Social Media Week Berlin Highlights

by James Glazebrook

We may have been in Milan for much of Social Media Week, but I still made it down to a couple of thought-provoking sessions before we left. As with Hello Etsy the weekend before, the best thing about SMW was the chance to put faces to the URLs of our online buddies, including Travels of Adam, Nicole is the New Black, Yvonne from Just Travelous and Katja glamcanyon. When I wasn’t talking crap over a Club Mate, here’s what I learned:

Gamification is set to be The Next Big Thing

The keynote speech from Gabe Zichermann of focused on the “process of using game concepts and mechanics to engage users”, particularly location-based gaming concepts. As a foursquare refugee, it was refreshing to hear an expert describe pure location-based gaming as “a total shitshell”. Also, as a social media consultant with automotive clients, it was interesting to hear about the games built into the dashboards of hybrid and battery electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, that give feedback to the driver about the vehicle’s performance.

Unfortunately, the below video is missing the fascinating round table discussion that took place immediately after, with Berlin-based social games developer wooga and the inspiring Willempje Vrins from figure running, the crazy Dutch folks who started drawing pictures on maps using existing running applications, then ended up building their own app. As with everything that co-opts a (historically) niche subculture and turns it to commercial gain, gamification has been criticised by videogames experts. Personally I disagree with Ian Bogost’s core argument that gamification is “marketing bullshit” because it is “used to conceal, to impress or to coerce”, as that is what marketing is supposed to do. That’s like 1976 punks bemoaning the fact that hair product commercials feature kids with fauxhawks. Accept it, move on.

Aaaanyway, watch Gabe’s speech for yourself and see what you think:

Keynote on Gamification – Gabe Zichermann – Social Media Week Berlin – Sept. 19, 2011 from SMWBerlin on Vimeo.

Everyone wants to be a Community Manager

It was fascinating to hear from the community management experts at Nokia Germany and Soundcloud, among others. Their discussion reinforced some basic principles (number of fans is less useful than activity and engagement) and revealed philosophical differences between those companies for whom their community is central to their mission and those that either treat social as a marketing channel and/or outsource it.

It was also interesting to hear about the number of people who want to get into community management (especially here in Berlin), to have some common illusions dispelled (no, it’s not just getting paid to tweet) and to learn about some unusual – but in retrospect, obvious – approaches to securing these jobs, like: join a community, and build your profile within it.

Job Title: Community Manager – Social Media Week Berlin 2011 (EN) from SMWBerlin on Vimeo.

Trendsmap is cool

This tool, that CNN uses to source stories, plots real-time Twitter trends on a map, according to the location from which they were posted. Check out what our fellow Berliners are talking about.
Trendsmap Berlin
iReport is also cool

iReport is CNN’s own tool, which bridges the gap between the immediacy of social media reports, and the accuracy of mainstream news media. Essentially, anyone can submit a story which will appear on the iReport website, and then CNN will do their journalistic thing and follow them up, mark legit stories as vetted, and use them in their online and broadcast news reports. You can see reports from Social Media Week here.

Facebook isn’t as useful for brands as they have been led to believe

I was gutted to miss a talk from Market Sentinel, a UK company that I work with. However, this blog post breaks down the results of a summer’s worth of research: Facebook ads don’t work for brands; Facebook fan pages don’t work for brands; Facebook apps should work for brands, but often don’t. Illuminating reading.

Social is great, but real life is better

Berlin is full of inspiring people doing amazing things in social, but we never get to see them! We have plans for a meetup of our own, but in the meantime the 4-Hour-Workweek Berlin group will act as our real-world support system. See you down there!

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