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Conversational Marketing in the Age of Social Media

Archive for March, 2008

TV? It's Lost in the House.

TVI don’t watch TV anymore. Really. Well, ok, I watch some TV, but not on a television. I watch it on the Web. Watching clips from The Daily Show is so much easier when I can watch them when ever I want. I watch music videos on YouTube, and I can see all of the good sports clips the next day on

Yes, we watch baseball around here, in real time on the TV, and pretty much, that is why we have cable. That and it cost virtually nothing when bundled with internet and phone service. I know that most of my friends use TIVO or something like it. I haven’t had a show that I cared enough to tape since, well, Northern Explosure, Ally McBeal (the early days) and Thirty Something (before I was that old). West Wing was one of those. That was b.c. (before child) How embarrassing, really. Not the shows, but that I had to be in front of the set at the same time each Thursday night.

It’s like that coffee addiction that I never acquired a taste for. So now, if I want to laugh (or cry, or any other emotion) I just go to Google Reader and see what my feed has served up. My addiction, if you really want to know, is artist blogs. I get to see new art every day, while the paint is still wet. Bridgette Guerzon Mills’ blog, Contemplating the Moon, is one of my favorites.

What has this got to do with anything? I am just getting in the web 2.0 groove for entertainment like those of the younger generation have been doing for years.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all of my favorites were mobile ready, so I can watch them on my phone while waiting in line for my driver’s license? They probably are.

Web 2.0, Maps and All that Jazz

maps-of-the-imagination.jpgDavid Pogue’s recent post “Are You Taking Advantage of Web 2.0?” contains the type of content that captures my attention–reasons why companies may not be taking advantage of Web 2.0, a blog without comments is just another Web page—a.k.a. Web 1.0,  rewarding experiences with blogs  require moderating comments.

This week I’ve been reading Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer by Peter Turchi. Turchi uses the map as a metaphor, how mapmakers and writers deal with blank space, how both maps and writing serves to recreate an individual’s view of the world. Turchi writes, “Each of us stands at one unique spot in the universe, at one moment in the expanse of time, holding a blank sheet of paper.” Or for the writer of online media– a blank screen.

The connection I found between Pogue and Turchi is this– the strong endorsement to get out there and explore, discover, shake it up. Web 2.0 gives us this opportunity–it’s a natural.

David Pogue writes:
When a company embraces the possibilities of Web 2.0…it offers a direct, more trusted line of communications than anything that came before it.

It’s not just blogging, either. It could be podcasts. Or videos. (One blender company has quintupled its sales by posting hilarious amateur videos at Permit the public to make mash-ups using your company’s characters, logos, music or products. Let’s have some more inside looks: at your product design cycles, your focus groups, your rejected designs, your employee cubicle videos.

Are there ways you’ve been breaking into new lines of communication, creating new maps, if you will– so you and your customers get to know one another better? We’re interested in hearing your experiences and what effect(s) you feel they are having on your business.

[graphic from the cover of Maps of the Imagination]

3 Must-See Sites to Keep You Updated on (Almost) Everything

alligator and computer Do you remember when hyperlinks and bookmarks were the be-all-end-all? And the brouhaha made about RSS Feeds. So last week when I read Marcie Alboher’s post Keeping Up with Blogs where she wrote about Alltop, a recently launched news aggregator developed by Guy Kawasaki and team–I was interested to learn more.

Guy Kawasaki describes Alltop this way:

“You can think of an Alltop site as a ‘dashboard,’ ‘table of contents,’ or even a ‘digital magazine rack’ of the Internet. To be clear, Alltop sites are starting points — they are not destinations per se. The bottom line is that we are trying to enhance your online reading by both displaying stories from the sites that you’re already visiting and helping you discover sites that you didn’t know existed. In this way, our goal is the ‘cessation of Internet stagnation.’

Alltop joins Popurls and Original Signal in a special universe of news aggregators. If you’re going to take a look at Alltop, you really can’t do it in isolation–you should take a look at the others, too. Kawasaki admits he and his team were inspired by Popurls, developed by Thomas Marban from Austria. He says they didn’t know about Original Signal, built by a team of developers from the Netherlands, while Alltop was in development.

