Friday, March 30, 2007

Viral Community News

More goodies from around the Viral playground...

1 - If you haven't already, go congratulate Ann on the 1-year anniversary of Daily Fix. She's taken DF from idea to in my biased opinion the best group marketing blog on the internet, as well as one of the best marketing blogs period. I don't have to tell anyone here how much time Ann spends commenting on other blogs, she treats DF as a full-time job, and that's on top of her OTHER full-time jobs as Chief Content Officer for Marketing Profs, and as a mom. She is a dynamo, and I wouldn't be here without her help. Please take a minute to thank her and acknowledge her work in being a wonderful community leader/member.

2 - Speaking of DF and MP, look at what Mark has done. He's made a list and linked to ALL the bloggers that contributed to the Marketing Profs' Book Club! This is what happens when you create a community and that community rallies up to take ownership in it, and works to make it grow and thrive. And then notice how Gavin is helping him with the list in the comments! CK and MP have created something special here, and Mark has created a wonderful list!

3 - Karl blogs about how he's sick of marketers simply attempting to recreate their retail store in Second Life. I think this comes from the fact that these companies aren't actually IN Second Life, so they don't know how to relate to the members there. But they think they can make money off them anyway, so they go with what they know, which is copying their storefronts and plopping them in the virtual world. Karl says it's a lack of imagination, I also think it's laziness.

4 - Matt has a great list of what was buzzy for the last week.

5 - Everyone go check out Monica's new home for Brand is Language!

6 - I tried to resist, but I've finally found the one thing that could make me try out Twitter...a gorgeous Aussie! No not Gavin, the one and only Shouty Lady has invited me to join Twitter, so I guess my weekend is now shot.

7 - Check out this post by Seth. Now check out this post by Lewis, which references Seth's post. Which post do you think was better? Which post do you think will get more links/trackbacks?

8 - David (who has come out of nowhere BTW), is asking his readers to help him come up with a better term than 'engagement'. Click here to help him out.

9 - Congrats to CK for hitting her 200th post. What CK was too modest to mention is that she's about to hit her 500th link as well!

10 - Check out The Future of Communities, a great new blog I'm enjoying.

11 - Bob has a wonderfully comprehensive recap of David's virtual seminar for Marketing Profs from earlier this week.

12 - Finally, Cord has the story of how Circuit City is laying off their highest-paid and most experienced workers, in order to refill their positions with cheaper workers, who of course have less/no experience. Good news is that those laid-off can re-apply for their positions, with less pay, of course. He's calling bullshit, and has started a petition to boycott Circuit City's stupidity.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Cluetrain disconnect?

I've been following the Kathy Sierra ordeal as has everyone else this week. I think Lewis has penned one of the better posts on the topic, and I explained in his comments why I haven't blogged about the topic yet. There's just too many unknowns at this point, and I think the entire matter is best left to the authorities to sort out.

But in trying to get a better idea of what likely happened, I noticed that Chris Locke's name was mentioned by Kathy as being involved. Chris, as many likely know, is one of the four authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto. I was scanning blogs to see what others were writing on the subject, and noticed that someone mentioned that Chris had addressed the situation on his blog.

So I clicked over, really being more interested in what the comments were on what he had said. When I arrived, I discovered that Chris' blog doesn't allow comments. A co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto doesn't allow comments on his blog? The book that's been credited by some as being the work that gave birth to blogging, and that coined the phrase 'markets are conversations' doesn't want to join the conversation himself? Struck me as odd.

So I moved on, and noticed that someone said that Doc Searls had commented on the situation, so I clicked over to his blog to read his thoughts. After doing so, I wanted to check to see what others were saying, and noticed that Doc has apparently turned off comments to his blog. As we all know, it has always taken nothing short of an Act of Congress to leave a comment on Doc's blog in the past, apparently you can only do so if you are a pre-approved member of his fan club or something. But now it appears that he's blocked the abilty for anyone to comment. I guess.

Now I'm really confused. Two co-authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto are purposely opting OUT of the conversation. So at this point I'm not even sure who the other 2 co-authors are, but decide to look it up. Rick Levine is the third co-author, and he apparently doesn't even blog. David Weinberger is the fourth and final co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, and he is also the ONLY author of the book that coined the phrase 'markets are conversations', that apparently has a blog that lets 'anyone' comment.

To recap, of the four authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto, the book that gave birth to blogging, and told us that 'markets are conversations', only ONE of those authors actually has a blog that allows readers to comment. Chris doesn't allow comments, Doc has currently turned off comments (it appears), and Rick apparently doesn't blog at all.

Does this seem like a monumental disconnect to anyone else?

