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IBM and listening partner Converseon recognized at the 2010 SAMMY Awards!

IBM and listening partner Converseon recognized at the 2010 SAMMY Awards

Last week Converseon was pleased to have been recognized as a finalist for Social Agency of the year in the SAMMY Awards (we won the inaugural award for Best Social Media Agency last year, so were understandably underdogs to win it two years in a row).    It’s testament to our hard work to continue to evolve our solutions, fully integrating social listening, operational consulting and activation for an end to end social approach.   The recognition was in part due to our very rapid growth (110% YOY), addition of top clients, the evolution of our technologies (including leadership recognition in Listening Category), the maturation of our strategic management consulting and international expansion.

Of course, the real judgment is based on the company we keep and the results we deliver to clients.   Thus, we were especially pleased to win the SAMMY recognizing our work with IBM for Best Socialized Business.

“We thought that the SAMMY for Best Social Business should go to the most forward-thinking company that uses social media to build their company culture and brand, and make listening a core competency,” said Nick Friese, CEO and founder of DIGIDAY, the organizer of the SAMMY Awards. “IBM’s C.O.R.E. approach is an innovative and exemplary approach for social intelligence and this recognition demonstrates the importance of listening in social engagement.”

We thank IBM and our team for their dedicated hard work in making social intelligence actionable.   It’s one thing to provide pretty charts on what social strategies should look like in large enterprises, but quite another thing to actually be able to make it happen.  We are only as successful as our clients, so a recognition of effective social intelligence and media in action is the real reward.

Categories: Converseon News

What is the relationship between social good and social media?

socialgoodsummit-300x88 Social Good and Social MediaThis is the question I was trying to answer while attending the Mashable and 92Y Social Good Summit. And after listening to some brilliant presentations from Jessica Jackley of Kiva, Geena Davis of See Jane (and of course A League of their Own) and Matthew Bishop of The Economist, it seems that Bonin Bough of PepsiCo really had the best handle on the topic.

It is likely no coincidence that consumers’ increased desire for brands to be more socially involved and ethically responsible is surfacing at the same time as the use of social media and online engagement explode globally. Consumers everywhere are taking the time to voice concerns and desires that have long been on their minds but were unable to share quite so easily.

The truth of the matter is that being a good corporate citizen is not just a nice thing to do with some extra cash anymore; it is a legitimate part of a marketing strategy intended to grow a customer base, increase market share and ultimately drive profits. Customers care. And more and more they expect brands to be more than just a clothing retailer or technology distributor – customers expect brands to care as well.

So, what does all this mean? Take the lead of PepsiCo and start making a difference. After all, the Pepsi Refresh Project has already attracted more votes than the most recent presidential election. Increased brand awareness? Check! Increased consumer engagement? Check! Increased brand advocacy? Check!

Social technology allows us to communicate differently with one another and the story of social good allows us to engage more meaningfully, so pick a great cause and go for it! Get involved and tell people about it. It will be worth it, in a myriad of ways.

Looking for a little inspiration? Watch PepsiCo’s Bough chat with Jack Leslie, Chairman at Weber Shandwick.

As usual, Google drops a new feature, and the blogosphere becomes overwrought with suggestions that SEO is dead. Honestly, if Google Instant kills your success in SEO, you’ve been doing it wrong.
Google Instant Performance Improvement
We all need to take a deep breath and remember that search marketing is more about marketing than about search. If you get your knickers in a twist every time Google changes its ranking algorithm or its user interface, then you aren’t focusing on the marketing part, just the search part.

Yes, it’s true that Google Instant will change what people search for and what they click on, just as a change to Google’s ranking algorithm changes what sites get shown and clicked. So, if you’ve been happily sitting around in the #1 slot for a popular keyword, Google Instant might change how many people see and click on your site, because it might talk them into completing a different keyword than what they set out to enter.

Live with it.

If you’re focused on rankings or even traffic, you are focused on the wrong thing. It’s all about the conversions.

If you’ve been focusing on conversions, you haven’t been sitting around expecting that everyone will type in your favorite popular #1 keyword. You’ve been working on optimizing for many variations, including deep (long tail) keywords that few people look for.

Some people say that Google Instant will cause fewer people to search for those less popular keywords, because they’ll just follow the suggestions, but Google Suggest has been around a long time, so we’ve already seen this movie, and I wonder if something else will happen.

We already know that fewer and fewer people, with each passing year, go to page 2 of the search results, preferring to enter a second query and spin again. With Google Instant, might people scan the results as they type and enter longer keyword phrases until they see what they want coming up?

