Realtime NY 11 (Part 1 of 4)

I had the opportunity to start my first day of Internet Week NY 2011 at BB King’s for Realtime NY 11.  Thankfully, the coffee was flowing readily by the time I got there!  The day is overflowing with content (including workshops that are being run in another room at the same time as panels), so check out the rest of the participants’ tweets at the hashtag #RLTM for more viewpoints and news from the room where I’m not.

Social Business Starting with Twitter

Laura Fitton, (@pistachio)


The day’s presentations began with a presentation by Laura Fitton on how social business starts with Twitter.  It’s a great place for businesses to start in social, even if a company is just in listening mode.  Twitter is, according to Fitton, a global sensing and signaling network.


Fitton used recent news stories that spread through Twitter, like the raid on Osama Bin Laden and the USAirways landing on the Hudson River, as a series of mini case studies.    She shared a few comments about how people and businesses benefit from Twitter:


  • The message is the influencer: The right idea will attract attention just as well as the right name.
  • Any to many: If you’re at the right place at the right time (e.g., the first TwitPic posted of a plane landing on the Hudson), then your message will spread well beyond your immediate network.
  • People with more connections have more options:  Twitter is like the golf course; it’s a chance to start a rapport and build up trust. Job opportunities, personal relationships, and business opportunities all have started on Twitter.


Fitton’s four word cheat sheet, be it for Twitter, Social media, or life is:


  1. Listen – Don’t wait for a crisis to start pay attention to your customers
  2. Learn – Act on what you’re hearing and learn from your mistakes!
  3. Care – Dress nice, introduce yourself, and be a good conversationalist
  4. Serve – Create great content (and don’t just make it about you!)


Twitter is a bit like stand-up comedy: sometimes your posts need to be a little weird or a little remarkable to be shared.  If you think virally, then your message is more likely to be picked up.  In regard to tools (something critical to Fitton’s, there are plenty to choose from, so you have to chose the right one for the task at hand.


Welcome to Realtime

Tonia Ries, #RLTM (@tonia_ries)


Today’s program features dozens of speakers and participants from 12 countries (and only one attendee was stranded by a missed connecting flight overseas!)  Ries shared anecdotes from the first TWITRCON (Can customer service on Twitter scale? How does MC Hammer have 800,000 followers?) and discussed how the realtime web has grown to create real business opportunities for Twitter users.


Listen Up! Turning Conversations into Business Opportunities

Moderator – Stephen Rappaport, ARF (@steverappaport)

Randall Brown, Gatorade (@RandallB3)

Jeff Cole, Kellogg

Frank Eliason, Citibank (@frankeliason)

Victoria Harres, PR Newswire (@victoriaharres)


  • What is listening?
  • How does your firm listen?
  • How does your firm act on its listening?
  • How does your firm measure the effectiveness of your listening?
  • How is your firm organized for listening?
  • Where is it all going?


Companies, in general, are poor at listening.  While 90% of companies are listening, only 17% of companies have acted upon that listening, according to Eliason.  He sees Gatorade as a star at listening.  Brown described Gatorade’s “Mission Control”, their effort to make listening the core of their business, bringing social media personnel, marketers, and agency partners in house.  These experts can connect and act upon customer sentiment and concerns in a very short time frame.


Eliason notes that PR people tend to listen for the next PR nightmare, not for clues to product or process improvement.  Listening at PR Newswire has evolved organically as they’ve defined who should be listening and responding to customer needs, according to Harres.


Listening is easy at Kellogg, but acting on that is difficult.  As part of the operations team, Cole has had the opportunity to bring all the stakeholders together.  Companies have traditionally viewed themselves in terms of their products, Eliason notes, but customers and social media channels view them as a single brand.  Internal stakeholders need to change their point of view to facilitate a better conversation.  The customer and the social web own the conversation, firms are just invited guests.


