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Tweets Offer Little Value in Understanding Customer Needs

Social media. A rich source of insight and opportunity for companies. Why, it’s an article of faith that customers are talking…on their terms…where they want. So get out there and learn from them! See what this IBM executive says:

Companies that embrace social media as a source of insight will be rewarded. They’ll develop a deeper understanding of customer needs and will be able to attract new customers more easily. They’ll have a better shot at providing the products and services that the market wants – before the competition does.

It’s true, there are opportunities. But really, my sense is the opportunities lie on the marketing (read: sell) side of the house. Now social media occupies a large landscape. So how about narrowing focus, to Twitter. How useful are people’s tweets for customer insight? Specifically, giving companies a better handle on customers’ jobs-to-be-done?

tl;dr answer: Not so much. Lots of grousing about personal circumstances, and some silliness. But not much insight.

Saving and paying for college, in 450 tweets

Source: Mark J. Perry

To examine this question, I assumed the perspective of a financial firm trying to get a better handle on the “paying for college” jobs-to-be-done. In aspirational, emotional terms,  college continues to be a top goal of parents for their children, and of teenagers as well. In economic terms, colleges have an insatiable appetite for tuition increases.

Importance for our children, increasing costs, need to save. Surely, there are some unfulfilled jobs-to-be-done out there. So I turned to Twitter to see what people were talking about. What needs were they expressing? What insight on this topic?

To see what people are saying, I ran Twitter searches on three terms:

  1. college savings
  2. “saving for college”
  3. “pay for college”

I collected 150 tweets each for those three Twitter search terms (you can see them in this Google spreadsheet). With that data, I looked at (i) how many contained usable insight, (ii) what were the common words, and (iii) the collective sentiment.

Now, my research here is one of…oh say…a quadrillion possible customer insight areas to explore. Conclusions I draw here are not necessarily applicable to all areas. But it’s a good start.

Mining for jobs-to-be-done

Imagine you work for a large financial services company. You know in the U.S., people have put nearly $150 billion into 529 college savings plans. It’s a potent cocktail: lots of money; aspirations for, and symbolism of, a college degree; and escalating tuition. There have got to be opportunities to improve people’s lives here!

You want jobs-to-be-done, defined as people’s expressions of things they’re trying to get done in relation to saving and paying for college. Just what are they tweeting about out there?

You collect the tweets, and then categorize each tweet according to its value in understanding jobs-to-be-done:

  • No value
  • Points toward a job-to-be-done (a shadow of a job)
  • Direct expression of a job-to-be-done

In reviewing 450 separate tweets, here are the results:

Twitter search term No value Points to a JTBD Direct JTBD
college savings 137 12 1
“saving for college” 141 9 0
“pay for college” 150 0 0
Totals 428 21 1

Looking at those, you begin to understand the challenge of looking at tweets as sources of customer insight.

Tweets with no value

By far, the most prevalent case was that the tweets provide no value in understanding what jobs people are trying to get done. At least, no actionable value. Below are examples of these types of tweets:

Many tweets in the “no value” category were of this type. Honest, authentic? You bet. Fuel for developing new innovations in products and services? Not so much. I’ll admit that value may be in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps someone wants to target scholarship-winning kids to buy new cars. But for the financial services firm, looking for insight from customers, these tweets don’t help.

Note that many of the tweets in this category weren’t from real people. They were marketing tweets by institutions. Which makes it hard to just dig in to those tweets. First you need to separate the manufactured marketing tweets from the honest expressions of individuals. Welcome to the jungle.

Tweets pointing to a job-to-be-done

I’ll admit, this categorization sounds funny: “pointing toward” a job. What does that mean? Look at a couple examples:

The tweets are not themselves the jobs-to-be-done. But they reflect jobs, if you read them carefully. In the first tweet, Raeleen wants to contribute to the college fund of her nephew. The larger story is that family, beyond the kid’s parents, can be part of the college savings effort. Here’s a definition of the job-to-be-done:

Situation: When I am planning my child’s college savings…
Job: I want participation from family members and friends.
Success means: Increased savings from a broad cross-section of family and friends.

The job reflected in the second tweet is one of structurally managing the college savings apart from other savings and cash expenditures.

There weren’t a lot of these, and many of them were pretty obvious jobs-to-be-done. But in hunting for the elusive job-to-be-done in the wild, their gamey, tough meat was better than nothing.

