Thursday, December 27, 2007

Blockbuster needs to get its social media act together

A couple of recent posts around the blogosphere make a pretty compelling case for Blockbuster not getting this whole 'new marketing' thing, and doing little to monitor the online conversation about their brand.

First, David Berkowitz was surprised to find out recently that he's being used to endorse Blockbuster in ads on Facebook. What's worse, the ad, which states that Berkowitz is a 'Fan of Blockbuster', comes with an invitation to try out Blockbuster Total Access, a service that David doesn't use. Now to be fair, David did sign up as a fan on Blockbuster's page on Facebook. And I think in this case Facebook should take as much or more blame for this botched attempt at getting a manufactured endorsement from David, for Blockbuster.

But Blockbuster gets the blame all to itself when it comes to what happened (or better yet, what hasn't happened) at Ike's blog. Back in August, Ike told of a very positive experience he had with his local Blockbuster. He added this:
The store is a Blockbuster franchisee - ID #94597.

If you’re with Blockbuster’s PR team, and you’d like to know the name of the employee and his ID#, please e-mail the request to inbox {at} occamsrazr (dot) com. Also, I ask you to comment here. As quickly as possible. I’m curious to see how often you scan, and I know positive feedback is hard to come by.

And as of this writing, no one from Blockbuster has contacted Ike. To make matters embarrassingly worse for Blockbuster, Ike added a counter on the sidebar that clearly states to EVERYONE that arrives that:

It has been 137 Days, 13 Hours, 1 Minutes, 30 Seconds since my post about my wonderful experience at Blockbuster video, and I still have no response. I wish they would contact me, so I can brag about their employee's exemplary service...

While David's post has created an absolutely AMAZING discussion in the comments, Ike's experience is the one that pisses the hell out of me. I am constantly blogging about the need for companies to reach out to their evangelists. Here is Ike, who is BEGGING Blockbuster to contact him so he can better evangelize their company, and they have no idea. Absolutely inexcusable!

Forget blogs, forget Facebook, forget Twitter. If you want to improve your marketing, you find, embrace, and empower your evangelists to market for you. A lesson that's obviously lost on Blockbuster.

Here's another: The conversation carries on, with or without you.

Bonus Link just for Blockbuster: How to Launch a Successful Blogger Outreach Program in One Day.

Pic via

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 87

Here's the standings for Week 87:

1 - Seth's Blog - 9,107 (-38)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,042 (-29)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,714 (+8)(LW - 3)
4 - Logic + Emotion - 1,158 (+42)(LW - 5)
5 - Daily Fix - 1,119 (-5)(LW - 4)
6 - Brand Autopsy - 767 (+14)(LW - 6)
7 - The Engaging Brand - 740 (-1)(LW - 8)
8 - Influential Marketing - 731 (-11)(LW - 7)
9 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 721 (-14)(LW - 9)
10 - Church of the Customer - 661 (No Change)(LW - 10)
11 - Conversation Agent - 651 (+7)(LW - 12)
12 - What's Next - 650 (+10)(LW - 13)
13 - Jaffe Juice - 645 (No Change)(LW - 11)
14 - Diva Marketing - 639 (No Change)(LW - 14)
15 - The Viral Garden - 575 (+1)(LW - 15)
16 - Converstations - 509(-3)(LW - 16)
17 - Branding and Marketing - 469 (-16)(LW - 17)
18 - Experience Curve - 466 (+9)(LW - 19)
19 - Servant of Chaos - 463 (No Change)(LW - 18)
20 - CK's Blog - 461 (+38)(LW - 21)
21 - Customers Rock! - 445 (+7)(LW - 20)
22 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 416 (No Change)(LW - 22)
23 - Chaos Scenario - 386 (+9)(LW - 23)
24 - The Lonely Marketer - 381 (-2)(LW - 23)
25 - Brains on Fire - 338 (LW - UR)

A reminder that the Top 25 Marketing Blogs are ranked according to the number of sites/blogs linking to each, according to Technorati. The number you see after the blog name is how many sites/blogs Technorati claims have linked to the blog in the last 6 months. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many links the blog gained or lost from last week's Top 25. The final stat tells you what position the blog held in the Top 25 Last Week (LW). If you see this; (LW - UR), it means the blog wasn't ranked last week.

The Top 25 appears to be treading water as we head into 2008. As we close out 2007, I would have to say that Conversation Agent is looking like the 'hot' blog for the new year. Often a blog will shoot up in the countdown, then fade back down a bit. But CA has consistently marched up the countdown, never having huge run-ups, and never shedding big links either. Also, Search Engine Guide continues to slowly but surely chip away at Duct Tape Marketing's lead for the #2 spot.

