Episode 69: Dave Evans, Digital VooDoo on Interruptus Vulgaris, Trusting "The Cloud" and Social Media: An Hour A Day

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Social media muscle - according to Dave Evans, author of "Social Media: An Hour a Day," a social media consultant and expert eMarketing columnist, says you can get bench strength about the social web in just and hour a day. His new book devotes 11 chapters to grouping social media services and platforms so you can systematically take an organized tour of the social web and gain familiarity and an understanding of the range of options available to marketers. Think of it as a hands-on inventory of the social web.

Dave shares his favorite daily exercises, talks about moving to "the Cloud," explains Friend Feed and shares his perspective on the "campaign mentality" of today's marketers. 

Then Suz poses two unique questions. Find out who Dave would invite for "Dinner for Six" if he could dine with any industry luminaries of his choosing. Then Suz bestows a magic wand to Dave to change ONE thing about the digital media industry. What do you think he changes? What would you change?

This episode has a special bonus segment completely focused on forums, community and white label social networks. As a social media expert hired by some of the biggest brands in the biz, Dave gives advice about how to build the right set of features for your customers. What does your audience want? What are your business objectives? What do companies like Ning, Jive, Pluck and Lithium offer and how do they differ? If you are considering creating a place for your customers and prospects to share with each other, listen to this bonus segment that runs after the regular DishyMix interview.  Just keep "staying tuned." :)


Woman: This program is brought to you by PersonalLifeMedia.com.

[podcast break]

Susan Bratton: Welcome to “DishyMix.” I'm your host, Susan Bratton. Of course, I'm delighted that you're with me today. I'm especially delighted because I think this is about to be one of the best episodes of “DishyMix” I've ever done and that’s because of the guest I have for you today, Dave Evans. Dave is the founder of a social media consultancy called Digital Voodoo and I think he's going to work his voodoo on you. He's also the author of a new book that is coming out right now and, of course, I have autographed copies.

Dave is going to personally autograph for you and I'll tell you later in the show how you can get your copy. The book is called “Social Media: An Hour a Day.” I love the construct of this book and you're going to hear about how you can learn about social media in an hour a day and get your hands around the monster that is social media. Dave also, you might be familiar with him from being one of the columnist, he's an expert columnist with ClickZ, writing the e-marketing strategist column. So you might want to check that out.

On today’s show, we're going to talk about FriendFeed, measurable campaign, objectives, an hour a day, the cloud, and ski racing among lots of other things. So let's get Dave on the show and kick it off.

[musical interlude]

Dave Evans: The basic idea behind “The Hour a Day” series from Wiley, the publisher, is this is a practical approach to whatever discipline it happened to be. In my case, it's social media strictly from a marketer’s perspective. The positive review maybe the truth but as desirable has shown, when you only see positive information, you tend to discount it. When you see a handful of negative comment, you tend to believe the positive. If they're willing to tell both sides of the story, it must be true.

I opened the book with a quote from Tim Berners-Lee, from his speech honoring Vannevar Bush at MIT in 1995. So this quote is actually from 1995. He said, “I had a dream that the Web could be less of a television channel and more of an interactive sea of shared knowledge. I would like it to bring our friends and colleagues closer, in that by working on this knowledge together, we can come to better understanding.” Here we are 15 years later, there's the mission statement for the social Web.

Diving down a little bit, social media doesn’t replace traditional awareness but it does as it changes everything, it comes after awareness.

[musical interlude]

Susan Bratton: Welcome, Dave.

Dave Evans: Thank you, Susan. I'm very glad to be here.

Susan Bratton: I am so happy to have you on the show, Dave. I love the book you wrote. I happened to have a gully copy. It's got mark ups and everything on it and it was my pleasure to read it. Dave, one of the things that I love about “Social Media: An Hour A Day” is this concept of having an exercise every day of the week. You have many chapters on different aspects of social media and then exercises for every day of the week. I guess, that’s the concept “Social Media: An Hour A Day.” What are some of your very favorite exercises that you have in the book?

Dave Evans: In putting the book together, the first that I tried to take as the outline is this practical approach where as we dive in to a topic rather than just reading about it, you also get to work on it. So for example in Chapter 4, I take people through a survey of micro blogs, tagging, bookmark sharing, basic business networks and so on. So reader will see the TED blog, IBM’s corporate blog, Personal Life Media, Twitter, delicious, and a lot more. Very easy entry point so that someone can get a picture in their head about what social media really is.

Chapter 6, we hit touch point analysis. This idea of as a marketer, I create a certain set of experiences, my customers then experience those and talk about them. If I'd set an expectation that they were delighted by it, they’d talk one way, if they weren’t so delighted, they're going to talk a different way. So I provided a quantitative framework for sort of setting yourself up for the successful use of social media.

Chapter 9, we jump into communities, forums, and blogs. The exercises in Chapter 9 include surveys of things like the Seagate and Dell support forums, Starbucks, and the Starbucks is my ideation community, all those kinds. They're very practical, hands on experience. Chapter 13, all about metrics. The exercises in Chapter 13 focus on identifying metric applicable and available, given your business objectives and given the kind of experiences that you want to create.

Finally then in Chapter 14, is really pull all together and you actually develop right and present your social media plan. In Chapter 14, I have things like understanding what the biggest yes that you're likely to get from your audience today. Meaning, your internal, your colleagues, building and implementing a successful social media plan begin with implementing it and giving it, sold it in to your colleagues. So we walk you through how to do that. We walk you through how to set up a presentation. Some tips about not starting with social networks, about starting with business objectives so that people don’t immediately jump to MySpace. Yes, these sort of scary images that they might have. In fact, they start with something that they were comfortable with it. You start your presentation with your business objectives.

So each day, there's a set of exercises, it takes about an hour, the entire process takes about three and a half months. At the end of three and a half months, you're actually ready to stand up in front of your colleagues, your peers, and so on. You present and talk about what you'd like to do as a business with social media to complement all the traditional marketing and all the other marketing efforts that you have going on right now.

