When you have global communications heads from two major FORTUNE 50 companies commenting on how important bloggers are to their companies, and discussing the pros and cons of twitter, then you know that a lot of things have changed in the past year. Social Media Today sponsored and participated in our third Business Development Institute event in New York yesterday, hosted by the ever-charming and gorgeous Steve Etzler. The fast-paced, action-packed agenda led us from the keynote by Ray Kerins, VP Worldwide Communications for Pfizer, to a panel discussion moderated by Sarah Milstein (who was one of my buddies in a website critique group at the Stanford course on web publishing, eons ago), formerly of O'Reilly and now on her own. Sarah did a great job of finding common threads with a varied group made up of Dave Armon/PRNewsire, Paul Gennaro/AECOM, David Sacks/Yammer, Morgan Johnston/JetBlue, and Marc Monseau/J&J. (Click here to access the free audio webcast.) A couple of quotes:
Ray Kerins: "Blogs for us now can be considered top tier" and although their communications strategy is now totally geared to blogging, "we can't measure its effectiveness... yet."
Marc Monseau, who good-naturedly handled the whole Monsanto tempest, "The benefit (of social media) is low cost of entry, the problem is finding the resources."
Later on, I moderated an open roundtable on "building online community with real-time communications," a premise that was shattered during my first table by the very smart Vidar Brekke, someone whom I'd like to count as a new friend in the social media trenches. Vidar is from Norway originally, and is the CEO of SocialIntent, which develops applications for social networks like facebook for leading clients like Coca-Cola and other big brands, and challenged our reason for being at the table by positing that in communities there is "really no such thing as 'real-time' communications... they are by their very nature asynchronous." I think most of the other folks at the table were still trying to understand how twitter worked, so I could see we were off to an exciting start. Sort of like trying to understand a Bergman film at 10 o'clock in the morning (sorry, Vidar, wrong country but hopefully apt.)
But Vidar's point was sound... in creating community it is impossible to create content that is strictly "real-time"... even just two people need to have some time to exchange content. So should immediacy even be a concern to community managers?
What's different about a New York event like this and one in San Francisco, besides the preponderance of suited clothing, is that it's a lot more about tactics and finding results, and obviously, less about technology. The crowd was eager, and there were many (self-identified) baby boomers in the crowd who seemed particularly keen on getting up-to-speed with this whole "social media stuff." BDI never gets bogged down...it's a whole smorgasbord (sorry, Vidar) of networking and content and all seems to be over in a New York minute.