Friday, December 19, 2008

Social Media is the End of Tradeshows

Just about every company is using the current economic crisis as an excuse to re-evaluate its event strategy. More than just a few companies have decided to forgo their booth presence, something that would have been unheard of just a few years ago. Scobleizer puts the blame of the dying tradeshow industry on bloggers and social networks but I think tradeshows have been struggling to show tangible return on ROI for quite some time and social media offers the first successful alternative.

Whatever the reason, social media and web 2.0 are being utilized more than ever to connect with customers. Here are just a few ideas I had when it comes to leveraging these tools to maximize your involvement at a tradeshow:

  • Blogging - okay this is an obvious one but make sure you have one or two people covering the show. Summarize keynotes, write about what's hot and what's not - and not only traditional blog posts but microblogging with Twitter is a great way to make people who aren't at the show feel like they know the major happenings and video can really bring things alive!
  • SMS - if you have a keynote session you can use SMS as a way to poll the audience or take questions.
  • Widgets - Maybe you can create a widget that ties everything together, your blog posts, event schedule, collateral - you can even create a countdown to the show or any other major announcements.
  • Virtual Presence - In lieu of a booth promote and send your customers to an online environment where they can not only attend a virtual event but they can ask questions, network and be part of a community you can grow over time. Check out what ON24, Unisfair and InXpo are doing in this space...
  • PowerPoint - Post your webcast and keynote presentations on your community (ie. Facebook), on your blog and on SlideShare to extend the reach of the content.
  • Mobility - Leverage the fact that everyone has a cell phone these days. Allow people to see the event schedule from their phones and offer to provide reminders to your events. Provide mobile promotions where you can send links to content or videos to those who request them. You an even enable your sales folks to send mobile business cards to people they meet.
If you have other ideas I'd love to hear about them...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Running a Blog Like a Newspaper

When it comes to running a corporate blog I think we can all learn from Molly Mulally, Marketing Manager at Abrevity. They didn’t just jump into the blogosphere blindly; they had clear, achievable objectives in mind: increase web traffic, demonstrate industry leadership and build a following of readers who are interested in learning about the industry (not just Abrevity).

The Abrevity blog provides a platform for Molly and her team to quickly and easily generate new content used for educating customers and partners. For an emerging industry like data classification, this allows Abrevity to demonstrate both domain expertise and legitimacy in the market.

However the “why” is not what sets them apart from most blogging companies – it’s the “how”. Molly manages her blog team like a newspaper editor. There are deadlines, word counts, editorial meetings, and assignments. The team of six bloggers meets weekly to discuss upcoming story possibilities and each blogger is expected to write one post a week on a topic in which they are considered a subject matter expert. This does not only ensure that the Abrevity blog has a constant flow of fresh content but that the different facets of the market are covered by an ‘expert’.

Molly also considered how they would participate and have a voice on other industry blogs. To keep a pulse on the market, each of the bloggers has a list of blogs they follow as well as Google alerts set up based on their subject matter expertise and they are encouraged to comment on other blogs as appropriate. To make things fun there is an incentive to participate in other blogs – each week, the blogger with the most comments gets a free lunch. Oh and Molly thought of everything, “Hey great post” does not count – comments must have ‘substance’ and add value to the conversation. To keep track of the conversations they have across the team there is a tracking sheet created which is updated and managed weekly.

It’s been just two months since the launch of the Abrevity blog and the ROI is already apparent. Molly has been able to track and identify the blog as a source doubling Abrevity's web traffic and collateral downloads and a noticeable uptake in sales leads since starting the program.

Molly’s recommendation to those looking to start a blog is, “Do your research, and don’t start too ambitiously. Start with realistic posting deadlines and how many posts a day (ie. one a day vs. one a week).” However my advice is to seriously consider following her process and run your blog like a newspaper!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

5 Things You Can do in Less Than an Hour to Fight Poverty

"One Issue, Thousands of Voices." That is the purpose of Blog Action Day and this year's focus is Poverty. As I think about this topic I can't help but reflect on a trip I took to Tanzania a couple of years ago. During that trip I got to see first hand what poverty really is. Driving through towns and seeing houses made of dung and cardboard, passing by children who were obviously malnourished and starving. That experience really made me feel guilty for ever complaining about anything in my life when I really am so fortunate. But there are things that YOU and I can do NOW to fight against poverty and help those in need. Here are just a few things I was able to do TODAY (in less than an hour):

  1. Cleaned out my closet and donated my clothes
  2. Commented on this blog where $1 will be donated to a food bank to feed the poor
  3. Clicked a link on The Hunger Site to give 1.1 cups of food to the hungry
  4. Donated to the United Nations World Food Programme
  5. Wrote a blog post to increase awareness about poverty
For more ideas on what you can do check out this list for 88 ideas and see how you can make a difference!



To Blog or Not to Blog?

With only 54 of the Fortune 500 companies blogging, this is a question still being pondered by many. Cisco, HP and Intel are in that blogging minority and Reem Abeidoh of Problogger interviewed me, Tac Anderson of HP and Michael Brito of Intel to come up with A Guide to Corporate Blogging.

Ryan McLean commented on the post stating, "I don't think I will ever be in a fortune 500 company. But if I ever am then this post will come in handy." I agree with Reem's response that despite the company size "ultimately the process is very similar." And although I represented the Cisco blog in this interview I have helped build blogging strategies for many small companies and have followed the same process successfully. So whether you're coming from a big or small company this guide is a must read!

Tac, Michael and myself are also contributors to the Conversations Matter blog.

CORRECTION: Reem is not a Problogger staff member, she is a Social Media Strategist for Outrider.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mac, PC & Linux - Parody Commercial

A parody of the Apple Mac vs. PC commercial with a guest appearance of the cutest Linux you've ever seen!


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cisco Social Media Case Study - Free Webcast

In addition to all of the conferences I'm speaking at (as noted in my previous post) I just finished a live webcast that is now available on demand here. Enjoy and feel free to submit questions here on my blog and I will respond to you. I am also welcome to feedback and suggestions for improvement. Thanks!





Thursday, October 2, 2008

Social Media Marketing Summit - Recap

I presented the Cisco ASR Case Study example at today's Social Media Marketing Summit. I was a little rusty since I've been on LOA for 2 months now (for those who may not know I had a baby girl on 8.8.08). I stumbled on a few words then to top it off the computer prompted me to restart now or later for an update and of course I accidentally pressed now. The crowd responded with a "oooh noooo" and it still took me a minute to realized what I had done. I tried to keep my cool and keep on going and according to this post from Trisha Lyn it sounded like I didn't do that bad (I swear I didn't pay her).

Uunfortunately didn't catch much of the other sessions with the exception of of a presentation, by Tara Hunt. Her presentation, "Increasing the Social Capital of your Brand" was largely based off her book "The Whuffie Factor" which she is expecting to be released in April. Her delivery was awesome and although the presentation was high level it sounds like it'll be a good read to reinforce the basics.

As for my presentation, if you missed this conference you'll have two more opportunities to catch me. I'll be speaking at the Social Media Strategies Conference and the SIPA Mid-Year Marketing Conference.

