Monday, October 12, 2009

The Evolution of a Social Media Marketing in a Product Launch

Here's a presentation that Melissa Mines, Marketing Manager at Cisco and I did with BrighTalk showing how we evolved our social media marketing tactics from the Cisco ASR 1000 launch to the the Cisco ASR 9000 launch.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Web 2.0 Expo- Ford Motor Company Case Study

The Ford case study was one of the best presentations at the conference. I wish there were more companies sharing their success stories (or failures) of how to actually implement these techniques in an integrated campaign.
The presentation was led by Scott Monty who manages the social media efforts at Ford and Maggie Fox from Social Media Group who is their social media agency of record. I captured my notes and also embedded the slides from the presentation below.

Getting Started
Before jumping into any social conversations they began by doing a SWOT analysis.What they found is not too much different that what I think most people will find. People are talking about them but they weren't leveraging and integrating these people into their communications efforts.

The Revolution
So they decided to change that. They revolutionized the way they interacted with bloggers. It started by inviting bloggers, the people who were already talking to them to a traditional media event. The bloggers were integrated into the process and invited to see and test drive new vehicles.
They continued that relationship online and as Scott puts it, "we wanted to make storytelling easy." They created web-ready content and distributed it through social media press releases.
What's important to note is that this does not replace their traditional media efforts nor is it packaged and distributed in the same way. Their social media releases are not pushed across the wire. Instead it's a pull method of obtaining content, the releases are optimized for search results, uploaded to the Ford website and RSS enabled so that people can subscribe to the content.

Scott said that overall there weren't really any challenges. I don't think this will be the same case for every company. What's different at Ford? Alan Mulally, Ford's CEO. The shift to change their communication style was accepted from the top down. There was a little bit of a legal hurdle to get over since they were opening the access to their content including images and videos to anyone. They agreed to put a creative commons restriction meaning people are free to use the content, but they must link back to Ford and they cannot use the content for profit. Also all images and files are for web use only and can't be reprinted.

More people are talking about Ford, they have received 500 posts since September 2007 and the content of the stories is richer and more inline with the corporate positioning. Some enthusiasts are even embedding the social media releases into their sites as a credible source of Ford news. There are 120 videos posted to YouTube which have received over 1.2 million hits.

Lessons Learned
Ford realized that in today's world, 'everyone is a publisher' not just the journalists and that digital content needs to be an integrated way of thinking, not just an afterthought. Also when it came to making this happen what really helped them get this approved and accepted internally was to sit down and explain this big scary thing called 'social media.' After education and understanding people's fears about it, it became a non-issue. People are only afraid of what they don't know so if you explain the mystery it becomes less scary.

What's Next
The Ford Story is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what's next. The initial creation of this site was done in 4-days (over the Thanksgiving Holiday). The future plans for this site are to pull in 3rd party content and become the centralized hub for all Ford content. They also plan to expand beyond auto bloggers to parent blogs, green, tech and finance blogs.
So, have you driven a Ford lately? Admittedly I haven't but all of this social media outreach gave me some warm and fuzzies so I think I may have to take a test drive this weekend

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Web 2.0 Expo: Content Strategy

What is your online content strategy?If it involves hiring a copywriter 10-days before the launch of your web page it's time to rethink your (non) strategy. As Kristina Halvorson would say, don't let your content be the forgotten elephant in the room. Here are my key take always from Kristina's session, "Content Strategy: What's Real, What's Relevant ."
Too often content is an after thought with the notion ("lies") that:
  • It's not that big of a deal
  • You think you already know what you want to say
  • You think you already have most of the content
  • You put it off as something you can fix post launch
What people don't consider is that your customers decided whether to do business with you based on your content. Ideally you should identify a single person in your company or organization that is responsible for your content, a Content Strategist. This person would be responsible for building your strategy to include:
The creation of your content should start with your customer in mind. A good example of this is REI, they don't hammer you over the head with their products. Instead they want to be your partner in outdoor activities. Or Room and Board who sells through stories of real people who use their products. Ford Models builds a connection by providing everyday beauty tips on their YouTube channel. Content as to work for the user - an example of what NOT to do is Quicken, box shots don't help the customer decide which product to buy. They don't talk to the customer, they just want you to add products to your cart. When you create your content make sure it's useful, usable and enjoyable.
There are many forms to publish content including: text, graphics, video, animation and audio. You should plan for a specific goal or result regardless of how and where you publish your content. Create a list to understand the business objectives and the user goals.
Think of your content from a lifecycle perspective. Have a plan to update or remove. Do NOT do what Swiffer did and create a YouTube contest then abandon the site after the promotion is done (they haven't logged-in in over 10 months!). Have a plan to take it down if you're not going to maintain it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Web 2.0 Expo: Designing Social Websites

I attended two workshops at today's Web 2.0 Expo: Designing Social Interfaces: Principles, Best Practices and Patterns for Designing the Social Web and Designing Social Websites.