Another blog that's been flying a bit under the radar is Experience Curve. A few weeks ago EC fell out of the Top 25, but has now climbed back up to #18, and is taking a similar 'slowly but surely' approach that CA is. Also, CK's Blog has a big jump up to #20, topped only by Logic+Emotion, which reclaims the #4 spot.

Brains on Fire is the lone new blog.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Like most everyone else, I'll be slacking off the blogging a bit for the rest of the year. The Top 25 will be up as usual on Weds., and I'll possibly have another couple of posts later this week, but that's about it.

I will be spending more time on Twitter this week, so if you want to follow me, click here and I'll follow you too!

BTW Drew has a great example of how social media is being used to spread holiday giving with the story of the Frozen Pea Fund! And kudos to Troy for starting the massive list of Outstanding Blogs, which gives us all a bit of Holiday link-love!

UPDATES: Drew gives a great update on how much money has been raised so far from sales of The Age of Conversation, and tells us where the money will be going.

Also, Katie has a great post about This is a word game set up by the United Nations that donates 20 grains of rice every time you select the correct definition of each word. And it's completely free. So play for a few minutes and see how many grains of rice you can donate to feed others!

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Comments are 'fixed', you can link to your blog again

Thanks to Vin, I've got a work-around for the comments. Now if you leave a comment, click on Nickname, and a new box will open up that will let you add your blog's URL. Still not perfect, but better than the alternative.

If you are using a Blogger blog, PLEASE go to this link and follow the instructions for how to let your commenters link to their blogs when they comment.


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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How to Market Like a Rockstar

The above photo, at first glance, looks like a photo from your average concert. But if you look closer, there's some powerful marketing happening here. Every person, the singer on stage, and every member of the audience, has their arm up and is excited about the music they are hearing.

This is why I love writing about music marketing, because musicians do such an amazing job of exciting the people that buy their music, and turning them into fans. Does it happen by accident? Is it just easier to create fans for music than it is for umbrellas or paper clips? Possibly. But that doesn't mean that companies can't create fans just like musicians do. Here's how to get started:

1 - View your customers as a community, and join them. If there is a 'big secret' to how musicians create fans, this is it. Let's go back to the above photo. It was taken at a recent concert by The Donnas. But if you look closer, you'll notice that the singer on stage is just as excited and a fan of the music she is singing, as the people that are hearing it. Everyone, the audience, and the singer on stage, has their arms up, and they are cheering. Everyone belongs to the same community of fans.

But it's just as easy to join your community of customers in other industries. Willie Davidson explains that 'market research' to Harley-Davidson means spending a weekend on the open road with other Harley owners. Davidson is a fellow Harley owner, and as a result, is part of the same culture as his company's customers. The line between Harley-Davidson's customers, and the company itself, is very hazy. Since the company is participating in the customer's community, they better understand their customers, and as a result market to them more effectively. All of this makes it easier for Harley owners to be excited about the brand and proud to be a member of a very loyal and unique culture.

2 - Make sure you view your company and its products as your customers do. Hugh MacLeod had a great point once about making sure that your company is having the same conversation that your customers are. Apple thinks its products are cool, and so do its customers. Remember when the iPhone was introduced? Remember seeing customers proudly camping out for days outside Apple retail stores prior to the iPhone going on sale? Did you realize that in almost every case, there was a Cingular store close by selling the same iPhone, with no one waiting in line? But it was 'cool' to stand in line to wait for an iPhone, at the Apple store. Apple thinks the iPhone is cool, and Apple's customers agree, AND think that THEY are by extension cool because they have an iPhone!

3 - Empower your existing fans to market for you. Another secret to marketing like a rockstar is this: Evangelist=Fan. If you have evangelists, then you have fans. So obviously, you want to find your existing evangelists, and make it as easy as possible for them to tell others about you. Remember this post from last year about how Maker's Mark created their Brand Ambassador program? All the distillery did was organize its existing evangelists and empower them to better market for Maker's Mark. IOW, they made it easier for their evangelists to engage in pre-existing activities. These customers were passionate for the Maker's Mark brand, so the distillery empowered them to market for them. And remember, customers are far more likely to listen to other customers who endorse a product, than they are the company selling the product!

