Flip Back to the Future

By Tyler Singletary, BBI Board Member and VP & GM Klout and Consumer Data, Lithium (@harmophone, Klout, Lithium

Flipboard was the first killer app for the iPad — a beautiful new way to read content from across the web, without worrying about RSS feeds. It was an early innovator at leveraging social networks for personalization. And it just might be the canary in the coal mine in a number of ways.

While Facebook gets mired in a debate around its use of human curators, and again deeper in its use of algorithmic curation, Flipboard had already gotten us familiar with both — and without the backlash. It’s been awhile since one finds a completely irrelevant article, and it’s learned what sources you read, the topics you’re interested in, the amount of time you’re reading — nearly everything that optimizes a discovery and personalization system.

Flipboard’s native National Geographic experience, putting up the wall one brick at a time.

To accomplish this, we were lead through the gates of their walled garden. Don’t be afraid, they’re pretty good gardeners. Early Flipboard users remember a time when a decent amount of content wouldn’t render well. Limitations with the IOS browser, content crawling and classification, and inherent hardware problems presented some downright ugly content and application crashes. To drive a more consistent user experience, Flipboard introduced a few features that sound familiar in today’s world of OpenGraph tags, Instant Articles, Twitter Cards, and Pinterest optimization: custom Flipboard CSS tags and a content partnering platform with select publishers — to beautify and provide a native experience to users. Flipboard became a platform. It also gave them their first ad monetization opportunities.

Walled gardens aren’t usually made with bad intentions. Most people are just happy to see the foliage. It tends to rankle the open web purists though, and certainly gives engineers a lot more to consider. What if web standards are behind? What if users don’t actually care about a standards-compliant, utopian free web, and just want to see their content? Then there are the paywalled gardens, like the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. While germinated from a more protectionist point of view, they’re fighting for survival. Users don’t want to see ads, but they want content for free. Open Web enthusiasts seem happy with simple RSS readers and ignore the window dressing that content creators have the right to be viewed. Flipboard remains one of the only platforms purely dedicated to aggregated content discovery and consumption, with Apple News taking their playbook since IOS9. In this game, the platform with the most eyeballs and the best relationships with publishers will win.

And this is where Flipboard may be an early warning system. We’ve seen a number of other “newsreader” tools fall by the wayside and be shut down, already. If Flipboard loses this battle, it isn’t because of their approach to personalization — it worked, and social data had one of its first proof of concepts (and corrections: Flipboard was smart enough to ask its users about their interests, too). It isn’t because of their deals with publishers — that was survival, good business sense, and a model Facebook and Apple adopted. But its peer-to-peer social features and curated magazines, perhaps its only unique features against Apple (with Nuzzelon its heels), aren’t essential to the experience. Apple has won these arms wars in the past through shrewd licensing. Ironically, Open Web concepts may be the saving grace that keeps Flipboard in the game.

Facebook is betting users will only care about the news as a passing interest amongst their friends, with Twitter focused on breaking the news, not just sharing it. LinkedIn thinks it’s part of an authored thought leadership forum. Apple will integrate it tighter with iMessage, but gave us the “just the facts, ma’m” version. If anyone dies in this mine, it’s not because there’s gas poisoning, it’s because there just isn’t enough clean air to breath. The users will read pretty, relevant content wherever and however it appears. The more seamless, the better.

How Digital Curation Enhances the Value of Social Data

By Leigh Fatzinger, CEO, Turbine Labs (@lfatzinger, @turbinelabs)

Over the last 10 years, the social data market sector has enabled a multitude of ways to understand how audiences interact with brands, organizations, political candidates, governments, and more.  Social data platforms have expanded in functionality and complexity through investment and industry consolidation, while simultaneously adjusting to new and evolving data sources. In the case of Facebook and Twitter, the availability or restricted use of existing data sources has required platforms to divert from their original product roadmaps. Even with the changing data access landscape, social data platforms have access to a staggering amount of consumer and media content – data that needs to be collected, filtered, and processed into a usable format.