If anyone who has seen my slides or better yet who has seen me present has comments or suggestions for improvement, please let me know!

UPDATE: If you're going to the WebGuild Social Media Strategies Conference use this discount code to save $150 "community56"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

3M Goes Viral for All the Wrong Reasons

Rather than paying a $2,000 licensing fee for an already viral photo, 3M decided to recreate a fake watered downed version and call it their own. Now, they are going viral but for all the wrong reasons. This is just one of many posts that have and will be written about their faux-pas rather than their savvy marketing. What they should have done is taken notes from Motorola's marketing folks. When Motorola saw the fame and viral effect of the "Backdorm Boys" they didn't try to steal their idea with their own recreation. Instead, they approached them with an offer that resulted in their participation in what ended up being the "most effective use of interactive marketing - new media" at the 2006 Asian Marketing Effectiveness Awards.

Next time someone should make sure 3M gets the memo...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Social Media Conversation with 1to1 Media - Part II

Here's the second half of the podcast from the interview with 1to1 Media. This session focuses on measuring and monetizing social media. From a Cisco perspective one of the things we look at is increasing the overall 'share of voice' we have online. Tac from HP shares some of his successes with search engine optimization through the use of social media with their AR / PR initiatives. Michael at Intel looks at trying to apply a quantitative value to the different results they receive. We then share our perspective of 'what's next' and end with advice for other marketers looking to 'take the red pill':

"Start with a few small wins that you can get under your belt and
expand your efforts from there" ~ LaSandra Brill, Cisco

"Set your expectations appropriately." ~ Tac Anderson, HP

"Take your time and don't rush into it." ~ Michael Brito,
Intel

For more 'words of wisdom' check out the 'Conversations Matter' blog which we all contribute to.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Social Media Conversation with 1to1 Media - Part I

July was social media month at 1to1 Media and I was asked to participate in an interview along with Tac Anderson of HP and Michael Brito of Intel. Why us? Well we all have jobs at Fortune 500 companies and our roles are focused on internal and external social media initiatives (and we all blog at Conversations Matter). The interview which is also available as a podcast (sorry, buzzing due to technical difficulties) was broken into two parts. The first part focuses on the challenges we faced when it comes to implementing social media.

Because the three of us have been practicing social media for sometime now and because we are all in positions where social media is valued in the organization, the challenges lie in the execution. How do you match the right strategy and tools to the people you are trying to reach and how do you ensure that your team is choosing to go down the social media path for the right reasons. For that Cisco has adopted Forrester's People-Objective-Strategy-Tools (POST) methodology (perhaps with an extra look at the Strategy).

However for the folks who aren't lucky enough to be at the next phase of adoption, I am commonly asked how I was able to get management on board to execute social media campaigns (like the ASR launch). And although that wasn't addressed in this podcast, I thought I'd address it here. For me the journey began with education to my team on social media and how it can benefit us to participate in 'conversation marketing.' The next phase involved testing the waters with small projects, successes of those projects led to the support of social media as a standard marketing practice with a team to support it. It's been almost a year since my team has been chartered with finding the right opportunities to engage in 'conversational marketing' through social media with our customers and we constantly live this cycle of adoption as we get deeper into social media.

Stay tuned for part two next week...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Same ol' Voice Brand New Megaphone

There’s a new facebook group trying to influence Barack Obama’s choice of Vice President. The story here is that in the old days, there really wasn’t any way for Barack Obama to get real time polling information outside of a few hundred poll calls and there certainly wasn't an effective way for a community to quickly ban together to influence such a decision.

But now there’s an outside chance 100k people might directly influence his VP pick – in real time. That’s awesome – that’s the power of Web 2.0. Other than physically assembling thousands of people for a riot or march or standing in front of Lucky's collecting signatures – how else can this number of people collectively have a voice in such a short time frame? This isn’t a petition – it’s a near real time shout. These aren’t just signatures, they’re virtual profiles that carry all the weight of an individual’s identity.

It makes you wonder if we’re still not seeing the real potential of Web 2.0 technology. Imagine if at Apple they wee thinking of a new color scheme for the iPhone. Why risk screwing that up? Just ask your 100k strong iPhone facebook group what they think. This is not a random poll. These are real people who’ve proactively built connections and who have confirmed identities. In fact, with some analytics, you could dissect the demographics of your group to get a better feel for the result.

At no other time has it been easier to assemble a few hundred thousand like minded individuals and get heard. The question for us marketers (and in this case, Barack Obama) is: are we ready to listen?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wrap-up Interview from Forrester Social Media Bootcamp

Today we had Jeremiah Owyang and Laura Ramos of Forrester co-host a Social Media Bootcamp at Cisco. After the event I was able to catch Laura for a quick interview (unfortunately Jeremiah had to run off to another meeting). Check it out:




I wanted to address that last question again - should it be People-Objective-Strategy-Technology (POST) or People-Objective-Technology-Strategy (POTS)? Laura's response sounds logical and seems to be what everyone who responded to my Tweet agrees with but I'm still not convinced. In talking with Jeremiah about it one thing he said was that “strategy” and “technology” actually go hand-in-hand with some overlap. For example if your planning process led you to creating a blog the strategy that you put together would be very different than if you were creating a Facebook group. Perhaps the right methodology is POSTS so you can revisit the strategy after you've chosen the technology?

UPDATE: For more on the bootcamp read this post from my collegue at Cisco, Brian Ellefritz - "My first Social Media bootcamp, and it didn't even hurt"

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Marketing 2.0 with Visual Networking

Visual Networking is yet another web 2.0 marketing tool I’ve added to my virtual briefcase. Visual Networking is a mash-up of digital video and social networking capabilities. The video aspect offers an interactive and engaging way to tell my story while the social networking capabilities allow the viewers to collaborate, comment and share ideas on what they've seen. Here are a few B2B examples I'm aware of, all of which involve creating a persona to demonstrate a point:

Cisco's Disconnected Life Webisode Series - Don and Rhoda Delay's network and communication problems have led them to marriage counseling as they illustrate the 'disconnected life' that I know I couldn't bare. Where's the social networking? Well thanks to YouTube it's in the ability to comment on each of the videos (and keep delivery costs low).




Blue Coat's Bob Kent Stories - Bob Kent represents the bad employee in every company who misuses the Internet at everyone else's expense. The exaggerated stories are ones that anyone in an office environment can relate to. Looking for a way to collaborate? Participate in the monthly contest by submitting your story and you may just get a Nintendo Wii out of it!

Tibco's Greg the Architect - Greg represents the hero that every techy wants to be and no challenge is too small. There's no social networking aspect that I can see so maybe this is just straight video but it's still pretty creative and adding the social component would be easy to do.

Any other examples you think should be added to this list? Feel free to share.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Building an All-Star Social Media / Web 2.0 Team

If you could only bring 6 Social Media Pros to an island to start a Web 2.0 Marketing Department, who would they be?

