FlipBoard: Just a tipping point or a real game changer?

22 07 2010

The writing is on the wall…We’re moving closer to Social what? and we took a huge step yesterday with the release of FlipBoard, as part of the iPad store. A few years ago, given new powers, we flocked to new media. Clay Shirky called it the “largest increase in expressive capability in human history“.

Content production has soared to levels never reached before and ever since, we’ve been trying to find ways to sift through and find relevant content. This week, the iPad which almost outsold Mac sales during the last quarter, was equipped with what Scoble calls the first iPad “killer app”. FlipBoard, as an online powerful mechanism to deliver us relevant information, promises to transform our social networks experience (imagine a onion). We could throw Google search, Bing, and Twitter search out of the window as technology progressively makes our extended networks smarter and less noisy (i hope they remove the unnecessary FourSquare updates for example)… You can view the 20mn video released for more details on how it works.

Last week I really liked a post by Mahendra Palsule describing the different ways we now have to find information. It used to be media + Google. It’s now a tad more complex. Read more here about different form of information filtering: Algorithmic, Human, Crowdsourced, Shared Sources (Meta), Influence, Social Search. Even if Google has made massive progress and now the average number of keywords is 3 in a google search, algorithms alone can’t keep up. Our online networks can be tremendously powerful if we can organize them. Case in point: Facebook sucks big time in delivering me relevant social media information. Twitter is full of noise; even lists can be. FriendFeed (RIP) was still the best thing we had before Facebook swallowed it whole. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could combine these networks and use a better scanning and selection system for our social graph for all this information? FlipBoard promises that (even Marshall Kirkpatrick says he doesn’t want to work anymore but just flip away, and Flipboard got so successful yesterday that they servers couldn’t keep up). In summary, it promises social information and filtering at a whole new level.

Business/enterprise consequences? If you’re not in your constituents’ stream, GET IN it or GET IGNORED. Your cost of marketing will only rise as less and less people pay attention (ask print media if they are feeling it). In a world of information overload, brands are being asked to become increasingly experiential and less transactional. It starts by serving the brand’s constituency with relevant information. So get out there and start shaking hands/making friends!

@YannR @Extanz

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Will you just keep funding the marketing bridge to no-where?

28 07 2009
Will you just keep funding the marketing bridge to no-where? (reviewed kb)
A common objection that arises in dealing with marketing executives is the ‘social media’ budget allocation. Social Media is still in the ‘mis-understood zone’ even though we’re making progress at light speed (thank you and not so thank you twitter). Euh, what? “we’re going to spend 20-30% of our marketing budget for social media, are you kidding?”. Obviously, they think it’s too much, they can’t see the value or they decide to throw a youngster at it…hmm. Let’s also remember that it costs at least 5x as much time to find a new customer than nurturing current ones (according to the American Marketing Assoc.). What part of the picture are they missing here? Let’s try to break it down:
Reduce waste, try the long tail: If you invest $200,000 in marketing or 10x this, proportions given to marketing activities will usually stay pretty much the same. A good 50-60% will be allocated to create stuff that won’t last. The impact of traditional marketing has a short life cycle. Worse, people aren’t fools; “infomercial” type articles just reduce their trust. Unless you are in the instant gratification purchasing cycle, relationships matter. There is now a direct bridge to your customers called social media which is relevant in both B2B or B2C environments. Use it. We know that referrals from a friend or someone in your circle of influence (professional or personal) has a stronger influence on consumer choice. It’s important to realize that any work in social media brings double benefits: First, content coming from an organization or person can be shared limitlessly (e.g. youtube video); once it sits there, it will not go away. The Internet has a bridge to the garbage, you can’t delete it anymore. More importantly, someone, somewhere, is crawling the internet to find content related to your industry (like this blog for instance) so be sure that this continue. It’s called the “long tail”. Someone will find it in 10 years. Time is an important factor in calculating a marketing ROI.
Invest in your customers:
Zappos was just sold to Amazon.com for doing just that: Personalization and customer service have been rooted within the company since 1999, no wonder why they are an acclaimed social media power house. It fits them like a glove. Your customers are still your biggest asset. I know you’ve closed them already but they have way more value than they used to have. Your customers are certainly the strongest link of your long-tail strategy. I feel it should part of any social media plan to find engaged customers and work with them. Word-Of-Mouth has finally been given adequate tools and this works both ways 🙂 Positive Mentions: good for you, find your brand ambassadors, generate more buzz about it. Negative Mentions: Learn from it, engage with them, turn it to your advantage. No mention on social networks: Your biggest nightmare, you’re fading away.
Relevancy VS Propaganda:
As a consumer or a business customer, we accept to be marketed when the time is right. Agreed? Let’s face it. How much of an average marketing budget is spent creating lead-generation ‘floods’ with lots of propaganda in it e.g static websites? As Jeremiah Owyang puts it: “The corporate website is an unbelievable collection of hyperbole, artificial branding, and pro-corporate content. As a result, trusted decisions are being made on other locations on the internet” ? Most traditional marketing is usually ineffective after it’s been used or because it missed its target. A brand should be relevant to the more-of-the-same customers, THINK COMMUNITY. The long tail strategy relies on the 80/20 rule, 20% of your customers will generate 80% of your revenue. Focusing on being relevant to those 20% will gain you more of the clients you need.
Build relationships: I found this analysis interesting this week as it mentioned that “60% of the companies were using search to generate leads, not all were satisfied with the results.” (search here mean Search Engine Marketing or Search Engine Optimization. Yes, if you apply old thinking to a new problem, it won’t get any better. Why would someone refer your business if they feel you’re short term driven? People will refer you if you treat them like human beings throughout the total experience: before, during and after sales, keep empowering your users.
Marketers prefer black magic.
If they can claim high traffic or lead generation, they won’t get fired. Conversion to customers is someone else’s problem: “We’ve brought you the customers to the door step, why can’t you close?” Same goes for SEM (“60% of the companies were using search to generate leads, not all were satisfied with the results.” http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007177#)
Now, does spending 20-30% of your marketing budget on Social Media & Community Building look like a lot? Let’s do this 🙂

