September 2009


Other Twitter Topics:      Marketing at Twitter Speed      Multiple Account Layering Strategy      Social Media: Not Just for Kids      Email The Scoopdog Team

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URL(Read time = 3-4 minutes)  So just how much are 8 keystrokes worth in a 140c world?  When you’re the marketer or copywriter or Agency social media guru charged with fitting key messages and a link into Twitter dress, a huge amount, I’ll venture.  Of course, headline writers and desk copy editors have faced down this challenge as any journalist can attest; but for most B2B marketers, it’s Twitter that drives home the need for being crisp, like never before.  Depending on what shorten URL service you now use, significant keystrokes are likely yours for the picking.

In 2008, Mashable did a roundup of URL shortening services and highlighted 90 providers… (yup 90!) of the truncating darlings.  Interestingly, several of today’s “most used” weren’t even then visible (think bit.ly  and BUDurl and ow.ly).   A year later, TopRank’s Lee Odden asked his 10K+ Twitter followers for their vote on favorite shortening service to arrive at a “top 11” list;  another good read isa cli.gs blog post catalogs the results of a massive (10.2 million) Twitter scrape with analytics on most used domains.

ManyB2B pros will care about analytics, tracking, campaign comparison statistics and customization as outreach social media initiativesevolve… client data-hogs will want to watch re-tweet performance, compare one approach to another using keywords, etc.  If data and tracking isn’t required, just go w/the flow and use whatever embedded services comes w/your Twitter client.  But if you do care, how do you begin to sort thru the choices?  Good news is, experimentation is usually easy and cost free.

Here’s an Evaluation Tick-List We’ve Observed Many Use

Do It Yourself…or Grab a Custom Domain  For some, the ideal of operating yourown shortening service can be attractive.  Lifehacker (8/09) has a nice discussion on this topic, here  ; As well, some of the commercial providers (360liveoak, for one.) have expanded into the custom domain business  such as Ez.com and clients like Travelocity and the Seattle Seahawks. Some companies have ready-made, very short names that could easily be developed for custom short URL use.

Tracking/Statistics/Analytics…or not  What do you want to know, how real-time, what level of analytics.  Or not.  Tackle this as an early part of the decision tree as it will simplify choices. Some providers cater to commercial, enterprise users.  Others take the simple/easy/no-problem path.  Spend time thinking about your needs and take the road most travelled.  Then, don’t hesitate to experiment and change.  Tap into the blog network to stay current.

Twitter Client Support:  Ask the question, what service is supported by the Twitter client you most use?  Below is a snapshot for TweetDeck and Seesmic, two of the more popular desktop clients. URL native support just makes life easier.  For those wanting to dive deep, Twitstat reports on Twitter client metrics.  By knowing what’s most popular, you can get a gauge of provider stability and value. 

 TweetDeck v30.5  – bit.ly is the default.  Can be changed to: tinyurl, is.gd, or twurl from the TD Settings/Services window;  Can manage multiple Twitter accounts; easy links out to: Twitter, Facebook, MySpace.

SeesmicDesktop 0.6.air  – bit.ly is the default.  Can be changed to:  is.gd, snurl.com, digg.com, twurl.nl, or tr.im from the Accounts/Services window; Can manage multiple Twitter accounts; easy links out to Facebook.

301 Redirect Availability: If SEO is important to you, this is a critical feature.  Shortener services can provide two URL options:  301s (permanent links) and 307s/302s (usually the default and only a temporary link).  Which is used impacts search engine performance. It’s important because search engines “credit” 301s to the original, long URL; in contrast, a non-301 redirect is “temporary” and search engines value these less.  For a case study in URL structure, go here

Customization options – think vanity URLs and branding extension here, as one option;  or use of your own domain (only useful if your domain name is short… see above);  Other options include keyword tags, grouping of multiple URLs into campaigns for comparisons, etc.  Marketers love this feature (the ScoopD team included) so it makes our evaluation list though not as critical as other pieces.

Other Considerations

Stability:  Reliability of the URL provider service, ie will the provider be around day-to-day, year over year. One way to evaluate is longevity and funding.

