Seven Key Takeaways from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report

Guest post by Jeannette Arrowood, Senior Account Manager with Social: IRL sponsor, Expion.

Keeping your arms around everything that’s going on with social media and in digital could be a full-time job. Thankfully, Mary Meeker has been putting out an epic deck for the last 2 years called “Internet Trends,” and she’s taken it on as her full-time job to summarize for the rest of us where digital and social are going.

Mary Meeker is an important name to know in the world of startups and digital: not only is she a partner at an influential venture capital firm, but she’s been involved since the days of funding Netscape, back in the dark ages of the early 90’s. Last year’s “Internet Trends” deck was quite accurate, so we expect her collaboration with Liang Wu to be on point for the upcoming year, as well.

We took the time to flip through this year’s 117-page deck and pull out the tidbits that we found the most interesting. We’ve got the highlights broken out below.


Photos, Video, Sound, and Data

It’s been all about uploading photos to social for the last year and change—see Instagram, Snapchat, Flickr, Facebook photo albums, etc. Video uploads are a swiftly rising tide that cannot be ignored—see YouTube, Vine, Cinemagram and Dropcam. Sound is also a growing trend—SoundCloud and Tencent WeChat are two of the leaders that should be mentioned. But the really interesting trend to pay attention to is the way that data is being shared and examined.

Have you heard of Waze? It’s a mobile navigation application that crowdsources user data to provide its users with real-time traffic information. Think of all the ways data compilation and sharing is changing our lives. From traffic updates to changing the way we stay healthy—UP by Jawbone, FitBit, and the Nike+ Fuelband, the use of personal data to better understand your surroundings is going to be huge.

Wearable Technology

All of those products that help you to stay healthy listed above are a part of an emerging trend often referred to simply as “wearable tech.” That is, technology that you can wear. It’s been all about mobile technology and the smartphone, but now we’ll be seeing that technology turned into something you can wear. Google Glass and Apple’s rumoured smart watch will be just the beginning (Samsung is reportedly getting in on this game, too!). As mobile traffic on the web continues to explode (because people LOVE their smart phones), and as tablet traffic grows even more quickly, we’re likely teed up to see that same data be consumed via wearable technology.

Short-Term Sharing

Short-term sharing is a trend that has mostly been driven by a mobile app called Snapchat. Snapchat users send more than 150M images every day. And remember Poke? The Facebook copycat of Snapchat? They weren’t nuts to develop that app—Snapchat sees more uploads than Instagram.

Who’s Using Which Social Media Channels?

Facebook is leading the pack, in terms of number of users, but Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest have all seen some big gains in the user department—and that’s not just those who are “on” the networks. That data comes from those who self-report which social media channels they actually use.

If you know of anyone thinking of stepping away from Facebook because of reports that “no one’s on Facebook anymore …” stop those people in their tracks. So far, mobile usage on Facebook is up so much, that it’s making up for any decline of usage on the desktop.

Expion Guest Post Photo 1

The US Shares Things Online … But Not That Much

In comparison to other countries, the US falls on the lower end of the range in terms of how often we share on social. Who reports that they share “everything” or “most things” online? Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, and China. Those areas of the world might become increasingly important to those who work in social.

Expion Guest Post Photo 2

China, China, China

China’s mobile access to the internet has surpassed desktop access, and, if you think about it, this totally makes sense. It’s cheaper and easier to access the web via a mobile device than it is to make a larger investment in a more expensive laptop or desktop computer.

QR Code scanning in China is up 4 times year over year—this no doubt can be traced back to the popularity of accessing the web via mobile in China.  You can even follow the UK Embassy’s Weibo Account by scanning a QR code outside the Embassy’s building in Beijing.

China is also using social differently from the rest of the world because the services available there are a little different from others (you can’t access social channels like Facebook in China). Tencent has been around for 15+ years—that’s 6 years longer than Facebook, and they’ve got almost double the revenue. One of their services—Tencent WeChat lets users connect to friends and family via voice, text and pictures. But WeChat also provides a way for users to scan merchant QR codes to opt-in to receive special promotions and coupons. This is a seemingly dead-simple way to link the in-store experience with the online and mobile experience.  Those merchants can then sell to consumers via WeChat, send offers and coupons and provide customer service all through WeChat.