A common objection that arises in dealing with marketing executives is the ‘social media’ budget allocation. Social Media is still in the ‘mis-understood zone’ even though we’re making progress at light speed (thank you and not so thank you twitter). Euh, what? “we’re going to spend 20-30% of our marketing budget for social media, are you kidding?”. Obviously, they think it’s too much, they can’t see the value or they decide to throw a youngster at it…hmm. Let’s also remember that it costs at least 5x as much time to find a new customer than nurturing current ones (according to the American Marketing Assoc.). What part of the picture are they missing here? Let’s try to break it down:

Reduce waste, try the long tail: If you invest $200,000 in marketing or 10x this, proportions given to marketing activities will usually stay pretty much the same. A good 50-60% will be allocated to create stuff that won’t last. The impact of traditional marketing has a short life cycle. Worse, people aren’t fools; “infomercial” type articles just reduce their trust. Unless you are in the instant gratification purchasing cycle, relationships matter. There is now a direct bridge to your customers called social media which is relevant in both B2B or B2C environments. Use it. We know that referrals from a friend or someone in your circle of influence (professional or personal) has a stronger influence on consumer choice. It’s important to realize that any work in social media brings double benefits: First, content coming from an organization or person can be shared limitlessly (e.g. youtube video); once it sits there, it will not go away. The Internet has a bridge to the garbage, you can’t delete it anymore. More importantly, someone, somewhere, is crawling the internet to find content related to your industry (like this blog for instance) so be sure that this continue. It’s called the “long tail”. Someone will find it in 10 years. Time is an important factor in calculating a marketing ROI.

Invest in your customers: Zappos was just sold to Amazon.com for doing just that: Personalization and customer service have been rooted within the company since 1999, no wonder why they are an acclaimed social media power house. It fits them like a glove. Your customers are still your biggest asset. I know you’ve closed them already but they have way more value than they used to have. Your customers are certainly the strongest link of your long-tail strategy. I feel it should part of any social media plan to find engaged customers and work with them. Word-Of-Mouth has finally been given adequate tools and this works both ways 🙂 Positive Mentions: good for you, find your brand ambassadors, generate more buzz about it. Negative Mentions: Learn from it, engage with them, turn it to your advantage. No mention on social networks: Your biggest nightmare, you’re fading away.

Relevancy VS Propaganda: As a consumer or a business customer, we accept to be marketed when the time is right. Agreed? Let’s face it. How much of an average marketing budget is spent creating lead-generation ‘floods’ with lots of propaganda in it e.g static websites? As Jeremiah Owyang puts it: “The corporate website is an unbelievable collection of hyperbole, artificial branding, and pro-corporate content. As a result, trusted decisions are being made on other locations on the internet” ? Most traditional marketing is usually ineffective after it’s been used or because it missed its target. A brand should be relevant to the more-of-the-same customers, THINK COMMUNITY. The long tail strategy relies on the 80/20 rule, 20% of your customers will generate 80% of your revenue. Focusing on being relevant to those 20% will gain you more of the clients you need.

Build relationships: I found this analysis interesting this week as it mentioned that “60% of the companies were using search to generate leads, not all were satisfied with the results.” (search here mean Search Engine Marketing or Search Engine Optimization). Yes, if you apply old thinking to a new problem, it won’t get any better. Marketers prefer black magic.Why would someone refer your business if they feel you’re short term driven? People will refer you if you treat them like human beings throughout the total experience: before, during and after sales, keep empowering your users.

Like in the Matrix movie, “there is no bridge” but the interconnectedness of your community and customers. Now, does spending 20-30% of your marketing budget on Social Media & Community Building look like a lot? Let’s do this 🙂

Off you go,

@YannR





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.




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





The genie is out of the bottle, we just can’t put it back in.

11 12 2008

Here is our latest ‘educational’ presentation on Social Media.  Starting with some examples, I try to bridge the gap between traditional marketing and the new world of 2 way conversation, collaboration, customer and social engagement.  I am also touching on what I see as the merging worlds of  SEO and Public Relations (PR).  I’m going to blog soon about TRUST 2.0 and Relevancy.  I find it fascinating that web 2.0 and social media technologies are enabling people and organizations to build trustworthy relationships… like in a village. People tend to forget that we can discuss, debate and look each other in the eyes to create meaning.

Social Media is not even perfected but as I heard this morning, “the genie is out of the bottle, we just can’t put it back in”.  Brands, businesses, people have the opportunity to embrace. Embracing is a difficult act … but if you don’t,  Digital Divide 2.0 will put your competition ahead.


I hope you like it and as always look forward to your comments, questions.

Cheers

Yann





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