of the San Francisco market happened in 2000.

Another parallel was the arrival of Napster, also in 1999. By enabling downloads of individual songs, Napster was allowing everyone to become their own radio programmer (or CD mixer). Why listen to radio (or buy packaged music CDs) when you can just download your favorite songs and get instant gratification. We all knew at the time that television and movie distribution would be impacted in the coming years. Tivo became a phenomenon in itself and created the personal video recorder product category. No need to sit down at a fixed date and time to watch a television show. Can you guess when Tivo launched? Yup, 1999.

On the shopping side, the birth of Epinions (again in 1999) was the first signal of the important role consumers would play regarding merchant and product recommendations via user reviews. Up until then, directory publishers were pretty much the sole gatekeepers in a very advertiser-focused world.

With the introduction of these new sites and tools, the only thing missing was a solid broadcast ecosystem. Facebook (and later Twitter) created those much needed amplifiers starting mid-decade. By building your social graph, you’re creating your own media network. I quickly clued in to this when I wrote my “Robert Scoble is Media” blog post. We were all becoming media (production and broadcast) including myself.

I’m actually a good case study of the power of social media tools. Up until I started blogging in 2006, I had an excellent professional reputation but in a very small circle of industry colleagues and peers. By blogging extensively since then and by using broadcast mechanisms provided by sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, my worldwide reputation has grown tremendously. I now have thousands of monthly industry readers on my blog and I’m often invited to speak at conferences. I’ve become an important influencer in the directory publishing industry and I’m amazed at the speed at which it happened.

So, what did we gain as a society? We now have more transparency, democracy and meritocracy. What did we lose? We lost common “experiences” (traditionally focused by media) and we’re not always sure who we can trust out there. There’s a lot more noise. But clearly, we’ve all become media by participating, with everything good and bad that comes with it and this will continue in the next decade.

[praized subtype="small" pid="66afa9c1b5e4cd2f613f200ec61d955d" type="badge" dynamic="true"] just released some interesting data around small merchant social media usage coming from their Local Commerce Monitor study.

Highlights:

  • 9% of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) currently use Twitter to market their businesses.
  • 32% of SMBs indicated they plan to include social media in their marketing mix in the next 12 months by using a page on a social site such as Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace.
  • 39% of SMBs plan to include customer ratings or reviews on their own Web sites
  • 31% plan to include links or ads placed on social sites or blogs.
  • The study revealed adoption of social media by SMBs is more prevalent among younger businesses. For example, 16% of SMBs that have been in business for less than 3 years use Twitter to promote themselves

What it means: still think real-time conversation and social media for small merchants is a fad or a dream? Think again. We’re only seeing the point of the iceberg. SMB adoption is now on the radar screen and will grow tremendously in the next 18 months.

As most people reading this blog know, I’m very active on Twitter (1000+ followers), Facebook (770+ “friends”) and LinkedIn (1300+ direct connections). I’m often asked how (and why) I use these three networks and wanted to share with my readers the usual answer I provide.

First, LinkedIn. According to their Web site, “LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals.” Launched in 2003, the site now has over 41 million members worldwide. LinkedIn has pretty much replaced my address book to find the most up to date contact information of my connections. It’s also how I find out when people change jobs or get promoted. It’s also extremely useful for business development opportunities. My 1300+ direct contacts give me access to more than 8.7M people in the site (that’s 22% of all LinkedIn members!). Suffice to say, I have easy access to almost everyone I need to talk to in the online media industry. I go to the site twice a day on average. I usually try to connect in LinkedIn with everyone I’ve met in person. I also accept connections from people that I’ve never met but have an interesting profile (high-profile individuals at known companies) or are connectors (headhunters, for example). If you fit those definitions, don’t hesitate to request a connection with me.