The first presentation was more of an read out on the analysis of different social features popular on sites like FaceBook, LinkedIn, Flickr and others. I wish they would have done more of an analysis of which ones actually work, what makes them work and who they work on. Anyhow, the slides are still interesting and can be viewed here.

For me the more interesting presentation was from Christina Wodtke. I've embedded her slides below and here are some of my key takeaways:

"Behavior is a function of a person and his/her environment," this is Christina's theory to social sites. Environment is half the equation and something we can control. Christina shared an interesting analogy that you can follow the same process to designing the architecture of a building as you would a website. For example when you build a wide and open staircase it becomes a natural place for people to take a seat and socialize (for more on this check out A Pattern Language).

Christina identifies 4 motivations for contribution:
  1. Reciprocity - an example is LinkedIn endorsements, people who ask for endorsements are likely to give an endorsement back. Another example is when fund raising groups send you mailing labels as a gift, by doing so people are more likely to return the favor by opening their wallets.
  2. Reputation - Cisco's NetPro discussion forum do a good job of this by through a point system.
  3. Increased Need of Efficacy - The reason people use sites like Digg is because it's an effective way to obtain information they have something to gain.
  4. Attachment to and Need of a Group - This goes back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, people want to have a sense of belonging. Then when they build their reputation it increases their self esteem.
Anyone who's building a social website should learn more about the Ross Mayfield's Power Law of Participation where a ' low threshold participation amounts to high engagement'. Then follow the AOF method:
  1. Define your activity (ie. what are your users doing? what do they have to do for you to be successful)
  2. Identify social objects (ie. videos for Netflix, photos for Flickr)
  3. Choose your features (ie. sharing, tagging, advice)
(Note: this is an older version of the deck she shared at the Web 2.0 Expo, the slides are almost identical, when/if she updates SlideShare, I'll update the embed.)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Launch that Keeps on Giving

Readers of my blog have already heard me talk about the Cisco ASR case study and how we used social media and web 2.0 to build community. I have also presented this many times in person and my most recent appearance for a CIO/IT Executive MeetUp was recorded and can be viewed here:

Monday, March 9, 2009

Trace Your Marketing Reach

If Web 2.0 is the engine behind the next generation of uber marketing programs, content is still the fuel it uses. In most cases, Web 2.0 is still largely content driven. But now content has evolved past “prepared marketing messaging” and moved into “ability to have an intelligent, relevant conversation”. Either way, content is still king. Whether its blogging, twittering, or creating viral videos – marketing programs are still made up of people who “create message” and people who “distribute message”. The one question that’s difficult to answer however is which parts of our message are resonating. Thanks to a new company called Tynt, there may be a way to find out.

Tynt allows you to track which parts of your web copy is well, copied. Here’s the write up from Leeana Rao at TechCrunch:

Tynt’s product, Tracer, lets website publishers see what content is being copied and pasted off their sites. Each time a user copies content from a website and pastes it into an email, blog or website, Tracer automatically adds a URL link back to the original site’s content, helping to drive traffic back to the original site. Publishers can easily add the Tracer technology to the code of their site by inserting Tracer’s one line of java script in any site template.
As Leaano notes later in her post, there are other solutions for copy protection and tracking – but Tynt’s focus seems to more on marketing than intellectual property protection. As a marketer, I absolutely want people stealing what I write. Copy it and paste it everywhere! Just tell me what parts you liked.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Corporate Blog Manifesto Update

This is a guest post from one of the great Web 2.0 and Social Media Marketers on my team, Don Nelson. He often has insightful emails and this time I asked if I can post it on my blog.

Quick background - this email was actually a response to someone who sent a link out to Robert Scoble's post from 2003, "The Corporate Weblog Manifesto" and I thought it was worth sharing so here you go:

Just in case you jump right into the content and not see the date of this posting.....Scoble wrote this in 2003 which pretty much makes it a dinosaur in Internet time. However, there are still good points to be made here in 2009.