Sina Weibo, another Chinese social media channel, has helped to drive government response to important public issues and provided users with a way to organize during emergencies. Users of the service generate photos, answer polls, talk to each other, repost information and make suggestions to collaborate and drive change.

Groupon’s Not Dead Yet … Maybe

This was a total surprise thrown into the beginning of the deck … Groupon’s, reportedly, not dead. Despite being the butt of jokes of consistently delivering disappointment on the stock market, “its first quarter revenues rose 7.5% to a better than expected $601 million.” And their transactions on mobile are up from less than 15% two years ago. They do 45% of their sales from mobile, anyway, but maybe they shouldn’t be written off entirely. We’ll have to wait and see if mobile turns Groupon into a comeback kid.

Bottom Line

People are really into aggregating data about themselves. No surprise there that navel gazing remains a popular pastime, but wearable tech changes the game in terms of what you can do with that knowledge.

China is a force to be reckoned with based solely on the number of users that are on social networks, but those users are spending more time on the internet and on mobile than users in the US (who are watching more TV and listening to … the radio?).

It’s also clear from the section of the deck that examines immigration in the US and the spiking shortage of highly-skilled workers that we should all be sure our children are studying computer science and upping their game in the development department if we want them to be gainfully employed in the next 30 years.

jeannette headshotJeannette Arrowood is a social media industry veteran who has worked as a Community Manager, Social Media Strategist and Digital Marketing Consultant. She loves the internet, hosting videos, content curation and trendspotting. She recently returned to Raleigh from Brooklyn and joined Expion as a Senior Account Manager. Over the years, Jeannette has worked with a number of large brands including Mondelez International, Kraft, MTV, AT&T, and Hilton, and she currently works with some of the world’s largest digital agencies to optimize their use of Expion’s social media management software. 

Top Ten Social Media Links and Resources

Top TenWe’re pleased to share our latest “Top Ten” social media links and resources.

If you would like additional resources sent direct to your inbox, you can subscribe to our free email newsletter.

Top Ten Links:.

1. The Truth About Kids and Social Media – According to a recent study, 78% of parents helped create their children’s Facebook pages, and 7.5 million users are under the age of 13. The way our kids use social today will shape their future. It’s time for everyone to get educated on how – and how not – to live online.  READ MORE

2. The Power of a Six Second Vine –  How UK nonprofit Kids Company used Vine to send a powerful message in their mission to stop child neglect.  READ MORE.  How Lowes use Vine to share valuable home improvement tips.  READ MORE

3. Building a Responsive Content Marketing Model – Edelman’s David Armano on the move from linear to responsive marketing, and the need for an agile & adaptive marketing mindset. READ MORE

4. Using Social Media for Improved Parent Communication and Enriched Student Learning – Social: IRL interviews Eudora Kansas School District, who overcame concerns about the risks of introducing social media in schools and developed a highly successful social media program. READ MORE

5. Marketing Your Brand on Google Plus – The latest addition to Spredfast’s excellent (and free) on-demand webinar series features Jamie Herther from Google Plus and Desair Brown from USA Today. The series of webinars features many leaders from the social business space and covers important issues such as social brand engagement, social content, and effective process for social business.  READ MORE

6. Change Agents:  How Senior Marketers are Approaching the Shifting Consumer Landscape – A week-long series of videos from 360i addressing issues such as the role of brand today, social, mobile, disruption, and innovation. Valuable insights from top brands and senior marketers. READ MORE

7. The Next Phase of Social Business: The Collaborative Economy  – The collaborative economy is on the rise and the disruptive impacts to brands are high. Driven by social and economic factors, and empowered by social media and technology, consumers can now buy and trade among themselves, often without purchasing directly from the brands. Corporations who don’t pay attention to this trend are leaving themselves in a state of risk as technology and society continue to quickly innovate. Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang is at the forefront of those exploring this key trend. We highly recommend his ongoing posts and research on the subject. READ MORE

8. The Power of Microcontent and Marketing in the Moment –  Three key takeaways from a recent Internet Week NYC panel featuring the VP of Global Media and Consumer Engagement for Mondelez International (Oreo), President of leading digital agency 360i, and Chief Innovation Officer for social software company Expion.  READ MORE