From an innovation perspective, and as a response to the amount of data available, much attention has been paid to enhancing and simplifying the user experience of these platforms with the goal of attracting and maintaining the widest possible audience of analysts, researchers, brand managers, subject matter experts, and others.

Attention has also been given to automating, as much as possible, the results delivered by these platforms once configured for an entity or use case. Fulfilling the ‘ease of use’ benefit that many platforms tout as differentiators, users have come to expect that producing and consuming useful insights should require no more than one or two clicks of a mouse.

At the same time, users of social data platforms continue to face headwinds when it comes to answering key value-oriented questions: What should we be measuring? What are the right KPIs? What is the expected outcome of the data we collect? Do reports generated by our chosen platform align to business goals? Are these insights actionable?

Access to massive amounts of data, the pressure users have placed on platform developers to simplify user experience, the expectation of automation, as well as the near real-time need for actionable intelligence, is driving the market to an inflection point – an inflection point that will change how these platforms are used to justify their investment.

Today, new questions are emerging that focus more on topical context and relevancy rather than vanity metrics such as audience growth and engagement rates. Yes, users of these platforms continue to measure, with good reason, how many shares and retweets their owned content generates. They continue to count earned media placements. They continue to plan and generate content with an expectation of virality.

But increasingly, brands, organizations, and governments are realizing that the definition of insights is achieved through a granular, contextual understanding of how audiences respond to a campaign or topic. Users need to be able to quickly and efficiently digitally curate massive amounts of data in a very short time to be able to extract truly relevant and actionable insights from the data.

Digital curation begins by configuring and tuning social data platforms to listen not only for a brand, organization, candidate, etc., but to categorize media and consumer conversations on a campaign-by-campaign or topic-by-topic basis. The output of these categorizations enables an analyst or researcher to make a baseline comparison against the total conversation as well as understand the overall sentiment of the topic.

The real value of digital curation comes from leveraging software to enable humans to quickly analyze and process a subset of the categorized data to determine the tone, narrative, and impact of the campaign or topic as a whole. The software offers access to the data, while humans extract unique, contextual elements of the data to make it useful and actionable. Through digital curation, the reporting of insights becomes more than just raw performance numbers on a campaign or topic. Results can be presented in a more persuasive way by presenting stakeholders with what consumers, media, and competitors are actually saying within the context of a topic – similar to a comment card.

By integrating digital curation tools and processes into today’s highly advanced social data platforms, users can more quickly define what should be measured and what should be ignored. They can settle in on a concise, realistic set of KPIs. They can align social data more succinctly to business goals. And, most importantly, they can justify the investment in social data by finding unique ‘needles in the haystack’ that often cannot be found via any other type of business intelligence or research platforms.

Upcoming BBI Events!

BBI Community –
We’re excited to announce the dates for Big Boulder 2017, BBI Meetups in September and an amazing event for data-driven digital marketers at Coca-Cola HQ!

Big Boulder 2017
The 6th annual Big Boulder will be held June 1st & 2nd. The only way to ensure your attendance is to join the Big Boulder Initiative. You can register here and tickets will be made available in April. I’ll send out an email with instructions and once the date is closer, please check bigboulderconf.com for updates.

BBI Meetups
We’re happy to co-sponsor a series of Meetups this fall in San Francisco, New York, Washington DC and London. Details are below.

Data: It’s The Real Thing hosted by Coca-Cola and Sponsored by BBI

This conference will provide a holistic perspective on how marketers can utilize data. BBI will be sponsoring the social data presentation and we’re excited to be a part of this amazing event. Some of the tentative session titles/topics are:

  • What’s My Name? A day in the life of data: What data is worth purchasing? So many vendors where does one start?
  • 99 Problems: Programmatic & Direct Advertising: How does the industry toe the line? Am I over or under invested?
  • The Symphony: Are you listening? Making Sense of Social Data
  • Paid in Full: Closing the loop for CPG companies: measuring marketing w/ dollars and sense
  • DMPs and the New World Order: How marketers from various industries are leveraging Data Management Platforms.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Where to invest in linear, digital video or addressable?
  • Follow the Leader: Making the most of mobile (targeting, marketing and measurement)
  • A Good Day: Telling Better Stories with Data

The event will be held on November 17th, at The Roberto Goizueta Auditorium, Coca-Cola HQ. The address is 1 Coca-Cola Plaza, Atlanta, GA 30313. Please email me at mike@bbi.org for more information.