Susan Bratton: So there's a couple things I like about the way you did this book. First one is that it gives me some buckets to consider the entire landscape of social media. The second thing, that is, for a pretty sophisticated, Internet-savvy marketer like myself and my “DishyMix” listeners, it's also just a good overview of, “Hey, is there any part of the social Web that I'm missing in my expertise?” So there are two things: tagging, that helped me a lot when I read the book and also FriendFeed. I'm going to ask you about later on the show because I don’t quite understand that yet and I want your perspective on what that things is. I'm apparently one of the top 100 friends on FriendFeed and I don’t even really [xx]. I don’t know how that happened!

Dave Evans: I totally believe that you're one of the top 100.

Susan Bratton: Thank you. I'm not on the top 100 on anything else but somehow I better understand this. So I like that. Then I also like the fact that this book gives you license to go out and do some work; that is, for work, it's not play. It's really structuring it in a way that once you're done, making sure you’ve checked everything off your knowledge list, you are very savvy about social media and that landscape and you know you’ve covered all aspects of it. There's no kind of a dark corners for you and it justifies a lot of fun in business, so I like that.

One of the things that I thought was really brilliant was a particular exercise that you had. It was a Monday exercise, a fairly early in the book and it was essentially questions to solidify your measurable campaign objectives. Now, you’ve self-described as a scientist and a mathematician with a passion for marketing and that definitely comes through in the book, Dave. You are a numbers guy and you bring that to this social Web and a marketer’s interaction with it. Some of the things you asked, if you could just go through those. I think, I would buy the book just for this list of questions. Can you tell us what those are?

Dave Evans: Sure. I've got these tips and techniques that I sort of sprinkled throughout the book. They're based on the book, my experiences as a marketer, my experiences as a scientist, and sort of looking for the answers for things, trying to figure out how things work. Then, my experiences as a marketer where it's a very, very practical discipline. So, you mentioned a couple of them. Some of my favorite tips and techniques in the book, in Chapter 7, for example, I highlight one of the sort of fundamentals of socially-driven marketing. You influence conversations by increasing promoters while decreasing detractors.

It sounds very trivial, but in 2005, I interviewed Fred Reicheld, a [xx] fellow and the author of the “Ultimate Question,” the originator of the promoter’s score. In his idea of influencing your audience, of changing your behaviors as some of those bringing a product to market, so that the number of people who have vocally supporting you increases while at the same time, the number of people who are talking negatively about you decreases. This really becomes sort of one of the fundamentals of how social media works. Marketers are so used to control that this idea of influence is a new one and I'll show you very clearly how to do that.

A little bit later in Chapter 10, one of the big balms in the book, “Friends don’t let friends pay bloggers.” I know that this is a controversial statement, I know it's a controversial topic, but it's also one that I personally believe really strongly in. I was visiting a site just [xx] pay you to blog.com. It's one of the sites you can go, you sign up, they give you assignments and you write about them. Right in the Frequently Asked Questions, first page, it says, “Negative reviews and blog posts are not acceptable.” It's sort of like the positive review maybe the truth but as desirability has shown when you only see positive information, you tend to discount it. When you see a handful of negative comments, you tend to believe the positive. If they're willing to tell both sides of the story, it must be true.

[xx] last year, when we were listening to Henry Copeland, at the “Soxer Awards.” [sp].

Susan Bratton: Right. Now, explain the “Soxers Award.”[sp] That was a great session we went to. I think the best out South by Southwest.

Dave Evans: I love that one. It was such a practical session. The Soxers [sp] were simply a take off of an award show but it was the ten worst social media campaigns of the prior year. The audience got to vote on them, they put them up in front. But what was really remarkable about it was fully half of the campaigns that were up there were up there because they had either paid someone to write the reviews and so on about them. Where they had failed to disclose their own involvement in the campaign.

Susan Bratton: They've broken the rules of authenticity.

Dave Evans: Exactly. These are such fundamentals, they're so easy. Yet at the same time, for marketers, it's so easy to walk right past it because we're so used to taking a [xx] for a client and writing what appears as the testimonial. Such are not the client’s words, we took that idea, it was true. But then we rewrote it and it's one of those slippery slope kind of things where for a marketer to walk past disclosure, for a marketer to walk past transparency, it's really pretty easy to do. In social media, unfortunately, that really, really comes back to haunt you.

Susan Bratton: So, here's a big question, Dave. How important is the social Web to marketing today? Do you think that it's something that can be used by one brand and not by another? Or, do you think that it is a foundation, an imperative, almost like, “You got to have a website, you better own your keywords” kind of a program? You may not do e-mail marketing, you probably won't do viral, where does it fit on that scale of “must be incorporated in to the panoply of marketing objectives?”

Dave Evans: I think, and obviously, I have two points here. I think that obviously, it is an absolute requirement, and I say that for a couple of reasons. First of, when we look at what consumers are doing, how they're using and sharing information, the idea that as a marketer, you're not going to be impacted by that, to really miss a very fundamental thing that’s going on. If you acknowledge that you're impacted by it, to then not do something to either make better use of it or to turn it around so that it becomes a positive for you, is derelict duty.

So this notion that consumers are going to stop using the channels as they have to talk with each other, to compare notes and experiences and so on, I'd say that’s not going to happen. The social Web is here, it's part of what we do. I've got some examples, things that I can talk about. One of these, I think, is really interesting. I opened the book with a quote from Tim Berners-Lee, from his speech honoring Vannevar Bush at MIT in 1995. So this quote is actually from 1995. He said, “I had a dream that the Web could be less of a television channel and more of an interactive sea of shared knowledge.” He goes on to say, “I would like it to bring our friends and colleagues closer, in that by working on this knowledge together, we can come to better understanding.” Here we are 15 years later…

Susan Bratton: Yes, he was [xx].

Dave Evans: … that was like, there is a mission statement for the Social Web.

Susan Bratton: Yes.

