Friday, August 31, 2007

Yahoo Faces Off with LinkedIn

Well, they’re thinking about it according to this article. This caught my attention for a few reasons:
  1. Although most companies these days are content to purchase these kinds of networks, the limited inventory (who else besides LinkedIn?) led Yahoo to start from scratch. It will be interesting to see how fast Yahoo can grow this artificially vs, LinkedIn's self-propelled viral strategy.
  2. Its not branded "Yahoo!", instead they choose to go with "Y! KICKSTART" - do they feel the "Yahoo!" brand would take away from the legitimacy or coolness of their new offering for business professionals?
  3. One thing I don’t like about Yahoo is there inability to connect their communities. Where’s the integration strategy with HotJobs and Answers?
  4. Where is Google? Are they working on a professional social networking site too? It’s not too often these days that you see Yahoo ahead of Google when it comes to innovation.

As a dedicated LinkedIn user, I hope they’re taking notes because Yahoo! has some pretty cool features planned and I’d hate to have to manage yet another social network if this thing takes off.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Unlike the Dot Com Bubble, Web 2.0 isn't Going to Bust

Some people are waiting for the Web 2.0 bubble to bust but I don't think they should hold their breath. And here's why:
  • Savvy investors learned their lesson and are paying more attention to revenue before taking the IPO leap. LinkedIn, for example, is projecting $100 million in revenue next year.

  • Web 2.0 is more than hype - it's a new business platform. In fact, I see more similarity between Web 2.0 and the PC boom than the dot com bust. The introduction of the Windows operating system let software makers stop worrying about platform integration and focus on functional innovation. The advances in browser technology makes it even easier for application makers to innovate and the PC office is now the web office.

  • Web 2.0 is more than just a technological evolution - it's a cultural evolution. It's about people connecting to people using various types of social software. Unlike the focus of many dot com ventures, the purpose of most Web 2.0 applications is not to save time or money. Many of these applications, such as LinkedIn, Myspace, etc, are literally changing social behavior. Take away my chance to save 15% on my pet food purchase, I’m probably OK – but take away my online social network and you’ve changed the way I live. My social network, unlike my pet store, is a primary focus of my life. The fact that I’ve automated and internet-enabled my social interaction likely makes it the stickiest application I use, second only to my communications platforms: email and instant messaging.

Welcome to the Web 2.0 economy where people are given a voice and empowered to make a difference. I have used the 'new web' to make new friends, share my insights and more easily take my work with me with web apps. How has Web 2.0 changed your life?

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Original Rules of the Game Still Apply

The power of social networking prevailed when customers started an online petition on Facebook to keep their favorite chocolate bar, Wispa on the market - and it worked!

However one quote in the CNET news article particularly stood out for me: "Clearly, you want to listen to consumers," said Karl Heiselman, chief executive of Wolff Olins, a brand-consulting firm. "But I think we have to be careful about relying on them to do our jobs."

Isn't our job to meet the needs of our customers? And who knows better what our customers want than the customers themselves right? Peter Drucker reminds us that although a company's primary responsibility is to serve its customers, profit is an essential condition for the company's continued existence.

The fact of the matter is that the decision to take Wispa off the market was made after listening to their customers - or the lack of customers in this case, represented in sales. Ultimately, giving our customers a voice doesn't mean letting them run our business. It's great that Web 2.0 has given our customers such a powerful voice, but it's up to us marketers to interpret that voice to help drive everything from pricing to product strategy.

On a side note Cadbury Schweppes - makers of Wispa, are working on a campaign to reintroduce the product to the market. Don't you think they should turn to the same customers who revived the product to come up with ideas on how to bring it back to market? Seems like a no-brainer to me...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


It's been about 3-months since my first blog post and so far, these are the posts people have found most interesting:

> Web Widgets in Action - Examples and Ideas
> To Mobile or Not to Mobile
> Are you Voting for Ray Hopewood?
> Value of Social Bookmarking for Marketers
> B2B Marketing 2.0 - Conversation Enablers

Over the next few months I plan to dive deeper into widgets and a couple major initiatives such as gaming and second life. I know I’ve gained a lot from chronicling my experiences with Web2.0 here and have been able to use some of the connections I’ve made to springboard into some heavy projects that wouldn’t have been as successful otherwise. As I said earlier in this blog, I’ve already taken the red pill and will continue to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Online Gaming - Web 2.0's Killer App?

The Diva Marketing Blog highlighted online games in a Friday Fun post. The marriage of marketing and video games is nothing new but with the increased expectations of an engaging and interactive web experience it is a communication vehicle worth revisiting.

