This project really tickles me. In many ways, I could call it "Naked Conversations, the Sequel." Here's what happened.
Giovanni Rodriguez, co-founder of Hubbub, a global social media consulting network , contacted me last month, asking for help with his client SAP. Now, I'm more of a startups guy than an enterprise player, partly because I like decisions made fast. Ad hoc works better for me than systems in place. Once everyone understands the "best practice" I usually move on to practice something more imperfect. But SAP has done a lot of cool things in social media and seems to have been collaborative in its attitude, so I listened to Giovanni.
Giovanni told me that social media thought leadership was a strategic imperative at SAP and that the project they had in mind was to simply get a handle on what is happening in the world regarding social media. Giovanni asked me how I would search for an answer to that question.
I told him I would approach the project in the same way that Scoble and I had researched the book. I would talk to a whole bunch of people in diverse locations and cultures, in businesses of all sizes. Giovanni liked the idea and I wrote up a one-page proposal, which he forwarded to his client.
In a short and painless process, I got an approval. To get started, I met Michael Prosceno, SAP VP for Global Communications, the guy who had just hired me, at the Los Gatos Original Pancake House, a venue known for huge portions and low prices, well off the corporate circuit.
Mike told me that his personal ambition was to fundamentally change how PR is practiced, making me realize that he, Giovanni and I are fellow travelers. His attitude made it easy for me to try to push the envelope. Most corporate research is is considered sacred and proprietary, thus conflicting with the social media 'Cult of Generosity.'
I suggested to Mike that we conduct and report on this project, transparently, online on this site in the same way Robert and I wrote Naked Conversations. If the book had magic, had not come from the research or the actual writing. It came from the collaboration we had shared with the blogosphere. Bloggers gave us leads. They corrected the facts. They let us know when we were making valid points and when we had gone over the top.
I proposed that we do the SAP Global Social Media Research on this blog, in collaboration with the blogosphere, that we do it transparently and that what we find we share on this blog. This, as far as I know, would differentiate it from any market research and the process in itself would become an example of thought leadership.
Mike loved the idea. He needed to have an internal conversation, take an overdue vacation and would get back to me. That was about two weeks ago. Last night, Mike emailed Giovanni and me in atypical corporate style. "It's a go" he wrote, and I quote it's entirety.
So here I go. I have 60 days to produce three anecdotal research reports on The Americas; Asia Pacific and Europe-Mediterranean-West Asia and I need your help.
Here's what I am doing. I am trying to answer a single, overwhelming question: "What is going on in the world with regard to social media? I am looking for useful statistics, but those are often outdated before they are published as we learned with the book.
Mostly I am looking for real people with stories and personal experience about what is happening with blogging, video, online communities and assorted conversational media. I'd like to get some anecdotal granularity on why blogging is taking off in Poland these days, or how social media behavior is different in Italy than it is in Russia and Canada.
I want your stories. For those of you who started reading this blog after the book was published, I interviewed most of the people in a Q & A style and posted them on this site. Then other people left comments. Those interviews got incorporated into chapters. Early versions of the chapters were then posted and we received more comments before finalizing the chapter.
So, please start those cards and letters coming now. If you have a story that reveals something about blogging, blogging trends in any country of the world please let me know. SAP is more interested in business than consumer, but what people are doing is valuable in that it shapes all markets. You are encouraged to leave a comment here. If you are shy you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have only 59 1/2 days until deadline so please start helping me now.