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’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" 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!