Direct expressions of jobs-to-be-done

After going through 450 tweets, I was sure I’d find at least one person tweeting a job-to-be-done. Maybe dazed by collecting and analyzing that many, I settled on the one below:

I see here an emotional job-to-be-done. Namely, the feeling of accomplishment that one feels in preparing financially for college. That’s a feeling that should be built on. I can tell you, when my wife and I put money into our kids’ 529 plans, we get that sense of accomplishment. Something that a financial institution should plug into more strongly.

So that was a nice job-to-be-done. However, as I said, slim pickings in finding jobs-to-be-done in tweets. Which should make you question how much of the presumed insight waiting to be gathered out there is actually…there.

But I did run the tweets through a couple other analyses to see what they turn up.

Sentiment analysis

For all these tweets about saving and paying for college, how was the sentiment? Does the mood tell us something about the jobs-to-be-done? Or at least provide some form of insight?

I ran them through a couple different tools: Sentiment Analyzer and Sentiment140. Sentiment Analyzer analyzed the 450 tweets I had collected. Sentiment140 ran an analysis on the most recent 19-25 tweets it could find related to a search term. While the bases of tweets differed, the two engines came up with remarkably similar results. Sentiment140 is on top, Sentiment Analyzer is on the bottom of the graphic below:

See how the college savings tweets are strongly positive. The general idea of college savings is a positive one, as college is a very strong emotional element for us. We may have attended ourselves, with memories from that period, and we want our kids to go. Then see how the mood swings to a darker one when tweets contain the phrase “pay for college”. It’s as if the more ‘transactional’ the experience becomes, the more negative the mood gets. Another difference is that tweets about “pay for college” overwhelmingly were by teenagers and young adults, expressing frustration related to affording college.

For marketing purposes at least, this sentiment analysis may have value in targeting people in different stages of the college saving spectrum.

Word trends

Another area explored is the commonality of words in the tweets used. Do they reveal latent jobs-to-be-done? I ran the tweets through Wordle:

The Wordles do reveal some interesting patterns. When people tweet about college savings, the most common words are plan, account, day, get. In this case, day is driven by the timing of when I collected the tweets. May 29th was upcoming, and it was U.S. national 529 Day (get it? 5/29). The most frequent word plan certainly makes sense, and in some ways fits the positive sentiment seen earlier. Thinking ahead about what’s needed to pay for college.

Notice the most frequent terms switch to start, money, need, parents in the “saving for college” Wordle. Let’s focus on the transition from plan seen in the college savings Wordle to start in the “saving for college” Wordle. It’s a transition from a more abstract concept to a task that one must undertake. The vibe switches to a get-things-done mentality.

Finally, note what dominates the “pay for college” Wordle: money, gonna, help, stripper. You might look at that and say, “stripper”? First, note that I converted the various stems of strip in the tweets to a single word, stripper, so as to better capture what showed up in a lot of the tweets. Essentially, a number of people (female and male)  joking about becoming strippers to pay for school. I read these tweets as reflecting the steep costs of college, and teenagers/young adults not feeling like they have options to pay for it. A reflection of escalating tuition and cases where college savings were not available.

Usable insight on customer needs?

The title of this post highlights a particular aspect of insight that interests me: customer needs. On that score, I don’t find the tweets to be that valuable. As someone who is outside the financial services industry, I do find them to be gauges of what’s going on out there. An industry insider might already have a handle on what I discovered.

Here’s what makes tweets challenging to use for insight on customer needs:

  • Wide range to subjects: tweets run the gamut, even for a specific search term, and their volume makes it tough to sift through to find areas you want to explore
  • Odds are low that they’re speaking about core things they are looking to get done
  • People tweeting are not part of the market you’re seeking: for example, although there is $150 billion saved in U.S. 529 plans, these parents weren’t tweeting about saving and paying for college
  • Tweets have a one-off quality: follow-up and discussion to get deeper insights doesn’t happen

That’s my take. What do you think? Wouldn’t surprise me if others are seeing more value than I am. If you’re interested, you can check out the tweets I used for analysis on this Google spreadsheet.

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.

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Is Google+ More Facebook or More Twitter? Yes

Quick, what existing social network is Google+ most likely to displace in terms of people’s time?

Another Try by Google to Take On Facebook

Claire Cain Miller, New York Times

This isn’t a Facebook-killer, it’s a Twitter-killer.

