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






I read your twit, therefore I [and you] exist.

8 10 2008

Earlier this year, we wrote about whether to twit or not to twit and what that decision meant. As Twitter and the whole concept of nano 🙂 blogging has started to take off, more questions have been raised about the particular ‘social media order’ to which all these kinds of activities, like blogging, vlogging,  twitting etc belong.

TweetDeck helps you manage your tweet stream

TweetDeck helps you manage your twitter streams

An acquaintance passed comment to us recently that ‘blogging is the mothership’. This is indeed, an interesting way of putting it. In our own practice, often we use twits to connect others to a larger blog post (cos let’s face it, 140 characters does not provide much of a summary!). In this respect, we can think that Twitter is to blogging what a headline is to a newspaper article or what a title is to an essay. The twit, as it were, acts as an attention getter, an opening statement, an entree to another conversation.

But twitting is also an indicator of passionate users, an indicator of how connected and committed they are to different topics, communities, groups and others. Yann was at a marketing dinner lately and people were making comments about twitter like “I signed up for twitter and nothing happened. Then in the space of 3-4 hours, multiple people were following me arrgghhhhh!!” But this is the beauty of Twitter. In the real world, we exchange business cards to start a business relationship. Twitter does the same by following people. Someone follows you, you follow them back. It’s built on reciprocity. There’s nothing creepy about it. Ok, well maybe something a little creepy… Or should we say creeping…..it’s about rankings, people…

For example, Yann (not that he can vote) recently started following Barack Obama (just for kicks) and he followed right back! Barack Obama has 92,000 people following him and he follows 96,000 people. You just can’t do that with a blog where it is less fluid. Now, here is the gravy, on the first page of google organic when you search for Barack Obama, the 6th ranked URL link is Twitter, above CNN and everything else. The first and second are his own sites, the 3rd is Wikipedia, the 4th is ggoogle news, 5th is his .gov official senator site and then Reuters and then Twitter.  Get it?! Twits matter in the eyes of Google! The social media sphere is increasingly more important than traditional media. Note to self. Our friend Steve Outing recently had a quick post on the same subject.  So perhaps those analogies between twits, blogs, headlines and newspapers are not doing us justice after all…..

Finally, information is coming of age – Twitter, micro-blogging, blogging, and social media is giving

total power to the reader. I read your twit, therefore I [& you] exist. Brand managers, this should matter to you. If not, your competition will reach out to your customer and their digital footprint will be larger and faster than yours. You have a chance to own the distribution of the message, if you take it.

Next up….coming to a blog (and several twits too) near you – digital footprints (or is that feetprint) and the social graph (the mighty XFN)……

Thanks Vu Bui for the cool pic!

Kirsti





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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WOM-ophily: Why does social media marketing matter?

19 08 2008

I really wish this was a word. Internet might make it to be but I doubt it . WOMophily. Okay, think “homophily”. Wikipedia explains…..“Individuals in homophilic relationships share common characteristics (beliefs, values, education, etc…)”

Word Of Mouth (WOM) marketing has been around for ever and since commerce was invented. There is now a few more people on the planet and the internet is slowly becoming more effective in serving your information needs. WOMophily then is people who share common characteristics (beliefs, values, activities) sharing ideas and spreading the word about your product or services. There are few characteristics to bear in mind, however….

SMM uses Social Channel Capacity: We cannot physiologically stay in true contact with more than 150 connections, you, your friends, your relationships, their relationships (c.f. Blink, M. Gladwell) – The others just don’t have our attention like those 150 (primary and secondary connections). This is where Twitter and all the “what are you doing now?” features come in. They help us keep track of more people easily. Last week I was talking about “Saturation Points” and “Information Immunity”? If you don’t suffer from those, you are a rare indeed. Or maybe you just watch TV! There only 200 million blogs out there. Patterns of influence have changed and traditional marketing channels are just not cutting it anymore. BUT you CAN rely on your close trustees and their close trustees …etc, in terms of letting you know what services you may like, what products you should buy, what brands may matter to you. Social networks and social media have allowed the 200 most viral million of us to stay connected at this micro-level and filter out all the other marketing noise. The “You can now stay in touch and follow at the ‘micro’-blog level” is where a ton of stuff is going. The influence of micro blogging is increasing every day. Think PEOPLE LIKE ME.