9. Social Media Doesn’t Create a Crisis – Companies Do –  Type the term “social media crisis” into Google, you’ll receive about 1.7 million results, including dozens of high profile examples of a social media crisis, where a business has come under heavy fire online on their own social channels, as well as blog posts and social updates elsewhere. But while it’s true that social media amplifies a crisis when it happens, it doesn’t actually create the crisis – the company does. READ MORE

10. Why More Social Data Isn’t Always Better – Spiral16 offer a valuable reminder that more data is never a substitute for relevant data. Often times a smaller, more focused data set offers the best opportunity for takeaways and future planning.  READ MORE

Connect with Social: IRL – While many of you are connected with us on Facebook and Twitter, you can also find us on Pinterest and Google+, and join our Facebook Group exclusively for Nonprofits.  Just added: SoundCloud and iTunes.

Links include content identified as being from our sponsors Spredfast, Expion, and Spiral16. We are grateful to these sponsors for their support and enjoy sharing content and webinar opportunities they provide which we consider to be valuable to the Social: IRL community.

Maybelline New York on their Global Social Community and Award-Winning #TopChicret Campaign

Guest post by Courtney Doman, Social Media Specialist at Social: IRL sponsor, Spredfast.

Maybelline won two Shorty’s this year: Best Use of Video for the Top Chicret announcement of Charlotte Free as the face of Maybelline New York and Best Facebook Brand Presence for Maybelline New York India. I sat down with Charlotte Adjchavanich, Vice President of Digital at Maybelline to discuss the winning campaigns and Maybelline New York’s approach to social.

Congrats on the big win(s)! How do you align social within a multinational company with so many product offerings?

We set the guidelines for our brand presence and create and approve the assets to be used in global markets across all social media platforms at our Headquarters (known as the DMI which stands for Direction Marketing International) for Maybelline New York. We set the guidelines, the do’s and don’t’s, determine which types of imagery and posts are approved, so that we can create one consistent global brand image. For us, that global brand image is based on our DNA: Fashion. Education. Innovation. New York. We use those as our filters when developing social content.

We have a social presence in 106+ countries that fall within regional zones (e.g. Eastern— Western— Central— Europe, Asia, Latin America, North America) and we rely on a mix of internal teams and agencies to maintain our global social presence.

The #TopChicret campaign tapped Sh*t Fashion Girls Say’s P’Trique (and a score of influential fashion personalities) to announce the new face of Maybelline in a viral YouTube Video. How did you come up with this campaign?

Spredfast - Maybelline 2We’re really proud of the #TopChicret campaign and so honored to have won a Shorty Award. ICED Media is a great partner to us and this concept was genius. A major theme for Maybelline is “Catwalk to Sidewalk”—taking fashion and making it translatable to the consumer. When we decided that we wanted to use an influencer to help us reveal Charlotte Free as our new face, ICED came to us and said: What about P’Trique?

And in terms of our filter, he really checked every box. Fashion? Check. Education? OK, there is a reveal, so you’re going to learn something. Innovation? Well, that’s using a meme. New York? The video was shot in New York and we used a lot of New York-based Influencers.  I fell in love with the idea. It was definitely daring, which is something we strive to embody as a brand—not just in product innovation but advertising as well, Maybelline was the first to be talked about on radio, one of the first brands to use recognizable models—so it made sense for us to push boundaries with video in a digital campaign.

The #TopChicret video was a big success and your YouTube Channel is full of great content, what role does video play in your social efforts?

Spredfast - Maybelline 4Video is very important to us. It is definitely an area of investment, focus, and priority. We centralize video production at the DMI to create consistent, high quality videos in line with our DNA so that we don’t dilute the brand.

Tutorial videos are major. Nail is the leading beauty product trend right now and by May we will have shot 43 how-to videos for our Color Show Nail Line. We’ll also often receive director’s cut assets from other advertising platforms that we distribute digitally to provide an extended or behind the scenes look at the brand.

What Goals are you trying to achieve on Social?

We’re focused on education and engagement. We’re using innovative technology and great content as two key drivers to achieve these goals.

Who makes up your social community?

On Facebook, we have 12.5MM + on our 57 pages. Our YouTube channels globally get an average of 2.5MM views each month

How do you encourage fan engagement?