Dave Evans: It's all about, “What do I know, what do you know if we put those two things together, what is the next person who comes along benefit from, how do they benefit from that knowledge?” So the idea that this isn’t going to be part of marketing is just…I don’t know how you can really make that statement.

Susan Bratton: I agree with you. I think that it is an imperative, it's a platform. This is a really quick question, but one of the things that we've been thinking about from a marketing perspective, at least in awareness-building which a lot of the Social Web can be used for awareness building, is this idea of campaigns versus a more persistent endeavor. One of the things I hear in the marketplace chatter from some of my most thoughtful friends, is that the concept of a campaign is almost becoming moot. Many more of the things that marketers are doing are along the lines of persistent presence. I think, the Social Web is one of those things. Do you think that’s true or do you still think there's a huge campaign mentality?

Dave Evans: I think that's a campaign mentality, because we are instant gratification with 30-second [xx] commercials where this [xx] result. So I want something that six weeks from now, I see the difference. That’s the way we behave. But I think social media, absolutely, is an endeavor. For the people who use it, for customers, for consumers and so on, it's a way of life. Benefiting from it is court of conduct for business, so it becomes much more endeavor-like, it becomes a permanent thing. Fred Reichheld talks about this in his book about the motor score in his idea of reducing detractors, increasing promoters as being the only viable way to really long term, sustainable business growth. It clearly comes out in the social Web.

Diving down a little bit, social media doesn’t replace traditional awareness but it does as it changes everything, it comes after awareness. So what it does is it changes what comes after awareness. One of things I make a big point about in the book is this idea that social media is not like the next big, huge thing that replaces everything that came before it. Social media builds on all of the great stuff that happens in traditional marketing. We make people aware of things, we spell out value propositions, we make people [xx] offers, we do tactical things, we do strategic things, all of that stuff is still part of the game.

What social media does is it picks up on that after the point of purchase. It does to amplify the good things that happened so that other people find out about them. So it becomes this very long term thing, it becomes a way of doing business. As a result, it offers new opportunities in building long term presence, it drives long term business growth and personal success for the people who step out and adopted early.

Susan Bratton: Well, I love to leave on a note of personal success for early adoptors because that’s my “DishyMix” listener. Everybody who’s probably listening to you right now is an early adoptor. We are, they are, we all are, and good for us. Social media is such a fun thing to be an early adaptor in.

So we're going to take a break to thank my wonderful sponsors who let me have this fun with you. When we come back, I want to get to the cloud and some ski racing and FriendFeed and community and a dinner party. We're going to talk…I've a question for you about a fabulous, fantasy dinner party.

Dave Evans: Excellent.

Susan Bratton: So stay tuned, I'm your host, Susan Bratton, and we're with Dave Evans, the founder of “Digital Voodoo” and the author of a brand new book called “Social Media: An Hour a Day.” I'll tell you how you can get your copy when we come back. Stay tuned.

[podcast break]

Susan Bratton: Alright, we're back. I'm your host, Susan Bratton, and we're with Dave Evans, the founder of “Digital Voodoo” and the author of a new book, “Social Media: An Hour a Day.” Dave, you have given us five personally autographed copies that I'm going to be able to give away on the “DishyMix” Facebook Fan Club. Thanks for that.

Dave Evans: You're so welcome, Susan.

Susan Bratton: I really appreciate it. So the way it's going to work is that if you would like to have a copy, Dave will personally autograph it for you. All you have to do is go into the Facebook Fan Club. You just go to Facebook, search for “DishyMix,” you join the fan club, post your desire why you want a copy. I'll pick my five favorite requests, I'll connect you with Dave, and he can personally autograph the book for you. So that’s great, Dave. Thanks for taking the effort to do that.

Dave Evans: Thank you for making it available to people. It's awesome.

Susan Bratton: Absolutely. So, I want you to explain FriendFeed to me. Let's talk about that first and get it out of the way because I don’t understand it. Explain it to us.

Dave Evans: Sure. You talked something earlier, you talked about the way in the book I break things up into big groups. I essentially took Robert Scoble’s starfish diagram.

Susan Bratton: Yes, that’s a good diagram.

Dave Evans: So, here's 12 things – there's more coming along – how can I simplify this for a marketer? I look at it from the point of social spaces, network, all that sort of stuff, social content – Flickr, YouTube, etc. – and then this other thing. There was sort of a leftover and it was social interaction. FriendFeed falls into that category. It’ll surprise readers when they hit Chapter 12, but I devoted an entire chapter to things that people probably don’t think of, a social media. All of the information that flows around, Joe just uploaded a photo or the actual photo that Joe just uploaded. Somebody out there [xx]  Facebook, etc. all of that stuff.

What FriendFeed does is FriendFeed enables me to set up a feed for the people who follow me to see me in one place across all of those things that I do. It's an aggregator, it's a connector. It makes it very easy for people to follow me. At the same time, it also makes it very easy for me to follow a whole bunch of other people. Instead of having to continue, if you go to Flickr and Bebo and Orkut and MySpace and LinkedIn, all these places where people do stuff, all I really have to do is pay attention to a couple of things. Now, I may want to go to those networks for further reasons, for my own interaction to do some of the unique things that they offer within the network. But using a tool like FriendFeed, I can keep track of a whole bunch of people and I can make it very easy for a whole bunch of people to keep track of me.

Susan Bratton: Okay. Question, Dave.

Dave Evans: Sure.

Susan Bratton: So if Google bought FriendFeed, they'd essentially and inserted that into your search results. They'd have open social.

Dave Evans: Pretty close to it, yes.

Susan Bratton: Then on FriendFeed, the people who are using FriendFeed, I get that it aggregates my Flickr and my Twitter and my RSS and all those kinds of things so that it's the feed of all my social crumbs that I have out there. But do I have to have FriendFeed open in my browser window to have access to that. Is that right?

Dave Evans: You do go check it, yes. But remember, like anything else, I can subscribe to it and then I can have it pop into my desktop and do other things that way.

Susan Bratton: How do you pop it into your desktop?

Dave Evans: For example, through the Reader in Google, that’s one of the ways of doing.