Making it on Jeremiah's list of 'Social Computing Stategists' got me thinking about my team, what we do, what we want to do and what's next. My team is fairly new and we've been at it for about 9-months now and the various disciplines and skill sets of our team was built trial and error over the past few months. As we plan for the next fiscal year I can't help but think big so I started creating a list of all of the things a 'Social Media and Web 2.0' team should focus on (leaving out the boundaries of resources). Here's what I've come up with:

Social Media Strategist - In 'Alice in Wonderland', Lewis Carroll wrote "if you don't know where you want to be, it hardly matters which direction you take". At the core of every good team there’s a good plan. This is the person who pulls everything together. They build the Social Media Marketing plan and determine what the objective of the campaign is and therefore what tools should be utilized and how.

Community Manager – There are currently two communities that we have an active presence on - Facebook and NetPro having someone actively facilitate conversations in these communities would really take things to the next level.

Social Site Management – The great thing about engaging your customers in social media is that you can tweak your message depending on the audience. The tough thing about engaging your customers in social media is that your message could end up looking different for every audience. At the core of any marketing strategy lies a common message. We now have a presence on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Depending on the campaign we may leverage one or more of these channels and having someone to manage the communications and having it centrally executed is critical.

Blogging (including Micro-blogging) – Blogging is made up of two basic parts: content creation and content distribution. You could be channeling Shakespeare in your daily journal but if nobody knows about it, it won’t ever matter. Offering assistance to our bloggers to help optimize their posts for the search engines helping with suggestions on key or hot topics or sending out Twitters when new posts are live can make all the difference in the world.

Monitoring – If a tree falls in your community and you didn’t hear about it; WHAT ON EARTH WERE YOU DOING THAT WAS SO IMPORTANT?!? Whether it's with Google Alerts, Nielson BuzzMetrics or TruCast, it's important to have an ear on what conversations are happening about our solutions so that we can actively participate in those conversations.

Web Innovations – This involves looking at the technolgoy our web pages use and determining if there are new capabilities available to better communicate or present something on our website. For example behavioral targetting, implementing widgets, or something as simple as adding Lightbox treatments can give your entire website a 'web 2.0' feel.

What do you think? What additional superpowers should a Social Media / Web 2.0 all-star team stock up on?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Diet Coke's PR Hell

Good thing I drink Pepsi because according to Dr. Ralph Walton as pointed out by John McManamy, "Don't Drink the Diet Coke," there may be a correlation to depression and bipolar disorder to aspartame - the sweetener used in Diet Coke. What does this have to do with marketing? Well, as Brian Morrissey points out in Dell's Hearing Test, try typing 'Diet Coke' in Google and see what comes up. Two of the top 5 search results are pointing to articles about how Diet Coke is associated to depression. I would hate to be in their PR department right now.

This claim is based off of a single research study that was done 15 years ago and now because a blogger picked up on it it's resurfaced and is a top search result. It been up there since June 5th and there's no response from Diet Coke. Are they even listening to the conversations happening on the social web? Do they even know that post is out there and spreading further each day? Maybe they overdosed on Mentos...

My colleague Brian Ellefritz points out that this is great example of why corporations need to be monitoring (and participating) in conversations about their brand. Consumer generated media is not something that can/should be ignored. I think Mark Jarvis, CMO at Dell says it best, "Your home page is Google." From a B2B perspective we can all learn from Sun's blogging strategy in how to jump in and join the conversation and ultimately improve the sentiment of what gets communicated online. You can bet that Sun keeps a close eye on what new conversations about their brand emerge from the social web and if this happened to them I can't imagine they’d go this long without noticing.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Building an Online Brand in 3-Steps

More and more people are starting to realize the power of having a 'personal' online presence and building a personal brand. I have been asked a lot about how I built my brand so I thought I would repeat that conversation here on my blog. However in the context of marketing, I think we also need to spend more time with our executives and helping them to build their online brand which will only further the business relationships that they already have. There are a lot of things you can do to build an online brand but it doesn't need to be a cumbersome activity and ultimately I think there are three main steps that will make the biggest impact:

1. LinkedIn: I've been a LinkedIn user since 2000. But it wasn't until 2004 that I saw the the biggest benefit on how to leverage the site. Coming from the very fluid start-up environment and having changed bosses 3 times in one year and co-workers constantly I needed a way to capture recommendations from the people I worked with. I now manage this very closely; if I change positions or if someone I work closely with changes positions I will ask them to write a brief recommendation on my profile while their memory of working with me is still fresh. This helps build my brand with credible third party resources. It's also a great way to build and manage your professional network.

Another way to use LinkedIn to build a brand - although I haven't taken advantage of this - is to participate in the Answers forum. This allows you to provide your input on topics you have an expertise in and your 'answers' are tied back to your profile so you build on the credibility of your expertise overtime.

2. Blog: The biggest brand builder for me has come from my blogging efforts - but this is also the most time consuming. I started blogging just over a year ago in May 2007 and started seeing the benefits after just a few posts. Since I enjoy blogging and the topic I cover I don't consider it 'work' but that is how others view it. So, if you know you can't commit to writing and maintaining a blog don't bother, there are other options for you...

Blogging is about joining the conversation by having my own blog that just means at times I'm also starting a conversation but a lot of the time I am still reading and commenting on other blogs. You can still build a brand and expertise in your area by finding the appropriate blogs and joining the conversation by commenting. Usually when you comment on a blog you have the ability to add a cross link, if you have a blog yourself you obviously want to link to that but if you don't, your LinkedIn profile is a good place to link to so that people can learn about who you are and get a sense of your authority/expertise level.

3. Facebook: I haven't been on Facebook as long - I think it's just under a year now and to be honest I don't use FaceBook to it's full potential either. I do have my profile developed and I do use it to connect with my professional network and the nature of Facebook allows me to interact with my network at a more personal level. However there are many groups within Facebook that would allow me to build my brand further if I was an active participant in these communities - I choose not to participate because of lack of time and instead participate in the blogosphere conversations but again if you don't want to commit to blogging this is a less cumbersome way of joining the conversation and ultimately building your online brand.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Executing Social Media with Jeanette Gibson

Thanks to Chris Heuer for recording and posting this presentation on Cisco's Social Media efforts that Jeanette Gibson presented last week at John Gerstner's workshop:



Also thanks to Michael Brito for bringing this to my attention!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Coffee's for Closers

Go viral or go home
Since 1996 Tim Draper of Draper, Fisher, Jurvetson has claimed he invented “viral” marketing when his portfolio company, Hotmail, included a line on the bottom of each email that said "Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com/."

Although viral marketing as we now know it was used by companies much earlier, the Hotmail example perfectly illustrates why marketers chase “viral” as if it were the cure to stopping spam. After getting the right message, the biggest challenges facing marketers are message distribution and authentication. If someone doesn’t see your message, you lose. If they don’t think it’s legitimate or don’t trust its source, you lose. Viral campaigns solve both those problems; accelerating propagation faster than we could ever do ourselves and authenticating the message by having it delivered by a trusted source. It’s marketing Nirvana. Forget visions of sugar plums dancing through my head - when I sleep I see social networks acting as Force Multipliers; delivering my carefully packaged message to receptive and qualified customers.

