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On PR, Social Media and the Evolution of the Web with Robert Scoble

I recently visited good friend Robert Scoble, his lovely wife Maryam and their family in Half Moon Bay. It was an overdue trip, one without an agenda. It was a fleeting opportunity to catch up, talk a bit about the latest book, and also an excuse to have a fireside chat, literally, on the grounds of the Ritz Carlton (overlooking the 18th green and the Pacific Ocean.)

Before we could walk over to the Ritz however, Scoble sat me down, fired up his Canon 5d Mark II and sparked a discussion that would ultimately become an invigorating dialogue covering the evolution and future of PR, Social Media, technology and the people and companies driving the social economy. The camera kept rolling as the discussions veered and deepened. Needless to say, we lost track of time.  Hopefully you will too…

Thank you Robert.

Part I.
Part II.
Part III.

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40 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “On PR, Social Media and the Evolution of the Web with Robert Scoble”

  1. Just listened to every word and will listen again. You said Tweet if we finished the entire video, but I don't … tweet … yet. New to Social Media; this video put me on the right path. Thanks much for explaining so many things so well. Will be following 🙂

  2. Hi Brian,

    I just got done watching all these videos, and just wanted to make a few comments. My takeaway was that you and Scoble were essentially addressing these questions:

    – What is Twitter?

    – How do you use it strategically?

    – What methods can be used to filter out the noise?

    – How can the value of Twitter become quickly apparent for new users?

    I'm only responding to your post because I've been trying to address these same questions, and have a few insights to share based on a lot of reading and exchanging ideas via Twitter.

    1.) What is Twitter?

    Twitter is an Information Exchange. That's the most succinct description I've come up with so far. Runners-up would be 'Idea Exchange', 'Knowledge Network', or 'Personal Learning Network.' I've never experienced anything quite like Twitter, where you can access the minds of people who share your interests and are happy to provide you with a wealth of specific, targeted, relevant information that no google search can match.

    I'm sorry to be self-referential here, but I just want to point you to 2 posts I've assembled that have helped me to peel away the layers of what's really going on with Twitter:

    Is Twitter a Complex Adaptive System? (…)


    Twitter's Intelligent; Welcome to Web 3.0 (…)

    I didn't really “write” either of these, I just pulled together a bunch of posts from people smarter than me to try and see a pattern. The results have been surprising.

    2.) How do you use it (strategically)?

    I really see it as a platform for the exchange of information and ideas, so for Scoble to say it's just for “pimping your blog” seems to detract so much from its potential. I think 'social media marketers' are seeing that it doesn't work as a broadcast network. It really is about sending and receiving 140 character nuggets of value.

    For example, for those who seem to 'get it' in the Social Web Strategy arena, (you, Brogan, Kawasaki, Owyang, etc), blog posts are usually well thought out, insightful, and give the reader something to chew on. Tweets are a combination of links to those posts, in addition to an aggregation of tweets and retweets of similar material that would be useful to someone interested in developing their strategy.

    At the same time, there are many people on Twitter who simply tweet awesome content. I've found that quite a bit of material I find comes from those 'curators' and 'filterers' of the web, who are passionate about their interest area and only tweet things that they think people within that community would want. Most tweets include a link to other information. (blog post, PDF, resource)

    So, I think one component of getting the most value from your time and effort invested in Twitter includes really being selective about who you follow, and asking yourself 'Will having this person's tweets in my stream make me smarter?' That applies to any interest area. As you mention in the video, if an avid quilter joins Twitter, they should know how to access the people/organizations that tweet great content about quilting – tips, tricks, links to blogs, etc. As they learn more about the craft or find a great piece of information they think the quilting community would get value from, they can tweet it and start the positive feedback loop of giving and receiving value.

    3.) How do you filter out the noise?

    I'll agree with Scoble's sentiment in the video that some Twitter users are detracting from their own value by putting too much “noise” in their tweetstreams, which can be distracting and frustrating, especially for new Twitter users. I actually wrote a post recently commending Scoble for his suggestion to bloggers to create separate Twitter accounts that will only include their original content, as a service to those people who aren't interested in seeing all the extra chatter.

