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Social Media Fallacies – What To Know If You’re Thinking of Social Media January 27, 2009

Posted by John in Technology.
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Here is a great post by Jason Baer on the fallacies of social media. Social media is the email marketing of our web 2.0 everyone will do it but how is the question.  I’ve been doing it for years and I agree with this post.  I’ve added some of my comments in { } below.  Thanks Jason for a great post.

1. Social Media is Inexpensive

False. Done correctly, social media – even a simple reputation monitoring program – is a time intensive proposition that requires daily vigilance.

2. Social Media is Fast

False. Social media is by definition slow. Done correctly, social media is about developing meaningful relationships with customers and prospective customers in their natural habitat. You have to create content, be part of many communities, and proceed incrementally. Many successful social media programs take months (or even more than a year) to really germinate.

3. Social Media is “Viral Marketing”

False, in the same way that a square is also a rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t a square. Can a social media program go viral? Absolutely. But if you’re engaged in a social media program in an effort to go “viral” you’re not really engaged in social media at all. You’re engaged in an advertising and marketing campaign that uses the Web as its distribution platform.

{I will agree but add something here to Jason’s post:  the conversation is the advertising campaign and the social result of the conversation if done correctly is the definitive word on the topic – hence an ad-like message or effect}

4. Social Media results can’t be measured

False. Especially in comparison to many other communication programs like traditional PR, TV advertising, outdoor advertising and others, social media actually offers pretty solid metrics.  Can those results be tied back directly to sales, and therefore ROI? Probably not yet, but other than search and email (and maybe banners) where CAN you do that?

{I will add that the metrics are not online and this is the opportunity to bridge both offline and online experiences and benefits to users}

5. Social Media is optional

It doesn’t matter what the demographics of your customers are. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. Your customers and prospects are talking about you online. Your company needs to be part of that conversation. Today. Online is where many people do their talking, so that’s where you need to be.

6. Social media is hard

False. It’s not hard, it’s complicated.  It’s about having a strategy for making your company or organization more like a person and less like a machine. It’s about humanization.

If your customers and prospects feel like your company is more human and actually cares about them, they’ll want to be part of it….use technology to be yourself, and don’t overthink it.

Update: Thanks to Ben Smithson for point out the mistake in the title..

Look At This Social Media Advertising Done Right – Vertical Advertising Is The Model January 15, 2009

Posted by John in social media.
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For those who follow my blog know that I’ve been a big proponent of social media, but the problem is results and measurement.  Airforce is doing something innovative with their agency and Volomedia.  I really like this announcement from G4 and Volomedia.  Volomedia has signed up a big publisher and a big advertiser to insert ads in portable media and video.  The best part is that it work on ITunes and the Iphone.  I’ve talked about this before around how iTunes (and IPhone) now has a business (revenue) model.

Comcast’s G4 cable television network and Web site G4tv.com have begun working with VoloMedia to insert ads into the 300 podcast videos distributed monthly through about 23 feeds. The ad network began placing ads for the media giant last month, targeting young gamers.The U.S. Air Force placed the first ads in G4′s podcasts: Attack of the Show, X-Play, and Game Trailers. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based VoloMedia’s new vertical business, Video Game Podcast, supported the ad campaign created by GSD&M Idea City, the advertising agency for the Air Force.

What Does This Mean?  Why is this important?

Vertical media works.  The trend is away from individual sites or blogs but instead to ‘blanket the vertical’  with brand messaging.  In turn effective reach in a vertical hits enough critical mass that brand equity translates.  Said another way the most effective way to leverage things like blogs and podcasts is to ‘buy’ the vertical.  The dynamics of social networking and social media create an opportunity to hit alot of people in the affinity group.  What’s even cooler about this announcement is not only reach but measurement. This is a good move by the Airforce to get a vertical – here it’s gaming as the ‘contextual’ proxy for audience affinity.  It’s a no brainer that gamers are their target audience, but instead of going for silo’d conversion, Airforce is going for blanket coverage in the vertical or affinity group.

I predict this is the way the world will go very quickly.  Vertical media advertising.  This is a great program for brand advertising, and it has measurement.  I am sure it will be a success.

Web 2.0 Revenue Models ?? Drama 2.0 Weights In January 12, 2009

Posted by John in social media, Technology.
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Web critic blog – Drama 2.0 has a post about the realities of Web 2.0. Not  to toot my own horm but if you’re interested in Web 2.0 business models just read my posts from the past 2 years – the monetization answers are there.

Here’s the conclusion that Drama 2.0 came up with – pretty right on.

As we head into 2009 facing one of the toughest economic environments in decades knowing that the fun and games are over, it’s time to face the reality: the Web 2.0 we have today is not the Web 2.0 we envisioned a few short years ago.

The most popular Web 2.0 creations have not been cheap to grow and operate. They’re still struggling to find revenue models that will serve as the foundations of self-sustaining businesses and even those startups that generate significant revenue in absolute terms (namely Facebook) cannot justify the valuations they’ve been given. And profitability is still largely a pipe dream.

While it’s possible that Web 2.0 stars like Facebook, Digg and Twitter will turn things around, it’s quite clear that these companies are not like many of their hot Web 1.0 counterparts, which, despite having to battle challenges of their own, were able to develop viable revenue models and turn a profit relatively early on.

