The announcement from iRise yesterday today that the Catalyze Community was merging into the ModernAnalyst.com Community probably didn’t even register a blip on your radar. But the announcement has more than a touch of melancholy for me as I was the founding community manager from the conception of the community in late 2006 through its growth to over 4,000 members in July 2008 and I want to give the the community a proper send-off.
Giving birth to and nurturing a community is not unlike the experience of raising children as I lived and breathed the Catalyze Community for almost 18 months. I cut my teeth in community management, tried to set the standard in what professional B2B communities could be, and got started on my journey into social media through my efforts with the community. I learned a great deal and had a chance to develop many friends in the community space including the team from Mzinga who provided the white label social media software that powered the site (a special thanks go out to Jim Storer, Derek Showerman, Aaron Strout, Isaac Hazard, Mark Wallace and Barry Libert). I am sure I drove the Mzinga team a little bit crazy as I pushed the envelope to ‘mold’ their software into my idea of what a community experience should be. I also enjoyed hosting the monthly webinars we held with a wide variety of knowledgeable experts. Most of all, I discovered my “blogging” voice, and was able to experiment with the new and emerging (at the time) social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, Slideshare, and LinkedIn.
Of course, a lot of credit also goes out to iRise who was the founding sponsor of the Catalyze Community. iRise’s funding of the Catalyze Community and mission to keep it ‘commercial-free’ is what drew many of the members into the community.
The demise of the Catalyze didn’t come as a surprise to me as the community has floundered without a community manager for the past two years – and the site had become a virtual ghost town with very few visitors and sadly, very little fresh content. Anyone who understands community building realizes that a site that is not actively managed with fresh content cannot be sustained and is destined for failure which ended up as one of my blog posts in January 2009. In fact, I shared many of my experiences with the Catalyze Community in a number of blog posts.
The original goal of Catalyze was to unite and “catalyze” the disparate factions of business analysts, usability professionals, user experience (UX) and information architects, designers, software developers and others who define, design and create software applications. The ModernAnalyst Community is a very robust community and boasts over 38,000 members – and most of the Catalyze members will be nore than well-served by the merger. I hope that the analytical “left-brain” analysts continue to reach out to the creative “right-brain” designers and usability professionals, and that they can continue to find a common ground in defining and designing better software. I send best wishes to Adrian Marchis and the rest of his ModernAnalyst.com team on continuing the Catalyze tradition.
451 Marketing has compiled a list of social media strategists to watch in 2010 in a blog post today. The intro to the blog post provided a bit of background:
We admire their work and look forward to what they’re going to come up with in 2010. This is not a comprehensive list of the great social media strategists out there, so we invite you to contribute with the names of any strategists you admire with a brief description of their work for us to post!
I was quite shocked to find out that I was included in their initial list of 54 social media strategists as this is definitely a list of social media heavy hitters.
Here’s what 451 said for my entry:
Tom Humbarger (@tomhumbarger) is a social media and community strategy consultant. He gained his expertise in marketing, by working as the community manager for Catalyze Community, a B2B group for professionals who design software applications and websites. Humbarger has his own blog, “Social Media Musings By Tom Humbarger,” which he updates regularly.
I do owe my current social media skills to working on the Catalyze Community as social media was ‘growing up’ in 2007 and 2008. During that time, I was fortunate to be working with and learning from a great bunch of social media strategists from Mzinga including Jim Storer, Aaron Strout, Mark Wallace, Isaac Hazard, Barry Libert, and Derek Showerman. But my real social media roots trace back to my days in product strategy for Oracle from 1996 to 2002 where I was mostly responsible for evangelizing CRM and profitability solutions.
The rest of the initial list (in alphabetical order) includes the following social media strategists:
Tony Karrer reached out to me this week as he was seeking “Social Media Starters” in the Los Angeles area. Tony is the CEO/CTO of TechEmpower, a software, web and eLearning development firm based in Los Angeles, and is considered one of the top technologists in e-Learning. He frequently speaks at various venues about how he uses social media and particularly blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter as part of his services business. Invariably, people are always asking him to follow up with how to get started or for help with maintaining their social media presence.