We should also remember that many people never use Google’s site, preferring toolbars from Google or from their browser. While those toolbars might suggest keywords, they certainly do not show search results on the fly.

And a certain Bing search engine seems to power almost one-quarter of all U.S. queries. So, whatever havoc Google Instant wreaks on search marketers will affect a lot of searches, but it doesn’t affect them all.

The bottom line with Google Instant is that, like most search engine changes, you win some and you lose some (and some are rained out). But if you’ve been focusing on everything that your searchers need, you’ll find that you weather changes better than if you calculate everything you do to please the way Google works right now.

If you are into Google-pleasing, then, when Google sneezes, you catch a cold.

Categories: Search, SEO, SEM

Between now and the end of 2010, Converseon leaders will speak at the following social media conferences and events:

social-media-insider-summit-2010 Converseon Speaking at Conferences This Fall

August 29 – September 1, 2010
Rob Key, Chris Boudreaux and Craig Daitch are attending OMMA’s Social Media Insider Summit beginning August 29 in Lake Tahoe, NV. Chris and Rob will speak at the event.
Twitter hastag: #mpsmis

imedia-brand-summit-20101 Converseon Speaking at Conferences This Fall

September 12, 2010
Rob Key is speaking at iMedia’s Brand Summit on centers of social media excellence. The conference begins on September 12 in Coronado, CA. Chris Boudreaux is also attending.

digiday-social-2010 Converseon Speaking at Conferences This Fall

September 14, 2010
Jasper Snyder is speaking at DigiDay Social on September 14 in New York City. Jasper’s talk is entitled Bridging the Divide: Measuring Online and Offline Word of Mouth.


September 19, 2010
On September 19, Chris Boudreaux is speaking at the E Source Forum in Denver, CO.


October 1, 2010
On October 1, Chris Boudreaux is keynoting the Social Media Forum at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD.

casro-conference-logo Converseon Speaking at Conferences This Fall

October 11, 2010
Rob Key is speaking at the Council of American Survey Research Organizations, (CASRO) Annual Conference on October 11 in San Diego, CA.


October 27, 2010
At Social Media Bootcamp: Social Media For Research and Marketing at ARF University, hosted by the Advertising Research Foundation, Chris Boudreaux will present best practices for using social media as a research and marketing tool.

forrester-logo1 Converseon Speaking at Conferences This Fall

October 28, 2010
Several Converseon-ites are attending Forrester’s Consumer Forum, beginning October 28 in Chicago, IL. Rob Key is speaking.

social-media-university-logo Converseon Speaking at Conferences This Fall

November 11, 2010
On November 11, David Parmet is speaking at Social Media University in Orlando, FL.

If you attend any of these conferences, please say, ‘Hi.’ And if you aren’t able to attend, you can always follow the action through our Twitter accounts:

Rob Key – CEO
Chris Boudreaux – SVP of Management Consulting
Craig Daitch – SVP of Activation

We always look forward to meeting friends and fellow travelers.

Categories: Converseon News

Facebook Places officially landed last week and legitimized a new location-based channel for businesses to interact and engage with their customers (see these instructions to claim your Places). In order to help business and functional leaders to leverage, we’d like to see businesses capitalize on Facebook Places through the following opportunities:

1. Branded Applications

Today, only a handful of companies can push data to Facebook Places. This includes competitors like Four Square and Gowalla. Eventually, this will open to other companies, providing businesses a fantastic opportunity to create their own applications. A company like Starbucks — already an early adopter on Four Square — could easily incorporate a store locator with Places check-ins into their emerging mobile payment application, and a reward system that replaces the punch cards distributed at check-out.

Checking-in not only means that the person is in the store (most likely purchasing something), but is also virally spreading the brand to all of his or her friends on Facebook. And because the app connects into the larger Facebook ecosystem, it doesn’t feel like a one-off “microsite,” providing real value to the consumer.

On a side note, see this post by our SVP of Activation, Craig Daitch, to understand how people are posting fraudulent check-ins.

2. Game Mechanics

Facebook has, so far, stayed away from game mechanics. Instead, Facebook leaves them to third parties and partners. As a result, there are no out-of-the-box points, rewards or mayors.

Were Facebook to offer mayorships as a white-label service to businesses, then companies could offer their own versions of a mayorship tied to creation of content by their customers, rather than simple check-ins.

For example, visitors to Six Flags could earn a mayorship based on uploading videos and photos while in the park, thereby showcasing the experience rather than simply checking-in to it.

