Saturday, 5 May 2012

If you can't explain it in 140 characters, your idea is too complicated! Most popular Tweet from #mashcon

June Cohen, Executive Producer, TED Media
WOW... Day two at Mashable Connect 2012 was an awesome experience. Where to start? We had the privilege of hearing from 14 inspiring and visionary thought leaders.  And suffice to say that despite being jet lagged and have slept only for three hours,  I managed to stay awake and cherish every minute of these 14 stimulating sessions.

I am not going to give a blow by blow of each session, because I would not be able to do justice and will probably I'll end up doing a lousy job.  

I think what I'll do is to share my take away messages from these thought-provoking sessions and share what were some of the common threads. And probably I will do so in installments :)

Evolution of TedTalks
June Cohen (@junecohen) Executive Producer of TED Media shared the behind the scenes and the backstory of TedTalks. Her talk was so inspiring that deserves to feature among the thousand other inspiring TedTalks. I wish she would  post it on TedTalks. 

Did you know that TedTalks started in 1984 and initially it was a techie talk? Is not it incredible how these talks have transformed. This was a great uplifting message. Because it shows that change can happen. June shared how this happened, and in doing so, I think she summarized what ended being the "fil rouge" of the day:
  • feed the hunger of participation
  • encourage sharing - no one has the monopoly of good ideas
  • listen to your users 
  • reach out to people everywhere
  • do not forget to tell a story
  • engage emotionally
  • focus - no butterfly syndrome!
As a development worker, I got so excited when she shared the example of TEDx in the slums of Kibera, just outside of Nairobi in Kenya.  And I almost jumped out of my skin when I heard her talk about the TEDx in a box

June and her colleagues realized that TEDx events are a great learning opportunity and a source of inspiration for people in developing countries. However, lack of infrastructure often prevents them from  organizing such events. This is why they launched the "TEDx in a Box" programme. 

The programme is still in pilot phase. This magic box has a projector, a PA system, a DVD player, batteries and inverter, two camcorders, a tripod, a power strip and an SD card. It comes with a quick guide providing guidance on how to organize events and use the equipment.

It sounds like the best thing after sliced better, and is something that I would like to definitely explore and see how and where we can use it in my organization.

Leslie Berland,
SVP of Digital Partnerships & Development,
American Express
American Express goes digital
Those of us working in big organizations know that it is not always easy to herald in new ideas. 

Leslie Berland, SVP of Digital Partnerships and Development from American Express (@leslieberland) eloquently expressed the challenges we've all faced in her opening remarks: "When a big company enters social media, it's like giving birth". 

Sounds familiar? Leslie shared how American Express shed its old skin and successfully entered the digital and social media world and her nuggets of wisdom are very similar to how June and her colleagues are engaging with their audience at Ted:
  • identify the unmet need. In other words ask yourself, is there a problem to be solved?
  • prioritize the biggest business opportunities
  • drive speed to market. This one is very dear to most of us who have helped our organizations embrace 21st century.
    Leslie talked about the need of changing internal processes to keep up with external realities, to think of what has not been done before and re-imagine how to do things. This very point came out loud and clear, in the afternoon during the futureproofing your brand session with Cindy Gallop.
    Cindy said we need to reinvent our business to do business in the modern world and need to change our business models so that we can engage with our audience. ENGAGE and FOCUS were among the key concepts of the day!
  • maximize leverage. This point too, came out during the futureproofing your brand session, where Cindy talked about the importance of creating and nurturing a community
  • create authentic relationships
Leslie talked about how for eight months, the Amex folks listened to the chatter to find out more about their audience and better understand their needs. Also, as a global organization to make sure their campaign succeeded they involved all their various country offices.

My take home messages from Leslie's talk was to ENGAGE and FOCUS. She said: "90% of our strategy is about what we do not know and what we do not do".  

The bottom line is, if you are going social, you may as well just focus all your energy on going social. As Leslie said, if your campaign is on Facebook, do your advertising there.... This is no-brainer, right? and yet, it seems to be a very hard concept to internalize for many!

She also said: "think like a start-up, be rooted in reality with an eye towards scaling". She then went on to say how important it is to identify those things which are not "non-replicable" and do them and while doing them, forge deep partnerships and stay authentic.

During the question and answer session, Leslie was asked how much Amex spends on its social media presence and how the team was configured. 

No one likes to talk about budgets... Suffice to say, that it was pretty clear that Amex is spending good money on it social presence. She also said that she will never outsource "community development", emphasizing the importance of the business staying close to its client-base. After all is not that called accountability and when you go social, you need to create and nurture a community.

Poter Novelli has done a great job summarizing Leslie's talk. So, make sure you read her blogpost.

#Mashcon soundbite of the day
I need to close this blogpost, or else I will be late. More to come later and I want to do so, with the  soundbite of the day which may be heresy for many... but whether you like it or not this is the reality.... so, just get your head around it!

 "If you can't explain it in 140 characters, your idea is too complicated!" 

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