All posts by John Mark Troyer

John on Social Influencer Marketing panel Thursday 5/17/13

I will be a panelist at the Social Media for Savvy Marketers event this week put on by Cisco. You can watch online by registering for the online event here. Our panel on “Social Influencer Marketing” will be at 3:45pm PDT / 6:45pm EDT on Thursday, April 17. Check out the full two-day agenda.

The panel is:

  • Moderator Darin Wolder, Marketwire 
  • Todd Wilms, Sr Director, Social Media, SAP @toddmwilms
  • Perrine V. Crampton, Community Programs Manager, Citrix @pcrampton
  • John Troyer, Director, Social Media Evangelist, VMware @jtroyer

And our abstract:

While social influence marketing has taken the B2C world by storm, the B2B space has lingered behind, more encumbered by the need to budget against measurable results. Yet the reigns are loosening. The reality is that, while behaviors are very different among B2B influencers, the opportunities for amplifying messages and driving action are just as worth pursuing. This session will explore how B2B marketers should address a social marketing influence plan, including identifying  and understanding key market segments, the motivations encouraging influencers to work with brands, the return on investment and setting expectations.

I’m afraid I kicked off our prep call by saying that I don’t like social media, and looking at the abstract I don’t agree with the opening premise that the B2B space has “lingered behind”, so I hope I don’t bring too much snark to the panel. However, in our prep call discussion we all seemed to agree, so I think snark won’t be needed and I’m confident we’ll give out some good insight on the state of influencer marketing in the B2B space in 2013.  I’ll probably talk about loving the people in your community and come off as some sort of social media hippie. Maybe I’ll have to slip some ROI stuff in there as well to disperse the patchouli oil smell.

Join me on Thursday! Thanks!

The Geek Whisperers: a podcast for social media practitioners who work with enterprise IT technologists

geek_whisperersWe launched our podcast, The Geek Whisperers, in February and now we’re about to publish episode 6. The Geek Whisperers is a podcast for social media practitioners who work with enterprise IT communities. The first episode has the founding story of how this little project began, but I’ll repeat it here from my perspective.

I work in social media professionally, and I have for the 7 and 1/2 years I’ve been with VMware. We called it something like blogging and evangelism back then, but the objectives are still the same — connect with the folks who use our products and make them successful. I really do as much work with online community as with social media, but increasingly those lines have blurred and I do a lot of internal consulting on social media campaigns, social networking presence, and content marketing. (Content marketing being 2013’s social media word of the year, but basically content marketing means writing stuff that people actually want to read, rather than marketing crap that you want to write. This has been a revelation for some marketing professionals.)

But over the whole time in my job I’ve struggled with my relationship with the social media industry. I think this comes in two parts. First of all, I’m really more of a technologist than a marketer. Although my technical background was more in programming than system administration or infrastructure, over the years I’ve become deeply enmeshed in this IT space filled with storage, networking, servers, and the mysteries of how IT can transform itself to align better with the needs of the business and not just be the guys you call when the printer doesn’t work. Becoming an IT-pro-by-proxy is how I’ve done my job — by becoming part of the community I’m working with.

But the second part of my difficulty is that the social media industry doesn’t seem very relevant to what I do. Even if you avoid the obvious simplistic advice about how and when to Tweet, the self-help/guru/personal branding crowd, and the scammy Internet Marketers, you’re left with a lot of direct marketing and consumer branding activity. Not much of that is directly related to helping an IT architect be successful building out a next-generation data center.

So over the years I’ve girded my loins a few times, filled up my RSS reader with social media blogs, started a blog or two, and gone to a few conferences, but my heart really hasn’t been in it, and I’ve chucked it all after a few weeks to get back to doing my job with my community. At the same time, after 30 years of participating in online community and after 7 years of doing it professionally, I think I have something to say.

Enter the Geek Whisperers. It was born out of a conversation with Amy Lewis of Cisco at VMworld Barcelona in 2012 — if you’ve met us you can imagine the scene, with both of us only getting a word in when the other one had to stop and take a breath. It turned out we had a lot in common professionally. After adding Matt Brender of EMC as a co-conspirator, we finally just kicked it off and figured we’ll figure out the details as we go along, which is the way all good (non-IT) projects should go!

Some people have pushed back on the name. “Geek Whisperers” doesn’t necessarily mean that we talk about geeky IT stuff, but like the Horse Whisperer and Dog Whisperer, we have experience working with geeks, we seem to have an affinity for it, and our methods are mysterious to many traditionally-trained marketing pros. We spend a lot of time in our respective large company employers explaining what we do, why it’s good for the company, and how you can do it too.

The podcast format is a bit of an experiment. I’ve run a live weekly call-in podcast for the VMware community for almost 5 years now, so I know it can be effective in reaching people, but this experience of starting a new, weekly show, hopefully well-produced and edited, and starting from scratch is a bit of a new thing for us. We hope the podcast format will help us directly interact with more people, interview more people, and entertain more people. We seem to laugh a lot, which comes across better in a podcast than a blog!

I’m bullish on podcasting in 2013. After 10 years of skipping along at a low level it seems like smart phones are finally making it easier to listen to podcasts. I’ve started listening more in the car and while cleaning the house, simply streaming to my iPhone or iPad.