They’re all very cool ways to browse the web, and you’re bound to come across many sites you would never have found otherwise. Each approaches news aggregation in a slightly different way e.g. by category, news source. In the end, the experiences are pretty much the same. I think it boils down to personal preference–I like the look and feel of Popurls better then the other two. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them.

Are you ready to browse the web this way?

Monitoring and Measuring Social Media

rulerAt the end of the day, marketing professionals are held accountable for their marketing strategies and tactics.   Does the activity mix optimize the marketing budget?  Did the projected ROI (return on investment) come to fruition?   In the world of traditional marketing, we’ve built a comfort level for monitoring and measuring success.   For activities such as tradeshows, or a direct mail piece, we have established parameters and a process in place for measurement.   But, what about social media?  

As social media tools like blogs, message boards, and video continue  to grow in use and popularity across Corporate America, so too will the need to monitor and measure such platforms.  Traditional web analytics alone, such as click throughs, page views, etc., will not be sufficient.   At this time, no accepted standards on measuring social media exist.  So, what, if any, benchmarks can be used to measure the impact of social media programs?

In exploring this topic, I came across an interesting Dow Jones white paper entitled, “Tracking the Influence of Conversations: A Roundtable Discussion on Social Media Metrics and Measurement.”   Authors Jermiah Owyang of and Matt Toll of Dow Jones agree that there is “no universally agreed upon measurement metric, but a true need for identifying and defining multiple social media attributes that an organization can examine and consider as part of its strategy.”

Dow Jones conducted a roundtable with several social media thoughtleaders to discuss metrics, measurement and social media attributes.   The group identified the following 11 social media attributes or metrics :

  • traditional web analytics and activity
  • community activation/call to action – meaning is there a response to messages?
  • “conversation index” – a simple ratio between blog posts and comments-plus-trackbacks
  • demographics – understanding who is responding to messages
  • influential ideas – meaning the intensity or velocity of the idea or message over time
  • participation and engagement – referring to the stimulation of discussion or responding and acting on a message or idea
  • reach/influence
  • relationships and connections – meaning influence within a specific niche-type community
  • relevance
  • sentiment/tone – whether positive, negative or neutral
  • content

Of the above attributes, participants in the Dow Jones roundtable placed the highest value on the “participation and engagement” metric.  Engagement is seen as a tangible, measurable metric.  It occurs when the recipient not only responds to a message, but acts on it as well.   There is depth to the participation or conversation as visitors interact with the content.  As Owyang and Toll add, “it is not just a question of whether they visited a given Web site or read a blog, but how long did they linger there?  What else did they read?  What does the clickstream look like?”

The ability to identify key attributes that are important to an organization will serve as the foundation for any social media strategy.  To be effective, companies will need to not only identify the key attributes and metrics, but develop and execute a plan to monitor and measure those attributes.  As Owyang and Toll write, “for corporations serious about tracking their “return on influence” – that is, not just standard “ROI” but a broader, more long-term, lasting return – in social media and the blogosphere, being able to measure, track and compare results is a requirement of determining next steps and strategy.  

Marketing's Brave New Lexicon

DictionaryI’ve always been interested in language, and the way terms are adopted–and how they spread. How new words are added to dictionaries like the Oxford English. How some words die a slow death–antiquated and finally, extinct.

This week, I came across a discussion on Lee Oden’s Online Marketing Blog about the use of the terms online marketing, internet marketing, or web marketing–and how they’re being used interchangeably. Lee posed the question “Which of these phrases do you think best describes the kind of digital marketing most agencies and progressive companies are engaged in now and in the next year?” Needless to say, it opened a good discussion.

