I thoroughly enjoyed myself last Wednesday attending the Glimpse Social Discovery conference in San Francisco. And to actively admitting to enjoying a conference (which seldom gets the “this was fun let’s do it again sometime!” rap) is a rare thing. Overall, the day played out like a field trip for me minus the 30+ classmates and chaperones trailing behind.
Just in case you’re new to this blog, let me introduce you to my job. I work in social media as a social media manager. And I don’t place an emphasis on SEO or analytical data. That’s more of a social media strategist thing to do anyway. (But lest you think I don’t factor ROI in there somewhere, don’t be fooled.) Me, I’m all about the blogging aspect and the quality of the content trumping quantity. There are a shitload of companies out there who believe that if you just keep pumping terrible, poorly written content out constantly then that’s good. You’re making your quota! Your job is secure for one more day! Definitely not me. I am passionate about being passionate when it comes to writing. I won’t write anything I don’t feel strongly about because when you lack the feeling, you become synchronized. The writing reflects it. So if I don’t write or blog for a day or two, it’s because I’d rather save myself for a meaty post rather than throw it all away on a half-assed article I didn’t even enjoy the topic of in the first place.
It’s not a conventional approach but this is social media. The groundwork is always being relaid and the platform constantly evolves. Whenever I go to events where I’m surrounded by fellow interwebz professionals, I like to ask everyone what they do at their job and then mentally stack up in my head their duties versus mine. Partially because each company treats social media differently so there are some points where it’s interesting to see whether or not you’re “on track” with the rest of them. But also partially just because. I have yet to meet someone doing more than me.
Social discovery, for those of you not in the know and that included me until Wednesday, is about being connected to new places, people, and products based off of your own existing interests and social interactions. I wrote in my other blog some of the lessons learned but to recap a few:
1) We like to discover but we don’t like to give up data on ourselves in order to start the discovery.
2) The internet is growing away from search and more toward discovery each and every day.
3) People want to make friends but they don’t like the concept of paying to make a friend or a connection.
It’s a brave new world dawning upon us and only continuing to dawn all the brighter each and every day and I drank up all of its Koolaid.
Our keynote speaker was the CEO of Pandora Joe Kennedy (left) interviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek reporter, Doug MacMillan (right). There were 10 sessions in all (I’m not writing them all because this post will never end if I do) in which reporters would sit in front of the hall and “interview” about 3-5 different speakers from networking sites like Facebook, Mashable, LinkedIn, Tagged, and more on a series of pre-meditated questions followed up by a series of tweeted questions from the audience as opposed to a live Q&A.
Listening to Joe describing how Pandora works was stunning. It’s an absurdly well oiled machine. Music analysts categorize and give attributes to the music you hear, noting the kinds of instruments used in the pieces, the tempo, the speed, the pitch of the voice, etc. Said attributes are then matched to other songs with similar characteristics and a playlist is created. Most fascinating of all is hearing Joe discuss how playlists are further customized to your age group and geographic location. A 13 year old in Wyoming listening to Taylor Swift is not going to have the same playlist as a 35 year old in Boston. Joe was adamant in stating that Pandora is for “serendipity and discovery” - with over 100,000 musicians in their library, he likened it to being, “How do we use everything we know to play the best music for you?”
It’s hard for a company to crack the formula to providing their customers what they need but Pandora is a diamond in the rough example of a company that truly cares and is constantly looking to enrich a consumer’s life.
My personal favorite panel was this one right here, “Location Discovery” led by reporter and BAMF Shayndi Raice from the Wall Street Journal featuring from left to right Paul Davison, CEO of Highlight, Holger Luedorf, the VP of foursquare, and Bill Nguyen the CEO of Color.
A solid panel discussion would dive deep into the issues that consumers and corporations were facing when it comes to the big bad world of the interwebz while still maintaining a message of what each person did and a sense of humor. Very few panels pulled that in like this one did. This session worked because of the extremes you had each individual coming from. Paul saw the future of social media as being in a “sixth sense” form where you could one day be able to look at a person and know immediately their name, where they worked, what they did, where they lived, if you went to high school with them, if you’d marry them, etc. I loved that because that’s how I’ve often dreamed of the future being myself! Like a chip embedded underneath your skin that allows for a constant flow of communication no matter what language you speak, what race you belong to, what gender or age or caste you fall into. Connection and communication equaling a unity.
I think it’s beautiful.
But while beautiful, the theory is also wildly, wildly ambitious and Bill said exactly what the skeptical/creeped out side of the audience was thinking, “Isn’t it scary that to be discovered, you have to give over data about yourself first?”
Perhaps. But no more scarier than the fact that we have already begun the process and willingly at that.
An overriding theme of the conference was time. Being time rich and time poor. A time rich person is a consumer who has the time or makes the moment to dick around on the internet and look at tons of websites each day. Time poor was never fully defined, but I’m assuming it was the antithesis of time wealth. I didn’t like either definition. Neither feel right to me. Anyone can be time rich if they know how to schedule their time wisely and devote it to the areas that they are passionate about.
On the lunch break, I used some of my time wealth to hang out in Union Square’s little park area. A Chinese dragon performance piece with gongs and drums was being held with several dancing dragons visiting the audience members. At 1:30 on a Wednesday afternoon.
Ahhhh, SF. It made my heart fill up with too much love for the city, almost to a bursting point. There was a part of me that periodically throughout the day kept thinking, "Let’s stay. Let’s stay here forever. You didn’t bring anything with you but a handbag, phone, and your coat. That’s okay. We can start from scratch with just those things."
And you really can too, if you work in social media. You can move anywhere and keep working and stay connected.
Though you may have to check in occasionally for your complimentary beer and warm pretzel combo. I think this wound up getting the most tweets scrolling through the Bumebox dash for the day, with mentions of “double fisting” both. As there should be.
Mmm, social media…