Thursday, May 31, 2007

Do not adjust your browser...

I think you guys know me well enough by now to guess that if I suddenly stop posting here, it probably means I'm up to something. For a while now, I've been toying with changing The Viral Garden's look. While I think the old blog template was decent, I was never a fan of the light green on dark background, and I wanted more options for organizing content here.

Finally, after about a week of tweaking, I've settled on the look you see here. What I love about this template is that it gives me the ability to move almost all of my personal/business information to the top of the blog, via tabs. I've added sections for speaking and a link to my Daily Fix posts, and I've also completely redone my interviews and articles sections. Both are now much cleaner and easier to use.

Basically, I think the layout is much cleaner and less cluttered than it was. And besides it was time for a new look anyway. I apologize to the feed readers that have had to deal with my sending through multiple revisions to old posts, and ask that you please bear with me for the next few days since I still have a bit of tinkering I want to do.

Also, if anyone knows the code for adding a 'recent comments' widget to the sidebar of a Blogger blog, let me know, as I want to make that change as well.

Hope you like it, and at least hope the new layout is easier to navigate. And no apologies for the banner, I like it. Thanks to Tara, CK, Armano, and Ann for giving me feedback prior to 'launching'.

UPDATE: Are any of you not seeing all the tabs at the top on one row? Luc is on a Mac and said the 'FAQ' tab was rolling over so that it was on top of the 'Home' tab. He's helping me get it fixed now. I set it up with a PC running Firefox, but it might not look right on other systems. If something looks off, please let me know!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 58

Here's the standings for Week 58:

1 - Creating Passionate Users - 8,460
2 - Seth's Blog - 8,452
3 - Gaping Void - 3,728
4 - Logic + Emotion - 1,406
5 - Daily Fix - 947
6 - Converstations - 914
7 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 800
8 - The Viral Garden - 742
9 - Jaffe Juice - 736
10 - Church of the Customer - 710
11 - Diva Marketing - 706
12 - Duct Tape Marketing - 701
13 - Servant of Chaos - 671
14 - What's Next - 666
15 - Influential Interactive Marketing - 651
16 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 648
17 - Brand Autopsy - 618
18 - Community Guy - 571
19 - Flooring the Consumer - 563
20 - CrapHammer - 560
21 - Customers Rock! - 547
22 - Shotgun Marketing - 534
23 - Coolzor - 532
24 - CK's Blog - 525
25 - Tell Ten Friends - 521

Your first sign that the Top 25 isn't blogging in Kansas anymore should be that we have a new #1. This list is now based on Technorati rather than Alexa. The blogs are ranked based on number of blogs linking to each blog, as counted by Technorati. The higher the number of links, the higher the blog ranks (Whereas with Alexa, it was lower number was higher rank, which is better). You'll see some of the blogs are about where you would expect them to be, some are higher than expected, others are lower. Then again you could say the same for the Alexa rankings.

Seven new blogs enter the Top 25, six of them for the first time. What I'd like for everyone to do, especially the readers that don't have a marketing blog, is let me know over the next couple of weeks if this Technorati version of the Top 25 is more difficult or easier to understand than the Alexa method. My fear has always been that Alexa's method of ranking was counterintuitive, or maybe I didn't do a good job of explaining how it worked. As you can see from this week's list, both versions have their pluses and minuses.

Either way, let me know which version you think serves you better, and yes it is entirely possible that I should have listed your blog and just missed it. Give me another week or 2 to get everyone in place.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Company Blog Checkup: Kodak

A few weeks ago I wrote an article for Marketing Profs entitled 'Eight Ideas for Revitalizing Your Company Blog'. The article has been well-received (hey even WOMMA liked it!), so I decided as a result to incorporate a new feature here at The Viral Garden, the 'Company Blog Checkup' series. I'll periodically look at a particular company blog, and see how well it is matching up to the criteria I mentioned in the MP article.

And our first contestant is.....Kodak.

Kodak actually has two blogs, and in this case I think that's a good thing. The first one, A Thousand Words is aimed at the more 'general' photographer, while A Thousand Nerds is aimed at the techie. Both blogs do an excellent job of NOT focusing on Kodak products. Instead, A Thousand Words is basically a 'storytelling' blog, making ample use of photographs to help tell those stories. I'm assuming the photos were taken with Kodak products, but it isn't clear, and it doesn't have to be. The message here is obvious: photographs help us stay connected to those special moments in our lives.