Easier said than done
But hey if it were that easy everybody would be doing it. There are many perils on the long winding road up the peak to Marketer’s Paradise not the least of which is crafting the perfect message. But let’s say you get through that, how on earth do you build a messaging vehicle that has the potential to go viral? And even after you do that what’s really the benefit of doing so? Is there any way to measure the effectiveness of viral effectiveness on buying decisions? I mean, even if the message is right and its delivered by a trusted source in a reasonable time frame is it more effective than a billboard in Times Square?

We’re still very early in our understanding of how effective social media and other 2.0ish technologies will be in helping plain Jane campaigns achieve “viral” status, but the returns so far are encouraging.

One thing that’s much harder to measure however is the effect of networks on individual behavioral (buying) decisions. We know that message reception and retention will be higher when coming from “the network”, but how influential is “the network” on decisions overall?

Viral messaging or networked buying?
New research out of Harvard Medical School indicates that social networks may have more to do with individual buying decisions than we thought. When coupled with Social Media Marketing campaigns this can be much more powerful than just a more effective message delivery campaign. Instead of just permeating an effective message, a “tuned” network could theoretically process a message and if followed up with positive product purchase experiences, directly influence the purchasing decisions of others in the network. This makes the “message spreading” potential of viral marketing seem downright anemic. Traditional viral marketing still relies on the effectiveness of my message to be effective. But if this research holds true for Social Media networks, then there might be a more compelling and cost effective way to harness “the network” in marketing campaigns that transcend traditional message delivery.

When thinking strategically, its easy to get caught up in thinking that marketing is about messaging and message delivery. But its not. Its about selling product. Too often I think we’re content with getting qualified buyers to the table. What if we could more directly influence actual buying?

Certain markets are already operating in this paradigm and as I consider new campaigns in the future I will certainly be looking closer at “network influence on buying behavior” campaigns rather than the traditional “network influence on message delivery” projects that have worked for us in the past.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cisco Marketing Has Got Game

Some call it social media excellence some just say we've gone crazy...whatever you call it, it seems to be working.

As an extension to the social media efforts that we're leveraged for Cisco's ASR launch, Cisco announced a tournament around the EDGE QUEST game where they are offering $10,000 cash plus a Cisco ASR 1002 router to the sole winner. Not a bad deal for playing a game but the competition is stiff with a top score currently at 204,540.

I haven't exactly kept it a secret that I'm one of the marketers behind this campaign so of course I think it's cool but here are a few specific reasons why I think it’s working for us:
  1. We're reaching our target audience in a new, fun, and engaging way. Last year online gaming attracted 28 percent of the total worldwide online population -- almost 217 million people -- and according to CIMS, 24% of those were IT professionals! Us marketers are always trying to fish in a big pond but it helps when they’re all swimming in the same place.
  2. Low cost, high ROI. This program was an extension of an existing program. The EDGE QUEST game was created at launch so the cost of the tournament includes just the "carrot" of $10K plus the router. We also invested a small amount in changing the game a bit for the "money round" of the tournament but no budget went into promotion we focused solely on social media outlets. In return we've had an influx in PR and Blog pick-ups and a substatial increase in traffic to the game and product page. All of this activity of course is being measured and considered as part of the ROI of the campaign.
  3. It was just a blast to work on. Hey there's nothing wrong with that - it's fun for the people engaging with Cisco in a new way and it was fun to be part of the marketing team to develop and creatively promote the game and tournament leveraging social media tactics which included a social media release, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Del.icio.us, Digg and Flickr.

This particular campaign won't work for everyone but creating a social marketing campaign can get your customers engaged and extend your message far beyond traditional marketing.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Overcoming Social Media Objections

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”Howard Aiken

As Dr. Aiken discovered, knowing which direction to go doesn’t mean much if you can’t get your team to follow. Thankfully, unlike Dr. Aiken we don’t have to convince people to buy in on an idea as crazy as building a computer at a time when phones were considered state of the art. But knowing that doesn’t make our job any easier.

All marketing campaigns come down to getting time, money, or resources and to be done properly, your Social Media Marketing campaign will likely need a little of all three. For many of us, this means approval from one or more decision makers on a marketing campaign that may be fundamentally different from anything they’ve done before.

The people considering your idea are going to have a running list going of positives and negatives. If they’re like most humans, this list won’t be entirely rational and will likely end up coming down to one major factor either way. Whether choosing new cars, new houses, or even new presidential candidates – people can usually narrow down their decision making criteria to one or two factors, positive or negative.

There’s no way to know which factors will be most critical to the people in your audience but if they’re anything like the folks I’ve been working with, here’s a few that come up almost every time.

  • “The devil we know IS NOT SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING”. This is where many good ideas have gone to die. While it’s true that building a social media project likely won’t be as predictable as a more traditional campaign, there is a healthy amount of data out there already. Besides this blog, success stories and ROI can be found on sites such as Conversations Matter, WebGuild, Groundswell, The Social Organization, and Marshall Kirkpatrick.
  • “We’re already doing social media marketing. We have a website, and it has a “talk to a sales rep” button – what else is there?” There is a common misconception amongst the uninitiated that if a company is online, it’s “connected”. As much hype as Web 2.0 receives, there are still many people who don’t get what it is, what it’s for, and more importantly where it might help. The only way to correct this is with education. In addition to collaborating on Web 2.0 projects enterprise-wide, I drive adoption through educational blog posts, workshops and webinars. I’ve found that most people, especially in marketing, have a remarkable capacity to learn about the bleeding edge but if they’re making a go/no go decision on your new project, it might be too late. The way to beat this one is early and often.
  • “OK, even if we do it with social media, how would we know if it worked?” Unlike “direct response” or “click through” marketing, social media campaigns aren’t as easily measured. Oftentimes we’re counting things like “engagement” and “connections” that don’t have a correlation to existing marketing metrics programs. At first blush, this seems like a minor point that will get fixed in time. But if your team is compensated on traditional marketing MBO’s, they might not be as motivated to kick off a social media endeavor. Marketing runs on metrics, but somehow TV and print ads get approved every year – stick to your guns, metrics are important but there are other factors to consider.

These certainly are not the only objections that you’ll run up against in trying to get your social media campaign off the ground, but they seem to be pretty common. Feel free to share objections you’ve come up against and any ideas on how to work through them.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Conversations Matter - Field Guide to Social Media Marketing

At some point in the lifecycle of every new idea, somebody actually has to try it out. Soon after that, so the cliché goes, some brave, soot-covered soul emerges from a smoke filled lab with a beaker in one hand and charred lab results in the other. That brave soul is where the rubber hits the road. In the world of Social Media Marketing, there are a lot of these brave souls, and a few of us have decided to get together and report back on our findings in this blog, Conversations Matter.

Michael Brito and Kelly Feller from Intel, Tac Anderson from HP, Tom Diederich from Cadence Design Systems, and Marc Levin who is an independent marketing consultant - formerly at Yahoo!, and I will be participating.

It’s been said that when you get to a certain point in any discipline, the only way to learn more is by trying to share your experience with someone else. It’s our hope that by sharing our experiences in this blog, we’ll benefit by leveraging the same principles that make Social Media Marketing so effective in letting us connect with our customers. In other words, we’ll be eating our own dog food.