While Tony likes to be helpful, social media consulting is not part of his company’s core business. So, Tony is developing a network of social media consultants who can help companies ramp up their efforts.
As part of his outreach effort to provide exposure to social media consultants in his network, Tony asked a series of questions to learn more about me and so he could share this post with professionals and businesses who have requested his help. (and please see Tony’s blog post on Visible Networking for more information on his networking approach)
How did you get into social media?
When I look back on my career, I have actually been using social media since 1996 when I was working in product strategy for Oracle – except it wasn’t called social media at the time. Much of my work had to do with evangelizing about our solutions, developing marketing collateral, and networking with other Oracle employees, the press and analysts. My life would have been much easier in some ways if I had access to the social media tools that we have today such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
My recent foray into social media started in 2006 when I was working in the Strategic Projects function at a small-sized software company. I was assigned a project to launch an external B2B professional community for users and prospects. Over the next 18 months, I was fully responsible for community strategy, day-to-day community management, content creation, marketing, business development and operations. The community was called Catalyze and focused on usability experts and business analysts. After coming out of beta, I was instrumental in growing the community to over 4,000 members in less than 15 months. As part of my duties, I experimented with many different social media tools and techniques and got hooked on the possibilities of social media.
For the last year, I have been consulting with several different companies on social media strategy and implementation, marketing and community strategy. For one of my companies, I am their outsourced marketing department. I write blog posts, create marketing collateral, write call scripts and help maximize their use of Salesforce.com. On a more detailed level, I updated their website, created and monitered Google Ads, standardized their company’s LinkedIn profiles, set up a LinkedIn and Facebook groups and created a profile on Yelp. I also worked on the social media strategy for one of the clients of an interactive media company. For another entrepreneur, I updated his LinkedIn profile and developed a mock up for his new website. Finally, I spent the majority of my time in the last year working on the community strategy and management for a start-up professional networking community.
What are you working on now?
During the last year, most of my projects have been of a long term nature. But I am now starting to focus on social media consulting for small-to-medium businesses as I see a need for these companies to do a better job with social media. Many of these companies are lost about where to start, have trouble prioritizing social media against other competing projects or do not have the bandwidth to adequately maintain their social media presence. In most cases, these companies cannot afford a full-time social media resource and do not really need someone to devote 100% of their time to the effort.
Social media lends itself nicely to a project-based focus – and with my experience and background, I can easily help companies get started and maximize their exposure via the key social media channels of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
What are your thoughts on helping people get started with social media?
Social media is here to stay and customers are now in control of the message. Companies must adapt to this new reality and begin the process of doing a better job of reaching out and interacting with their customers through social media channels. However, social media is still relatively new and there are many ways to approach it and different starting points to apply social media in a business setting. The best way to start is to have a conversation with the CEO or executive team about their business and develop an implementation plan and priorities. The typical questions would cover topics such as: status of current strategy, analysis of social media readiness, results of marketing programs, overview of brand and company awareness, future growth plans, customer service issues, etc.
Even if a company does not have much time or budget, there are many simple things that they can do that have some pretty huge pay-offs. LinkedIn is one example where companies can spend some upfront time, but which does not have much ongoing maintenance or management. Blogging or using Twitter is a different story as these social media tools require a consistent commitment to delivering strong content.
What kinds of social media services do you provide?
My social media consulting services cover all aspects of social media, including developing strategy, training, implementation and outsourced maintenance services:
Strategy – on how to apply social media tools and techniques to increase brand awareness or connect better with customers
Training – on how to use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogging and other social media tools
Implementation – and setting up of various social media tools or sites
Maintenance services – this is a retainer based service that essentially provides comprehensive maintenance of a social media presence, including blogging, Twitter and other tools/techniques that require consistent updates to be effective
Small, one-time projects could be probably be completed in as little as 8 to 10 hours. Conducting training and implementation on social media tools could take anywhere from 15 to 40 hours. And outsourced services could range anywhere from 5 to 15 hours of dedicated time per week. At a minimum, I think most companies would benefit from several months of hand-holding under a maintenance program as using social media is not natural or easy for many people and you want to make sure you get it right.
