Social Media Interview With Walker Thompson [client]

30 03 2009
“I can find out more about you through the web than I can by spending an hour with you […]” Walker Thompson, VP of Sales and Marketing for Syndicom, Inc.

Last week we had the pleasure of interviewing Walker Thompson, VP of Sales & Marketing at
Syndicom Inc. Syndicom is a provider of a collaborative suite of products targeted at surgeons and medical device companies to work more efficiently.

Syndicom was definitely using traditional marketing and PR but felt they were lacking ways to engage with their wider market and influential blogosphere.
Walker felt that using RSS marketing could help Syndicom engage on their own terms and be able to distribute their own messages and content. As he puts it,  “I could suddenly present my message through many different networks (Facebook, Twitter etc….).” However, while Walker has been very active in the blogosphere for some time it was hard to know how to navigate through it in relation to the medical world. He struggled with how to spend time effectively using social media when he had other things to focus on and it’s moving so quickly —  a social media service provider was the only way go. Enter Extanz.

The results speak for themselves. Syndicom’s monthly website traffic has almost tripled in less than a year. This is significant given that Syndicom is a b2b niche focused business. Page views have doubled in the same 6 months and Syndicom’s Alexa ranking went from 7,000,000th place to 500,000th place in only a few months. The bottom line says Walker, “is that we’re relevant and part of the discussion.” People know what their product is, have a better idea of what they do and, by the way,  have read their blog!
Blogging is difficult by yourself, time consuming and sometimes frustrating, but the mothership of good social media programming. Syndicom used Extanz blogging as part of their sales education cycle with both business customers and core users. Combined with podcasts and comments on influential blogs, Syndicom’s content is more objective, professional and ethical. Return comments are a real indication of relational success. As Walker says, “Extanz clearly amplified reaching out to influential bloggers with a high level of vertical expertise. Other influential bloggers would inevitably come back and leave comments on our blog; this is real, influential, two way conversation.”
So what’s Walker’s conclusion on social media and online tools? “If you don’t embrace it, you’ll become irrelevant”. 90% of companies don’t have a blog and he thinks it’s critical to create trust. The way people work and interconnect has changed, if you don’t have a presence on these new media, you’re becoming harder to reach. Syndicom’s business is online and it’s pretty clear that online methods and tools are dramatically changing how medicine is practiced, research, discovered and taught.”
To hear more of Walker’s thoughts, listen to the podcast here:
To learn more about Extanz and how we can help you, click here.
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Twitter vs Facebook and the fight for the crumbs…

19 03 2009

A few weeks ago, @kblucy did a quick poll in her Capstone class for students majoring in Communication – 4 out of 84 students are actually using Twitter.  They are all on Facebook or at least 90% of them. Twitter what? No, it’s just the fastest growing network these days. Maybe it’s generational. Or it’s how we use it but we see  Facebook slowly sending MySpace to a shelf and Twitter is thinking about doing the same to Facebook after refusing $500 Million from same. It didn’t  take long for Facebook to turn around and let ‘Fan Pages’ (companies, celebrities…) be able to update their ‘status’ (just came out last week) which Twitter does. Things are certainly heating up… some talk about collision.  

Have you heard of MyYearBook.com? Tagged.com?  Tumblr.com? Hi5.com? Bebo.com? … hmm, no? People have different needs, live in different places and use all those tools for different reasons. Depending on your marketing strategies, using those different platforms will have more or less returns.

I thought I’d give a bit of a run down of the different networks we use in our practice and why we use them. But before we go there,  I want to say that Personal Branding and Business Branding are colliding. Those students are increasingly growing their personal digital footprint on places like Facebook or MySpace. They will soon be working for corporations and companies. How will their personal representation affect your brand? Why bother sending a resume when you can find everyone online? If they are not online, I would be worried for you though.

Social Networks:

– MySpace: Still the largest network, your brand needs to be there and somewhat active especially if your target market is in the younger age bracket. We still see low traffic from this platform.

– Facebook: Its clean look and super organized way to manage your contacts and relationships has definitely worked wonders. It is driving good to moderate traffic, better in the consumer space.

– Linkedin / Plaxo: By nature, they were designed for more professional purposes. I find that Plaxo has been a more open platform in terms of using RSS but the traffic volume coming from Linkedin is higher. Linkedin was web-based from the start and definitely has the biggest market share. Since the fall, Linkedin allows you to update your company profile and help link personal identities. I mostly find those networks powerful to find people and be found.

