The subject of the conference was ‘Web 2.0 and Relationships.’ Web 2.0 is one of those terms I’ve seen bandied about and thus absorbed but never attributed an exact definition to. I knew it was the social side of the web but White introduced it clearly and set the context of how user led sites such as twitter and Facebook (2.0) are replacing provider led sites (1.0) such as company information sites.
David Phillips spoke first about the DNA of social media being about values and how it is shared values and shared understanding of mutually held values that create relationships. His views on how our manifestation of trust (reputation) is intangible but that intangibles can turn tangibles into values was fascinating, especially when he made clear how this equated to the cold stuff! As I understood it, when a tangible product has a positive reputation it can sell itself on its values. It took me back to my days in sales when I had it drilled into me that people don’t buy products, they buy features and benefits; I can see the relevance to web 2.0 but I still have my reservations about the applicability to kitchens.
Next up was Alex Sass of Renegade Media who spoke about ‘buzz’ and the fact that ‘brand advocacy is even more important than brand image or brand satisfaction.’ He built on the foundations laid by Phillips about the significance of relationships and has coined the fantastic title of being ‘head of Homophily’ which really encapsulated the thrust of the conference for me. He explained the benefits of twitter for realtime customer service and clarified (for me at least) the significance of Blogger outreach - I was amazed to hear that blogs are the third most important links for SEO after military and academic and that ten blogs linking a video will put that video at number one on Google. Sass also explained why Facebook ads are good value for money (they raise brand awareness and a click-through rate of 0.1% makes them cheap) and that ‘the credibility of Google is inversely proportional to SEO.’ His final message was that the technology is a given and that we ought to invest in sociology. It was a lot of information in a relatively short presentation but it was all accessible even for a newbie like me.
www.twitter.com/thedogsdaily (no comment)
After a break, Aren Grimshaw of Tonick Media gave the final presentation. Grimshaw expanded on the community building aspects and made a clear distinction between what is and what is not community, bringing home the core message of the evening that social media relationships are about quality and not quantity. His experiences of Twestival and social media cafes was engaging and set their usage clearly within the wider social media picture.
After a long day at work, an evening conference can feel like a huge demand on your time and energy but I met some very interesting people during the networking opportunities and the three presentations, while covering a huge amount of information benefited from lively and enthusiastic speakers. I’ve gained a greater awareness of what social media is about and what it can achieve and have been left eager to join Richard Hudson’s DigiTalks Cheltenham and speak further with Stuart Croft of the Independence Trust.
Update: 10 Yetis got in touch saying that something about the sum of SEO claims didn’t ring quite true for them. After checking their facts they said that blogs being the third most important links for SEO after military and academic and that ten blogs linking a video will put that video at number one on Google was inaccurate.
What to do? I respect 10 Yetis (they have an office dog, enough said) but I paid money to see Alex Sass as a speaker at a conference. I’ve been in academia long enough to be faced with the question of making sense of conflicting arguments between respected sources before but it was a very different industry. In academia there is a hierarchy of journals which ‘experts’ are set against. I like to say that working towards my PhD makes me an expert on my very specific area of Southeast Asian Political Economy but the truth is that until a key journal publishes me or a key institution hires me, that expertise is easily negated against someone with those strings to their bow.
How then are we to make judgements in a web 2.0 world? The very nature of the developing internet (as highlighted by #AddMe) is based on relationships and as I have a relationship with 10 Yetis (fledgling as it is) I felt swayed by Andy Barr’s updates. To even the playing field I went to speak to Alex Sass via twitter... He doesn’t tweet. His last update was over a week ago! I hesitated and then clicked his web link. I was taken to his company website where a quick scroll revealed his email address. I never bothered to email him.
While I was willing to put off writing this update until I had left work (I may upload at work but I write in my own time) if I was going to talk to him I wanted to do it quickly. I keep an eye on twitter all day and as much is connected to my work, I can justify (to myself, I hasten to add. I don’t work at the kind of loony bin that monitors web usage) the odd tweet here and there to people I want to share ideas with. But I don’t have time to compose emails; creating subjects to compete with what is no doubt an influx and deciding what sign off is appropriate. I have print companies to liaise with, volunteers to manage, the phone to answer and an event to organise... I’m 140 characters able to chat to you but nothing more than that.
I’ve been mulling this over this afternoon (while boiling the kettle, while locking up the conference centre, while waiting at the lights on my commute home) and the conclusion that I’m not completely happy with is that my ‘truth’ is the one that I share values with. 10 Yetis work within my reality and Alex Sass does not. It might be the case that Alex Sass is correct and 10 Yetis are wrong but I don’t have time to find out. My position on blogs being the third most important links for SEO after military and academic and that ten blogs linking a video will put that video at number one on Google is that I don’t honestly know but crucially, if asked my opinion, what is at the forefront of my mind is that there is doubt over this and I haven’t discredited the doubt.
With 10 Yetis I’m buying into their features and benefits (their expediency) with their product (the facts) as a secondary concern and that solidifies for me what Phillips was saying about social media turning relationships into reputation building.