Susan Bratton: So that will be an open browser window, too.

Dave Evans: Yes, ultimately, you do have to have some things open to work some of the stuff.

Susan Bratton: What I've been using is Alert thingy. Have you seen that?

Dave Evans: I have not.

Susan Bratton: So Alert thingy is a little application that pulls from FriendFeed and probably other stuff, too. It's like a transparent thing that sits above all your stuff and it scrolls through so you can see what's happening. But only for people who are, I guess, in FriendFeed and that’s not all the people, so I'm missing a lot of people in Twitter who aren’t on FriendFeed.

Dave Evans: Correct. With a lot of these…for example, we have Twitter, we also have Ping, we have Identica, we have Plurk, we have Haiku and so on. With all of these things, there is this notion of who's in what and how do I keep track of them? To me, it's more of the idea behind FriendFeed and the kinds of things that get enabled that which tool I'm using is less important than the fact that these tools exist. The analogy that I draw in the book is with blog versus website. The average person has 180-some bookmarks in their browser favorite list, in their bookmark list. If we think about how many sites we visit every week, it's nowhere near 180.

Susan Bratton: Yes, it's like eight.

Dave Evans: Yes, it's sometimes [xx].

Susan Bratton: Gmail and Google.

Dave Evans: So, imagine now that instead of news, coming from your blog reader, that it was coming from websites. You’d be back 15 or 20 years ago, I know what was going on in town, you'd pick the couple of local newspapers or the local channel or something like that. That was all that you had exposure to. So number one, you only got that point of view, but it also for the representative came about because of the practical limitation and how many sources you can check. Now, with blogs and RSS in particular, RSS underwrites a lot of the stuff that we're talking about here, I can keep track of hundreds of blogs by simply looking at Google Reader. All I've got to do is look in one place and if somebody changes something, I see it and if they don’t change it, there's nothing for me to see. So seeing within the same kinds of things now start to abound in and around social media in the interactions that people have between each other in ways that I can keep up with a relatively large group of people.

Susan Bratton: Okay. So FriendFeed is not to be a [xx] but it's a cool interim concept till we get that [xx] ability of our various groups. So all the people on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, whatever are somehow, someday all aggregated into a single feed.

Dave Evans: Yes. I think so, and what's important about what you just said is it doesn’t mean that we all have to do the same thing. If we look at the battle, if you will, between MySpace and Facebook for who's got the most numbers? It's really not about creating a big place that everybody goes to. It's about everybody being able to do all of the little things, the little activities, the little specialties that they have and so on, then if someone who's interested in that person being able to see all that stuff. So tools like FriendFeed become really, really important.

Susan Bratton: I got it. Okay, good. Well, I'm continuing to play with it and I love it. So I want to ask you a quick question about the cloud. Most recently, I remember you telling me that you had moved off of any desktop applications and you were completely doing business in the cloud. How’s that going for you? You better describe what that means to your listeners because it could be a little bit tweaky.

Dave Evans: Oh, yes. So what the cloud first do really goes back to the idea of the network, if you will, as the computer. This idea that I don’t have a bunch of applications installed on something that I carry around with me. All of my applications to the services that I used and so on are all out there on the Internet, some place. They're out there network and then I simply connect to that and tap into it. But I tell you, if there's one thing I'd learned in the last year or so, clouds has thin spots.

Susan Bratton: Thin spots. Yes. Okay.

Dave Evans: Clouds has thin spots. Moving to the cloud, clearly not for everyone. Not yet. I think, it will be, it's fairly compelling. I mean that if we think about what's coming after the social Web, it's all about mobility and device independence. How can I live my life free of constraints?

Susan Bratton: Like MobileMe which Apple launched.

Dave Evans: Exactly. Exactly.

Susan Bratton: And all the Google Mail, Google Docs.

Dave Evans: All these kinds of things that enable me to be where I want to be, connect to the information that I need to sustain whatever it is that I'm doing right now and staying in touch with people. This is really what this whole notion brings that remains very compelling for me. So a few things like, “Well, I can't connect right now.” That problem is going away. Certain desktop applications provide a better experience. Outlook, it's a little bit more productive than Gmail, for example, simply because it integrates with so many other applications. But all of that stuff falls over a very short period of time, and what we're left with is this whole idea of the digital nomad. If I can just cruise around being connected, I can be very productive, I can be very happy in my life, which is really important. I can get a whole lot of time, I can [xx] with a whole bunch of people and learn a lot.

Susan Bratton: You are a happy digital nomad.

Dave Evans: Exactly.

Susan Bratton: Alright. So this is the question I've been dying to ask you because I just love your filter of the universe. I'm having a dinner party, you are my honored guest, and you get to pick the guest list. So I'm going to cook the meal, you're coming to my house, we're cracking open the wine cellar, we're going to have a party. But we're going to do it from a business perspective, we're going to pick people out of the Web media marketing, Web 2.0 world that you'd like to have at that table. So, it's dinner for six, it's you and I, who are the four people you're bringing to dinner? I'm putting you on the spot here.

Dave Evans: So. Okay, yes. First, I guess, I would have to take Tim O’Riley, Tim Berners-Lee. I'd really like to get maybe Madeleine Albright.

Susan Bratton: Oh, wow! Good one.

Dave Evans: Christian Amanpur. I watch the daily show all the time usually from a hotel room, me and my slingbacks. Desmond Tutu would make a great dinner guest for this. The reason that I sort of put that kind of a group together…Christopher Locke, I'm bringing in some people.

Susan Bratton: I don’t know who Christopher Locke is.

Dave Evans: If you remember “Rage Boys,” Cluetrain manifesto and Rage Boys, EGR was this newsletter from…this is 15 years ago, but he's great thinker. We got a group of people that are both technology as well as the issues in a world perspective, because then it really gives us all something to do. Technology for technology’s sake is going to be boring, but when we can take connectivity, when we can rewire a community, when we can connect people who don’t have access information, so that they suddenly have access to information, we can start to solve really big problems. We can set to develop a collective perspective. [xx] you have for dinner?

