November 25, 2009

Video of Biz Stone press conference in Israel

Ayelet NoffI was invited yesterday morning to the Biz Stone press conference hosted by the College of Management in Tel Aviv, Israel. For me personally, it was very exciting to meet one of the founders of the social platform that I love and admire the most. Biz didn’t surprise us with any new acquisition in Israel but mostly talked about the role that Twitter has been playing until now and what the future holds for the company. He did say that 2010 is the year that Twitter will start making real money. Continue reading

November 24, 2009

The New Journalist in the Age of Social Media

New Media Lab brings together nonprofits, citizen journalists, social media experts

JD LasicaI‘m at Day 2 of a remarkable two-day conference that is bringing nonprofits, citizen journalism and social media together in ways I’ve never seen before.

I’m jazzed, hopeful and intrigued by the challenges ahead. The passion in the room is palpable. The 40 people who convened at the Visioning Summit yesterday in San Francisco, and the 30 participants who are steering the program today, consist of some of the most talented and forward-thinking innovators — nonprofit execs, strategists, journalists from the Bay Area, Miami and Finland — that I’ve come across in recent years.

Above is the presentation I gave at this gathering, organized by a group of nonprofits in a project called the New Media Lab (there’s no public presence yet, just a private wiki). And while its focus is squarely on the role that journalist/media producers will play in our project, it can also be applied to the new roles that journalists should be expected to take up in an age of social media if you work for a startup, whether it’s for-profit or nonprofit.

Called Doing Good 2.0: The next-generation’s impact on communication, media, mobile & civic engagement, it looks at the forces driving Web 2.0 and the next-generation Internet, the role of mobile, the new cultural norms that social media is ushering in, and the role of the New Journalist: how we need to still tell compelling stories about people and causes but how we also need to expand our repertoire in this new arena by wearing multiple hats:

• entrepreneur
• conversation facilitator
• social marketer
• futurist
• metrics & research nerd
• journalist/storyteller

Here are some of the questions we’ve just begun to tackle:

Should nonprofits create their own media?

What should be the business model for social cause organizations in the future?

Continue reading

November 23, 2009

OutLoud: A new way to distribute your content

outbrainAyelet NoffLast week Eytan Galai, brother of Yaron Galai (founder of Quigo, which was sold to AOL) came to our offices to show us all the latest that’s been happening with Outbrain. For those who don’t know, Outbrain has recently launched its revenue program OutLoud.

For $10 a month, you can submit an interesting article to OutLoud. Outbrain will then take the articles you submitted — ranging from journalism and blog entries to press releases for which you want to get more visibility — and recommend them on relevant pages across thousands of sites using their content recommendation engine, ranging from USA Today, Slate, Fox and Tribune to Golf.com and the SportingNews.
Continue reading

November 20, 2009

YouTube’s role in citizen journalism

Olivia Ma on YouTube as a news channel from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaDuring the recent annual conference of the Online News Association in San Francisco, I had a chance to sit down (literally on the floor) with Olivia Ma, news manager in YouTube’s News & Politics team.

YouTube is in the news again this week with the rollout of YouTube Direct, a tool to make it easy for YouTube users to submit clips that news media companies can choose to highlight. NPR, Politico, The Huffington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle are among the early participants. Scroll down to see the video explaining the program and YouTube’s announcement. (YouTube Direct was still in development when I interviewed Olivia.)

Olivia (@oliviama on Twtter — follow her!) talks about YouTube‘s astonishing growth, the birth of the YouTube Reporters Center — it’s a resource to help you learn how to report news, with instructional videos with tips and advice for better reporting from top journalists — and how YouTube has become a video platform for hundreds of US senators and congresspersons.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo
Watch the low-res transcoded version on YouTube
Watch the video on Blip

Some highlights from our conversation:

• Every 60 seconds, 20 hours’ worth of video is being uploaded to YouTube, which is equivalent to 86,000 full-length Hollywood films being uploaded every week.

• As of this past spring, the US Senate and House of Representatitves now have hubs on YouTube. Some 98 senators nearly 400 of the 435 members of the House now have YouTube pages, as well as many government agencies. “It’s amazing to see how governments around the world are starting to use this as a way to engage with their constituents,” Olivia says.

• Olivia reminds us that, with millions of people now carrying around video-enabled cellphones, Flips and Kodak Zi8s, you don’t need fancy video recording equipment to capture newsworthy or interesting moments. “Just do it,” she says. “If you’ve got the means, just start shooting video and start putting it up on the Web.”

