Mesh 08 Wrap

Another excellent day at Mesh.

As always at this event, the mingling, nattering and "meshing" in the breaks between sessions is as - if not more - useful than the sessions themselves. So many fascinating, smart, opinionated, interesting people to hang out and swap ideas, stories, and URLs with.

Personal highlights today: excellent keynote session with co-founder of Club Penguin, Lane Merrifield and the closing panel on Social Media Measurement, featuring Katie Paine, David Jones, and Sylvain Perron, expertly moderated by Stuart MacDonald. Great stuff - hoping they'll post that session up on MeshTV so I can go back and listen to all the really clever and useful things Katie and the chaps had to say.

My own gig seemed to go pretty well too, I'm relieved to say. I was trying really hard to listen to what the panellists and audience were saying, so that I could help keep a healthy, reasonably contiguous conversation flowing - but it's such a challenge to try to ensure that the great questions raised by audience participants are properly addressed, while also giving as many people as possible a chance to contribute. I felt we could easily have turned this topic over for the whole afternoon, and still only have scratched the surface.

Many thanks to Dave Fleet (ably assisted by Brad Buset), Connie Crosby, and Mark Blevis for their great live-blogged synopses of the session. There were other live tweets and may be other blog posts too, which I'm sure I'll stumble across in my secret, guilty ego-surfing in the days ahead.

Thanks also to the panellists - Chris Reid from Yamaha Motor Canada, Natalie Johnson of General Motors, and Jenny Bullough from Harlequin. Takes some courage to come out and represent these giant enterprises in a social media setting, and I think they acquitted themselves well.

Dave Fleet was kind enough to allow me to cut and paste his live-blogged transcript here. It's not quite the same as being there, but I think it gives a good taste of the stuff we covered:

1:33 davefleet - At the panel on "Social Media in the Enterprise"
1:33 davefleet - MOCC just revealed his geekdom
1:35 davefleet - Chris Reid (Yamaha), Natalie Johnson (GM), Jenny Bullough (Harlequin Enterprises) on the panel
1:39 davefleet - Johnson: As a company, having a blog lets you establish your own 'voice'
1:41 davefleet - Reid: Says Yamaha is the only motor sports company in Canada that's participating in social media
1:41 davefleet - Reid: When he blogs, he's not Yamaha speaking to customers, he's himself
1:42 davefleet - Michael O'Connor Clarke (http://michaelocc.com/) moderating the panel

1:42 [Comment From Brad Buset]
All three have spoken of being the brand online, now what about listening....
1:44 davefleet - Johnson: Just launched "I Am Saturn" website. Customer couldn't get roadside assistance, had to leave car at side of the road. Customer went to their website and told their story. PR team "went to work" to fix it/"make the situation better" for them.
1:45 Brad Buset - http://imsaturn.com/ not Iamsaturn.com

1:45 davefleet - Website is http://imsaturn.com/

1:47 davefleet - MOCC: Has social media brought cultural change to your organization?
1:47 Brad Buset - 1. Christ --> yes, opened eyes and sped up responses
1:47 davefleet - Reid (Yamaha): Yes, and it's still growing. Opened eyes to value of responding quicker and more directly to customers
1:47 Brad Buset - *okay, not '"christ", but "Chris" , not that good of a panel
1:48 davefleet - Reid: Customers aren't primarily bloggers. Lots of aliases, lots of bashing on forums. Blogging has allowed them to take the conversation out of that venue.
1:51 Brad Buset - Put out by Michael OConner Clark (MOCC) - can you use social media in the enterprise without top-down support
1:52 Brad Buset - Dude in the audience says yes - as long as you have direct managerial support, the right people using it and some technical help
1:53 davefleet - Johnson: Agrees - you need top-level support. If you don't have it (including IT), it can move very very slowly
1:54 davefleet - Bullough: Sometimes the challenge is middle managers not lower ranks or upper management

1:54 Brad Buset - Interest piece from Ipsos Reed re: c-suite media adoption. Long story short - they're getting into it in a big way http://tinyurl.com/4rrpnu

1:54 davefleet - Bullough: Can be effective to show them how their competitors use social media. Get support more easily
1:57 davefleet - Johnson: If you're not out there, having your people talk in this space with other people, you'll lose out
1:58 davefleet - Audience Q: Can you give some specific examples - when you talk about social media spaces, what exactly are you talking about? MySpace? Your own?
1:59 davefleet - Bullough: Had great success with a series of podcasts
1:59 davefleet - Bullough: Podcast series called "meet an author." H/ever, had runaway success with "meet an editor" series that lets authors meet editors
2:00 davefleet - Johnson: http://www.igotshotgun.com/

