Atlanta: The Most Wired Yet Not-With-The-Program City in America

From Bernaisesource, a local blog:

I live in Atlanta. Forbes Magazine recently named it the most wired city in the country for the second year in a row. That’s a notable distinction, but when it comes to the next wave of the Internet, nobody would say Atlanta is the leading trendsetter. There are of course exceptions. Atlanta has hosted Podcamps, Barcamps, and a Startup Weekend.But many of the largest companies have yet to significantly embrace social media and only a handful of social media start-ups have achieved significant success.

The question is why?

It is not a matter of brainpower. Atlanta is the home of Georgia Tech and Emory. It is also the headquarters for social media companies like ViTrue, Meetsee, Kaneva, and Esgut, which is one the biggest FaceBook app developers.

Find out why here.

10 comments

  1. Rusty says:

    I don’t think it’s entirely true to say that these companies haven’t “significantly embraced social media” without qualifying it.

    For example, Delta has a pretty well-written blog, and they do LOTS with social media internally. They have a podcast that’s never been outside the firewall that I heard about this past weekend.

    Scientific Atlanta is making podcasts.

    Home Depot isn’t blogging, but they may be astroturfing over at Amazon. Just like Raving Brands was a couple of years ago.

    Lots of other companies are using these tools behind corporate firewalls, with blogs and white label social networks. The usage just hasn’t trickled outside the castle walls.

  2. StevePerkins says:

    Bah. I’ve spent 12 years in the software development industry, and these conferences are nothing but hype-fests. The whole point is simply to say that you’re a dinosaur, and if you want to be one of the cool kids you need to spend a bunch of cash RIGHT NOW! It’s the grown up equivalent of clothing fashion.

    Sometimes, early adopter investment is advisable (e.g. shifting to a just-in-time production model in the late-80’s, establishing a web presence in the mid-90’s). Other times, it’s a complete waste of cash to the tune of hundreds of billions (e.g. developing for 3G wireless networks eight years ago).

    A third category is where it’s just silly fluff that’s neither here nor there. If I’m gathering the point of this article (assuming it has a point), Atlanta companies need to be setting up more blogs and developing more Facebook widgets (no coincidence that most of the quotes in this piece came from professional Facebook widget developers). However, despite all the “Web 2.0” hype, this really isn’t some bold new frontier… these things are simply a natural and gradual evolution in online advertising, in addition to banner images and contextual ads.

    Throw in some blurbs about “urban sprawl” and “conservative culture”, and quasi-tech-savvy pretentious folks will gobble up the whole thing with a condescending smile. At the end of the day though, Spacey, this is just a run of the mill trade show… with the sponsors essentially saying, “Spend more money on our stuff so you can advertise on Facebook”. Not exactly the grandiose overview of regional culture that you’re making it sound like.

  3. Great feedback to my post. More than anything else, I wanted to spur some discussion about corporate culture and social media adoption.

    Clearly there is a lot of hype associated with social media. It is not for everyone. But I remain passionate about its value for customers and companies alike. Any effort that fosters conversation and engagement is worth considering. Clearly, Atlanta has made some inroads, but I still would like more companies embrace it and move their efforts outside their firewalls.

  4. StevePerkins says:

    Oh brother… “move their efforts outside their firewalls”? Catchy, vaguely technical, but what does that even mean? Basically the issue is new forms of online advertising, which vendors hype to encourage companies to expand their advertising budgets (or at least give a larger piece of the pie to them specifically).

    Nothing wrong with that, but I fail to see how Facebook widgets and corporate blogs foster “conversation and engagement”. Viral marketing through social networking sites fails 99.9999999% of the time when it’s corporate-driven rather than organic, and I know of ZERO corporate blogs that are open to genuine conversation. Mostly they’re just one-way vehicles for companies to promote very specific goals, such as Steve Jobs “blogging” the idea of DRM-free music to put pressure on record labels. I don’t see any reply comments on Steve Jobs’ blog from customers discussing shortcomings and issues with iTunes software, etc.

  5. Rusty says:

    Steve,
    Sorry to fisk, but it has to be done.

    re:

    Oh brother… “move their efforts outside their firewalls”? Catchy, vaguely technical, but what does that even mean?

    Internal vs. External. Internet vs. Intranet. I’d like to think this is a pretty simple, concrete concept.

    re:

    Viral marketing through social networking sites fails 99.9999999% of the time when it’s corporate-driven rather than organic

    This is a topic of open debate right now. When done poorly (like Raving Brands did in 2006), it fails. If it was done well, you might not even recognize that it’s corporate. There are people that claim they can pull this off systematically. It’s certain that there is some successful astroturfing (like planted Amazon reviews) out there, the only question is the success rate. Even a half-of-one-percent percent conversion rate would rival or surpass the success of traditional advertising in a lot of cases. Metrics in this area are pretty much worthless now, which is why some of the stuff Facebook and Google have been trying to do are interesting.

    and I know of ZERO corporate blogs that are open to genuine conversation.

    To give but one example of many, Dreamhost (a web hosting company) interacts very openly with its customers about its successes and failings on its blog. In January, they had a massive billing error that cost customers millions of dollars which was addressed openly on their blog, with hundreds of customer comments posted publicly and many of them responded to publicly.

    Mostly they’re just one-way vehicles for companies to promote very specific goals

    Like a politics blog that promotes a certain perspective? Or a sports blog written by someone who favors a particular team? I sure hope a business’ blog would spend most of its time blogging about itself.

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