Yishan Wong, Google+ post

A hearty congrats to Google for creating an offering that manages to be compared to both Facebook and Twitter. The initial press focused on Google+ as a Facebook competitor. But as people have gotten to play with it, more and more they are realizing that it’s just as much a Twitter competitor.

I wanted to understand how that’s possible. How is it Google+ competes with both of those services? To do so, I plotted Google+’s features against comparable features in both Facebook and Twitter. The objective was to understand:

  • Why are people thinking of Google+ as competitor to both existing social networks?
  • How did the Google team make use of the best of both services?

The chart below is shows where Google+ is more like Facebook or Twitter. The red check marks () and gray shading highlight which service a Google+ feature is more like.

A few notes about the chart.

Circles for tracking: Twitter has a very comparable feature with its Lists. Facebook also lets you put connections into lists; I know because I’ve put connections into lists (e.g. Family, High School, etc.). But I had a hard time figuring out where those lists are. in the Facebook UI. Seriously, where are they for accessing? They may be available somewhere, but it’s not readily accessible. So I didn’t consider Facebook as offering this as a core experience.

+1 voting on posts: Both Google+ and Facebook allow up votes on people’s posts.Twitter has the ‘favorite’ feature. Which is sort of like up voting. But not really. It’s not visible to others, and it’s more a bookmarking feature.

Posts in web search results: Google+ posts, the public ones, show up in Google search results. Not surprising there. Tweets do as well. Facebook posts for the most part do not. I understand some posts on public pages can. But the vast majority of Wall posts never show up in web search results.

Google+ One-Way Following Defines Its Experience

When you look at the chart above, on a strict feature count, Google+ is more like Facebook. It’s got comment threading, video chat,  inline media, and limited sharing.

But for me, the core defining design of Google+ is the one-way following. I can follow anyone on Google+. They may not follow back (er…put me in a circle), but I can see their public posts. This one-way following is what makes the experience more like Twitter for me. Knowing your public posts are out there for anyone to find and read is both boon and caution. For instance, I’ll post pics of my kids on Facebook, because I know who can see those pics – the people I’ve connected with. I don’t tend to post their pics on Twitter. Call me an old fashioned protective parent.

That’s my initial impression. Now as Google+ circles gain ground in terms of usage, they will become the Facebook equivalent of two-way following. Things like sharing and +mentions are issues that are hazy to me right now. Can someone reshare my “circle-only” post to others outside my circle? Do I have to turn off reshare every time? Does +mentioning someone outside my circle make them aware of the post?

Google has created quite a powerful platform here. While most features are not new innovations per se, Google+ benefits from the experience of both Twitter and Facebook. They’re off to a good start.

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.

Phone Cameras + Social Are Expanding the Historical Record

"There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy."

In a critique of the rise of Instagram (current photo sharing app du jour), Laurie Voss argues that the rise of cheap, low fidelity cameras on phones is undermining the data contained in them. And it’s not just that these pictures are lower quality now, it’s affecting their value for future generations:

With these rubbish phone cameras we take terrible photos of some of our most important moments and cherished memories. I am not complaining about composition and lighting here; I’m not a photographer. I am talking about the quantity of meaningful visual data contained in these files. Future historians will decry forever the appalling lack of visual fidelity in the historical record of the last decade.

I read that, and at first though, “Yeah, that could be an issue.” But then I realized that, well no, it’s actually the opposite. The rise of cheap phone cameras is actually increasing the historical record. This even has disruptive innovation undertones to it.

Why?

Picture = Moment + Equipment

When thinking about recording data for history pictorially, I consider two elements:

  • Moment
  • Equipment

"The line at 9 am at the Pleasanton @sfbart stretches for blocks. Huge crowd downtown today for #sfgiants parade."

Now moments are always going to arise. They may be significant moments, such as Janis Krums’ iconic picture above after a US Airways plan crash landed on the Hudson. Recently, the San Francisco Giants were celebrated for their 2010 World Series title with a ticker tape parade in downtown San Francisco. When I arrived at the Dublin/Pleasanton BART the morning of the victory parade, I was shocked by the number of people waiting in line for get to SF.

Just as important as the moment is the equipment. I’m not talking about the quality of the photographic equipment. I’m saying, “do you have something to take the picture?”

Before I got a phone with a camera on it, I had no way of photographing any moments. I could tweet about them, email a description of them and tell people about them. But there was no visual record at all.

I wasn’t carrying a camera around with me. Just not something I wanted to deal with as I also carried my ‘dumb’ phone.  And wallet. And keys. Just too much to deal with.