Then there was the use of the term interactive marketing in a recent webcast, “The US Five Year Interactive Marketing Forecast” presented by Shar VanBoskirk, Principal Analyst for Forrester Research. Interestingly, Shar broke the term “Interactive Marketing” into five categories: search marketing, online display ads, email marketing, online video, emerging media (defined as social media, mobile marketing, and in-game advertising)

Forrester’s forecast sheds light on some of the questions we’ve all been grappling with–e.g. how will interactive marketing grow over the next five years, what channels should marketers expect to prioritize going forward, search marketing in 2012, how should marketers accommodate changes to their search marketing efforts.

For more information on Forrester’s forecast, Donna DeClemente wrote an excellent summary at Donna’s Promo Talk. And if you’re interested, you can listen to the webcast on-demand.

Lee Odden writes, “I guess in the end, it’s all marketing. Part of the reason for asking the question on this post is that we own and are researching ways to categorize content. If all goes well it will launch Q3 of this year.”

We look forward to seeing the results of’s research, and how others weigh in marketing’s new lexicon.

So, getting back to the original question– which of these phrases best describes the digital marketing most agencies and progressive companies are engaged in? Hmm. Right now I’d have to say, interactive has kind of a nice ring to it– but until there’s consensus on the playing field– call it what you will, its still fair game.

New media makes its footprint: looking into 2008

footprintAs B2B marketers we’re preparing to close the first quarter of 2008, and are knee-deep into our 2008 marketing plans.   These plans may include traditional marketing elements - such as tradeshows, print advertising, white papers or speaking engagements – but now more than ever, new media tools are making a footprint across today’s B2B marketing structures.

I came across a recent study by MarketingProfs and Forrester Research that demonstrated this very point.  The purpose of the study was to understand the issues that today’s marketers are facing and the resulting trends that are likely to emerge as we continue into 2008.  Based on the perspectives shared by executives and marketing managers across a broad range of industries, the study found a continuing escalation of the focus on “new media” – tactics enabled by and based on Internet technology – and a somewhat less pronounced emphasis on traditional tactics.    Particular findings from the study that I find to be the most telling include:

  • Email is being deployed more often than any other tactic (used 84% of the time)
  • Use of online video and search marketing is expected to grow the most (55-56% each) into 2008, while traditional tactics like broadcast/print advertising, direct mail, and tradeshows are expected to decline more than 20%.
  • 50% of respondents plan to increase spending on Web 2.0 media (52%) and Webinars (51%).

Traditional media approaches are quickly becoming most appropriate for branding/advertising, while new media tactics are emerging as key elements in corporate communications strategies.  Blogs, online video, and other Web 2.0 media tools can successfully communicate brand and messaging.  As marketers, we continue to be held responsible for returns on spending.   When defining your marketing strategy, it’s key to set clear program objectives, determine and execute appropriate tactics, and effectively measure results.   As the MarketingProfs/Forrester study summarizes, “Marketers who have yet to add digital approaches such as online video, podcasts, search marketing, Web 2.0, and webinars to their repertoire might consider experimenting to see if these can be successful additions to their marketing arsenals.”

Snapshot of Social Media

cameraSeveral months ago, I participated in a survey conducted by Byron Smith from Content Connections involving more than 600 business people and educators–the goal to determine the impact social media is having on people’s personal lives and livelihoods.

The results were recently released. Smith writes in the section on methodology, “While not considered scientific because of the non-random sample surveyed the data should be considered reliable owing to the sample size and self-reported demographic attributes of the respondents.” He goes on to say, the survey was “designed to provide a reasonable and reliable snapshot of attitudes, practices and beliefs of a cross-section of U.S. adults.”

Scientific or not, here are of few of the things I found most interesting:

  • 57% of respondents indicated social media was a component of their organization’s strategic planning
  • 59% indicated familiarity with the term Social Media.
  • 54% indicated familiarity with the term Web 2.0
  • Blogs were cited as the most frequently used Social Media type, followed in descending order by e-mail, podcasts, wikis, and social networking.
  • 95% of respondents indicated Social Media will impact the way companies do business (i.e. to leverage sales)– 68% said definitely, 27% said probably.

American novelist Eudora Welty is quoted as saying, “A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.”