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 49

Here's the standings for Week 49:

1 - Seth's Blog - 6,051 (-129)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 16,919 (-316)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 20,856 (-511)(LW - 3)
4 - Gaping Void - 22,495 (+735)(LW - 4)
5 - Marketing Shift - 38,793 (-1,480)(LW - 5)
6 - Daily Fix - 55,300 (-2,644)(LW - 6)
7 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 60,598 (-1,022)(LW - 8)
8 - Converstations - 62,166 (-3,644)(LW - 7)
9 - New School of Network Marketing - 66,707 (-2,649)(LW - 9)
10 - The Viral Garden - 69,151 (-1,759)(LW - 10)
11 - Influential Interactive Marketing - 74,488 (-2,491) (LW - 11)
12 - Logic + Emotion - 93,680 (+5,501)(LW - 13)
13 - Coolzor - 99,198 (-1,792)(LW - 12)
14 - What's Next - 124,526 (-4,520)(LW - 14)
15 - Marketing Hipster - 132,985 (+15,234) (LW - 19)
16 - Brand Autopsy - 136,136 (-40)(LW - 16)
17 - Church of the Customer - 143,996 (-9,448)(LW - 15)
18 - Marketing Headhunter - 144,246 (-2,637)(LW - 17)
19 - Diva Marketing - 153,706 (-1,871)(LW - 20)
20 - Marketing Nirvana - 159,053 (-16,223)(LW - 18)
21 - Jaffe Juice - 159,634 (+3,733)(LW - 21)
22 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 183,490 (-3,795)(LW - 23)
23 - Spare Change - 183,981 (-18,015)(LW - 22)
24 - Experience Curve -214,482 (LW - UR)
25 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 221,870 (-4,057)(LW- 25)

Welcome to the Downward Spiral, Week 2. We actually did a little better this week, as 4 blogs were up, compared to last week's 2. Logic + Emotion, and Marketing Hipster were the big winners, L+E up 1, while Cord jumped 4.

Experience Curve has a nice jump to re-enter the countdown at #24. BMA, CK's Blog, Servant of Chaos, and Tell Ten Friends are all bangin' on the door waiting for one more down week.

Next update is next Wednesday.

PS: Apologies to Emergence Marketing, as they should have made it this week at #24. I just missed them. Sorry guys.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Lucasfilms Partnering with USPS to Promote New Star Wars Stamps

It's not a purple cow, but methinks an R2-D2 mailbox is going to get people talking.

To promote the upcoming release of a new series of Star Wars commemorative stamps, the Post Office is changing the look of the standard blue mailbox seen across the country, to bear a striking resemblance to R2-D2, the popular android from the Star Wars series. The R2-D2 mailboxes are appearing at 300 locations across the country.

There's several things I like about this promotion;

1 - The stamps are due to go on sale in May, and the R2 mailboxes came out on March 15th, so they will have at least two months to help build buzz. I found out about the mailboxes from a Star Wars fan that let me know about them after reading about their launch on a Star Wars fan site.

2 - It's an obvious purple cow. People are going to notice it, and talk about it, and again, they will do so for the next 2 months.

3 - It's a reminder. When we go to the post office, we are often in a hurry. We might see the mailbox as we leave one time and wonder what's going on. The next time as we rush in, the R2 mailbox catches our eye, and we decide to see what the deal is when we get inside.

4 - It creates buzz at the point of purchase. Get people excited at the cash register!

And besides, it gives a touch of color and personality to the post office, which is definitely a good thing! If you want to see if there's one in your area, click here for the listing of all locations across the country.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

The Viral Garden is One-Year Old

Thank you.

As of today, The Viral Garden is a year old. The last year has been simply amazing. I could go into how many links/visitors/etc. the blog has gotten in the past year, but at the end of the day that's not what counts. What's more important is that all of you have helped create a vibrant Viral Community that I've been fortunate enough to learn from, and that's made me a better blogger as a result.

So as a VERY small way of showing my appreciation to all of you, the blog's header and name belong to you for the next 24 hours. In the header I've added the pics of 32 people that have helped grow The Viral Garden into what it has become. All of whom have commented here, and many have also given me invaluable help off the blog as well. None of what has happened, or what will, would have been possible without your contributions. And there are so many more friends that I could have added, I just ran out of room.

So starting tomorrow I get to work on making Year Two even better. There will be some changes immediately, some later. And in the coming days I'll have some 'lessons learned' posts from Year One, but for today the blog is yours, thanks again to everyone!

PS: Can you name everyone in the header?

PPS: Thanks to Drew for saving the pic of the Viral Community banner

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Supporting the artists that support us

Jaffe has a recap on the results from our Bum Rush the Charts experiment. Black Lab's 'Mine Again' didn't make it to #1 on iTunes, but it did squeak in the Top 100 at #99, and hit #11 for rock songs in the US. Damned impressive any way you look at it. And yes, 'Mine Again' will be featured in the next episode of Mind The Gap.

But this got me to thinking, what other major artists have podsafe music, and/or make their music available for free download? When I say 'major', I mean artists that now, or previously, were on a major label.

There's The Donnas, who call on their fans to catalog all their live appearances so they can be freely downloaded via The band even goes so far as to supply fans with custom CD inserts for concerts when they download the performances. I contacted Mark Leaphart who oversees TheDonnasMedia, and he said all the content on the site is podsafe, and even offered to do any necessary editing to the videos to make them work as well. The band is upfront about the fact that they are trying to sell more music, by giving it away.

Nettwerk makes all their artist's music podsafe IF the artist owns the distribution rights. So for artists such as The Barenaked Ladies that have moved to their own label, all the music they produce from now on is podsafe. And this is a big reason why BNL did this, to have control over how their music is distributed.

And it seems that Black Lab has made all their music from their latest independent release podsafe as well. Can anyone else think of any 'name' artists besides Black Lab, BNL, and The Donnas that are making their music podsafe or available for free download?

