Sharing is the New Black

communitysmallYesterday I attended a seminar called "How Social Media is Changing the Rules." Here are some highlights of the conversation:

Share and Share Alike

The very vocal panelist, CEO of Broadband Mechanics, Marc Canter (from Macromedia fame) insisted that users want to find friends, share media, and read reviews. The younger generation is used to sharing and are willing to share things that may seem crazy to an older person. Canter claimed that connecting and sharing will be standard functionality in all software. That will be good for business, because Broadband’s PeopleAggregator brings social web features to existing software. Social features are quickly creeping into everything digital. But access controls should not be ignored, allowing users to decide what they want to share and with whom.

Famous for 15 Minutes

When asked why consumers participate in social media, Ralph Ackerman founder of the International Short Film Association quoted the expression coined by Andy Warhol, “15 minutes of fame” or "their Paris Hilton moment". Marketers can benefit by providing UGC tools that allow users to gain the recognition they seek. Sebastiano Tevarotto, from Hewlett-Packard reiterated that consumers want to express themselves. Tools such as social networks help to empower consumers and provide new experiences. But these tools need to be simple.

Let’s Talk

Sony’s Senior VP of Corporate Communications, Rick Clancy, described himself as a mad blogger, a storyteller and a listener. There is a thirst for discussion out there. And the Sony Electronics blog acts as a human face behind Sony, a person customers can talk to. Through this 2-way dialogue, Sony is learning a lot and is looking to expand into vertical blogs focusing daily coverage to one industry topic and product category. This is about targeting, going from shotgun to laser beam, as niche becomes the new mainstream. Clancy predicts that these new sub-groups will blossom. The challenge is finding content creators within organizations that have the time and story telling talent to engage audiences.

Humans Trust Humans

Dan Scheinman from Cisco Systems Inc. talked about a Cisco-powered Nascar social community. Nascar assumed they’d need to dedicate tremendous resources to moderate the community. But in fact, although there are tools and moderators in place, the community does a tremendous job of moderating themselves. If someone steps out of line, the community members take care of it on their own. Imagine that!

Consumers want to communicate and collaborate with organizations and each other. Companies are listening and facilitating these desires though social tools. I’m looking forward to watching how more organizations benefit from and overcome the challenges of embracing UGC and collaborative tools in an attempt to engage consumers and increase loyalty.