Susan Bratton: Yes.

Dave Evans: That’s [xx]. It's such a great thing to do.

Susan Bratton: I'm a good cook and I like who you're inviting. We might have to make it a dinner for ten, not table for six. It's funny, too, that the way that you thought about this applying technology to social causes. It reminds me of the interview that I did with John Battele from Federated Media about two months ago. He was talking about how the Web 2.0 conference is morphing into social good with social technologies.

Dave Evans: Very much, very much. One of the applications that I'm working on now is a relook at the whole idea of giving, of how we collectively give and support charities. So there are lots of things that come right out of this when you start collecting dissimilar perspectives, [xx] and so on, apply enough technology that we don’t now have to be next each other to solve the problem. Suddenly, we start thinking in a collective way and I think that’s really the way for a lot of the challenges and so on that we face.

Susan Bratton: Micro loans, the hundred-dollar laptop, all of these things.

Dave Evans: Exactly.

Susan Bratton: It's kind of like a TED conference, too. The TED conference does a really beautiful job of integrating technology and social change. It's like do-gooder meets tech.

Dave Evans: Exactly. Exactly.

Susan Bratton: I love it.

Dave Evans: When you asked me that question, the TED conference definitely comes to mind.

Susan Bratton: Yes. So here's another thinker question for you. I like asking these things from you, it's really fun. I'm giving you a magic wand and I'm letting you change one thing about our industry. Just with a little twinkle of your wand, that’s a kind of funny, isn’t it? With a wave of masculine wave of your wand.

Dave Evans: If I can change one thing, I'll take twinkle.

Susan Bratton: Whatever it takes, right? Okay, it's magic pixie dozens sparkle powder, you're getting the whole thing. Wave your wand, what would you change?

Dave Evans: Really, really simply – interruptions, control, lack of transparency.

Susan Bratton: That’s good.

Dave Evans: Advertising Age recently reported 90% of the CMOs and marketing directors interviewed said that they had purchased advertising in the past year with the distinct expectation, not just of news coverage and this is from news sources. This is not from like men’s health magazine or some place where you don’t expect to see it. This is from news sources with the distinct expectation of a positive news story as a result. The survey went on to say that 53% of the people – this is in AdAge, it's about a month ago – over half of the people surveyed said that they did not feel like the marketing industry was adhering to ethical guidelines as applied to the new media realm. That statement blew me away. So if there's something that has to change, it's that one.

It's not to say that people are unethical. I think what the survey really said was 53% of the marketers are aware of a minority of people who are doing something that is inconsistent with the way they would like to be treated, and so on. It becomes incumbent on each of us now to when we see a paid blog, for example, call it out immediately. Call it out. If we don’t do this, we will pollute the social media channel. As marketers, if we believe that this is the next big thing coming, going back to what we talked earlier – if we pollute this channel, we are really limiting our opportunities to reach the people that we want to reach.

Susan Bratton: It's funny, too. You're reminding me of another show we did. I don’t know if you ever listened to the one I did with Bob Garfield. He's the ad critique at AdAge.

Dave Evans: Yes, exactly.

Susan Bratton: Well, I call him the attorney general of marketing because he loves to call bullshit on bad campaigns and bad marketing practices and so on. He makes sure he listens to your magic want moment.

Dave Evans: That’s a big wand.

Susan Bratton: It is. So, we're out of time and here's what I want to do, because I still want to ask you, as my last question on the “DishyMix” show today, I want to ask you about your ski racing. You're a very competitive mathematician and scientist with a passion for marketing. I was like to end with some fun, insightful thing about the person who's on the show. So I want to take a minute to do that. Then I want to do a bonus segment after the end of the show if you're willing to do it with me. I still want to talk to you about community and forums and social networking and get your take on where all of that is going. So many marketers that I see are really trying to figure out how they can create community on their own websites. It's a big thing right now! We didn’t get to it and would you be willing to do a bonus segment at end of the show with me?

Dave Evans: Definitely, definitely.

Susan Bratton: Okay, let's do that. So we'll finish off the show…I just want to hear about your ski racing and how you do it. You're such a handsome guy. You look like a Calvin Klein model in addition to being brilliant, kind, a great writer, and a wonderful person in our industry. I think a part of that comes from the fact that you love working out and doing and create amazing things with your body including ski racing. So tell us about that.

Dave Evans: Growing up in upstate New York, it's sort of one of the things that you do since it snows for eight months out of the year. So yes, we started skiing when we're young and what I'd learned in that and what I continue now living in Texas, we’d swapped go kart racing for ski racing. My son and I both do that. What I'd learned in that was when you really get a handle on the competitive spirit that exists within everybody, when you're really get a hand on it, what you discover is you can compete, compete, compete. When you're on the course, when you're off the course, your friends and you work together. You work to build the course. You work to set the flags. You work to put cones at. You do all sorts of things so that you can enjoy this. Then when you're racing, it is no holds barred racing.

Understanding those trade offs between people, I think, is really healthy particularly for younger people, to understand that being first – if you ask my son what second place is, he doesn’t know what second place is. He doesn’t always win, but when he doesn’t win, it's like he didn’t do anything that day in that particular event. At the same time, with him and his buddies, just the fact that they competed together and they competed honestly and they worked hard together, that just makes it for them.

So you get these kinds of values in people and it goes a long way in business. Business, to me, is one of the most brutally competitive forces on the planet. Microsoft, Google, Apple, all forming a partnership, the last thing I want to see, that is the day that all innovations that’s driving what we're doing right now will stop. It's the competitive spirit, it's the competitive nature of things, absolutely translates into business and learning that early and learning it in a healthy environment is huge, I think, for people.

Susan Bratton: I love it. Well, it gives me a good perspective on what I'm doing as well. So thank you for that. Very good. I've had a great time on the show with you today, Dave. Thanks for sharing so much of your really thoughtful insight into the industry. We're going to close the show today, I want to remind listeners that you can get a personally autographed copy of “Social Media: An Hour a Day” from Dave Evans if you go to the “DishyMix Facebook Fan Club” and post your request. We’d love to send you a copy.