This was the whole idea behind Bum Rush The Charts, a group of podcasters got together and decided to start a movement around promoting Black Lab, because the band reached out to podcasters by making their music podsafe. I believe I read where they had been dumped by one of the majors themselves.

What other 'major' artists are out there that are embracing and empowering their fans that we should be recognizing?

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Viral Community News

You guys are puttin' out so much cool stuff there oughta be a law...

1 - Thanks to Trish for letting me know about this great article on how companies are using blogging to grow their businesses. Good advice for consultants on up to corporations!

2 - Jaffe is asking everyone for their favorite marketing blogs, which is of course a shameless ploy to get everyone to brag about how great Jaffe Juice is. Fine, so I took the bait...

3 - Check out SunRise Promotions's music marketing blog I found because they left a comment here. The music industry needs all the marketing help it can get, I don't know if you were aware of that, BTW.

4 - Maura lets us know about the Social Media Club which seems to be a pretty rockin' blog media.

5 - Becky and Drew are asking for everyone to give their advice to college graduates on how to get that first job. My best advice? Be VERY wary of any job-hunting advice you get from your instructors, since the last time they had to look for a job was probably 1983. The rumor is that times have changed a bit since then.

6 - Paul predicts a corporate-created YouTube copycat is gonna suck. I predict Paul will be proven right.

7 - Toby has a great interview with the incredibly hot Penelope Trunk on how to get attention from the mainstream media. Penelope is a columnist for the Boston Globe (Our friend Maura Welch also writes for the Globe), as well as Yahoo! Finance. This is a great interview because so many of us bloggers that want to grow our blogs always think that getting links from A-List bloggers is what we need, when as I've said before, the mainstream is still where it's at.

8 - I should have already mentioned this, but check out Max's advertising blog Maple Takedown (Thanks Danny) (Whups Austin's is Fresh + Squeezed). Max joined Beyond Madison Avenue a few months back, and has jumped into the blogosphere with both feet at the tender age of 17. So that means when he graduates college, he'll have at least 4 years blogging and social media experience under his belt. Can you say 'employable'? Congrats Max, you're well on your way.

9 - The early results are in for the Bum Rush the Charts movement to get Black Lab's 'Mine Again' to the top of the iTunes charts. 'Mine Again' didn't make the Top 100 on iTunes, but I got my copy and it's a pretty good song. I think much of their music, if not all, is podsafe, so don't be surprised if you don't hear them on an upcoming episode of Mind The Gap (which IS coming soon, I promise). Looks like the Bum Rush The Charts blog had around 100,000 visitors and feed readers yesterday. Not bad when you consider that many would have bought directly from iTunes. So it's quite possible that a few hundred thousand of us bought the single yesterday. Anyone from the RIAA listening? Too busy suing 12 year-old girls in Texas for allegedly downloading a song? Thought so.

10 - Jeff has a great post about tapping into the power of evangelists for your fund-raising efforts. Love this closing quote:
Having no control doesn't guarantee you a crowd of excited evangelists blogging their hearts out about you. But tight control on your marketing pretty much guarantees that you won't have that.

What's more important to you?


11 - Mimi has posted the Z-List with her additions. Look at how long the list is getting! Love it, and Mimi told me she's going to periodically add new blogs to the list, as she finds them. This is what it's all about, and I told Mimi this: The Z-list works because it's about EVERYONE ELSE, not you. By posting the Z-List, you shine the spotlight on the COMMUNITY. And that inspires them to do the same.

Companies could learn a thing or three from the Z-List, mainly that, it's not about you.

12 - Technorati is about to confirm what the rest of us already knew, Gavin's an A-Lister!

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Conversation Carries On...

...with or without you.

Lewis has penned a winner of a post about the new Ameriprise ads starring Dennis Hopper. What makes this post so great is that so many readers, many of them boomers, are chiming in either praising the ad as being great, or praising the same ideals as the ad. Which is indirect praise.

What struck me was the passion in the comments:

"The Ameriprise ads are right on target and, from water cooler talk I hear, resonating with us boomers." - David Reich

"Fact is: Before this ad, I had never heard of Ameriprise because their services are not in focus for me, so I likely had been ignoring them. This ad changed all that. I call that effect a great success." - Lewis Green

"On a side note, because the ad struck a chord with me, I will remember Ameriprise when I need these services (and I should probably get my act together at this age and start thinking more about it ;-)." - CK

"Hopper’s message is true and touches a nerve within all of us in this age bracket." - Harry Hallman

"I'm not old yet and don't plan on getting old...just older. Nice to see that advertisers are starting yo recognize it too." - Nancy

"I think the Ameriprise spots are bang on." - Elaine Fogel

I know I'm a marketing geek, but seeing passionate and excited customers gets ME excited! This ad and its message isn't aimed at me, but seeing the passion these people have for their lifestyle and the message behind this ad was contagious! I decided to attempt to contact Ameriprise and let them know about this amazing discussion and give them the chance to interact with a few potential customers that are passionate for the message of their ads. And incidentally, potential customers talking about their ads on one of the most influential marketing blogs on the internet(Daily Fix).

So I do a Google search for "Ameriprise blog", and look what the first result is:

The Unofficial American Express and Ameriprise Blog, which greets us with the above image. Apparently Ameriprise doesn't have a blog. But as we see, their detractors definitely do.

The conversation, both good and bad, carries on with or without you...

