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A quick hello from Ronny Kerr, social media marketing manager

Hello world! I am happy to report that it’s Friday, the Blue Angels are zipping around the skies over our office in San Francisco (Fleet Week!), and, most exciting of all, I am Hearsay Social’s new social media marketing manager. Excuse my cheesiness, but this blog is seriously about to take off.

Before landing at Hearsay Social, I served as the lead reporter for VatorNews, where social media was my number one beat. While I often covered stories about music technology, gaming, and the mobile explosion, social media was the one thing I could never escape. In fact, even when I wrote pieces about music or gaming or mobile, one theme bound them all together: they had to be social.
The two most hyped up music tech companies of the past few months, Turntable.fm and Spotify, both had strong presences at f8 to show off their social strategy. In gaming, the big name is Zynga, overwhelmingly a result of its popularity on Facebook’s platform. In mobile, the social revolution permeates every app you can download.
Now, the enterprise is long overdue for its very own social revolution.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison knows it: “The biggest change over the past few years is social networking,” he said at Oracle OpenWorld earlier this week.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff knows it, which is why his company’s recent Dreamforce conference zeroed in on the mantra, “Welcome to the social enterprise.” Benioff is convinced that unless company executives take hold of their social strategy, they will be overthrown like dictators in the Middle East.
“We saw an Arab Spring. We’re going to see a Corporate Spring,” he said earlier this week, referencing the wave of social media-influenced uprisings storming across countries like Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. “CEOs need to transform themselves as leaders. You should be in touch with your customers. That’s my point. Are you reflecting change? Things are changing. Can you still operate like a foreign dictator? I don’t think command and control is going to work in the future.”
And, obviously, Mark Zuckerberg knows it: “Over the next five years, most industries will get rethought around social and people,” said the Facebook CEO at last year’s Web 2.0 Summit.
But I’m not at Facebook, Salesforce, or Oracle. I’m at Hearsay Social, where our very own chief executive, Clara Shih, knows better than anybody that the social enterprise is here. From the minute I met Clara a few months ago, I have held her in the highest esteem when it comes to understanding how businesses should be using social media. After all, she wrote the book on it.
For all these reasons and more, I couldn’t be more excited about working at Hearsay Social.

image source.

f8 Recap: Timeline, open graph, and the road ahead

Today Facebook, once again, reinvented the Internet–profoundly reorienting our Web experiences around who we are as individuals, past, present, and future. Sitting in the sixth row, I could feel Zuck’s vision and energy. It was this same vision and energy from the very first f8 Conference four years ago that inspired me to develop Faceforce, write The Facebook Era, and then found Hearsay Social. It was great to be back in that same space, the San Francisco Design Concourse, for the fourth time.
In this morning’s keynote, Zuck unveiled the blueprint for the next four years of the Web. First, Timeline will create a complete overhaul of personal profiles to transform status updates into a rich multimedia canvas to tell one’s life story through photos, videos, music, games, and social applications. I liked how Facebook’s VP Product Chris Cox summed it up. He said visitors to your profile shouldn’t have to keep scrolling through the gray “Show More” button to learn about your life. There should be a simpler, richer, instantaneous way to express who you are and how you got here.
A key aspect of Timeline is the ability to create custom verb buttons (what Facebook is calling Open Graph actions). So instead of just being able to “like” a Page, Application, or other object in Facebook, users will soon be able to “read” a book, “review” a restaurant, “protect their family” with an insurance agent, so on and so forth. (For you geek types like me, this is a huge leap forward in building a semantic web, which is terribly exciting.)
The new level of expressiveness now possible with Timeline makes it much easier to share anything on Facebook–not just photos and links but also music (Zuck and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek did a killer demo on stage), video (Zuck also announced a partnership with Netflix), gaming, and a whole other slew of online and offline activities that people love to do but previously had difficulty sharing with friends.
In the weeks leading up to f8, Facebook had unveiled some pretty substantial changes, and now they all make sense:

  • Suggested Friend Lists: takes a page from the Google+ playbook and automatically suggests groups of Facebook friends based on shared workplace, school, family, and city.
  • Subscribe Button: a Twitter-like capability for one-way asymmetric relationships.
  • Ticker and Updated Newsfeed: showcases both “most recent activity” and “most interesting” news items.

