The Great Social Experiment – How Has It Gone?

REPOST from original series started on blog.thinkfree.com back in September of 2007

As some of you have followed, I started an experiment on social networking a while back. The experiment attempted to find out how well social networking sites (defined very loosely) can help businesses expand outreach, generate conversations around topics of interest, and increase their friends and family network. To see the humble beginnings you can check out the first article.

The time has come to analyze how the experiment went. But instead of li’l ole me judging the outcomes I was inspired by the roundtable that Aaron Brazell put together over at Technosailor. So I asked some of the same group to take a look at my methodology and give me the news – how well did I fair at this new social networking game. First let me introduce the panel:


Aaron Brazell is the Director of Technology for b5media and a social media consultant in his own right. He is a fan of anything that allows regular people to connect to the world around them. He writes about this and other topics relating to business and social media at his blog, Technosailor.com.


Chris Brogan is a social media expert specializing in building and strengthening online and offline communities. He has blogged since 1998 (when it was called “journaling”), and makes media in several forms, including audio, video, and through the use of social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and more. He is co-founder of PodCamp, a free unconference that explores the benefits and uses of new media community tools. Co-founded with Christopher S. Penn, and organized with Bryan Person, Steve Garfield, Adam Weiss, the first PodCamp was held on September 2006 at the Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. Other PodCamps are organized by local community leaders. Chris works as Vice President of Strategy & Technology at CrossTechMedia.


Doug Haslam is a public relations professional with Topaz Partners, specializing in technology clients in the Web 2.0, mobile, storage and networking industries. Doug comes to public relations after a decade in broadcast journalism, and has spent his years with Topaz putting to practice his observations on how new media affect branding, reputation and communications.


Cathryn Hrudicka started her original company, Cathryn Hrudicka & Associates, working primarily in public relations, marketing, record promotion, arts management and event production in the entertainment industry. She has also worked on projects for technology and other Fortune 500 companies, universities, museums, major nonprofit agencies, trade associations, entrepreneurs, artists, performers and authors. She was recently quoted in Fast Company by Robert Scoble, about her use of social media, including to brand her new company branch, Creative Sage™, offering creative thinking and innovation training and consulting. She is also an executive coach and management consultant, a blogger, journalist, editor, media producer and social media consultant. She is on the planning committee for the San Francisco Social Media Club. See http://www.CreativeSage.com and http://www.CathrynHrudicka.com.


Brian Solis is Principal of FutureWorks, a PR and Social Media agency in Silicon Valley that “gets it.” Solis also runs the PR2.0 blog. Solis is co-founder of the Social Media Club, is an original member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup, and also is a contributor to the Social Media Collective.

Marc Orchant was supposed to participate and was key in putting together this panel. His way too soon departure from this world has left a huge hole in all of us. Oliver Starr has set up a page for donations to the family. I thank him from the bottom of my heart for everything he has done for us, personally and professionally.

The Methodology
Here is what I did:

  1. Set myself up on a number of social networking sites (you can see them on the side of the blog under “follow me on:”).
  2. Brought in as many contacts as possible from my world into the social site.
  3. Expanded those networks through connections.
  4. Hooked in feeds from one social networking site to another.
  5. Published, commented, referenced interesting articles both from a personal and business perspective.

The Test

I wanted to see how well my social buddies did on the following:

  1. I needed a success story for an interview with a magazine, so I asked my network.
  2. Tried to push out a major press release, and other minor blog articles.
  3. Tried to find connections in Latin America for business opportunities.

The Results

The short answer about how the tools performed is – good, bad, and I don’t know. Both 1 and 2 were unqualified failures. The 3rd test was somewhat successful, although the success primarily came through more influential members of my circle. But, more importantly there hasn’t been a lot of feedback so I really don’t know if people noticed or not.

The Analysis

Some questions come to mind:

  1. Did I devote enough time to the exercise? More to the point, where should social networking be placed in terms of marketing priorities? Does this change for companies that are more or less mature?
  2. How should we be judging the outcomes from social networking activities? Are there tools you recommend?
  3. Is social networking the right tool for the tests I created? Are my expectations of social networking in line with what it can do? What is social networking best geared to address?
  4. How much of getting social networking to work is the contacts you bring with you? How aggressive should one be in reaching out to new contacts? Should I, for instance, try to befriend Chris Anderson even after I have composed a note meant to appeal to what he is interested in?
  5. How can I build better mechanisms into the framework to increase feedback?

Tomorrow round one – how much time should be devoted to the care and feeding of a social network?

Previous blog articles in this series:

Can you digg it? I knew that you could – The Great Social Experiment

The Great Social Experiment – #1 Getting Started

The Great Social Experiment #2 – Will You Be My Friend

The Great Social Experiment – #3 owwww, i’m u’r biggest fan

And the round table discussion:

  1. Did I devote enough time to the exercise? More to the point, where should social networking be placed in terms of marketing priorities? Does this change for companies that are more or less mature?
  2. How should we be judging the outcomes from social networking activities? Are there tools you recommend?
  3. Is social networking the right tool for the tests I created? Are my expectations of social networking in line with what it can do? What is social networking best geared to address?
  4. How much of getting social networking to work is the contacts you bring with you? How aggressive should one be in reaching out to new contacts? Should I, for instance, try to befriend Chris Anderson even after I have composed a note meant to appeal to what he is interested in?
  5. How can I build better mechanisms into the framework to increase feedback?

Oh and don’t forget to use the social networking tools below to share and enjoy – part of the experiment right?

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks for reposting this Jonathan. I can’t believe this was way back in September!

    So much has changed since then- for one thing, I have left Topaz Partners and now work with SHIFT Communications. I somehow managed to land the new gig despite not being able to find these posts at the time to pad the resume 😉

  2. Doug,

    Congrats on the new job. Hope you are having fun.

    Jonathan

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