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It's Goin Down! Bum Rush the Charts is HERE!

For someone that is so passionate about bands using new channels to distribute music and empowering fans to market for them, I should have my ass handed to me for not blogging about this sooner. On one day, March 22nd (that's Thursday), bloggers, podcasters, and music lovers that don't like the idea of the music industry suing its own customers, are going to strike fear into the heart of the Evil Empire, the RIAA. On March 22nd, we are going to send independent band Black Lab's new song 'Mine Again' to the top of the iTunes charts.

Now before any of you cynics say this is a ploy by the band to get some exposure, guess again, this is being done by US to get the attention of traditional media, and the RIAA. Here's what the band had to say on their site when they found out what the deal was:
Holy Crap!!

hey everyone, welcome to blacklabworld, home of the american rock band black lab.

apparently, some insane stuff is going on. as we speak, a group of podcasters, representing millions of listeners to cutting edge media, have decided to make black lab's song "mine again" NUMBER 1 on the iTunes charts on March 22nd.

one day, one song. the vision is to make a statement about the power of those who make, broadcast and listen to music outside of the traditional media models, and it's an incredible opportunity for black lab fans to get familiar with podcasting and for the larger world to get familiar with black lab.

I hope you'll support us and the podcasting community on March 22nd by clicking this link and purchasing the song via the affiliate link (proceeds go to a scholarship fund, as does half of everything we will make on the 22nd). thanks!

Yep, I saved the best part for last. BumRushTheCharts, the defacto fansite for this movement, has set itself up as an iTunes affiliate. What that means to you is, if you buy Black Lab's Mine Again via THIS LINK, the site gets 5% affiliate fees, and all the commissions earned via purchases from that link will be donated to fund college scholarships! Black Lab has also agreed to donate 50% of its earnings from all iTunes sales of Mine Again tomorrow to the scholarship fund as well!

So beginning at midnight tonight, you can buy Black Lab's 'Mine Again' via THIS LINK, which will fund college scholarships, help support an indie band that supports podcasters, and bitchslap the RIAA. All worthy goals! Do your part to get the message out by blogging about this worthy cause!

Hat-tip to Jaffe, who has been all over this. He's threatening to add it as a case study in his upcoming book Join The Conversation.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 48

Here's the standings for Week 48:

1 - Seth's Blog - 5,922 (-59)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 16,603 (-272)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 20,345 (-370)(LW - 3)
4 - Gaping Void - 23,230 (-502)(LW - 4)
5 - Marketing Shift - 37,313 (-906)(LW - 5)
6 - Daily Fix - 52,656 (-890)(LW - 6)
7 - Converstations - 58,522 (-1,006)(LW - 7)
8 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 59,576 (-182)(LW - 8)
9 - New School of Network Marketing - 64,058 (+536)(LW - 9)
10 - The Viral Garden - 67,392 (-1,246)(LW - 10)
11 - Influential Interactive Marketing - 71,997 (-541) (LW - 11)
12 - Coolzor - 97,406 (+129)(LW - 12)
13 - Logic + Emotion - 99,181 (-660)(LW - 13)
14 - What's Next - 120,006 (-450)(LW - 14)
15 - Church of the Customer - 134,548 (-3,597)(LW - 15)
16 - Brand Autopsy - 136,096 (-685)(LW - 16)
17 - Marketing Headhunter - 141,609 (-2,002)(LW - 17)
18 - Marketing Nirvana - 142,830 (-554)(LW - 18)
19 - Marketing Hipster - 148,219 (LW - UR)
20 - Diva Marketing - 151,835 (-1,180)(LW - 19)
21 - Jaffe Juice - 163,367 (-2,057)(LW - 20)
22 - Spare Change - 165,966 (-1,408)(LW - 21)
23 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 179,695 (-44)(LW - 22)
24 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 213,4542 (-642)(LW - 24)
25 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 217,813 (-9,431)(LW- 23)

Was your blog up this week? Then pat yourself on the back, because there were only 2 of you. Yep, this was a real stinker of a week for the Top 25. 9 of the Top 11 blogs were down, and ALL of the blogs from #13-25 were down. And this marks the third straight weeks that at least 6 of the Top 7 blogs were down. Hiccup, or have marketing blogs fallen on hard times?

Marketing Hipster was the bright spot for the week, making a splashy debut at #19.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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MySpace pisses off its biggest star

Wanna be an internet sensation? Ok here's one way; jump on the MySpace bandwagon before it becomes one. Put a buncha half nekkid pics on your page. Befriend anyone and everyone. Start getting press for being MySpace's 'first star'. Ride the whole MySpace/YouTube/CGM media wave. Get up to 1.7 million MySpace friends. Then use those friends to jumpstart your music career by adding a widget to your MySpace page that lets your millions of friends listen to and buy your music...

Whups, not so fast says MySpace. It seems that Tom and the gang are putting Tila Tequila in timeout for adding the Hoooka widget to her page that would have allowed MySpace users to sample and buy her music. The MySpace gang yanked the player, created by Los Angeles starup Indie911, on Sunday.

So of course, Tila turned to her MySpace blog to vent her frustrations:
The reason why I am so bummed out about MySpace now is because recently they have been cutting down our freedom and taking away our rights slowly. MySpace will now only allow you to use ‘MySpace’ things.