4 - Give customers input into your marketing. Dell's Ideastorm is a great example of this. The company has created a place for customers to not only submit their ideas on how Dell's products can be improved, but they then let other customers vote on which ideas are their favorites. Dell can look and see which ideas are the most popular, and then have a great idea of which improvements/changes customers want to see happen. And when the company acts on the changes that are suggested, it lets Dell's customers know that their input is valued and appreciated. It lets them know that they have some ownership over Dell's marketing. So naturally that leads to more customers giving more input and suggestions on what they want to see, which results in even MORE efficient marketing from Dell!

5 - Have FUN with your marketing! So how is Warner Bros. promoting next summer's hopeful blockbuster movie The Dark Knight? With posters and trailers online, right? Yes they are doing that, but they are also creating websites that must be decoded. If the lucky visitor can do so, they will receive an address of a nearby bakery, where a real cake is awaiting them, with a phone number to call written in icing, and containing a cell phone that receives both calls and text messages from 'Rent a Clown'. This is supposedly a company set up by one of the movie's main characters, The Joker! This is marketing, but it's also a great way to get people talking about, and excited about a movie that won't come out for seven months.

And yes, you could argue that it's much easier to create 'fun' marketing for entertainment vehicles like movies and music. But look at this post from Daily Fix about how CD Baby has spiced up the traditionally boring as hell 'thank you for your order' email. They take a mundane marketing activity, and add a sense of flair and show their sense of humor in the process. As you can see from the comments, most people seem to prefer CD Baby's approach! Notice that Ginny even says that she now looks forward to getting emails from them!

6 - Follow the Threadless example. Threadless does a fan-damn-tastic job of marketing like rockstars. With Threadless, their business is their community, and their community is their business. The customers design the t-shirts that are sold, and vote on their favorites. The winning designs are given prizes. The more t-shirts sold, the more money Threadless makes and the more prizes they give away. Threadless' customers are literally marketing partners from the get-go. And the company is thriving because there is no line between the company and its customers. Everyone belongs to the same community, in fact Threadless calls it 'business by accident'.

This is something else that musicians understand that many marketers don't. Marketing doesn't have to be a chore and boring for everyone involved. It can be fun, in fact it can be a blast. And the fun factor comes into play when you involve your customers in the process! That excites them and in turn excites you! Passion grows and everyone feeds off that passion.

But companies in many industries do great jobs of marketing like rockstars. Think of how many flyers are Nuts About Southwest. What about The Cult of Mac or the fandom that surrounds Harley-Davidson? Hell the Fiskateers are so popular that they get autograph requests at scrapbooking events!

Which goes to show that marketing doesn't have to be viewed as just a necessary business function, but instead could be seen as a way to excite your customers into becoming fans.

Besides, don't we all really want to be rockstars?

Pic of The Donnas via Flickr user tatu43

Pic of Harleys on the Open Road by Flickr user DanieVDM

Pic of iPhone line by Flickr user TheQ!


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The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 87

Here's the standings for Week 87:

1 - Seth's Blog - 9,145 (-496)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,071 (+32)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,706 (+57)(LW - 3)
4 - Daily Fix - 1,124 (+32)(LW - 4)
5 - Logic + Emotion - 1,116 (+62)(LW - 5)
6 - Brand Autopsy - 753 (-17)(LW - 6)
7 - Influential Marketing - 742 (+13)(LW - 8)
8 - The Engaging Brand - 741 (+1)(LW - 7)
9 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 735 (+22)(LW - 9)
10 - Church of the Customer - 661 (No Change)(LW - 11)
11 - Jaffe Juice - 645 (+17)(LW - 14)
12 - Conversation Agent - 644 (+10)(LW - 13)
13 - What's Next - 640 (-14)(LW - 12)
14 - Diva Marketing - 639 (-50)(LW - 10)
15 - The Viral Garden - 574 (+31)(LW - 15)
16 - Converstations - 512(-4)(LW - 16)
17 - Branding and Marketing - 485 (+31)(LW - 18)
18 - Servant of Chaos - 463 (+33)(LW - 20)
19 - Experience Curve - 457 (+25)(LW - 19)
20 - Customers Rock! - 438 (+13)(LW - 21)
21 - CK's Blog - 423 (No Change)(LW - 22)
22 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 416 (+8)(LW - 23)
23 - Chaos Scenario - 383 (+9)(LW - 24)
23 - The Lonely Marketer - 383 (+29)(LW - 25)
25 - The Origin of Brands - 292 (LW - UR)

A reminder that the Top 25 Marketing Blogs are ranked according to the number of sites/blogs linking to each, according to Technorati. The number you see after the blog name is how many sites/blogs Technorati claims have linked to the blog in the last 6 months. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many links the blog gained or lost from last week's Top 25. The final stat tells you what position the blog held in the Top 25 Last Week (LW). If you see this; (LW - UR), it means the blog wasn't ranked last week.

