Category: Social Web

LinkedIn top profile

“You have one of the top 1% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012. You are a unique and beautiful snowflake.”

OK, I added that last part myself. But LinkedIn sure do know how to stroke your ego. I’m sure a lot of you received a similar mail today.

Problem is, I’m just thinking how this means 99% of LinkedIn users are even more passive than me. Oh, well.

What is your speed paradigm?

How slow are you?

I read an article in a Swedish news paper about how the speed in which you reply to an email or SMS message is a status indicator. Slow replies means you’re more important and of a higher status. Since we once started a company focused on reach management (basically a muting service) the article caught my attention.

But as my good friend (and co-founder of the company) Nicolai pointed out, this is only true if you’re not living in a paradigm in which speed and information are of the absolute essence. If your goal is to preserve the status quo and change is rare, then yes, a slow reply means you’re keeping things as they are and protecting your status.

If, on the other hand, you’re on a trajectory of change and need to move fast, then a slow reply is counterproductive and prevents you from moving forward and acquire validated learning.

It all boils down to if the currency of status is time or information.

Perhaps this is a good measuring stick for if you’re working in an innovative, forward leaning organisation or in a stale and static one? Are your managers fast to respond?

What are your thoughts? Do you agree?

What makes SSWC so special?

Yet another Sweden Social Web Camp has come to its end.

And it was as beautiful as ever.

This was my third year on the Tjärö island in the Blekinge archipelago (I had to miss one year due to the birth of my daughter – a very good excuse if you ask me) and as I read through all the love coming from the participants and my old summaries and thoughts about the unconference (This is the Internet and What your company can learn from Sweden Social Web Camp) I am left to ponder: what exactly is it that makes this happening so special?

What’s the secret SSWC-sauce?

Burning sheep
Burning of the what!?

Because special it is. It’s almost a religious experience being there, including group singing, praising the almighty (web) and the burning of a wooden sheep(!). But, it’s all done tongue-in-cheek and the only reason to burn a wooden sheep in front of 440 people is of course so that you can tweet about it and share the experience.

But, it’s not just fun and games. As I wrote in What your company can learn from Sweden Social Web Camp I really do think there are important lessons for every business to understand what makes #SSWC tick. SSWC is a conference, but it provides more value at less cost than a traditional conference. More value and less cost is a sign of disruptive innovation, so let’s dig deeper into what makes SSWC so special.

  • Tomas Wennström & Kristin Heinonen. We start off with the two persons at the center of the whole thing. Look up “nice couple” in the dictionary and there’s a good chance there’s a photo of these two there. Tomas & Kristin are the founders of the conference and form the very important function of community leaders for the whole thing. Their friendliness, common sense problem solving and warm humor sets the tone for the rest of us to follow.
    Lesson learned: Set a culture and lead by example.

  • Not a product. A platform for sharing. This is the core of what sets SSWC (or any unconference) apart from a traditional conference. It’s not a prepackaged product with predefined speakers and topics. No, it’s a platform for the audience to become contributors and create the experience themselves. That’s why Joakim Green brings the SSWC flag each year. That’s why there’s an SSWC movie produced each year and even a book.
    Lesson learned: Go from product to platform.

  • It’s on an island. The fact that the conference is mostly outside and on a small island leads to some interesting consequences. Everyone you meet on the island is part of the same experience. People also live in tents which forces everyone to be more down to earth (literally). There’s more sheep than suits and ties on the island. The island, the tents and the sheep make us all equal. The island is the big equalizer. (Note that this also repels certain type of people.)
    No suits.

    Lesson learned: context and environment is important and you can use it to design how certain behavior is rewarded.

  • Swedish summer. August is the best time of the year in Sweden. Nuff said. Even when it rains it’s OK. We Swedes love this time of the year and being outside in nature to enjoy it. It’s part of our culture.
    Lesson learned: Swedish summer rocks.

  • Tjärö. The crew. The food. The setup. Everyone working on Tjärö help out making the experience for every participant as great as possible. They thus become the extended arms of Tomas and Kristin.
    Lesson learned: Hire people that share your values.