Dave, thanks for being on the show today. It was so much fun.

Dave Evans: Susan, thank you, and I look forward to signing your copy for people.

Susan Bratton: Stay tuned. After the end of the show for some bonus material if you're interested in communities, forums, and social networking. I'm your host, Susan Bratton. Have a great day and I'll see you next week.

[podcast break]

Susan Bratton: Okay, Dave, thanks for staying a little longer on the show and giving us this special segment. One of the things that I wanted to ask you about was if you can explain where you see the world of forums and communities and things like Ning and other white label social network implementations, how do you decide what thing you want? If you're a brand and you're competing with all these other networks, how do you know the right thing to do is create a community or a forum or a network implementation? How do you approach this in your thought process?

Dave Evans: So there's a couple of things here. Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff wrote a great book, “Groundswell.”

Susan Bratton: Yes, Charlene was on “DishyMix.”

Dave Evans: Exactly. Exactly. They talk in that book, and it sort of sets up and I kind of take of on it, social media, obviously, great ideas come from anywhere, so we build on each other’s work. To me, the first thing to think about is what does your audience want and what is your business’ objective? You get those two things and nail down and you're in pretty good shape. That’s the point that both Charlene and Josh make.

So, when I think about this and then apply to your question about forums, communities, etc., what am I trying to accomplish as a marketer? Am I trying to enable self-service help, the way that Dell has done with its forum? Am I trying to enable a community experience, it's build around people sharing ideas with each other the way the things that we did, for example, with Merit Publishing and the Better Homes and Gardens [xx] we did across about 18 properties with them. It's those objectives and it's the capabilities and desires of the audience really that drive what we do.

When I look at the white label platform, at the Nings, at the Plurks, at the Jives, at the LinkedIn, and so on, these are all great platforms. Each has a specific set of capabilities, each has something that it's better at than the other. So it really comes back to understanding, “What are my business objectives? Who is my audience? What are they willing to do?” Then one of the central questions that I try to get to is, “What's the role of the individual in the community?” If I'm there for self-serve, a forum will take care of that very quickly, very efficiently, and so on.

If I'm looking for an interactive experience with other people, then we’d want to get to the level of the persona, the profile, and so on. “Who is Dave Evans? Who is Susan Bratton? Who are these people that are talking?” It's through that knowledge that I'm going to judge all the contributions that they make to the community. The same way that I would do if I was having a [xx] party or something like that. It's much more about the personal interaction. If I'm looking for an information on an HDTV or my power button, my light isn’t coming out of my scanner machine or something like that, I go to a support forum and figure that out very quickly.

Susan Bratton: So then, if you're talking about people sharing ideas with each other where the profile of that person, whether it's an avatar or it's their real identity, they're creating an identity in that community. Is that where you’d say move to something like Ning or Plurk or one of those white label social networks where you actually have to register, sign up, upload your image, and then you have the ability to have a conversation?

Dave Evans: Exactly. But you also have that same thing in the existing networks. So for example, things like “DishyMix” fan page. You don’t have to build any of the community and structure. Facebook has put that in place for you, but you recognize here's what you want to get done, your audience is already here, and you took the time and effort to build the fan page rather than simply a profile page, the fan page gives you so much more.

Susan Bratton: I don’t think that it does though, because in a fan page, my users can post their comment, they don’t really get to talk to each other. It's all a linear news feed of wall posts. There's nothing really there that supports a conversation with each other. It's more like billboard.

Dave Evans: Yes, yes. I think, from the fan page perspective, yes. What I was referring to was the effort that you go through to put the fan page together so that you now have the ability to directly communicate with your fans.

Susan Bratton: It's still more like a one on one conversation.

Dave Evans: Exactly.

Susan Bratton: I might post something and people will comment on it. It's not generating interaction among “DishyMix” members.

Dave Evans:  Correct. But Facebook already has that piece in place. For example, the work that Dr. Anan [sp] Conrad, he's a prostate cancer surgeon, and he built a community on the main platform for prostate cancer both perspective, people that are going in for treatment, as well as for survivors.

Susan Bratton: Right. The people who have gone through it are the best people to talk to.

Dave Evans: Exactly. Here's the doctor, and we know how busy doctors are, he was able to put the stuff together very quickly, very easily in a few days to get it up and running and put this network in place. It's all built around the profiles of the people that are in the network. Then, their experiences and so on and the networks enable them to share that. You’ll get ready for surgery, understand what the options are, all those sorts of things through this.

Susan Bratton: One of the things that I see as a potential problem with the white label social network implementation, whichever brand you choose, is that that’s good when you're around a specific vertical topic. But if you have multiple topics, kind of like the forums used to manage that or your could post on…you know, “I want to talk about weight loss or I want to talk about professional development in the area of selling. Oh, I want to talk about ecological lifestyle.” Whatever it might be, I'm just throwing random things out. I haven’t seen anything that combines that kind of, “Here's an uber community and they come in and they have a lot of different things they might want to talk about.” How do you do the cross, the hybrid between the forums where you have threads and the community, in general, unless you're building something as big as a Facebook.

Dave Evans: Yes, yes, exactly. That problem actually comes up because of the difference in the functionality between, for example, some of the core elements like the blog and photo-sharing and video-sharing and that sort of thing. Then a tool like a forum where it's the highly-structured threaded discussion environment. So a couple of ways around it are, for example, when we look at the Ning platform, my Ning account gets me into all of the Ning communities that I'm a member of.

Susan Bratton: Right. I'm aware of that, so I go to South by Southwest, or I go to three or four different places that are Ning, I just sign in again.

Dave Evans: Exactly. So one of the things that’s happening through Ning and through networks that behave this way, is I create a single presence but then I'm a member of 18 networks. Maybe you're a member of two out of those 18, but you're a member of 20 others. So that’s one of the ways that we get at the divergence in opinions.