At least she did according to the New York Times, which quoted Tequila in its article as having posted the above to her MySpace blog over the weekend, but I couldn't find any such postings on her blog. Maybe MySpace deleted it (oooohhhhh more controversy!), maybe TT deleted it, or maybe I am an idiot that can't read. Any of the above is equally possible.

But I think the bigger issue here is, MySpace's insistence on blocking user-added widgets. No doubt MySpace's partnership with SnoCap is playing into the blockage of Hoooka, but recall that MySpace has already gone after YouTube embedded videos in the past as well.

As widgets become more popular, MySpace is going to have to decide what's more important; letting users continue to create and enjoy their own experience, or attempting to dictate what that experience can be, and then monetizing the result.

Fred Wilson, a VC that invests in social media companies, had a great quote in the NYTimes article:
Every attempt everyone has ever made to try to dictate what a person’s Internet experience will be has ended up coming up empty. You have to accept the fact that you are never going to be the be-all and end-all of everyone’s experience. They are one click away from everyone else on the Web.

Will MySpace figure this out before midnight strikes? Rupert, you are now on the clock.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Book Club Round 2 with Al and Laura Ries is LIVE!

MarketingProfs Book Club hosted by our CK is back and she's brought the First Family of Branding with her; Al and Laura Ries! We'll be discussing their bestseller, The Origin of Brands. And the discussions are already flowing, with plenty of posts on both sides of the convergence/divergence fence.

And there's even been a Laura sighting! What are you waiting for, click this link to join the fun!

What could CK have up her sleeve for Round Three?!? Hmmmm, I wonder....

UPDATE: Al and Laura both are all over the Book Club now. If you guys ever wanted to talk to a pair of literal marketing and branding legends, especially about a topic you're likely going to be hearing more of in the future (divergence), this is your chance!

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Blogging about Twittering on about Twitter

I just do not get what the big deal is about Twitter.

And there could be a big deal, hell there was a time when I thought blogging was way overhyped as well. I just can't see why anyone would care to read my 10 daily updates on how I'm reading my favorite blogs, doing client work, or what I had for lunch. Or that I'm blogging about Twitter...

Calacanis is threatening to stop blogging and just Twitter. His readers are threatening to leave if he does.

Apparently the tipping point for Twitter came last week at SXSW. Suddenly 'all the cool kids are doing it.' It's the hottest search term on Technorati, and everyone it seems is either professing their love of the service, or hatred.

And when everyone either loves or hates you, that assures that they will keep talking about you.

I'm feeling the pressure to Twitter. Paul is raving about it, so is Armano, it seems Gavin is about to get started. Too many bloggers that I respect and enjoy are using it, so I feel that I HAVE to check it out.

But then there's this: Yesterday I was link-surfing, going from one blog to another via links, and I found Christine Kane's blog. My first thought was 'I really need to start reading this blog'. My second thought was, 'Crap....I really need to start reading this blog.' Because there's only an infinite amount of time. When I first started this blog about a year ago, I had about 5-10 blogs that I read every day. Now I have close to a hundred, and try to get to about half of those a couple of times a week. The other half maybe once a week, sometimes not that often.

And I hate that, because I'm beginning to have some of my blogging buds call or email me and ask 'Hey did you check out my post on...', and I realize it's been days since I've read their blog.

So I'm going to keep an eye on Twitter, but stay on the shore for now. There's a ton of buzz about Twitter right now, but is that due to what it provides, or that 'everyone's talking about it'? Time will tell, and right now time is something that I'm already running short on.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Problem Avoidance Isn't Problem Management

Seth points out(via Sustainable is Good) that Splenda is buying up hundreds of negative domain names associated with their company, hoping to keep dissatisfied customers from voicing their anger at the brand.

Here's just a few of the many domains that Johnson & Johnson owns associated with Splenda:, .org, .biz, .info, .org, biz .info , .net, .org, .biz, .info, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .net, .org, .biz, .info

By making this move, Splenda is acknowledging that there are people that don't like their product very much. If a company knows that some of its customers are dissatisfied, is it better to attempt to censor them, or understand them? If you've never used Splenda, and you hear that its company is buying hundreds of negative domain names associated with the brand, does that make you more or less likely to buy their product, or to trust them?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 47

Here's the standings for Week 47:

1 - Seth's Blog - 5,863 (-403)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 16,331 (+73)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 19,975 (-309)(LW - 3)
4 - Gaping Void - 22,728 (-2,089)(LW - 4)
5 - Marketing Shift - 36,407 (-2,989)(LW - 5)
6 - Daily Fix - 51,766 (-2,982)(LW - 6)
7 - Converstations - 57,516 (-2,952)(LW - 7)
8 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 59,394 (+4,643)(LW - 8)
9 - New School of Network Marketing - 64,594 (+835)(LW - 9)
10 - The Viral Garden - 66,146 (+3,435)(LW - 10)
11 - Influential Interactive Marketing - 71,456 (+449) (LW - 11)
12 - Coolzor - 97,535 (-2,723)(LW - 12)
13 - Logic + Emotion - 98,521 (-1,049)(LW - 13)
14 - What's Next - 119,556 (+6,526)(LW - 15)
15 - Church of the Customer - 130,951 (-14,848)(LW - 14)
16 - Brand Autopsy - 135,411 (-351)(LW - 16)
17 - Marketing Headhunter - 139,607 (-969)(LW - 17)
18 - Marketing Nirvana - 142,276 (-1,868)(LW - 18)
19 - Diva Marketing - 150,655 (-5,939)(LW - 19)
20 - Jaffe Juice - 161,310 (-12,522)(LW - 20)
21 - Spare Change - 164,558 (+1,890)(LW - 21)
22 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 179,651 (+5,484)(LW - 22)
23 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 208,382 (-5,695)(LW- 23)
24 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 212,810 (+971)(LW - 25)
25 - Experience Curve - 220,612 (-10,035)(LW - 24)

