Robert Scoble: Role of Social Media in Marketing


>>[Piano music playing]>>[Pause] Robert: Hi. I’m Robert Scoble and I’ve been doing online communities since about 1984 and I have a story — a historical story. I grew up here in the valley about a mile from Apple Computer and I belong to one of the Apple user groups that — that was going and we had a friend — a friend of the club, one of the people on the — in the club had a garage and we turned it into a BDS. We had six computers with six 2400-baud modems that made horrible sounds when somebody called in, you know? And it was incredible. People could call in to these modems from around the world and trade a few files which were very, you know, nothing like facebook today; right? Just a few text files. So we would get e-mail from, you know, Korea, or Europe or something like that and it would be very asynchronous. We would have to wait a couple days for somebody to dial back in to get our e-mail over to the other half of the world; right? Because they would have to connect their BDSs around the world and join in, and call into our modems, and trade those text files; and now we have YouTube where I can post hi-def video. I mean, I was at Loic’s conference in Paris and I was uploading video in ten minutes that was 10 ADP hi-def video and putting it out on the internet and people around the world were watching it and interacting with it in live time. It was really, really incredible age we’re at compared with the 1980s when things moved a lot slower than they do today. I actually that’s why I wanted to pull up Google Buzz so you could just watch a little bit. I have something I’m following maybe 600 people right here. Let me just refresh this and make sure it’s going. And this world is moving very, very quickly and so if you’re trying to build a brand in this world and get noticed, if you’re a musician, or a CEO, or a business, or a social project trying to help Haiti or whatnot, you’re gonna have to compete with this world that just keeps moving at this speed and keep in mind I’m only seeing a very, very tiny slice of this world; right? There’s 400 million people on facebook and I’m only seeing 8600 people here on this screen. So — and you can sorta get a sense of it just keeps moving all day, all nigh. You know, you can get on at two in the morning and see, you know, twittering with this friends and but it just keeps moving like this all day long. Umm, hey, Scoble.>>[Laughing] Robert: Yeah. And you guys can do this, too.>>[Laughing]>>[Clapping] Robert: Umm, and so I — I just wanna put that up there because how do you get a business going in this kinda always on, always streaming, constantly increasing speed world; right? I — say start with four people, or maybe 40. ICQ is a good example of this. They released to 40 people on November 1st 1996. How many people here have heard of ICQ? Yeah. So 40 people November 1st, 1996. I got on it because Chris Corillo, a friend of mine, told me oh, you gotta get on this cool new thing; right? And I joined around November 15th, which was six weeks later. I was the 65,361st person on the system; right? So in six weeks they went from 40 people to 65,000 people and that was in ’96. So today everything has compressed. How does that happen? When I quit Microsoft — so I worked at Microsoft for three years, I was a blogger and videographer there going around doing interviews with all sorts of people there. When I quit Microsoft I told 15 people at a conference smaller than this room and I told them to keep their mouth shut until Tuesday; right? This was a Saturday ’cause I hadn’t told my boss that I was actually quit — I mean, I was in discussions with him, he knew it was coming, but I hadn’t actually made the call and said I’m quitting. And of course it leaked but it leaked from a guy I didn’t even know. It wasn’t an A lister, it wasn’t Mike Arrington, or Arianna Huffington, or anybody like that. It was a guy I didn’t even know; right? And I know thousands of people. I study this world every day. Wagner ***, of the Microsoft PR teams was tracking how many media hits they got and they said within three days, 50 million people saw that I had quit Microsoft from those 15 conversations. I didn’t do a press release, I didn’t call up the wall Street Journal, I didn’t try to build a, you know, a PR thing. I just told 15 people and they found the story interesting enough to tell their friends about it. It leaked from a guy I didn’t even know and the story started doubling. So it leaked 7:00 p.m. and every eight minutes it doubled. So it went from one blog, to two blogs, to four blogs, and when I hit about eight blogs I called my boss and I said I’m quitting ‘ cause I knew within 15 or 20 minutes he was gonna see it on his screens can then he would have even more pissed than he would have been had I not called him. Likely I caught him before he saw it but yeah. It just kept doubling every few minutes just like ICQ kept doubling every few hours in the early days and then later it was doubling every 17 days. Fun story. If you — one of my favorite questions is, would you rather have a hundred thousand dollars today or would you rather have a penny that doubles every day for a month? To me an innovation is a penny that doubles every day or N days or doubles every N hours. The problem is, most people can’t recognize that doubling