Another solid week for the Top 25, as 17 of the 25 blogs were up, with only 5 being down. Possibly a rebound affect from the summer slowdown being cycled out of Technorati's 6-month window for counting links. Seth took a header, but the rest of the Top 5 was very strong, with all 4 blogs up 32 links or more. Also, it should be pointed out that Conversation Agent continues to charge up the countdown, and Valeria is now closing in on the Top 10.

The Origin of Brands is the lone new blog.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Can you spot the social advertising?

First we have this twit from Jeremiah:
Now this example from Facebook of how their 'social ads' would work:
Even if that 'Sponsored' disclaimer wasn't attached to Meagan's heartfelt endorsement of a movie about Navy fighters wearing insanely large Ray Bans, it still 'looks' like an ad. Jeremiah's twit, on the other hand, is instantly recognizable as him wanting to share a blog that he enjoys with his Twitter friends.

Do you think Meagan convinced more people to rent Top Gun than Jeremiah did to visit Now is Gone?

If you want to succeed in social media, you do so by attempting to bring value to your audience, not by attempting to monetize them.

UPDATE - Jeremiah adds in the comments:"It should have sent more people as I made a direct and voluntary option to share with my network"

Note the word 'share'.


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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Google, I think we should start seeing other people

Google I just don't think you are holding up your end of our blogging relationship. I mean your templates aren't exactly knockouts, but yet I found one that looks pretty good (IOW, nothing like a Blogger template).

But I'm sick of your jealousy. First you don't allow trackbacks, and now you are making it more difficult/impossible for my readers to link to their blog in their comments!

Google, what are you thinking?!?

I mean when you already offer a product that doesn't have as many valuable features as your competitors, the LAST thing you do is start REMOVING the few valuable features you do offer! And the lifeblood of a blog is its community, so why make it more difficult for that community to contribute?!?

So Google I am officially playing the field. I'm going to see if there isn't some sort of work-around for this stupidity. If I can't find one, I'm leaving you. Which means I will probably lose a ton of my links and maybe my Pagerank, and I'll probably have to start over with another template after finally finding one that I really love.

But the alternative is that I keep pissing off my very loyal readers that don't understand why they can't be rewarded for leaving a great comment by adding a link back to their blog. Hell I don't understand it either.

And I know there are Google employees reading this blog, so can any of you please tell me what in the hell you guys are thinking?

But make it quick, cause Wordpress is suddenly starting to look very attractive.

Pic via Flickr user Spojeni

UPDATE: Connie adds this in the comments: "So what usually happens these days is that when I read a blog I'd like to comment on and then I discover it's Blogger ... well, I just leave without saying anything. So much for conversation, Google. :("

Oh, Jordan, CK, Tim, Chris and Lisa left comments too. You wouldn't let them link to their blogs in the comments, so I'm doing it here. Jackasses.


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Friday, December 14, 2007

Texas here I come...

In the first half of 2008 I plan on attending/speaking at several conferences, and thanks to Jennifer at Search Engine Guide, I've got my first one confirmed. Next April I'll be attending and presenting at the Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference in Houston, the 21st and 22nd. It's a two-day conference with the first day focused on panels and presentations, the second on workshops and clinics. On Day One I'll be presenting on Blogging for Business, and on Day Two I'll participate in a pair of clinics where we'll let the audience submit their sites for a critique where we'll discuss their strategy, what's working, areas that can be improved, etc. The conference is hosted by the good people at Search Engine Guide, and besides myself will feature presentations and workshops by Jennifer Laycock, Wendy Piersall, Matt Bailey, Debra O'Neil-Mastaler, and many more. Here's the complete schedule and here's more information, if you register by March 1st, you'll get a reduced rate. Should be a ton of fun and learning, and I'll be blogging more about this as we get into the New Year.

I'm also planning on attending, and hopefully moderating a panel at SXSW on the Future of Corporate Blogging. So that's two for Texas, I'm hoping to meet Hee-Haw, Jake and Ben and Jackie in Austin for SXSW, anyone else planning on attending?

I'm also going to try to work in at least one conference in January/February, and one in May, possibly more. So if you're with a marketing/social media conference held next Spring that's needing an additional speaker, shoot me an email.