Given all this, for Web 2.0 proponents who continue to make the same asinine argument, “Don’t treat Web 2.0 like Web 1.0!”, it’s 2009 and I concede defeat. Web 2.0 is not like Web 1.0. It’s in a special (ed) class of its own.

Clay Shirky Media Business Market – His Forecast for 2009 – Look For The Deeper Meaning Within His Words January 7, 2009

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I’m a big fan of Clay Shirky and his research. His latest book “Here Comes Everyone” is awesome. He makes some great points that it’s worth posting his forecast here as well from the Guardian. Many of my opinions and analysis of media and social media align with Clay’s. I suggest if you’re interested in Social Media or “media 2.0″ that you follow Clay’s work.

Clay Shirky predicts further gloom for traditional media: “2009 is going to be a bloodbath.” Yet he foresees that a recession may produce greater industry clarity by forcing radical action, which he explains as a boss saying to staff: “‘Bonfire, this is Hail Mary time!’, instead of: ‘This year we made as much money as last year but we’re still restructuring dramatically.’”

Much of the success of Shirky’s recent book, Here Comes Everybody, about internet technologies and the effects of mass democratisation of the web, came from its simplicity and the absence of jargon. “As with the printing press, the loss of professional control will be bad for many of society’s core institutions,” he writes. In conversation he is just as plain-speaking, saying, for example, that “Management has a hard time destroying parts of its business unless the alternative, obvious to everyone, is that there is no choice.” Based in the unlikely environs of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, a stone’s throw from a fusty independent bookstore in downtown Manhattan, rather than Silicon Valley, Shirky, 44, is unburdened by traditional media ties. After Yale, he worked as a painter and theatre director before becoming ensnared by the web in the early 90s thanks to his mother, a research librarian. He has consulted at News International and lists the BBC as a current client. “The advantage I had over people in the traditional media industry is precisely what I didn’t know,” he says. “I was a pretty unlikely early adopter.”

No one, of course, can know what a future media landscape will look like. But, given that Shirky was among the few to have forecast 15 years ago that classified advertising would be sold online rather than via a newspaper ad, his crystal ball is more estimable than most others. This is his forecast:

Newspapers

The great misfortune of newspapers in this era is that they were such a good idea for such a long time that people felt the newspaper business model was part of a deep truth about the world, rather than just the way things happened to be. It’s like the fall of communism, where a lot of the eastern European satellite states had an easier time because there were still people alive who remembered life before the Soviet Union – nobody in Russia remembered it. Newspaper people are like Russians, in a way.

Jeff Jarvis said it beautifully: “If you can’t imagine anyone linking to what you’re about to write, don’t write it.” The things that the Huffington Post or the Daily Beast have are good storytelling and low costs. Newspapers are going to get more elitist and less elitist. The elitist argument is: “Be the Economist or New Yorker, a small, niche publication that says: ‘We’re only opening our mouths when what we say is demonstrably superior to anything else on the subject.’” The populist model is: “We’re going to take all the news pieces we get and have an enormous amount of commentary. It’s whatever readers want to talk about.” Finding the working business model between them in that expanded range is the new challenge.

Why pay for it at all? The steady loss of advertising revenue, accelerated by the recession, has normalised the idea that it’s acceptable to move to the web. Even if we have the shallowest recession and advertising comes back as it inevitably does, more of it will go to the web. I think that’s it for newspapers. What we saw happen to the Christian Science Monitor [the international paper shifted its daily news operation online] is going to happen three or four dozen times (globally) in the next year. The 500-year-old accident of economics occasioned by the printing press – high upfront cost and filtering happening at the source of publication – is over. But will the New York Times still exist on paper? Of course, because people will hit the print button.

Books and magazines

If you pick a magazine at random, it will not interest you. For people who care about quality, it’s easier to find it online. If it’s a highly qualified niche magazine, something aimed at surgeons or firefighters, it’s going online. There’s no reason those things should exist.

The great advantage magazines have is glossy pictures. It’s better to read on paper than on the web but it’s much better to look at pictures on paper than on the net. Brides magazine is going to be the last one standing.

The book world is more secure. I think the big revolution is going to be print on demand. Imagine only having one browsing copy of every book in a bookstore. You could say “Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers looks good”, and out pops a brand new copy. Why does a bookstore or a publisher have to be in the shipping and warehousing business?

TV

The big fight will be between passion and mass appeal but I don’t think it’s a question of who will win. It’s not a transition from A to B, it’s one to many. The question is who figures out the business model that says it’s better to have 6 million passionate fans than 7 million bored ones? That is going to be the transformation because what you see with these user groups, whether it’s for reality TV or science fiction, is that people love the conversation around the shows. The renaissance of quality television is an indicator of what an increased number of distribution channels can do. It is no accident that this started with cable.

And the BBC iPlayer? That’s a debacle. The digital rights management thing …let’s just pretend that it was a dream like on Dallas and start from scratch. The iPlayer is a back-to-the-future business model. It’s a total subversion of Reithian values in favour of trying to create what had been an accidental monopoly as a kind of robust business model. The idea that the old geographical segmenting of terrestrial broadcasts is recreatable is a fantasy and a waste of time.

What does the next decade hold? Mobile tools will certainly change the landscape, open spectrum will unleash the kind of creativity we’ve seen on the wired internet, and of course there will be many more YouTube/Facebook-class applications. But the underlying change was the basic tools of the internet. The job of the next decade is mostly going to be taking the raw revolutionary capability that’s now apparent and really seeing what we can do with it.