So check it out, let us know what you think and mention any topics you’d like us to cover. If things work out we may take this crazy idea to the next level and consider organizing workshops, webinars and networking events. Ok, one step at a time - check it out and if you like it add it to your feeds.

Web 2.0 Expo - Friday Session Wrap-Up

I wasn't able to make it the Web 2.0 Expo on Thursday but I was there all day Friday and attended a few good sessions. But it was Friday after a long week so I apologize for the delay in getting this post up but here are my key takeaways:

Keynote: Dan Lyons, aka Fake Steve Jobs

This guy is hilarious and he authors an entertaining blog from the perspective of Steve Jobs (on crack). He talked about how and why he started the blog and why he thinks it works. In the end it boils down to boredom, fear, an idea, and an engaged audience.

Boredom because it started as a prank that happened to take on a life of its own. Fear because as a traditional Forbes tech writer he saw print publications coming to an end due to the emergence of blogs. An idea - "what would Steve Jobs write if he really did go nuts?" And an engaged audience that included 90K monthly readers after just 6 months and 25-50 emails a day with suggestions on what to write next.

Games 2.0: Why the Future of Games Looks More Like Zombies and Scrabulous and Less Like Halo 3
This session ended up being a little different than what I expected but what was interesting is that while social networking sites are trying to deploy game dynamics in their communities as discussed in the 'Children of Flickr' session, game sites are trying to embed social relationships and social context into games.

The Audience is the Medium: Video 2.0 & Online Communities
I was a little late to this session but joined in on the debate of Live vs. On-Demand video. Live events have a higher interaction and allow viewers to be part of the conversation. BUT...the web is not equip to handle live video distribution and advertisers look at the big numbers as oppose to engagement. Ultimately there's a place for both and the decision needs to be made based on the objective.

The Power of Online Communities: Lessons from the Best of the Consumer & Business Community Managers
This session included community managers from SFDC, Dell, Yahoo!, Kiva and Flickr. Here are a few things worth passing on:
  • SFDC put the responsibility of their community into the hands of their product managers by making it part of their job to create, encourage and maintain conversations for their product.
  • Kiva lucked out and avoided formal marketing all together. They grow 100% organically through word of mouth - but a big part of this was knowing and connecting with the right people.
  • Flickr suggests being 'elastic' and don't just try to make your audience do what you want them to do.
  • When building a community create a feedback mechanism. Don't just listen - engage.
  • When hiring a community manager look for someone with relationship building and communication skills - PR background a plus. Also someone who authors their own blog or possibly someone in your community.

Best-kept Secrets to Search Engine Optimization Success: the Art and the Science
This was a session on Wednesday that I attended but didn't have good notes for. This guy - Stephan Spencer - really knows his stuff but it was hard to keep up. Luckily he made his slides available and you can view them here:


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Children of Flickr: Making the Massively Multiplayer Social Web

This was the last morning session and ended up being my favorite. This session was moderated by Justin Hall from GameLayers with three panelists: Rajat Paharia from Bunchball, Christopher Chapman from Areae and Gabe Zichermann from rmbr.

The theme of this session - Everything can be a Game.

This session focused on game dynamics and how game psychology can drive engagement, interaction and loyalty on your website, traditionally a non-gaming environment.

Gabe was clearly passionate about the gaming concept and explains it as "the only force that exists without the threat of violence that makes people do irrational things."

Here's a few key takeaways I walked away with:
  • The definition of a game is changing and what people really want is to do something they like, something they consider fun, and/or something that makes them feel like they accomplished something.
  • There are three basic things to make something fun: Challenges, Leaderboards and Points - when added to any experience it changes peoples behavior.
    Advice is to think about how to make an experience fun from day 1. If you’re not in a situation to do that you can still go through the experience and layer in gaming mechanics to et more engagement and interaction from your existing community.
  • Game mechanics involve rewarding people along their journey. You can have different metrics for success to make them feel like they are 'winning'; for example slice and dice the data - different activities can have different leaderboards and that data can be grouped by network or time.
  • Gaming Essentials from Gabe: It needs to be overly simple (no instructions required); you need to be able to play with one hand; you need to be able to start/stop playing at any time; and it needs to be infinitely playable.
  • Interesting stats - woman who are 35+ are not thought to be traditional 'gamers' however they are the demographic that drives a big portion of the gaming industry including Yahoo Games.
  • Gabe dropped an interesting bomb about how women don’t respond as well to 3D environments and the fact that they are not well liked by a lot of people because they are confrontational. He recommends sticking to a 2D environment like the world we live itn. He says 2D environments are easier to navigate and ultimately more flexible.

Bringing Web 2.0 to your Enterprise

This was a vendor driven session presented by David Carter, CTO of Awareness. Awareness helps companies build web 2.0 communities for internal or external use.

David started off the session stating that the challenges we faced in 1988 haven't changed within an enterprise. I thought this was interesting because as much as things changed they also stay the same. We are still trying to improve collaboration, trying to connect the right people and trying to make information easier to find (that's always fun). And these challenges only get harder as the organization grows.

David continued to talk about why this is a problem internally and that "the" collaboration tool within the enterprise is still EMAIL. Why is that a problem? Well, when people leave the organization so does all of that intellectual property. Common sense for most of my readers but it's still a problem most enterprises haven't solved. There's still a need to figure out what content to pull out of email and into collaboration tools like blogs, wiki's and discussion forums.

In the case of McDonald’s, Awareness was looking for creative ways to engage people and get them to share ideas. They did this during an event registration process which simultaneously built a person's online profile and with an optional question at the end. Hundreds of people were contributing content that was then made public and shared with the rest of the organization. By doing this they removed the barrier of entry and made it very easy and convenient for people to contribute. This was one of my favorite examples and I think it can be leveraged in multiple ways to kick start a new community.

Community Building: Good, Bad, and Ugly

I am at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco today surrounded by hundreds of other web geeks like myself.

I started off the day at the "Community Building: Good, Bad, and Ugly" session which was moderated by Jeremiah Owyang from Forrester Research and included three panelists: Dawn Foster from Jive Software, Bob Duffy from Intel, and Kellie Parker from PC World and Macworld.

Here's a summary of the panel discussion:

What is the opportunity when it comes to building a community?
Communities provide the platform for your evangelists to shine and talk about your products. This builds brand loyalty and allows you to engage with this audience and also learn and get feedback from them on your company/products.

Should you build or join a community?
Both. When people come to your side you want to give them the ability to interact and engage when they are there but you also want to interact in communities where you are the subject.

What skills are needed to manage a community?
Kellie explains her role as a community manager as the host of a party. Her role is to add value by introducing people and encourage conversation with the different people who show up.
Need to be diplomatic and let negative people know that they were heard. You need to have a customer mindset and remember that you are there to serve them - not the other way around.

You need to balance being an advocate of your company to your community while being the community advocate back to your company.

What are the challenges around community building?
Intel's biggest challenge was the organization and the resources available. To get around this Bob spent a lot of time getting data and building a strong strategy - then spent a few weeks evangelizing the plan to get buy-in and support.