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Why many marketers struggle with social media

Chris has another excellent post today(Which has led to excellent discussions in the comments) explaining that marketing is not social media, and social media is not marketing. It's easy to see why marketers are ga-ga over social media. But the problem remains that companies are attempting to take their 'me first' marketing mentality, and apply it to social media, hoping it will result in their suddenly having unfiltered access to 'consumers'.

It won't.

Because we don't want to be sold to. And the LAST thing we want is for companies to take tools that make it easier for us to create and exchange content, and use those tools to instead pitch products to us. This is where many marketers are spinning their wheels right now.

Now we WILL allow marketers to talk to us about their products and services IF they can first demonstrate that they can use these tools to create and exchange valuable content. IOW, if they are willing to use these tools for the same reasons we do, then they'll reap the benefits.

Chris explains:
If you’re Burger King and you’re looking to influence whether I go there or not, use plain old marketing. It’s just fine. It’s the right tool for the job. So is advertising. You don’t HAVE to use social media for that.

But, if you’re Burger King and you want to understand me, to get what’s really going on inside my head, and know what we have in common, then THAT is where social media can be useful. Talk to me. Get to know me. Ask me about me and the things that aren’t about you.
Unfortunately, the second paragraph seems like a 'waste of time' to many marketers rooted in the 'traditional' mindset. In fact, it's the key to more efficient marketing. In most cases, you have two different groups; the company, and its customers. Both groups have their own sets of wants and needs, and speak their own language. As a result, neither group really understands or trusts the other. Distrust and misunderstanding serves to further strengthen that wall, and make it higher.

But social media can be the X-Factor. For example, a company can start blogging from its side of the wall. But as the customer gives its input via comments, the language and thinking of the customer begins to seep into the company's space. And if the company is willing to listen, then the customer can begin to have an impact on how the company does business. The wall begins to crack. Then the customer sees that the company is listening, so the distrust begins to fade. The wall begins to crumble. If taken to its happy extension, the line between company and customer will begin to blur.

But again, none of this happens until companies are willing to put aside their egos and outdated view that marketing is about blasting one-way promotional messages at an audience that has purposely opted out of the conversation. Social media isn't a silver bullet that will transform a company's marketing to make it more efficient. But if they are willing to listen and use the tools as we do, and for the same reasons, social media CAN be a silver bullet that transforms the company itself, which WOULD result in their marketing being more efficient.

What would marketing look like if in 2-3 years, every major company had 2-3 Chris Brogans working there teaching their company about the potential of social media?

UPDATE: Lewis offers his take on the benefits and downsides of social media for businesses.

Nother UPDATE: My latest post from Daily Fix, covering a new report that stays that 1 out of every 6 people in the world will be interacting with social media by 2012.

Pic via Flickr user Old Sarge


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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 86

Here's the standings for Week 86:

1 - Seth's Blog - 9,641 (+968)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,039 (No Update)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,649 (+11)(LW - 3)
4 - Daily Fix - 1,092 (+36)(LW - 4)
5 - Logic + Emotion - 1,054 (+40)(LW - 5)
6 - Brand Autopsy - 770 (+62)(LW - 10)
7 - The Engaging Brand - 740 (+7)(LW - 8)
8 - Influential Marketing - 729 (+10)(LW - 9)
9 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 713 (+44)(LW - 11)
10 - Diva Marketing - 689 (-288)(LW - 6)
11 - Church of the Customer - 661 (No Change)(LW - 12)
12 - What's Next - 654 (-253)(LW - 7)
13 - Conversation Agent - 634 (+51)(LW - 15)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 628 (+35)(LW - 14)
15 - The Viral Garden - 543 (+49)(LW - 18)
16 - Converstations - 516(-76)(LW - 13)
17 - Marketing Headhunter - 499 (-22)(LW - 17)
18 - Branding and Marketing - 454 (-5)(LW - 19)
19 - Experience Curve - 432 (+19)(LW - 22)
20 - Servant of Chaos - 430 (+17)(LW - 22)
21 - Customers Rock! - 425 (+2)(LW - 20)
22 - CK's Blog - 423 (No Change)(LW - 20)
23 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 408 (+24)(LW - 24)
24 - Chaos Scenario - 374 (+20)(LW - 25)
25 - The Lonely Marketer - 354 (LW - UR)

A reminder that the Top 25 Marketing Blogs are ranked according to the number of sites/blogs linking to each, according to Technorati. The number you see after the blog name is how many sites/blogs Technorati claims have linked to the blog in the last 6 months. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many links the blog gained or lost from last week's Top 25. The final stat tells you what position the blog held in the Top 25 Last Week (LW). If you see this; (LW - UR), it means the blog wasn't ranked last week.