Online Video – Trends Content Models Advertising Models At NewTeeVee Live Event November 12, 2008

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I will be moderating a panel that is sponsored by Volomedia at NewTeeVee Live. It will be a workshop on content monetization at the NewTeeVee Live conference in San Francisco this Thursday, November 13 at 3pm.

The panel is titled “Pennies Today, Dollars Tomorrow: Learn How To Make Money In The Media Transition As Television Moves To The Internet“.

Pennies today, Dollars tomorrow. Learn how make money in the media transition as Television moves to the Internet.

As content moves from controlled programming to a decentralized, multi-platform distribution model, solutions are required to engage, measure and ultimately monetize this audience. The session will explore this cross-over from television to online and devices, and discuss opportunities while maintaining control of your digital distribution for the anywhere, anytime audience.

Moderator:

  • John Furrier, Founder, Furrier.org

Panelists:

  • George Ruiz, Head of New Media and SVP Business Affairs, International Creative Management
  • Susan Bratton, CEO and Co-Founder, Personal Life Media; Vice Chairman, Association for Downloadable Media
  • Murgesh Navar, Founder, VoloMedia
  • David Smith, Founder and CEO, Mediasmith

I hope to get to address the following types of questions

Trends
•    Environment:  real-time verses asynchronous, social network, web sites, blogs, podcasts, ..etc
•    Distribution:  reach, metrics
•    User:  Online content viewer, preferred method of consumption, how do you define good content?
•    Advertiser:  social media, engagement, loyalty, conversion?
•    Other:  iPhone, downloadable, streaming, content development, distribution systems, content franchises, affiliate models

Content Model
Value proposition of content online?  What is an example of a successful content franchise?

Value of content or value of brand?

Success models of content deployments

Content formula:  Speed and Control;
Speed:  (slow verses fast) and Control (high vs low)

Open distribution:  sampling verses giving away the ‘store’
Tasting (sampling) ?  SNL verses Olympics

Concept of a viewer?  Is it the same as broadcast?  Does the notion of a “viewer” matter online?

Is there risk in being open or is risk overstated?

Is there a ‘holy grail’ metric for content publishers?  Engagement, viewers/listeners, loyalty, commerce, ..etc ?

Content models:  ad supported verses subscription – are there any other kinds?

Business model:  is it just promotion or is there a “there there”?


Advertising Model

Are ad networks working?

What are advertisers looking for in the new tee vee environment?

Role of brands?  Is it about the brand?

Role of the agency?

What works what doesn’t work?

Audience engagement – what does it mean?  Benefits to advertisers?

When does an advertiser know when it’s working?  Are there identifiable tipping points out there?

How do they plan for future campaigns?

Budgeting and media buying of the future?

Here is a video of George Ruiz – Taken by Tim Street in LA. George is an agent and talent king and has been a successful film studio exec and negotiator.

Mzinga Has New CMO October 28, 2008

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Mzinga ( http://www.mzinga.com/pr/), the leader in enterprise social media and learning solutions for the workplace, marketplace, and extended enterprise, today announced that Patrick Moran has joined the company as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

In his new role, Moran is responsible for leading Mzinga’s overall marketing strategy, and will oversee corporate communications, brand development, demand generation, and social media marketing to support corporate growth and new customer acquisition.
Moran brings more than 15 years of marketing and entrepreneurial experience to Mzinga, having founded and held key roles at some of the most innovative and successful technology companies. Moran joins Mzinga from Cisco, where he served as Senior Director of Marketing for the Collaboration Software Group and was responsible for worldwide customer, Web, product, brand, and partner marketing.
“I have known Patrick for many years and he is one of the most skilled marketing professionals that I have ever worked with,” said Rick Faulk, CEO, Mzinga. “He brings a strong track record of implementing creative strategies that deliver results, and understands the value of enterprise social media in that process. His leadership will be an asset in extending Mzinga’s market presence and momentum.”
Prior to Cisco, Moran was senior director of marketing at WebEx and Intranets.com, a leading SaaS (software as a service) provider. In those positions, he was instrumental in elevating brand awareness, improving customer retention and loyalty, and managing global marketing teams. Moran also founded Essential.com, an energy and telecommunications marketplace for consumers and businesses, where he raised over $100 million in venture capital and grew the customer base to more than 250,000.
“Mzinga is a market leader in enterprise social media and learning, and has significant growth opportunities on the horizon,” said Patrick Moran, CMO at Mzinga. “I look forward to helping the company take advantage of those opportunities by extending our market reach and increasing awareness of our solutions around the globe.”

Here is Josh from Forrester with Mzinga – This video is a good overview of Mzinga’s value proposition

Social Media Snake Oil or Value Add – Social Media Spending Being Cut October 21, 2008

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I loved this post not only for the title but the blogger Jennifer Leggio goes into what is the core issue. To many people bullshitting their way around social media. I agree and have been banging on this drum for months now about social media here and here (corporate blogging is failing)

Here is my view - I guess that I’m anti PR on how social media will roll out.

Anyway she nails it on the market. As we slide deeper and deeper into the recession social media is being cut left and right. Social media until it scales will continue to be cut.

What’s the future for all social media strategists and practitioners – apply social media to the business processes on how to improve business results. The business process improvement aspect of social media – the impact to organizations in how they organize, talk to prospects, and customers. More importantly how companies compete.. words like ROI, finacial impact, leverage, revenue per employee, benchmarking, customer service, and business intelligence will trump words like engagement, conversations, storytelling, blogs, podcasting, viral branding.