Dawn's challenge was getting people to come after it was built. In this situation they reached out to their influencers and evangelist and they helped spread the word. By brining them in early and giving them beta access to the site they embraced the opportunity.

Dealing with trolls or negative people, don't be quick on the trigger. Be patient and allow the community to jump in . If your evangelists jump in it is seen as much more credible.
Getting people to engage can be a challenge. In this case Kellie recommends starting with something simple that everyone has an answer to.

What's the ROI, how do you measure success?
The common answer - it's based on the objective. Intel looked at organic traffic and how much their blogs and forums are driving that traffic as well as the increased number of logins and registration. Their goal is to build a stronger, loyal customer base. Jive is looking at participation and the number of messages posted. They don't try to tie it to sales and look at the community as an awareness tool. PC World/Macworld looks at both page views and interaction with number of messages posted.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rising Tide of Web Apps Should Lift Marketing 2.0 Boat

One thing worth keeping an eye on from a Marketing 2.0 perspective is new technology that could improve or augment the technology we use. There’s no disputing that although Marketing 2.0 represents a significant change of philosophy and core marketing strategy, new technology enabling faster and more efficient communication and collaboration is at least an enabler, if not the inspiration.

It’s because of this that I’m always excited to hear about further adoption of web-based anything; whether it be a bigger piece of the pie for web-based advertising; more funding to support Web 2.0 apps; or further adoption of web-based office apps.

This week’s news that Google’s web-based applications suite will integrate with Salesforce.com’s app is nothing but good news for those of us who live and die with web-tech. Is this going to change the world over night? Of course not. But it will give a certain class of customers a much desired alternative to the Microsoft hegemony in the office apps market. More exciting than that though, it will drive adoption of the web-based office, more reliable web connections, and indirectly, adoption for the technology that makes Marketing 2.0 possible.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pulse on the Blogosphere

Here are a few recent posts that I think are worth sharing:

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Will Amazon's TextBuyIt be the Tipping Point for Mobile Marketing?

It's been a while since I've talked about the mobile web and in my last post, I came to the conclusion that there were more questions than answers (like many things web 2.0). However I thought it made sense at the time to start building a strategy and having a web presence. And I have done just that, Cisco's mobile web has been updated to include Service Provider content and we have just started testing SMS campaigns particularly at events. The big question that we've had as we started venturing into SMS is the adoption and use given the 'mature' audience we're targeting. A recent study by ABI Research believes we may be at a tipping point with the creation of a "perfect storm of subscriber adoption" to drive mobile messaging.
Well I believe that storm just got better with Amazon's recent 'TextBuyIt' annoucement which will tip that scale even further by accelerating the adoption and comfort level with texting as a mode of communication. What's interesting about Amazon's TextBuyIt solution is that it's not 100% text based. After you text the product number or name to Amazon they call you back to confirm your order (it doesn't always have to be a purchase) however if you're just doing a price check they can send you this info via SMS. Check out the FAQs for a run down of the service.

I just tested the price check and feature and I have to admit it's pretty easy even for an amateur texter like me. Unfortunately when I tested the buy feature it didn't go as smoothly. I sent the ISDN number for the book I wanted and Amazon was able to find the title and I received a text back with the pricing info. I then sent back the code to complete the purchase followed by a message with my email address and zip code related to my Amazon account. I then received a message back from Amazon that said "We were unable to find an item matching your keywords. Place your order online at www.amazon.com." but they had just sent me the item info that I wanted. So they obviously have a few kinks to iron out but the concept is solid. I'll give them a few weeks and try it again. Either way the scale has been tipped and for that I thank Amazon because they will make my job easier.

Essentials to Web Design & Coding

This is a must watch - happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Leveraging Social Media and Web 2.0 in a Product Launch

This morning I co-presented with Wilson Craig, PR Manager at Cisco for the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association's (SVAMA) networking breakfast. We shared the strategy, tactics and lessons learned from the recent Cisco ASR 1000 product launch where we leveraged interactive and social tools as well as social media outlets including Facebook, Second Life, blogs and discussion forums to spread its marketing message.

Here are the slides from our presentation:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Apple Ad - Cool or Disruptive - or Both?

Apple has a new Mac vs. PC ad on NYTimes.com doing a comparison of operating systems (Vista and Leopard).

From a technology stand point it's very cool and innovative - that shouldn't be surprising coming from Apple. The skyscraper on the right automatically plays a video when you land on the NY Times homepage. The "PC Guy" realizes that there's bad press on the Vista OS in the top banner so he does an "Emergency Banner Refresh" to update the ad (this is the cool and innovative part - the top banner and the side skyscraper banner are tied together and the top banner actually refreshes on queue to show a new ad).

Although it's a cool ad I think it's a little annoying and it's not inline with the whole "Web 2.0" movement of being integrated versus interruptive. I actually don't like when the ads play automatically. When I visit the NY Times website I'm there to get a news update. If the ad were related to what was on the page it wouldn't be as annoying - for example if I were reading an article about operating systems I would likely value what Mr. PC and Mr. Mac had to say but if I'm going to the site for an update about the elections its just distracting.

Now this is Apple and the cool factor lets them get away with more but I'm interested to find out how the general public reacts to this type of advertising.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Game On

It's no secret that I'm an advocate of using online games to create an engaging and fun environment for people to learn and interact with your brand. I've even questioned whether online gaming was web 2.0's killer app. Cisco's latest EDGE QUEST game was a result of my persistence on this topic and has proven to be a good investment so far. But if you're still looking for more ammo to sell this concept to your organization, iMedia Connection posted a useful article: 11 Reasons to Extend your Brand with Games. Here are the highlights:

  1. The bottom line is we just want to have fun: According to the National Institute on Media and the Family, 35% of Americans rated video and computer games as "the most fun entertainment activity."
  2. Online games can be viral and ubiquitous: They are portable and can be emailed, hosted on websites, syndicated, distributed to mobile phones, etc.
  3. They deliver results: Some say that advergaming offers retention rates 10 times higher than broadcast commercials; 15-45 percent of consumers who receive an advergame actually play it, and for an impressive average of 25 minutes. (Source: YaYa LLC.)
  4. Games and simulations are a great way to educate your prospects and customers: They also added sales to that list in the story. Cisco's EDGE QUEST game is a great example of how we made it educational but still fun and engaging.
  5. Online games create an impetus to interact with your brand: If you're looking to build a relationship with your customer this is a good way to get to know each other in a way that "appeals to our emotions."
  6. Online games deliver greater brand recall: It's memorable. Why? Because it's visual, interactive and engaging.
  7. Provide greater customer insights: Customers are more willing to share personal/preference information in exchange for the ability to play a game.
  8. Games engage the emotion to reach the intellect: You're not only drawing them in for the fun but able to deliver key info and brand messages. "It's a one-two punch."
  9. Provide your prospect with an active (not passive) experience: Participation is required.
  10. Multiplayer games can be the glue to build community around your brand: This is something that is probably best done with Second Life. Simulating real life environments are no longer abstract thoughts when you can illustrate it in a virtual setting.