Companies are too concerned about measurement, according to Eliason, and they run the risk of overlooking the importance of customer relationship and engagement.  Stories about experiences from delighted customers trump data points.  As “goofy” as the “lunatic fringe” is, according to Harres, they often have a nugget of truth in what they are saying, so you can’t ignore their complaints.


Social media is like a time machine, in the words of Rappaport, as you have a historical record of what customers are saying over time.  This helps planners determine which views are outliers and which are trends, according to Brown.  As the world changes and new interdependencies are forming, marketing mixes and strategies need to change.  Companies need to break down the silos between marketing, PR, and customer relations.  All of these departments have different goals and different metrics for ROI.  It’s difficult to roll all of these up into one ROI figure, but this creates as much of an opportunity as it does difficulty.  Instead of viewing listening in terms of cost-cutting, companies need to view it in terms of the value added.


Case Study: Show Me the Money (Part 1) – The Value of Being Liked

Tamara Mendelsohn, Eventbrite (@tmendelsohn)


Developing a startup that can disrupt the entrenched players is a lot like surfing, according to Mendelsohn.  Like surfers challenging monster waves, entrepreneurs have to be brave and a little crazy to navigate emerging technology and markets.


While Eventbrite’s traffic traditionally came from organic search, social sharing through Facebook emerged as a traffic driver.  Upon implementation of a Facebook connect mechanism (allowing ticket buyers to share links to their walls), there was an almost immediate increase in ticket sale growth.


Social media allows event organizers to easily and inexpensively reach a large number of potential ticket buyers through buyers’ social graphs.  Moreover, it allows them to reach people that are like their buyers and who are more likely to become ticket buyers themselves.  This “virtuous cycle” creates an opportunity for business growth.


By analyzing how events are shared and from where tickets are bought, Eventbrite has calculated that a single share on Facebook generates an average of $2.52 of ticket sales.  More social events generated even higher value, with music events averaging $12 of sales per share.  While business events are more often shared, social events generate more purchases.  This is attributed to closer social bonds; you’re more likely to invite friends to a concert and looser acquaintances to conferences.


Case Study: The Future of the Realtime Brand

Shiv Singh, PepsiCo Beverages (@shivsingh)


Realtime marketing, especially for lifestyle brands, is going to be the future of marketing.  The sooner companies embrace this fact, the more successful they will be, according to Singh.  There are 30 billion Facebook updates published every month.  A brand no longer is competing against only against other brands, but also against these billions of messages.


We can go from strategy to design to media planning to going live in a matter of minutes using social tools. (Singh envisioned a dream scenario of running into Lady Gaga drinking a Pepsi on the streets of New York City and sharing a photo of this with his customers.)  He has a real-time framework for engagement and marketing in a real-time timeframe (hours instead of months):


  • Real-time Insights
  • Real-time Response
  • Real-time content studio
  • Real-time co-creation
  • Real-time distribution
  • Real-time engagement


All of these factors need to sit within a geographic and cultural frame in order to resonate with the right segment.  For example, Singh explained how Pepsi advertised their Diet Pepsi skinny can during Fashion week:


  1. Brand journalist reporting live
  2. Digital displays on location
  3. Third party blogger content aggregated
  4. Social advertising riding the cultural wave
  5. Brand positioning – Get the Skinny


While Facebook Like counts are not a true measure of success, Diet Pepsi recruited 90,000+ new fans in February thanks in large part to these efforts.


It’s not enough to look at the world through the lens of people, Singh beliefs; we also have to look at it through the lens of pop culture.  Trends are critical.  He also believes that companies are underestimating geographic data; as we go more global, we also go more hyper-local.


Singh left the crowd with a few take-away messages on how to succeed in real-time:


  1. Ride “glocal” culture trends as they’re shaped by consumers
  2. Target hard support by psychologists and cultural groups
  3. Engage in real-time meaningfully it’ll amplify everything
  4. Crete a content studio to operate as media in real-time
  5. Organize to go strategy to execution in seconds
  6. Don’t limit this to digital – make everything addressable!


(Note that since wi-fi is spotty at the conference, this post will be updated with photos later.)

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