My favorite line from Jennifer’s post – “A business strategy should not be altered to fit social media; the social media approach needs to be altered to fit the business strategy.”

Yes PR is Changing – Get Used to It – It’s About Dialog + Collaboration = Transactions August 13, 2008

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There have been a number of posts today about the role of PR.  Some are saying that PR is dead.  I don’t think so.  I think PR is changing.

What is changing is the process of PR.  I mean the business process and the benefits of new strategies and tactics.  For example from this blog I can effectively monitor and have conversations that impact others – opinion leaders, subject matter experts, and mainstream press.   Hell why even hire a firm just sponsor a blogger.  Some bloggers are better than PR firms because they cut through the cutter to talk directly with their audience. Getting access to that audience is key rather than the standard PR tactic to manipulate the audience.  Just go direct.  Audiences are smart so trying to do a head fake on them will only hurt the brand and reputation of the company.  Bloggers offer a direct business model for PR firms.   For instance, if a company in tech wants access they can just sponsor my blog ($5k a month) and I can (in most cases) do more than a PR firm can do for them.

I’ve posted many times that what makes effective PR in the classic sense is becoming obsolete.  The new PR is a combination of automated and algorithmic social media.

There are many examples of this.  PR Firms are traditionally hired to monitor and represent companies.  Now companies and do that on their own or for alot less.  However, high impact PR 2.0 is more than about pitching and buzz it’s about relating to the public – hence public relations.  It’s about communications and collaboration.

Old way:  communicate out + no dialog (of offline dialog) = broadcast model (outdates and not compatible with the way the net is built)

New way:  communication out – a dialog or conversation + collaboration = opinion shaping or some sort of transaction (sales, influence, reputation, business deal, ..etc)

PR is becoming more about automation and a audience marketplace – the results are manufactured by PR firms but the market of users (a PR marketplace).  Call it conversational marketing or whatever but it’s different and PR is changing

PR 2.0 = communication + dialog + collaboration

Social Advertising About to Boom – In Growth Not Bubble Pop. July 23, 2008

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While I talked about Social Media being misunderstood, the real dollars will be in online web video advertising.  Seems pretty straight forward – the web delivers and is measurable.  Connecting the dots you can see that advertising is changing which basically means the users are changing.  User behavior is alway leading advertiser behavior change.  Except video advertising will be done in a new way.

Report out today shows that Professionally-produced Web programming yields high CPMs, according to a new report from the Diffusion Group. The CPMs for long-form online content are $40 today and will reach nearly $46 in 2013. Meanwhile, CPMs for short clips are clocking in at about $30 and will increase to about $34 in five years.

User-generated videos generate CPMs of about $15 today and will reach $17 in 2013. The report also found that user-generated videos account for about half of the online videos consumers watch but only 4% of online video ad revenue. Meanwhile, professionally-produced videos command the other 96% of Web video dollars. Advertising in Web video should reach $590 million this year and hit $10 billion in 2013.

YouTube is slowing figuring this out.   The key to success is to evove with the market not force it.  I’m long on YouTube.  They are the ‘next new network’.

Video works on the web and soon advertisers will figure out how to do it.  Right now they are failing.  Prerolls are the only game in town so we’re stuck with it for now.

Why Current Social Media is Crashing – Traditional Advertising Doesn’t Listen – Doesn’t Work For Social Media July 23, 2008

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In a post by Paul Daigle called the Net Effect. He talks about how advertising doesn’t work in social media because traditional advertising doesn’t listen it only talks.

I think that this is a wake up call for all the Social Media executive out there and C-level executives trying to understand social media. Social media a half ‘Groundswell” (book written by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff) and half “Book to be announced” (not yet published – Peter Drucker like book). The business process improvement aspect of social media – the impact to organizations in how they organize, talk to prospects, and customers. More importantly how companies compete.. words like ROI, finacial impact, leverage, revenue per employee, benchmarking, customer service, and business intelligence will trump words like engagement, conversations, storytelling, blogs, podcasting, viral branding.

Rather than me going on again and banging the drum about my view I’ll let Paul say it and he puts it in a business light.

Paul writes..

“Every week a new article seems to redefine what social media means for brand advertisers. This communicates, accurately I think, that the advertising and media industries are still working to understand how they can best help their clients capitalize on the new social media opportunity.” …

“Advertising doesn’t know how to listen. It only knows how to talk. So talking with advertising people about social communities is like telling an accounting department how you can increase sales. Sure, you can run traditional ad campaigns within social settings, but the real opportunities being advanced are not advertising… but communication opportunities. This misalignment between the goals of marketing decision makers and opportunities being offered is why many companies are moving so slowing, and acting so suspiciously of social media.”….

“Advertising isn’t going to go away, and it isn’t going to change. Nor should it. Advertising, as we know it, will remain an important way to build brand and drive sales. But developing social strategies and advertising strategies are completely different vocations. I don’t believe marketing or advertising departments are where tomorrow’s corporate social initiative will reside.”

“In order for companies to succeed socially, they will have to restructure to become social entities. It will happen, but it will take time. Helping companies understand where their social assets lie and how to synthesize these assets to create modern CRM departments maybe the answer. These new departments would strive to manage the ear, face and personality of the business, and help the company engage socially to win. In the real world, when we represent our companies at social events we do so knowing who we are, why we are there, who we are speaking with, and what we’d like to accomplish. We know that our success requires that we engage the room in conversation and that we listen.”