– Twitter: with 812% of traffic growth, it’s still a small network but indeed posing an interesting threat. The main clue here is ‘Conversation’. Engaging in Twitter means that you can engage better with people and customers that you would not encounter otherwise. The big bonus: you can search real time conversations about products or brands… It’s a very powerful brand monitoring tool [Search.Twitter.com]  – You can also organically reach people or brands without the limitations of the Facebook fortress 🙂

– Hi5 and Bebo have been growing very fast respectively in UK/Europe for Bebo and Latin America for Hi5 but are still cumbersome platforms to use with limited RSS connectivity. As you can see, Twitter totally passed those networks during the fall of 2008.

So what now? Being on all the main social networks as a person or a brand is somewhat necessary but if you need to focus on a few only, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are the best bets, at least in North America.

Remember that Google Search is still your best bet for driving ‘semantic’ traffic and generating web leads to your company website. SEO (search engine  optimization) and CPC (AdSense) campaigns are good methods but you’re limited when it comes down to increasing brand trust. Blogging remains the best way to increase better qualified leads in your web pipeline.

Finally, remember that YouTube generates more search volume than Yahoo itself since fall 2008 , so if you can invest, make sure to get into video – blogging.

Cheers!

@yannr





Your Government 2.0 has arrived – U Ready?

21 01 2009

Lately,  the blogosphere has been speculating  if Mr Obama would ‘follow through’ the social media groundswell movement his campaign had started with his government.  Today was a good sign. From having his Blackberry taken away for security reasons (then given back to him), the “twitterverse” has kept debating. The HOPE is: “we don’t want the traditional way”, it’s a time for change, right? Will the new Oval Office still use  its new way after blowing through the roof of every social media form? Check out these stats from during the campaign: Twitter (165,000 followers), Facebook (close to 4,000,000 fans), MySpace (1,100,985 friends), Blogging, YouTube … etc.

Well, in the hour after the inauguration, we had the spark of an answer, the new WhiteHouse.Gov site is now up and features a blog on the front page 🙂 – This will make those of us who think that blogging is the mothership of social media smile widely! There is no better way to engage and distribute your content today than through a [useful] blog. The Government is doing it , don’t be left behind! This is now the most cost effective way to reach out and spread the word about your brand’s higher purpose. Every blog is a natural SEO (Search Engine Optimization) method of increasing your relevancy.  RSS will distribute the mail (blog) for free and at the speed of light.

Along those lines (of doing the right thing), I had a brief interaction with @georgegsmithjr from Crocs recently – Wayne Sutton was interviewing George Smith at Crocs about their young voyage through Social Media. I think that many companies could certainly learn from their humble approach to social media [read more here] – They are tiptoeing into it,  their blog is buried on their site [unlike the new White House one on the front page] and feeding their blog to their brand fans in Facebook is not there yet, but they are definitely trying, kudos to them!  I speak to many marketing folks who are simply afraid of any ‘interaction’ with real people.  It’s funny how people can just become robots when they enter the work environment.  Crocs is definitely trying the right way, the human way. It’s time to engage, now that we have all that sociable leadership in the White House.

Today was another huge spike for the ‘people’s voice’ with Twitter experiencing moments of  5X more tweets per second than the normal daily rate. It’s always a good reminder that Twitter is now mainstream. Your customers and the most viral of them are on it 🙂 Be there. Even if you or your company are not blogging, try yourself out with micro-blogging — it is a good place to start. I also highly recommend you use TweetDeck (Desktop Application) if you are going to use Twitter. Tweetdeck is way more efficient than using Twitter by itself.

Blogging, yes we can…

Cheers!

@yannr





Trust 2.0 … Get Used To It

12 12 2008

I am more and more convinced that 2.0 is a mindset.  I was on Twitter (like always) last weekend between attending to the urgent lives of my 5 and 3 year olds… (Tonka trucks and other logistical movements) and struck up a conversation with @bakespace (bake who you may say? … twitter name/id). Much of our conversation was based on the rise of Digital Divide 2.0 which I see happening as Social Media reaches out to more human beings. You could argue that social networking sites in general are a generational thing and ultimately we will all be on there . You could also argue that it’s an early adopter phenomenon.  I tend to think that 2.0 is a mindset.

Newspapers, magazines and traditional sources have been ‘seen’ as the trusted source of information over time. “Who are we going to trust”? They say. Well YOU, your brand, your digital footprint. Web 2.0 is an organic world where new tools (software for the most of it), new behaviors and new ethical codes swarm. We are the media. We are re-creating trust mechanisms. I believe we can see through, look at each other in the eyes, shake hands, smile at each other and respect each other online. Businesses as well. Get used to it. It’s here.