I can only be encouraged by how well gaming has been to be received in the B2B world. I knew gaming was popular, and it wouldn't have been a huge stretch to imagine the gaming culture has considerable overlap with IT professionals, my target demographic - but I was still surprised at the numbers from the IntelliQuest CIMS Spring Business Study 2007:
  • 18.6% of IT professionals spent an average of 1.6 hrs with Video Games the previous day

  • 24.2% of IT Staff spent an average of 1.8 hrs with Video Games the previous day

  • 24.21% of IT Professionals have accessed the Internet specifically to play single or multiple player games

Words like "exposure" and "adoption" don't adequately describe numbers like that. 1.8 hours a day? That's not "playing" video games - that's living in a virtual world. In fact when it comes to Web 2.0, online games are the most popular Internet activity in the US - eclipsing both online video watching and visits to social networking sites.

Okay, so my customers are playing games, but is there an opportunity for me to reach them there? Not sure. But in a recent Nielsen Entertainment research study, in-game advertisement for technology tools increased brand rating by 70 percent! What's not clear is whether those ads are relevant to the gaming experience itself or part of "out of game" advertising campaigns. From my limited exposure to gaming culture, it seems that ads that reinforce the virtual experience would gain more traction than those that don't.

I'm not sure if online gaming is Web 2.0's killer app but for now it's the winning one and I'm convinced I have to find a way to get online gaming on the radar and into my Web 2.0 strategy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sometimes Apple Thinks Too Different - Don't Fall into the Same Trap

The Techno Marketer blog had a great post about changing the rules of the game. In his case he talks about how the remodeled Apple store no longer has a checkout stand - but since they didn't communicate this change customers wrongfully formed in front of the 'Genius Bar' instead. Too different, too fast, and without communication - not good.

Although this is clearly a B2C example I think similar mistakes can be made by B2B companies with all of the hype around Web 2.0. We are still in a transition phase and while RSS is hot and growing it's not a substitute for email (at least not yet). Blog readership is exploding but the global uptake is still lagging. Podcast usage is growing 'tenfold' according to Forrester but they have a ways to go before they can be considered mainstream. The rules of marketing are changing but I’m wary of getting caught up in the hype and abandoning traditional mediums that have served me well. Another reminder that a hybrid approach of old and new approaches is usually the best way to go.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Apple gets the Value of Widgets - Do You?

Apple 'opens up' according to Red Herring with it's new iTunes widget that lets "users list their recent purchases, display their music reviews, or show their favorite artists."

There are a couple interesting things about this announcement. First, the functionality of this widget already existed but Apple still took the opportunity to create their own widget as a branding opportunity. The point is that if your company/brand should be associated with the delivery of a certain type of content then own up to it, create a widget and get your brand out there.

Second, I think the functionality of this widget can be altered to meet the needs of just about any business. Granted few things are as cool as sharing your music favs but the great thing about social networks is there's a network out there for everyone. A network engineer for example may want to use a widget to promote their participation in forum discussions, display their product reviews and show off their personal authority levels. With a little bit of widget magic this can be done and posted on blogs everywhere.

There's a widget out there for every business. What's yours?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Cisco Meets Crayon

Greg Verdino of Crayon was a guest speaker at Cisco meeting today talking about "Web 2.0". Unfortunately I came late and had to leave early but I think I was there for most of the good stuff. He came in with a lot of good examples. Here are the highlights of lessons learned:

1. The technology is irrelevant, it's about the people.

2. People are already talking about you. In fact they always have but now you can join in and change the tone of the conversation (assuming you do it right).

3. It's not always the best decision to start a new conversation/community - sometime it's better to find an existing community and join that one - especially if it's a community where you wouldn't be an authoritative figure.

4. When trying to kick start user reviews the answer is NOT paying someone. However it is okay to seed your reviews. What's the difference? With seeding you are reaching out to your best customers and encouraging them to post a comment - but not buying their opinion. Breaking this rule can ruin any future online credibility.

5. The "3 pillars of Conversational Marketing:" (1) Community - this is about connecting people with people.(2) Dialogue - this about creating two way conversations. (3) Partnership - I had to leave when he was going into this one but basically it's about reaching out to your communality for input and ideas and including them in the process.

The quote of the day , "it feels web 2.0ish" - this came from a Cisco team member who was inspired by the presentation and came up with an idea on how we can execute on these concepts. At the end of the day Greg accomplish his objective. Everyone had a good understanding of what it meant to be 'web 2.0' and they were engaged and inspired to come up with new ideas. Thanks Greg!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Casting the Social Networking Net

Napoleon Bonaparte once said that only fear and interest unite men. Well, I have about a million customers with very common interests and now I’m tasked with bringing them together.

