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Topic: The state of social media with key executives at leading companies: all of them startups, but all of them around long enough to be maturing in enteresting ways. We’ll look into threat to traditional media from social media, how the traditional players are responding, how the two sides can work together — and how they’d better not. For some traditional ventures, social media is just the flavor of the month, a chance to put Web 2.0 buzzwords on the covers of their shrinking print publications. Others are taking the threat more seriously. What’s the best way to get to the new generation of media with your brand from the previous generation untarnished?
Panelists: Barak Berkowitz (Six Apart), Michael Birch (Bebo), Tariq Krim (NetVibes), Richard Rosenblatt (Demand Media), and Herb Scannell (Next New Networks). Moderator: Rafat Ali.
Scannell: Brands provide navigation for users and maturity for advertisers. “Hits” are no longer going to happen on TV, so brands are going to be what connect people — by their passion.
Rosenblatt: Social media for a lot of people, that are passionate on a topic, they don’t want to go to a social media that doesn’t exist. We want to acquire brands in the vertical and then build on that passion that already exists.
Tariq: Being a European company is beneficial: You have to be passionate enough to overcome the obstacles. Our success is also based on the diversity (of languages). The localized versions of the sites were built by people in those countries. Europe is a broadband market. (Answering: How do you make money?) The webpage is going to disappear. Now, we’re trying to build user base — long-term relationship. Any brand can now use NetVibes. So that a user can create an interaction w/ a company.
Birch: (About how to succeed in U.S.) We’re in six countries. (English speaking.) We’re big in UK — we just need people to have more children (laughter). We launched with a mature product. We’ve done a social network product for a long time. In U.S., within certain markets and certain spaces, we’re dominant. We are succeeding in the U.S. We’ve been playing catch-up. We have a critical mass we can grow from, and now we can start demonstrating what social networking can be and should be.
Berkowitz: (A platform or a social network business?) We wanted to provide products that meet the needs of different markets. Movable Type is used by people who want to operated it behind a firewall. Typepad is a consumer product. LiveJournal is a youth oriented product. Vox is aimed at an older market to let friends and family communicate with one-another. The way we make money in those markets is different depending on how customers want to use the tool. We learn from all of those customers using those tools. (How do blogging tools improve?) By becoming faster, understanding how people use them. Social communications is just in its emphasis.
Rosenblatt: We think registrars are out of favor. We think when people get a domain and then have the ability to set up their own social network — you have one location to manage them all.
Question: Can you build a business on using APIs from other companies? Answers: Yes and no.
Question: Are these services all built on a model that required customers to be online all the time? (Berkkowitz) The deep meaning is not on instant communication. The “stuff” (content, video photos) is stored where people can go back to it and interact with it later. (Krim) Connecting using these tools leads to connecting in real life. (It’s not just about what you do online.) Being offline and doing no
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