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

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Social Media Marketing: The Basics

11 09 2008

Social Media Marketing… it doesn’t bite …really… it’s as respectful as you are… now rock on!

But before you start out, here are some basic ideas:

Content is KING: the best content in your industry is worth gold.
Numbers count: everyone understands that the more connected you are, the more relevant you are.
Distribution: you OWN distribution of your content, there is no barrier between readers/prospects and your company – There is no editor in chief privileging your competitor story.
It’s about being Human: We are gregarious by DNA. We like social contact and we’d rather buy stuff cos our friends told so and it is fixin’ our basic and not so basic needs.
‘It’s business, (stupid)’: If you doubt it, just look at the valuation of those puppies…. The so called Social Graph will soon have more power than any other sales force.
Authenticity rules: Be true to your brand and your customer or you’ll go to hell.

The Basics

The Basics by http://www.Extanz.com

If you want to experiment yourself, you need a blog.  No blog – you don’t exist, seriously.

Now meet the mighty graph which explains the basics of what I call an RSS Architecture….. if you like it, say so, bookmark it (funky button at the bottom of that blog). If you don’t, tell me how you would modify it.  Now we’re being social!

So what are the basic steps?
– Connect your customer-friend-ecosystem to your company brand online.
– Feed them / publish excellent content that will make them happy to have read or seen you (youtube,flickr…).
– Allow for 2 way conversation with them and respond (to what matters, not everything).

Oh YEAH! This is applicable to the following:

– A brand
– A business — small or large (larger can’t move very fast so they struggle a bit with that)
– A [true] customer centric company
– A product launch
– A message as part of your overall marketing strategy
– An individual (brand)
– Selling a house
– A political campaign 🙂
– A non profit fundraising endeavor
– A product development team

….and too many others to list…..

It is NOT applicable to:
– Spammers
– Arrogant brands
– People afraid to lose control of the message (you’re lost anyway).

Now stop thinking that Social Networking is just for kiddos who are bored…. it’s you, me and everyone else thinking stuff, buying stuff, reading stuff.

TOGETHER WE RISE. 🙂

Yann

If you like it click on the ‘add this’ button below (you’ll need a account at Stumbleupon, Digg or Delicious – this is just another marketing tactic you need to do)

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CPA, CPC vs. Social Media Engagement – It’s like going to another country.

23 07 2008

Have you ever been to France? They speak French over there, they argue a lot and are extremely social around food – I know this because I actually lived there 25 years :). Well, engaging in Social Media is like visiting France’s back country where CPC (cost per click) and CPA (cost per action) are like visiting Paris. Which one is the authentic ‘France’?…We’re talking quality vs quantity when it comes down to social interaction. Am I being too abstract here? It’s like in hi-density marketing — you’re just trying to hit as many potential clients as you can (a bit like the ‘Metro’ / Underground in Paris) — you end up with a low return and you damage your reputation with everybody through spamming. Your message is not intended for them anyway. BUT WAIT! If their friend or acquaintance had sent the message to them, the return would be much greater! It’s common sense really. So are you ready for quality or are you satisfied with a 1% return on your banner ad campaign or your direct mail? That’s 99% wasted time and energy!

A couple of years ago, everyone was buzzing about social networks even though they were skeptical about how to use them. Now everyone is still buzzing about them but it’s a bit like a burning stove.

Here are 5 handy hints for engaging with social media:

– Set Your Objective: Design your TAG cloud before you start [or just redesign, it]. The TAG cloud is your objective – you can’t blog about everything and be relevant to everyone. Do your research, analyze the competition and most importantly, see how much the tag cloud (keywords) is being talked about in the blogosphere – Do you want to look like this?

– Generate Ideas: Medium size businesses rarely have the time or money to spend on lengthy articles that may (like never) be published in a magazine…nor do they have at least need an $8000 to $15,000 per month PR budget. Not to mention the fact that traditional media gives you a difficult to measure return. BUT HEY! YOU have customers – get them to engage with stories around your product, podcast using Pamela and Skype, get a passionate employee to create video interviews…This is social media, not ABCnews – Then put them on Youtube and start linking it your blogs 🙂

– Be Personable and Personal: What matters to you and them may often be more about you – people care about you online if you let them get closer andengage them on social media platforms from Facebook to Twitter and and so on.

– Do It the Real Way: Social media engagement is about real people – not cold banners and cold push marketing. It takes time, yes; Social Media is not a quick fix. It takes time like any good relationship, but then the rewards are long lasting and repeat business is the name of the game. It’s like going to France again – be real, try to engage – step out of Paris where everyone lives like a rabbit 🙂 Okay, Paris is beautiful, but you get my point.

– The Mirror Again – Bring your 500 customers onto current social networks – many are probably there already – Have you thought of creating your own network? Ning.com maybe what you need then!

– Blog, Blog, Blog: RSS Marketing is efficient only if it is regular, and you connect your media tools (Flickr.com, Youtube.com, Slideshare.com …), your networks (Linkedin, Facebook…), Microblog (twitter, pownce)…etc well.

Here’s to an engaging life together!
Yann





When will we get serious about virtual/web based/online conferencing?

8 07 2008

So for a couple of hours today I have been looking at conferences on Health 2.0 or Medicine 2.0 to attend this year as I want to go and see what’s out there, what kind of work people are doing, have great conversations etc…Aside from the cost of travel, the registration prices for these conferences are staggering to me, a recovering academic. Maybe in the corporate world, people feel $1500 for conference registration is a good deal for a bit of knowledge and conversation but for where I have spent the last 10 years, it is nothing short of excessive. Of course, as one of the academic realm, I am eligible for a “discount” of a “not to sniffed at” sum of $500, taking my registration fee to $950, but taking into account time away from work and the ever increasing air fare game we are in, I am looking for other ways to have that great conversation….

Earlier this year, I co-hosted an international virtual conference on “global visions of organizing and communicative practices” on a shoestring. We had courageous participants from Nigeria, Nepal, India, New Zealand, Japan, Brazil, Australia and China. Part of our drive to hold our 3 day conference on the web was to provide a venue that all could “access” without the economic, immigration, political or institutional burdens we usually have to bear. We looked everywhere for software which could support us. There were some such as Icohere and Elluminate which manage your conference for you from start to finish, but we were paying for it out of our own pockets. Some people use blogs like this, which also work well. There are also those companies such as Eventvue and Crowdvine which will support an online community for your conference (but not the conference). In the end, we went with Ning and built a community there where people could have pages, post their presentations, have group discussions, forums, post videos, blog etc. Schweeeeeeet!

It was simple, it was interactive and it was one of the most intense learning experiences of my life. For a communication scholar like me, it doesn’t get much better than that. This experience has made me think twice about going to a carbon conference for $3000 where there are 5000 other people present, the presentations are 10 minutes long, there is no time to network and you are perpetually running to your next presentation. There is no doubt we will do things differently for our next conference, mainly because we constantly seek that conversation, but in terms of financial, familial, institutional, political and environmental pain, it just goes to show that if 3 academics in 2 different countries can build a conference online without institutional or technical support, there’s got to be a start up out there who can bring this game to the next level……:) Kudos to Mike Wesch for the following commentary on the information revolution…

Kirsti