Bulk shortening – Far fetched, perhaps not.  We know of one client who routinely uses a dozen or so URLs for every launch as they are monitoring different vertical audience communities and trying to understand differences in response behavior.  Converting URLs one at a time can be both an irritant as well as just a long process.

Paid or Free – Cost does matter, even if it’s a balance between hard $$ and user time/usability.  For some, cost is a knockout box – but for most B2B companies some level of cost is permissible so long as there’s value associated w/the expense.

How small is small? “h t t p://”  takes 7 characters… add to this the shortener domain (eg, TinyURL.com would take11 more… bit.ly requires 6 (no .com needed)… is.gd takes 5 (again, no .com needed); then add on the obligatory “path” portion in the for of “/xxxx” (what a normal web site would appear as the page name. So, if size really matters, go for something like:   http://is.gd/3Np6h   (18 characters) v. a TinyURL like:   http://tinyurl.com/ya25va5   (26 characters) for a savings sof 8 keystrokes.

Recycling:  Re-use of URLs?  Surely never… but a close reading Terms/Conditions statements found only one service (is.gd) that explicitly said they would not do this (the type was very tiny so could have missed preclusions by other providers).

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relationsRead time = 3-4 minutes) With the buzz around social networking, I’m struck by how small the conversation seems to be regarding investor community/investor relations. IR pros, in my experience, are among the best at networking and engaging in community conversation. I see the occasional YouTube video annual report… certainly there are several blogs to be found, but in the larger social media conversation, IR seems mostly missing in action.

Yes, IR outreach is by nature cautious… and regulated. There’s concern about disclosure and eDiscovery, in particular. But with the evolution of on-line tools and global, 24/7 investment markets, the social media landscape would seem fertile ground for both messaging and IR communications.

Regulators weighing in: Social media IR relevance moved a giant step closed in July ’08, when the SEC recognition of corporate web content as public disclosure avenues (click here) .  Here also  is one of the better blog posts on that by brian solis.  SEC guidance on the use of Company Websites (Aug 08) is also available, a 41-page report; this addressed 1) when information posted on a company web site is “public” for purposes of Regulation FD, and 2) company information liability. Keeping pace with rapidly changing tools, transparency and regulation clearly presents a large challenge for PR/AR/IR company professionals. Even while companies might find roles for social networks, blogs and digital communities, traditional outlets remain as well as the underlying responsibility for companies to share data consistently and in compliance with regulators and standards.

So… Who’s Doing What? What Can Be Learned from the Pioneers? 

A snapshot of several big brands and how they are engaging on the investor relations front, as well as a research tracking site for a larger picture.

@DellShares  A Dell blog specifically aimed at shareholder conversation and community. Sun Microsystems: Official Investor Communications

Sun has been a loud advocate, wonder if the Oracle buyout will cause a change in direction.  In the past, Sun has offered up a  Compilation of RSS investor feeds; access to events; earnings news releases; breaking news; SEC filings; blog.

eBay blogs on earnings  One of the most innovative approaches. eBay official corporate Twitter account, used in part for promoting earnings calls example from eBay, Friday 3/6/09 by eBay’s own “internal reporter”, Richard Brewer-Hay. During earnings calls, he tweeted live and is empowered to shape the brand while adding perspective and personality.

The Society for New Communications Research tracks 75+ Fortune 500 companies that use corporate blogs and over 20 that link to corporate Twitter accounts.

Some Observations

  •  The line is blurring between traditional IR communications channels and new media channels/web. 
  • Paying attention is good due diligence
  • Social media is not just about Twitter and Facebook. Consider: Seeking Alpha, Wikinvest, StockTwits, 1000s of financial blogs, and the countless emerging services sites
  • Risk of social media exists whether you participate or not
  • New media amplifies an individual’s voice, sometimes louder than the company’s voice.

What else are you thinking; what other experiences or observations do you have?

By the way:  this blog post is not intended to be, in any way, a substitute for specific legal advice, as legal counsel, or in any other way recommendation for company behavior.  The blog post is an evolving discussion around the topic of social media use.
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Other Twitter Topics:      The Graying of Facebook      Multiple Account Layering Strategy      Social Media: Not Just for Kids      Email The Scoopdog Team

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overloaded(Read time = 2-3 minutes) Information overload on steroids.  That’s a common theme the Scoopdog team hears  from marketers, agency leads and social media advocates.  How best to keep up… filter the noise… find the hidden gems?  Here’s three “insider” resources useful to help scrape away the clutter.