We haven’t been doing a lot of promotion, so our audience has been growing slowly and it’s really been more in our native IT communities than the social media practitioners we were expecting to talk to. We’ve tried to be very honest on the show, so I hope my IT friends aren’t shocked that, yes, actually, we do run marketing programs tied to business objectives. But we work by bringing humanity and a community spirit to the dark arts of marketing, so I hope you see us as the good guys.

If you do work in social media marketing in a company that sells products or services to enterprise IT, come along and have a listen! We’ll keep doing the podcast as long as we’re having fun, and so far we’re having a blast! Here’s our episodes so far

Drop us a line if you like what you hear. Thanks!

Tech podcasts to watch out for

Although I’ve produced a weekly podcast for around 5 years, I’ve actually never been an habitual podcast listener. Recently I’ve developed the habit. A number of things came together for me to cause this:

  • I was interested in making my podcast better. I’ve been doing the same thing on the podcast for a long time. I recently concluded I need to try new things even if it’s just to keep it interesting for me.
  • I was interested in seeing what the enterprise IT industry was saying about itself.
  • I was interested in seeing what new media leaders were developing — from micropublishing and apps to podcast networks — and if we could leverage it in the enterprise IT industry.
  • I made one appearance on This Week in Enterprise Tech.
  • I turned satellite radio back on in my car for a long trip and have been listening to Howard Stern. This broke my NPR habit.

Here are some podcasts you might enjoy:

  • VMware Community Roundtable. We’re unusual in that (a) we stream live every week: Wednesdays at noon; and (b) anbody can dial in and we leave the phone lines open. The guests that we interview are usually from VMware but I hope we avoid repeating just the corporate talking points. Show site. Show Notes.
  • Speaking in Tech. This is Greg Knierieman’s third go round at the podcast rodeo (at least), and he brings a keen eye as a tech industry observer with an infectious laugh that makes for an easy listen. The other regulars (Ed Saipetch, Sarah Vela) always contribute, the tone is informal yet they get to some meat every week, and the guests are good.
  • The CloudCast. Aaron Delp and Brian Gracely have been putting out regular cloud coverage for 2 years. I’m still catching up with their back episodes, but I like how they cover different clouds (vCloud, AWS, OpenStack, CloudStack, etc.) and not just the cloud stacks themselves or the infrastructure, but also dev and ops and apps and all the rest of the good stuff that goes into cloud.
  • If you’re into virtualization, also check out the vBrownbag, vSoup, and vChat podcasts, although I haven’t been listening to them lately.
  • TWiT. I keep trying to get into the TWiT vibe, but by the time I listen to Leo Laporte’s thing on Sunday I’ve heard all the news they want to cover, and the podcasts often go for two hours, which is too long even for both legs of my commute. Leo of course is really listenable, though. They have shows on more specialized topics, but those haven’t grabbed me yet. Fr Robert Ballecer was nice enough to have me on This Week in Enterprise Tech and I had a blast, but I haven’t become a regular listener.
  • 5by5. Another podcast network I’ve been sampling. Dan Benjamin runs the network and is seemingly on every show. 5by5 has the same leisurely vibe as TWiT, with podcasts regularly clocking in over 90 minutes. It’s like sitting in an Austin coffeehouse eavesdropping on a couple of hipsters talking at the next table — often fascinating, but not really a very efficient way to get information. I picture web designers listening to this on their headphones as they sit in said Austin coffeehouse and type all day. I am still working on loving something but I recommend checking out Critical Path and High Density, both hosted or co-hosted by Horace Dediu of @asymco fame.
  • Mule Radio Syndicate. I guess Gruber, the Daring Fireball Mac guy, switched from 5by5 to Mule, but the back story and politics are lost on me. The only show that looks interesting here so far to me is The New Disruptors, hosted by Glenn Fleishman. I like Glenn’s take on disruption — from coffee makers to publishers to podcasters. On the latest show, Glenn introduced me to Andrea Seabrook’s DecodeDC, also on the Mule network. It promises to be like The Daily Show, except not a comedy.
  • Gillmor Gang. I’m not sure if this is a podcast or not, but I sometimes tune in because Steve Gillmor, Robert Scoble, and the rest of the panel are opinionated and sometimes they yell at each other. Mostly social media and general tech topics, and although I disagree with Gillmor about the viability of VRM (vendor relationship management), I will eventually be proven wrong.

General observations: The “tech press” that Silicon Valley pays attention to these days is pretty limited in scope. The “tech” on the TechCrunch-Y Combinator axis is mostly composed of consumer-facing social startups, gadgets, and Apple/Twitter/Facebook/Google. Enterprise IT isn’t covered very well. The podcasts covering this area tend to all plow the same field. And since I have been reading this tech press more than a usual — more than a normal person would — I tend to have read all the stories already by the time I listen to the podcast and the discussion of the stories on the podcast therefore aren’t particularly unique. Maybe these general tech news podcasts aren’t for me. Podcast production also tends to be pretty non-produced with the discussion all over the place even compared to talk radio — and in my weekly podcast I’m pretty much winging it as well, but at least I’m not going on for two hours at a time.

I’m wishing there was a tightly produced 30 minute tech news recap I could listen to on the way to work. I’m tempted to try podcasts from old media to see if such a thing exists, but instead I think I’m going to dive into storytelling and comedy podcasts next, because I suspect there are lessons to be learned about telling a story.

Any favorite podcasts I should check out?

Update: Leo Laporte video on what he’s trying to do, his revenue and advertisers, and how his goals differ from the mainstream media.