My take is this....
  1. Tell the truth: always always always. If you're not sure, best to leave it out of your writing all together.
  2. Post fast on good news or bad: it is after all about communicating with our customers and the influencers in the many markets and industries we now play in.
  3. Use a human voice: we're all on the honor system of sticking to corporate and ethics, so hopefully you know which lines not to cross.
  4. Make sure you support the latest sw/web/human standards: technically, not so much these days with our Blog platform. we already have RSS and try to instill the proper use of keywords for search engine optimization.
  5. Have a thick skin: opinions and elbows - everyone has them and they will use them so be prepared for all manner of responses to your writing
  6. Don't ignore Slashdot: there is much more beyond just Slashdot these days. we do keep social media monitoring in our pockets and try to do as much as we can with what we've got to help guide you in the conversations out there.
  7. Talk to the grassroots first: base your writings on established concepts and leadership and you should be fine. It doesn't hurt to know or build relations with a broad range of sources that you can read and interact with via your blog but know that PR is also handling relation building here too.
  8. If you screw up, acknowledge it: as clear as it can be word for word
  9. Underpromise and over deliver: excellent strategy and should be used at every opportunity
  10. If Doc Searls says it or writes it, believe it: I had to look him up so I'm thinking so did you there are many "experts" so I'd extend this to those you know based on level of influence you think they have in any particular market.
  11. Know the information gatekeepers:
  12. Never change the URL of your weblog
  13. If your life is in turmoil and/or you're unhappy, don't write: true. unless you can turn the turmoil/unhappy experience into something that relates to your company fixing it for you!
  14. If you don't have the answers, say so: same as #1 and #8, true to the last word
  15. Never lie: see #1, #8 and #14
  16. Never hide information: disclose disclose disclose where appropriate or just don't write about it
  17. If you have information that might get you in a lawsuit, see a lawyer before posting, but do it fast: similar to #1, #8, #14 and #15, when in doubt leave it out of your writing or pursue our legal contacts if unavoidable.
  18. Link to your competitors and say nice things about them: true to an extent. now partners and ecosystem partners, they should be acknowledged/credited when it directly impacts your writing.
  19. BOGU (Bend Over and Grease Up): true also to an extent. more simply stated, if someone comments on your writing, treat them all as if they are VIPs
  20. Be the authority on your product/company: you are all experts, but do pay proper respects to whom you know and/or reference in your writing.

Enterprise Social Media

Just a quick post to share a growing list of Enterprise Social Media bloggers - make sure your company is on this list!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Skittles Twitters The Rainbow

What if a real company decided to turn their whole site into a twitter conversation?

That’s what skittles did in what can only be described as a bold move to embrace Web2.0.

What a unique approach. In a traditional viral campaign, you launch a viral concept and it takes on a life of its own, living in media largely beyond your control. Skittles did one better. They launched a viral campaign and turned their website into an incubator for the virus. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is! An argument could be made that the skittles website isn’t core to their product sales, so replacing it with a twitter results page isn’t as big of a risk as if a B2B company were to do it. But still, you have to respect the moxie of Skittles’ Web 2.0 marketing team. What a great campaign!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Yelp

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water . . .

You open a business. You market it aggressively. You do your best to serve your customers. You have a few “learning experiences”, but over all everything goes well. Then tragedy strikes. You get “yelped”. Some customer who you barely remember posts a scathing review of your product or service on the consumer feedback site Yelp.

Think it couldn’t happen to you? If you’ve got customers in the local retail sector, you’re most likely on yelp. For those of us working for companies that sell to the enterprise, we have our own demons. Our disgruntled customers are as likely to buy domains of “” and make a career out of vilifying us. But we have infrastructure for that. We have huge multi-touch marketing teams and great PR departments and legal representation if needed and about a million ways to engage our customers directly using a number of different channels, some of which we’ve covered here.

But what do you do if you’re a small corner shop? Your options are much more limited. Much of your revenue base is dependent on new customers, meaning you’re not able to preempt negative reviews with your own information. But even if that weren’t the case, you don’t likely have a very large marketing budget. And if you were going to use it for anything, it would be to get new customers, not lose old ones. Unfortunately, many business owners are facing this situation now.

Could this mean the end of business as they know it? Maybe for the bad ones. If you remember, authors found themselves in a similar dilemma as Amazon’s user reviews system became more relied upon than the publisher’s canned marketing pitch. Today however, more books than ever are being sold through Amazon and with rare exceptions do authors have trouble with allowing every single customer to have an open public forum with anonymity and almost no barrier to entry to posting their review. Its just become part of the paradigm in publishing – if you want good reviews produce a good product.

