Week 6 Guest Speaker Roundup – by Chris Osche

A Conversation with Marina Gonima & Shannon McPhee of Bender/Helper Impact

By UCLA X425 Student Chris Osche

Every great team needs someone to come off the bench and provide that extra spark. It’s a good thing for Matt Meeks, Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media for Bender / Helper Impact Buzz, that he has two All-Stars on his bench. Last minute travel kept Matt from speaking during our week six meeting, but in his place were Maria Gonima and Shannon McPhee, two All-Stars from the team at BHI.

Maria and Shannon shared how consumers will soon be able to manage all their social media accounts via a single platform. Sites like Flavors.me and About.me (currently in Beta testing) allow users to easily pull together all their social media profiles into one dynamic, customizable, easy to use personal website that doesn’t require knowledge of HTML. Early adopters of the site have created some pretty amazing content. Flavors.me has a free version that offers the basic functionality and an upgraded version where for $20 a year users can gain a vanity URL, additional layout options and real-time statistics.

Two questions come to mind on social media aggregators: Are they just a fad or an evolutionary step in how people communicate online? How do you monetize it? Techies will see these sites as indispensable. The power to control all your social media efforts in one place + personalization = cool new toy for social media fanatics. For everyone else, I’m not so sure. Facebook is growing amongst the 35-55 demographic. But how many grandparents are going to create a Flavors.me page to keep up with their grandkids?

The explosion of tech start-ups striving to be the next Facebook or MySpace ensures we’ll see more sites like Flavors.me as social media aggregators become mainstream. Will consumers follow? I’m not sure. But it’s a good thing that we have people like Maria and Shannon around to explain it to us.

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