A week or so after Technorati claimed that they were going to re-focus on their core audience (bloggers), the Top 25 sees one of its most disruptive weeks in months. The head-scratching drops by Diva Marketing and What's Next (Marketing Roadmaps also lost over 200 links) is perhaps overshadowed by 16 of the remaining 23 blogs being up. Also, the fever for Marketing Headhunter breaks as Technorati finally updates Harry's site for the first time in months. Maybe they HAVE refocused on bloggers after all.

The Lonely Marketer is the lone new blog.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Now THIS is how you pitch a blogger!

PR firms, take note. If you've sent me a pitch that I didn't post about, odds are very good that you didn't do the excellent job that Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo have done in promoting their new eBook, Getting to First Base, a Social Media Marketing Playbook.

First, they sent me an email with the pic you see to the right attached. Yes they actually made a handwritten note and sent me a picture of it. And they included a link to my own 'personalized' page, which included the video you see below explaining what the book is about. And they offered me a link to download my own copy of the eBook.

I'm guessing it took Darren and Julie an extra 5 mins to customize this pitch for me by writing a note and making an extra page on their site for me.

If they had gone the standard 'Dear Blogger' email-blast route, there would be almost no chance of me ever mentioning them. But in that 5 mins, they elevated the chance of me blogging about them from about 1%, to about 100%. It's obvious that they were willing to take the time to personalize this pitch, and that shows me that they place a value on MY time, since they are willing to put forth a better effort to get my attention.

Again, PR firms, take note. And also take note of a different pitch that Darren aimed at Jordan. Sounds like it was a winner as well.


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When Web 2.0 thinks like Web 1.0

A recent message from one of my Facebook friends began with this:
I get a really creepy feeling about facebook. I am deleting my account.

No doubt this was in reference to the ongoing backlash against Beacon and the privacy issues associated. CK seems to have also cut loose her account, saying Facebook has gone from being a social utility, to a marketing channel. While I'm not ready to cut my ties to the social networking site completely, I will admit that the time I spend there has dipped considerably in the last few weeks.

What happened?

Advertising happened. Interruptions and clutter happened. A less enjoyable member experience happened.

But what really happened was that as I've said before, Mark Zuckerberg went from being Facebook member, to Facebook CEO. Web 1.0 was all about this massive online land-grab by companies to make money. Web 2.0 is about everyone being able to create share and exchange content online and collaborate on ideas.

Facebook used Web 2.0 thinking to reach its height, but now that major dollars have entered the equation, seem to be slipping back to the Web 1.0 mindset.

One of the great marketing truths is this: Communities do not form around the idea of being monetized.

Pic via Flickr user Sorenshaman


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Monday, December 10, 2007

Ad Age says more love may be coming for Power 150 bloggers

I just got an email blast from Ad Age editor Jonah Bloom giving an update on their plans for the Power 150 ranking. I am assuming that this went out to all of the hundreds of bloggers now on the Power 150. I did chuckle a bit when Bloom added in the email blast that 'one blogger' accused Ad Age of 'hoodwinking' bloggers about the Power 150.

Based on the quotes from Bloom right after the Power 150 was announced, I was certainly given the impression that Ad Age had a (smart) long-term plan for the list beyond simply slapping it on the site and giving everyone a nifty badge to put on their blog that links back to Ad Age's website. For example, this 'quote' from Todd And's site when the Power 150 was announced is what got me excited:
Jonah Bloom, editor of Ad Age, said the publication will use the Power 150 as the main editorial benchmark when referencing bloggers in print and online (i.e., “according to David Armano’s Logic+Emotion, No. 15 on the Power 150 ranking of marketing blogs.”).

I also referenced this quote in my Daily Fix post about the Power 150 back in July, and Bloom actually commented on this post.

This is really the biggest beef I have with what Ad Age has done with the Power 150 in the 5 months it was launched, which is nothing. But by mentioning that the site will 'use the Power 150 as the main editorial benchmark when referencing bloggers in print and online', I kinda thought they would do exactly that. Because they said they would, and because it makes an incredible amount of sense. By getting quotes from members of the Power 150 for their articles, Ad Age is creating better content, and giving the bloggers cited a reason to want to promote the article, and the Power 150 list. A win-win for everyone.