But a camera included with my mobile phone? Oh yeah, that works. I’ll have that with me at all times.

Which is a much better fit with the notion of capturing moments. They are unpredictable, and do not schedule themselves to when you’re carrying a separate camera.

As for the “quantity of meaningful visual data” being reduced, I think of it mathematically:

The X/Y variable represents the decrease in data per picture. If Y is the “full” data from a high resolution photo, then X is the reduced data set. The loss of scene details, the inability to discern people’s expressions, etc. Yeah, that is a loss due to low quality cameras.

The B/A variable represents the increased number of pictures enabled by the proliferation of convenient low quality cameras. If A is the quantity of photos with high resolution cameras, B is the overall number of photos inclusive of the low quality cameras.

Multiply the ratios, and I believe the overall historical record has been improved by the advent of phone cameras. In other words, “> 1″.

Sharing Is Caring

Something the higher quality, standalone cameras have lacked is connectivity. They miss that aspect we have to share something in the moment. The fact that I can share a picture just as soon as a I take it is extra incentive to take the picture in the first place.

I share my kids’ pics with family via email, and other pics end up in my Twitter and Facebook streams. You know how painful it is to upload photos from the camera and share them? Very.

Standalone cameras are like computer hard drives, locking data off in some siloed storage device somewhere. Good luck to historians in extracting that photographic data.

Convenience Wins Out

This is the disruptive innovation of convenience. People are swapping the separate cameras for the all-in-one mobile devices. And like any good low-end innovation, the quality will increase. Meaning more pictures with better detail and fidelity.

I mean, imagine if there were a bunch of phone cameras at Gettysburg?

Only known photo of Abraham Lincoln (center, without hat) at Gettysburg

We’d have thousands of pics, and it’d be a Twitter Trending Topic. As for the lower data per picture, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead. Phone cameras will enrich the historical record for future generations.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 051410

From the home office in outer space, where I’m blogging from the space shuttle Atlantis’s final mission

#1: RT @georgedearing Pilot advertisers happy with initial results from Twitter’s new ad program // http://bit.ly/twittermarketers // #fb [ADWEEK]

#2: The debate about pilot projects in social business http://bit.ly/c3EViV by @leebryant #e20

#3: RT @amyjokim How to build a sustainable community http://bit.ly/bJtkes (practical tips for hands-on community management)

#4: Applies to enterprises as well: RT @sidburgess How Cul-de-Sacs Are Killing Your Community http://bit.ly/cGg6yi #e20

#5: Does Reputation Ranking Make a Difference in Idea Management? (via Spigit blog) http://bit.ly/cfPWa0 #innovation #e20 #reputation

#6: Customer Suggestions: When to Listen, When to Ignore >> Pragmatic Marketing #innovation http://post.ly/fMoz

#7: RT @jorgebarba Game-based marketing takes off from frequent flyer programs to social media | VentureBeat http://ff.im/-k2bW1

#8: Noticing an uptick in Foursquare friend requests lately.

#9: Would love a laptop like this: Future Designer laptop – ROLLTOP http://bit.ly/dkypIY

#10: My kindergarten son made this “spy” laptop computer today – no Flash support though… http://twitpic.com/1nk9pw

Foursquare Check-in Etiquette

Anyone remember the early complaints about Twitter? That people were posting updates about what they’re eating for lunch? Robert Scoble noted this phenomenon in a blog post from last September about Twitter’s rise:

It tells me that Twitter isn’t lame anymore. Remember those days when Twitter was for telling all your friends you were having a tuna sandwich at Subway in Half Moon Bay?

I do.

Yes, Twitter has grown up and become much more than the report of what you’re eating for lunch. Which brings us to Foursquare and Gowalla.

These services are in their early stages, with Foursquare outnumbering Gowalla four-to-one in members. Some of us are experimenting with these location-based services. For me personally, it feels like those early days of Twitter (“What should I tweet?”).

The biggest difference since my early Twitter days is that I’ve got more experience with this sharing behavior, and I’m comfortable trying different approaches.

With that in mind, I wanted to describe some early thoughts on Foursquare and Gowalla etiquette.

The Check-in Sharing Hierarchy

Louis Gray wrote a post recently asking whether people are censoring their check-ins to maintain hipster cred. It’s a good, if somewhat painful, examination of the fact that we do have some serious hum-drum in our lives. People’s comments on the post are illuminating, as some admit this behavior, but also note that they don’t want to bore everyone.