The Top 25 has again fallen into the Twilight Zone this week, as the top blogs are still mostly down. Creating Passionate Users was up by a hair, marking the only time this week or last that one of the Top 7 blogs moved up. Very unusual. Blogs #8-11, led by Drew's Marketing Minute, were again up, and have caught the blogs in front of them.

Blogs #16-20, which had been showing consistent strength, were all down this week. As a result, Spare Change and Hee-Haw Marketing have caught them. No new blogs this week, with CK, Tell Ten Friends, Servant of Chaos, and Make Marketing History again pushing at the edge of the Top 25.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Why I Blog

Thanks to Reshma for tagging me with the 'Why you blog' meme. As for why, it's kinda changed a bit, well actually a lot.

When I first started blogging for BMA back in Sept. of 2005, I had never blogged before, and my main reason for doing so was that I thought it would help me with my job search at the time. But as I blogged at BMA, I realized that the more I interacted with the blogging community, the more I learned. And as I got to know other bloggers, I became more and more interested not only in their blogs, but in finding new ones. There was almost an addiction in finding new and amazing bloggers and learning from them.

So when I started this blog, I made a point to reach out to and join the blogging community as much as possible. BMA was a bit more advertising-oriented, and since my background and interest was more on the marketing side, I had a somewhat new community of bloggers to get to know. But by now, it wasn't about trying to 'boost my cred', or get exposure, it was about trying to learn from simply amazing people. The more I interacted with other bloggers, the more their ideas shaped and improved mine. That's how I know that the content I post on The Viral Garden today, is better than the content I posted here last March. Because for the past year, the Viral Community has influenced and helped shape my ideas.

This ties into what I mentioned yesterday about a company doesn't need a great or even good product to blog about. Same goes for bloggers. You don't have to have something amazingly intelligent and relevant to say, in order to start blogging. All you have to do is have a willingness to be a faithful community member. The community will tell you what you need to know. They will shape and redefine your ideas, and you will pay them back by giving them input into THEIR ideas.

Riddler pic via the Mego Museum

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Thought for the day

If you're a company, you don't need a good or even great product to blog about. That will come if you use your blog as a communication tool to reach your community and react to the feedback they are giving you.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

This experience decides the next

I'm not a big fan of fast-food, but Long John Silvers is one of the few chains I like. Unfortunately, there's no longer any LJS locations in my immediate area, but I was out of town yesterday, and while going through the area, decided to stop by their Long John Silvers.

I placed my order, and the cashier told me the total and I took out my wallet to get the money. As I did, I noticed that the cashier dashed over to the food area and quickly completed my order, so that by the time I had my money out to hand to him, he already had my order ready. The entire transaction from the time I walked up till when I left with the food probably took 60 seconds.

Then as I was eating, a worker walked around sweeping the dining area. An elderly woman got up with her cup, obviously wanting a refill. The worker quickly reached her and asked 'Ma'am would you like me to get you a refill?' The woman stammered 'Why yes....yes I would!' obviously shocked that the worker had offered to refill her drink. A few seconds later, he walked up and asked me if I wanted a refill, then asked if my food was fine and if there was anything I needed.

The workers in this particular restaurant understood that how my current experience goes, decides if there will be another one. I was impressed when the cashier literally ran away from the counter to fill my order (normally when a fast food cashier is about to receive money, no force on earth could pull them away), so that I had my food waiting on me as soon as I paid for it. And I was floored when the working sweeping the dining area offered to refill my drink for me.

By giving me more than I expected during this experience, this particular LJS ensured that there will be another. Maybe I just caught them on a good day, or maybe this particular restaurant is committed to giving each and every customer a refreshingly positive experience.

But one thing's for certain, the next time I am in Huntsville, I'm going to give them another chance to impress me.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 46

Here's the standings for Week 46:

1 - Seth's Blog - 5,460 (-216)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 16,404 (-536)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 18,881 (-309)(LW - 4)
4 - Gaping Void - 20,639 (-2,199)(LW - 3)
5 - Marketing Shift - 33,418 (-1,174)(LW - 5)
6 - Daily Fix - 48,784 (-462)(LW - 6)
7 - Converstations - 54,564 (-1,906)(LW - 7)
8 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 64,037 (+4,554)(LW - 9)
9 - New School of Network Marketing - 65,429 (+2,306)(LW - 8)
10 - The Viral Garden - 69,581 (+1,470)(LW - 10)
11 - Influential Interactive Marketing - 71,905 (+1,182) (LW - 11)
12 - Coolzor - 94,812 (-1,597)(LW - 12)
13 - Logic + Emotion - 97,472 (-186)(LW - 13)
14 - Church of the Customer - 116,103 (-1,218)(LW - 14)
15 - What's Next - 126,082 (+1,578)(LW - 15)
16 - Brand Autopsy - 135,060 (+7,531)(LW - 18)
17 - Marketing Headhunter - 138,638 (+577)(LW - 16)
18 - Marketing Nirvana - 140,408 (+417)(LW - 17)
19 - Diva Marketing - 144,716 (+646)(LW - 19)
20 - Jaffe Juice - 148,788 (+895)(LW - 20)
21 - Spare Change - 166,448 (+7,103)(LW - 21)
22 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 185,135 (+9,082)(LW - 22)
23 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 202,687 (-429)(LW- 23)
24 - Experience Curve - 210,577 (-7,349)(LW - 24)
25 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 213,781 (LW - UR)