We prompt lightweight engagement and reaction with open-ended questions or either/or questions (“Which shade of lipstick do you prefer?”) and, of course, we respond to customer inquiries (“Where can I find this eyeliner?”). We also create opportunities for deeper engagement, such as soliciting User Generated Content in our activations for new products to build buzz. We definitely are not a one-way communication brand.

How do you see social evolving for consumer brands in the next year?

The focus will be fewer, bigger, better. And beyond that, it will be about integrating social and digital more fully in the marketing mix to create a 360 approach, no matter where or how the consumer wants to interact with us. We’re actually beginning to incorporate augmented reality experiences into in-store displays so that you can instantly access and stream content from your smartphone. It’s about eliminating disconnects. No dead ends.

I loved learning more about Maybelline New York’s daring and innovative approach to social. There is no doubt in my mind that these were two Shortys well earned.

ArtsKC on the Impact of Mobile Fundraising

ArtsKC LogoKate Forristall, ArtsKC Fund Director for the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City, recently spoke with Social: IRL about the impact of mobile fundraising.

This year for the annual ArtsKC fundraising drive, mobile fundraising technology developed by Kansas City startup RAZ Mobile was implemented for the first time.  (Disclosure: RAZ Mobile is a Social: IRL sponsor)

ArtsKC saw particular success with the technology being used to promote giving among employees of Johnson County, Kansas.

As a county government, Johnson County employees were located across multiple sites and working different shifts.  Use of the RAZ platform, which incorporates ease of donor use and integrates offline calls to action such as a QR code-based “scan to donate,” allowed a united effort among employees without the need for them to physically be in the same place or engaged at the same time.

With a number of employees retiring in the last year who had been key ArtsKC supporters, the expectation had been that year-on-year employee donations would likely be lower.  In the event, donations actually came in at around 10% higher over the prior year.

Forristall was confident that the convenience of mobile giving had played a key role in that success, and described RAZ Mobile as “easily the best model of mobile giving” she had seen, both in terms of cost and exposure through synced online-offline promotion.

Social Media for Improved Parent Communication and Enriched Student Learning: Eudora School District Interview

Kristin Magette, Communications Director at Eudora School District in Eudora, Kansas, recently shared in the Social: IRL blog how Eudora Public Schools had set out to create a “digital-friendly school district.”

Eudora SchoolsA key part of the initiative was the introduction of a district-wide social media program. The program embraced social media as a primary communications channel and a powerful tool for connecting with parents and students, and empowered teachers to use social media in the classroom. The results: Improved parent communication, enriched student learning, increased community involvement, and powerful professional networking for teachers.

In the four part interview embedded below, Kristin discusses in more depth how and why the district embraced social media so aggressively, how concerns over the adoption of social media were overcome, effective rollout of the program, training and guidelines that were implemented, the appointment of select teachers as “social ambassadors,” and growth and management of the district’s online communities. She also reviews impact and success of the social media program, and concludes with a call to action for any school district holding out against social media adoption, and words of advice and encouragement for those ready to take their first steps.

The complete interview is available as an audio podcast on both SoundCloud and iTunes.

We would also encourage you to read Kristin’s original guest post, which includes links to social media resources on the Eudora School District website, and to each of the social media accounts maintained at district, school, and classroom level.

Disclosure: Eudora School District is a Social: IRL client.

Part One: How and why Eudora School District embraced social media, overcoming concerns and managing risks.

Part Two: Rollout of the social media program, introducing training and guidelines, appointing “social ambassadors.”

Part Three: Growth and management of the district’s online communities, reviewing impact and success of the social media program.

Part Four:  A call to action for any school district holding out against social media adoption, words of advice and encouragement for those ready to take their first steps.

Is It Time for Responsive Email Marketing Design?

Guest post by Tiffany Edwards, Account Manager at emfluence, a full service interactive marketing company based in Kansas City.

Computers, tablets, mobile devices and oh-so-many more! How can we ever make websites and emails look great and function well on so many devices? Many marketers are turning to something called responsive design. With responsive design, the email or webpage will automatically resize images, text and tables based on a user’s screen or browser width.

Grantham University

Grantham University’s email resizes text and drops the right column when a subscriber views on a mobile device.

Responsive design detects a user’s screen size using a CSS media query to determine the width of the screen being used. Then, the website or email code applies specific style rules (CSS) to fit the design elements to the screen size. Of course, it’s much simpler on websites since there are only a handful of different browser types compared to more than 30 different email clients.