There are three levels of sharing check-ins that Foursquare provides (Gowalla only has the latter two):

The three levels each have their own unique use cases, and their own check-in etiquette.

Share It with No One

I’ve done this before. I check in, but I don’t share it with anyone. Why? Two reasons:

  1. Just maintaining a record of my days’ activities
  2. Like to stay on top of the mayorships, badges and points

See, a valuable use case of checking in with Foursquare and Gowalla is the maintenance of a personal activity history. The combination of GPS location, pre-existing locations and one-click check-in makes it quite easy to create your personal record. Now, some of those check-ins are less-than-interesting. Like…

Checking in at a gas station

Now it may be boring, but I’ll bet there’s a badge out there for multiple gas station check-ins. Maybe someone will earn a Gas Guzzler badge (as opposed to the Douchebag badge). It’s all part of the fun. A festooned Foursquare profile.

But there is a role for curating your check-ins. I really don’t need to know about your gas station check-ins. That applies to my interests, and it applies to what I assume to be the interests of my connections on the location-based services. Sure, share your whereabouts, but please have some mercy on those who follow you. We successfully graduated past the “What are you eating for lunch?” stage of Twitter.

And good luck with that Gas Guzzler badge.

Share Only with Foursquare, Gowalla Connections

People that follow you on Foursquare and Gowalla are participating in another aspect of location-based social networks. The “keeping tabs” aspect. You see what others are doing in the course of their day. For instance, I was able to see that Techcrunch’s MG Siegler was in Japan a few weeks back, via his various Gowalla updates.

One commenter on Louis Gray’s blog post noted this use case:

I’ve also found a use case in ethically “stalking” various tech pundits (I hate that word) and found a couple of high value events I would otherwise have missed.

Personally, I look at things like work check-ins as de rigeur for this level of sharing. Whereas gas station check-ins may bore your connections, the work stuff is of greater interest. I’ll often see CEO Eugene Lee’s check-ins at Socialtext headquarters. As head of a major software company, I’m sure he has to travel a fair amount. So the check-ins to HQ tell me he’s working away in the office.

I check in to Spigit every day. Proud to say I’m the Foursquare “mayor” of Spigit, oh yes. But I’m competing with several colleagues for that title. I share these check-ins with my Foursquare and Gowalla connections.

But not with my Twitter/Facebook connections. Those folks didn’t decide to follow me based on my daily work check-ins.

Share with Twitter, Facebook Friends

However, I do share check-ins, even mundane ones, on Twitter at times. I’ll explain in a second.

First, interesting ones are a no-brainer. Should you find yourself with Anne Hathaway at a post-Oscars party, by all means, share that check-in! Or maybe you’re in a working session at the White House. Definitely passes the interestingness test.

There’s also a good use case for alerting your wider social networks as to your location for meet-ups. It’s a commonly cited use case for Foursquare/Gowalla.

However, I’ll admit as a father with a full-time job and a mortgage, my “interesting” check-ins are few and far between, and I rarely am trying to connect with others at Trader Joe’s. And I’m not alone. The majority of people will have mundane check-ins as they go about daily life.

It’s making the mundane interesting where the Foursquare/Gowalla art is.

Create “tweetable” check-ins. What’s going on around you that would be worth sharing? What will some people on Twitter and Facebook find interesting?

It’s something I do, and I admit it’s a bit of a game for me. “What can I tweet with this check-in?” I find it forces me to observe what’s around me, or step back from where I am consider the larger moment.

A couple examples below:

I’ll never do a straight  tweet of my check-in at a BART station. At least, I won’t unless I fat finger my iPhone, that is. But if I can report out the unusually cold weather we’re experiencing, yeah, tweet that!

As I said above, we’re early in this location-based check-in thing. Consider the observations above a start.

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 042310

From the home office in some Redwood City bar, where I’m using my pick-up line on all the single ladies, “Did you happen to find my Congressional Medal of Honor around here? Or my iPhone 4G?”

#1: RT @TechCrunch Foursquare Becomes More Business-Friendly http://tcrn.ch/b45AJY > Biz owners can claim their businesses

#2: RT @jowyang Heard that foursquare us charging brands $50,000 for a custom branded badge. Good deal or bad? Think it through.

