Advertisements

Cloud and be funny if you can… for us living in the cloud

7 05 2010

If like we do, you spend your time in the internet cloud 8+ hours every day, you probably have noticed or enraged … then probably laughed at those server errors. I want to extend some kudos to those good ones. If you have others, please submit them in the comment section and I’ll link back to you.

The Most known:

Twitter: The fail whale by #twitter

The Cute ones:

Bit.ly

LinkedIn

Flickr:

The Funny ones:

Google Wave:

YouTube

Plancast:

Could do better one (or I haven’t run into better ones):

Digg:

Facebook:

.. that’s it… send me yours via commenting below and I’ll add them here.

Cheers

@YannR

Advertisements




Should We Re-Think the Lead Generation Funnel?

23 10 2009

What happens when someone becomes a fan of a facebook fan page? What happens when someone RT retweets something? What happens when you hold a conversation on Linkedin? This individual “vote to participate into a sales process” is seen by their ‘friends’. Did I shock you? It may not lead to a monetary transaction but it triggers an increased awareness of something. Consumers and customers have been empowered for some time to become active participants of their consumption. They are clearly moving outside of the traditional sales funnel starting with thorough research using internet.

A recent McKinsey report (June 2009 Subscription) highlights that only 30% of purchasing decision points are still ‘company driven’. This means that more than 70% of decision points in a buyer’s active evaluation process are now consumer-driven: user consumer reviews, word of mouth and in store interactions. Is it time to re-evaluate how things are done?

Social technologies are expanding these phenomena to micro-influence level never seen before. A few weeks ago, I had to change our office router and jumped on Twitter & FB to ask what people thought… it didn’t take more than 10 minutes to get 10 e-pinions… 2 from people I know, 8 from people I don’t know. It’s getting much easier to get that instant feedback. You bet I bought what was most recommended.

Now what does it mean for our businesses? People are empowered to swap between brands more than ever before. The social media funnel and measurement is simply upside down compared with a traditional sales or purchasing decision process. It’s cheaper, greener, further-sighted to use social media. Brands need to go through the journey of seeing themselves through the lens of their constituents. It’s not an audience, it’s a constituency.

1- A brand may and connect with its core customers to start with and then expand. There is, most of the time, an underlying community of customers or consumers. There are also communities of influencers in that space. Both groups should be recognized and empowered by your brand if you’re serious about building trust.

2- A community will only engage if they feel connected and empowered by that brand. If there is no exchange, there is no social media; it’s only push marketing through new channels. Deliver high quality content and help them support each other. People are likely to want to discuss about much larger things surrounding your brand than just your product. They already know of your product or use them.

3- The more they talk, the more they trust, the more everyone is merrier.

4- Be where conversations happen. If you’re lucky/skilled… but mostly honest and caring, people will progressively feel comfortable discussing the brand’s social footprint or presence. If not, a brand should carry its ‘conversation capital’ where ever those conversations happen.

No one likes to be part of a funnel (ask the Foie Gras ducks what they think about this). Like everyone else, we vote with our $$ when you see value and can trust a product or services. On the other side, it always feels good to buy something from a brand you trust. Be the change you want to see, they say.

Now, is this the right mix? Am I saying that the traditional funnel should disappear? No. How do you think an organization should look at these strategies?

@YannR





Conversation Drawers VS Sink Hole, FriendFeed kicks ass

5 05 2009

I have found lately that my amount of conversation on Twitter has decreased. I wasn’t quite sure but maybe the hype is just becoming too much or maybe it’s just because every clone can now have a social media megaphone. And then along came an old acquaintance….

I originally used FriendFeed as my ‘pipe management’ system. 12 months ago back in 2008, social networks were harder to sink and FriendFeed was just an obvious method to sink my rich media activities. But I was also being told by many, to try again, try again… so I did and it failed again. But how many screens do you need? The real success of Twitter has been to let everyone else do the work via the API and let people build all kinds of cool apps for Twitter. The best of all these apps being TweetDeck. I could finally cut the noise, do my job, be in the know and feed my appetite for new stuff. But here comes a Keyword: Noise. Cutting noise. The new FriendFeed came out in March 2009. This time, I have been really giving it a try diligently since last week. Here are some key points that are jumping at me after using it as my primary social application for 7 days:

– Pipes management: More than ever I can manage my rich media and social media activity from a single console. From Flickr, Youtube, social bookmarks, Disqus, Twitter…. or any web 2.0 tools you’re using out there, they can all be plugged into FriendFeed to share your activities. Of course you can feed (send your activity stream) to other places like Twitter.