1.  Alltop: Your Personal Magazine Rack

For those struggling w/news overload, a solution worth the look is Alltop – a news aggragation web site worth discovery.  With self-loaded pages like “Twitter News“…  Facebook News… and Social Media News… quick snapshots are possible.  The site also enables a “build-it-yourself ” feature for constructing targeted magazine racks.

For the B2B pro, the advantages are:  aggragation and time savings.  The Scoopdog team uses Alltop as a means to quickly scan information sources for topics and trends that are perhaps worth further investigation and a blog post. The site is fed by tens of thousands of information sources and blog resources.  To say it another way, Alltop strives to be the  filter to find information nuggets, as the user specifies.  (Disclosure:  I have no assotiation – just like the site and service. Same for the others below) 

 A helpful tutorial steps through the process with point/click simplicity.  The Alltop blog provides tips/gricks… the Goodie page has all manner of widgets, badges, feed connections, groups and even the obligatory T-shirt.

 

2.  Twitter Accounts to Follow: Social Media Analytics

waworld  The official Twittter account of Manoj Jasra’s web analytics world blog. Insights into search marketing, social media ROI, and social media strategies.

analytics_  If you can’t analyze it, you can’t measure it;  if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Here you’ll find tweets and links to various aspects of social media measurement.

WebAnalyticsGuy  Canadian RyanDinelle and is ~500 followers mashup the metric scene.  Google Analytics, media tracking, comparisons/distinctions between audience communities, SEO.  The breadth is impressive and the conversation intelligent.

 

3.  comScore Research and Digital Intelligence

comStore – the self-proclaimed global source of digital market intelligence.  While in the business of selling research, the site contains a plethora of library produts accessable free, sponsors webinars on 2.0 topics, and hosts digital audience measurement events.  Often sited resource for usage statistics.  Excellent blog here.

The company was founded in 1999 to focus on e-commerce trends measurement.  Acquisition of Media Metrix in 2002 expanded the media intelligence services.  Today, comScore has as its mission to shed light on the beharior of digital consumers using data collected from 2 million+.  One of the most valuable destinations on the site is the “Presentations and Whitepapers Library” here.

All: We love collecting little known resources/sites/references sources.  If you have favorites, please share.

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Other Twitter Topics:      The Graying of Facebook      Multiple Account Layering Strategy      Social Media: Not Just for Kids       Email The Scoopdog Team

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Tweeter Content Types(Read time = 3-4 minutes)  In many companies, after initial social media discussions result in Twitter engagement, the conversation turns to the “approval gate”.  Whether governance is driven by a management or legal process, questions related to Twitter boundaries are sure to quickly surface.  Here, we explore one approach: grouping tweets by content type, as a means to thread the approval needle.   Even if your situation doesn’t demand the rigor of legal review, there’s useful learning possible.  Would welcome any inputs others could share. 

The set-up:  Most social media policies/practices evolve from existing Public Relations/Analyst Relations guidelines.   While a very reasonable starting point, these inherently carry a process driven thru some corporate legal step to validate claims, monitor information for appropriate disclosure, etc.  with reviews not optimized for the real-time nature of Twitter communication.

The goal:  Evolve guidelines which permit real-time, marketing  participation (on most fronts) while setting practical boundaries that safeguard companies from inappropriate disclosure. For this discussion, we’ll avoid content and issues around earnings, acquisitions and other such investor relations topics subject to SEC rules/regulations.

Definition:  “Trusted Contributor”: The solution proposed below has, as an embedded concept, the idea of a pre-approved Twitter user.  In traditional AR/PR schools this would be a “spokesperson”.  For social media, the idea of “trusted contributor” is more useful as that implies breadth not just blessing.  To be most useful, marketing conversations must be real-time or near that.

The solution proposed: Pre-approved, “Trusted Contributor” list (backstopped by training) and a “Tweet Content Category” taxonomy that can serve as a roadmap for marketing to understand what can be communicated and what would require a formal review step.