If you’ve talked about or used CSS in email design in the past, you may be wondering: Can responsive design work with email marketing since it uses CSS styling? Unfortunately, it’s not a simple yes or no… And it’s likely to take your email team a bit of time to figure it out. The big question: Is it worth the investment?

Is it Time for Responsive Email Marketing Design?  READ MORE


A Conversation with Frank Eliason: Delivering Value and Creating Remarkable Customer Experiences

Smart Social SmallFrank Eliason is Senior Vice President of Social Media at Citibank, and author of @YourService.

Frank became renowned for his pioneering work at Comcast in bringing customer service to the social web under the @ComcastCares Twitter handle. This work has been recognized by many news organizations, including ABC News, New York Times, and Business Week.

Frank recently joined Social: IRL Principal Ben Smith, and Expion VP of Strategy, Zena Weist, for Smart Social, an ongoing series of conversations with leaders and innovators in social business.

Parts one and two of the conversation were shared in an earlier post, with valuable insights from Frank on the @ComcastCares  backstory and birth of social customer service.

Parts three and four of the conversation are embedded below.

Audio podcasts are also available via SoundCloud and iTunes.

In part three of this interview via Google Hangout, Frank expands on his recent post Are We, Social Media Professionals, Destroying Social Media. In particular, Frank discusses real-time marketing trends and the need for brands to be part of the social media community in ways that deliver value and not detract from user experience. .


In concluding the  interview, Frank answers the question “what does smart social mean to me” with some valuable advice for brands: If you want to win in social, concentrate less on social itself, and more on creating remarkable customer experiences.


Top Ten Social Media Links and Resources

Top TenWe’re pleased to share our latest “Top Ten” social media links and resources.

If you would like additional resources sent direct to your inbox, you can subscribe to our free email newsletter.

Top Ten Links:

1. Updated User Demographics for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram – Key user demographics from recently released Pew research. READ MORE

2. How Nonprofits Should Be Using Content to Emphasize Donor Impact –  Practical suggestions for tapping in to the power of digital storytelling to nurture and grow donor relationships.  READ MORE

3. Marketing in the Moment – Full video of Expion’s SXSW real-time marketing panel featuring the brand and agency team behind Oreo’s social media success, including the now famous Superbowl tweets. READ MORE

4. The Evolution of Social Business: Six Stages of Social Business Transformation – In this new Altimeter Group report, Charlene Li and Brian Solis identify the most important criteria for a successful social business strategy and discuss six distinct stages of social business maturity, each with unique risks and opportunities. READ MORE

5. Building Brand Relevance by Rethinking the Content Creation Process – 360i discuss how brands can rethink their content creation process to be better, faster, more relevant cultural conversationalists.  READ MORE

6. Good News Beats Bad on Social Networks – Bad news sells…. But according to this new research the rules change on social networks. Where news spreads via personal networks not mass media, good news tends to spread both faster and farther. READ MORE

7. Five Steps to Leading the Social Pack  – Spredfast share insights from a private roundtable they hosted in the midst of SXSW, bringing together social leaders from Altimeter Group, AT&T, LinkedIn, REI, Spredfast and Whole Foods, for a more intimate discussion on themes and focus areas for the “fittest” social brands.   READ MORE

8. Are We, Social Media Professionals, Destroying Social Media? – Citibank SVP of Social Media, Frank Eliason, discusses the challenge faced by brands in being part of a social media community and participating in a way that doesn’t interfere with or detract from individual user experience.  READ MORE

Bonus: Social: IRL interviews Frank Eliason – In this latest interview in the Smart Social series, Frank shares the backstory of how @ComcastCares came about and social customer service was born, and goes on to discuss human connections vs. brand messaging in the social space. Video interview with audio podcast available through SoundCloud and iTunes.  READ MORE

9. Big Data Insights –  Big data allows companies to identify trends, target customers more efficiently, run predictive analysis, and grasp big concepts and insight just waiting to be discovered. According to new research highlighted in the Spiral16 blog, companies are taking more advantage than ever of the opportunities that analyzing big data provides them to grow their businesses, with marketing, sales and customer service ranking as the top three areas driving demand.  READ MORE

