Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

Technologists for Obama | Pierre Omidyar

Some of you may have read my earlier blog posts on Obama – from a brand perspective, leadership traits, use of social media, and yet another post here. Since then I’ve been fascinated watching the campaign unravel, the roller-coaster ride, the highs and the lows. As much as I’d not like to talk politics on the blog, I just wanted to highlight some of the prominent technologists/entrepreneurs from the Bay Area who have endorsed Obama, thus far.

For starters, I thought I’ll put together a list of technology pioneers who’ve spoken their mind about their endorsement of Obama. I thought these endorsements stand out from a crowd of personal support that one sees on either side of the political spectrum. Please do check out the individual blog posts to read more of their expectations and rationale behind the support. To start off this series, here’s Pierre Omidyar, founder/chairman of eBay and the philanthropic organization – the Omidyar Network.

Pierre Omidyar – Founder/Chairman of eBay | Blog post endorsing Obama

When he (Obama) talks about America, it makes me proud to be an American. I want to believe, and I do believe that we live in the America he is talking about. I’m an immigrant, and even though I was raised here, I’ve always loved this country and its ideals with the fervor of a convert. He puts words to what I feel.

Pierre’s words in a way reflect similar thoughts that criss-cross my mind, whenever I hear Obama speak and what he stands for, both as an inspirational leader and a global one at that. Pierre then goes on to address, the question of why he chose to go public with this endorsement given his history with the Clintons.

But then I ask myself: when will I have another chance in my life to risk the downside and take a stand, to raise my voice in support of someone as inspiring and aspirational as Barack Obama? That someone like him, of his vision, his character and tempermant, could be president of the United States, will only happen once in my life. Sure, if he loses now he could try again in four or eight years. But by then the audacity of his message will be dimmed by repetition and cynicism. And I will have missed my very first opportunity to stand for hope and the ideals that set this country apart, and make this country great.

I’ll continue showcasing examples of endorsements from technologists that carry a similar level of understanding as the above post, which I’m referring to. Have a great weekend!

Filed under: Miscellaneous

3 easy ways to find user feedback in social media

As someone who’s actually seen companies (from agencies to Fortune 500 companies) first go, “Social Media, Why?” to How? It’s interesting to see a global voice arise echoing “Social Media. Now!”. Particularly since the chorus comes from a slew of senior marketing executives world-wide. Nice.

Senior marketing executives in several countries agree that the use of social media for corporate, brand and product marketing is not a passing fad – with nearly half saying it is a vital component – according to research sponsored by TNS media intelligence/Cymfony.

What I found most interesting was the broad range of social media activities that companies are willing to commit to. Take a look.

It was also heartening to read this:

The potentially most effective use of social media, selected by more than 50% of respondents, is creating a user community of bloggers to provide user experience feedback.

Well, listen up. These days there are quicker ways to get user feedback right when the user experience occurs. Yes, check out three examples (and you may have heard it from me already).

1. Blogs

Or, a community of bloggers as your marketing executive expects. What’s more important is for you to actually converse within that medium. I think Jeremy says it well when he blogs:

That means getting to actually know the community, getting to be a part of it, reading blog posts – and meeting the people. It doesn’t mean using the community…

Participation and Listening are keywords here. First get your marketing teams participating in the social media world (be it blogs or other sites such as the ones mentioned below) and then you can move into the ROI phase.

2. Twitter

Want immediate feedback – go to Twitter. (What is Twitter?) First off, your community guy/gal should get a twitter account and start tracking conversations about your company on twitter. Easiest way to do that would be to tweet (yes, that’s the official verb form) “track company name”. And, voila he/she’s following all tweets about your company.

Best part is, the community person can then respond to the user right away. Check out my experience responding to Steve Rubel’s LinkedIn error on twitter. And, this can be done not just by a single individual but by everyone in your company who cares about your company and its brand!

Catch me on Twitter

3. Friend Feed:

You knew I’d bring it up. Didn’t you? For those who haven’t heard about it, FriendFeed is a social media aggregator. Here are the first two steps ,if you’d like to get great user-feedback – as it happens, on FriendFeed:

1. Why should I use FriendFeed? CONSOLIDATE all your social media activities into one place, which you can then SHARE with your community. For e.g. here’s my friend feed page. Go ahead, subscribe to me (User id required). Currently 29 social media sites are available – from Twitter to YouTube.

Follow me on Friend Feed

2. SEARCH for relevant information related to your company from there. Consider this a super-group of all social media actions that have mentioned your company. For e.g. somebody twittered a bad user experience to somebody who created a video on YouTube to let the world know how great your latest feature enhancements are!

Here’s how you can search for your company mentions on Friend Feed

If you have any questions on the above three ways to track user experience feedback via social media, just let me know by leaving a comment on this blog post.

Filed under: Business Blogging

3 Starter Steps in building your online brand using LinkedIn

Now there are many ways you can build your brand online. But my oft-repeated reminder is that the quickest and simplest way for any time-harried professional would be a few clickstrokes on your LinkedIn Profile and voila! – you’ve made a headstart in building your online brand.

Don’t trust me?! Check out this insightful CNET article on how LinkedIn can actually enable your search engine rankings and an outline of 3 areas to focus on when you’re building that LinkedIn profile.

While there are a number of services that can help keep you up to date with your contacts–probably better actually–the mix of features as well as the huge and continued adoption of LinkedIn by professionals makes it a worthwhile Web marketing venue.

Wanna get started. Here are 3 easy, no-brainer steps to follow when crafting your LinkedIn profile.

Step 1:

What many may not realize is that these links are live, direct, and not “nofollowed” on the public profile page…which is the page that is openly available to search engine spiders.