“No Touch” Approval: Group One

Example: Re-tweets with no original Content  One of your marketing partners, or a customer, tweets news or a sales promotion or their attendance at an upcoming tradeshow.  A re-tweet of this type content can be likened to dropping a link onto your website pointing to useful content originated by others.

*  Owner – Product Marketing and/or the Marcom, PR/AR teams, etc. depending on the re-tweet content and origination source.

*  Goal – Partner support, Twitter account cadence (useful as a means to build a Follower list), and to sustain appropriate marketing conversations.

*  Approval Bar – Minimal/none for approved Twitter users, w/in established spokesperson boundaries.

Example: Re-tweets with added Commentary   A  customer/partner tweets their attendance at an upcoming tradeshow.  You want to promote your company’s attendance as well; or there’s a news announcement about a product that your company helps enable. You want to both support the original tweet + add a comment or your related content.

*  Owner – Product Marketing and/or the  Marcom teams in support of Marketing.

*  Goal – Partner support, Twitter account cadence (useful as a means to build a Follower list), and to sustain appropriate marketing conversations.

*  Approval Bar – Minimal/none for approved Twitter users, w/in established spokesperson boundaries.

Example: Product/Brand Marketing Tweets  Tweets relating to a specific product launch or technology announcement. 

*  Owner – Product Marketing and/or the Marcom team supporting Marketing

*  Goal – Sustaining the real-time social media conversation, responding to business-ordinary questions, marketing/sales dialogue.

*  Approval Bar – Minimal/none for approved Twitter users, w/in established spokesperson boundaries.

 “Normal Touch” Approval: Group Two

Example: Product Marketing PR/AR Tweets  Tweets relating to the issuance of formal news, media briefings, market/industry analyst briefings.

*  Owner – Respective PR/AR leads

*  Goal – Support traditional PR/AR communications, add rich-media resources, encourage reporting and coverage.

*  Approval Bar – The PR/AR process, likely to include legal reviews.

Example:  Customer Service Tweets  Example – an end customer or other downstream audience member tweets (either directly or indirectly) about a specific product problem and/or service requirement.

*  Owner – Normal customer service channel/function w/in your company

*  Goal – Appropriate customer service

*  Approval Bar – Normal , ordinary customer service process and  guidelines

Example:  Corporate PR/HR/Philanthropic Tweets  Example – the company organizes a Volunteer Day with very positive results.  In addition to publicity locally, in company newsletters and perhaps a formal news release, Twitter is used to further spread the positive word.

*  Owner – Owners of the news and/or event

*  Goal – Spread of positive corporate news, recruitment, building brand equity

*  Approval Bar – Normal, ordinary process and guidelines

 “High Touch” Approval Group Three

Example: Investor Relations Tweets  Announcement of an earnings call, financial results or news pertaining to an acquisition.

*  Owner – Owners of the investor relations function

*  Goal – Appropriate information disclosure

*  Approval Bar – High, guidelines with a particular eye toward SEC regulation, disclosure and discovery.

In Summary  The idea presented hopes to suggest a means for Marketing to participate in the real-time stream while preserving an appropriate review process.  Twitter training is a critical component, as is a process for regular social media discussion and best practice discussion.  There is a presumption that spokespersons will behave rationally and generally do the right thing.  A collaboration between the Marketing, Marcom, AR-PR and Legal teams is the desired outcome.

By the way, please tweet this – no approval necessary!

 

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Spectrum_by_GRlMGOR(Read time = 2-3 minutes) The Q3 mashup on social media, research and tools, marketingt/marcom, Agency-Client relationship topics and a smattering of fun and fancy.  The team here is focused on bringing B2B marketing and social media discussion to a larger audience as we all work to use new tools so solve markeing and business communication problems.  If there are topics you’d like us to explore, please forward suggestions. 

   In just over three months, the blog has logged more than 17,000 views, well beyond our expectations.  Thanx everyone for the reads, encouragement and support.

A Q3 Roundup of Twitter, Tools, Social Media Marketing, Research and the like.  Enjoy.