Bonus: Pivot Conference “Big Data Month” -Describing big data as “the new oil for a social era,” Pivot has set aside a full month to discuss and explore all things big data related, with valuable new content being added to their blog throughout the month.  READ MORE

10. Why “More” Might Not Always Be “Better” In Brand Advocacy – We tend to assume that moving as many people as possible toward advocacy is always best. But it is possible there are markets or categories where it isn’t even feasible to move people along a path of enthusiasm or advocacy. One way to assess the potential is by examining a simple but powerful social influence on a person’s enthusiasm toward a brand that no amount of marketing or persuasion can sway. That influence is a person’s self-identity, and unfortunately its role is rarely considered when developing strategy.  READ MORE

Connect with Social: IRL – While many of you are connected with us on Facebook and Twitter, you can also find us on Pinterest and Google+, and join our Facebook Group exclusively for NonprofitsJust added: SoundCloud and iTunes.

Links include content identified as being from our sponsors Spredfast, Expion, and Spiral16. We are grateful to these sponsors for their support and enjoy sharing content and webinar opportunities they provide which we consider to be valuable to the Social: IRL community.

Big Kansas City: A Conference to Accelerate Ideas, Connections, and Innovations

Since their first post, Silicon Prairie News had been dedicated to the grassroots building of the startup community on the Silicon Prairie – Omaha, Kansas City and Des Moines. Five years ago, what they thought would be a small meetup of entrepreneurs to talk with Gary Vaynerchuk turned into the first Big Omaha conference.

Big Kansas City Logo ColorFast-forward to today and Silicon Prairie News has feet on the ground in Kansas City, Omaha and Des Moines and has established The Big Series which includes Big Kansas City, Big Omaha, and Big Des Moines.

Tagging itself as “a conference on innovation and entrepreneurship”, the inaugural Big Kansas City takes place March 26 thru 28, at the Charles Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City, Missouri.

Social: IRL spoke with Silicon Prairie News’ Regan Carrizales to learn more.

Could you give a brief overview of Big Kansas City and what makes “The Big Series” such a unique experience for attendees

The Big Series’ aim is to create the most ambitious conference series for entrepreneurship and innovation. Big Kansas City maintains a solid foundation upon which The Big Series events have been built: an all-inclusive two-and-a-half day event featuring a one-track keynote stage with more than a dozen notable speakers.

Big Kansas City is a national conference where you will hear stories of innovation from more than a dozen leading speakers, create lasting connections within the regional and national community, and walk away with an energy to follow your passions–ultimately, it is a conference designed to support the spirit and ambition of the entrepreneurial community.

For those who have attended Big Omaha or Big Des Moines (previously Thinc Iowa), what’s going to be different about the Kansas City experience?

With Big Kansas City, the local entrepreneurial community has stepped up in a BIG way to incorporate all the unique and varied aspects of the ecosystem, but also to demonstrate to all the eyes watching what constitutes the heart and soul of this community. The national scene has been intrigued by what is happening in Kansas City and in the Silicon Prairie – the inaugural Big Kansas City is our opportunity to pull back the curtain and say, “hey, you can and we ARE building great companies here, and by the way, we have this amazing startup scene that makes it a lot of fun too.”

Who should attend Big Kansas City and why?

Hustlers passionate about building their businesses, and community change agents focused on building an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

For entrepreneurs, it’s the opportunity to listen and learn from co-founders from across the country and to connect and build a network that is both regional and national. Also though, and this is the intangible part of conversation, there are those serendipitous moments that happen, that aren’t planned for, yet in that moment can change the trajectory of a person, an idea, and of a company.

A great example is the Brad and Ben story—Ben Barreth, founder of Home for Hackers in Kansas City, met Brad Feld at Thinc Iowa in October. Four months later, Brad Feld announces his purchase of a home in Kansas City Startup Village (KCSV) and launching the KC Fiber House competition.

For serendipitous moments like these to happen, you need the time and space for them to occur– that is what the Big Series is about for the Silicon Prairie– allowing the tears, sweat, passionate and unrelenting drive of entrepreneurs to meet destiny.

Who will be speaking?

Big Kansas City Screen ShotI encourage everyone to visit where the entire speaker lineup and biographies can be found. Personally, I’m super excited about a few folks…Amy Jo Martin, co-founder of Digital Royalty which includes Shaquille O’Neal in their portfolio; Bart Stein, co-founder of Stamped, the startup that was later became the first acquisition made by Marissa Meyer at Yahoo; and Dhani Jones, who is a NFL vet now pursuing a social entrepreneurial venture.