A Thousand Nerds goes down a different path. It delves deep into the technology behind photography, everything from the camera itself, to the paper, even related technologies such as DVD and Blue Ray. If you are a hardcore technie, this stuff is right up your alley, but for most of us it is over our heads. Which is why Kodak giving the 'Nerds' their own blog was an excellent decision. As with A Thousand Words, there are plenty of pictures, but very little mention of Kodak products.

Content-wise, both blogs are huge home runs. So often, company blogs are far too company/product-centric. The way to go, as Kodak does, is to focus on presenting the content from the reader's point of view. Readers don't want to come to Kodak's blog to get information about their products, that's what Google is for. Kodak is smart enough not to go down this beaten path, and instead focuses on why people buy cameras in the first place, to preserve precious memories.

But the two blogs do have their differences. For one, while the 'Words' blog authors post faithfully every weekday, the 'Nerds' blog authors only post on Tuesdays. But on the other hand, the 'Words' authors aren't responding to reader comments ( a HUGE no-no), while the 'Nerds' authors seem to be pretty good about that. This is especially odd, considering that with the Words blog, many readers will be able to relate to the stories that the authors are sharing, prompting them to comment. The Words authors are missing a great opportunity by not interacting with their readers that offer feedback.

And then there is the matter of who the blogs link to. If being too company-centric is the biggest blog sin a company can commit, not replying to readers' comments and not linking to readers/non-company sites, is the second biggest mistake. While both Words and Nerds have excellent content, both blogs only have a few links, and all are devoted to Kodak. *Sigh*. You cannot tell me that there aren't plenty of bloggers that evangelize Kodak products, or photography-oriented forums that Kodak could be linking to. Linking to your evangelists and outside information sources is a great way to not only increase reader interest in your blog, but it gives your readers a better experience.

All-told, I think both Kodak blogs have a very solid foundation to build from. Their key focus moving forward needs to be on rewarding reader comments by not only answering them, but LEAVING the Kodak blog and following readers back to THEIR blog and commenting. Hey, they took the time to comment on your blog, why can't you return the favor? And Kodak please find your online evangelists, and link to them. Trust me on this one.

And now let's turn to the scoring (These scores are for the A Thousand Words blog):

Content: 27 (Out of a possible 35) - I like that the blog's main focus of pictures taken with Kodak cameras. I would like to see the direct promotion of Kodak products toned down a bit, and perhaps give readers more input by letting them contribute some of their pictures and post them on the blog.

Comments: 26 (Out of a possible 35) - Most posts have comments, and the writers tend to do a decent job of replying to reader comments.

Posting Schedule: 14 (Out of a possible 15) - The blog follows an almost perfect schedule of a new post each day during the week.

Sidebars: 9 (Out of a possible 15) - I like how each blogger has a pic on their posts, but I notice that the 'blogroll' is really a collection of links to Kodak sites. More non-Kodak links and a recent comments section would be a huge improvement, as well as bios for the writers.

Total Score: 76 (Out of a possible 100)

If anyone from Kodak wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me. If you're a company that would like to hire me to do an extensive checkup of your blog, you can click here for more information on my blog and social media consulting services.

If you've got a company blog you'd like me to do a 'Checkup' post on, feel free to click on the 'Email Me' link below. And thanks to Tara for giving me the heads-up on both Kodak blogs.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Conversation Monetizes Itself

A few posts back, Kevin left this comment:
I attended a conference today. At one session, an agency presented Web 2.0 concepts, then talked about "Return On Interaction", or something like that, saying you don't need to monetize this activity. Then a co-worker got up, and said that you do have to figure out how to monetize this stuff, because businesses are in business to sell stuff, not just to have a conversation.

Ah yes here we go again. Business doesn't want to jump into social media and 'have a conversation' until it can figure out how to monetize that conversation.

You don't have to; The conversation monetizes itself.

Communication=understanding=more effective/efficient marketing=lower marketing costs.

The conversation monetizes itself.