#3: RT @courtenaybird GOOD READ: It’s Time For An Open Database Of Places http://ow.ly/1A4HL (via @erickschonfeld)

#4: RT @briansolis The State and Future of Twitter 2010: Part Two http://bit.ly/aAV0r9

#5: “Sucks Less” Features http://bit.ly/an6s50 > funny product management perspective from my b-school classmate @trochte

#6: RT @amcafee New blog post up. “Drop the Pilot” advocates AGAINST small-scale #E20 pilot projects: http://bit.ly/aKD3WF

#7: This @gapingvoid cartoon well-describes the creative process, incl writing. http://bit.ly/9LlVIN Sometimes you got it, sometimes you don’t.

#8: Had to check to make sure this wasn’t dated April 1. It’s for real: “Vacationing a human right, EU chief says” http://bit.ly/bMYAH0

#9: I hear stories about Americans’ deep discontent with government, and I’m just not one of them. We’re working our way out of a deep well.

#10: Hilarious site that any parent of young kids can appreciate: www.shitmykidsruined.com (h/t @rochelle)

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 032610

From the home office in CTU, where I’m taking control of ’24′, not going to let it be canceled

#1: RT @scobleizer http://bestc.am/T90 This is Paul Pluschkell CEO of @spigit which is cool ideation software used by tons of companies. Now onto @pipioinc

#2: Wow – my moment in @dahowlett‘s spotlight: Enterprise 2.0: let’s be careful out there http://bit.ly/bQR3vj Great stuff, needs several reads

#3: Enterprise 2.0 and our tendency to think and talk in terms of efficiency http://bit.ly/cDe3mO by @oscarberg #e20

#4: Discussion is a good thing! RT @rawn Had to write disagreeing response to spigit post “Maslow’s Hierarchy of E2.0 ROI” http://bit.ly/9ltJo6

#5: Avoiding Innovation Chaos inside Companies (via Spigit blog) http://bit.ly/anh1cY #innovation #e20

#6: RT @govfresh Manor in WSJ: ‘A Hotbed of Tech Innovation: the Government of Manor, Texas’ http://bit.ly/aUyxbF #gov20

#7: Is Crowdsourcing Disruptive? http://bit.ly/aYybmt by @stephenshapiro > Cost per design vs cost of acquisition #innovation

#8: Can truly great design be done the open source way? http://bit.ly/bcZszD by @cdgrams > a bazaar or a cathedral? #design

#9: Actual newspaper headline: “Republicans turned off by the size of Obama’s package.” http://bit.ly/crhh2O #hcr?

#10: RT @skydiver “One of the things I love about Twitter is that you can totally make up quotations.” – Abraham Lincoln

The Two-Year Lag from Web 2.0 to Enterprise 2.0

The Enterprise 2.0 sector draws heavy inspiration from innovations in the Web 2.0 world. Indeed, the name itself, Enterprise “2.0” reflects this influence. From a product management perspective, Web 2.0, and its derivations social networking and social media are great proving grounds for features before coding them into your application.

A fruitful area to review is how long it takes for a feature to go from some level of decent adoption in the consumer realm to becoming part of the mainstream Enterprise 2.0 vendor landscape. The list of features that have made the jump – forums, wikis, blogs, tagging, social networking, activity streams, status updates – is impressive. Let’s look at three features that made the leap, with an eye toward how long it took.

Tool Year of Web Adoption Year of E2.0 Adoption
Wikis 2002 2004
Social networking 2006 2008
Microblogging 2007 2009

Here’s the back-up for those dates.

Wikis: Wikis got their start back in 1995. From there they grew, and the application became popular with computer programmers. But it hadn’t caught hold outside that culture. Wikipedia was launched in January 2001, and grew rapidly over its first two years. It wasn’t yet mainstream, but it clearly had caught a wave among early adopters. As recounted on the history of wikis page in Wikipedia, 2004 – 2006 saw an explosion of interest in wikis from companies.

Social networking: Defined as enabling social profiles, and connecting with others. Facebook started in 2004, and grew very popular among colleges. In 2006, it opened up its membership beyond college students, and turned down a $1 billion offer from Yahoo! Clearly, the company was on fire (even then).

In April 2008, Jive released Clearspace 2.0, which was touted as Facebook for the enterprise. Socialtext 3.0 was released in September 2008, and it included Socialtext People, its social networking feature. And I can tell you that at BEA Systems, there was a second quarter 2008 release of a Facebook for the enterprise in the Aqualogic product line.