Call for Big Boulder 2016 Speakers

Big Boulder 2016 is just around the corner and we can’t wait to welcome you to Boulder in a few months. The board has been working hard to create some amazing content for this year’s conference on June 23rd and 24th. Along with our traditional set of compelling speakers/topics, we’re also looking for BBI members to contribute. As such, we’re opening a call for speakers. 


Every year, the BBI board works to determine what are the most relevant topics in the industry. After much deliberation, the themes for this year’s event are:

  1. The Rise of Social Messaging
  2. The Evolution of Visual Social Media 
  3. Social Data AND (Brands, Politics, Music, Sports)
  4. The Rise of Bots
  5. The Ethical Use of Social Data

Do you have something important to share with the others in the industry? Are you passionate about one (or more) of the themes list above? Well, here’s your chance. We’re using Pecha Kucha format to give you the opportunity to share it with the member community. So, craft up your best ideas in and send ’em in! If your Pecha Kucha is selected, you get a free ticket to the conference!

How to Submit

We invite provocative Pecha Kucha submissions related to our themes. Please send your 20-slide Pecha Kucha-compliant slide deck to mike@bbi.org by Friday, May 27, 2016. No product mentions or sales pitches please!

An expert panel of cast members from HBO’s hit series Silicon Valley will review the proposals (or we will have a BBI subcommittee). Either way, the competition for these spots will be cutthroat. Please carefully study the art and science of Pecha Kucha and make sure you are a registered and paid BBI member before making a submission.

For more more information please email mike@bbi.org

Social Intelligence Industry News: Brandwatch Hosting Now You Know Conference, May 9-11, Chicago

If you’re in the social intelligence industry you hopefully already know that Brandwatch is hosting its first ever Now You Know User Conference, next month, May 9-11, in Chicago.

Having hosted over a dozen Masterclasses across the globe, we’ve decided to evolve our events to the next level. We’ve created the first event of its kind; the seminal gathering of the most exciting minds in social intelligence. The Now You Know conference is a forum for leaders in our space to collaborate on best practices, share knowledge and understand how to address their challenges.

Here’s where I try and describe why it’s so monumental for our industry. Now You Know will be held across two tracks over two days. We’ve taken the incredibly successful hands-on events our users love and revolutionized them, offering two packed days of practical workshops and talks in the Masterclass Track.

Running alongside it will be the Strategist Track, seeing VIPs from the world’s most successful companies sharing knowledge you and your contemporaries need and value most to make strategic business decisions using social data.

And here’s the most exciting bit. We’ve got speakers and panelists from the world’s biggest brands and agencies, including Johnson & Johnson, the UN Foundation, Dell, Bank of America – every sector is represented by an expert. Keynotes from Brian Solis, web psychologist Nathalie Nahai, and Genevieve Hoffman and Ian Ardouin from the Office for Creative Research will discuss how analytics is changing the business landscape.

Unilever, Wells Fargo and Spredfast will discuss social intelligence at scale. Experts in Data Science will debate where machine learning, AI and VR is heading. Weber Shandwick, Ketchum and Fleishman Hillard will host an agency super-panel.

You can see why we’re excited about it.

As founding members of the Big Boulder Initiative (BBI), we’d like to invite BBI members to register to attend Now You Know with a ticket discount of 50% off. Please contact mike@bbi.org for the discount code. If you’re not a member and still want to go, you can book now!

Also join us for networking events, and enjoy a discounted rate of $229/night at Hilton Chicago, located half a block from the event venue. This rate is valid only for May 9th-11th.

We hope to see you there!


Announcing 2016 Big Boulder Conference!

We’re excited to announce that the registration for this year’s Big Boulder Conference – June 23rd – 24th – is now open! Tickets this year are $1,000 and currently open to all members. If you are a current member, you’ll receive comped tickets and/or get access to tickets at a discounted rate. The details are broken out by membership type below.