    Other than that, be selective about who you follow and use lists to organize people/content.

    4.) How to make the value apparent?

    Getting rid of 'suggested users' was a good start, it was really misleading as to what's out there. Introducing the Lists feature was also good. ( helped me find my first round of interesting people to follow). After that, it was a matter of looking at who people I followed were following, who they were retweeting, and who they were recommending (usually via #FF #FollowFriday), and selectively following them too. It takes time to build a solid network, and I'm constantly building and reshaping mine.

    I've also been trying to put together basic resource and strategy guides to lower the barrier to entry for new users, and thinking about “elevator pitch” explanations as to why it's important.

    Final Thoughts

    I think the real-time web (whether it's Twitter, or whatever comes next) is a powerful new form of communication that is still vastly undervalued and unexplored. As we learn how to leverage these global networks, some highly disruptive (and potentially amazing) social changes will be facilitated. My intention is to continue to simplify and spread these ideas so more people will benefit from the possibilities.


  3. W.F. says:

    The three video interviews were very informative and enlightening.
    I think you should save these videos for a college level online course
    on the social media. Great job I really learned a lot from the interview.

  4. I watched all three videos and found them very engaging. Love the title of the new book (send me a copy!) Is there an audio version? btw – It's about time PR wasn't more than a retainer and templated announcements 🙂 Would love to meet you next time I'm out west (which is mid Dec).

  5. norwind says:

    (0. There are out there large capacity memory cards that, I believe, will permit the video recording in hours and not limit to 15 or 30 min segments.)
    1. Thank you for sharing, through these video presentations, your thoughts and ideas about the social aspects of social media. Video allows the personal characteristics a closer look, as a result we (your audience) get to “know” you a little better to some extent.
    2. Social media and Twitter, are evolving and changing the methods and procedures used to interact electronically; in particular, these are are about the human concerns of people/users that the media (computers, Internet, platforms, systems) must include and integrate within its fabric specially when these users are being asked to view/consider advertising and to make selections and/or purchases.

  6. @collentine says:


    Agree on needing a digital antrophologist. Think more and more PR-firms need one as well. And as you mentioned, just having an interactive question, instead of “What's happening?”, that changes based on your feed or randomly would make it easier for new people.

  7. Robert should be on Twitter's board of directors, I swear he knows more about the ecosystem than some top execs at the company.

    Good interviews, they kept me entertained, and I learned a couple interesting things as well. Thanks Brian and Robert for doing this.

  8. bretthimself says:

    Really liked the interview, Brian. It seems that Twitter really can be confusing for a lot of newbies (I myself just got an account on Tuesday, mainly as a way to pimp my blog, like Scoble said), since there's a lack of direction. But the more I'm on it, the more value I see in it, because you have to go above and beyond just tweeting “What's Happening?” or adding a link to your latest blog post. Actually connecting with your followers or the people you're following is where the true value of twitter lies. I can't remember who said it, but a blogger once proposed the idea that connection is easier on twitter because of the 140 character limit – it forces people to cut to the chase. I don't know if that's true or not, but I'll try to find out as I tweet more.

    I also really loved Venessa's comment below – it was full of value.

  9. Love the book title, “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations”. Same goes for “social media”. It is so much more than posting some links and boring information on Twitter. To stand out you must show some personality along with your authority. Thanks for the great videos!

  10. David Hauser says:

    Great set of videos and yes I watched all of them until the end. If you are not changing how you do PR and create authentic conversations then you will be left behind. Thanks guys for spending the time to put this content out there.

  11. Great interview Brian. Sorry to miss you while you were in Denver. Also enjoyed your recent post on the Human Network. Still curious why some companies still promote “killer applications” versus “killer experiences”.

  12. Stan says:

    FYI to Scoble: the reason 4sq pops up Twitter so much is because it relentlessly spams, not because it's “hot”.

  13. I think Twitter is great but it is going to go through some real morphing and changing over the next few years that will determine its power. Amazing to see how far along that site has come in so little time.

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