Is there an overarching theme of this inaugural Kansas City event?

Our inaugural Big Kansas City event follows in the mold of our events in Omaha and Des Moines with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.

Why the investment in bringing this event, and a full time on the ground presence, to Kansas City?

Kansas City was more than ready – we had been hearing from KC for a few years that Silicon Prairie News needed to be on the ground, developing relationships and intimately covering the stories.

We knew that the community here had much momentum and was and is rapidly growing—that is exciting on many fronts, and what excites us most about the inaugural Big Kansas City is that it is an opportunity to help accelerate the momentum that is building businesses and the community….and then we do it again next year. The advancement of the community is ongoing, Big Kansas City is an opportunity to accelerate the ideas, connections and innovations happening on the ground everyday.

On a personal note, you joined Silicon Prairie News a little over three months ago, taking the role as their community builder in Kansas City.  What attracted you to the opportunity?

I have a bit of a unique perspective because I didn’t come from the startup scene. My previous work was for a non-profit and  included developing a regional collaborative with a focus on entrepreneurship in the Silicon Prairie. …and then I attended Big Omaha and a few months later Thinc Iowa. These two events opened my eyes to what was happening here in the place that I call home. I wanted to be a part of the startup community and the leap to Silicon Prairie News has been the most rewarding work in which I’ve been involved.  The entrepreneurs and others working in the space have made me a smarter, more aware and effective person.

Big Kansas City takes place in less than two weeks time. Final words for anyone who hasn’t secured their ticket yet?

What are you waiting for?!

I’m confident I would go crazy knowing that I was missing out by not being at Big Kansas City – I say this as a two-time attendee of the Big conferences.  Since my first Big Omaha, I have developed friendships that are a part of my support system, expanded my network of individuals—from both coasts as well as throughout the region—and inspired and elevated my level of thinking about how we build entrepreneurship throughout the region.  I can’t imagine not being a part of that conversation at the inaugural Big Kansas City!

Big Kansas City:

When: March 26-28, 2013

Where: Hanger 9 at Charles Wheeler Downtown Airport, Kansas City, Missouri

Registrations: $299 (Entrepreneur/Startup), $449 (General Admission)

Learn More:

Listen to Learn: The First Stage of Social Business Transformation

Guest post by Eric Melin, Manager Marketing & Communications at Social: IRL sponsor, Spiral16.

Social Business StrategyAt this stage in the world of widespread social media adoption, it seems that almost every company has some kind of social media presence. It may not be cohesive, and it might not be integrated into your overall strategy, but hopefully your company has gone beyond the experimentation stage and has implemented a social media program in either a marketing or customer service capacity.

(If you’re using web and social media monitoring for market/industry research too, you are well ahead of the curve — congratulations!)

According to Brian Solis and Charlene Li at the Altimeter Group, there are six steps towards linking customer and employee relationships to social media strategies and business growth. The Evolution of Social Business: Six Stages of Social Media Transformation is a new report that illustrates a process that can move companies into “deeper social business strategies.” This is an in-depth document aimed at taking a company all the way from social confusion to social success.

The first stage is the most important. It’s defined in the report as Planning: Listen to Learn.

  • Before you can begin to build a social strategy, you have to understand the landscape of the Internet and how your company fits into that. What is the social behavior of your customers? Where are they talking about your brand? What needs are they expressing online? This will help figure out on which networks you can most effectively connect with them.
  • Start a pilot social media program and experiment with the intelligence provided by your social media monitoring. Altimeter says many companies use pilot programs to connect the dots between social media efforts and business impact and then prioritizes which strategies to roll out first. Don Bulmer, VP Communication Strategy at Shell also warns to move beyond experimentation soon afterwards, and go “all in.”
  • Competitive intelligence audits help you to understand how your competition is and isn’t using social media. What opportunities are they taking? Which ones are they missing out on? How can you improve on this for your company?

Six Stages of Social Business Transformation









Within this first stage of social business transformation, the report also identifies six best practices in online listening and learning.

 READ MORE about those six best practices in the Spiral16 blog.