• Some companies are still nervous about having a presence on YouTube. But Google encourages businesses to come on board. Olivia notes that YouTube now has thousands of professional content partners, ranging from Hollywood studios and tech companies to news organizations. So there should no longer be a hesitancy among online news organizations about whether you’re allowed to post to YouTube. You are.

Thanks, Olivia, for the interesting insights and for being good sport by agreeing to sit on the hallway carpet as the conference was winding down.

While I admire YouTube for all it’s doing to enable citizen media, I’m less than happy right now because I’ve tried several times to get high-def versions of my videos (including this interview with Olivia) working on YouTube, without success. So I’ll put that down as a to-do list for early December: Figure out why my standard compression settings for high-def H.264 video aren’t good enough for YouTube.

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November 19, 2009

HP responds to ‘Why I love public transportation and hate HP’

David SparkAt the beginning of November I wrote an article titled Why I love public transportation and hate HP after a horrible customer service experience with HP where I had to wait two hours for technical service after I had paid for their tier 2 service. I compared it to public transportation in San Francisco because now we have transponders on our buses letting us know how long we’ll have to wait. That information is very valuable, allowing us to make a decision on how to proceed. Should I wait, take another bus, or hail a cab?

While I like HP products and the actual service was excellent, the wait angered me so much that it has irreparably damaged my opinion of the HP brand. I was contacted by two people at HP and spoke to one of them on the phone off the record. I wanted something on the record that I could print here, so I sent two questions for which the HP representative said he would get an “on the  record” response. After a week and a half, here are the responses to my two questions from Jodi Schilling, Vice President, HP Global Customer Support Operations for the Americas. I reserve my opinions and follow-up questions for you readers until after you read the responses.

My Q&A with HP

David: What is HP doing to educate customers about their wait time online for customer service/technical support? I don’t want to know that on average you answer tech questions in 10 minutes. I want to know how someone who either gets stuck online for a while can figure out what’s happening so they can make an educated decision. For example, when I look at the Muni wait time and it says 45 minutes for the next bus, I know I should take an alternate route. If I know I’m going to be waiting for two hours on hold, I know to take an alternate route.

HP’s response: HP’s focus has been to answer all calls in a timely manner, and we typically do so in 2 minutes or less. In your particular case, it appeared to have been during a time period of unusual and extremely high call volume and we are currently increasing our staffing to ensure minimal hold times. It also looked as if you were transferred twice, which added to the wait time, unfortunately. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

Thank you for your suggestion about the wait time notification system. Although HP currently does not have a system like this in place, we may consider adding one in the future. With the volume of calls coming into HP and being routed to multiple call center locations, estimating hold times is no easy task. The length of technical support calls can also vary widely depending on the issues being discussed and the level of technical expertise of the customer, so providing accurate estimates would be a challenge.

David: Is the official complaint line [email protected]? How are people supposed to know that? Is there a phone number people can call? You said that hundreds of thousands of people send emails, but I’m sure plenty more would if they knew that. Have you done some type of PR campaign to promote that email address? I know that if I click on a couple of screens and scroll to the bottom I can find that, but really, who would know?

Mark HurdHP’s response: Customers are asked for feedback on their support experience after nearly every support interaction, either by phone, on the HP Customer Care site, or following support chats and via email. We greatly value customer feedback and take action on it whenever feasible. If customers have specific complaints, they are encouraged to submit them online here. (Note: This is a form to “email HP CEO Mark Hurd [pictured at right] your suggestions and complaints.”)

My take on HP’s response

While I appreciate HP reaching out to me, I wasn’t that impressed with their response.

1. They’re very sorry about my two hour wait, yet they took a week and a half to answer my two questions. That doesn’t jibe. Continue reading

November 19, 2009

Using Twitter Lists to manage your reputation

How to use Lists to monitor your personal & professional brands

Joanna LordThere’s been a lot of talk about Twitter Lists. How do you use them? How can they be improved? What is Twitter hoping to do with them … down the road? Not to mention the many posts on how pointless or awesome they are. Gotta love the Twitter buzz.

Well, I’m going to take a step back and focus on an actual use I’ve found for the new addition to our Twitter bag-of-tricks. Over the past few weeks I’ve started using the lists function in my online reputation management (ORM) endeavors. For those of you not that familiar with ORM and its many awesome faces, let me share with you a few things. Continue reading