July 26, 2010

‘United Breaks Guitars’: Social media tips the scales

United Breaks Guitars: The interview from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

Musician Dave Carroll’s advice to companies: Respect your customers

JD LasicaAsmart company these days understands that everybody has a voice. So the best way to avoid a public relations nightmare is to give great customer service right out of the gate. “It’s a bad day when a customer’s upset,” says Dave Carroll, creator of the viral three-part musical trilogy United Breaks Guitars.


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I met Carroll just after his keynote at the annual conference of the Society for New Communications Research (I’m a senior fellow). Carroll gave a funny and wise blow-by-blow of the PR and customer support blunders by United Airlines after baggage carriers broke his Taylor guitar.

The incident has gone down as perhaps the ultimate self-inflicted customer relations screw-up by a major corporation in the social media era of empowered customers. The original video has been seen 8.8 million times since it went live a year ago and is the 12th most-watched video in the history of YouTube.

“I was almost out of options but I wasn’t because social media allowed me to express myself in a creative way.”
— Dave Carroll

“Companies providing poor customer service can’t ride out the situation as in the past,” Carroll says. United ran Carroll through the bureaucratic ringer for 9 months before giving him a definitive answer about his compensation claim: No.

“I was almost out of options but I wasn’t because social media allowed me to express myself in a creative way,” he says.

Watch, download or embed the interview on Vimeo
Watch or embed the video on YouTube

In the interview, Carroll discusses his take on the idea of “a market of one” — the notion that today there are no statistically insignificant parts of the marketplace. “The market of one is everybody,” he says. Incorporating good customer service should be part of a holistic approach to a company’s business processes — not because it’s right but because it makes sense from a competitive business standpoint. Continue reading

July 19, 2010

Change the world with social networking

Change the world with social networking from JD Lasica on Vimeo.


A chat with Deanna Zandt, author of the new book ‘Share This!’

JD LasicaAt Personal Democracy Forum last month I got a chance to sit down for a few minutes with Deanna Zandt, who spoke on the main stage minutes beforehand. Her new book, Share This! How You Will Change the World with Social Networking, just came out.

“Empathy is the building block for any kind of social change,” she says in the interview. “It’s leading us away from apathy and isolation.”

While the new social tools are empowering, she called on people to go further and to “rearrange power relationships” and to “dismantle hierarchies.” That can be achieved, Zandt said, through “three easy tasks”:

  1. to be authentic by sharing pieces of ourselves;
  2. to diversify and cross-pollinate across barriers. For instance, tech conference speakers are generally white and male. “I want to challenge people to find people who don’t think like them or talk like them.”
  3. to take that empathy and put yourself in others’ shoes.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

AlterNet is hosting a book launch party for Deanna tomorrow in San Francisco. Details:

What: Book launch for Share This! See invitation page on Facebook — 45 confirmed attendees so far

When: July 20, 6-9 pm

Where: Bender’s Bar & Grill, 806 S Van Ness Ave., San Francisco Continue reading

July 14, 2010

dotSUB: Spread your message into other languages

JD LasicaOne of my favorite Web 2.0 collaborate production sites of all time is dotSUB — tagline: “Any video. Any language.” I’ve been bumping into Michael Smolens, CEO and founder of the innovative startup, for the past couple of years at video and social media conferences on both coasts.

dotSUBdotSUB is a Web-based tool that enables the subtitling, or captioning, of Web videos into other languages using human translators. The videos can be subtitled through volunteer crowdsourcing or restricted to professionals hired to complete the task for a business or project.

The genesis for dotSUB was Michael’s realization that English-only independent and documentary films, TV programs and videos could have a powerful, transformative effect if made available in dozens of other languages – and the same could hold true of foreign works shown in the U.S. with English subtitles. The service’s early years relied on the Wikipedia model of crowdsourced translations: Anyone could begin subtitling a film into his or her own language, and others could come along afterward to tidy up.

Apart from open, collaborative uses, dotSUB more recently has been used as a closed platform where businesses, media and entertainment companies and other organizations that don’t trust the open community could hire a team of professional translators to provide captions of CEO speeches, corporate videos, training videos and marketing or advertising messages in multiple languages. And this, no doubt, is where dotSUB generates the bulk of its income, given that it can accomplish this task at a price considerably below traditional methods.

One can easily imagine multinational corporations that use video as part of its marketing, public outreach or branding strategies turn to dotSUB as an end-to-end solution for translations into its non-English markets.

One can also imagine the educational uses of dotSUB in the classroom from elementary school to high school, from universities to graduate level programs.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo Continue reading

July 8, 2010

The story of Intelpedia: A model corporate wiki

The home page of Intelpedia, Intel’s corporate wiki.