Second, Facebook. As most everyone know, Facebook is one of the leading social networking sites on the Web. According to their site, Facebook’s mission is “is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” Founded in 2004, the site now has more than 200 million active users and more than 100 million users log on to Facebook at least once each day. When I first joined the site, I started using Facebook pretty much like Linkedin, but even more openly. I started accepting invitations from almost everyone, especially if we had friends in common. Today, I’ve changed the way I use the site to make it more personal. I now connect in Facebook with friends, parents and close business contacts (usually means I’ve worked with you, I’ve met you many times at a business event and/or we’ve shared a great business meal/drink!). I use Facebook to post status updates (most of them originally posted in Twitter and mirrored in Facebook), interesting links, pictures I’ve taken (I don’t have a Flickr account) and I keep track of industry events I’m attending there. I find Facebook is a more interesting place to have “conversations” on people’s status updates because of the threaded nature of comments. It’s more personal. Facebook is one of the browser tabs I always keep open. In case, we know each other very well and you’ve slipped through the cracks and want to connect, I’m here.

Finally, Twitter. Twitter is a 140-character micro-blogging service. Started in 2006, Twitter is now used by 32M unique visitors worldwide (April 2009 ComScore data mentioned in Techcrunch). With its asynchronous connections (you don’t need to reciprocate a person following you), it serves as the perfect place for people I don’t know to connect with me. But I don’t follow everyone that follows me. I’m interested in individuals with strong opinions about almost anything and I’m not a fan of mundane things if I don’t know you well. I follow currently a little over 400 people while 1000 people follow me back. I use Twitter as a RSS reader, following my favorite bloggers, industry pundits and media sources in the Twitter feed. I also broadcast my new blog posts and interesting links related to the local/social media industries. I will also “tweet” personal stuff, often related to Montreal activities or interesting things I’ve seen (movies) or heard (music). It’s also a nice way to communicate directly with people through direct messages (in general, for my group, Twitter has replaced Facebook as the favorite way to send private messages). Twitter is another one of my open browser tabs. If you want to follow me, I’m at @sebprovencher

Big storm this week in the blogosphere as Robert Scoble’s Facebook account was temporarily suspended for breaking the site’s terms of service. He was using a new tool from Plaxo Pulse that was extracting and matching Plaxo and Facebook users. As Robert said: “I wanted to get all my contacts into my Microsoft Outlook address book and hook them up with the Plaxo system, which 1,800 of my friends are already on.” Scoble was eventually reinstated but the debate about data portability now rages on (see also DataPortability.org).

Linkedin export function

A few minutes ago, I discovered that LinkedIn now allows you to export your data in various formats (.CSV and .VCF). I don’t know how long they’ve been offering this feature (not long I suspect) but it’s an extremely smart move to position themselves as the definite business-oriented social network. Bravo!

Best summary is on Read/WriteWeb:

To summarize: today LinkedIn announced some cool new features and made more promises about what will be a closed platform for select 3rd party partners, built on top of an API of questionable worth and targeted at business users with a history of disinterest in social applications. It’s not ready yet. Did we mention that the users will be people with money, though? I imagine that for that reason if nothing else, widget developers will remain very interested. I’d like to see LinkedIn do something better than this, though.

What it means: although the announcement is still a bit “vaporware-ish”, I think there is tremendous potential in tapping into the LinkedIn user crowd. If developers can build useful B2B-oriented apps, strong adoption could follow. But LinkedIn needs to open up the API to a larger developer base before it happens. Another developing story to keep on your radar screen but no short-term action.

With the rise of Facebook and the arrival of the OpenSocial ecosystem, web site operators are left wondering about prioritization. Which social network(s) should I embrace, where should I invest my time, what site(s) offer the biggest bang for the buck if I build an application?

The folks at Compete have analyzed member overlap at various social networks and explain their findings in this blog post. The graph below shows those interactions.

Compete Social Network Member Overlap

Here are some of the highlights:

  • 20% of MySpace members are also Facebook members.
  • 64% of Facebook members are also on MySpace.
  • Bebo, Hi5 and Friendster all share more than 49% of their members with MySpace.
  • LinkedIn shares 42% of its members with Facebook and 32% with MySpace.

What it means: From a sheer size point of view, Facebook and MySpace are interesting but operators should not underestimate the reach of Bebo, Friendster, Hi5 and LinkedIn. Some of these social networks are very strong in different parts of the globe and, depending where your user base is located, could make interesting platforms for your applications. In addition, LinkedIn and Viadeo reach a business-oriented user base.

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