 

Twitter for B2B, Specifically

Social Media

  • Social Media: Arm Yourself for the C-Suide Debate
  • Embedding Content v. Host It Yourself
  • Digital Etiquette
  • The Transforming Impact of Social Media
  • Analog Bridges to Better Understand Social Media
  • Social Media Statistics (1H’09) and Research Sites
  • Branding

    Public Relations

    Marketing/Marcom

    Digests

    Guest Posts

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    Other Twitter Topics:     The Graying of Facebook     Multiple Account Layering Strategy      More Analytics      Email The Scoopdog Team

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    perception_vase(Read time = 2-3 minutes) As social media intrudes further into the B2B marketing, many managers, consultants and agencies are being asked by the C-suite to defend against the perception that  “social media is just for kids“.  Here’s a quick reference list prepared for just such a discussion at an ingredient brand technology company during the engagement evaluation discussion.  Replicate the approach using your own market segment, competitors and marketing partners.  A small bit of homework will provide eye-opening results.

    Benchmarking the Staggering Volume

    Imagine the opportunities for “accidental” traffic if content is embedded at some/any/all of these (or other) sites.  Remember, the numbers are going up daily.  Even if your target communities are exceptionally narrow, odds are these sites capture some segment of your audience base if you embed content.

     Twitter:  23 million unique visitors/day;  3 million tweets/day

    YouTube:  85 million video views/day

    Facebook:  300 million active users, 122 million visits/day

    LinkedIn:  43 million members; 13 million daily avg visits

    Blogs:  133 millin currently indexed by Technorati.

    Real time info add 9/18 5am PST: thanx to Jake @Oracle’s appslab  for pointing out availability of an Oracle app for micro-blogging:  OraTweet; check it out.

    Real time info add 9/17 10:30 PST:  thanx to Circle Research and findings from a survey of 100 B2B marketers.   Summary findings: 39% of B2B budgets are now allocated to new media – 15% to web development, 12% to email, 10% to online ads, 2% to social media 70% of B2B marketers plan to increase spend on social media in the next 12 months…but 57% feel they don’t know enough about this area.

     

    Business Brands Are Engaging

    Certainly consumer brands are early adopters, but the B21B aspects of social media networking are fast gaining traction.  The list below was pulled together for an ingredient brand technology provider and executive leadership team discussion around engagement.  Take your segment, your competitors, your alliance partners – do quick searches of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flckr, other sites to compile a quick/easy (and compelling) snapshot for management review.

    Cisco: •Twitter:  CTO has ~1 million followers; multiple other accounts •Facebook:  Fan page + Group opportunities •Blogging: twelve corporate blogs. •YouTube Channel:  400+ videos posted •LinkedIn: Yes

    Broadcom: •Facebook:  sponsored ads, Group opportunities •Microblogging: Twitter account. •YouTube: Company account with product demos •LinkedIn: Yes

     Hewlett-Packard: •Blogging: 55 corporate blogs. •Facebook:  Group opportunities; sponsored ads •Microblogging: Twitter account used for promotions •Twitter:  multiple enterprise accounts •LinkedIn: Yes

    FreeScale •YouTube:  ~80 videos posted •Facebook: Fan Page, Group opportunities, sponsored ads •Blogging: Six corporate blogs. •Twitter accounts: yes •LinkedIn: Yes

     IBM: •Blogging: 125 corporate blogs. •Forums: developerWorks. •Microblogging: Smart SOA SocialNetwork ((S3N)) •Twitter teams. •Wikis: developerWorks. •LinkedIn: Yes

     Oracle: •Blogging: Hundreds of blogs. •Crowdsourcing: Oracle Mix. •Microblogging: 110+ employees on Twitter and other services. •Social networks: Oracle community.Twitter:  multiple accounts

    Intel: •Facebook: Fan page; Group opportunities; Sponsored ads •Blogging: Corporate family of blogs. Inside Scoop   lifestyle blog. Game Faces blog. •Microblogging: Intel Developer Forum & Inspired By Education •Online video: YouTube account. •Photo sharing: Flickr photostream. •LinkedIn: Yes •Twitter:  Multiple accounts

     Texas Instruments: •YouTube:  ~2000 video instances found •Blogging: Community blogs. •Facebook:  Fan page, Group opportunities •Twitter: Multiple accounts •LinkedIn:  Yes

     Brocade •Twitter:  Formal PR Account •YouTube: CEO videos w/r/t quarterly earnings •LinkedIn:  Yes •Adaptec •Twitter:  PR account; Support account •Facebook: Fan page; sponsored ads •YouTube: ~500 video posts found •LinkedIn: Yes

    Media and Industry Analyst Outlets

    Do a quick review of your PR/AR outlets to determine the level of social media activity, opportunities for outreach and additional coverage possibilities with blogs and Twitter.