penny until it hits about 20 doubles. So on day 20 — you have about a thousand in your pocket. So if you know you’re gonna die on day 21, take the hundred grand; right? All the money, all the money’s due to compound in interest at the end of the month and you get five and a half or $10 million at the end of the month all due to compounding interest; right, which you guys all know. When I talked with Bill Gates and said go by this company called Flickr, go buy Skype — this was before Skype got to E-bay – – I said, these companies are doubling pennies. You gotta own them, you know? This is what you want to go and acquire and the answer, Steven Sinofsky, who now runs Windows, wrote me an e-mail back about this biggy and it had the words “business value” repeated 13 times. It was too early in the doubling stage for them to understand that it was doubling penny. It was day ten; right? It was a few dollars.>>[Laughing] Robert: And they didn’t understand that these things were gonna continue doubling until they hut uh hundreds of millions of people and became businesses that are worth billions of dollars. So that’s my lesson is I study how people work, how ideas spread from person to person. I, you know, if you come to my Twitter page, you’ll see a list of tech company executives or innovators, or tech companies. Let’s pick on tech company executives and see what they’re writing right now. And these are executives that are everyone from a startup executive to an executive at Microsoft and you’ll see what they wrote in realtime; and a lot of ’em I can tell you something about them. Like Sacca is an investor in twitter, you know, Jeremy Toeman launched five companies at CES and there’s one investor of CES I don’ t know, four times I think. And so I start learning by reading these people and meeting them face-to-face I start learning about who they are and what kinds of thins they want to pass along the their friends; right? So I know Jeremy Toeman’s totally into gadgets. He launched Bug Labs, which is a totally innovative company. Helped launch Slingbox which many of you have. Umm, and so I know he wants to hear about gadgets or see innovative companies in the gadget space or there’s a certain kinda thing, you know? Compare that to MC Hammer he wants to hear a different kinda innovation. He wants to hear about music and entrepreneur innovation. Maybe he has some of the same interests that Jeremy does but I start looking at how to create a — how to pass along a story. Umm, when I first sold Seagate, so Seagate was one of my sponsors for a couple years, I told — I went in there say said, let’s not talk about twitter, or face book, or whatever’s going on. I wanna hear what is your story? How do you want to change your story to the world? And that started a much better conversation about what to do. Don’t — my first advice is, don’t get caught up in these tools ’cause they’re just tools. Get caught up in what’s the story you want to tell? Do you wanna raise a million dollars for Haiti? How do you do that? Who are the people that you want to touch and get in touch with; right? And then you need to study, you know, start with one of them, like Pierre Omidyar, which Loik knows, he started E-bay. He has a lot of money. So if you’re trying to raise money, go where the money is; right? Maybe you know — Loic knows him because Loic is following him on twitter; right? So study who’s following him, and study who’s going along, and build the — go take Loic out to lunch. Learn something about Loic first.>>That’s two hours. Robert: Two hours. Yeah.>>[Laughing] Robert: And buy him a nice bottle of wine ’cause he likes good wine –>>[Laughing] Robert: — and then he might introduce you to Pierre which might — which will be a much stronger relationship than if you just tried to e-mail pear out of the blue and he doesn’t know who you are. This is how I got most of my interviews at Microsoft. I would start with one guy that I knew, interviewed him, and I would ask him, well, who else should I interview? Oh, there’s another guy over in research. You should interview him. Well, can you introduce me ’cause if I just call him, he’s gonna go, you’re a jerk. I’m not — try to think about trying to do what I did. So at Microsoft I’d either be 600 employees company-wide; right? I interviewed everybody from Bill Gates down to the janitor. Think about going into General Motors and trying to do that as a new employee, not as an executive. ‘Cause one thing about executives, they’re too busy to do disruptive stuff like this; right? It has to be somebody six levels down that doesn’t have the trust. Well, how do you get trust? How do you build these networks inside a company? How do you ask for an interview? Well, if you go into some guy’s office at General Motors, or Disney, or any real company, they’re gonna start becoming very defensive because they know the camera can hurt me; right? One of the tricks I used was I used a $250 camera instead of buying a real expensive big camera because it helps you relax and when you’re relaxed, you’re more willing to tell me stuff; right? But imagine you’re trying to do that at General Motors, trying to change the image of a global brand, you know? You’re not gonna get the front door because you don’t have the trust and if you do have the trust if you’re an executive, you don’t have the time. You’re too busy chasing the business. You’re like Steven Sinofsky with billions of dollars of business in front of you and hundreds of — or thousands of employees that you have to manage and you’re too busy to try something new and disruptive. So how do you — how do you go deep into the company and change your company’s culture? I talked to Tony Hsieh, who runs Zappas. I’m sure you all know this. Did you know that when you get hired there, you’re forced to tweet? Why? Anybody have an idea of the principle behind that?