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Conversation Engines: it doesn’t matter how much we ‘get it’… we need to ‘get it’ more.

25 08 2010

Despite astonishing network growth, our tools have not been able to keep up with social noise. As an individual, I tend to limit my output and certainly limit the chit-chat. As a business, I believe it is important to pay attention to this trend: conversation have faded away. Businesses have created FB pages and Twitter accounts left and right. They ‘totally get it’. Data keeps coming in, failures are very common and some even say the social media bubble is about to burst. Katie was challenging our thinking behind how easy it seems to simplify things through facebook pages earlier this week. So what’s going on?

– Let’s face it, less is the new more… one reason I like(d) FriendFeed over Twitter and especially over Facebook is its quality of information. The Google Wave dream is no more and Google Buzz is now a noisy chamber. Social platforms have filled up a need on one side — they’ve allowed us to aggregate pertinent information for our personal and professional lives. But they have also created, in many cases, an addiction to real time information, empowering anyone to become a producer regardless of quality or qualification. Mainstream media has slowly struggled to stay relevant. Choose your path, stay relevant. It’s even more critical for a business. Many constituent voices need to be represented and people have learned to be more selective.

– Competing for attention: Nielsen released their latest study on internet usage early August to find that 23% of internet use is spent on social networks up from 16% a year ago. We’ve embraced social media beyond its (and our) wildest expectations, but we’re barely scratching the surface when it comes to truly turning an organization to serve its constituency through new media. In 2 years, we’ve moved from “what is social media?” to “super noise”. Some have chosen the careful path of information sharing, others have massively unfollowed, conversations have faded into a sharing frenzy. Quality of information and interaction has never been so important. Louis Gray’s comments “I quickly fatigue from the insanity” describing his (mine too) inability to cope with the amount of information revelations. Even more revealing, Louis just accepted a position with My6Sense as VP of Marketing. My6Sense is another algorithm based app focusing on generating relevant information. If the crowd can’t do it, the algorithm will. Companies ought to harness a wide variety of techniques to make those algorithms work in their own favor aka driving long tail traffic.

– Brands are struggling to become conversation partners: I continue to revisit the realization that brands want to only talk about stuff they are experts at, like they’re getting ready to broadcast. I believe the contrary. Your company doesn’t just have to only talk about stuff related to your product or services. Creating a mono-stream/logue of information across social platforms will only make people put you in a bucket for good. The shift from outbound to inbound marketing is a steep learning curve and requires dedicated attention. Empowering constituents (imagine onion layers) to discuss topics of interest with brands and amongst each other takes more than just putting information out there.

Can you relate? Do you think the bubble is ready to burst?

@YannR @Extanz


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Blue or Red pill? Brush strokes of a Resonance Marketing Framework.

14 07 2010

Remember the blue vs red pill conversation?

I’m here to talk about the red pill. The one that would bring uncertain truth. Truth is, the internet will continue to break down the walls of the information monopoly. Social influence of all sorts will speed up this disruption of old business models. A business will need its communit{ies} to survive, and that will require a more open partnership with them. There are still less of us who believe in “InBound Marketing” than in the overused “Social Media Marketing”, hence me crying ‘wolf’ a few weeks ago. Don’t we always wonder how something becomes viral and wish we had thought of it? I do. But let’s be honest, how many Apples are around and how can anyone pump enough koolaid into a community without being ignored or worse, forgotten. Should a brand be popular or influential? Beyond cool, it’s a question of innovation, and creating a sustainable culture of innovation requires all parts of the [organization + its constituents] to stay competitive.

That’s where Resonance Marketing comes in. Resonance marketing is about widening the lead generation funnel using new & social influence. Marketing is an ‘old branded’ term about influence we are subject to… except we are now more internet-smarter than before. Social media has empowered the masses to share more and faster than any time before. From Toyota to Nestle via Pizza Hut and to many other cases, the business blue-pill won’t work anymore. Businesses, leaders, brands are having to open up to being supported if they want to thrive in the new ‘social economy’.

How do we get communit{ies} to resonate with a company’s purpose (and vice versa)?

1- Deep motivations: Marketing as spoon feeding features and benefits that will attract customers, OVER. Comprehend, discuss what’s on the mind of your constituents and turn them into aficionados, HERE. Who are you after? If you believe in resonance, you’ll need aficionados. Clearly not everyone is equal in the community game. Your core constituents are the ones you’re seeking. Scoble called them the ‘passionate‘. At the Enthusiast Group, we called them … enthusiasts. They could be customers, employees, partners, journalists, bloggers, prospects, providers. They could be silent but preferably vocal. The tools are available for free but engaging with most networks and people to discover those who matter the most is the {red pill}. If a brand is sincere and seeks to empower its constituents, it’ll open itself up to what motivates the core constituents.

2- Nods to communities: Is social media the right strategy for you? Your Twitter account and Facebook page are great for light engagement but unless you’re the cool-brand in town and your constituents have too much time on their hand, you’ll likely get quickly fatigued and the boss will ask why are we doing this. The acid test of community commitment is to get ready to bring everyone to the party from the CEO to your competitors…. geez, that’s a lot. Our job is to bring everyone to the party. Trust me, it’ll take more than a Facebook page. Even better, in the open world, everyone in your company has an opinion about your last tweet. That’s right, it’s quickly going to feel like a democracy or even anarchy. Your constituents could care less about the internal politics. They want to feel part of the journey. When trying to evaluate how to participate, 50% of the work will actually happen outside of anything you control. In most scenarios, sub-segment of communities will already exist and engaging on those already existing can quickly fill up any social media manager’s plate. They can hang out on a Linkedin group, a passionate blog, in a group of super motivated moms or simply be someone who wants to boycott you {800,000 VS 6,900}. The possibilities are endless.

3- Social organisms: Yep there are many networks and we certainly can expect more to come as each of them serves different compartments of our lives. Foursquare founded in early ’09 has now passed 2 million signed up users… would we have guessed this 12 months ago? Brightkite had been here since 2007 and only reached the same milestone in February 2010. As Paul Adams puts it, “Social networks are a mean to an end, you need to understand what the end is.” To resonate, get used to change and go where your audience may be. As mentioned earlier, it often starts with a map. If you’re big, it’ll be tedious, but you certainly will be able to discern patterns quicker.

4- Resonance: The sum of all. It wasn’t about {the brand} to start with and {the brand} should be totally appreciative of being part of its constituents’ online matrix. We may have thought it was cool to have a ton of followers and likes/fans and fold back to the dunbar number. It’s the same for all your constituents. Let’s be clear, {the brand} is still seeking to generate leads from this entire new ecosystem, except that someone else is driving now. The way to ‘get the word out’ is through a new chain of events that will create resonance between and beyond constituents. It will be based on understanding the deep motivations of constituents, dynamics of communities (loose term) and lastly, social organisms and tools. Email gave us ‘permission marketing’, we seriously got tired of that. We now have social networks and blogs. Brands should make it about them, all the constituents, what ever the brand does – {the brand} entered their world and there is no return. Inbound will be red.

Thanks to Paul Adams for the graphics and for going back to the basics.

@YannR @Extanz