Bookmarklet (found here): This feature is what a mouse is to a computer. (Do you remember when computers didn’t have mouse? I don’t). The gist of it: I can literally grab any webpage, with any pictures or videos in it and share all that in rich media. Exempli gratia: sharing a page and photo from BBC below.

-Share your “Likes” with Twitter, FB… If you use Twitter: RT, or ReTweet is like a rating system. Someone may like your stuff and basically push one button in TweetDeck or place RT in front of your message and pass it on. When many people do it then it becomes overwhelming. FollowFriday was born of a great similar concept but then every Friday it’s like constant noise going through Twitter. It’s ok but the overall stream of information out there is cluttered. Noise kills information. It especially kills conversation! With friendfeed, the rating system is embedded, with the likes, so you can be aware of it or not (through your lists) or look at the “Best of the day”.

– Conversation drawers: When at a good party, you might be better to track the good groups and conversations.  I remember when at The Enthusiast Group (outdoors vertical social networks), Steve and Neal had to basically stay glued to the amount of info coming in and take the best stuff to put it on the front page. Anyone who would come to the home page would see the latest good stuff. We were marrying Social Networks and Editorial power. It was the only way to keep the good stuff above. Here, and again in comparison to Twitter, each time you participate (Comment, Like, Share or simply Post) FriendFeed keeps this in your “My Discussions” tab, it’s easy to come back and you can even set alerts via emails, IM… to keep abreast of the discussions. Here on the left, the thread and discussion between everyone is right below the original post.

Lists: aka the noise cutter. I’ve heard some say “I’m lazy, I don’t want to build those lists”. At the time I kind of agreed. But then I am the first one to admit that I wouldn’t have stuck to Twitter if TweetDeck hadn’t made it easy to create groups. I am also limited by the number of groups I can create in TweetDeck. In FriendFeed, I can very easily create Lists by topics or rank of importance.

Auto-refreshing: Every other network (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin….) needs you to refresh the page if you want to get what’s new or updates on conversations. Here FriendFeed refreshes for you ‘live’ and superfast. I actually run Tweetdeck and Friendfeed simultaneously to compare both. FriendFeed is plainly ‘LIVE’.  Conversations happen and you can track them overtime. In comparison, Twitter and to a lesser extent Facebook, are sink holes. It’s just hard to track things and they disappear if you’re not in front of your computer.

Any drawbacks? hmm… Oprah is not on there yet 🙂 Ok, you won’t find as many people but I find that quality is well managed here. I’ll certainly hang here for a while.

Now, where to start? Sign up here. Once you’re signed up, I would import your pipes:

Step 1:  Go to Services

Step 2: Then find your friends: import friends from Facebook, Twitter….

Step 3: Participate.  You can find me there: http://friendfeed.com/yannr



Cheers

Yann





Give ’em a hammer… Give ’em a twitter…

15 04 2009

As far as social media circles and events go, I like to think I get around. While I am getting around, I tend to meet 3 kind of folks. Recently, the kinds of conversations I have had with them have caused me to wonder about this whole social media hype thing that we’ve got going on…. so here’s my view…

Group 1: By far the largest and getting smaller by the minute….Never heard of it or totally confused. Social media what? Why do we need this anyway, it’s not really for business! Kids stuff. Goofing around.  Ok, everyone is talking about Twitter… maybe I should get on Twitter then (law of the hammer) and start pressing “follow”. But, errr, what am I going to do with it? I really don’t have time for this. Our website is a fine piece of art, we look good, we’re different. We’re participating, right?

Group 2: Getting up there now in numbers…..We’re afraid, man. What if someone, somewhere, says something, thinks something… geez we’re so used to sending those press releases over the fence… our sales people are here for the interactions… Inbound marketing, what? No, we have engineers for that.  They can see the future. We’ve just hired a guy who worked at Apple anyway. Sorted, man. The customer voice, yes, we do surveys – candy for  everyone! You’ve probably met someone like this recently too.

Group 3:  Finally the toolers,  social media is equal to social networking –  They are all over it, their company has a twitter account, and man it’s rocking in there, we’re doing it right cos we have a facebook fan page, a twitter account and the CEO is on Linkedin… This is social media, right…? Huh, well, let’s see now. Chances are good what we’re going to see is a bunch of mundane conversations when someone can spare some time… or maybe they’ll hire a junior cos “they know how that stuff works, right?” Ah, not so fast now. And blogging? Yeah, we do that or we thought of doing it but…

Yes folks, Give ’em a twitter… Give ’em a hammer. Everything is looking like a tweet :). Don’t get me wrong, Twitter is an awesome tool, just be mindful. I see workshops on Twitter or Linkedin everywhere like some kind of  new gold that we have all got to get a piece of.  But you know what? I just can’t see how just using one of these tools along is going to turn into a real return. Therein lies the catch….tweety-birds!