If you ever wanted to gain some ground on the top blogs, this was the week to do it. The Top 7 blogs were all down, fairly unusual, and blogs #8-11 capitalized to move up. One interesting switch was that Duct Tape Marketing swapped places with Gaping Void.

As unusual as it was to see the Top 7 blogs all fall, blogs #16-20 continue to move upward. Brand Autopsy had a big week, no doubt largely based on a popular series of posts on how Starbucks should re-invent itself, and John has moved to the front of the pack.

A couple of weeks ago, I said that it looked like Spare Change and Hee Haw Marketing might be able to separate themselves from the rest of the blogs in the Top 25, and take on the #16-20 group. This week, Nedra and Paul made their move, with Spare Change having the 3rd biggest move of the Top 25, and Hee Haw the biggest.

BMA is the week's lone new entry. For several weeks there hasn't really been many blogs past the Top 25 that are close to crashing the party. Normally there's a huge dropoff between #25 and the blog that would be #26. That's changing now, as several blogs, including CK's Blog, Being Peter Kim, Tell Ten Friends, Servant of Chaos, and Make Marketing History, are all closing in, so there could be some choppy waters at the edge of the Top 25 in the coming weeks.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Control is Evangelism's Kryptonite

"What happens in blogs can be unpredictable, and a marketer has to be prepared to stick with it no matter what happens. Marketer participation in blogs requires total immediacy and a willingness to let go of control. Many aren't prepared for it." - Art Sindlinger, VP-activation director at Publicis Groupe's Starcom USA, Chicago.

I've been thinking about control. The control that a company has over its marketing. Many companies are nervous, or downright scared, about sharing that control with customers. That fear comes from entering into an area where we've never been before.

But at what point does a customer feel empowered enough to become an evangelist for a company? At what point does the enthusiasm grow until a customer feels compelled to tell others of their love for a company, its products, and its processes?

Understandably, many companies believe that they are better served to market their products and services than their customers, simply because they believe they better understand their offerings. And there's often some truth to that. But evangelists, evangelists know the customers.

Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba give several reasons why evangelists are the ultimate salespeople in their book Creating Customer Evangelists, including:

  1. They know your target audience better than you do because they are the target audience.
  2. They can search out and find others just like themselves faster and easier than you can.
  3. They translate your value proposition into words the prospects will understand.
The first point goes to the heart of why companies should make every effort to join their communities. And it also goes to the heart of what companies can gain by losing control. The loss of control leads to the rise of evangelism, which eventually leads to companies empowering their target market to sell to themselves.

Efficiency, anyone?

But the loss of control kills the customer's enthusiasm for the product and the brand. Which leads to less efficient marketing, as companies have to spend more and more to reach customers that they don't understand as well as their evangelists do/could.

The challenge for companies is to reach that point where they are sharing, and then shifting marketing control, to their community. When that tipping point is reached, evangelism can begin to grow and spread.

Not sure that many companies are aware that evangelism is the pot of gold awaiting them at the end of the control rainbow.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Using Legos to Build Readership to Your Blog

Sean at CrapHammer is one of those bloggers that, for whatever reason, doesn't seem to get the attention he deserves. Case in point, check out how he's using Legos to make a visual post about brand-building. Love how positioning ties into the 'head' of the Lego man. Perfect.

My first thought wasn't that I want to comment on this post, but rather that I wanted to create a new post here, and link Sean's post. Because I was more interested in making sure my readers here discover Sean's post, than I was leaving a comment at Sean's blog.

And that ties into a post that Lewis left today at Daily Fix. Lewis is asking about the best ways to boost readership at our blogs, and specifically addressing how to increase comments. But as I mentioned to Lewis, we shouldn't assume that a post with no or few comments, isn't being noticed. With the abundance of bookmarking sites, and of course via linking, readers can still share their interest in our posts, without commenting.

Which of course leads to another interesting debate; which do we prefer, readers that comment, or readers that link-to and bookmark our posts?

UPDATE: Just got an email from Danny, seems that Sean has joined Beyond Madison Avenue!

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Dale Jr. Launches NASCAR-Oriented Social Networking Site

Normally I don't get too excited when a professional sport launches a social-networking site. Mainly because, it's already been done, and we are talking about team sports.

But in the case of Infield Parking, the story is a bit different. First, we're talking about individual drivers communicating with fans, and in the case of Infield Parking, one of the sports' most popular drivers is the president and co-founder.

I'm not a huge NASCAR fan, but it seems that Infield Parking has already signed up many of the sport's top drivers with profile pages. Dale Jr., Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick are some of the drivers represented.