Microblogging: Twitter. The source of it all. Twitter actually was conceived as an idea back in 2000, and company was started from a 2006 brainstorming session at Odeo. But it really hit big with the early adopter set at 2007′s South by Southwest.

Microblogging broke into the Enterprise 2.0 world when Yammer won best-of-show at the September 2008 TechCrunch 50. But that doesn’t count as mainstreaming into Enterprise 2.0. Yammer proceeded to grow strongly the next few months. And Socialtext introduced Signals in March 2009.

So there’s some documentation backing my 2-year cycle for Web 2.0 innovations to move from hitting the early adopter set to the Enterprise 2.0 sector. Note that this doesn’t apply to every Web 2.0 innovation. No one ever talked about “MySpace for the Enterprise” and there’s really not a Flickr in the Enterprise 2.0 umbrella.

Which raises a question about today’s hottest Web 2.0 trend…

Foursquare for the Enterprise?

Foursquare, and its up-n-coming competitor Gowalla, are all the rage these days. These location-based social networks are good for seeing what friends are doing. Foursquare also integrates features that reward participation (points), add a sense of competition (mayors) and provide recognition (badges).

Mark Fidelman recently wrote about Foursquare and Enterprise 2.0. And using our handy two-year lag calculation, somewhere in early 2012 the first mainstream Enterprise 2.0 will integrate Foursquare features. Actually, two of them.

Location check-ins

Employees will check in their locations from all around the globe. Sales meetings, customer on-site deployments, sourcing trips, conferences, etc. Sure, this info might be in the Outlook Calendar. But even if it is, Outlook Calendar entries aren’t social objects. These check-ins will allow you to know where colleagues are, including those you don’t know well. But wouldn’t it be nice to know if some other employee visited someplace you’re investigating?

These check-ins can be even more tactical. Folks who are part of a meeting in a conference room all check-in. Voila! Meeting attendance, which everyone can see. For an individual employee, these check-ins become a personal history of what you did over the past week.

Mayorships, Badges, Points

Foursquare makes it fun, and for many people, addicting, to check-in. You get points and *bonuses* when you check into the places you go. If you check in to the same place enough times, you get to be mayor of a venue and tweet it about it. You earn badges for accomplishing different things in the Foursquare system.

These features have had the effect of motivating legions of people to participate. It’s fun to see your stats. It’s fun to get a little competitive.  It’s great when you get that notification that you’ve earned a new badge.

Andrew McAfee wrote a series of posts exploring the question of whether knowledge workers should have Enterprise 2.0 ratings. This chart was from one of his posts:

Well, the Foursquare approach certainly takes us down this path, albeit in a fun way. I’d be remiss if I didn’t call out that Spigit already has these tools in place (ahead of its time?).

So what do you think? Personally, I’m looking forward to more Foursquare in the enterprise.

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 030510

From the home office in Hawaii, where I swear those waves look bigger than normal…right?…you see it too, don’t you?…sorta…

#1: Funniest man on TV: Craig Ferguson http://bit.ly/brF6j2 by @berkun > “The lack of autonomy always explains mediocrity” #innovation

#2: Curation’s Growing Value http://bit.ly/a5JNnR > I also turned to Twitter more than news sites for #hitsunami updates

#3: Who are your positive deviants? (via Spigit blog) http://bit.ly/clDDJw #e20 #innovation

#4: Why CEOs Don’t Get Innovation http://bit.ly/9tgigJ @lindegaard‘s Business Week column #innovation

#5: Is collaboration enough to connect the dots? http://bit.ly/9oonRd on the Product Four blog #e20

#6: Interesting concept: “Social Sigma” (vs. Six Sigma) to improve products http://bit.ly/aWMlp2 by Forrester’s @gcolony #innovation

#7: This Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out http://bit.ly/cDcZU5 by First Round Capital’s @kentgoldman > Importance of pivoting business models

#8: Enterprise 2.0 Trends: Which vendors are in the running? http://bit.ly/anZI2Q by @markfidelman #e20

#9: Today’s @gapingvoid cartoon email is a fave of mine: “It’s easy to spot a purist. They’re the ones without any skin in the game.”

#10: I’ll admit: If I see one too many a “Hallmark card” inspirational quote from someone, I unfollow.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 022610

From the home office at a table in front a congressional hearing where I’m explaining why I didn’t actually put any brakes in my cars…

#1: All your authentication are belong to us http://bit.ly/d2S177 by Forrester’s @TomGrantForr > Facebook Connect is pulling away

#2: RT @defrag wow. twitter moving to Cassandra (#NoSQL) – http://bit.ly/9z8nvp – so, FB, Digg, Twitter all on NoSQL. oracle, are you listening?