Questions you should ask yourself at this moment include:

  1. How is my web strategy supporting my overall marketing strategy?
  2. What are the different components of my web strategy?  Usability, design, copy, SEO, social networks, social media, blogging, adwords… maybe email marketing… Ultimately, it should be about lead generation and converting viewers into customers or at least starting the qualification process… right? Once again push doesn’t work and pull is not easy.
  3. Now, how will social media support your web strategy?  Is this about a time suck or truly turning your customers into advocates? What’s more,  if you venture into the social media space, how is the rest of your marketing plan supporting Social Media and vice-versa…??
Groundswell tool from Forrester Research

Groundswell tool from Forrester Research

My spin on the groundswell levels of success are that they are not mutually exclusive but reaching gold straight off the bat is kinda like managing a hole in one during your first round of golf. Some can. But the rest of us….. you get the picture.

So here is a potential way of looking at levels of success in Social Media…

Not Even On The Podium: You’re pushing your promotions through social networks. Your credibility will suffer. That’s more like a fail.

Bronze: You’re listening and talking with people but having mundane conversation is killing your efforts. Are you truly contributing or making noise e.g. Tweet: “going to the gym now”?

Silver: You’re engaging and energizing your customer base. Passion is the corner stone of social media; where are those passionate users? Are you empowering them to do more with products or services? Are you teaching them, educating them? Are you putting your customer in a position to teach other industry users? They may do a better job than you, you know…

Gold: You’re providing a 3rd space(s) where customers are actually talking to each other and supporting each other. You’ve integrated activities through social media as well as the customer voice or use of your product or services.

Bottom line, if you go on your own, measure and measure your effectiveness; engagement is an art. Wasting time is a hard price to pay for just being on the networks. If you need help, I would seriously check if your prospective provider has a rock solid methodology… it’s no surprise that “Establishing a method for engaging consumers in online conversation” is ranked top of the tactics used by companies by the Aberdeen Group.

Social Media is not a cooking recipe, there will be some experimentation. Having a sound methodology and measurable processes will save you a lot of guess work and just doing social media because everyone is buying a twitmmer these days. Finally,  in the words Social Media, there is also Media… quality media.

Thank you chazferret for his cool picture!

Onwards and upwards,

Yann






Semantic web, getting out of this sink hole.

25 03 2009

I was recently at the #bdnt where an audience packed full of hungry technologists were asked by Robert Reich, what is the definition of Web 3.0? Just like in junior high, the crowd went wild and after many passionate answers, Brad Feld, who was also talking about the state of the economy in relation to the startup / venture capital world was asked, his thoughts on the answer. From the super elaborate answers such as  humanly interfaced semantic apps to ‘BS’, Brad’s final pick was ‘staying alive’ [this is a startup meetup]. I’ll let you mull on this a moment…

We’re violently moving to a ‘micro’ world here, where interaction is simultaneously getting thinner in content and wider in distribution. Lengthy interaction has been shrinking. Twitter traffic and its number of subscribers are going ballistic (>1000% year over year for February), other micro-blog platforms are pretty much extinct and Facebook has totally redesigned its interface to better compete with the unstoppable need for micro-blogs or ‘status updates’. We’re even seeing micro-reviews appearing now (e.g. Blippr.com (like reviews were actually long before :)).

Our in-boxes are getting less and less relevant as just this morning mine was showing 1,744 unread of 4,568 total. That is 38.1% irrelevant information that I may have subscribed to or which is just feeding in from subscriptions. I’m talking about 1 email inbox only out of several others I own for different purposes or which have evolved out of better email platforms.

I was talking to Peter Olins last night at NocoEntre Meetup… “if in this world I could only get my hands on something that could manage all my connection points” says I. Peter said, “yes – I feel your pain”. I also see people like @loic from Seesmic who went from following everyone on Twitter to scaling down to just following 400 Twitter accounts.

Malcom Gladwell was talking about the rise of immunity when referring to email saturation in his earlier book, the Tipping Point.  I think that our human channel capacities are even more challenged these days. I’m not even talking about what’s happening to your digital self when we expire [read: move on from the organic stage]

So how do you use all of the networks you’re participating in? Are you an open networker? Are you only on Facebook which allows you to turn people off [reduce the amount of their updates]? How about using Twitter applications like Tweetdeck which allow you to truly follow by creating groups?  LinkedIn and Plaxo also offer use some of these modulations.