Susan Bratton: That’s also open ID. A lot of people are supporting that.

Dave Evans: Yes, there's a bunch of technologies that promise this, “I put my thumb on the laptop [xx]

Susan Bratton: Yes, retinal scan.

Dave Evans: And everything, and nobody else can get there, which will be great. One of the other features that we see a lot is the integration of forums and blogs and so on. Plurk has it and Jives has it, a bunch of platforms offer this where both tools are available. So for example, as a marketer, if I want to offer the experience of threaded discussions, I can do that. If I want to offer the experience of either me blogging and my audience commenting or actually giving my audience [xx] their own, within the community, I can do all those things and then manage it all through the personas, manage it through all the individual profiles. So it's a great area, and what it really comes back to is what is it that the customer is after? What is the business objectives?”

One of my favorite quotes is Sam Walton’s, “If you have questions, go to the store because you're customer has the answer.” So we start with the audience. What is it that they want to do and that they're capable of doing? Once we understand that, it's pretty clear that we may have put up as the business objective. What is it that we need to implement?

Susan Bratton: So, my mind is going in two directions. The first direction is, we can ask our customers what they want, but there's this urban legend that our customers don’t really know what they want until we build it and iterate. Where are you on that scale?

Dave Evans: Yes. The same quote as Henry Ford, “If I'd ask my customers what they'd want, they would have said, ‘A faster horse.” There's definitely some truth to that. At the same time, there are some customers and some habits and some preferences and some abilities that they have. If we put the wrong thing in front of them, they really will reject it. “Well, they have to learn to do this or it's easy if you were just to do this, you'll like it so much better.” They always find a way right now, and they know that.

So again, it comes down to where’s the common sense intersection of the two? There are lots of innovative things. I started using Google Chrome, and the first thing I found was, “Hey, wait a second. Where are my toolbars?” After a week of using it, I'm not really missing them. “Where are my buttons to take me to my homepage? Oh, okay, I just do it this way.” What you find is that overtime, you adapt to technologies that make sense for you and you don’t adapt the other one. It's the same thing with any of the stuff.

Susan Bratton: So in the last 24 hours, I've had conversations about weight loss company, an insurance company and a business credit card company. I've a varying conversations in random ways that each one of those organizations wants to build community as a part of their website. They want to provide a platform for interaction of their customers. Do you think that this is a good idea? A bad idea? A case-dependent idea? What advice would you give these companies?

Dave Evans: Okay, for sure, I'm going for case-dependent.

Susan Bratton: Yes, I know. It was [xx].

Dave Evans: [xx].

Susan Bratton: You'd be a fool not to say that.

Dave Evans: I think what it really comes down to is, first of, what do they mean by community? Do they mean that it's perfectly okay for somebody to log in and say, “I bought three cases of your product and it doesn’t work. I had an accident, your claim [xx] showed up and he was rude.” If that’s perfectly okay, then they're really talking about community. I point that out because very often, what we see is moderation of comment, injection of things other than genuine comments, and so on. This idea of community, what the marketers really saying if you decode it, they want a place at their house where everybody will come and hang out and then they can do great things.

Well, that’s not exactly community. A community is much more driven by the individual, what he or she wants to know, what the expenses that they had were, and so on. If they're okay fashioning that environment and creating that enviroment, they're good for community. Then the next question is, “Is that person better served that a community where all insurance issues are being discussed or all weight loss issues are being discussed? Or, are they better served in a community that [xx] one particular product or solution?”

Susan Bratton: Small business insurance or maintaining your weight loss.

Dave Evans: Exactly. Then in particular, from one particular vendor or provider of a particular product. You can make a case for both of those. You can get really specialized, in depth information from the people who make the particular product that you're using. You can also get a wholistic perspective on all of the approaches – the weight loss – in a community that isn’t sponsored by someone with the self-interest of selling one particular thing or have one particular approach. So when you think about community as a business, it's not just a matter of, “Gee, everybody has a website, we need one. Everybody has got a community, we need one.” It's really a question of what is going to best serve my customer? Where are they going to get the best information?” Then I go back to Fred Reichhed’s work, “How is the experience that I'm creating that will make me so good, that even when the competitors are sitting right there with my customers, my customers are going to choose me.”

Susan Bratton: Yes. That’s a good filter, he is. Alright. This has helped me think through things, and I'm really going back to that idea of the standard registration across multiple networks as being really key for a higher level of adoption and usage. Do you think that’s true or do you think that’s just because I have a social Web myopia where I already have a password so I think that’s important?

Dave Evans: No. I definitely think that the centralized identity, the centralized log in, the ability for me to easily move from network to network…obviously, at a certain level, that works against the network providers. They want sticky. They don’t want slippery. But from the customer’s perspective, from the network’s users perspective, I just want to be me. I just want to go to different networks and enjoy them, participate with people and so on. So the thing that makes it easier to do that like centralized, single log in, and all these different methods, they go a long way toward facilitating that.

Susan Bratton: One of the things that I think is interesting is that I have this bias that I believe that old people like forums, and that they haven’t been – when I'm talking about old people, I'm talking about people like our age and older, I think we're about pretty much the same age. You're better preserved than I with all that ski racing.

Dave Evans: I don’t know about that. I don’t know about that.

Susan Bratton: I know a lot of people in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, and even 70’s who are very interested in being on what were early bulletin boards, maybe these are the AOL users or whatever who’ve learned how to do the stuff. It seems like for the boomer, the leading boomers and the trailing boomers, that they are pretty facile with forums. Yet, we haven’t seen that big shift into social networks yet – but there could be with, what you were talking about with Plurk and Jive, this idea that there are forums and a network kind of blended together, especially around passion areas, that could be an enramp for that community to feel comfortable interacting. I'm making all these up in my head, what do you think?

Dave Evans: Okay. So I have a theory for everything.

Susan Bratton: Yes, I know. I like that.

