May 18, 2010

Biz360: Tracking business intelligence

Social media smarts for business from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

Monitoring, analytics and more for companies of all sizes

JD Lasica“If you’re a brand, you simply cannot afford to sit on the sidelines any longer. This is the reality: People are going to talk about you regardless of whether you’re in the room. So you might as well get with the program, start by listening, and start understanding what people are saying about you, your industry, your products and your competitors.”

That spot-on summary in a nutshell comes courtesy of Maria Ogneva, director of social media for Biz360, the social media monitoring provider acquired by Attensity last month.

I’m fans of both Maria — you’re following her at @themaria on Twitter, yes? — who’s a stalwart on the Bay Area tech scene, but also of Biz360, for a simple reason: Small and mid-size businesses need an affordable solution to help them keep abreast of conversations on the social Web. At last word, Biz360 offers a nice package that begins at $399/month, letting you track 10 topics by one user.

The service monitors every meaningful nook and cranny “where conversations are happening,” Maria says. That includes blogs, microblogs like Twitter and, forums and discussion boards, the public portion of Facebook, online news sites, and video and photo sites.

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March 16, 2010

Highlights and photos of SXSW 2010

Interviewing Cashmore

From Guy Kawasaki’s Twitter addiction to Evan Williams’ keynote

JD LasicaI‘ve learned long ago the challenge of covering South by Southwest Interactive, which hums along at its own idiosyncratic pace compared to more linear conferences. Thus, I spent last year and this year doing less blogging, conducting more interviews (which I’ll roll out in the coming weeks), taking more photos and doing much more networking.

I returned home from my fourth SXSW last night after 74 exhausting but satisfying hours. Here are 54 photos from the event I just uploaded to Flickr.

Before I return to real-world mode, here are some snippets from the South by Southwest 2010:

A few random bits from SXSW

Exchange between Guy Kawasaki and Laura Fitton at the last panel I caught on top Twitter tools. Kawasaki: “There are two types of Twitter users: Those who want as many followers as possible, and those who are lying.” (I’ve heard Guy repeatedly trot out this chestnut.)

Fitton: “Bullshit, Guy, you have to find the right followers.”

I’m with Laura on this one. I could have hit 50,000 followers long ago through manipulation rather than attracting the 10,000 high-signal followers I have now. Twitter is about connecting with the right people, not creating another broadcast station, though I see how Guy has made good use of his large following.

• If there was ever a doubt that Twitter co-founder Evan Williams is a tech rock star, his keynote chat made that clear. The main exhibit hall and two ballrooms were packed to capacity. I like the modest new Twitter program @anywhere, which lets users follow a writer straight from her byline or tagline on a blog or news story without having to go to the Twitter site. As Ev says, “It reduces friction.”

• Williams: “Openness is a survival technique, because some of your core assumptions are probably wrong.”

• More Ev Williams: “it’s been important to us for Twitter to reach the weakest signals in the world. SMS can reach all these people. It’s actually profound in the right situations.” Those of us who rely each day on the Internet forget that billions of people still don’t have Internet access, though many of them do have cell phones. Twitter has agreements with 65 carriers in world, and people in the developing world are discovering the benefits of using Twitter via mobile carrier. “We take that [Internet connectivity] for granted, that anyone can communicate with each other,” Williams said. “For Chilean farmers who hear there’ll be a downpour in a few days, it can be a life-changing event.” Continue reading

March 14, 2010

Embarrassing childhood stories from Diggnation’s host (and his mom)

Set fire to a house and you too could grow up to be a top podcast host

David SparkAfter Alex Albrecht’s rocking performance at the live Diggnation show at South by Southwest, I asked his mom, Cathy Albrecht, if she could dish up any good embarrassing stories about her son. She tells a story of him setting a fire to the neighbor’s house, and then Alex jumps in, fesses up to that and also getting doused with milk. Watch the video on Tweetshare.

I’m shooting tons of videos at SXSW for Tweetshare. Catch all of the videos on the SXSW fan page on Tweetshare. If you like a video, please comment and join in the conversation. Each time you leave a comment, it gets retweeted out to your followers. And you can keep coming back to the page to follow the discussion.

April 13, 2009

Connecting with your community through Twitter

Using Twitter to engage the community from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaShould news organizations be wary of social media? Or embrace it? I’ve been arguing the latter for years, and now there are beginning to be lots of examples of journalists using Twitter and other social media tools in smart ways to engage their local communities.

In this 9-minute interview I hurriedly conducted at South by Southwest Interactive in March 2009 minutes before catching a flight, two of the top social media strategists in the newspaper business shared their thoughts about the value Twitter brings to connecting news people with their communities. Daniel Honigman, social media and editorial engagement strategist for Tribune Interactive, and Robert Quigley, Internet editor of the Austin American Statesman, chatted a few minutes after their session, “Old Media Finds New Voice Through Twitter.”

Some top-level takeaways:

“You create customer loyalty” by being part of the online communities that users identify with, Honigman said. “Social media is a way to build your own brand and build your own audience.”

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April 1, 2009

MindBites: The how-to video marketplace

JD LasicaAt South by Southwest Interactive a couple of weeks ago I heard about MindBites, a year-old instructional video marketplace based in Austin, Texas. I had the chance to sit down for a few minutes with Jason W. Reneau, founder & CEO, and Huntley Tarrant, vice president of business development, who walks us through the online learning and training site.

Unlike sites like, which require a fairly steep subscription fee, MindBites lets trainers set a price — generally as low as 99 cents to $2.99 — for watching an instructional video. Reneau says he came up with the idea after discovering that his only choices were hit-or-miss experiences on trainers’ websites or the old-fashioned Berlitz instructional CDs.

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