How are we managing all this saturation…? This is where connectivity between platforms and the ability for users to set parameters as to what is important to them will set the future.  I also wish we could start fullfilling Peter’s need and serve him relevant info and discussion. The social graph is one way but organic discussions are just awesome on Twitter…  The answer has to be a semantic axis.

@yannr





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 participation is required (no duh!)

14 01 2009

In the last few weeks, we’ve discussed the roots of and early influencers of web 2.0 and customer relations (the re-birth of Trust 2.0 , the village Not-So-Fool,  Napster, Gen y…).  More and more, Health 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 are taking the stage….. the 2.0 juice is everywhere, are you sick of it yet?

If you’re sick of it – You’re certainly experiencing a culture gap :).  If you’re excited about it, that’s probably the right feeling. It starts to get crunchy when you can claim and act as you are embracing it. Every segment of your company’s value chain should start thinking 2.0 collaboration. As the economy drops, it is essential that more brands engage in conversation.

The economy may be tanking but that’s not the case with all that is 2.0. Let’s talk about growth for a moment: Twitter 343% (users) and grew by 752%  in traffic in 08′, Ning 251% (users), Linkedin 193% (users) (the state of the Economy helping), Facebook 116%.  When was the last time you saw figures like that?? Staggering, isn’t it?

Now all those “sick and tired of this web 2.0 malarkey” would have you believe that this is all just a fad. A wild management fashion that will blow over by the time Spring comes. Just something to keep those geeks and young’uns occupied when they should be doing some “real work”. Right. Call me silly, but I see several major cultural and behavioral shifts here (feel free to add more):

– Numero Uno: This growth is conversation based.  Robots have no place in the hive and the communities are watching. Communities value quality, authenticity and collaboration. Sounds trivial doesn’t it? There you go, arguing that that flashing your sensory advertising 7 times in front of someone’ eyeballs may do the job. Forget that.  It’s just part of the noise.  As a product manager, a brand marketer or simply an employee, your online attitude and your ability to converse are making or breaking your business model.  The economy is just magnifying any cracks already there. Your products, your sales tactics and PR in general can only stay alive if you’re engaging with your consumers. No, it’s not only your engineering team’s job to do so… if you think so, you’ll fail.  Someone somewhere is  conversing about the features or service add-ons they’d like to see.

– Numero Dos: This growth is participation based. Your product, your brand (personal and company), your PR, and your support operations have to be able to engage and sustain conversations if you want to stay relevant. Relevancy has 2 axes:

– your current customers and prospects (do you empower them through conversations? are they getting your brand experiences for the same price they bought you product or services?). Are you in conversation with them before and after they bought your product? Like a good Chef, does your brand walk around Twitter or Facebook and see if what you cooked went beyond expectations?

– and Google of all places 🙂 Your brand digital footprint is constantly analyzed by search engines to create rankings.  Engaging in the conversation is cheaper and more effective than hiring any gizmo PR firm.

I’ve  seen a lot of debate on Chris Brogan’s blog lately about lead generation methods. Guess what, the most viral of us are spreading the word faster than ever before. I knew of the DIA air plane crash before any news coverage, I knew about the earthquake in Thailand and that my friend Neil just bought his new iPhone before he called and told me. Yes, your traditional communication methods are still relevant but engaging in conversation is required. Social networks and social media are not just for kiddos anymore – those of us 25 years of age + are the fastest growing segment on most networks.

So here’s your case for change:

– Your social media engagement should empower your users, especially if you are developing software or any collaborative tools. Sounds trivial, yes, now go listen to the blogosphere or the twitterverse and judge for yourself.

Brand monitoring should be like breathing – people are already talking about you, now listen and engage where necessary. I am always pleased to see brands replying to me when I comments about their product on Twitter or else

– If customers come back, great – if they speak about you on yelp.com, facebook or twitter… it’s better, their friends are listening.

Good blogging is the mothership of social media – it’s like going to a networking event– you’re putting yourself out there.  You may be anxious at first but there are no robots in this room, just human beings, style gets you only so far. Substance rules.

It all sounds very much like a village right?  People using technology have created more human avenues for connection than ever before.

Finally, if you think you don’t have the budget for this, your current marketing budget mix is wrong. Just because you’ve done marketing this way for 10 years doesn’t mean you’re right, that it’s working or that people are not immune to your message. It isn’t. And they probably are.

Let’s go man! It’s exciting.

Yann