Many friends, associates, and clients have worried about how to participate in the social media space, from a branding and marketing perspective.  The dizzying plethora of social networks, platforms, tools, and apps is enough to send even the toughest brand advocate whimpering into a comfortably dark corner! the opportunities are thrilling, though, and I have enjoyed helping my friends explore the possibilities that await our brands in what I call the “New Open Market”.

Global enterprise social media manager, b2b marketer, and blogger Mia Dand recently has written a posting that I think is worth sharing, rather than my writing something that might duplicate much of what she has already said (and, as you know, I find it’s always more fun to have multiple voices in the conversation!). If some of her points seem obvious, you’re obviously heading in the right direction! They bear revisiting, however, as some of the foundation stones upon which you begin to evaluate your foray in to the New Open Market, wherein your customer /client no longer awaits your next offering, but may even be going so far as to insist on being involved in its conceptualization, development, deployment, and refinement!:

Lately, there has been a flurry of discussions and questions on scaling social media so here’s my take on a key question that seems to be on many minds.

Question: How do I set up a social media department for my company and what is the typical org structure (with roles & responsibilities)?

Let me start off by saying, there is no typical organization structure for a social media team or department, since companies set up their internal org structure based on business needs. Ideally, you want to plan out and budget for resources in advance so you’re not struggling to scale your social media activities. However, the reality at many medium to large-size companies is that social media is often initiated within one specific functional group like customer service or PR and the resources are not fully dedicated to social media but over time, these are shifted over from traditional investments and/or added as needed.

If your management is serious about allocating resources for a dedicated social media team, that’s great news! There are agencies who can audit your organization structure to help assess your social media resource needs. But if you’re working on a tight budget (as most of us are), no worries, here are 4 simple steps to get you off to a decent start.

#1 Define your new team/department’s objective and scope:

Social media has implications for a wide variety of functional areas from marketing to customer support, and even HR. So start by defining your team’s role along with a  clear statement of the team’s objective. Simply put, define your team’s reason for existence and what specific business need it will solve. The scope does largely depend on whether your team is aligned to any specific functional group like marketing or the team is going to structured as a centralized pool of resources that supports the entire organization.

List all the groups/departments that your team will support and level of support you’ll provide them. Remember that the way each functional group uses social media is different so take these differences into account while developing your overall plan. For example: The CS team will use social media differently than the PR team, so make sure you don’t underestimate the resources needed to support these different needs.

#2 Pull together a plan of deliverables and resource needs:

Clearly outline this new team’s responsibilities and deliverables in as much detail as possible. List specific deliverables, frequency. and timelines where ever possible. this is critical because this will help you define how many resources you’ll need to deliver on what you’ve promised. Also bear in mind that while people resources are key for any social media team, but don’t forget to include dollar resources as well for expenses related to resources, tools or external agency resources. One good way to create your estimated budget is to check with your HR, social media agencies, and contracting agencies since they can help you estimate the cost for your resource plan.

#3 Determine team roles & responsibilities:

Once you’ve defined your deliverables, then the next step is put together your potential org chart where the roles are determined by what type of skill set you will need to deliver on your plan. For example: If your plan is to deliver 6 social media training sessions on a weekly basis to all the functional groups, then you will need a) content (develop in-house or externally), b) media for delivery and recording of the sessions and c) someone qualified to lead the sessions. Based on the plan, some typical roles on your team would be social media trainer/s and training/educational content producers. Having clearly defined roles will help you hire talented folks with the right social media skill set rather than generalists aka social media “experts”.

#4 Define your KPIs:

This part is often overlooked but is very critical to the continue success of your team. It’s fair to assume that you may not get all the resources that you ask for and that the need for resources will only grow along with increase in social media adoption. So make sure you’ve defined your success metrics and planned for future growth by including clear milestones. These will help you prove the value of this new team and help you make the case for more resources as needed.

Last week’s LA Street Summit was both inspiring and frustrating.

It was great to see over 500 people in attendance at this free one-day workshop and networking session – nearly double the number from last year. It was wonderful to observe several corporate leaders and sponsors making their presence known, and it was great to see so many people committed to the idea of livable urban centers, in a community that has long enslaved itself to the automotive culture. The workshops I attended were informative and energetic, and I look forward to this event expanding its reach, if only to “keep the dream alive”.

My frustration stems from an observation that our communities are long on energy and “foot soldier commitment”, but short on policy-making leadership. The difference -at least with respect to the issue of implementing complete streets and sustainability initiatives – between Southern California and New York (from whence guest speaker Janette Sadik-Khan hails) is largely in how government and businesses function, relative to their populace.

