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Social Media Jungle at CES & Grocery Shopping (Part 2) | blog.deanland.com

Social Media Jungle at CES & Grocery Shopping (Part 2)

Social Media Jungle at CES & Grocery Shopping (Part 2)

As promised, and following up on the immediately prior post,
there's more to discuss about the increasing amount of tech- or net-related aspects of everyday life becoming accepted as the norm, and not just to geeks or early adopters.  This is also perfectly apropos for discussion right this moment, as tomorrow (Tuesday the 6th of January) I fly to Las Vegas for CES.  On Wednesday at Jeff Pulver's Social Media Jungle (an all day meeting, adding extra value to the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, and giving CES a special, contemporary and insightful discussion in these difficult socioeconomic times) Howard Greenstein and I will be giving a talk on New Media Strategy in Challenging Times: Conquering the 3 Screen World.  As Howard notes in his blog, we gave a talk on the same topic at the first of Jeff's Social Media Jungle events.  You can click here to see the slides from that day, as well as a video of Howard and me delivering our presentation.

Social Media, of course, is all the rage among the geekerati these days.  PR and Marketing types are all over it, much the way some PR types jumped on blogging about five years ago. I like to make the joke about one PR firm that was so excited when it discovered blogging (ahem, about 5 years ago) that it decided to claim that it had invented blogging.  Further, it went backward in time and discovered that links and RSS feeds could give some viral oomph to messages, so they decided they'd also invented trackbacks and sorta kinda invented RSS, or at least were responsible for RSS's very practical and effective use in blogging, their invention [that they'd just discovered].  They even held a panel discussion just for their clients (with a real nice lunch and everything!) to ballyhoo this great discovery and offered to allow their clients to benefit from their incredible development/product [that they'd just discovered]. 

Hard as I can be on that firm-not-to-be-maligned-by-name, they are doing some good things these days with Social Media.  Further, they've also discovered that the blogosphere, twittersphere, wikisphere and similar such geek and technospheric galaxies were also discovered by ad agencies, marketers.  So the playing field is somewhat level.  It does make one wonder, though, what great technobreakthrough this firm will happen upon (and thus, of course, invent, as history repeats itself -- they'll no doubt issue press released and tweets to this effect) and declare as their new inventions for the benefit of messaging mankind.

The neat thing about Social Media is that much of it boils down to using the tools of communication in an internet world.  In the new world, of ubiquitous connectivity and portable, available information (be it documents, e-mail, voice mail, instant message, tweets, etc.) the method of spreading the word, disseminating information, is a much simpler operation.  Well, maybe a better way to express that is that the tools for spreading the word are all over the place, widely available.  Knowing how to use them -- and knowing how "various communities of interest" will embrace them -- is the critical factor.

These days Twitter is the hottest of hot properties for short messages.  What Twitter does --in the 140 character at a time constraint-- is to socialize the medium.  Company representatives engage in a very public exchange with those who follow their messages ("tweets").  So if there are user complaints or questions or concerns, the company can address this is a public forum.  Further, if the company rep(s) have a sense of humor or have good writing skills (super duper skills at a 140 character max per message, er, tweet) a persona emerges.  The company develops a soul. 

In much the manner of commercials or print ads reflecting the soul of a targeted or sculpted image, personable tweets help express a company as a dynamic and communicating entity.

Service goes public.  And a conversation with users becomes a reality. 
A viewed, "twitter-style eavesdropped" conversation.  To some
businesses this is wonderful, as it represents a superb communications
opportunity.  To others it s a frightening step in a direction other
than what might have been "business as usual."  And some savvy e-tailers now use Twitter to post their deals of the day or similar specials. 

Critical point: the Twitter user makes the most important decision.  The user chooses who or what to follow, so all of this is on an opt-in basis.

Twitter also brings a sense of immediacy and realism to the electronic delivery system.  Tweets from Mumbai during the terror attack were on the spot and in the moment news updates.  Not journalism, per se, but real dispatches from,by, and of real people in a real situation.  And at the moment, with no tape delay or redacted content.  Only, of course, the 140 character per tweet constraint.  Unlike Instant Messaging, tweets are to the many, not to the few.  Except in the event of a Twitter user opting to block tweets from a specific user, all tweets are for all to see. 

Hordes of Twitter-enabling and -enhancing programs exist, allowing people to follow not only their friends and people of interest, but also keywords of interest or groups they create.  These can be groups of all sorts, such as concentrating on the Arts or a sport or a person or a subject.  Ad hoc use of #hashtags allow topics or words to generate a following.  A tweet can start the process, as in this example.  In many ways this is simpler than tagging words in a blog or on site content.  To wit, there's an existing, functioning  hashtag for CES, and certainly more specific ones will follow for events, parties, dinners, booths, new goodies introduced at the show, etc.