In the future, firms might enable customers to photograph purchase receipts as an input into mayorship qualifications, thereby preventing check-in manipulation and opening the doors to richer customer rewards. The possibilities are endless.

3. Flash Mobs

On launch, Facebook offers a unique feature that allows users to check-in their friends. While there is some debate on privacy concerns, this functionality offers a very unique way for businesses to create their own Flash Mobs.

For example, The Gap could offer discounts to customers who check into a location with ten of their friends, creating an on-the-fly sample sale.

Business that rely on critical mass could benefit even more. For example, bars have long offered specials to customers that show up with groups of friends. Such businesses could now advertise happy hour specials through Facebook Places to generate a similar result.

4. Like, Content and More

One feature we’d like to see combines the existing Like functionality with Places, as follows: Businesses who create product pages that people can Like could now tie-in Places for targeted, location-based advertising.

Nike, for example, could advertise a special for all users that Like their new Air Jordan sneaker, sending them to the nearest retailer based on their location. We suspect that this functionality isn’t far off, given the enormous potential.

We would also like to see companies attaching content to the check-in location. For now, the only activity the Place page shows is check-ins and Likes. Allowing users to upload photos or videos would enhance the experience, and provide businesses with more unique ways to connect with their consumers.

Allowing users to write posts would foster reviews in a Yelp-like fashion. Sure, this would open the gate to both positive and negative feedback, but a comprehensive listening and conversation mining strategy would allow businesses to interact and take advantage of this flow of information.

The Road Ahead

Facebook’s scale will change the market for location-based services and check-ins for businesses — from something niche and cutting-edge, to a very real and powerful marketing channel. When a 500-million-person network enters a vertical, it’s hard not to notice — even when it launches with a bare feature set and only a vague sense of a roadmap. But this will certainly evolve as consumers and business owners embrace the platform and begin to tap the potential of hundreds of millions of accounts.

On August 16 Converseon  announced an important partnership with Twitter to infuse the Firehose – all 80+ million daily tweets – real time in to our Conversation Mining platform. You can read the release here.

Twitter logoIt’s a significant advance, and a big commitment. But it is also critical:  if you care about social CRM or near real time social engagement, you simply cannot operate without access to the full Firehose. As Forrester Research said in response to the announcement, “ultimately, this is a big step in the listening platform market…”.

And indeed it is a big step.  In our experience, general API Twitter data represents only a fraction of tweets (those limited to “high velocity) and Twitter is continuing to limit that data stream.  Just last week, reports surfaced that Twitter is limiting historical searches to four days. The plain truth is that there are currently significant blind spaces abound even for those companies who may be using paid listening services if they don’t have Firehose access.

At Converseon, we take pride in bringing a healthy skepticism to new platforms and technologies. In the early days, we too were a little skeptical about the growth potential of Twitter.  However, it indeed has evolved into the heartbeat of social conversation.  As author and technology observer Steven Johnson wrote recently in Time Magazine, “Twitter is looking more and more like plumbing (of the web), and plumbing is eternal.”

We’re proud today to plug this plumbing into our Conversation Mining solutions to finding meaning and insights – and action – in the immense stream of data to help brands harness the power of social across the enterprise. Effectively managing the vast amount of data is one challenge since in addition to Firehose we mine blogs, newsgroups, and more. Finding meaning in the data is the other.  This requires a lot of technical horsepower, advanced text analytics and human intelligence.

But we’ve been preparing ourselves for this for quite some time.  And the benefits to brands are myriad; they include demand/lead generation, customer service, real time social engagement, and, ultimately, using active listening as an engine to transform brands into social organizations with real time intelligence flowing across the organization for action and competitive advantage.

Let the Firehose begin.

by Ben González and Chris Boudreaux

Twitter_bird Dont Replace TweetMeme With Twitter Button (yet)

A lot of folks are still confused about whether they should replace existing TweetMeme buttons with Twitter’s new Tweet button (more info on the Twitter blog), and we recommend the following:

  • For content created prior to July 2010, maintain your TweetMeme button.
  • For content created during or after July 2010, you can use the Twitter button.
  • For blog content, we’re stuck. Blog posts created prior to July need to maintain the Tweetmeme button, but posts created since July 2010 can use the Twitter button. However, the TweetMeme and Twitter plugins do not let you apply the button by post, or based on publish date. You must apply it to all posts or no posts. NOTE: While Twitter has not published a WordPress plugin, a few community members have, for example: here and here.