>>[Pause] Robert: He — he forces you to tweet for a couple reasons. One, he wans everybody from the janitor to the CEO to know that they are a brand ambassador, that they are responsible for the way we view that brand. We — he knows that brand — that we all change opinions of brands at two in the morning on a Saturday when I need help with something, when I have a bad experience, or a good experience, I need some help, or I need some ideas. Hey, I need some shoes for a party I’m going to Tuesday and I don’t know what to get. So you start writing, you know, help me, Zappas, you know? And if you get an answer back, that builds a brand. There’s somebody listening at two in morning on Saturday who’s passionate about what they do and is willing to engage with me. Well, the employee could be a janitor, could be somebody eight levels down from Tony, could be Tony himself. Tony answers my — my tweets all the time; right?>>[Pause] Robert: He knows that this new world is we need to be empowered to take care of people and that brands and movements happen at weird times. Loic is gonna tell you about his post he wrote last night. One of his tips was you gotta be on 24 hours a day. You gotta figure out how to get your company to be on 24 hours a day, you know? Zappas has 300 people on twitter, the company I work for, and we do that exactly for that reason so that if you’re a down, if there’s a problem, or if you get a new job and, oh, my God, I gotta build a web site for the National Football League and I have three weeks to do it, you get some help, you get somebody to talk to, and you have a public face. We all know — how many people know news media Jim who is Jim Long? He’s a camera guy in the White House with NBC. He’s on twitter; right? Let’s actually pull his tweets up here.>>[Pause] Robert: Yeah. To me, he is NBC to me; right? He’s a camera guy and I — and I — if I see something happening in the White House, if Obama announces something, I can ask him, what’s going on? You know? What’s your opinion? And I met him; right? So he’s credible to me. I met him face-to-face and he’ll answer back. You can see, he’s answering people back. Umm, you know, if I have problems with my come cast line, I go to Comcastcares. I twittered him and said, hey, I’m having problems uploading videos — videos. After I got home from Loic’s conference he had a gigabyte line and my videos have gone up in ten minutes and the same video would take an hour and ten minutes at home and I said, “how can I — is there any way to increase my Speed? “and he actually — while I typed with him he said, well, you can’t get high speed lines in half-moon bay but we can upgrade your router. So reboot your router and you get another half a megabyte of upload speed and it made a little bit of a difference. Now it takes 50 minutes to upload the same video. But that made me feel better about this brand that was a faceless megacorporation that I would have to sit on hold for an hour and a half just to get to a human being like this, you know? Ford, Scott Monty, you know?>>[Pause] Robert: How many people have heard of Scott Monty before today? A few; right in this guy is changing how we think of Ford. Francine Hartaway, one of my friends, is driving a Ford Focus just because of this guy, you know, and how he’s personalized a corporation and how he’s communicating a brand message that’s very interesting. And now Ford is winning innovation awards. Why? Partly because of Scott and his social media team that he’s working with because it’s getting you to believe that Ford is a different kinda company than it used to be; right? And I could keep going on and on but I wanna get these other two guys on stage and get some questions. But this gives you a taste of what’s going on out here and the tools that it lets somebody change the global –>>[Pause] Robert: — meaning in my head of what Ford is and this guy might even be working out of his house in his pajamas. I don’t know. He has a DSL line like I do or a Comcast line. It’s an interesting world we’re living in. Some other — one last thing that I wanna leave you with ‘ cause now that I’m studying tens of thousands of people — I’m studying 17,000 people coming to me on twitter and 8000 people in Google Buzz and I watch this on a big screen so I have two big screens that I can see a lot more than I can here — I’m find that, umm, we — the people in this industry who have studied this and bit online networks around the world were craving intimacy now and that gets back down to the four people. Umm, we’re craving less of this kind of experience but — what? Yeah. Okay. We’re craving less of this kind of experience and more of an intimate dinner conversation with four people and turn that around you find the right four people, you can change the world.>>[Applause]

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