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Bright lights, smart crowd – internetsummit’08

November 21, 2008

I attended half a day of the InternetSummit’08 held in Chapel Hill, NC yesterday – listened to a couple of keynote speeches, took in a panel or two, and participated in a third  panel on marketing in web 2.0 world.   I wish I could have spent the entire day, but the afternoon found me back at work pitching expansion plans for our customer community.   

Gian Fulgoni, Chairman of ComScore led off the first keynote – smart guy -very analytical, with a well reasoned and compellingly factual powerpoint deck that spelled out what we already know – the economy is tanking, epic fuel and energy prices have siphoned off the disposable income of those making below $100K year, and the evaporation of wealth from the precipitous stock market plunge has weakened spending for those making over $100K as they emotionally recoil from the overnight evaporation of net worth.  e-commerce growth has slowed from the 25%-30% year on year rate to a scant 1%.

Still, Gian held out optimism based on historic trends – that periods of strong e-commerce growth followed the last recession, and perhaps there is a silver lining for those who can demonstrate ROI online.

Bob Young of Redhat and LuLu.com fame followed, and delivered a pithy, hands-in-pockets, no charts presentation that seemed a collection of short stories and anecdotes.  The more profound one was that paid search is akin to digital crack – highly addictive and difficult to withdraw from unless you find a way to convert the clicks to bookmarks.   In the end, you have to make a brand impression and add persistent value, or the search engine winds up owning the customer relationship, and Word of Mouth referrals become the search terms rather than your brand.

I attended panels on blogging and new media, and e-commerce ROI.  The first was full of the usual discussions and the panelists were entertaining, engaging and well credentialed, but I’m not sure I heard anything new.   The e-commerce ROI panel was amazingly devoid of measured success, and I left with the impression that the panelists mostly discussed their respective business models.  Interesting, but no “ah-ha” moments. 

I spoke on the marketing in a web 2.0 world panel.  This was my second panel and I introduced myself much the same way as I did in my first engagement, and as I did so, I noted two familiar faces, the moderator of the last panel I was on, Nathan Gilliatt, and Andy Beal sitting in the front row.  Deja Vu.  Interestingly, Nathan recently blogged about Jim Tobin, the moderator of yesterday’s panel.  It’s clear that this community is very networked – a requisite for success and survival.  Who do you know, and whom can you partner with?

Jim Tobin had a great presence and really threw in a bit of a curve ball when after the first question or two, he invited the audience to tweet him questions.  Not fifteen seconds passed when his cell lit up with the first tweet.  Great demonstration of social media – facilitation in medium.

Hopefully I came accross smarter than I felt at the time.  

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2008 11:50 am

    One of our customers at Performance Chassis attended and showed me his program. There you were in living black and white. He enjoyed the panel.

  2. November 21, 2008 12:53 pm

    Imagine that – what a small world…

  3. November 21, 2008 3:50 pm

    You came across just fine. Now we need to help event organizers tap into the local community if they’re going to discuss social media. There’s a lot of activity here that you wouldn’t know about if you’re not connected.

  4. November 21, 2008 9:42 pm

    Thanks Nathan.

    As I rode home, I thought about a lot of things I would like to have shared more coversationally – much of the discussion seemed focus on customer aquisition and coversion, and less on the brand building, relationship developement, and use of social media to promote / activate other areas of your business that don’t necessarily have revenue ROI, but may have expense avoidance ROI.

    I agree on the local promotion aspect. Maybe I’ll take this as a personl growth item for next year.

  5. November 25, 2008 1:35 pm

    Thanks for the kind words. I agree with you and Nathan. It was a great start, but next year’s conference could maybe have panels that dig a little deeper.

    ~Jim

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