You may remember a couple of weeks back when I wrote about Business 2.0’s struggle to stay alive and the revelation that they had a thriving, active community of people willing to band together to save the site from impending doom. As remarkable as it was, it surprised and concerned me that they had such a healthy community that never actually interacted.

I started thinking about the very question I asked 'do you have a secret community that needs to be unleashed?' The answer for me is yes. We have a program with over 20,000 members who are only able to communicate with each other once a year at an event that we host for them. The $64,000 question of course is: what else should be doing? How do we tactfully and effectively encourage interaction amongst this community? Try to talk them all into joining our Facebook page? Probably not.

The Business 2.0 situation is somewhat unique. Their users were compelled to pull together and take action to serve a common self interest. So, short of faking a business closure, what compelling events could unite a bunch of users whose only common interest is my product?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

To Mobile or Not to Mobile

20 years ago the idea of using a multimedia marketing campaign over the wireless network would have been difficult to grasp. For a number of reasons, marketing to mobile phones, especially for a business to business campaign, has been a non-starter. Le Grand Roadblock has always been that unlike the phone or email at work, mobile phones are personal domain. You wouldn’t want to market to someone’s mobile phone for the same reason you wouldn’t want to call them at night at home: it’s their personal space and they’re more likely to resent you for the intrusion than thank you for the valuable information or idea you’re marketing.

But more than that, mobile phones up until now haven’t been universally adopted as web clients, and using them as such requires a pretty big leap of faith from a demographic and adoption standpoint. Take the case of mobile email for example. In my social network they’re ubiquitous, but Gartner Group tells us that only 2% of email accounts are wireless and even by 2010, a light year in Web2.0 time, only 20% of email accounts will be accessed on mobile devices.

Although the multi-billion dollar B2C revenue projections for mobile devices seem impressive, most of that is what could be considered “mobile accessories” like wallpapers, music, graphics, ring tones, etc. That’s not going to convince me to dump ad dollars into a campaign for a non-wireless product.

In the US, where 85% of the people have cellphones, Telephia and comScore claim that 30 million people in the US are using the mobile web. If that’s true, that’s a pretty significant adoption rate – especially if it’s growing as quickly as they claim.

I’m excited for the prospects of Mobikade and will be tracking its progress as it tries to get a foothold in a market where PCs are more prevalent than in its native Japan. Also Mozes seems like an interesting test for the tolerance of frequent and unsolicited text messages, but even when explaining those concepts people are careful to point out that they’d be less receptive to the same interaction with corporations.

Even with all these questions about market size and adoption, I still think there are opportunities that corporate marketers can take advantage of to accommodate the mobile workforce.

According to Gartner Group, there will be three billion mobile subscribers in the world by 2010 – that’s just under half of well, everybody.

My mobile strategy will consider those with smart phone functionality as well as those still getting by with just dial tone. After doing some homework, I think this strategy will be broken down into three areas of focus:

1. Mobile Campaigns - This is a one-off approach that involves creating a way for mobile users to participate in your marketing campaign efforts. Here are a few examples:

Audio Entries - The "My WebEx Moment" campaign is a good example of focusing on mobile users. The 'My WebEx Moment' campaign is a way for users to submit interesting stories of ways that WebEx transforms their lives. Mobile users can call in and submit an audio entry.

Text Entries- Although this is not a B2B example, American Idol (and most other reality shows that require user participation) does this well by allowing voters to text their votes - this same process can be used for surveys.

Mobile Ads/Videos - I don't plan on spending too much time here if any since only a small percentage of phones are web and video-enabled but for the right campaign it might make sense.

Mobile Coupons - Although this is more for a B2C marketer, B2B marketers can still use mobile coupons as incentives for mobile participants in their campaigns.

Mobile Extras - Other fun stuff to consider is offering mobile wall paper,
downloadable ring tones or mobile games.

2. Mobilize Your Content: Voice publish your content with audio casts - and I'm not just talking podcasts. Unwired Nation allows you to turn your web content into an audio file. I always wondered why more companies don't convert their white papers into audio casts - it seems like a natural transition from audio books. I haven't tried it myself but it's on my 'to-do-list' for FY08.

3. Mobile Web: This is the biggest commitment. This involves optimizing your website (or a subset of your website) for smart phones. Cisco was nominated for the Webby Awards for it's mobile web which involved recreating a subset of for mobile devices.

The mobile marketing space is uncharted grounds for me so I would love to hear about any good or bad experiences any of you have had when trying to tap into this market.