Mayor Bloomberg runs the City of New York, and – but for the possibility of bureaucratic opposition from his own lieutenants (and the inevitability of fiscal cuts), he is largely able to manifest his vision of a more sustainable urban metropolis. This is in no small part due to the intelligence, passion, charm, and drive of his Transportation Commissioner, Ms. Sadik-Khan. What she has accomplished, over the course of the past 3 years, is a success story likely to propel her into President Obama’s cabinet, or at least in to the history books, as an example of policy-making leadership, urban vision, and community spirit.  It is also due to the fact that businesses in Manhattan welcome the idea (albeit sometimes begrudgingly) of making more navigable and accessible the 60% of the city’s real estate that comprises the streets and open spaces. If people can get around more easily, they’ll hang around for longer, they’ll wander around more agreeably and, as statistics are already showing, retail sales will go up, rentals will rise, and home sales will skyrocket. No need to even mention the more obvious social, environmental, and medical benefits.

Meanwhile, back in SoCal, or LA County to be specific (since the OC has made quite a good start, I must admit), policy-making leadership and visionary municipal governance are apparently as welcome in the council chambers of Burbank, Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles (among others) as Universal Health Care Legislation is at a Tea Party Rally. The various municipal councils seem utterly incapable of committing to any endeavor that does not have granular buy-in from 95% of their constituency. They (council members) argue that their role is to represent the people, but I offer the counter-argument that sometimes we, the people, are not in the best position to make and manifest policy. Democracy gives us the right to elect those whose beliefs most closely resemble our own, and to neglect those who do not aspire, or have failed, to deliver on promises which we hold dear. Great change rarely is manifest by a committee, and meanwhile, our streets become gridlocked, our air thickens with smog, our children grow obese, and we increasingly sequester ourselves in our hermetically sealed homes, with our 3 cars sitting in the driveway, and the light from 5 TVs permeating each household.

Yet, we are still far enough from the point of despair suggested by some of my above comments that we – business leaders, political activists, residents, taxpayers, et al – have a great chance to do our part, if we are not doing it already.

If you own a business, have you ensured that it welcomes and supports your employee and customer/client efforts to walk/bike/bus/metro to and from your location? We should focus a little less on building massive parking lots above and beneath our offices, and behind our stores and restaurants. If city ordinances demand it, we must campaign for alternatives. Instead of 3 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet, why not 2 spaces and 12 bicycle stands? Better yet, why not measure and manage community parking spaces from a truly communal perspective. Perhaps metrics should be managed on a neighborhood basis, and not “per-business”…

If you work with, in, on, or within spitting distance of municipal government (especially if you are an engineer), rediscover the joy of innovation! Stop MANAGING the problem of urban sprawl, gridlock, and parking, and start SOLVING it. Putting a lid on a boiling pot of water, does not cool the water, it merely delays, and eventually renders explosive, the challenge.

If you live, work, or play in an urban locale, make 2010 the year when you will (a) ask your employer about alternative transportation options, or offer your employees incentives to explore said alternatives; (b) explore your city’s rail, bus, and pedestrian networks (make it a family adventure!); and (c) challenge your municipal leadership to demonstrate the type of vision and commitment that was so warmly shown at last weekend’s Street Summit.

It needn’t happen overnight. Baby steps. One step at a time. One cycle at a time…but let’s keep moving:

(Links courtesy of



  • Go Play in the Street: New York’s Transportation Commissioner Wants to Re-work Los Angeles (KPCC)
  • Streetscast: Full Audio of Janette Sadik-Kahn’s Speech Last Night (L.A. Streetsblog)
  • Streetscast: StreetSummit Speakers Inspire, Educate and Rally Livable Streets Advocates (L.A. Streetsblog)



  • A New Route to a Better L.A. (Huffington Post)
  • Sadik-Khan Packs the House, Then Brings It Down (L.A. Streetsblog)
  • NYC Commissioner Says L.A. Should Quickly Move on Transportation Pilot Programs (LAist)
  • Streeeeeet-Summiiiiiiiiiit(Urban Adonia)
  • Carless Streets and Creative Thinking: What LA Can Learn from NYC (Curbed LA)
  • Why StreetSummit was just the 2nd most inspiring thing I saw this weekend (BikingInLA)
  • L.A. Street Summit, The Time Is Now, Let’s Kick Some Ass (Gary Rides Bikes)
  • Janette Sadik-Khan on Changing the Transportation Game (Urbanophile)

With thanks to Roger Ebert for directing me to this great resource, I found a lovely “low-tech” use of YouTube today, that I wanted to share with you.