What does this mean for businesses? Well, marketers will likely have even richer data from which to tailor messaging and experiences for the customer. It is also only a matter of time until Timeline and the new redesign get rolled out to Facebook Business Pages, which I believe will be a huge game-changer in terms of how businesses can showcase the people and experiences behind the businesses and ultimately connect more intimately and meaningfully with customers.
Congrats to Zuck and the team – I’m looking forward to the rest of this afternoon’s sessions. After that, we had better get back to coding away because after today, we certainly have our work cut out for us!

From our VP of marketing to yours

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be part of this amazing company. I come from a consumer background, having run marketing organizations at companies like Amazon.com and OpenTable . Why did I come to Hearsay, which focuses on business customers? Because I love the team – led by social media pioneer Clara Shih – and because the consumer and business worlds collide when it comes to social media.

I’ve been watching the social media landscape for some time. Companies have historically communicated with prospects in one-way fashion, like through advertising and email. But the ability to have meaningful conversations and interactions with customers has caused a stampede toward social media.

Think of bankers, insurance agents, and realtors as well as your local coffee, hotel or restaurant chain. They want to have engaging conversations and connect on a human level. After all, businesses are made up of people.

Companies need to be where customers are, but it’s not as simple as setting up a LinkedIn profile or Facebook Page. There are branding, operational, legal, and compliance issues which need to be addressed before you can take advantage of the tremendous sales and marketing opportunity afforded by social media. Corporate/local companies in particular face a unique set of challenges. On the one hand, you need to protect the brand. On the other hand, social media demands that you support and empower your local reps and branches to express a unique, authentic voice.

Working with some of the largest and most interesting brands in the world, Hearsay Social addresses the three most crucial areas needed for corporate/local success on social media: compliance, content, and analytics.

Time and again, we hear customers express concern about how to achieve the balance between brand and local. Judging from the media coverage we saw the day we launched, the market is hungry for a solution like Hearsay Social. Take a look at just a few of the articles that appeared:

 

We’re looking forward to having our own conversations with you. Find us on Facebook and Twitter (and of course, here on our blog), and we’ll chat.

Jaleh

 

Announcing Hearsay Social: Making social media work for your company

(FYI, this is an incredible video.)

There is no doubt: 2011 is the year of social media for business. Today we’re excited to unveil Hearsay Social to help companies operate securely, effectively, and intelligently on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Hearsay Social was built from the ground up for businesses with local branches or reps – what we are calling “corporate/local.” Just think about your insurance agent or financial advisor. Or your local coffee shop or fast food spot. Many are part of a corporate brand like State Farm or Starbucks, but what make them thrive are local customer relationships and experiences.

 

Corp-local

 

During the process of writing The Facebook Era (first published in March 2009) and subsequently after it became a bestseller and I began keynoting major conferences, we interviewed hundreds of brands and kept hearing the same concerns:

  • How do we get a handle on the large numbers of social network profiles and pages being created by our local branches and reps?
  • How do we encourage a unique and authentic voice on local pages, while also ensuring they adhere to brand guidelines
  • How do we bring local reps and agents into compliance with federal regulations and protect them from legal liability? For example, financial institutions are required to archive conversations, or risk heavy fines. Yet social media conversations go un-archived.

The vast numbers of corporate/local companies share a unique set of challenges when it comes to social media. How do you balance the need for brand alignment and compliance with the tremendous opportunity for local customer engagement? We designed Hearsay Social specifically to help corporate/local companies create, manage, and measure social media efforts down to the zip code. Corporate management can, for example, distribute marketing campaigns and compelling content to the field, which local reps can then select, customize and one-click post to local audiences on Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter.

We live in an exciting time. Social media is on fire, with four out of five businesses saying it is a top priority in 2011. Marquee brands including State Farm, Farmers Insurance Group, and 24 Hour Fitness have already been using Hearsay Social with tremendous early success (check out our case studies). Like the Internet 15 years ago, social media is disrupting how companies interact with and relate to their customers. We all know new customer paradigms require new solutions. This is why we started Hearsay.

I’m looking forward to seeing how far your business can go with social media in 2011!