Other companies should take a page from Intel’s collaborative workspace

JD LasicaWikis are the poor cousins of social media. Seldom loved, often feared, always unsexy, a wiki is simply a collaborative website that can be directly edited by anyone with access to it. At its heart, a wiki is an online space for building collective info banks. (I’ve created more than a dozen wikis over the years, for Ourmedia, the Traveling Geeks and other organizations.)

In recent years, wiki software has entered the workplace, with companies like Socialtext, Atlassian, CustomerVision, MindTouch and Traction rolling out business-friendly versions, and a good number of Fortune 1000 companies, including Microsoft, Disney, Xerox and Sony, now using wikis. Wikipedia, natch, lists some of the features of enterprise wikis.

Josh Bancroft

Josh Bancroft at Intel: 'Imagine that you could have all the features and functionality that Wikipedia has on your own internal wiki.'

But one early success story hasn’t received the attention it deserves: Intelpedia. I can’t link to it because it’s a private wiki, but I did spend an hour on the phone interviewing its creator, Intel engineer Josh Bancroft. In November 2005 Josh decided that his co-workers should have quick and easy access to a raft of company information, from internal projects to historical background. (Disclosure: I am an advisor to Intel and a member of the Intel Insiders, and I met Josh at Gnomedex 2006.)

Like so many successful projects, this one bubbled up from the bottom, and the idea quickly caught on inside the company. By April 2008, the wiki had grown to about 25,000 pages and received 100 million page views. About 500 changes to the wiki take place each day, and more than 8,700 people have contributed to it.

‘In the four-plus years that Intelpedia has been up and running, I have had exactly zero reported instances of an unwanted edit — of someone spamming or vandalizing or doing something inappropriate.’

“In the four-plus years that Intelpedia has been up and running, I have had exactly zero reported instances of an unwanted edit — of someone spamming or vandalizing or doing something inappropriate,” Josh said. I’ve heard the same from other companies, which should allay the fears that some corporate executives still harbor.

What about the traditional corporate culture of locking up information? “By necessity, a lot of sensitive information needs to be controlled,” Josh said. Only information that couldn’t hurt the company if it leaked out to the public could be posted to the wiki.

“We haven’t had an example of sensitive information being shared outside the company,” said Ken Kaplan of corporate communications.

At its outset, there were handfuls of evangelists saying on an almost daily basis, “Hey, we should put this on Intelpedia!” The wiki got covered by Circuit, Intel’s internal online newsletter, which brought in a big influx of users. Josh and some of his colleagues then formed a voluntary group, the Intelpedia Distributed Editors, to help steer the wiki with a mailing list, a weekly meeting and to by helping to “garden” content contributions by newcomers. “No funding or resources from the company has been needed, and it probably never will be,” Josh said. Continue reading

July 5, 2010

Why do people still download & install applications?

Millions of downloadable app fans can’t be wrong

David SparkSince the explosion of Web 2.0, there’s been a sense in the industry that downloadable applications for PCs and Macs are dead. Web 2.0 programming languages turned static web pages into web applications. The advantage of this now-dubbed “webware” was that you didn’t have to go through the process of downloading and installing an application, often cited as a major hurdle for usage. Web 2.0 applications could work in everyone’s browser (PC or Mac), no matter the configuration (usually).

If it’s true that “people won’t download and install applications,” how come all of us have downloaded and installed applications running on our computers right now? And how come millions of people still download and install applications?

I wrote about the downloadable application issue (hot or not?) on my blog, Spark Minute. I looked at the three most successful categories of downloadable applications (communications, multimedia, and malware protection) and how they drive revenue.

Continue reading

July 5, 2010

The true value of social media

In Social Media, ROI = Return on Interaction + Return on Influence

Guest post by Peter Bihr
The Waving Cat

How to measure the success of Social Media has been a huge problem in this industry for quite a while. There is a consensus that the number of fans/likes on Facebook or of followers on Twitter is too weak an indicator, but the alternative metrics are still rare: No golden standard has emerged yet.

This presentation by 22squared on Return on Investment (ROI) in Social Media is the best I’ve seen in a long time. One of the few really good ones, really, as it backs up the main claims with data. Since you read this blog, the core finding won’t really be a surprise to you: Social Media engages customers and stakeholders, leads to interactions and eventually even to increased sales. (The latter part being the least important here.) It’s certainly good to have a decent study to back this up.

The key idea is to factor in non-financial benefits of Social Media engagement, too: Return on Investment = Return on interaction + Return on influence. Continue reading