You’ve been blogging for a while, what are five good posts that I should check out?
What networking events in Los Angeles or Southern California do you go to? What was the best one you’ve been to recently?
I have started attending the Social Media Club-Los Angeles events this year. One of my friends, Geoff Brown, is the coordinator of the group and he has been encouraging me to get more involved and I have started writing blog posts for SMC website. I have also attended two one-day community un-conferences put on by Forum One in Sonoma in the past year. I love the format of these conferences and the content you gather in one day is amazing. The primary focus of these conferences was community strategy and management, but they also include a great deal of general social media content.
Who are some of your go to people in Los Angeles ?
The highlight of the survey for me was that 61% of the companies in the survey use social technologies as an ongoing part of their business.
However, several challenges emerged in terms of budget, resources and ROI.
Only 55% of the companies reported that they devote part-time or full-time resources to manage and drive their social media initiatives and only 40% have devoted budget dollars to social media efforts. To me, this seems like many companies are paying lip service to social media or implementing it haphazardly instead of fully embracing social media and making it an integral part of their corporate DNA.
Measuring ROI remains a challenge for most companies as only 16% are able to measure ROI for their social media programs. This means that software vendors and analytics vendors need to do a better job of making it easier to capture, measure and analyze metrics from social media.
When you look at how businesses are using social technologies, Marketing tops the chart at 57% penetration. There remain significant opportunities for growth in the customer service and sales areas which only have 29% and 21% penetration respectively. These areas are also where the ROI numbers should be more concrete and easier to measure too.
"What Areas of Your Business Are Using Social Media" -- Mzinga-Babson Social Media Survey
I was pleased to see that the most mentioned social media applications and technologies matched my own list. The survey respondents listed blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, chat and standalone community sites as their most used technologies.
As part of a recent interview process, I was asked to perform a series of projects as ‘homework’ to demonstrate my thinking, writing and presentation skills. One of the projects was to create an estimate on the size of the social media software market. While I didn’t get the job, the good news is that I am not going to let my research efforts gather dust or sit on my laptop in perpetuity.
I analyzed the social media software market size along two dimensions – types of buyers and types of software providers. For buyers, I used the categories of large business (> 500 employees), medium business (100-500 employees), small business (< 100 employees), non-profits, hobbyists and special interest, and individual home market. For types of software providers, I used White Label (average solution cost of $30,000), Budget (average solution cost of $500), Open Source and Free. As far as the providers, here are representative companies in each category:
White Label – the usual suspects including Awareness, HiveLive, Jive, KickApps, Leverage, Lithium, Mzinga, Pluck, Telligent, etc.
Budget – vBulletin, Boonex, Ning, etc.
Open Source – Drupal, Joomla, WordPress, etc.
Free – Ning, PBWiki and a whole host of other providers
Conclusion – the total US social media software space is estimated at $600 million in revenue and 1.26 million potential customers. The Global market likely adds 50% to totals – $900 million in revenue and 2.0 million prospects, and I estimated that 15-20% of overall market is currently penetrated.
Here are a couple of the graphs I created to visually display the results:
Social Media Software - Revenue By Segment ( per Tom Humbarger)
Total Social Media Software Market by Buyer Category
Approach - here is a summary of the approach I used to develop the sizing analysis:
Statistics – Obtained business stats from US census and nonprofits stats from National Center for Charitable Statistics; used best guestimates for hobbyists and home market
Category interest – Estimated % interest in each category between large, medium and small business, nonprofits, special interest and hobbyists, and individuals
Segment interest – Estimated segment % breakdown between White Label, Budget, Open Source and Free
I was not able to locate any published market sizing numbers for the Social Media software market – so I was unable to determine if I was in the ball park according to other numbers. Plus, my analysis takes a quick-n-dirty approach and I would definitely validate it further if I were ‘getting paid’ for the assignment.