But for whatever reason, that has never happened. A shame since it was a feature that myself and other bloggers voiced our excitement about to Bloom when the Power 150 launched. So no, it isn't fair to say that Ad Age intentionally deceived bloggers about their plans for the Power 150, because there's no proof that they did, and if Bloom or anyone else thinks that's what I was claiming, I apologize. However it happened, many bloggers, including myself, were under the impression that Ad Age certainly planned on doing more with it than they have so far, as the comments left to this post show.

So that's why I'll take today's email about the plans for the Power 150 with a grain of salt. Fool me once...


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How do you determine a blogger's authority?

As we all know, bloggers are all about the rankings. I've got one, Technorati ranks bloggers, Alexa ranks traffic and page views, and of course there's the Power 150. But Susan has a post today where she says she's tired of the various ranking systems, because she feels that none of them really accurately measure the authority of blogs.
I'll continue to measure the health of this blog by your comments, visits and the general trending I see in Google Analytics and Feedburner. I applaud the folks who are trying to come up with systems to measure the influence of a blog or a blogger, but am not sure it is possible given the highly suspect data sources available to us.

But like it or not, and I'll be the first to admit that EVERY ranking system has its issues, but such rankings do serve a purpose, especially for people that are just discovering the blogosphere.

But Skellie has another view. She asks us to put ourselves in the position of the visitor that has found our blog for the first time.
One question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is: what sets the top blogs and websites apart, from a visitor’s perspective?

The question has an astonishing answer. It’s not traffic, it’s often not subscriber numbers and it’s not advertising revenue. These are the things visitors don’t see, or don’t have to see.

If what visitors do see makes your blog or website look popular and successful, to visitors, it becomes popular and successful. Once that happens, it’s only a matter of time before the numbers begin to fall into line with the way people see you.
When you arrive at a blog for the first time, what do you look for first to try to determine for yourself if the blog has 'authority'? Do you look for number of comments, or do you do as Skellie suggests many do, and look for subscriber numbers or the design of the blog?

Pic via Flickr user My Hobo Soul


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Blog Council gets pissy reaction from blogosphere

I blogged about the introduction of the Blog Council last Wednesday, but since that time, a bit of a firestorm has erupted over it among bloggers. Rather than try to explain, here's some quotes from some of the people that have sounded off about it:

Scoble: "And, actually, if your company needs help “getting it” then you shouldn’t be hanging out with other companies"

Geoff: "Is it a good thing or a bad thing that these discussions are taking place behind closed doors? Are we back to Command and Control? One thing is clear. Transparency is not going to be at a premium."

Shel: "In fact, what I like and respect about this announcement is it's collaborative nature. It feels true to the social media approach and hearing it from such formidable voices gives some vindication to some of us who have sometimes felt we were hollering in a hurricane."

Dave: "My translation: "we're all clueless, but don't want anyone to realize just how unplugged our organizations have become from the world of "marketing 2.0", so we created a club so our ignorance can be shielded from public eyes."

Josh: "Give them time. Hell the group was just announced. Ultimately the members will be able to see if there is any value in the organization. If it's good it will survive, it not it will die a slow death :-)"

Jake: "Getting up in arms because a group of people who are already immersed in social media want to get together in private, comfortable to place to exchange ideas in a non-threatening way just makes all of us look immature and clueless."

I tend to side with bloggers such as Josh and Jake that are saying let's give this thing a chance to fail, before we label it a failure. One thing I have learned from my time in the blogosphere is that bloggers tend to look at anything corporations do in this realm with an extremely critical eye. I still think a lot of it is simply bloggers thinking that they will look like they 'get it' if they say that big dumb clueless corporation doesn't.

But something struck me as the majority of the complaints from bloggers seems to focus on the 'closed' nature of the council. How is this different from Seth not allowing comments on his blog? This is one of the most recognizable bloggers in the world, purposely opting out of the conversation.

Or is he? In fact it seems that Seth is doing the same thing that the council is wanting to do, he's participating on terms that he's comfortable with. Myself and many others have blogged about how we wish that Seth would allow comments on his blog (Google 'SethGate'). But Seth prefers to block comments and address readers instead via email and posts left on other blogs. And to his credit, he does so very quickly.

IOW, Seth participates in a fashion that he is comfortable with. Take away Seth's comfort level, and he might decide to stop blogging altogether. And we all would be much poorer for it. The Blog Council strikes me as an effort by blogging companies to exchange and cultivate ideas in an environment that they are comfortable with. As a blogger, I am quite willing to stand on the outside, if the END RESULT is that this council leads to the growth and improvement of the corporate blogging community.

