The hashtag for Twiistup 6's "Leveraging the Power of the Social Web" panel, moderated by lalawag and Tsavo's Sean Percival, was #wakeup. That's the peril of following a night of hard partying with a full day of serious conversation. Surprisingly, a good crowd gathered for discussion with bloggers Chris Brogan, president of the Web 2.0 marketing agency New Marketing Labs; Ben Huh, CEO of the absurdly successful ICanHasCheezburger; and Micah Baldwin, vice president of business development for Lijit Networks.
"I kind of wanna know how late everyone was out last night," asked Huh from his seat on the panel. "Can we do the hand thing? Everybody raise your hand and if you stayed out past that point, like, keep your hand up. All right, everybody raise your hands. Come on! OK. If you stayed up past midnight, keep your hand up."
Past midnight? Hands are all up. Past one? Hands still up. Past two? Still up.
"What's wrong with you people?" Huh laughed. "You're at a conference!"
Yes, we were. Here are some of the highlights:
LEVERAGING THE POWER OF SOCIAL WEB
"When we see a picture of someone standing next to a car in an advertisement," said Brogan, "we never think, 'Oh! I should buy that car! Tiger Woods has one of those! That's what I'm buying.' We never do that, we say, 'hey, what kind of car do you drive?' I think there is such an opportunity at this time and everyone is missing it because they're trying to align it with what they used to do."
Being human makes you trustworthy and trust is vital when it comes to readers and viewers. A consumer is more likely to buy a brand that someone they trust has suggested it than they are because they have seen someone famous on an advertisement promoting it.
THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA IS IN INTEGRATION
"If you take your blog and you put that at the center and allow everything else to live in the globe, in the orbit around your blog, then the blog becomes an extremely valuable tool," said Micah Baldwin. "If you use your blog as just on its own, and you've got Twitter over here and Flickr over here and you don't put it all together, you see a half a picture."
But if you can offer a full picture, readers feel as though they know you better, and that they can trust you more. A more complete picture provides more credibility. Trust is key.
THERE IS PUSHING AND THEN THERE'S CREATING COMPELLING CONTENT
There are two ways to use social media marketing: create compelling content that organically reaches an ideal audience, or push all your content out there yourself.
"When I watch my direct message stream one of the things that get to me is all the people who are trying to get me to retweet all their dumb shit," said Chris Brogan. "It's OK if I'm a friend of yours and it's OK if I do it once because it's interesting and germane, but then suddenly, I'm like their promotion guy? After a few times, it's not cool anymore to do that. If you can't keep the traffic... if the traffic is not gonna come, it's not gonna come."
"Once you try to push something on social media, there's an incredible push back," Ben Huh added. "You can't really do that effectively. You'll get some people, but you'll burn a whole bunch of other people."
L.A.'S STARTUP ECOSYSTEM
The "(L.A.) Startup Ecosystem" panel featured Mark Suster, venture capitalist with GRP Partners; Mike Jones, chief operating officer at MySpace; David O. Sacks, founder of Yammer; and James Montgomery, CEO of Montgomery & Co.
"We're on the next generation of entrepreneurs," said Suster, referring to the growth of L.A.
Even so, they agree that there are still ecosystem gaps, and building a strong public company has proven challenging. Yammer, Sacks announced, is moving out of L.A. to San Francisco.
"In Silicon Valley you have more access to talent, capital, media contact, industry events, potential partners, potential acquirers," said Sacks. "The whole ecosystem there is just much larger and much more developed."
Mike Jones called this view myopic.
"Being in L.A. gave me a competitive advantage, in that there was a smaller pool of startups here," Jones said. "I also found I wasn't constantly fighting off other companies trying to steal my employees, I wasn't constantly in salary and options negotiations because of the competitive nature of my environment."
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Do Internet companies in L.A. have staying power? Following a short lunch, successful Internet entrepreneur Jason Calacanis hosted his show This Week In Startups live with Topix CEO Chris Tolles, giving members of the audience an opportunity to ask questions about their startup dreams. Key points included:
- Go into a space where someone has pioneered it, but hasn't commercialized it. Calacanis suggested moving in on ideas that have already been developed before moving in with a model.
- Other people going out of business is not necessarily an opportunity. If the revenue is being destroyed, that doesn't mean revenue is being created somewhere else.
- "If you can't be cranking some revenue in two or three years, you might want to bring in your expectations," said Tolles.
- Should an entrepreneur focus on instant revenue or market share? The big guys focused on the audience more than the money. Tolles agreed that if you have to make money from day one, it's hard to take the risks you need to be really successful. To win big you need to focus on market share.
To listen to the show, visit This Week In Startups.
These panels were an excellent way to close the Twiistup two-day line-up. Definitely something worth waking up and ignoring a hangover for.