  • The long tail on the web. Of course an internet conference wouldn’t be an internet conference without blogging, tweeting, bambusing or facebooking. The internet enables us to transcend place and time and connect over physical boundaries. We can share stories – blog posts such as this. We can relive the moment, long after it’s over – and prelive it before it happens.
    Lesson learned: Share everything. Be open. Create social objects that people can discuss. Use the web. .

Pinteresting stuff?

That’s a few lessons from Sweden Social Web Camp. It may look like a weird camp for nerds but look deeper. There’s an important business lesson for any company looking to upgrade their business model to the 21st century hidden among the rocks, sheep and beautiful ocean water at Tjärö. The lessons learned above are lessons in modern marketing and business development. I highly recommend a visit next year.

The best way to understand what makes SSWC so special is after all to be there.

/Me on Twitter. Me on LinkedIn.

The internet is a bubble

Links. Photo by me.

No, I’m not talking about a valuation bubble as in the .com-days. I am talking about how we are using the internet, today in January 2012, roughly 17 years after its breakthrough.

The evolution of the internet can be split up in to three phases, each building on the previous. Each phase is defined by a verb, which is the default behavior of a user of the internet in that phase.

The first phase is the SURFING phase, when we went from place to place looking for text and images. Yahoo! even started out as a company that manually tried to enter all the web sites of the world in to a categorized index. How crazy doesn’t that sound today?

This was the era of the bookmark and the URL. Your homepage (if you had one) back then was often just a dump of your bookmarks from your Netscape web browser.

The second phase is the SEARCH phase and started around the beginning of the century when Google became the dominant search engine. For many people, Google became the internet. I personally use the search engine more times than I can count during a single day. It has become almost an extension to my mind, an extra mind that we all share. It’s almost as if we’re becoming the same individual on some level. Quite fascinating.

Keywords and links became the hard currency in this era since links signal trust and is used by the Google algorithm to give each page a weight, the Pagerank. Search Engine Optimization tricks were (are) used to optimise your place in the search result but it really just boils down to creating stuff that people like to link to.

The third phase is SOCIAL and the verb is RECOMMEND, as in retweet, like, +1, share etc. This is where the bubble comes in because in this phase the internet is no longer interconnected web pages but streams of data from our friends. In the phase we live in sort of a Matrix reality shaped by the recommendations and retweets or the people (or companies) we trust.

An endless stream of status updates, this is the bubble we live in.

This is the era of hashtags instead of links or keywords, because the hashtag is how you pick out the signal from the noise in that endless stream. This is a significant shift from the first phase, which was essentially a broadcast phase where content owners had full control over the web sites they wanted you to visit. A hashtag, on the other hand, is just part of the stream and you have as little control over it as you have over the water in a river.

We’re only at the beginning of the social phase of the web so it’s not a bubble in that sense of the word.

Surfing, searching and recommending. The first three phases of the web. What do you think the next one will be?

What your company can learn from Sweden Social Web Camp

OK, this will be a long post so bare with me. The topic for today is marketing.

And customer service.

And R&D.

Oh, and also some words about recruiting.

What the heck, it’s actually about the future of business. Period.

I told you it will be a long post…

But let’s start at the beginning. First let me explain what Sweden Social Web Camp (SSWC) is.

SSWC is an “unconference” taking place in August on an island in the Blekinge archipelago in Sweden. Blekinge is sometimes called the appendix of Sweden – as in a small place no one really knows what it’s good for – but if there’s one thing that’s great about Blekinge it’s the archipelago. It’s beautiful, especially in the summer time.

The theme of the conference is (unsurprisingly) the social web in different flavours and contexts.

This year, the second year of SSWC, roughly 400 people participated in the unconference on the tiny island of Tjärö. Most of them were camping – as in tents – while sheep and other creatures roamed the island. (Hey, it’s a camp, isn’t it?)

Camping. No sheep. Photo by Gitta Wilén.