I’ve spoken to some local business owners about their reaction to yelp and its effect on their business and without exception all were driven to improve some aspect of their service because of it. How is this a bad thing again? It’s certainly not a bad thing for the folks at yelp, who’ve seen the unique visitors triple over the last year. As a business owner, I’d be terrified of yelp to the point where I’d go out of my way to satisfy each and every customer as if they were the Internet Yelp’r from hell. As a customer, I really digg that.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cisco Ends the Search for the Perfect Valentine's Day Gift

This is a great B2B example of a viral video. This video was posted to YouTube, blogged about and Twittered about and in 5 days has over 8,400 views!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cisco's Newest Social Media App

Cisco is breaking social media ground yet again with it's new VNI PC Pulse application. I happen to work with one of the masterminds (Thomas Barnett) behind this application so I was able to talk him into an interview to give other social media enthusiasts a back stage view of what went it's creation.

Can you give me a brief description of the new Cisco VNI PC Pulse application?

>> Thomas: Cisco has created a free application to show users how much network bandwidth they consume and the types of applications they use. This application shows users the amount and types of traffic that flow to and from their computer and provides aggregated network usage proof points of all global users of this application for comparison purposes.

This is a great idea, how did you come up with it? What is the benefit to the end user?

>> Thomas: As part of our Visual Networking Index (VNI) initiative, we are interested in activities that can help provide qualitative views of network-based consumer video usage patterns and trends. Cisco has sponsored and will continue to explore consumer preferences and perspectives through surveys/questionnaires (see Cisco VNI Pulse political survey and Initial Cisco VNI Pulse consumer survey). A natural extension of our direct engagement with consumers was to offer a free utility application to develop a deeper understanding of consumer video behaviors and attitudes on a global scale. End users can gain a better understanding of their personal PC use and compare their bandwidth consumption with the aggregate average of others worldwide. They can compare their personal historical bandwidth usage stats (i.e., personal high, personal average, personal low) against WW stats (world high, world average, world low). The application measures LAN and Wi-Fi connections.

What have you learned since the application has been available?

>> Thomas: Data retrieved through the Cisco VNI Pulse application showed that on January 20, 2009 (the day of the U.S. inaugural festivities)individual users downloaded more than twice the amount of data they do during a normal day, at 322 MB vs. a typical average of 159 MB. Doug Webster, a marketing executive with Cisco, speculates that many people had the inaugural festivities streaming in the background while they did other things
Are there any social elements of the application? Thomas' Response: At this point, the ability to compare personal bandwidth usage against world stats is the primary social feature. Users could also compare their usage directly with family, friends and colleagues that choose to use the application. Cisco plans to develop a interactive web page in later in 2009 that will provide additional social networking elements.

What is the main objective of the application and how are you measuring your success?

>> Thomas: By using the Cisco VNI PC Pulse application, consumers will gain a better understanding of their online preferences and needs. The aggregate data will help Cisco build a better understanding of what we all demand from our networks. Data from this application will be shared publicly on a quarterly basis. We will measure our success the number of global users we are able to attract and the quality of new and insightful findings that we are able to share with the telecommunications industry and others interested in IP networking consumer trends.

What future apps can we expect from Cisco?

>> Thomas: We have developed a new mobile application that is currently available for iPhone users and will soon be available for Blackberry users as well. The Cisco Global Internet Speed Test (GIST) for iPhone application is publicly available via the Apple iPhone App Store in iTunes (

To learn more about the app check out Doug's post 'Are you a Super User?' or of course go directly to the download site and check it out for yourself.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pulse on the Blogosphere

The Military Counter Attack Plan for Bloggers
Who knows how to protect and defend better than the Air Force? Well they are not only protecting our country but they are also protecting their blog and they have a detailed flow chart to determine their every move.

Friends for Burgers?
That's Burger King's new message with their Facebook app that promotes giving away a Whopper when you delete 10 of your friends. Now that is an expensive burger if you ask me! Check out other anti-social Facebook apps here.

Intel's Show & Tell
Intel's published their Social Media Guidelines for everyone to see. If you're trying to figure out what your guidelines are this may be a good place to shortcut your process.

Media on Twitter
This isn't acutally a blog post but a great reasource. If you're using Twitter as a communication channel to reach the media this Wiki page lists all the top dogs! A must for your PR department.