  • Business 100  – 4 comped tickets for businesses with $100+ million in revenue
  • Business 10 – 3 comped tickets for businesses between $10 million – $100 million in revenue
  • Business 1 – 2 comped tickets for businesses $1million – $10 million in revenue
  • Startup / SMB – 2 comped tickets for businesses less and $1 million in revenue
  • Academic – 2 comped tickets for academic institutions
  • Individual – $250 discount

All Business, Startup / SMB and Academic memberships get a $250 discount on any additional tickets purchased. If you need to renew or join the Big Boulder Initiative before registering for the conference, please follow the steps below.

Renew Your Membership

To renew and get your complimentary tickets and other member benefits, first login to the Big Boulder Initiative site. Once logged in, you’ll see a button near the top of the page that reads, Re-register as a member here.


Join the Big Boulder Initiative

To join and get your complimentary tickets and other member benefits, visit the Membership Benefits page. The button to join is at the bottom of the page and once you’ve completed the process you can register for the event.

Then . . .

  1. Register for the Big Boulder Conference

Once you have renewed your membership, I’ll send you the conference registration information to access your discounted ticket.

  1. Book Your Accommodations for the Conference

As with other years, Big Boulder will take place at the St Julien Hotel and Spa. If you’d like to reserve a room at the St Julien, please click here or call the St Julien at 720.406.9696 or 877.303.0900. If you make your reservations over the phone, please be sure to mention that you are part of the Big Boulder Conference in order to receive discounted pricing.

If you have any questions, please contact mike@bbi.org.

Thank you,


2016 Big Boulder Initiative Board Elections – Call for Nominations

We’re excited to announce that this year’s Big Boulder Initiative board election is rapidly approaching and we’re looking for members who are interested in serving on the board of directors. This is an incredible leadership opportunity within BBI that will help shape the direction of our organization. 

Open Seats and Board Composition

The Big Boulder Initiative board consists of 11 elected board members that each serve 2-year terms. You can view current board members here. For this year’s election, we will have 8 open board seats with the board composition broken down as follows: 

  • Current Term (3 board members): Justin DeGraaf, Mark Josephson, and Farida Vis are serving current terms and will remain on the board until 2017
  • Running for Re-Election (4 board members): Susan Etlinger, Megan Kelley, Chris Moody, and Carmen Sutter have all served 2-year teams and are running for re-election.
  • Open Seats (4 board seats): There are 4 board members who have served 2-year terms and have decided to step down.

Board Member Requirements

To run for a board seats you must be an active member of BBI. Board seats are open to all membership types. Board members must be able to commit to the following:  

  1. Attendance at all in-person board meeting (3 per year in various locations around the US)
  2. Participation in all in-person BBI events
  3. Ability to cover travel expenses for board meetings and events
  4. Commitment to participate in all other activities of the association 

Run for Election 

If you’re interested in serving on the board, please complete the this form. The deadline for nomination is Friday, March 11th.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you,


Save the Date!

My name is Michael Myers and I’m the new Community Manager for the Big Boulder Initiative. I’m excited to get to know all of you and please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. I am excited to let you know that tickets for the 5th Annual Big Boulder Conference are now on sale! The event will be held on June 23rd and 24th at the beautiful St Julien Hotel and Spa in Boulder, Colorado.

Big Boulder brings together the top publishers, industry leaders, digital marketers and consumers of publicly-available social data to discuss trends, best practices, and the future of the social data industry. This year’s event will feature two full days of educational sessions, networking events, and outdoor activities all centered around social data. We’re assembling an amazing lineup of speakers and as we add more, be sure to check out the speakers page. Details about the event will be at bigboulderconf.com as they become available.

Big Boulder is an invite-only event for members of the Big Boulder Initiative, so you need to become a member of the Big Boulder Initiative to attend. Check out our membership page for details. Note that organizational memberships (Business, Startup/SMB, Academic) all include tickets to Big Boulder, while Individual memberships include the opportunity to purchase a discounted ticket to the event.

If you have any questions, please contact me, Michael Myers, Big Boulder’s Community Manager at mike@bbi.org. See you in June!