Social Media Czars in Demand – Big Brands Need Help July 14, 2008

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Social media is in high demand. Don’t ask me (I’m baised of course) just read Brian Morrissey’s story in adweek. Brian has been wandering the social media woods for a while picking up the trends in what it all means. Bottom line: Big brands need direction and fast.

I’ve been consulting for some big brands over the past year since I left PodTech. It certainly is exciting. Some big changes happening around advertising not just PR. Online advertising will be more like TV ads but with keyword like measurement. The best of both worlds. I’ve uncovered some interesting success formulas for social media that I’ll be talking about soon, but for now I think Brian’s article hits a big point home…Big brands need to get busy and put the organizations in place.

Here are some gems from Brian’s story.

“They needed an internal evangelist, someone who can work within the company to bring all the disparate groups together..
The hiring of dedicated teams reflect the rising importance of social media in companies. Once thought of as an interesting new media channel, social media is increasingly seen as a catalyst for changing how companies operate. It points to a new corporate structure that favors open over closed, dialogue over monologue, and decentralized power over command and control.

“The biggest challenge is moving away from thinking about it as marketing and PR,” said Peter Kim, a Forrester Research analyst. “It’s about product development, it’s about IT. It’s got to cut across all functions of the company.”

Social-media experts are in high demand as companies attempt to figure out how to adapt how they talk to customers and even among themselves. Companies like Ford, Intel, Dell and Pepsi have concluded the best way to change is by bringing in a social-media czar to lead their strategy.

Brand Advertising Social Media Trend: YouTube Needs the Advertisers to Catchup – Don’t Do PreRolls July 10, 2008

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What’s an example of Social Media? Make something social and sharable. Gatorade has a success on their hands. It’s not to the level of Coke Mentos but it’s close.

There has been talk about the opportunity for brand marketers to connect with users of a new generation. Also, YouTube got slammed by a Wall Street Journal article on their lack of monetization. The problem is that brand marketing will be done differently. Here is the Gatorade commercial on YouTube. It’s not a commercial but a piece of content created for the community. As I have been saying on this blog for a year “Content is the Ad”. Wall Street Journal is missing the point and if YouTube does pre-roll then they will lose users fast.

YouTube should continue to serve users by providing a great user experience and let the advertisers innovate – not the other way around. Hey Chad Hurley: Don’t do prerolls! Let the advertisers innovate on the copy strategies that work for YouTube and don’t change YouTube for what is a behind the times advertising market. This Gatorade ad is a great example. Companies like Intel should do this rather than doing those boring NPR sounding videos. Brand marketing is about respecting the audience and delivering content that they will enjoy and find valuable – not a marketing piece.

What’s interesting is that this Gatorade video has millions of impressions over multiple users reposting it. The penetration is amazing.

The big deal is that this isn’t some boring product specific video talking about Gatorade. It’s a product placement ad that speaks directly to the Gatorade demographic. Was it successful – sure thing. It connected with their audience in a mode that they enjoy. It’s respectful and not a overproduced in your face Gatorade ad – like on ESPN.

Here’s the ad look for the product placement. Gatorade gets the benefit by not mentioning Gatorade. This trend will continue.

Social Media Alert – Ding Ding July 1, 2008

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This is a great blog post by Joe Marchese of Mediapost.

This is so spot on that it is worthy of a reprint in full here see below. Epic post from Joe Marchese of Online Spin blog at Mediapost. This is a very timely post and very right on the money. Great blog reporting. Thanks Joe. I fully endorse Joe’s view. Here here..

Traveling during the last 10 days, I have had 26 meetings and two speaking engagements. I have had some amazingly insightful conversations with some of the smartest people about the social media challenge and opportunity, from the media agency, creative agency, marketer, and publisher perspective. One theme kept popping up: It’s not that media shops, creative agencies and marketers don’t see the potential of social media, it’s that agencies, in their traditional role, have developed an organization that does not support the proper activation of social media for brands.

Put simply, Madison Avenue wasn’t built to service brands in social media and, more importantly, Madison Avenue is not built to make money from the proper activation of social media for brands. The question is, can the system adapt, or will a new breed of agency be born in the vacuum of effective social media campaigns? Evolution or revolution? I have seen evidence of both.

Activating a brand in social media delivers a variety of benefits. Social media’s conversational nature means that a campaign can deliver a lot more than simply message distribution. Social media can give a voice to a brand’s customers (or those a brand would love to have as customers).

The effective social media agency will:

Be a long-term partner. There are no “campaigns.” People will continue a conversation even though the calendar says you should be moving into a new campaign. Starting and stopping social media campaigns is guaranteed to waste resources and have very poor ROI. All the effort goes into building the social media conversation, and the positive ROI is really achieved once all you have to do maintain the conversation (which requires a lot fewer resources). For this reason, agencies effective in social media will look at multi-year engagements; rather than start and stop social media campaigns, they will work to help direct the conversation to achieve a brand’s goals. As Adam Broitman of Morpheus Media said on my panel: “you shouldn’t think in terms of running a social media ‘campaign,’ but instead think in terms of making a social media ‘commitment.’”

Provide product feedback. Your social media supporters are your customers as well. A social media campaign, therefore, will allow an effective agency to deliver very pointed feedback directly to a brand’s product team.

