Join Us for the #u30pro One Year Anniversary Chat

Photo cred: Theresa Thompson

Tonight will be the One Year Anniversary of the very first #u30pro chat.

Oh the memories.  Chats with 10 people attending.  Launching the digest.  Scott joining the team.  It’s been a really exciting year for the community.

Tonight we’re going to bring back a crowd-favorite topic: Networking.  We discussed this topic almost a year ago and we’re ready to hit it up with the full force of what the chat has become today.

In just a year a lot has changed in the networking discussion.  The job market is different, starting a blog does always do what it used to, and new tools are coming out every day.  The discussion will be sure to come out with some valuable insights into networking in 2010 and beyond.

So, thank you for making the #u30pro community into what it is today.  It’s been an amazing experience for Lauren, Scott and myself.  We have some big plans for the next year, including a website, more meetups (the first one with Brazen Careerist was lots of fun last night) and more.

We hope you’ll join us tonight at 8pm est for the One Year Anniversary chat on Networking.

Should Your Community Manager be a Leader?

Photo cred: Steve Jurvetson

Does a Community Manager need to be a leader?

I asked this question and god a lot of different views after a really insightful conversation with Teresa Basich on twitter.  I think that leadership CAN play a role in community management in a number of ways, but it is not a pre-requisite.

When talking about something as broad and undefined as “Community Management”, you’re going to get a lot of varied angles.

The Community Manager can be a leader in the space.

When I think about this, I think about people like DJ Waldow, the Community Manager for Blue Sky Factory.  People view DJ as a leader in the email marketing space and so his participation in the “email marketing community” will drive potential customers to their service.

I think about people like Andrew Hyde who until recently was the Community Director for TechStars.  Andrew has become a leader in the startup space, starting projects like Startup Weekend (which is so awesome), and so by participating in the start-up space, he drives more recognition and credibility to TechStars.

This obviously isn’t all they do, but I see it as a big part.

If your Community Manager is a recognized leader in the space, their influence can really help your brand.  Imagine if Seth Godin emailed you, personally asking you to write about his project on your blog.  Chances are, you’ll give that email some real consideration.

The Community Manager can be a leader for the brand’s community.

When I think about this role, I think about Ryan Paugh, the Director of Community for Brazen Careerist.  Ryan is extremely active within the Brazen community.  He drives conversations, acknowledges loyal users and is constantly interacting.  He is the leader of the Brazen community in my eyes.

I think about Erin Bury, the Community Manager for Sprouter.  Erin hosts events for entrepreneurs, interacts and drives the community within Sprouter.  She too is a leader for her brand’s community.

This gives the community a central person to turn to with their feedback, and questions.  It gives a face to the brand.

The Community Manager should be a leader within the company.

See Andreana Drencheva’s post that reminded me of this one.

This is an important one. I think that whoever is driving your company’s community efforts should be a leader within your company.

They should be someone who has the authority to make decisions and influence other decision makers.

They should be someone who can take the needs of the community and implement them quickly.

They should be a leader in the company because when they interact, it makes the customer and community feel more entitled.  It lets the community know that you care about them.  If your intern is talking to me on twitter, I feel a lot less connected to your brand than if I’m talking to the CEO.

With that said…

I don’t think that the community manager absolutely has to be a leader.  Or at least, there are different ways to look at it.  I think one great method is the “Lead from behind” method (Thanks Alexa).  It’s about understanding what drives a community and providing the resources for it do grow.  It’s about identifying the natural leaders in your community and letting them lead.

A Community Manager might have more “behind the scenes” responsibilities, depending on their goals.  If they’re more strategy focused, they may just need to be savvy in putting the pieces in place.  They may have more of a marketing focus, working more on campaigns.

What’s your take?  Does a Community Manager need to be a leader?

Book Review: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

I’ve wanted to start doing book reviews for a while, so I’m just going to kick it off with this one.  I just finished reading this book, but have been running barefoot since I was about halfway through it a couple weeks ago (I know I’m a slow reader).

I just got back from a 6 mile run on the beach, barefoot, and needed to let you guys know about this book.  I have some serious knee issues and haven’t been able to run more than 2 miles without going through a lot of pain…until I read this book.

Check out the review, and if you’ve read the book, let me know what you thought of it.

I will always be completely honest about the books I read.  I’ll give each book a 1-10 rating at the end. I hope that you’ll find the quick reviews helpful…

Amazon (affil): Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

How Geo Technology Can Be Used for Control

Photo cred: Jose Maria Cuellar

“Technology … is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.”

~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971

Check in sites like foursquare and gowalla are taking the web by storm. The concept of sharing your location with others would never have made it a few years ago. Today, people are literally racing to check in the most.

It’s a game! It’s fun. You check in, earn badges, compete against your friends and others, and if you’re the best there may even be physical rewards waiting for you.

Awesome. I love it. Privacy has changed and we need to accept that. Just enjoy the new technology!

I want to pose a different situation though. One where instead of checking into locations for fun, it becomes a requirement.