Over 500 classic poems, each read aloud by the same man, as a simple slideshow presents the poet’s headshot, followed by the text of the poem, and concluding with a subtly evocative image relating to the poem just read:

Click here to visit the Spoken Verse Channel on YouTube

I’m afraid I am finding the channel somewhat addictive…rediscovering old favorites, and unearthing new delights.

Robert H. Heath returns with some interesting observations on the new(s) cycle of information, and how traditional media outlets are demonstrating an ironic capacity for error:

More than a week has passed since the release of the “Report of the Examiner in the Chapter 11 proceedings of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc” so naturally coverage of the report is moving beyond reaction to reflection.


This post offers my thoughts on the “reporting of the report” and the changing media landscape.

It remains popular within the mainstream media to dismiss the blogging community as mostly commentators rather than reporters. What’s more, according to the MSM types, most of the fodder for the blogosphere’s ruminations comes from reporting in the mainstream media.

The clear implication is that without the mainstream media to painstakingly investigate, write, edit and publish the news in the first place, the blogosphere would be reduced to self-indulgent opinionating and bloviating, like, for example the content you’d expect to find on MySpace.

Even worse, according to the extreme form of the argument, the lack of professional standards and good editing in the blogosphere can lead to reckless “reporting” with potentially costly consequences.

So I was puzzled last weekend when the NYT’s editorial page asserted that Lehman Brothers, in the last quarters prior to its September 2008 bankruptcy filing, engaged in repo transactions that removed “troubled assets” from its balance sheet.

My surprise arose not from Lehman’s conduct (although the Times professed to being “dumbstruck” and “blindsided”) but from the fact that I quite specifically recalled the report, right on page 796 saying:

…the vast majority of securities Lehman utilized in Repo 105 transactions were investment grade, with all but a few of the securities falling within the A to AAA range.

Curious how the Times editors were so perfectly misled on this point, I went back to the paper’s original story on the Lehman report, only to find the following correction.

Correction: March 13, 2010

An article on Friday about an examiner’s report detailing accounting maneuvers used by Lehman Brothers to conceal its perilous finances described incorrectly in some editions the assets that were temporarily shuffled off its books. They were mostly high-quality securities that could be easily accepted by other banks, according to the examiner’s report; they were not “troubled” and “mostly illiquid real estate holdings…”

So here we have a Times story, written under deadline, that gets a key fact exactly wrong, followed by a correction. Okay, stuff happens. But what must be especially embarassing to the Times is that the newsroom appears to have noticed and corrected its error before the editorial page went to bed with the wrong fact 24 hours later… kinda like a blogger spouting off his opinion about something he read online, without checking the veracity of the story.

Even worse, a full week later the New York Post, which apparently gets its facts from old copies of the Times, publishes this:

Among Valukas’ findings is that Lehman used an esoteric accounting practice known as ‘Repo 105,’ which allowed the firm to move toxic mortgage assets off its books in order to make it seem healthier.

Don’t these guys have time to read the financial blogs?

When it comes to reporting complex subjects, the mainstream media’s conventions may leave it competitively disadvantaged versus the blogosphere. The “inverted pyramid” approach to a traditional news article gives short shrift to second- and third-level details (which may be summarily discarded if the ‘news hole’ is too small).

The desire to present both sides of the story “objectively” requires time-consuming phone and email contacts for “On the one hand… on the other hand…” quotes from expert sources who may possess less knowledge about fast-breaking news than the reporter himself. And for print journalists, the need for a “static” version of a story to meet the circadian publishing cycle creates constraints that a living story on a blog doesn’t face.

Michael Kinsley has written and Kara Swisher has spoken (a little past the 10:00 minute mark) far more eloquently about this issue, so I’ll refer you to them.

Not so long ago, a “Report of the Examiner in the Chapter 11 proceedings of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc” would have been released in a small press conference in New York City, where a smattering of lawyers and business journalists would lug their 2200-page copies back to the office to research potential lawsuits or the news angle. But the public at large would not have had convenient access to the source materials until they arrived at the local library, if at all. So journalists of yesteryear enjoyed quasi-monopolistic access to much of the source material for the important stories of the day.