Forums in the 90’s and early 2000’s have really given a bad reputation to online presence… they were one big stream and everyone could actually be as primal as possible. We now live in a more open world, if you vote for a 2.0 Mindset.  More and more consumers are judging how they are being treated and how their peers are as well.  BS on Twitter, blogging, facebook and so on just doesn’t fly and people quickly vote with their feet when BS shows up.

This week, amongst other things, I ran into 2 great pieces of content that talk about TRUST. The first was by Rodger Doodley blog on Trust with Rodger quoting Paul J Zak: The key to a con is not that you trust the conman, but that he shows he trusts you. Conmen ply their trade by appearing fragile or needing help, by seeming vulnerable… the human brain makes us feel good when we help others–this is the basis for attachment to family and friends and cooperation with strangers. “I need your help” is a potent stimulus for action. [From The Moral MoleculeHow to Run a Con.]

Selling is about creating a trustable and repeatable experience. If you are a marketer, you are here to build or consolidate the brand trust capital. Social Media (blogging, facebook, twitter, flickr, youtube….etc) when used in concert are here to “empower users” as Chris Brogan says – Those users are your prospects or your customers… Instead of being in their face and being another ‘Interruption Day Marketing’ brand, be part of their lives, be part of their search and their social graph.

Forrester Research just published a new study that has made bloggers and micro-bloggers rage this week… Corporate Blogs are at the bottom of the scale when it comes to “trusted information sources”.  It is very debatable and obviously linear thinkers (let’s apply traditional marketing to social media) are mostly doing it wrong. If you try to sell hard, you’ll just have ZERO effectiveness.

Cloggers (corporate bloggers) it’s time to stop – Companies and corporations have the bad reputation of just republishing their press releases on their blogs, talking about inward content…etc. RISE UP I say… Start by creating value, content that ’empowers your users’. If you can’t think of your higher purpose… have someone else handle your social media services. If you think you know but can’t get traction and your blog traffic sucks…. you’re also in need of help.

Now go on, get out there and build your company digital trustworthiness…

Onwards and upwards,


Cheers
Yann

Thanks to jasoneppink and will lion for their cool pix





What the Blog?

1 12 2008

One of the things Extanz is committed to is “growing experts”. It’s one of our core values. We take this approach to our clients and to ourselves. My story is a case in point…..

Until recently I didn’t really understand what all this blogging was about. To be perfectly honest I thought it was primarily for geeks who wanted to discuss….well I’m not really sure what I thought they were discussing…. or for journalists who were just re-formatting their previous articles into the form of a blog to keep up with the times or a new arena for people to rant about whatever they were currently annoyed with. None of the above was of any interest to me what so ever.

I never really did much work on-line in my past jobs aside from daily emails and helping to update our company’s website every now and again, but working for Extanz has opened my eyes to a whole new world…the blogosphere. And this blogosphere is pretty cool, I must say.

While doing research on influential blogs (yes, blogs can be influential!) for our clients I began stumbling upon all these nifty blogs that I found very helpful and interesting. I have now become the “annoying yet full of information” friend and daughter that emails everyone links to cool and sometimes helpful blogs. Like the gluten free blog for my Mom who has Celiac disease, or the cool Mom product review blog for my best friend who just had her first baby.

Yes, blogs are cool, but as I mentioned they can also be influential. Does your company have a blog? Are you letting your customers/clients know about who you are? Are you reaching out and making a connection? Having a company blog can bring in new business that you never thought possible. For instance, the other day I was cruising around the web and found this really cool, local, honey farm and they happened to have a blog on their website. I started reading and found myself so fascinated and loving all the information in this blog, about the history of the company, the bees, and most importantly to me, the honey and its health benefits. Before I knew it, I was buying $30 worth of honey and have been telling all my friends about it.

So… as you can see, I have found out that my previous assumption of blogs was not entirely true. Blogs are not just for the geeks, journalists, and complainers. Blogging is for everyone and by everyone. Make a connection, share information, tell a story, be influential. Come on, what are you waiting for? Everyone’s doing it…

Cheers,

Lauren

Thanks Hi I’m Chris for the cool pic





Got A Higher Purpose?

16 11 2008

I never thought I’d write as I do now, in this case,  in a blog. My work has revolved a lot around marketing and business development for hi-tech, software, internet startups and social media for  3 years now. Good things can happen. How do you feel about blogging, tweeting, writing your self and putting your status out there, or even Brightkite – ing yourself?