It can start with society’s establishments that utilize control today. Parents, teachers, coaches etc…

  • Can a coach use foursquare to make sure his players are going to the gym to work out?
  • Can a teacher user Gowalla to see if their students are in the library the night before a test or out drinking? Can they require that you check in instead of taking attendance?  Perhaps they need to attend a play outside of class and the teacher requires they check in when they get there.
  • Can a parent know every place that their kid goes to by making them check in where ever they go?
  • Can the police track convicts who are out on parole?

Take it a step further and look at geo-fencing.  The concept behind geo-fencing is pretty simple; areas are separated by “fences”.  When you cross a fence, your mobile device can automatically receive or send out a notification.  It can also automatically check in.  This way, others can know when you enter, and when you leave a location.

Apparently, parents are already using this to see when their kids leave school.  As soon as they cross the fence around their school, their parents can receive a notification.

Mix geofencing with rfid technology, and you can come up with some crazy stuff.  My friend Alex Tan gives a great example:

“Imagine my refrigerator knowing that my rfid tagged milk was just thrown away, syncing to the cloud and telling my mobile device about my updated shopping list. Then when i get to the store, using geo-fencing, it launches an app to tell me what I need to buy and where it is in the store.”

This IS the future.  The potential to use these technologies to enhance our daily lives is immense.  But the potential to control out daily lives is equally immense.

What if, instead of using technologies ability to track everything in your life for fun, or for utility, it was used by  an entity that had authority over you?  With RFID’s, you won’t even need to have a smart phone.  Anything can be tagged.  RFIDs can be implanted in people.  What if police implanted these chips in criminals?

My point isn’t to come across as one of those “Big Brother is coming” freaks.  Rather, it’s to get you to think about the technology you’re using today and realize its potential.  Realize it’s capacity for entertainment and utility, but also its capacity for other things…for less benevolent things.

When control isn’t in our hands, how will geo technology be used?

8 Privacy Observations: All Your “Surface Information” are Belong to Us

Photo cred: Frog Design

Woah…Are you crazy bro? You’re going to check in?! But, everyone will know where you are! What if they want to rape or rob or…omg… what if there’s a creepy stalker dude just following you everywhere taking pictures to use in internet sex pornos?!

…wait, you don’t care?

1. “Surface information” is public property.

To this point, we’ve known privacy to mean that ONLY the people that we choose to bring in, will know things like your middle name, your location, the things you like, the things you hate, where you go at night, and who “it’s complicated” with…

We’ll call this “surface information“.  Surface information is the demographics of an individual.  It’s the type of stuff you add to your facebook profile.  If you’re still holding on to that information like it’s the key to your humanity…give up.

This information is no longer private. Privacy as we knew it is dead.

2. The kids and their rap music.

Think millenials are the ones changing the concept of privacy? Just wait…  Millenials’ children will have an entirely different view of privacy.  They’ll know the “innovative” platforms of today as the norm.  They’ll be raised with the understanding that their surface information is not their own but rather that of their networks.

There is a clear human need to share and connect that, with social sites like facebook and twitter, has knocked our previous perception of privacy and interaction on its ass.  I’ve witnessed this transformation throughout my life.  I can only imagine what’s in store for my kids…although if I have a daughter, she’s going to be locked in her room until she’s 18 and all tweets will have to be approved.

3.  The tools are coming.

So now that we know people love to share stuff, and connect with people based on the stuff they share, we will continue to build tools that allow for this human need to flourish.

As more tools are created to connect people and share information, more people will connect, and more information will be openly shared.

Foursquare is a new generation of technology that allows people to share information.

And it won’t stop there.  An interesting new startup was born out of Startup Weekend NYC recently.  It’s called Data Dough, and it allows people to “Take back the CASH companies like facebook and twitter make off of YOUR data!”.  People already love to share useless shit about themselves.  Imagine if they could actually make money by doing so…  Privacy what?

4. Businesses are starting to see the value in social platforms.

This means they’re more willing to pay to reach people on social platforms.  This means social platforms are more willing to sell your information.

When facebook made some this stuff automatically public, people had a fucking conniption. It was the end of the world. Our sacred information was just out there for anyone to have their way with.

Thing is, this information really isn’t worth much to us and is no longer considered worthy of hiding. In fact, we want people to know this stuff. We want others to know who we know, who we hang out with and as much of this “surface level” information as possible.

It actually makes our lives better when businesses know our tastes.  I can stop getting shitty ads about losing 50 pounds in 5 days and start getting more shitty ads about getting 20000 twitter followers in 15 minutes.  Much more targeted.

5. It’s not up to you.

You can try your best to control all of your surface information.  Unfortunately, we’re in an age where information is very often, crowdsourced.  That means that if you don’t post up pictures of yourself, someone else will. Anything you do or say in public is fair game on the social web.  So  unless you want to live like a hermit, you’re probably just going to have to accept it.

6. Augmented reality + facial recognition = everyone knows everyone at the surface.

Check out the image at the top of this post and the other sweet designs that Frog design came up with for augmented reality in our day-to-day lives.  Now realize, that the technology already exists, and this is not too far away.  The potential implications are vast, and will undoubtedly, redefine our perception of privacy in the next 10 years.

