Live from nextMEDIA 2008: Harnessing the Power of Social Media Platforms

How can you take advantage of Bebo, Facebook, hi5, MySpace, and others? That’s the focus of this panel featuring Jennifer Ouano from Elastic Entertainment, Steve Pratt from CBC Radio 3, Matt Toner from Zeros 2 Heroes Media, Sarah Blue from Cambrian House, and Ron Martin from ISWID Productions. The moderator is Kris Krug from Raincity Studios.

Some notes from the beginning of the session:

  • SP: When making decisions about doing things, we consider audiences and artists to be our partners. With user generated content, you really need to take the people who are providing it into consideration.
  • MT: We’re focused on giving control back to fans. A good example is Peter Jackson. Watch the end credits for the Lord of the Rings DVDs, he thanked every single fan who contributed to the website
  • SP: Having a sense of ownership in the product breeds loyalty.
  • RM: You have to be restrictive in what you’re giving your fans if you want to have any control.
  • JO: We talk a lot about monetizing content, but just as important is talking about how to create value for your audience so that the fan base will grow.
  • KK: Read Kevin Kelly’s book 1000 True Fans.

How does CBC Radio 3 use social networks?

  • SP: As a public broadcaster, we put as much money as we can into programming. Our audience does a much better job of marketing than we could anyway. Unleash them and they’ll surprise you.
  • SP: We get about 100,000 downloads of our podcast per week, and about half of those are from outside Canada. It’s 100% music, and almost always from artists you’ve never heard of. On the web, there are pockets of indie music fans all over the place. If you’re doing something good, word gets out, and they’ll find you.
  • RM: Social networking is a feature, not a destination.
  • SP: We didn’t create our Facebook group, someone else did. There’s a credibility factor there.
  • MT: It’s wonderful that they’re doing it, but we can control it. If they say something negative, we need to respond right away. We want to have a genuine dialogue.
  • SP: And as long as you’re transparent, that’s good enough.

How do you start a community?

  • KK: Empower people to do things that they couldn’t do before.
  • JO: If you want to build a community, make sure you reach out to the ones that already exist.
  • SB: We look at it like you’re having a party. You need to involve everyone, and be authentic and accountable.

Anyone using OpenSocial?

  • KK: Facebook breaks the Internet. OpenSocial is a good idea.

What is the most efficient way to spread the word?

  • SB: If you want your audience to spread the word, you need to feed their ego.
  • SP: Make it easy to share and discover, even if it’s as simple as a permalink.
  • KK: Let it go where people want to take it.
  • MT: It’s about finding a way to make it relevant to the user. Understand the psychology of your community.

What are the call-to-actions for your community?

  • KK: Steal my stuff and put it on your website and link back to me!
  • JO: Mash it up and create something new and interesting with it!
  • RM: Don’t make people jump through hoops.

How do you feel about Ning?

  • KK: Keep in mind that Ning owns your community. It’s not very easy to suck it out and move it somewhere else.

This was a very difficult session to liveblog, because it was so fast-paced. Lots of excellent discussion, and I suspect a huge learning opportunity for many in the audience.