Yes, a huggggge shift has happened since the birth of RSS 2.0 in 2002. There are 250 million blogs out there, don’t tell me you still feel like it may be a waste of time? Your blog is the door step of your company. Welcome them, connect with your customers and industry. So how often should you blog? hmm well, how often do you like visitors? Do it often, be interesting…

I have heard countless times:

  • What is our business going to blog about? Is that worth the time?
  • Are you doing the narcissist thing?
  • Gee… what if somebody say something bad about us?

Do you ask yourself the same question when reading a good book? Probably not. Does the writer? Probably not. So what’s the difference? We’re all here to learn and feed our brains with good stuff. Are we nourished by the traditional corporate newsletter? Hmm, not really. By press releases?  Hmm, not really.  So why do you keep doing them?

We’re searching for the good stuff – Isn’t that what blogging should be about? Micro-blogging aka Twitter … is in the same boat. SO, here is the deal, your business is in an industry – You own the creation of content to customers, prospects, competitors, partners… You own the distribution, no more traditional media. But here’s the key…you need to position yourself as a thought leader and always blog about the higher purpose of your brand. The more you do it, the more your brand will be seen as a leader vs just a player.

It’s hard to do. I’ll give you that. Blogging about a higher purpose is not easy but when you open a book you expect that level of content and connection. What’s stopping your company (I would recommend external bloggers, us :)) from generating the same level of content you read in newspaper? Nothing. Your brand can create journalistic content and you can do it now.

Blogging about your brands’ higher purpose will engage and envelope customers in your brand. You will do well.

“Hey, what’s your higher purpose Yann”? I’ll speak for Extanz. We’re here to share our journey through social media. We take our clients and you through that journey and hope to share and shape forward thinking ideas, people, enterprises and action. We’re here to be extraordinary with you.

Cheers!

Yann

Thanks Laughing Squid and SteveGarfield for your cool pics.





The Relevancy Bell Curve… Google, Brands and Blogging

20 10 2008

“We don’t actually want you to be successful”  said Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The company’s algorithms are trying to find the most relevant search results, after all, not the sites that best game the system. “The fundamental way to increase your rank is to increase your relevance,” he added.  

In this extract, from AdAge.com we hear more confirmation that SEO, Public Relations and Marketing are in fusion mode to become Social Media Marketing and PR 2.0… I feel quite good about this…

Here what we think here at Extanz:

The tools are ready: Brands and businesses in general can now own the distribution of their content and directly connect with their constituents and customers via social networks and RSS connectivity. This is the ultimate form of business relevancy as regular people (or businesses) are connecting via the internet to businesses they believe are trustworthy. Google is looking for trust, are you?

You own distribution: Business blogging, and blogging in general, is the mothership of relevancy. A business should (not increase) but shift resources from traditional marketing to blogging. You may also need to reshuffle who is in charge of blogging (hint)…. Comcast’s success with Twitter was started by people in customer service, not in corporate marketing. The spirit of blogging resides in creating real connections with customers. Help your customer, make them smarter, educate them. Traditional marketing minds want to push information. Blogging is about pulling your customer’s interest towards the higher purpose of your business. Together we rise.

The Digital Footprint: What the heck is that? The other day, I followed someone on twitter someone called Pixelbender (this makes me laugh as it expresses the gap between our understanding of reality and how the virtual world is reframing what’s really real) 🙂 – Back to the digital footprint… I see it on every network, from the LinkedIn super networker who has 10,000 + connections (Not me, but I’m working on it) or to Obama who has 100,000 + followers on twitter (first page result for Barack Obama) – the more connected your business is (and you are yourself), the more relevant you become in the eyes of the search engines. Your business digital footprint is like putting a series of billboards along social network highways. The earlier you get on board, the more you’ll lead in terms of being relevant in your industry.

Stay or become relevant through social media!

Stay or become relevant through social media!

The Business Social Graph: To our example last week, just put Barack Obama in Google, or check where Twitter is lined up… like on the first page – that is relevancy based on how much a person or a business is connected. Except that once again, the internet tends to create sprouts (remember the Bell Curve?) – The first cool brand on the block will be able to build higher and faster connectivity with customers and prospects because of the viral mechanism that the internet offers. How do you stay on top? By staying relevant and feeding EXCELLENT and USEFUL content to you constituencies!

– Lastly, not everyone is an early adopter… but you can build your brand journey step by step and we can help – and by the way, we know how to make you successful and relevant

Cheers

Yann