Here’s what I’ve done with my LinkedIn Profile – added the LinkedIn Blog, which I edit at work, this blog that you’re currently reading – Marketing Nirvana and of course, my new found fascination to track my thoughts and webclicks via FriendFeed. All three are done via the “Other” options to add relevant anchor text links.

Go, edit your LinkedIn profile now

Step 2:

Now what you’ve done above may not be as useful unless you activate your public profile, which will be shown when users search for you on a search engine like Google. Of course, LinkedIn has always allowed you to set different levels of visibility to your profile when searched for, all of which can be modified on the Public Profile edit page. And, as you may have guessed mine is set to the Full View.

Alright, how about now?

Step 3:

And, finally, don’t forget to link to your LinkedIn public profile URL from other sites as well.

Now that you’ve added links, be sure to link to your public profile URL from other sites when appropriate. This way you’ll drive a little traffic to the profile, and depending on the link, also flow a little PageRank through the profile page to your chosen Web site or sites.

OK, forget about it. Maybe just bookmark me and edit me later.

But the most important way by which I build my personal/career brand is by blogging here on Marketing Nirvana (If you haven’t, how about subscribing to my blog) and that’s one of the reasons, I’m getting back to blogging regularly – continuing to solidify my brand. Let’s hope I stay on this blogging wagon or is it about not falling off the wagon? Either way, get blogging or get LinkedIn! And, stay at it.

Filed under: Linkedin

Hooked on social networks? Try decaf; no seriously.

Troy Wolverton from the Mercury News outlines his experience trying out “The Three” social networks out there: MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn (Disclosure: I work at LinkedIn; in case you’re wondering that’s probably why I’m interested in this space!).

Here’s a quick summary of Troy’s experience:

In January, I received an e-mail through Facebook from a college friend with whom I’d long regretted losing touch.

Last month, as the Mercury News was about to announce layoffs, a contact on LinkedIn alerted me to some job openings at his research firm.

And last week on MySpace, for at least the 16th time in the past three months, I was asked to be friends with a flirtatious young woman – in this case “Stephanie” – who was a front for a porn site.

Funny, eh… Anyways, the reason I’m bringing this up, is that as community evangelist I reach out to folks who’re trying to get more value out of LinkedIn. Now, Troy goes on to describe his experience of LinkedIn more in detail and I can assure you that he’s still skimming the surface and can use it for a slew of professional purposes (particularly as a journalist) that he’s currently missing.

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn positions itself as a tool for professionals. After joining the site last fall, I now have more than 200 mostly professional contacts, with a few personal friends mixed in. While I visit and use the site more often than MySpace, I’m still not convinced of its necessity.

Alright, here’s an open invitation to Troy. Give me a chance to walk-you through some of the LinkedIn usage/features you’re missing right now. I mean it, try decaf, seriously 🙂

Read more about Troy’s experience on the three social networking sites here

Filed under: Facebook, Linkedin

5 thoughts from my SXSW 2008 Panel

I’ve been posting rather erratically for the past few weeks, but I thought I should provide a quick update on the panel I was a part of, earlier today at South by Southwest (Interactive). The panel discussed the “Future of Corporate Blogging”, where I was joined by Lionel Menchaca, chief blogger at Dell and an inspiration (check out what he’s done at Dell) as well as Kami Huysa from New PR Pro. The panel was moderated by Mack Collier of Viral Garden who’s been an old blogging buddy of mine.

Thanks to Jeremiah for the above pic

Here are 5 thoughts we discussed on the panel:

1. Social Media Strategy

Speaking of the necessity of a social media strategy, I’d say go back to the drawing board and figure out where exactly are your users. At LinkedIn, most of our users are online – they were on Yahoo! Groups, LinkedIn Answers and mostly online forums. So creating a corporate blog made all the sense for us.

2. Need for a Feed | Goals for a corporate blog

Once you’ve established that your target audience is online, you’ve gotta figure out the need for a corporate blog. What exactly are you trying to achieve with a corporate blog. Write down your goals. Ours were: user education, enhance user engagement, customer support and breaking news about LinkedIn! What are yours?

3. Future of the LinkedIn blog:

Keeping in mind our goals, we’re aggressively providing users all the juiciest video demos as and when we rollout new features. And, I’m on Twitter so any user can follow me and ping me when they’ve a problem. In addition, the future will see quicker blog posts, and quicker response times from my end.

4. Corporate Blogging ROI:

Absolutely! My best suggestion would be to check out this blog post I wrote recently on the Mprofs blog | ROI of Corporate blogging. Or, check out the Forrester report itself (by Charlene Li). But, in case you were wondering, you can calculate the ROI on a corporate blog.

5. Things to consider before you start a corporate blog

If you’re interested in starting a corporate blog. Ask yourself two questions

a. Where are my users?

b. What goals can I expect to solve with a blog

c. What is the ROI I’m expecting

d. Does a social media strategy support the goals I’ve set for myself.

And, just do it!

If you’d like to see how the SXSW panel on “Future of Corporate Blogging” was received, here’s some feedback from a few of those who participated in the session and guess what they had to say about it. Thanks to all for the kind words.

1. Future of Corporate Blogging is about Communication, not tools by fellow panelist, Kami Huyse

2. Corporate Blogging – How the Pros do it? by Scott Monty

3. Corporate Blogging by Ben Lavender

4. Future of Corporate Blogging w/ audience questions by Vanessa Tan

5. Panel Review by Wendy Sight Sarah Goodwin (thanks to Linda Sherman for pointing it out)

6. Heidi on the SDN blog reviews it

And, of course Lionel and I blogged about it on our corporate blogs here and here. Mack’s SXSW review can be found here.

Filed under: Business Blogging