So, does anyone agree or disagree with the numbers or my approach? I welcome any and all comments, suggestions and rebuttals.
BTW, if you are really interested in the detailed approach, a picture of my detailed spreadsheet is copied below. If you send me an email, I would be more than happy to send you a copy of the Excel file.
I ‘discovered’ a new website via Twitter yesterday (naturally) and found it to be quite interesting. The site is called My Tweet Sixteen and it uses the Twitter ‘wayback machine’ to display the first 16 tweets for any user.
My first Tweet was on October 31, 2007 and a lot has changed in the last 18 months. Jim Storer from Shared Insights (now Mzinga) introduced me to Twitter and several of my initial tweets were with or about him. When I first started with Twitter, I didn’t get it and it was a totally different experience than it is today. With the explosion of people on Twitter and with a stable of interesting people to follow, Twitter is now my go to destination to learn and explore new ideas.
Here’s how I use Twitter differently now:
Daily use – it took me a month to get my first 10 tweets and now I am probably tweeting 5 to 10 times per day. My browser always has at least one tab opened up to Twitter all day too. I now follow more than 1,100 people and use it to keep in touch with friends. Since my tweets dump into Facebook automatically, my Facebook friends are also able to keep up with what’s going on with me.
Twitter Search – I use Twitter search to explore what people are saying about certain companies or topics – and I will generally start on Twitter first before going to Goole. It’s also a great way to learn more about someone by scanning their Twitter stream to discover their interests and ability to condense their thoughts into 140 characters.
Shared Links – Most of my tweets now include links to interesting articles or blog posts that I have encountered during the day. Using tools like HootSuite makes it easy to share and tweet the links. And HootSuite also lets me track the clicks on my tweeted links 122 times in the last week, so my sharing is making a difference.
So take a walk back in history and check out your first tweets. Unfortunately, MyTweet16 can only go back 3,200 tweets – so for super active Twitterers like my friend Jim, you will not able to see all the way back to the beginning of your Twitter history.
And for those of you who are interested, here are my first 10 tweets:
I’ve been hearing from multiple sources in a variety of folks that Mzinga is undergoing some changes. With the recent layoffs a few months ago, to apparently voluntary leave of the CMO this week, there are a lot of questions I have to ask.
I strongly recommend that any Mzinga clients or prospects stall any additional movement till they brief me next Monday.
First, I believe that such statements in a blog are incredibly unprofessional and border on negligent corporate behavior – especially when the post was written based on unsubstantiated rumors. Second, the call to “stall any movement” until Jeremiah gets briefed next week is pretentious in that only Jeremiah can get to the bottom of this issue’?
Jeremiah is a respected analyst working for a respected firm, and has worked hard at covering and growing the social media and community space. Jeremiah did issue an apology on his blog todayand I heard that Forrester also sent Mzinga an apology as well. Plus, there have been more than 60 responses to his original blog post and nearly 30 to his apology post today. I’m sure that Jeremiah feels contrite in the same way that Alex Rodriguez, Bernard Madoff and Bill Clinton have felt in the past when they issued their own public apologies. But that doesn’t undo any damages that Mzinga has incurred from negative mentions in the posts and on Twitter.
Because Jeremiah is such a proponent of social media, I think we turn his predicament over to the general public and use crowdsourcing to determine his fate.
Take a moment to express your opinion below in this quick poll:
Several other bloggers have piled on to this issue including:
My disclosure – I have worked with Mzinga since December 2006 on two different community efforts and I believe that Forrester should fire his a** for this flagrant offense in order to protect their own brand and image.
Forrester came out their latest research note on “Community Platforms” today. Jeremiah Owyang, their lead analyst, wrote a very extensive summary of the report on his blog too. At a minimum, you must check out the blog post and read all of the extensive comments that Jeremiah has received so far.
