I've had a varied day at Social Media Week Glasgow today covering a broad spectrum of engagement and uses of social media. Starting this morning with the Social Media -What's it all about session at Glasgow Caledonian University. David Edgar (Social Media Officer ) gave an introduction to social media which, for an old hand like me, was actually quite nice to hear. He also gave an brief overview into how Glasgow Caledonian are using and developing their use of social media. Twitter is increasingly important to them and he described it as being part helpline, part recruitment channel, part branding and part news feed.
Moving things up a notch the next session I went to was an Introduction to sentiment analysis. In someways I was probably being a bit optimistic about this session as I maybe thought I would find out some more answers on "how to do it" than I did. However, it did seem that most people in the session were, and I hesitate to use the word struggling, maybe feeling their way is more accurate, about what to do with their data and how to really understand and use techniques such as sentiment analysis. The examples the speakers gave (particularly around analysis of hotel reviews) highlighted the practical issues around this type of analysis. A number of software packages were highlighted including R and also a number of paid for services including GATE and Brandwatch. The latter are obviously on the ball in terms of montioring social networks - I got a tweet from them about 2 seconds after tweeting their url.
Branding was the name of the game in the Branded Content: Social Network Innovation session. Led by the Inner Ear agency this was a fascinating insight into how advertising and marketing strategies are evolving from traditional text based roots to becoming more engaged with social media in variety of ways to strengthen brand image and of course in many cases increase sales. It was pointed out that were are probably living in the midst of a transition phase in terms of the development of really effective use of social networks and customer engagement for all types of brands and communities. There's a lot of trial and error just now - but maybe not too much of the latter particularly for larger brands, as there is still a fear of loss of control and things going "horribly wrong". All the panel members were advocating for more courage from brands to try more "risky' strategies. I was particularly amused by Boris Johnston being used as an example of how disasters don't actually always ruin "the brand" and actually can strengthen it. I don't think anyone was advocating getting stuck on zip wires as a core part of a marketing strategy! Links to lots of really interesting examples of new content strategies should now be available in the session information page all of which are worth checking out.
I couldn't help thinking are we too conservative and risk averse in education too? I think there are many similarities. Some people are doing really great innovative things, some are more risk averse. The need for changing attitudes and expectations at all levels from the personal to the "big brand" was a consistent message throughout the day.
The evening social media book club session, was a much more social in all senses (including nibbles and wine). Using google hangouts we were joined by Heikki Hietala from Finland who read an extract from one of his short stories (more details and a pdf available here). We also had a live reading from Scottish author Alan Bissett who read an extract from his novel Packmen.
I'm sure lots of book groups already use things like facebook to share meeting times, ideas for books etc but extending participation through google+ for both book group members and authors is something that I certainly find exciting. Particularly as I never really manged to commit to a book club due to travel commitments at work
There was the usual #technologyfail with slightly dodgy wifi today at the main HQ - but never mind - we still managed to get online and how can you complain when you get these kind of badges