Provide message feedback to creative. Stuart Elliott of The New York Times, one of the people I had the pleasure of sitting with over the past 10 days, made the observation that when television was first introduced, advertising was having people stand in front of a microphone reading off a script about a product (like radio). It dawned on the industry that this new medium meant that new methods of advertising were possible — and that they should capitalize on TV’s unique picture and motion qualities.

You can’t predefine your creative in social media, because it is a conversation. To predefine your creative would be like entering a conversation with a script, and no matter what the other person says, continuing to stick to your script. You might as well be standing in front of a microphone reading a product description. What a brand’s social media activation partner will do is to make sure that people’s feedback is properly distributed to the creative teams so that they can iterate on the creative elements. For more on how this is developing, read Brain Morrissey’s recent Adweek piece, “Shops Strive for a New Formula.”

Achieve social media message distribution. Of course, the effective social media agency will be able to measure and enhance the amount of distribution, or people sharing and talking about your brand. Rather than simply buying the media, a social media agency will know the various levers it can pull to help distribution — i.e., more creative assets, games, etc., to create involvement.

Measure the ROI of brand campaigns (both inside and outside of social media). Social media is made up of people who buy brands — and who frequently talk about what they do and don’t like. Thus there is the ability to measure the effectiveness not only of your online social media efforts, but all of your various marketing efforts. It’s up to the right agency partner to pull this all together for a brand.

An agency’s new role in social media will be to maintain a brand’s presence and extract various benefits that a brand should receive from making a social media commitment. To do this will require redefining the media agency’s role. It will be far more consultative. It will interface with more facets of a client’s organization. Tapping into all the ways an effective social media agency can deliver value to marketers, will set apart this new breed of agency. The skills required to coordinate effective social media management will command the margins required to support Madison Avenue.

Jeremiah Owyang Blog Turns 2 Years Old – He Shares His Secrets June 27, 2008

Posted by John in social media.
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Congrats to Jeremiah who’s blog turns 2 today. I hired Jeremiah when I was running PodTech because of his ability but also his vision.  My wife Linda and I value Jeremiah’s friendship since we both left PodTech.

Why I think Jeremiah is doing great work.  He practices what he preaches.  He’s pragmatic but tries new stuff.  Most importanly he shares, innovates, and listens.  At PodTech many thought Jermemiah shouldn’t be  blogging.  I stood my ground and supported Jeremiah because he was doing it right.  He supported my vision while others didn’t agree (I can’t wait to write the case study post on what really happened at PodTech).  I’m sure folks even at Forrester might say that Jeremiah is giving away valuable research that could be monetized…Sure thats and position someone can take, but I submit that Forrester will sell more research at higher prices by keeping the blogging going.. it build a community.  Congrats Jeremiah.

Here are some of his secrets.

Created focused content

Publish frequently

Think of readers first

Interact

“Productized” content

Have Passion

Social Media Secret Sauce ? It’s all BS – The Best has Yet to Come June 27, 2008

Posted by John in social media.
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Jason Heller writes a great post on Social Media. Jason starts his post with the following.. “Are you a traditional marketer or agency person, or even a digital agency person who is frustrated at the new crop of “social media elite” who claim that they know all the answers? Or…are you a social media marketing maven who is frustrated that the rest of the industry just doesn’t get it?”
There is so much bullshit being thrown around in Social Media these days you wonder what’s up or what’s down?

Readers here know that I’m bullish on Social Media, Social Advertising, and Social Everything when it comes to online marketing. I’ve been there from the beginning so I can say that Jason’s line about people knowing all the answers. No one knows. I’ve been doing R&D for three years in social media and even today it’s still wide open. No one has the answers. It’s evolving.

The only constant is the Internet – it is working and it is providing the utility in social media. The problem is that most successes happen by accident – that is experiments that have performed positively – aka “lucky strike”.

Social Media is like making a sauce – everyone can try but only talented marketers with the right ingredients can make it work. Additionally the infrastructure is changing at a platform level so the ROI answer is elusive but available.

I have been documenting many of my experiments of what works but there is no silver bullet. How to crack the code in Social Media. For insight into how to crack the code in Social Media Marketing check out this post that I wrote last week.

Social Media for marketers requires a certain understanding of the key dynamics of Web 2.0. For the dynamics in the Web 2.0 world check out this post that I wrote.

Of course Microcontent will be a big trend ….etc

There are some great people working on Social Media and Social Advertising models and soon we’ll see great results. I’m in agreement with Jason if you hear someone say that they have the answers start running for the hills.

For information on my research (which isn’t published) just sponsor this blog :-)

Update: Jeremiah Owyang has a great post of the folks doing social media work in the corporate world. This list is very comprehensive. This is the list of folks doing the research or Marketing Engineering. It lists the companies doing the work (corporate companies). I like this list because I’ve worked with most of the folks on there and all are doing great work. The discovery of the secret sauce in social media is around the corner.

Long Form Video is Good – Good Move YouTube June 18, 2008

Posted by John in Technology.
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SAI is reporting that YouTube has finally moved to allow long form video - for now you have to be a partner to sign up.

It’s no secret that I have been a fan of long form video for a long time. I think that the future of online video advertising is ‘long form’ ads. In the Web 2.0 value proposition is around content. Content is king and now it will be in both long and short form on Youtube for the masses to enjoy. Ads will follow almost immediately.