Jeremiah made some great points in his post and this quote sums it up best:
Used correctly, communities can impact the top and bottom line of company’s financials…and communities matter more now than ever – especially during a recession.
Based on their research, Forrester believes that most companies are looking for a solution partner or a vendor that can deliver on strategy, education, services, community management, analytics and support. As such, 60% of their weighted criteria for the scoring was based on this feature.
The graphic below summarizes where Forrester places the leading vendors in the space. Their top four vendors include Jive Software, Telligent, Mzinga and Pluck. I am very familiar with Mzinga as I worked with them for nearly 2 years with the Catalyze community and am working with them again on a start-up professional community.
From Jeremiah Owyang's Blog
After reading Jeremiah’s post and thinking about other circumstances that occurred this week, it got me to thinking about community vendors and their own social media efforts. In fact, I wrote a comment to Jeremiah’s post and here is an excerpt of my comments:
…I want my social media vendor to be active and visible in the social media space – which means that I want them to be blogging, twittering and participating in other social media activities. I thought Mzinga used to do the best job of any of the leading vendors with their participation in social media. Their management profiles set the standard for how people need to be socially available in today’s Web 2.0 world and they proved it by including office and mobile phone numbers along with links to Twitter, Facebook, blogs and LinkedIn in their profiles.
Mzinga used to have some very active social media people listed as Thought Leaders on their website. However, people like Aaron Strout (@aaronstrout), Jim Storer (@jstorerj), Rachel Happe (@rhappe) and several others are no longer with Mzinga. Mzinga now lists just 4 Thought Leaders on their website and other than CEO Barry Libert, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to their leadership and activity.
Looking at the other leading vendors, they do not appear to be very active either. Telligent’s CEO Rob Howard has a blog, but his Twitter traffic is pretty minor. The positive is that Telligent does have a number of blogs linked to their website, which I do view as a positive. Jive has a blog on their website and their CEO David Hersch has written some posts, but it hasn’t been updated since November.
So my question is, can a social media company really be a leader when they don’t have any social media leaders or when their social media efforts come across as fairly weak?
Don’t social media companies have to walk the ’social media walk’?
So, is your social media vendor ‘walking the walk’ or just talking the talk?
[1/10/09 update - the Forrester report is available from the Telligent website. The download requires registration.]
We are the change we seek…let’s go change the world.
Barack Obama, from the 2008 Presidential campaign trail
It’s probably fitting that I’m wearing my Barack Obama “One Voice Can Change the World” t-shirt as I write this post but I wanted to share some news about my friend, Barry Libert, CEO at Mzinga. Barry has co-authored a book with Rick Faulk titled Barack Inc. and it will be coming out on January 19th in conjunction with Obama’s inauguration.
The book discusses about how Barack Obama used social media to energize and build a vast online community of followers. The essence of the book is that business leaders must embrace change and “become the change” they offer to effectively lead their constituencies – employees, shareholders, partners and customers – to achieve it.
There is also a short 3-minute video (nicely created by Patrick Moran) that I found posted on the Barack, Inc website. The video highlights three of the key points from the book which are:
Be the change
Barry Libert and Rick Faulk will be holding a webinar on January 21st with Don Tapscott to talk about the important lessons that all of us can learn from Obama’s campaign. You can learn more about the book and register for the webinar from the Barack, Inc. website.
Here is a clever new video from my friends at Mzinga.
If you are a fan of the Common Craft videos, you will enjoy this video from the pure aesthetics standpoint. The video is simple, visually appealing without being complex and the talk is in plain English.
While the video is mostly a “commercial” for Mzinga , the first 90 seconds provide a great generic description of why community is important and why companies need to start thinking about shifting from “Me” to “We” with their customers, employees and partners. Plus, the narrator brings a soothing, folksy, and conversational tone to the video — and it’s almost worth a watch to hear his voice.
The video is also an example of how a company can successfully leverage social media (in this case YouTube), and get their “We are Smarter than Me” message out in a different ‘flavor’ and more portable format.