I'm willing to give them a chance, and I think the potential benefits are such that other bloggers should as well.

Pic via Flickr user Valentinapowers


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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Age of Conversation podcast with David Brazeal is up

Thanks muchly to David Brazeal for allowing me to be the latest Age of Conversation co-author to be featured on his ongoing podcast series. David and I talked about my chapter in the Age of Conversation, 'Breaking Marketing Barriers from the Top of a Harley'(page 19). We talk about how Harley-Davidson embraces their community of customers by joining them, how blogging and social media can change the culture of a company, and the 'rocket science' behind the growth of The Viral Garden.

As always, David did an excellent job, as he has with the other co-authors in his series, and I want to thank him again for going out of his way to help promote The Age of Conversation. Of course I sound like a complete goober, but hey, that's how I roll. You can listen for yourself here.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Viral Community News

1 - An oldie but a goodie from Brian Clark, as he tells us how to grow our number of blog subscribers. Clark's Copyblogger went from 0 to 6,000 subscribers in 10 months, and now has over 20,000. So Brian knows what works!

2 - Paul calls Zuckerberg's response to the Beacon flack. Paul says it's a great example of a Web 2.0 CEO understanding his customers, CK adds in the comments that it's just PR spin. I'll add more about this next week.

3 - Lewis announces that his blog is re-launching with a new focus.

4 - Laurel has an interesting post on companies that approach bloggers/social-media experts under the guise of talking to them about potential work, when they really just want to assemble all their great ideas and implement them themselves. Gavin adds his take as well.

5 - Dawud posts about Drew's New Blogger Toolbox, which is a GREAT list of resources for those jumping into the blogging waters for the first time.

6 - Gavin and Chris tell the tale of Mr. Splashy Pants, who reminds us that standing out and being unique still works.

7 - Be sure to congratulate Becky, who is celebrating her first blogging anniversary!

8 - Finally, Jen has a good reminder for retailers that you might think you are protecting your privacy, but you could be squashing your evangelists.


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Thursday, December 06, 2007

First look: Wal-Mart's Checkout Blog

Wal-Mart's Checkout Blog, the retailing behemoth's latest foray into social media, went 'live' last night. I think this blog is a great example of a company that's trying, kicking and screaming, to successfully utilize social media. At the same time, it's obvious that the company is still having growing pains in this realm that they should have shirked at least a year ago.

The blog still has that new media smell, so it's not fair to do a full-blown Company Blog Checkup on it yet. That will come later, but for now, here's my first impressions:

1 - Love love LOVE the fact that the sidebar has a very clear picture of all the bloggers, and their names. It also tells what area they cover, and has a link to their bio. This is excellent, and also a telltale sign that Wal-Mart has either done their homework with this latest effort, or they hired someone to do it for them.

2 - There are several posts already up (Looks like they 'loaded' several posts before going live, a good thing), but only a few comments. This strikes me as odd, since everything Wal-Mart does immediately attracts attention. My guess is that either the blog has received several comments that haven't been approved yet, or the company is being very picky about what they let through. If it's the latter, Wal-Mart had best be careful as the company has always struggled with actually letting customers have a voice in their previous social media initiatives.

3 - The blogroll is pretty good, leaning heavy on movie/entertainment/video game sites/blogs, but there's nothing wrong with that. Plenty of time to flesh it out more later.

4 - But while the blogroll is low on self-promotion, the posts are sometimes little more than a reprinting of the weekly circular. Check out this post, which does nothing more than list all the new December movie releases that the store will carry. I'm sure this could have simply been added to an existing post, like this one that helps explain the difference between Blue-Ray and HD-DVD.

It's still very early, and while this blog has some issues, this seems to be a much stronger effort than Wal-Mart's previous blogging attempts. But the real litmus test will come when we see how much time and energy the bloggers spend on engaging, building, and growing the blog's community. If used wisely and correctly, this blog could be an amazingly powerful tool to help change not only the public's perception of the retailer, but the company itself.

Thanks to Matt for reminding me about this, after I found Shel's post.

UPDATE: Edelman's Marshall Manson adds in the comments "On your question about comments, to date, we have published every single comment that's been submitted. The number has obviously been small, but that's no surprise as there really hasn't been much of anything done to attract any readers. Yesterday's "go live" moment was really just a soft launch.

Going forward, there's a strong commitment to not being stingy with comment moderation. The comment policy only asks that folks avoid profanity and stay, at least generally, on topic."

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