As of today, the Tweet button from Twitter shows lower tweet counts than existing buttons from TweetMeme. If you replace your TweetMeme buttons, your visitors will see lower tweet counts that on the Twitter button, versus the TweetMeme button.

For example, See this screen shot of Chris Boudreaux’s social media research database on SocialMediaGovernance.com for a quick glance at what the two buttons look like together:

(click to enlarge)

SocialMediaGovernance.com Screen Shot

You can see in the image that Chris added the new, light blue Twitter button to the right of his existing green TweetMeme button, and the two display dramatically different counts (210 for TweetMeme and 76 for Twitter).

While TweetMeme has been working with Twitter for months, Twitter began counting “… a couple of weeks before the launch of the Tweet Button. This means links which have been shared on Twitter before July 2010 will not contribute towards the count”, according to Twitter FAQ.

Therefore, if you trade the TweetMeme button for the Twitter button on content that existed prior to July 2010, your visitors will not see the true count of tweets you have earned.

If you use both buttons, you should review the FAQ on Twitter.com to avoid duplicating content. (See: “I want to use multiple Tweet Buttons on my page. Is there anything I should know?”)

For some, the quibbles of style that pop up by cluttering your articles with two Twitter share buttons are irrelevant when the count is king. Others will default to Twitter’s crisp aesthetic.

You should also consider Twitter’s new ability to auto-suggest up to two relevant accounts after a user retweets, as one potential reason for deploying the new Twitter button.

In any case, we are very interested in hearing your experiences and insights which can help to inform decisions regarding which buttons to deploy.

by Chris Boudreaux and Adam Edwards

Update (August 16, 2010): Google PR phoned this afternoon to let us know that this screen shot was an experiment, and that the search results below the ads are organic; they’re just mixed with results from Google Maps. Our point was that the results seemed to exclude traditional organic search results, and that the page appeared dominated by organic results from Google Maps.

Yesterday, for the first time, we saw a standard Google web search results page, without any standard web search results.   That is,  a search for “car rental nyc” returned a Universal Results page showing a map alongside results from paid, local, and books categories (see screen shot below). Not one standard organic result appeared on the first page of results.

(click image to enlarge)
google-local-web-search2 Google Removes Organic Results in Local Tests

As it expands its Universal Results strategy, Google is testing lots of changes to their main search results page. Most of the significant changes occur in searches that contain a localized search term (such as a city).

First, Google added a “sticky map” in the upper right, which maintained a constant position on the screen, as the user scrolled down the page.  The sticky map appeared to disadvantage paid search results appearing below the third slot, which disappeared behind the map as users scrolled down the page.

In the search results we saw yesterday, there were no organic results until the second page.  When we performed the same search today, we found a single organic search result at the bottom of the first page.

This could be a watershed moment for Google, and it could force local or franchise businesses to use AdWords and Google Places (formerly Local Business Center).

Creating a great web site with strong SEO may no longer take you into the first page of local search results.

Categories: Search, SEO, SEM

In an industry where it is more and more difficult for brands to separate fact from fiction and understand the differences between Listening platforms, Forrester Research, led by Zach Hofer-Shall, recently published their review of Listening Platforms: “Forrester Wave™: Listening Platforms, Q3 2010″, and you can download a complimentary copy from Converseon.

Forrester Wave Listening Platforms Q3 2010

In order to identify the category leaders, Forrester evaluated offerings from nine companies according to 76 criteria, including data sources, textual analysis, functionality, consulting and analysis services, strength of management team, and corporate and product strategy.

Based on performance across these dimensions, the companies were then grouped into four categories: Leaders, Strong Performers, Contenders and Risky Bets (see image above).

Converseon, we are pleased to report, was recognized in the Leaders category as one of three vendors that “combine the best offering and go-to-market strategy.” Also, Converseon scored highest for text analysis and the second highest for its consulting and analysis services, strength of management team and corporate strategy. A free copy of the report can be downloaded from our website.

According to Forrester, “Converseon offers a leading product with its “customized for your needs” mentality. There is no standard Converson installation, (Converson) builds a tailored dashboard for its enterprise installation and offers professional services around every step of the Social Intelligence process. Converseon’s model of starting with technology and adding human analysis makes for highly effective data quality, leading custom reports and strong functionality.”

We are especially proud to be one of the very few listening platform providers to remain independent. Our approach enables us to iterate quickly, partner deeply with our clients, and move fast to meet marketplace needs.