Thank you to Byron Smith and Content Connections for providing data that deserves to be duly noted–and like a good snapshot–should also be preserved.

Intranets and Web 2.0: their common denominator

fractionCollaboration and conversation are at the heart of Web 2.0. We’ve seen how technology tools like blogs, wikis, podcasts, and webcasts engage people and encourage participation. Nonetheless, many companies remain hesitant to adopt Web 2.0 for a variety of factors – whether it be lack of time, knowledge, bandwidth, or resources.   Companies, small and large, are struggling to effectively integrate conversational marketing and social media into their marketing programs. Corporate America does, however, appear to be testing Web 2.0 technology in at least one means:  the Intranet. 

Ann All from recently blogged about this very topic.   In her blog, she discusses how companies are embracing Web 2.0 in their intranets to encourage collaboration and data-sharing.    Reportedly, the winners of Nielson Norman Group’s top ten best designed intranets are making liberal use of Web 2.0 tools.  NNG’s director of research states, “the rise of social networks and multimedia content is emerging as a driver of intranet innovation.”   

Companies like software enterprise maker, SAP, have introduced Web 2.0 elements such as video, while others like Coldwell Banker are getting much more personalized with realtor data on their intranet. Companies are investing more resources in their intranets and getting more sophisticated in their design. 

I’ve been exposed to a variety of corporate intranets across a wide array of industries – whether high technology, financial services, biotech, hospitality, or retail. Despite their many differences, the one common denominator of these intranets has been their purpose: helping employees to communicate more efficiently.   It is evident that the two (Web 2.0 and the Intranet) share common interests – making the visitor experience more real and personal.

If you’ve seen or heard of good examples of Intranets embracing Web 2.0 technology, please share!

  • Filed under: web 2.0

Being in the Digital Marketing Moment

inc-magazine.jpgLast week while waiting at the airport, Inc. magazine’s February issue flagged me down from the top rack of the stand with its headline, “A Complete Guide to Marketing in the Digital Age.” Emblazed on the cover in large type were words like YouTube and viral video. Dead-ringer. I started reading the magazine as I sauntered my way towards the cashier.

How many more of these articles and books can I read? That’s easy– a lot. Let’s put it this way, Marketing in the Digital Age is living in the present, being in the moment.

Inc. magazine’s Leigh Buchanan, Max Chafkin and Ryan McCarthy write:

“The world of marketing is radically different…from viral video to text-message campaigns and avatar sales reps, marketing tools that only recently seemed rare and futuristic are quickly becoming commonplace. They’re the New Basics.

The New Basics of Marketing article features information on what we need to know about websites, email, mobile phones, social networks, viral video, and blogging. There’s a lot of information packed away in this article.

If you don’t have time to get everything you want to read this week, this is one I suggest putting to the top of your list, and reading through to the end (alright, a little skimming if you must.)

I read with great interest (amongst other things) about:

  • Jazzing up web sites with avatars, amazon-style recommendations, and widgets
  • Suggestions for ways to use e-mail as a marketing strategy e.g. e-mail at least monthly and no more than twice a week–unless you have good reason
  • MySpace has 57 million monthly users in the U.S., and Facebook with 22 million a month are the largest general-interest and social networks. But for companies that market to niches, a specialized social network may be a better venue. Examples include: LinkedIn, MiGente, Snooth, Immeem, and ASmallWorld
  • Web video as an attractive marketing medium, evocative music or comic timing to convey a message, cheap to product and easy to distribute for free
  • A kindred blogger soul, Darryl Ohrt (, in the article, Blogging: More Than Idle Chatter. Ohrt is quoted as saying his motivation for writing his blog was “to eliminate the arduous task of clipping hard copies of articles and mailing them to potential customers.”
  •, receiving Inc. magazine’s vote for “best marketing website” for tackling issues from how to create webinars to how to design a superb Contact Us form.

We’re interested in hearing your impressions–anything you would like to add to the conversation about the new basics of marketing, and your suggestions for print or online reading materials that you find educational and inspiring.

Read the full article>>

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