Now as with MySpace, the level of involvement that drivers have with their profile pages varies. Some have had very little to do with their pages, but as expected, president and co-founder Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been pretty active with his page. I noticed that he's already left 5 posts on his blog since starting it 2 weeks ago, and those 5 posts currently have a combined 1,572 comments. The post with the most comments? One he left on Feb. 21st asking his fans to please leave him comments on his page, adding "As time permits, I’m gonna reply to as many as I can, so if you get a note from me, don’t be too surprised." That post currently has 706 comments. I noticed that several of the comments on his page were indeed from people thanking Dale for leaving comments to them.

I think this site is interesting because it's a case of individual athletes using social media to reach fans, as opposed to team sites. So it would seem that the drivers have a much better chance to harness the power of communicating online with their fans, to further expand that fanbase. It would be an interesting case study to see how successful Infield Parking becomes, IF the other drivers become as active with their fans through the site as Earnhardt is.

Hat-Tip to Pat at Sports Marketing 2.0.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Viral Community News

The latest edition of the list with more wholesome goodness than 15 bowls of Post Shredded Wheat...

1. - I meant to point this out a couple of weeks ago, but Roger has some fascinating photos of his recent trip to Egypt on his blog. Absolutely amazing stuff, and the Egyptian Tourism Bureau needs to give Roger a kickback!

2. - Jordan is open-sourcing his presentation on how companies can use social-media tools to communicate with their customers and join their communities. Feel free to give him some advice!

3. - Ann has her usual excellent discussion-starter on Daily Fix, debating the merits of both Project RED, and the new organization that's fighting it, BUY (LESS). An added bonus is that two of BUY (LESS)'s organizers chime in as well.

4 - Emily has found a hilarious tagline for a local business. My favorite ever was for the local septic tank business whose tagline is 'We're #1 in the #2 business.'

5 - Mario talks technology and the Oscars.

6 - Pat at Sports Marketing 2.0 has an interesting story about how the Colts are incorporating one fan's created content into the team's marketing.

7 - Mike at Own Your Brand has a recap of an All-Star lineup of a show on BlogTalkRadio featuring Mike along with Mike Sansone, Valeria Maltoni, Derrick Daye, John Moore, Drew McLellan and David Koopsman.

8 - MasiGuy tells us why he blogs.

9 - Congrats to JD and Priscilla on tying the knot!

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

The view from the Ivory Tower ain't always the best

Hugh asks an interesting question at Gaping Void, then gives an equally interesting answer:
"Do A-Listers have a responsibility to link to Z-Listers?" I think not. Even if you've got a huge amount readers, it's your blog, not the blogosphere's blog.

Hugh's exactly right. He has every right to totally ignore any blogger that's not an A-Lister.

But my question is, 'Why in the world would you want to do that?'

When you start deciding which blogger's content is or is not worthy of your attention, based on something as arbitrary as their link count, you aren't hurting them, you're hurting yourself.

Which goes back to my original question: "Why in the world would you want to do that?"

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Friday, March 02, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 45

Here's the standings for Week 45:

1 - Seth's Blog - 5,244 (-93)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 15,868 (-254)(LW - 2)
3 - Gaping Void - 18,440 (-355)(LW - 3)
4 - Duct Tape Marketing - 18,572 (-86)(LW - 4)
5 - Marketing Shift - 32,244 (+23)(LW - 5)
6 - Daily Fix - 48,322 (+28)(LW - 6)
7 - Converstations - 52,658 (-429)(LW - 7)
8 - New School of Network Marketing - 67,735 (-273)(LW - 8)
9 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 68,591 (+1,431)(LW - 9)
10 - The Viral Garden - 71,051 (+977)(LW - 10)
11 - Influential Interactive Marketing - 73,087 (+540) (LW - 11)
12 - Coolzor - 93,215 (-2,658)(LW - 12)
13 - Logic + Emotion - 97,286 (+919)(LW - 13)
14 - Church of the Customer - 114,885 (+1,956)(LW - 14)
15 - What's Next - 125,489 (+1,578)(LW - 15)
16 - Marketing Headhunter - 139,215 (+2,052)(LW - 16)
17 - Marketing Nirvana - 140,825 (+2,097)(LW - 18)
18 - Brand Autopsy - 142,591 (-88)(LW - 17)
19 - Diva Marketing - 145,362 (-1,920)(LW - 19)
20 - Jaffe Juice - 149,683 (-4,263)(LW - 20)
21 - Spare Change - 173,551 (+1,723)(LW - 21)
22 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 194,217 (+3,293)(LW - 22)
23 - Pro Hip-Hip - Hip-Hop Marketing - 202,258 (-4,510)(LW- 23)
24 - Experience Curve - 203,228 (+8,555)(LW - 24)
25 - CK's Blog - 220,114 (+381)(LW - 25)

First, apologies for the delay in this week's Top 25. Alexa normally updates on Sunday and on Wednesday. It's done so faithfully for months, but this week it missed the Weds update. So I decided to wait till yesterday seeing if it would update, and it didn't so we'll go with what we have. As expected, moves have been smaller this week with only one update, so no major moves up or down.

But there were a couple of blogs that had really nice weeks, most notably Hee-Haw Marketing and Experience Curve. EC's move especially is impressive, again given no Weds update. The same bands are tight, #8-11, and #16-20.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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