A recent Pew Research Center study of news dissemination in Baltimore found that 63% of news stories originated with government entities. News organizations originated 14% and the remainder were largely from interest groups. This suggests that 86% of the “news” is originated (that is to say, “published”) by government and private non-journalistic organizations. Increasingly, these stories are being published online, where they’re immediately available to all interested readers. And for a story of any complexity, the party most qualified to comment may be some guy (a former Lehman repo trader, perhaps) posting in his pajamas from his basement office.

If you’ve read this far, you deserve a reward, so I’ll give the last word on the subject to the writing team on NBC’s hit comedy,”30 Rock,” who nail the topic with the brutally efficient satire. Currently available on Hulu (4:30 into the show).

In the scene, Avery Jessup a fictional, on-air reporter for CNBC (played by the adorable Elizabeth Banks) calls her lover, Jack Donaghy (played by Alec Baldwin) a senior executive at NBC, about a rumored takeover of NBC.

Phone rings in Donaghy’s office.

Jack Donaghy: “Hello?”

Avery Jessup: “Answering your own phone on the first ring… All hands on deck over there, huh?”

Jack Donaghy: “Whaddya mean?”

Avery Jessup: “C’mon the NBC buyout… what’s happening today?”

Jack Donaghy: (Increduously) “I’m sorry… you’re calling me as a source? How are you going to explain your unnamed executive to your producer.”

Avery Jessup: “I’ll tell him it’s a guy I’m having sex with. It’s a 24-hour news cycle here, Jack. We really don’t have time to do right any more.”

I’ve often written about my belief that the past couple of years of interactive invention and implementation has left us with a compelling, dynamic, yet very messy morass of offerings – be it in the realms of SaaS, Apps, Social Media platforms and services, or otherwise. My recent comments in The Global Human Capital Journal underline this perspective, most especially when I stated  “…2009 was the year of acquisition of market share, and I want to see 2010 become the year of refinement and quality of service. Many ventures will focus on quality, and those that do not will be left in the dust by consumers no longer willing to put up with anything but the highest levels of product and solution service…”.

From a B2C point of view, the diversity of Must Have indulgences has become dizzying, and this is without even considering the overwhelming deployment of updates that each of these applications rolls out. I sense that the consumer has reached a point of saturation, and whichever company identifies and implements the first aggregation and simplification of social media tool-sets will gain the type of foothold that secures fortunes for decades (the equivalent of 20th Century millennia).

Recent announcements by MySpace are further cementing my convictions.  The company is scrambling to maintain (or is it “return to”?) relevance, and operating under the mistaken belief that activity will keep it afloat, regardless of the longer term value of that activity.

Putting band-aids on a life-threatening wound is just as bad as “moving deck chairs on the Titanic”…and to stretch the cliched metaphor even further, I posit that sometimes a body adrift in the ocean would do better lying on its back and preserving energy while it orients itself, instead of maniacally treading water…

MySpace has spent the past couple of years seriously fumbling, for a variety of reasons. It needs to accept that its emotional stock valuation (its appeal with the user-base) is at rock bottom and, consequently, give itself the time to reorient its long term strategy, based on solid data (as opposed to hurried reactions to the latest perceived threats). If there is one thing its association with NewsCorp should provide, it is leeway. The MySpace brand will not suffer any more than it already has, if it slows down its profile.

NewsCorp should give MySpace 6 months to develop and present a coherent long term business strategy which, once approved, should deploy a clear and actionable short term strategy (another 6 months at least), including marketing, rebranding (if deemed necessary), infrastructural reorganization, technology innovation and differentiation (what can MySpace offer that everyone using FB grumbles about? How can MySpace take advantage of this point in Social Media evolution to propel itself once more in to a lead position? – might I suggest aggregation/amalgamation of services and escalation of ease-of-use? The First 200M FB users were adopters accustomed to extrapolating the value of a new emerging technology. The next 100M are struggling with the value, but committed to “making it work” for them, and the last 100M are having a REALLY tough time understanding how FB should be used in their daily lives. Just ask your parents! ).

Enough of this revolving door management theatrics. Sign some long term (5 year) contracts with some serious talent. Every action is either strengthening or diluting the brand. The former only happens after a period of instability, the latter can happen immediately. If Murdoch can implement 10-year plans for his company, why not MySpace? Only long term strategic redevelopment can save this brand. The next year is going to be very tough, and if management focuses primarily on the short term, it will fail. Whether NewsCorp has the patience to accept long term strategy is a whole other story…

For more than a decade, I’ve been involved with the Digital Content Lab at the American Film Institute, as both an advisor and supporter. The DCL, as it came to be known, was where Apple‘s Quicktime technology was launched, among other technologically important milestones. A recent winner of the Technical Achievement Award at the Machinima festival, the DCL was responsible for the deployment of such groundbreaking tech as the mobile interactive apps for WARPED, the Planet Illogica digital artist support network, and the development of the Federally supported ITVS initiative (funding a wide swath of indie films), among others.

