Observations from Social Media Jungle Boston

Random observations and highlights from the Social Media Jungle event in Waltham, MA today. The best part of any event is the real-life networking. So despite the fact Social Media Jungle Boston was about how to engage online, the real value was in meeting people face-to-face. So a big hello to everyone I was able to meet today and here’s to many more conversations – on and off line in the future.

  • Jeff Pulver, Social Media Jungle organizer, has purged his Facebook account of more than 3,000 people in the last couple of years. He uses birthday announcements as his guide. When Facebook alerts him of someone’s birthday, he uses it as an opportunity to assess the relationship. Is he communicating with the person? Do they interact? Are they providing value to one another? “I ask myself what have I done with them lately?” he told the crowd at Social Media Jungle. Jeff said he tried to avoid linking with “collectors” – those people who are looking to grow their networks as a part of a numbers arms race. He’s looking for people to share with. That’s why he also refuses to “friend” businesses, organizations or “things” on Facebook.
  • Jeff discovered the power of his Facebook network last year when one of his contacts at Reuters asked him if he could arrange a meeting with Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Jeff doesn’t know Leonardo – at all. But he decided to try and experiment with his 5,000 friends. On his status he posted that he was looking for someone that could connect him with Leonardo. Within 24 hours he was contacted through Facebook by one of Leonardo’s friends. Jeff explained that Reuters wanted to connect with the actor and by the next day Leonardo and his people were talking with Reuters.
  • C.C. Chapman, of The Advanced Guard, had one of the best social media analogies of the day. He compared using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook with growing up in a small town (which he did). “I went to the same high school as my dad,” he said. In his town everyone knew everyone else. You knew where to go and who to talk with depending on the topic. He says this same philosophy holds true online. Although he did admit that face-to-face is still more satisfying and valuable than social media time.
  • Richard Dale, a partner at venture firm, Sigma Partners, showcased a brainstorm about the future of Twitter. Dale explored the notion of Twitter as a universal information stream where people and companies can put in and extract data at will. He imagined Twitter as a platform for automatic tweets about traffic patterns, gas prices, point of sale statistics, etc. In other words, Coca-Cola could have each and every sale of a can of Coke inputted into the stream and then could look for patterns in it. Far-fetched? The crowd reaction at Social Media Jungle seemed to be mixed, but it certainly got everyone’s creative juices flowing.
  • Joe Cascio also made an interested point about Facebook and Twitter. He didn’t see either platform “winning” because they would ultimately fail to do what the telephone and email did – become ubiquitous. The value of Facebook and Twitter was only truly realized if both people communicating were on the same platform. He didn’t think any social media platform would be successful until it standardized universally. Joe also threw out a flag of caution about automated DMs to new followers becoming the new “spam.” He asked the question: “Have you ever gotten an unsolicited email for direct mail that was valuable?”
  • I was happy when Laura Fitton (a.k.a. Pistachio) touched on one of the topics that I’ve been preaching on HighTalk. And that’s that the number of followers and friends you have aren’t as important as the quality. She put it better: “The real influerncer is the idea – not the person.” Chris Penn, CTO of Edvisors, built on this theme as well. He put it this way – if you are an airplane manufacturer with 10,000 followers and none of them buy airplanes then what good are they for you? But if you have two followers and one of them buys an airplane — well, then you win. Now those are great metrics to live by.
  • Steve Dill, marketing consultant, chastised everyone who has ever said they don’t have time for social media. “The world has turned to search and you should, too.”
  • Justin Levy, of New Marketing Labs, had some excellent advice as well. He said one of the most underutilized strategies on Twitter is to listen. Especially listening to your competitors.
  • To the annoyance of many, Twitter was a huge topic of conversation all day. As one woman in front of me noted: “There’s a lot more to social media than Twitter.” True, but it just goes to show how hot Twitter has become lately.
  • Overall, I found Social Media Jungle Boston a bit too loosely structured for my taste. The informal format was good for interacting and question asking, but I think more organization and structure to the the presentations would have benefited the flow of the event. Only one presenter used a slide deck – Richard Dale (the VC – go figure), but the slides helped him deliver a clean presentation and helped make an impact. I’m not advocating more slide decks, but I do think the audience participation threw some of the presenters off track.

If you went to Social Media Jungle today – please feel free to add any of your own observations or comments.


  1. Social Media Jungle Boston « The goSwoop Blog - March 11, 2009

    […] Visit Steven’s Blog […]

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