    New York Times –Blogs: 70 blogs –Twitter: Hot news –YouTube: 1400+ videos –LinkedIn: Company profile –Facebook: Fan page, regular page

     Wall Street Journal –Blogs: 30 blogs –Twitter: Hot news –LinkedIn: Company profile –Facebook: Fan page, cross-posts with Digg

    Barron’s –Blog: Technology Trader –Twitter: Hot news •Financial Times –Blogs: 20+ blogs –Twitter: Hot news –LinkedIn: Company profile

     EE Times –Blogs: 10 Blogs –Twitter: Hot news; LinkedIn: Company profile, event marketing

    Technology Industry Analyst Firms

    Gartner –Twitter: 70+ analysts plus corporate-level –Blogs: 75 Analyst Blogs –LinkedIn: Company page, recruiting, event marketing –YouTube: 80+ videos posted –Facebook: Fan page

    Forrester –Twitter: 70+ analysts plus corporate-level –Blogs: ~25 Blogs –LinkedIn: Company page, recruiting, event marketing –YouTube: ~65 videos

    IDC –Twitter: 70+ analysts plus corporate account –Blogs: –LinkedIn: Company page, recruiting, event marketing

     Enterprise Strategy Group –Twitter: President tweets, directs to additional content –Blogs: 7 Analyst Blogs –LinkedIn: Company Page

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    6degrees(Read time = 2-3 minutes) One of the surest signs of mainstream acceptance is when cutting edge trends bleed into traditional media coverage, become fodder for SNL and other parody spoofs, and (gasp!) find themselves the subject of academic scholarship and book publishing “for the rest of us…”  .  Ah… Twitter and Facebook, we knew you when…

    When I stumbled across Nick Douglas’ just published, way to funny collection of “Twitter Wit: Brilliance in 140 Characters of Less”, it got me thinking just what other signposts are out there indicating wider acceptance of social networking/social network marketing?  Douglas’ book is an edited and authorized collection of the funniest tweets of all time w/forward by Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter.  Sure, campaign 2008 thrust Twitter on to the public stage, but what else?

    A Smattering of Social Media Maturity Proof Points

    Reports of Facebook “…getting more gray…” as the 35-54 crowd increases their participation by over 60% in the last year.  A Forrester research report must be purchased, but here’s several links that digest the topic and results for free:

    Facebook:  The Road Ahead: a TechCrunch report from the Web2.0 conference (4/09) on CPM rates, revenue experiments and developer alternatives.

    Volunteer mass computing: Kudos to Intel for this free app and launch of a public beta project available to all Facebook users.  “Progress Thru Processors” runs as a background process on your computer, automatically directing idle processing power to the researchers’ computational efforts (AIDS, Global Warming, African Malaria).  When the user’s computer needs the performance, the app shifts into idle.  Reminds me of Berkeley’s SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project.  These “grid” distributed computing projects have grown in recent years to include (among others): DIMES  (internet mapping project), GIMPS   (large prime number search), more AIDS Research, out to the more light-hearted Einstein neutron star-search, and BURP  (big, ugly rendering project for collaborative 3D graphics animation.)

    Kevin Bacon redux… 6 degrees of separation has been reduced to 3, so contends a July 09 Trendsspotting.com write-up which chronicles Facebook and virtual friendships, building on social psychologist Stanley Milgram’s work and the Microsoft 2006 instant messaging study that popularized “6 degrees” into a social icon.

     Academics join the fray:  peer-reviewed articles and scientific publication is becoming more the norm as academics are starting to weigh-in with headier tomes.  Here’s just a few I found of more than passing interest:

    What have you noticed as your clients or agencies engage in social media discussion?  Any insights to share?

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