Thoughts from Social Media Week London

2012 has been a big year for Janrain in the European Union – we officially opened our first office in London, hired experts in their field to support our clients there, and signed a bunch of new customers, including FranceTV, Britain’s Channel 4, The Financial Times, VisitLondon.com, Real.de (one of the largest retailers in Europe) and Life Champions, among others.  So when we saw that Social Media Week was being held during the last week of September we jumped at the opportunity to participate.

We held our first event on Monday evening at the offices of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).  More than 150 people signed up to interact with us on the topic of “The Many Faces of Your Brand:  Using Social Identities to Communicate with Multiple Audiences.”  My colleague, Jamie Beckland, Janrain’s Director of Digital Stategy, and I led a discussion on the challenges brand marketers face when communicating with different segments of our audience, and how utilizing the data that is available when a consumer chooses to login using a social identity can facilitate these conversations.  As Jamie noted, “As a brand you must create an experience relevant to each segment of your audience, but that won’t work unless you know who they are in the first place.”  Social Media Influence wrote a nice synopsis of the evening if you are interested in reading more.

Two days later we held our very first European Janrain User Group meeting, graciously hosted by Channel 4 in their very hip headquarters in London’s Westminster area, complete with an awesome sculpture tribute to the athletes of the Paralympics.  The goal of the day was to facilitate networking and share best practices – not just from Janrain TO our clients – but also BETWEEN clients.  As an observer it was really gratifying to see a packed room and the interaction between all the participants.

A couple of sessions in particular stood out to me.  In the first, Jamie covered how his team evaluates client web sites to identify ways for them to increase engagement and improve the overall end user experience.  The really cool thing was what happened next – one of our clients volunteered his site for critical feedback from the others in the room.  Watching our customers provide suggestions and stories on what worked for them in hopes of helping him represented everything we were hoping to accomplish during the day.

The second moment for me was when Russell Loarridge, Janrain’s European Director of Customer Acquisition, led an interactive discussion on how to communicate social engagement strategy and success internally in order to create momentum and support from different areas of the business.  As the room split up into small groups to identify challenges and suggest paths to resolution, the amount of participation was evident in the heightened noise level in our large meeting space.  If the promise of social media is increased communication and sharing across people, then our European customers are well on their way to realizing its full value!

We concluded our formal events on Thursday evening with a lively debate on the role of privacy and anonymity within our socially connected online world.  I want to personally thank Mike Pegman, Lead Security Architect for Universal Credit at the Department for Work & Pensions and Nick Blunden, Global Digital Publisher for The Economist for taking the lead and driving a very successful evening.