The one problem that I have with YouTube is that the quality is horrible on the videos that I upload. Fix that and provide long form and you have the new TV platform.

As I have posted before YouTube is TV for everyone under 18. YouTube has a tremendous opportunity to not only be the resource for discovery of ‘new tv’ video but the presentation provider.

I am very bullish on YouTube. Their business development teams better get busy because a tsunami of deals will be flying in.

Social Media: How To Crack the Code in Social Media – It Takes Marketing Engineering June 17, 2008

Posted by John in social media.
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I’ve been tracking social media, social networks, RSS, Internet infrastructure, and online advertising for over 10 years. One thing that I notice is that hype can dilute reality.

There is so much “bull” being thrown around out there regarding social media it makes my head spin – blogging tools here, wikis there, engagement this, conversations that, metrics this, ROI need,..on and on.

The elephant in the room is that it’s early and no one has cracked the code on social media – how to define it, program it, deploy it, measure it, and scale it across their company.

Here is a good post from Mediapost Online Spin blog by Joe Marchese. He is hosting a panel to talk about this. His guest are Augustine Fou, SVP, digital strategist, MRM Worldwide, Greg Verdino, Chief Strategy Officer, Crayon, David Berkowitz, director of emerging media and client strategy, 360i, Rich Gagnon, Chief Media Officer, Draft FCB, Adam J. Broitman, director of emerging and creative strategy, Morpheus Media. Should be a good panel. These guys on Joe’s panel are at the cutting edge so I’m looking forward to hearing the discussion on Joe’s panel.

What’s relevant about Joe’s post is that he nails the market: summed up in a word – experimental.

He also goes on to note..”The even funnier thing is that this is both shocking and not surprising. It’s shocking, given the reach and depth of connection social media offers, yet not surprising because no one has unlocked social media in a way that demonstrates return on marketing objectives, such as reasonable expected range of outcome at for set amount of resource allocation. If you are a brand or an agency, there is not much more you can do but test various methods and watch longingly as your potential brand advocates and customers participate in a media category without you. But it’s not the end of the world, as long as your competitors don’t figure out how to benefit from social media in a scalable manner before you.”

I like this post because I’ve been doing research on cracking the code on social media specifically for over 3 years. I’ve run dozens of experiments before I started PodTech, while at PodTech, and now for the past 10 months after I left PodTech. The findings are interesting.

What does it take to crack the code on social media and social advertising? The answer might just be staring you in the face. It starts with getting the right people on the staff (expertise), running many experiments, having an realtime analytical audit, analytic audit analysis, and finally mindset based in reality.

The hardest part is finding the right people. It needs to be figured out by the right mix of personnel. It isn’t just PR or just marketing. On the personnel side it’s more like infrastructure engineering expertise. Social media is a based on web services so it takes “marketing engineering”. Marketing engineering isn’t the primary skill of PR executives. Instead it’s the business and technical programmers that have the expertise and knowhow. Successful social media teams have engineering backgrounds on the team.

The great thing about the web is it’s biggest problem for marketers in social media – Everything is Measurable. Does that suggest that the ROI problem doesn’t exist? The biggest challenge is to define what to measure.

How to crack the code in social media: put the right team together, run tons of experiments, know what to measure, and measure. The solution might just be staring you in the face.

Social Media is Web 2.0 – Relationships – New Linchpin for User Value June 2, 2008

Posted by John in Technology.
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Mike Arrington weights in with his opinion of social media. He makes a relevant (pun intended) point – content spewing is clutter that creates noise which in turn makes relevance harder to filter. Timing couldn’t have been better with Jeremiah weighing in on what he sees as the big trends in social media.

Let me break this down – participation and interaction is key (as Fred Wilson and Mike Arrington point out). However Chis Saad, Alex van Elsas point out – it’s personal and about motivation of users. It’s about Relationships.

It’s about RELATIONSHIPS in context to the user ‘s behavior.

Web 1.0 – USER paradigm – self service was at the heart of the user experience

    1. search/browse
    2. SELF SERVICE
    3. information
    4. action

    Web 2.0 – USER paradigm – everything remains the same except instead of self service (which is now a full blown user norm) it’s about relationships
    1. search/browse
    2. RELATIONSHIPS
    3. information
    4. action

    RELATIONSHIPS are at the heart of the user experience.

    Big Trend and Opportunity: the need for the creation of the key utilitiy for users around their relationships (the holy grail for advertisers and new startups). It will be in the form of new filters in the contextual and behaviorial area around relationships and information.

    Just like in Web 1.0 it was in context to the web page and keywords in search. For Web 2.0 we will see a multidimensional approach to context and behavior centered around relationships – to content, people, data, ..etc.

    At the end of the day the value to the user will be the same as Web 1.0 – getting information and taking action. However, instead of self service being the linchpin for context and behavioral value to users, a new linchpin will be based upon relationships.

    Whoever makes the users value proposition of getting information and taking action faster, easiers, and simplier will win.

My Social Media Vision – It’s a Movement a Revolution June 2, 2008

Posted by John in social media.
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Fred Wilson is posting his vision for Social Media. Most consultants and experts really don’t know what they are talking about. The definition of Social Media is so obvious but yet so illusive. Nailing the definition of Social Media is like nailing the definition of what Web 2.0 is. There is no one definition. It’s a movement – a revolution.