7. But don’t worry, you’re relatively safe.

As  documentation technology becomes increasingly engrained in society, the ability to do evil without being caught decreases greatly.  There are more eyes watching you so it’s harder to commit crimes without being seen.  More eyes watching means more information can be safely shared.

Try mugging someone in a major city and running away.  You’ll be more evidentially fucked than BP on earth day.

8. Real secrets are still yours to keep…even more so!

Privacy is becoming black and white. Some things you share with everyone, and other things you share with no one.  That means that the information you hold near and dear to your heart are more safe than ever.

Why?

People think that because they know your surface information, that they know who you are.  People are lazy, and so if they can convince themselves that they know everything about a person from checking their facebook page and a quick google search, they won’t dig much deeper.

That’s all I got.  You might disagree but it’s a clear trend in my eyes.  What are your thoughts? …or are you keeping them a secret?  Smart ass.

The Battle Between Our Hearts and Our Cameras

There’s this gorgeous little red cardinal that hangs out in my back yard.  I always try to get a picture of it but it’s the most elusive fricken thing ever. It’ll stay perfectly still until I point my lens in its direction, then it darts off right before I get a clear shot.

I get so frustrated because I want to record it’s beauty to be shared with the people around me…but I can’t damnit.  Only I got to see it.

I’m more concerned with documenting its beauty than I am in experiencing it for myself.

I watched Ricky Van Veen speak at the Mashable Media Summit where he spoke about this trend.  He showed a picture (seen above), from the Youth Ball on inauguration night, of President Obama and the first lady on stage. All the young people in the crowd, instead of looking at the president, looked at the back of their phones and cameras as they were taking pictures and recording video.

He said:

“We have a new generation that places documentation above experience”

It’s amazing how true this is, and it doesn’t stop there…

Because of the increased focus on sharing, and documenting experiences, there’s now this trend where we might even plan our experiences around the value of their documentation.

Could the ability to check in to foursquare and document your night determine which bar you go to?  Would my twitter followers be more interested in my thoughts on tonight’s movie premier, or my pictures from tonight’s concert?  Would a college student skip a frat party because of the possible negative facebook documentation that could occur?

Ricky gave the example of a girl deciding whether or not to go to a dance based on the potential pictures that she could take and share at the event.  Documentation is actually impacting our what we do and how we act.

We’re starting to think about the value of documenting our experiences, before the experience itself.

What happens when we can no longer sit back and enjoy something beautiful or fascinating simply for the experience? When the things that usually excite us are only exciting when documented?

The questions for you:

The point of Ricky’s talk was about content and regardless of your opinion on this trend, it’s a trend nevertheless.  So from a business perspective, is your content providing an experience worth documenting? And are you making it easy to document that experience?

Where else can you apply this trend?

Photo cred: Todd Ryburn

Don’t Hire a Community Manager for Their Network

Photo cred: Paul Walsh

I’m not going to get into the debate about the definition of a “community manager”. For the sake of this post, lets consider it someone who’s job is to product content for an audience, interact with that audience, and take care of the internal community.

There’s a trend in who’s being hired as community managers. They’re usually young, they “omg love love love” social media, they’re already active in the company’s target market and they have already established a large network.

I’m going to talk about the last part.

Now I understand why having an established network can seem appealing to a company. Let me address some of the assumptions that I see pretty often.

“If they can build a strong network around their personal brand, they can do the same for our brand.”

  • No. Well, maybe… Building a personal network is very different from building a company’s brand. The core difference is the motivation.  You don’t have a boss demanding that you show results when you’re building a personal brand. You’re not doing it for anyone but yourself.
  • “By hiring this person, we automatically get their network to become part of our community”

  • No. Well, maybe… Sure, since the person you’re hiring is passionate about your company, they’ll want to share it with their network. They can’t just automatically convert their friends into fans of your brand though. Their network might be an “in” for your brand, but it will have little long term value for you if the person doesn’t give their network (and the rest of the brand’s audience) something to share and support (aka they don’t do their job well).
  • “But their network supports them so much now. They think the world of them!”

  • That could certainly be a good sign. It could also be a sign that this person is reliant on their network to get things done. “Community management” isn’t calling in favors to your friends. It takes a lot more business knowledge.
  • “They speak at a ton of events! Now they can go talk about our company at those events”

  • No, well sort of. They can’t just go up and talk about your brand the whole time. It will however, bring great credibility to your brand as they’ll be representing you, as an “expert” voice in the field. I’m sure they’ll slip a couple plugs in there too. Just don’t think that you can replace their usual content with information about your brand.
  • There are just a few of the common misconceptions about the value in hiring a community manager with a big network. Remember, you’re hiring for a position that requires as much business know-how as it does “social” know-how.

    Having a large network is a good sign that the person knows how to connect with people, and that they’re committed to their career.  If you hire a community manager strictly for their popularity however, you’re making a heavy investment for a very short-term gain.