SMM puts your customer to work(finally): if you connect with them PROPERLY and RESPECTFULLY through social platforms, they will value your words and spread them for you. Give them extras tips, info, cut them some smart discounts, help them understand you better, like they would a good friend. You may think, “well who’s going to keep up with all that?” Extanz might, but remember, it’s not about increasing your marketing budget but about reallocating your priorities. The ROI will be substantial because you’re dealing with hyper-targeting and word-of-mouth techniques that will carry your marketing message much further for less $. Think PEOPLE LIKE ME.

SMM is cheaper than any other form of marketing – the cost of acquiring new customers is enormous compared with growing current accounts. Social Media allows you to connect with individuals who have homophilic relationships with you current customer. The cost of acquisition is now only a fraction of traditional marketing. Think PEOPLE LIKE ME.

SMM reveals your true colors: “Do you care about me?” asks any customer. Your “blink” impression of anyone, any service, any brand gives you information that you always put back into your wallet for later. Social media forces your brand to actually connect with customers and prospective customers – not spam them like any other form of (wasted) marketing. If you don’t want to connect and stay remain aloof, you’re just falling behind. Consumers are very well informed and rely on others like their friends to use their purchasing power. Think PEOPLE LIKE ME……or maybe in this case, WE LIKE PEOPLE.

SMM doesn’t play well with control freaks and big spenders: Again last week, I was talking to a VP of Marketing in the Denver area. They focus on consumer services and their consumers are extremely passionate [hence my motivation to talk to them]. The biggest obstacle for them in terms of using Social Media Marketing was ” We would like to control the conversation….be able to ‘respond’… be able to ‘manage this internally'”. Ah right. Have you ever tried to follow 100 stocks on Wall Street at the same time? Have you ever controlled every conversation at a dinner party? Seriously, people. To think this conversation is not happening because you are not participating in it is a figment of your imagination. These conversations are happening anyway, WITHOUT YOU. Any marketer who thinks they’ll save their company by not engaging in social media will just have to try to play catch up in the next five years… it’ll be too late. Think PEOPLE MAY NOT LIKE ME ANYMORE.

SMM does not do WOT, it does WOM: WOT = WASTE OF TIME. Notice that these are the same marketers spending fortunes in surveys, market research, competitive assessments, marketing firms [not us:]. All to find out what their customers want or how to beat their competition. Yeah. OLD SCHOOL. That’s WOT busyness. You need WOM busyness. Just open up, your customers will save you millions. Then those happy customers will make sure their friends know about your product and services. They’ll become fans of yours on Facebook. The not so happy ones and therefore, most valuable in terms of your learning, will give you 2 GIFTS: The truth (that your CEO, product development and operations teams need) and the importunity (important opportunity — those new words keep popping up, don’t they) to show that you carethe very best marketing weapon you have against consumer apathy these days. The costs of ignorance and invisibility are far more expensive than any marketing budget. Think WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE (WHO) LIKE ME?

Do you care?

Do you care?





Towards PR 2.0 = RSS Marketing + A Conversational Mindset

11 08 2008

These days we get asked more and more: “is what you do PR?”

We tend to say, “hmm not really – but kind of” …the answer seems to depend on whether we are talking with someone who can actually understand the “let your audience participate with you” part and considers that PR or not. Most marketing and PR folks out there are just plain afraid of what could be said and so, find it hard to “let the audience participate”.

Today, most business blogs are just newsletters that “Corporate Communication” is putting out there to ‘check’ another thing to do. Most of the time, PR firms are good at pushing such press releases and trying to get traditional media to write about their stuff.