There are no big names on the speaker list (in fact, there’s no speaker list at all – there’s not even a schedule!) and it all takes place during a weekend. So, what brings 400 entrepreneurs, journalists, PR-people, bloggers and hackers to a small island somewhere between Nowhere and Faraway to spend a weekend sleeping in a tent?

The answer to this question holds the key to what business will be like in the 21st century.

Exciting, huh? Before we go on please take a moment to read my blog post from last years SSWC. That will explain a little more details on how an unconference actually works.

No, seriously, read it.

OK, so now you understand that an unconference is all about participation. The organizers of the unconference only set the stage, it’s the participants that creates the play as they are there. They become both the speakers and the audience and in many cases the line is blurred as a speech turns in to a conversation.

The interesting consequence of this is that the value for the participants is higher than it would be if they only came to listen to a Big Name Speaker sharing her knowledge while at the same time the monetary cost is lower since Big Name Speakers are expensive.

How can the value be higher? At a traditional knowledge conference with Big Speakers there can be hundreds or thousands of people with overlapping interests, skill sets, insights, experiences. They all share a common interest, otherwise they wouldn’t be there – and yet there is no way for them to pool each others knowledge base. They all come to passively listen to one or a few heavy weighters in knowledge – but the sum total of untapped knowledge in the room far surpasses the knowledge of even the best speaker.

An unconference acknowledges this fact and builds the entire meeting around it with the goal to maximise interconnections between participants.

So now you have two different models.

1. A (traditional) knowledge conference that tries to maximize value through the knowledge radiated from the stages. Keywords are: broadcast, authoritative, passive, expensive (the best speakers are the most expensive),

2. A participatory (un)conference that tries to maximize value by leveraging interconnections in the crowd. Keywords are: conversation, open, active and low cost (blocking people out with a high price can even lower the value for the participants).

When something can create higher value at a lower price compared to what came before that’s a sure sign of disruption happening.

And that is why you need to learn from SSWC.

Because you can do participatory marketing. It’s called social media.

Because you can do participatory R&D. It’s called open source. And open innovation.

Because you can do participatory customer service. It’s called a community.

This all means higher value, lower price – if done right. Disruption, remember? And if you can do all that, so can your competitors.

Now you must ask yourself one question. A very important question. Namely this one:

Do you want to be the only one in your business executing your strategy with something that provides lower value at a higher price?

Do you think you will survive if you do that? Seriously?

Now, you may argue that in some markets broadcast, authoritative, passive and expensive actually works – and yes, you may be right. Some parts of your business may not be affected by competitors that are open, participatory, agile and costs less. But some parts of your business will be affected. And, here’s the catch: you don’t know which parts!

Kristin Heinonen and the remains of Mr Krax (long story…).

You should also know that going this route is not easy. What Tomas & Kristin have done with SSWC may look easy, but it’s the result of years of active participation and community building. Also, neither of them planned to start the best social media conference in Sweden, it just happened that way.

Tomas Wennström, Campfixer.

As a big company you carry a heavy burden: your history. Your customers are most likely not your friends or fans. You don’t have an active community. You don’t have a voice on the web. Probably, you’ve treated your customers as an expense (once they’ve made the first purchase) instead of an asset. You’ve been doing the broadcast, authoritative, passive and expensive way for so long that it’s part of your DNA and your culture.

This must change.

This has to change.

Or you will perish.

How’s that for a lesson from Tjärö?

(I couldn’t attend this year because of the birth of my daughter. To her, all this talk about participating and opening up will be the most natural thing in the world. She will require it. She will expect it. Your company can still change. Do it. Now.)

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Pictures from LIFT07

I visited the LIFT-conference in Geneva and took some pictures. Some of them below.

Technological Overload?

Wifi Working

Photographing photos


LIFT was a nice place. Everyone ran around with either a camera or a computer over the shoulder, in some cases both. When everyone  is blogging about and documenting the conference, the experience is shared and prolonged. How do you get people to blog like that about your company?

Tags: LIFT07.