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News@Cisco Week in Review and Look Ahead: March 21-25

It’s that time again for a rundown of our top news stories and what to look out for next week!

1.) Innovators: Neil Diener and Walt Shaw: Improving the Wireless World

Neil Diener and Walt Shaw, the leaders behind Cisco Clean Air technology, are pretty humble when it comes to talking about their innovative contributions at Cisco. But there is no hiding their passion for their work and the impact it has on the industry. Learn more about Diener, Shaw and Cisco Clean Air technology here!

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SXSW 2011 Recap: Chop Shop / Atlantic Records Party

Rhydian Dafydd, on bass and Ritzy Bryan, on guitar - rock out at the Chop Shop Records / Atlantic Records SXSW Party 2011, enabled by Cisco Eos

At SXSW, with hundreds of bands, singer / songwriters, DJ / producers, playing across the city, I was reminded of why record labels are important. You need them for the curation and aggregation of the music. Otherwise, in a sea of music, there are less avenues to find a good group of similar artists you may like.  Last year at the Bandwidth Conference in San Francisco, we heard music industry luminary and Elektra Records founder, Jac Holzman, opine on the importance of labels as curators (watch video here).

I attended many record label showcases at SXSW 2011 that proved this point -- including two showcases enabled by Cisco Eos: The Killers Lasers Papers showcase which was hip hop / R&B focused (link to our review), and the primarily indie rock driven Chop Shop Records / Atlantic Records SXSW Party.

If you are reading this post before March 27th and you register at several of the artist sites of the bands who played the Chop Shop / Atlantic showcase including -- kittentheband.com, scarson45.com, republictigers.com, thejoyformidable.com -- you’ll be entered to win a custom designed Flip MinoHD™. The custom artwork on the Flip reflects the talents of Portugal The Man lead singer, John Gourley, who created the painting for the showcase poster.

I had not heard any of the Chop Shop Records bands before the event, and I was pleasantly surprised once the showcase got going. All the bands put on monster performances. I thought to myself again, “great curation at work”. The showcase started off with Kitten The Band, led by vocalist / guitarist Chloe Chaidez. Chloe was thrashing about during the 5 song set with a powerful voice and a confident stage presence. The music reminded me of early years of The Cure.

When Chloe of Kitten got off stage, I got to talk with her briefly about how she uses social media to connect with fans. The Atlantic Records team kindly let me know she’s only 16 years old. You would need to get up close to the stage to even guess Chloe’s age because she performs so confidently, yet sure enough she’s a soft spoken fresh faced teen when not singing. Each of the bands I talked with during the showcase have a specific social media channel that they like to use as their primary means of communication with fans. Chloe of Kitten’s social media platform of choice to talk to fans is Facebook;  I guess like you would expect of a teenage girl.  John Gourley of Portugal The Man emphasized he’s all about Twitter. For the U.K.’s Scars on 45, video blogging is the primary way they communicate to fans. In the clip, they talk about the video they shoot and other methods they use to communicate with fans, including via their Cisco Eos powered web site -- Scarson45.com.

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The Social Soap Box: Lady Gaga, Social Media and B2Bs

March 23, 2011 at 8:33 pm PST

I was at the Lady Gaga concert at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA last night in what initially was another routine concert outing (I average about five concerts a year) that quickly turned into my own personal tour on how Miss Gaga does social media. Even before the Oracle Arena opened its doors to her loyal fans, Gaga participated in an interactive Q&A session at Google HQ earlier which garnered approximately 40,000 questions after days it was announced via her YouTube channel.  

At the concert, the two massive digital screens displaying a  live Twitter stream of tweets from fans were expected, but to top that off, she used text messaging to raise awareness and money for her favorite charities. While on stage, she called one fan who attended the concert to personally thank him for the donation.  I even conducted my own impromptu poll with a handful of excited fans. Surprisingly however, most didn’t know she was hip on social media or followed her on Twitter or Facebook. I’m sure if I polled at least half of the concert goers, the results would differ dramatically. The numbers don’t lie. Gaga is still the most socially networked star.

Given all the coverage on Gaga’s use of social media, it’s no surprise that more celebrities are jumping on the social media band wagon to give their personal brands a major social boost.  But can the same social media playbook that helped elevate these personal brands be used for B2B brands?  To enlighten us, I turned to social media expert and blogger for ZDNet, Jennifer Leggio for her candid thoughts.

Despite Lady Gaga’s extreme physical presence, she’s maintained a level of approachability with her fans online. She treats them as if they are a part of her success, rather than merely the reasons for her success. People are fans generally because they want to feel included in something bigger than themselves and Lady Gaga gives hers an opportunity to do that by showing her true self — behind the wigs, 10-inch platforms and make-up — digitally.

I absolutely believe that B2B companies can learn from Lady Gaga and her online presence success. I think, to boil it down, companies need to stop being afraid of their customers and allow them to feel as if they are a part of the company. Despite the advances in social media over the last few years, many companies are still afraid to invite their customers in via blogs or online communities, and they don’t realize how that might alienate otherwise loyal customers. Companies, considering disclosure issues of course, should also be as open with their customers as possible. Allow their executive teams to be real – Cisco’s own Padmasree Warrior is a great example of that. This not only establishes thought leadership but also a human factor that draws in customers and partners.

- Jennifer Leggio

Well said, Jennifer! And since I rarely get to blog about music for Cisco but often share my favorite SOTD (song of the day) with friends on Facebook and Twitter,  I’ll leave you with my Gaga SOTD. Enjoy!

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SXSW Recap: Panels, Concerts and Showcases

SXSW has become an increasingly important event for the media and entertainment industry. The numbers themselves are telling—the show has had five+ years of double digit growth, and organizers said there was a 40 percent increase in registrations for the interactive portion this year compared to 2010.  On the music and film side, organizers said that last week, the city of Austin, TX saw 2,000 bands perform on 92 stages, and there were more than 275 film screenings.

While the conference and festival’s increased prominence brings more eyeballs, it also means it’s harder to stand out from the crowd. Brands need a strong online presence to create interest and drive audiences to their physical events.

Not only did we participate in the conference portion of the festival, but Cisco Eos powered the sites behind Atlantic Records’ SXSW events, driving interest and real value over the course of this much anticipated event. These turned out to be some of the highlights of SXSW: Read More »

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Executive Social Engagement

March 22, 2011 at 7:33 am PST

Last week, the co-manager of the Cisco Networking Academy Facebook page (@HilalChouman) pointed out an amazing customer post to me.

Ricardo Beltran’s girlfriend had baked him a custom Cisco birthday cake that obviously showed his dedication to Cisco. He was so proud of it, that he shared it on the Networking Academy Facebook page for all 188k fans to see.

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