This past Thursday/Friday I had the good fortune to attend #BigBoulder Conference in  . . . you guessed it; Boulder Colorado. This event was put on by @gnip and was an excellent opportunity for me to see what the current state of social data is. The event tagline was Big Data, Big Ideas, Big Opportunities and I witnessed all three. What I also saw were a lot of companies coming to talk with each other about working together. The market is new with the median age of the attending companies being four years old with estimated market value of $750 million. (Not bad for a four year old.) In the past five years we’ve gone from social monitoring to social listening to social analytics and we’re about 10% into this evolution. The event included some of the following speakers (complete list here):

Below are some of the themes that resonated with me.

Real time data - Can businesses adjust? All online businesses – social or not – are headed towards real-time awareness. The question is whether or not they are internally agile enough to adapt.  There is no question that consumers have real-time needs and businesses that don’t address those needs, will be at a distinct disadvantage.

Who owns social? - Does it live in PR or marketing? Customer service or sales? This has been a point of conversation with my clients over the last six years and needless to say, it depends on the structure, culture and business model of the company. @setlinger of Altimeter Group had an excellent suggestion that businesses should

  1. Collect all the data (through Gnip – pronounced guh·nip/ping spelled backwards – of course)
  2. Parse out the data that’s important to specific parts of the organization and then
  3. Serve up that data in a format that is actionable.

Data must be actionable - There is no ROI on data according to @znh of Forrester. Hard to argue with . . . (Think of having Google Analytics installed and nice shiny reports created but then doing nothing with the information.)

Businesses don’t know – Most marketers are unaware of what kinds of data they have access to, let alone, what action can be taken based on that information. I’ve been in many meetings where the marketer is listening to the data guy and he tells her what kinds of information they have access to. The marketer looks up from her notebook, with a stunned look in her eyes and says; “You have that?”. It would have served everyone well if there were more marketers there. (I felt like a stranger in a strange land. A very friendly, happy strange land, called Boulder.)

Balancing innovation and standardization – This was mentioned by Facebook & Klout and is a problem for any business trying to do what these businesses are doing. They have moving targets that require tweaking and yet are trying to become the industry standard. Not easy.

spam – It’s evil and needs to die and all businesses are working on resolving the issue. If email or junk mail is any indicator; spam will never go away.

Brad Feld – One of my favorite sessions was by @bfeld that talked about Boulder’s start-up history. It was also nice to hear him talk about the need for the start-up community to be inclusive. No one who has a passion for it should be excluded.

Below are some miscellaneous items of note.

Facebook’s information platform is comprised of the following elements.

  1. Brand Engagement – Paid/post engagement, ad engagement offers, check-ins/places, R/F of Paid and Earned, media efficiency
  2. Customer insights – demographics, interests, open graph solutions, geo, polls, Facebook questions, direct interactions
  3. Consumer insights – status/comment mining, onsite behaviors, open graph actions, geo, interests

LinkedIn’s method of B2B marketing

  1. Create a company page
  2. Attract followers – organically, paid
  3. Engage Followers – Targeted Status updates
  4. Drive amplification of messaging
  5. Analyze & refine strategy

Below are some of my thoughts

The future of social is visual and real-time. I believe the attendees have a good handle on real time and what can be done. The question that kept rolling around in my head was, “how are quickly can they extract data from upload images (and video)”. I’ve posted about the future of social being visual this means that companies focusing on social data are going to need to partner with (or acquire) companies that focus on extracting information from images and video. The key ingredient for social monitoring is sentiment and resonance. There are several elements at work here. Let’s break down images first and then video.

  1. What was the sentiment contained in the image? Are they smiling? Are they crying? Is there a “they” in the picture or is it a landscape.
  2. What is the sentiment caused by the image?
  3. Did the image resonate? In other words, how many Likes, comments, RTs etc did the image generate.

Now for video.

  1. What is the sentiment contained in the image? Is there dialog? Is the imagery qualitatively positive or negative?
  2. What is the sentiment caused by the image? Are comments generally positive or negative? Did the video get 1 or 5 stars.
  3. Did the video resonate? How much data through comments, etc did the video generate?

It’s the sentiment contained in the media that makes things interesting. Imagine a woman sharing a picture of her in a new blouse she purchased. She has a smile and adds a smiley face in the comment section. But over the course of the next few days, the vast majority of the comments are negative, recommending she take the item back, regift it or simply burn it.   In regards to social commerce, it’s important to understand that the originator’s sentiment was positive before addressing the issue. In regards to social data, imagery is going to quickly become king and I expect to hear much more about it at the next #BigBoulder Conference.

When it comes to social location consumers, business needs more than just dots on maps. Businesses need to understand sentiment and resonance as it relates to that location. Think of a map with the following information broken out:

  1. Small black dots, indicating neutral or no sentiment
  2. Large red dots, highlighting negative sentiment
  3. Medium size green dots for positive sentiment
  4. Red/green dots could be clickable to show tips, comments left
  5. Red comments could be addressed by stakeholders
  6. Green comments could be amplified by stakeholders

Sounds a lot like MomentFeed . . .

The event was truly well done. It was hard to believe this was the first year and I look forward to next year. There were several videos shown throughout the course of the event and I hope to get/find copies of those and will include them if I’m able.

Thank you @jvaleski, @chrismoodycom and @bzigich!

Update: A summary video was released today (6.29) and is below. (I wish they’d also released the other 2 videos they showed at the beginning of day 1 & 2. They were priceless.