Synchronize your brand vision across all touchpoints: Because of the portability you can "span far and wide" hence fully leveraging your investment for a large, global audience.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Why Everyone Should be on LinkedIn

I am participating in the WOMEN Unlimited leadership program and have found myself becoming a LinkedIn advocate. I think that everyone should have a profile on LinkedIn. People have asked me what the value is if they are not looking for a job. To that I simply tell them how I use LinkedIn:
  • It's a convenient place to store my most current resume. I update it as my career changes so when I am ready for the next opportunity I don't have to go hunting in my folder list for the last doc I created.
  • It's a great way to collect, track, and present referrals. When you are ready to make a move, your new position will typically ask for three references. Now I can also provide a link to my LinkedIn profile which includes a number of endorsements that I've collected throughout my career. I maintain this vigilantly - every time someone I work closely with moves out of my group or if I move to a new position I will ask for endorsements to keep my profile fresh.
  • Networking is a key benefit. Just about everyone is on LinkedIn and when you live in the valley people are moving to new positions all the time. LinkedIn offers a convenient way to build and stay in touch with your professional network.
  • If you're at all interested in building an online presence, LinkedIn is a good start since your information can be searchable. Plus you'll get a vanity link (ie. www.linkedin.com/in/lasandrabrill) that you can reference in bios or in your resume which also makes your personal brand that much more 2.0.

For more uses and benefits of LinkedIn check out Maureen Caplan Gray's post which also provides examples of how she leverages LinkedIn to build her business.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Leveraging Social Media and Web 2.0 in a Product Launch

Part of the reason I've been a lazy blogger lately is that I have been consumed with launching "the most powerful compact router every created" - the Cisco ASR 1000 Series Routers. It's been a fun launch and we pulled out all of the web 2.0 stops creating a Virual. Viral. Visual. launch. Here's a laundry list of how we leveraged Web 2.0:

  • Pre-Launch Uber User Site - We leveraged light hearted videos on this site and posted them on YouTube to maximize visibility.
  • Facebook Group - This was part of the pre-launch so I was able write about this one in an earlier post and even shared our process and tips here.
  • Interactive 3-D Game - I would like to give kudos to the vendor - Somnio - who helped us create this very cool online game. "EDGE QUEST" offers our audience a fun and engaging way to learn about the product and interact with the Cisco brand - a no-brainer given the playing statistics of online games.
  • Social Media Web Widget - Again kudos to Somnio here for the development of Cisco's first web widget that 'lets our content free' by allowing users to embed it on their site (as shown below).


  • Social Media Release (SMR) - It's been nearly a year since I stumbled across and wrote about SMRs. What make them different from a traditional release? It's the approach and the fact that a SMR leverages and highlights all of the social aspects of the announcement.
  • Second Life Presence - We were able to leverage Second Life pre-launch by hosting a countdown party and post launch by walking through a product demo.
    Other Stuff - We also leveraged sites like Digg, del.icio.us, Technorati, Reddit and StumbleUpon - we also have a focused blogger outreach program and a pretty cool looking launch page.

Want to know more about this launch? I'll be presenting on March 26 with Wilson Craig, PR Manager at Cisco for the Silcon Valley American Marketing Association to share processes, best practices and results.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Study Reports 96% Success Rate of Web 2.0 Technologies

Awareness Networks released study, "Trends in Adopting Web 2.0 for the Enterprise in 2007," based on 112 participants and here are the highlights:

  • More than half of enterprise-size organizations utilize Web 2.0 technologies (54 percent), as do 74 percent of companies with less than 500 employees.
  • The majority of respondents using Web 2.0 technologies employ a combination of internal- and external-facing tools (64 percent).
  • Blogs are the most used Web 2.0 technology (selected by 87 percent of respondents), followed by communities, wikis, RSS feeds and social networking.
  • Of companies that use Web 2.0 technology 37 percent are allowed to use social networking sites for business purposes at work.
  • The most successful uses of Web 2.0 technologies in their organizations are blogs (44 percent), communities (42 percent) and wikis (39 percent).
  • Ninety-six percent report that all Web 2.0 technologies they’ve used have been successful, with 83 percent reporting no clear failures.
  • Two-thirds of respondents say limited internal resources to deploy the technology is the biggest obstacle in adopting Web 2.0 technologies. 53 percent say they don't know what social media can do for their company including 73 percent of senior executives - and 23 percent (or nearly one in four) of HR decision makers are unfamiliar with Web 2.0 technologies.
  • Looking for proof of success? 91 percent of respondents report that internal-facing online social media will improve communication and collaboration and 47 percent of respondents plan to deploy an internal-facing community in 2008 or 2009.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Inside Scoop to Creating a Facebook Group

Richie Fitz commented in my earlier post Cisco got Facebooked asking about the set-up process and tips - here's what I can offer:
  • Set-up was easy. What we did was we set the group to 'private' initially so we could get it ready before the initial public launch (kinda like working in a staging environment). Everything but the title can be edited so make sure you choose your title carefully because it's final!
  • Grassroots start. Because we decided against using one of Facebook's sponsored groups, marketing and promotion was up to us. We started by having the core group of administrators invite their 'friends' to join - then the viral nature of Facebook kicked in as people joined and their networks were notified. We also referenced the Facebook group to people who register for the March 4th event on the uber user site.
  • Have a plan. We have a plan to update the group every week for at least the next 3-months. In week one we introduced Cupid along with a number of discussion topics, week two we introduced a new character, the Stork - complete with pictures and videos and we have more planned in the coming weeks (stay tuned).
  • Be social and be open. If you're going to create a group on a social media site you have to be willing to open Pandora's box and allow users to participate. We created a top 20 "Internet Addicts" list that encourages users to generate ideas and get recognized if their idea is selected. Also be ready to respond back to users when appropriate - don't be a deaf ear.

Join the group to see for yourself!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cisco got Facebooked!

I'm excited to announce that I was part of a team that launched a new Facebook group for Cisco Systems: Cisco Support Group for Internet Addicts. It's a fun group playing off the recent Über User campaign to promote - well - that's sort of a secret until March 4th so for now it's to promote the big event that announce how "life on the network will be better for everyone."

I know there are other marketers who occasionally read this blog - I'd be interested in any feedback (or suggestions) good or bad on the campaign and the set-up of the Facebook group. Also I hope that you'll join the group and participate in some of the discussions.

Lastly, in the light of the Valentine's Day (even though I'm a day late), I'd like to introduce Cupid, the Infatuation Specialist - enjoy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Life in Real Time

Ryan Kuder twittered his last day at Yahoo! as they gave him the boot. You get a play-by-play update of this day from getting the news to backing up his files to getting his phone confiscated.

What's interesting about this is how real-time every aspect of our lives can be. Every meeting, every event, every conversation could be documented in seconds with the quick movement of one's thumbs across the keyboard on their phones. A private conversation with a customer or a meeting with an analyst can be 'Twittered' at anytime and posted for the world to see. This illustrates yet another way Web 2.0 is changing the way we communicate.