#3: Interesting: Why the iPad can’t use flash http://bit.ly/bG6X9K > How do you “mouseover” with your finger?

#4: RT @BBHLabs Bored of reading that @foursquare is the ‘new Twitter’; it’s a different kind of utility altogether – http://j.mp/9s8GDD

#5: Study – Distributed Idea Generation Outperforms Team Brainstorming (Spigit blog) http://bit.ly/dffHzL #innovation #crowdsourcing

#6: Crowdsourcing Collaboration in Education http://bit.ly/aPmSj0 by @eduinnovation > Educators can tap large networks #innovation

#7: How to Fail at Innovation http://is.gd/98YUh by @timkastelle > “The way to fail at #innovation is to try to avoid failing”

#8: The Side Effects of Open Innovation http://bit.ly/9hIaQI by @lindegaard “it’s very much about managing change” #innovation #e20

#9: 10 tips for Successful Crowdsourcing http://post.ly/OxhU

#10: RT @exUnited Southwest Airlines selects Spigit for innovation mgmt http://bit.ly/blTGO3 Innovation is like LUV – deliberate, not accidental

PleaseRobMe Is the Logical Extension of Our Worst Fears about Location-Based Services

The rise of location-based social media holds a lot of promise and benefit for participants. But a legitimate concern about them is that they make it too easy to track where you are. For some people, that’s more information than they want out there.

Well, three guys – Barry Borsboom, Frank Groeneveld, Boy van Amstel – have taken this fear to its logical extension, with their site Please Rob Me. It tracks all the location-based updates people put out there via Foursquare. I assume Gowalla, Brightkite and other applications wouldn’t be far behind. And “helpfully” posts them to its site, and to its Twitter account.

Here’s a screen shot of how the site displays these updates:

Note that message there at the bottom. Their intention is not to have people burglarized. So what is their intent? From their site:

The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home. So here we are; on one end we’re leaving lights on when we’re going on a holiday, and on the other we’re telling everybody on the internet we’re not home. It gets even worse if you have “friends” who want to colonize your house. That means they have to enter your address, to tell everyone where they are. Your address.. on the internet.. Now you know what to do when people reach for their phone as soon as they enter your home. That’s right, slap them across the face.

The goal of this website is to raise some awareness on this issue and have people think about how they use services like Foursquare, Brightkite, Google Buzz etc.

I do see the Google ads on the site. Which for some people will undercut the message and put the focus on the money-making opportunity. But in a conversation on Twitter about this with Keith Crawford, I likened what these guys are doing to hacking a system to show its vulnerability, not to corrupt it.

Because if these guys can pull this together, who else can?

Won’t stop me from my pedestrian check-ins (BART, Costco, Trader Joe’s, etc.). But these guys have made tangible the fear we have with these services.

My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 021210

From the home office in Vancouver, where I’m preparing to compete in the snow blogging competition…

#1: Twitter’s location information would come in handy during the Olympics. Choose to follow tweets of only those in your time zone.

#2: Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley (@dens) describes the future of participating in location-based social applications http://post.ly/Mft6

#3: Fascinating study of Twitter spammers, and how they compare to legitimate users http://bit.ly/bFkd6l > Hard to tell difference

#4: The Importance of Managing Your Online Reputation http://bit.ly/a7i5mx by @VenessaMiemis > Strong, comprehensive post

#5: Goal Setting Stimulates Employee Innovation (via Spigit blog) http://bit.ly/cuKC9u #innovation #e20

#6: RT @mvandall MIT-Sloan 4 keys to driving innovation: Measurement, experimentation, sharing & replication. http://bit.ly/cH9khC. Spigit got it right!

#7: In light of Toyota’s quality issues, do you think they abandoned the “million employee ideas” somewhere along the line? http://bit.ly/a3iX9K

#8: RT @SmartStorming You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club. Jack London #innovation #creativity

#9: Nice word: “heterarchy” a formal structure, represented by a diagram of connected nodes, without any single permanent uppermost node

#10: Chocolate chili recipe http://bit.ly/aXn4kd > Hearty chili with an exotic quality. @cflanagan @justinmwhitaker @cubba #superbowl

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