What we do is vastly different. We are here to focus less on the company’s cool product (traditional PR will take care of this) and more on the audience’s points of pleasure and pain points. To do so, we identify your constituencies (blogosphere, constituency presence on social networks, connectivity between networks). Then we connect the dots between all these “locales” and start reaching out for fans, friends of fans etc, bringing them valuable content that only friends would want to send to each other.

When thinking through the comparison between PR and social media, consider the following…

1. Connectivity: THANK YOU RSS – Does your PR firm really understand RSS? Not just what it stands for?

Since 2005 and RSS 2.0 standardization, we’ve seen an explosion of possiblities in terms of feeding data from one place to the other. You can actually now stream your business blog across facebook, plaxo… Yes, it’ll take a bit of plumbing but once you’ve established those connections, you can start spreading the word…:) The following examples are what could be considered “immature” demonstrations of RSS potential – note the complete lack of feeds to the FB page – Isn’t it time to challenge what your PR firm is doing for you?

no activity...

no activity...

Virality is a function of “moving data”, in this case it’s about how fast User Generated Content is moving from one friend to the other – The faster the data point (pictures, blogs, facebook greenpatch @#$%…) moves, the more virally the information spreads. Most traditional PR methods are stuck in old distribution models –they can not virally replicate information and rely on traditional readership bases (which are also less virulent) than web2.0 readership. Obviously Canon and Jamba Juice (there are 100s of examples like that) just don’t understand what Social Media Marketing or RSS Marketing is… [hint: talk to us] 🙂

2. Do you really see marketing as an investment center? [not a cost-center] – Are you ready for PR 2.0?

  • Do you have a “let’s give it a shot” mentality? Are you ready to engage with customers commenting on your blogs? Can you handle them giving you a thumbs up or down on your facebook page? If you are not, you are falling behind the biggest social movement since the creation of internet – learn from it before you competition does.
  • How about starting a relevant blog?
    • How to use features of your product
    • How your customers use your products
    • Relevant industry news
    • Great insights about how you manufacture your products, your operations
    • DON’T WRITE ABOUT “how great you are” or “how great your company did at the last employee event”… that’s good internal communication!
  • How about building a facebook page that actually has some activity? Feed your blog there using RSS! (unlike our friends at Canon or Jamba Juice…)
  • Start tweeting about the unknown stuff happening with your company that will make your readers say: ‘whao, that’s cool, I didn’t know that’. It doesn’t need to be top secret magic news. Most brand afficionados just want to relate to your brand and be able to share something cool about your brand with their friends…
  • Start using flickr, youtube, slideshare as your backend media platform – the more connectivity the better!

3. Do you know about “Saturation Points” and “Information Immunity”?

Malcom Gladwell talked about it early on…. information immunity is definitely a problem that traditional channels of communication face. Phone, faxes, email, text, RSS feed… they all reach saturation point… except that now, your audience has to the power to choose what information they receive or not. They can decide to read, comment, and more importantly “pass it along” virally via their networks. Your customer is moving on, they choose what to read from sources they rely on. Don’t you already feel that you are member of enough networks? That you can’t take any new ones? So do they!

An interesting study recently came out on the ‘new patterns of influences‘ led by a team of five SNCR Research Fellows: “New influencers are beginning to tear at the fabric of traditional marketing and communications, giving rise to a new approach characterized by conversation and community,” said Gillin. “PR and marketing communications professionals are responding with a mixture of excitement, fear, and fascination. They’re alarmed at the prospect of ceding control of their messages to a community of unknowns. Yet at the same time they’re excited about this new opportunity to speak directly with their constituents.

Are you ready for ‘conversational marketing’? Your customer should be the best advocate of your product or services. they should be your fans on facebook and you should give them a reason to be a fan of yours on such social networks….

4. So what to do now?

– Re-think your public relations goals.

– Start a relevant blog and start connecting it to your social networks.

– Be ready to open conversation up to your constituents.

It’s time to talk!!

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