For marketing professionals the only thing scarier than someone twittering something negative about one of our campaigns is no one twittering anything at all.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Yahoo & Microsoft Deal is a Non Starter

Think Yahoo is worth more than 44B? Well, they think so which is why they will be officially rejecting Microsoft's offer tomorrow. I think this is a blessing in disguise for Microsoft because I don't see how two struggling companies equal a stronger one and Yahoo comes with a lot of baggage. As for Yahoo I think this may be the best offer they get as their downward spiral is not going to increase their market share with time.

The Dog & Pony Show is Over

Cluetrain Rule #16: Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog-and-pony show, are no longer speaking to anyone.

Unfortunately, at least in my experience this is a rule that many marketers often break. It goes against everything we've learned in school - we've been trained to spin, position and drop plenty of buzzwords. Now it's time to unlearn these skills. I know it's easier said than done but if you're looking for ways to hint to your marketers that this no longer works and you think little humor will work try sending them this IBM video:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Pulse on the Blogosphere

StumbleUpon Takes the Social Bookmarking Lead
I can't say I'm surprised but StumbleUpon wins the ProBlogger popularity contest with 40% of the vote, del.icio.us had 21% and Digg had 19%. Are you still trying to figure out how to get 'stumbled'? Read The Guide.

Blogger Tips - How to Get Noticed
Whether your a new blogger or an old timer this quick post with three main tips is worth a read. If you looking for more ideas to gain popularity check out this top 50 list. Once you start putting these tips to work you'll want to measure your success right? Well check out this post for a good framework for for success.

Adobe Wants You to Share
Sharing, collaborating and doing it online is the trend of the decade and Adobe surely can't be left out in the cold. Their new web service - Adobe Share - allows you to share docs online. Check out this post for a product review and product comparison.

MySpace Follows in Facebook's Footprints
On Tuesday MySpace launched it's own developer site allowing anyone to build apps onto their platform. Is it too little too late? I don't think so but we'll just have to wait and see...

Reputation Marketing
What a great post by Paul Dunay - this one liner sums it up "A reputation that took decades to build can be threatened by a single event." Read his post for a three-step approach to that could save your reputation.

Can You Handle the Truth?
Matt Dickman doesn't think so and I have to agree - the biggest challenge corporations have with Social Media is letting go because they are afraid this "truth" will surface. What they fail to realize is that they are already surfaced. Ok, let me stop before I get on a rant - check out Matt's post for suggestions on how to get your social media feet wet.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Web 2.0 Expo - Session Summaries Part 2

In my last post I only gave a summary for 2 of the 5 sessions I attended. Here I will provide key takeaways from the following sessions: Social Advertising and Social Media, Widgetizing the Web and Designing the Mobile Web.

Social Advertising and Social Media

Moderated by Barbara Coll, Founder and Search Specialist at WebMama with the following panelists: Cam Balzer, Vice President of Emerging Media at Doubleclick Performics, Rajiv Parikh, CEO of Position2 and Kent Lindstrom, President of Friendster.

Cam was a big promoter of advertising on social media sites where 20% of the internet visits reside. He specifically used Facebook as an example where he touted the ability to target your ads based on demographics and geography as well as keywords based on profile content. You can run target counts from the Facebook site without having to pay any ad costs here.

Rajiv promoted TubeMogul where from one site you can have your videos posted to multiple sites including YouTube, MySpace, Google, Yahoo!, MetaCafe, and Revver. Rajiv also provided some obvious and useful tips when it comes to advertising:

  1. Know your target audience
  2. Develop content and apps that appeal to the audience
  3. Reward helpful and valuable users (ie. those who contribute)
  4. Be consistent
  5. Continually optimize

Kent talked about Friendsters popularity with 10B page views/month with an average engagement of 220 minutes/month however he took the opposing view of Cam and questioned the ability to effectively advertise to this audience for the following reasons:

  • The state that users are in - the are not there to buy
  • Ability to create inventory
  • Quality of targeting - "we know a lot but it's not always valuable"

Widgetizing the Web

Named moderator was Neil Patel, Internet Marketing Consultant and PronetAdvertising however he didn't play that role and instead just took up a seat on stage. Panel speakers included Hooman Radfar, CEO of Clearspring, Pradeep Javangula, CTO of Tumri and Gary Baker, CEO of ClipBlast!.

Unfortunately this session was a waste of time. It had no structure and even the panelists bored and uninterested - at one point is looked like the moderator was dozing off. I ended up taking this time to catch up on a few emails...

Designing the Mobile Web

Moderated by Julie Ask, Vice President & Research Director of Jupiter Research. The panelists included Barbara Ballard, Founder & President of Little Springs Design, Ain Indermitte, Senior Developer Relations Manager of Forum Nokia and Brand Lassey of Mozilla.

I thought Julie did a great job moderating this session although I heard others say she was a bit combative towards the panelists. I found it entertaining and she kept the session on topic and didn't let the panelists dance around a question.

> Why go mobile?

Brad shares the growth of mobile access by telling us know that more first time internet connections came from a phone as opposed to a PC and argued that since this is their first experience with the internet it's worth the investment to ensure it's a good one. He also mentioned that Barnes & Nobel and Amazon have been mobile since 1999 (I thought that was interesting). Although on the flip side he pointed out that less than 5% of phones in the US offer a browser experience.

Barbara says it only makes sense for the "head" (not the long tail) and it just depends on who and where your users are. She also made the point that if your targeting India the answer is a definite 'yes.'

Ain talked about Nokia's mobile offering and says that there are now phones that retail for under $100 that offer internet browsing. This will surely effect that 5% number that Brad mentions within the next few years. He also talked about the enhanced web experience that can come from a mobile phone based on location services and the fact that users are voice and camera enabled.

> How many mobile users are looking for specific information vs.. surfing the web?

Brad - Users want to get information and they want to get it fast.

Barbara agreed which is why it's important to optimize the site upfront for mobile users but at the same time, she warns not to lock users out of the full site and to offer links for more information.

> How much should people allocate to building a mobile web?

This ended up being a repeat to the first question and the answer boils down to 'it depends' - if your users are mobile that you should definitely have a mobile site but if they are not then it probably doesn't make sense. There is also some degree of strategy and how having a mobile site will effect your brand.

> What does a 'smaller' mobile site need?

Here are a few tips from the panelists: Less is better and make sure to put your key messages at the top. Design for 'blind users.' Barbara recommended Little Springs Design. There was a small debate on the use of apps but my conclusion is that most phones aren't ready for them yet so don't waste your time/money but it's a space worth following especially if your users are mobile.

The most important point - don't just shrink your site, you need to build from scratch.

> What does Mozilla's mobile browser and roadmap look like?

  • The engineering effort has been launched
  • There will be a new look and user interface
  • Integrate with desktop Firefox with added ' send to phone' options
  • Fully support AJAX and trying to work with Adobe for Flash support

That pretty much sums up this event. Although I am a big fan of WebGuild I have to admit I wasn't impressed by the overall schedule and organization. Next time I hope they'll take things a little deeper rather than trying to pack the day with 45-minute sessions that just scratched the surface.