Dave Evans: My theory for classic rock is that the boomer generation, the last time that it taught about anything new was either in high school or in college, whichever the highest grade level completed was. Therefore, classic rock persists as this thing from our high school prom, from our college partying days, whatever. That is the music that we like and everything else is like…I don’t know, there's this new formula, and something else, blah, blah, blah. Human nature says until we're pushed really, really hard, we have to be pushed really hard – death in the family, divorce, all the great topics.

Susan Bratton: Yes, life changes, life stages.

Dave Evans: You’ve got to get to those points before we'll open up and learn something new again. So where am I going with this? Here's where I'm going. When the Internet came out, it was sort of a big enough thing that boomers jump on it. Some of them were at the age where they were either at that trailing age was in high school or college, college in particular. For a lot of the rest of us, it's like, “Wow! This thing is so big.” We were willing to do some things to open up and learn some things that we might not have been willing to do otherwise. It's something that has been a little bit less eventful.

Well, now we're maybe, maybe through social media, maybe through device-independence, through mobility we might see that kind of thing again. It might be big enough to bring some people. But the result of it is what we're all really comfortable doing as boomers is using the bulletin boards and the messaging systems in the forums that existed in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

Susan Bratton: So you agree with me that that’s…

Dave Evans: Oh, yes, yes! Totally. Totally.

Susan Bratton: Okay. I thought so, too.

Dave Evans: Yes. But then at the same time, you see people that either…some of us are in the business of, a little bit of the past. It's not our own credit that we're exposed to this. We knew, we see it everyday so we kind of moving along with it. But no, I definitely agree with what you're saying, and I think what it comes down to is how willing are we to learn new things and this gets right down to almost like human nature. How much work am I willing to do today? Had I learned enough, do I just want to sit down and have a beer? Or, do I want to go learn something else. I want to figure out what my son or daughter is doing on the Internet? It's my thing, I don’t understand it, I’ll never understand it.

Susan Bratton: So I'm singing “Carry on my way with sun.” (Singing) In my mind now, because I'm thinking about prog rock. So here's my tip for all boomers listeners. There's a website I really like, it's a really simple website, so you'll like that. It's called “Music For Midnight” and it's Austin Beerman. He does this for love. He decided to go out and put together playlists of independent music, kind of like C.C. Chapman does and [xx] does. All around trip hop and like easy listening electronica, the kind of stuff when you go to a really nice brunch in a really hip place and the music is playing, and you're like, “I like this.”

Dave Evans: Go live in Ibiza for a while.

Susan Bratton: That’s it!

Dave Evans: That’s it. That’s the stuff. Nice shout out to CC, too.

Susan Bratton: Exactly. He does a great job when he produces his shows. Everybody always wants more from him.

Dave Evans: Exactly.

Susan Bratton: Well, that’s good. So I think you’ve helped me understand a bit more about the approach and the way to think about communities, and of course, the importance of log in and the value of forums if you have an older audience. These are really helpful things. Are there any other things that I should’ve ask you about communities, forums, social networks from a marketing perspective?

Dave Evans: No, I think we've covered the big stuff. We’ve covered business objectives, we've covered the desires and capabilities of your audience, we've covered how those things put together. We've talked a little bit about metrics and a quantitative approach to this. I do want to mention Joseph Karabinos in the podcast that we produced recently. I did ask him a couple of questions as a follow-up to the podcast and he pointed out something that really made me think. It was his idea of the role of gut instinct, of intuition, and so on, of the 20 years of experience that a seasoned marketer could bring to a social media application.

Susan Bratton: Yes. Trust your gut.

Dave Evans: It's not all just numbers, there is a certain amount. I know the numbers as you do, “Does this make sense?” I've got to believe that it makes sense. So we want to include that one in there. We've talked about forums and communities and role persona, that kind of thing. We've talked about this idea of social spaces, all of the networks taken together. Social content, whether it's blogs or posts on Twitter or photos on Flickr. We talked about interactions and the role of FriendFeed. I think we've covered it.

Susan Bratton: Well, I'm glad you mentioned Joseph Karabinos, too. To me, he's a living legend in our industry. I just can't get enough of that guy. He's so bright and he brings such an interesting behavioral science, a brain science twist to the world of marketing. As a matter of fact, I've got more blog posts backlog that I'm going to be putting up. So I actually put a tag, I've so many blog posts now that I keep going back to him and asking him more questions and he's so good about writing them down and responding to me and I just keep blogging them.

I made my own tag for Karabinos on the “DishyMix” blog. So you can get to all that boomer stuff, all that user behavior, the difference between how men interact and women interact. What motivates men, what motivates women around community and social networking? All that goodness is on the blog. You're right, that’s a good add-on to this kind of conversation about function and business and platforms. So that’s great.

Dave Evans: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Susan Bratton: Thanks. Well, Dave, thank you for the bonus segment. I worked you hard today, didn’t I?

Dave Evans: Gee, I appreciate it. That’s so good.

Susan Bratton: This is going to be the world’s longest “DishyMix” but people can save and savor. It's always here on demand. So thank you for giving us that additional level of expertise on the single subject. I really appreciate it and good luck with your book. You don’t need luck, all you need is exposure. If anybody hears about this, they're going to want to buy a copy. It's awesome. Thank you so much for giving me an early look and the ability to be one of the first people to talk to you about it.

Dave Evans: You bet, Susan. Again, I appreciate from when I met you back in 2002 at ad:tech. Just the things that you’ve made possible for me, the exposure that I've had, the great people, and the stuff I've learned as a result of knowing you.

Susan Bratton: Thanks.

Dave Evans: I really appreciate it.

Susan Bratton: Well, let's keep making it work.

Dave Evans: Cool.

Susan Bratton: Alright. I'm your host, Susan Bratton. This was the bonus episode of “DishyMix” with Dave Evans, the founder of Digital Voodoo, a social media consultancy and the author of this brand new and fabulous book, “Social Media: An Hour a Day.” Let's try to keep it to an hour a day so we can get on with our lives. Have a great day today. I'll see you soon. Bye, bye.

Woman: Find more great shows like this on PersonalLifeMedia.com.