Here is my vision of Social Media – The Internet and soon we will all be connected to it. We must prepare.

I have a dream.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the Internet dream.

I have a dream that one day this world will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all people are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of China will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Iraq will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by their profile page but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in blogosphere, with its vicious opinions; one day right there in blogosphere, little bloggers will be able to join hands with big bloggers and as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day Silicon Valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the conversation shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the Internet with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our Internet into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to share together, to struggle together, to go to post together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be enabled one day.

This will be the day when all of Internet’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My Internet, ’tis of thee, sweet land of information, of thee I sing. Land where my kids plan, land of the blogger’s pride, from every social network, let Internet ping.”

And if the world is to be a great place this must become true. So let Internet ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let Internet ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let Internet ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let Internet ping from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let Internet ping from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let Internet ping from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let Internet ping from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let Internet ping from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let Internet ping.

And when this happens, when we allow Internet to ping, when we let it ping from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of Internet’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and ping in the words, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Internet Rights are about Freedom. Social Media is a movement a revolution.

Sales 2.0 – Social Media – Support is the New Marketing June 1, 2008

Posted by John in Technology.
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Guest Post: Andy Ridinger of Mural Consulting. In this post Andy Ridinger talks about how the sales process is impacted by Web 2.0 and search – aka Sales 2.0

Remember that chapter in your business textbook about the sales model? It probably looked something like this:


For the most part, this model is still valid. All of these things still happen. The small, yet important difference between then and now is the result of social media, especially with web-centric and Software-as-a-service products. Before, a sales rep would handle just about every step of the process. He would discover new customers, then work with them as they asked questions and evaluated the product, and eventually convince them to purchase the product. As long as you had a good sales team that could connect with customers, you did well. And as long as you kept them supported well enough, they would stay.

Google is the new Account Rep
Fast forward to today. Like I said, these areas are still the same, but now instead of a skilled sales rep interacting with your current and potential customers, you have a computer screen. What do I mean? Well, what did you do the last time you were interested in a particular item or service? You probably looked it up on Google. After you found the company’s website, you probably also looked at the other links your Google search returned, including blog and feedback posts by others who had already used the product. Assuming you were still interested, you downloaded the trial version, installed it, and started playing around with it. You may have even checked out more blogs and message boards to ask specific questions about the product of other users. Finally, you decide you like the product, so you click the activate link, enter your payment info into the site, and purchase the full product.

Sound familiar? Did you notice that you went through the first 3 areas without ever interacting with an employee of the company who makes the product? As many people know, my customer telling you I’m great is much better than me telling you I’m great. The opposite is also true. A company may have a feedback section of their own, but as Bruce Temkin points out in his Bank of America example, you should still look in more than 1 place before drawing your own conclusions.

So customers are more empowered than ever with information about not just your product, but your company and the way you have treated others. Kinda scary. What does it mean?

“I bought it because I use it”
For starters, we’ve moved to a new level of buying. A customer will buy your product because they’re using it and it does what they want, rather than using a product because they bought it. Also, notice the immense impact these changes have on how important the Support area has become. It was always a good idea to keep your customers happy, but now it’s required. You want your customers to become raving fans. Raving fans tell their friends and post blogs and feedback to share with anyone who will listen. They do your marketing for you for free. When a potential customer does that initial Google search, you want them to see the blog posts from your raving fans. If you have angry customers instead of raving fans, guess what that initial search will bring back.

Customer Service is the new marketing.
Companies need to start treating customer service as an investment rather than an expense. The necessary “White Glove” level of service required to create raving fans is more expensive in the short-term, but in the long term you not only spend less supporting current customers, but their free word-of-mouth marketing will help you add more customers.

Without taking away from the importance of Support, let me say that all is not lost with Discover, Evaluate, and Purchase. You still have a chance to make an impact.

Discover: Online marketing is more important than offline marketing. Youtube, Facebook, and Wikipedia have moved into the top 10 most visited sites. If your marketing efforts can’t be found with a search engine, a lot of customers are missing you.

Evaluate: Your micro-site must deliver. The web has kind of given us all ADD. We spend an average of less than a minute on a page, reading fewer than 12 words or so before we decide to click on to something else. Your site and pages need to be focused and do the job they were intended to do. This sometimes means breaking corporate branding guidelines.

Purchase: If someone can buy your product without ever interacting with a human, then they can certainly not buy it that way too. The great blog postings and feedback may have convinced a potential customer to download the trial, but now your product has to sell itself. You must have the best product on the market, and for reasons other than price.

The New Sales Model

When you take into account the changes resulting from Social Media in the world today, the Sales Model looks more like this:

Things have changed, but the new rules allow for many new and exciting ways to grow and enhance your business and marketing strategies. It also means that companies who can’t keep their customers happy aren’t going to do as well as their competitors with raving fans.

Bottom line, customer support is the new marketing. Social media has moved much of the control you used to have from your sales rep to the web. My suggestion is to start with an experience audit. See what it’s like for your customers to deal with you. If it’s not a stellar experience, get some help to make it that way. The best part about the new world of selling is that it runs on happiness. And who doesn’t like to be happy?

Thanks to Andy Ridinger for the post. Andy Ridinger is the Marketing Coordinator for Mural Consulting (www.muralconsulting.com), a specialized team of Software-as-a-Service experts. Prior to working with Mural, Andy was a Marketing Specialist for Microsoft, responsible for the Mid Atlantic Area.

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