Twitter is in the early stages.  Geeks and early adopters (aka, "The Digerati") have embraced the service with gusto.  Mainstream media has not only reported on it, but has also begun to integrate it into their operations.  The New York Times, The New York Daily News, CNN and numerous other traditional media outlets tweet and interact with the Twittersphere. The 2008 Presidential campaign was all over Twitter, as were others on the state and local levels.  Onsome levels it is a Digerati manner of preaching to the converted. But as it grows and becomes more mainstream, the power of this message delivery system will continue to expand, in all manner and sorts.

Again, though, it is critical to note that this is all early stage.  Twitter, which currently is not generating ad revenue, will likely be a merger target (for wads of cash and stock, but not the Facebook valuation sort of money that peaked before the bottom dropped out of the economy) of one of the remaining major media giants.

Major Media , also known as Mainstream Media, sometimes referred to as Old Media, can incorporate Twitter and blogs and wikis as integration of messaging.  This allows the audience (or target or customer base or consumer or community of interest) to interact, to respond, to have a voice or to become part of the process.  A wonderful open source microblogging service, identi.ca, is based on Laconica
"the Open Source µ-blogging tool."  What does this mean? It means anyone, any company or enterprise --you!!-- can use it internally or outwardly.  Your own twitterifficish tool, available to all.

Other businesses and media have been investigating methods of using the internet to their benefit.  Brick and mortar stores seek online outlets or enhancements of and from the online world.  Which brings us back to the grocery store, as teased in the prior blog post, and mentioned above at the heading of this one.

Howard and I will be speaking at Social Media Jungle at CES about how to approach getting one's message out in what we call The Three Screen World.  Those three screens are the TV, the Computer Monitor, and the Handheld Device (cellphone, Blackberry, Palm, iPhone, iTouch,
iPod and many more).  In tough times it is more important than ever to reach a target market group.  Using the tools of the three screens, one can make viable, actionable impressions.

Soon we will see portable coupons and alerts in all sorts of retail venues.  Predictive logic, collaborative filtering, and opt-in messaging will enhance the shopping experience.  Seminars are being given to all sorts of businesses by companies engaged in making these things happen.  Sometimes their audiences grab the opportunity. Other times those in the audience, the very merchants and decision-makers who need to embrace and adapt technology, miss the true fact that these enhancements or solutions are available right now.  Today, and even more so tomorrow and the next day.

At Jeff Pulver's first Social Media Jungle I related a story from my own real life, an experience I had as a regular shopper.  It was about my own grocery shopping and how I integrate new media into the process.  Shortly after that I heard from a friend at a major agency who was conducting a survey on grocery shopping.  I sent her the story, and noted that I really ought to blog it.  So here goes:

Let me tell you you about my interaction with the manager of my local grocery

store, regarding using the web, and her utter shock of seeing "the future" as it had
 been promised to her at a grocer's convention, taking place right here, right now, in the present.

Every week  I read the store's circular on the web.  It has a feature allowing the reader to
click on items from the circular and post them to a shopping list.  Then  I email my list,
using the utility in the store's online weekly shopper, to my gmail address, so I can have it
in my hand as I shop. 

On a recent tip to the grocery I'd asked the service desk if something was in stock in the back, and
the manager went to the back to get it for me, and asked me to meet her by the area in the

aisle where it would go.  When she arrived there she saw me looking at my Blackberry and asked
me what I was doing.  I explained that I was checking my shopping list, that I used the weekly online
shopper to email myself the list.  This way nothing forgotten, and the list is always accessible.

She said, "Wow!  I attended a grocery store manager's conference two weeks ago, and they said that
would be the future of shopping!"

I welcomed her to the future, and thanked her for getting me the item from the back.  She was dumbfounded
that what she'd been told, what she perceived as the future,  was actually and in fact a reality, and in the
moment, not just some promise of a whiz bang techie future.

I told her that this was just the tip of the iceberg.  Tools, interactive presence, mobility, RFID and extension
of the experience are all upon us.  Early adapters are not necessarily just technonerds.

This is where the three screen world and social media converge to enhance a standard weekly (or more often)
shopping experience.  Integrate print into the mix and this is a marketing and advertising bonanza, in that it

can be measured and used to maximize all the elements for gain.  And it is lifestyle, not just shopping, when it
comes to groceries.

The store is part of a chain, with a consistent advertising presence on TV and Radio.  The website adds another element.  I use the site to send the message to my phone.  If the service the store uses for their online presence had a little more savvy, they would add a "send to to your mobile device" button as an online menu option for the users.  There's a specific audience using the website, as well as a subset using their mobile or handheld devices in the shopping experience.  The store could target specific messages (specials, perhaps, discounts?) to these groups.

Fellow Social Media Jungle presenter Justin Levy writes in his blog about other technologies coming to the grocery.  What Justin writes about  has been a common option in many groceries in the UK and elsewhere.  Click here to read Justin's interesting tech-shopping experience.  It is use of yet another screen, a handheld one, at that.