2:01 davefleet - Reid: Concerns on how to do it internally. Externally, could have gone with Facebook etc. Internally, as a blog with clear terms of use, put legal department at ease
2:03 davefleet - GM encourages employees to participate on Facebook etc. Educating employees about these forums. Doesn't 'plant' people
2:04 Brad Buset - same for Yamaha -- they use it to protect the company, and to protect the individuals
2:04 davefleet - Reid: Clearly tells employees not to represent the company in blogs or other forums. Does it to protect the employee and the company
2:05 davefleet - MOCC: Talk about the policies you have in place for your own social media activities - blogging policy? comments policy? trackback policy? how to respond to negative comments on external blogs?
2:05 davefleet - Excellent question
2:05 davefleet - Bullough: Yes. To summarize - don't be stupid. Don't blog about authors, don't get personal
2:06 davefleet - Johnson: Does have a corporate blogging policy. Worked with other departments to develop it. Took a while to develop.
2:07 Brad Buset - Bullough: If you have a strong enough community, they do the policing for you. Similar to the Privacy panel from yesterday in that the best defense to be out there, build your brand until people know you, and allow them to make the call
2:07 davefleet - Johnson: They do moderate for offensive/foul language. They do post negative comments though. Criticism is fine.
2:08 davefleet - MOCC: Should be a disciplinary offence if you start anonymously commenting on other sites.
2:08 davefleet - Reid: Employees are not to represent the company publicly. He has an exemption though
2:11 davefleet - Mark Blevis: How do you educate employees/brass on how to use the tools
2:11 davefleet - Reid: It really helped to bring in an outside expert
2:12 Brad Buset - Another similarity from personal brand - education is key for support and management
2:13 davefleet - Q: What did you do to convince management that this is a good thing?
2:14 davefleet - Johnson: VP of Communications jumped on board and said he thought it was a good idea. Championed it.
2:15 davefleet - Government timelines for responding to mail don't work online. How do you deal with this in your co?
2:16 davefleet - Reid: In the blogosphere conversations gain critical mass in short order. Use the blog to stay on that while the corporate response is developed.
2:17 davefleet - Q: What are you keeping in mind when making sure that your involvement in SM doesn't backfire?
2:17 davefleet - Excellent audience questions at this panel
2:18 davefleet - Johnson (GM): Can't make sure nothing backfires. Educate people so they can go out there and respond.
2:19 davefleet - Johnson: If you're used to press releases, having a conversation with someone can be a little scary. It takes time.
2:19 davefleet - Q: Do you have a risk management plan?
A: (GM) No
2:20 davefleet - Q: How does social media appear on your annual budgets? Does it get its own line item, or folded in to other items?
2:21 davefleet - A: (GM) Yes, it is at GM
A: (Harlequin) No, however 'top brass' has a good understanding of the costs. Already established the unit though - mainly ongoing costs (???!)
A: No
2:22 davefleet - Q: Doesn't sound like social media is an important part of your companies yet. Still hamstrung.
2:22 davefleet - A: Panel doesn't seem to agree with that one.
2:22 davefleet - Q: How many GM people are dedicated to social media
A: (GM) 5
2:23 davefleet - So social media is at a starting point, not at a success point
2:24 davefleet - Q from @thornley: Bob Lutz was one of the first high-profile corporate bloggers. However, there have been four posts since he last posted. Is there strategy to maintain it as a corporate blog?
2:24 davefleet - A: Lutz is the strongest voice on the blog, not the only one
2:25 davefleet - Q: How have you met regulatory disclosure rules?
2:25 davefleet - Bullough: They trust their employees
2:25 davefleet - Johnson: Agrees with Bullough. Blogosphere is just one way you can communicate. Just like another medium, don't reveal information that would affect the company financially on there
2:26 davefleet - Q: How do you measure success/ROI?
2:27 davefleet - Johnson: This is a relatively new area. What she terms success is people starting to engage and connect. Do they look at GM as an innovative forward-thinking company?
2:28 davefleet - Johnson: social media fits in the top part of the sales funnel, not close to the sale
2:29 davefleet - Bullough: Agrees with Johnson - not about ROI, it's about return on engagement
2:30 davefleet - End of panel. Great Q&A

And that's it. Mesh '08 is a wrap. Hope those of you still ligging around at the after-after-party are having a blast. Till next time...