This has been a relatively discreet enterprise, known and loved by all of us in the digital media and entertainment industries, but not much of a self-promoting organization, at least when compared to many other non-profits in the entertainment and media industries. This seems, ultimately, to have been to the organization’s disadvantage, as the AFI DCL will apparently be closing its doors shortly, to ostensibly go in to “hiatus” – a direct result of funding shortfalls.

I won’t digress too much into the whys and wherefores of this situation, only to suggest that – like many non-profits today – I suspect that the AFI Board kept focusing too much on large sponsors, and too little on grassroots individual donor channels. The game of fundraising has changed, but for some reason many of the players are still way behind the ball…Social network fundraising demands a commitment, and I wonder whether that commitment was made in support of staff efforts to adopt new models for revenue generation…

When I think of the extraordinary influence that the DCL has had over our industry’s technological advancements, I wonder whether such undeniably admirable enterprises as the ETC or IPG Emerging Media Lab will be able to step in to the breach left by the DCL. These other organizations, impressive as they are in their respect, carry with them their own agenda that inevitably color the value of their offerings. Even though the DCL presented one or two projects of less than astonishing creative, business, or technical merit, the lab’s overall output was nothing short of groundbreaking, game changing, paradigm shifting, and ultimately socially impactful. Under the guidance of Nick De Martino, Anna Marie Piersimoni, Marcia Zellers and, most recently, Suzanne Stefanac, the AFI DCL has left an indelible mark on multiplatform landscapes of entertainment and media production and content delivery.

Those of us who have had the pleasure of attending DigiFest, The Digital Content Festival, the Enhanced TV Workshop, or other DCL gatherings, retain fond memories of all that has been accomplished there (If you would like to share some of your memories, feel free to leave your thoughts on their Facebook Page, at “The AFI Digital Content Lab”).

For a fully interactive roster of the AFI Digital Content Lab’s projects over the years, click here

Sources say that there still remain efforts to keep the Institute’s annual DigiFest event afloat. In the meantime, expect an official announcement about the Lab in the next few weeks. Who knows, perhaps this article and others will encourage people to step in and save the day..? Stranger things are happening.

—UPDATE—2:00pm, Friday, March 11—

Here is a partial list of AFI DCL projects, since 1999:

• EXPEDITION 360 (Discovery Europe)
• News Center 4 NIGHTBEAT (KRON-TV)
• SPACE STATION ODYSSEY (Discovery Networks)
• TALK SOUP (E! Entertainment)

• BLIND DATE (Universal Worldwide Television)
• DAY ONE (Granada Television, Granada Entertainment)
• EXTREME RIDES (Discovery Channel, Discovery Channel)
• PERFECT CRIME (Wegelius Television [Denmark])

• ARLI$$ (HBO)
• CALLAWAY GOLF, RULE 35 (Syndicated)
• CNN HEADLINE NEWS (Turner Broadcasting System Inc)

• P.O.V. (PBS)
• THE BEST OF (The Food Network)
• TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES (Turner Broadcasting System)

• BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (SciFi Channel/Vivendi Universal Games)
• CELEBRITY MOLE II (ABC Television Network)
• KIM POSSIBLE (Disney Channel)

• DINOSAUR HIGHWAY (The Science Channel)
• DORA THE EXPLORER (Nickelodeon)
• LIVING FOR THE WEEKEND (Scripps Networks)
• THE L WORD (Showtime)
• HIJACK (MTV Networks)
• TV411 (The Adult Literacy Media Alliance/PBS)

• DoD PERSONALS (Simmons Lathan Media Group)
• HISTORY DETECTIVES ROAD TRIP (Oregon Public Broadcasting)
• MOMENT IN TIME: WWII (A&E/History Channel)
• REUTERS ONE (Reuters)
• TOYO (Zodiac Gaming)

• BEN 10 MEGASERIES (Cartoon Network)
• E2: GREEN MAP FOR LIVING (kontentreal)
• BUZZ (Cynergy Films)
• MC EVERYWHERE (Music Choice)
• SíTV Pure (SíTV)
• XXXL (Hit Start)

• LEAVING THE GAME (Method, Inc.)
• PLAYERS (MTV, EA, Mekanism)

• WARPED ROADIE (EarthEcho International)

• ENVISOR (One Economy)