Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Social Media & Monetizing UGC panel at #SIIA

This is an interesting panel,w ith Joe Robinson, CEO of A Small World; John Blossom, President of Shore Communications; Chuck Schilling, Research Dir Nielsen Online; Robert Barber, CEO Environmental Data Resources; and Shawn, Gold, Chairman of SocialApproach.

Joe Robinson says that he's able to monetize the sharing of content. Interesting. But how?

That's the thing: will anyone be able to *really* address how to monetize UGC? Has anything changed from when Steve Outing's Enthusiast's Group didn't work out?

John Blossom: I looked over his book "Content Nation" last night (got a free copy) and he really gets social media. "Opportunities (financial) scale to niche markets."

Robert Barber laid social media tools on top of his data and increased the value of that data. Added a "quality layer" of commentary that provided revenue opportunities. "EDR's core resource is data"--I'm thinking about EveryBlock, and whether or not Barber's experience with monetization can help an EveryBlock model. "EDR launched a community called "Common Ground" last year, where niche professionals can talk about world of assessing environmental risk. " This community is an asset! "Would you rather have people" sharing info on Facebook, or on a site where other professionals can discuss and share. (This is a good point--value in exclusive communities for particular professions.)

Chuck Schilling: Speaking about BuzzMetrics (yes! I know who they are!) that monitors "buzz" (conversation) around brands in social media context. Helping clients get "a certain level of comfort" with communicating with customers on this

How will soc. media survive in this space?

John Blossom: the concept of endorsement. People will endorse on personal level and influence friends (vs. listening to celebs.)

Joe Robinson: pitching high-end brands. Brands that come to him want results right away--they can deliver people who are talking about products. Social media helps word-of-mouth buzz (I'm thinking of Andy Sernovitz here...)

Shawn Gold talking about Addidas on MySpace, and use of widgets, badges, etc. 21 Million people interacted with Addidas stuff on other people's MySpace pages. Harness and measuring will make soc. media scale.

About UGC: Robert's UGC is very valuable (yes, it is.) "What happens day to day is that someone buys an environmental report on a property. they visit a property. the environmental person" will come back and if they've observed something on the property not on the governmental report, they can add it to the report. This helps assess environmental risk.

**So, technically, by "crowdsourcing" within EDR's social network (or, "UGC database") they are giving more updated information than the Governmental reports can keep up on. Like doing "due dilligence." This is very cool...and monetizing this helps keep EDR going.

Chuck from Nielsen, sounds like at BuzzMetrics they are filtering all the "noise" of conversation out there so that businesses can understand what's being said, why, etc. "How, from a brand perspective, does this lead down to purchase?" Trying to help people track and understand conversation (or, UGC...)

Shawn says not a lot of great subscription models for UGC--true, as most don't want to pay for UGC.

Joe: People use Facebook as an application. Contextualizing social media then can allow for monetization (well??) "Social media is the place where people are coming together" (yes, interesting to hear this explanation--I thought it was self-evident.)

John: sees a "layered" model working for BtoB. Lawyer's network that allows info on obscure cases to be uploaded by lawyers. news can then be generated by journalists in B to B sector, which can also be monetized.

There seems to be some real value in B to B social networks that crowdsource information (like at EDR and among lawyers)

Can social networks become e-commerce platforms? switching from media platforms to transactions platforms. Perspective on virtual goods space?

Joe: "ultimately, they see people come in..." like hotel booking agent which ties to user profiles and transactions going on. (but Small World is a restricted community--different from other soc. networks. however, this may fly in Facebook, but how much will we have to give up in our profiles. will it be another Beacon fiasco??)

Chuck: product called Net Effect will track a person to see if advertising is effective.

Measuring the effectiveness of online advertising may need refinement. As we know, click-thru metrics just don't tell the whole story. I liked what I heard earlier about ads that allow for e-commerce transactions from the ad (will talk more about this in my post on the SIIA Previews event that took place on Monday.)

John: Intertwining of media and community in BtoB community.

So, essentially, it may be easier to monetize UGC in a B to B environment than to monetize UGC in a B to C or in, say, the type of environment that was in the Enthusiast's Group. Overall monetization of UGC, IMO, will always be difficult, but there are models for B to B that seem to work. The crowdsourcing of professional info, as with EDR is one of those (I like this--as it does not exploit the people who are adding to the government reports, who are doing it freely and to further the accuracy of information in that community and profession.)

Shawn brings up the idea of reaching into other social networks for marketing. HOWEVER: it's one thing to transfer one's information into a new social network, and other for marketers to reach into that info. IMO, the partnership between LinkedIn and BusinessExchange is a good way to go as it is not directly marketing related.

Interesting panel. Didn't totally solve the problem of monetizing UGC, but did bring up interesting points.

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