Eudora Schools: Embracing Social Media and Creating a Digital-Friendly School District

Kristin MagetteGuest post by Kristin Magette, Communications Director at Eudora School District in Eudora, Kansas.  Originally posted at and re-posted with their kind permission.  Disclosure: Eudora School District is a Social: IRL client.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. At school, they make us nervous. We hear stories about teachers losing their jobs and students losing their innocence. We see the nasty rumors and insults that can flourish online. So if we clamp down and keep social media out of our schools, we’™ll be good. Right?


We live in the digital world. And when students and parents enter our schools, they don’™t check their lives at the door. 

Whether it’™s young children watching online videos to laugh and learn, adolescents navigating friendships, or parents looking for updates on a lock-down, they’™re using social media. But for those of us who work to mentor, encourage, and protect children – and keep peace in the community – the digital world can feel overwhelming, even dangerous.

When my district acknowledged that our students are citizens of the digital world, we realized that we were missing out on so many of its opportunities. As a district, we really weren’t:

  • Using social media, video and blogs as teaching tools.
  • Helping students learn safe and courteous online behavior.
  • Communicating with parents through the real-time, content-rich exchange that social media provides.
  • Encouraging others to engage with us – to celebrate our successes, grieve our losses, and sometimes even challenge us to do better.

Eudora SchoolsIn late 2011, we began to look at social media as an exciting opportunity to be embraced by our district – and more than a year later, we haven’™t looked back. Of course, we’™ve had hurdles to clear along the way. We needed real changes to our Internet filters to give teachers (and some students) access to Facebook, Twitter and the like. We needed board policy that outlined our expectations for staff and students. We needed training for our teachers to understand the great potential that exists in the digital world. And we needed procedures that employees would follow to ensure accountability and responsible use.

We worked through those challenges last year and through the summer, and our teachers have embraced our digital-friendly school district, much to the delight of our students and parents. A good place to get a taste of how we’re using social media right now -“ it’™s always changing! – is the social media directory on our district website. This is where parents and fans can find us in the social media world, including some pages that are open to the public and others that are restricted to certain members.

By far, the liveliest place you’™ll find us is on our district’™s Facebook Page. While there have been some difficult moments on our page, the support we receive is overwhelming — and our Facebook community truly has become a place of celebration, sharing and connecting. Two-way communication isn’t always comfortable — anyone who’s lived with teenagers or run a town hall meeting knows that! – but it ultimately creates greater trust, transparency and support.

Our teachers and students have produced more YouTube videos this year than ever before, both for learning and fun. Teachers are finding outstanding networking opportunities through Twitter chats. Our elementary school teachers who use Facebook for work say that communication with parents has never been better. Our high school students have embraced Twitter to share the good news from their school and connect with teachers. Sure, it takes monitoring, and it requires a level head to handle the negative comment that pops up now and then. But the increased engagement and support are more than worth it.

When other districts ask us how we do it, or tell us all the things that could go wrong, our superintendent, Don Grosdidier – who has virtually no personal experience in the world of social media – sums it up this way:

There are risks and rewards, but if we can manage the risks, the rewards are far greater and worth the trouble.

Professional development, policy and procedures help us manage the risk. And the rewards are improved parent communication, enriched student learning, increased community involvement, and powerful professional networking for teachers. It’s hard to argue with that!

A Conversation with Frank Eliason: @ComcastCares and the Birth of Social Customer Service

Smart Social SmallFrank Eliason is Senior Vice President of Social Media at Citibank, and author of @YourService.

Frank became renowned for his pioneering work at Comcast in bringing customer service to the social web under the @ComcastCares Twitter handle. This work has been recognized by many news organizations, including ABC News, New York Times, and Business Week.

Frank recently joined Social: IRL Principal Ben Smith, and Expion VP of Strategy, Zena Weist, for Smart Social, an ongoing series of conversations with leaders and innovators in social business.

Parts one and two of the conversation with Frank are embedded below. The remainder of the conversation will be shared in a later post.

Audio podcasts are also available via SoundCloud and iTunes..

In part one of this interview via Google Hangout, Frank shares the backstory of how @ComcastCares came about and social customer service was born.

.In part two of the interview, Frank shares events from July 26, 2008, and his realization about the more personalized nature of the social media space – “human connections, not brand messaging.”