We understand the category is still quite young, and that leading brands are looking for solutions not just for today, but for the next years as Social Intelligence evolves and becomes more deeply integrated into the DNA of enterprises. This is an area where Converseon excels.

We focus on designing listening solutions (beyond simple “tools”) to help infuse listening across organizations, for multiple use cases, and to help large enterprises redesign business processes to make the intelligence actionable. This includes governance, policy, infrastructure, training and more.

Perhaps most profoundly, we believe that social media listening is the first step in effective business redesign. All too often, once social intelligence is flowing through an organization, there is a moment of realization: “These are great insights and intelligence but we’re simply aren’t designed to act on this.”

Real-time intelligence requires business process redesign to enable agile movement for competitive advantage. That’s why Converseon remains the only leading provider of Conversation Mining with robust management consulting and activation practices.

Of course, we see others in the industry moving into this space too via joint partnership or rollup/acquisition, and we believe that our strength lies in organic evolution. We are proud that our team is rapidly evolving and our solutions growing. I am also quite excited because some of the most interesting technology and solutions have yet to emerge from our R&D work.

We appreciate the industry recognition for our work, but won’t for a moment rest on our laurels. We have a 24-hour rule here: even with good news, we allow only 24 hours to pass before moving on. And we agree with the general observation of the industry: the best is yet to come.

You can obtain additional information from Forrester.

The Forrester Wave is copyrighted by Forrester Research, Inc. Forrester and Forrester Wave are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. The Forrester Wave is a graphical representation of Forrester’s call on a market and is plotted using a detailed spreadsheet with exposed scores, weightings, and comments. Forrester does not endorse any vendor, product, or service depicted in the Forrester Wave. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change.

ChrisBoudreaux2 Welcome Chris Boudreaux
As the arteries of social media intelligence continue to grow and infuse across organizations, increasingly there is a recognition that most enterprises are not designed effectively to act quickly and with agility on that intelligence.  It’s a moment many large enterprises who have engaged in listening have come to at some point – how do we redesign what we do to make this work?  As one senior executive from a major automotive brand wrote to me: “this social media listening has unearthed many dysfunctions that we had happily buried away, but have now been surfaced.”  This is positive transformation.

At Converseon, our Conversation Mining technologies are segueing rapidly into business process redesign.  This is an important differentiation for us in this space.  We are the only leading provider of Conversation Mining with robust management consulting and activation practices.

The Social Media Management practice has grown very rapidly  under the tutelage of Mike Moran, Constantin Basturea and others.  Today, we make a very important announcement that will significantly strengthen this practice – the addition of one of the leading thinkers and practitioners in this space, Chris Boudreaux.

All too often in the social media world, self styled “experts” are quick to throw around shallow commentary wrapped in the guise of knowledge. The social world is full of flashy largely meaningless commentary (see BusinessWeek’s Beware of Social Snake Oil) which simply muddies up the industry and distracts from the important work the leading practioners are doing.

That’s not Chris.

When I met him I was refreshed by his modesty. As I dug deeper over time, I discovered layer upon layer of depth of knowledge ranging from governance to management theory to data integration and business intelligence. His approach represents what we value most at Converseon: substance over style; modesty where our work (and clients) speak to our excellence; a focused intelligence about the deep meaning of what we do (ranging from the social sciences to computer science and beyond) and where we all work with great collaboration and respect towards the greater mission. Where we put clients needs above our own and we focus on the transformatory nature of our work.

We view business consulting melding closely into social intelligence strategies.  It will become a key driver in business redesign.   Our Social Media Management together with our listening technologies and activation practice, enable Converseon to provide a unique “end to end” solution designed to help brands fully leverage the power of social across the enterprise.    This practice – which encompasses governance, policy, infrastructure, training and  more – helps drive and facilitate internal transformation to make social listening actionable and help drive business results for our clients across the enterprise.  Of course, this requires an “inside-out” approach encompassing deep expertise in change management, data integration strategies and more – the very skill set that Chris brings.

I met Chris through his work and reputation.  And as I got to know him, I realized even more so that he brings a level of incredible substance and “get it done” attitude that is refreshing in the social business space.   Like much Converseon’s evolution, our meeting was serendipitous.   But it is serendipity of the kind that brings the best and brightest together to forge new solutions and help drive the industry forward.

Today, I welcome Chris to Day One of his new mission. Here’s our release announcing his appointment. And here’s a link to Social Media Governance – Chris’s site that I’m sure you will agree is an important contribution to the discussion on social media management.


Categories: Converseon News
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