UPDATE: David adds his take on 'The Magic Formula'.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 57

Here's the standings for Week 57:

1 - Seth's Blog - 6,848 (-124)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 14,068 (-482)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 25,604 (-721)(LW - 3)
4 - Gaping Void - 27,426 (+297)(LW - 4)
5 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 63,424 (+168)(LW - 6)
6 - Marketing Shift - 64,601 (-4,331)(LW - 5)
7 - Daily Fix - 64,860 (+130)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Interactive Marketing - 72,279 (-1,183) (LW - 8)
9 - New School of Network Marketing - 85,790 (-1,130)(LW - 10)
10 - The Viral Garden - 89,627 (-1,854)(LW - 11)
11 - Logic + Emotion - 91,063 (-2,316)(LW - 12)
12 - Converstations - 91,338 (-7,021)(LW - 9)
13 - Marketing Hipster - 95,201 (-1,031) (LW - 13)
14 - Coolzor - 97,287 (+423)(LW - 14)
15 - Brand Autopsy - 133,601 (-2,167)(LW - 15)
16 - What's Next - 146,183 (-2,603)(LW - 16)
17 - Jaffe Juice - 153,703 (+1,225)(LW - 17)
18 - Marketing Headhunter - 169,943 (-940)(LW - 18)
19 - CK's Blog - 186,691 (+5,149)(LW - 19)
20 - Conversation Agent - 196,776 (+11,371)(LW - 23)
21 - Diva Marketing - 199,666 (-5,910)(LW - 20)
22 - Marketing Nirvana - 202,102 (-3,820)(LW - 21)
23 - Servant of Chaos - 220,194 (-10,957)(LW - 24)
24 - Church of the Customer - 221,254 (-17,721)(LW - 22)
25 - Experience Curve - 232,879 (-20,085)(LW - 25)

More of the same, as 18 of the Top 25 were down. There were some bright spots, as Drew's Marketing Minute enters the Top 5 for the first time, and CK's Blog and Conversation Agent have nice moves upward.

I'm probably going to switch to Technorati to rank the Top 25 starting next week. One of the main reasons why I chose Alexa to rank the blogs was because I assumed that most bloggers understood how Alexa calculates its rankings. Instead, many bloggers had never heard of Alexa! On the flipside, everyone knows about Technorati, and how they rank blogs. So I think switching to Technorati will make the Top 25 much easier to understand. We'll see how it goes.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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I don't care how smart you are now...

...Ryan is smarter than you were when you were his age.

As CK said "Um, was I that smart as an I (gulp!) that smart now?"

For me the answer to the first question is definitely no, and....thanks for stopping by.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Thought for the day

Major marketing smartitude from Spike at Brains on Fire:
As the engagement and involvement of your community – your passionate fans – increases, the less money you need. They are happy to help. Happy to be asked their opinion. Happy to spread the word for you because they are now a part of you. Your identity has become a part of their identity. And vise-versa.

I am constantly blogging about the need for companies to join their communities of customers. To attempt to match their wants and needs to those of their customers. Spike just perfectly explained why this is so important.


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Does Your Company Need a Community Evangelist?

James Lim wants companies to start hiring online community evangelists. He explains:
This is how fast (agile if you will) the world is changing. There is a person that you need to hire today into your company, but there is no real title for them. You can’t find a them under a category under In fact, it’s amazing to say, but the most talented person out there for the job may not even know that they are the perfect candidate. What I’m speaking of is a Community Evangelist or Community Manager (again, there are all sorts of titles. At Microsoft, they call them Community Program Managers). For simplicity, I’ll stick to the title, Community Evangelist for this title since I think that it’s most appropriate being that the job is one that requires a great deal of faith, belief, and passion against the odds of encouraging people to change the way they communicate with others.

Bingo. I'll go further and say that every major company should make a list of their community evangelists online, and from that list, hire at least one to serve the same role within the company. The value such a move brings to your organization is immense, as you are getting an evangelist for your company, that speaks with the voice of your customer.

This is why I absolutely love what LinkedIn did in hiring Mario Sundar to be its Community Evangelist. Suddenly, LinkedIn is relevant to me. And Mario is doing exactly what he was hired to do, he's bringing the voice of the community to LinkedIn. He's helped the site launch its first blog, and he's talking to other bloggers about what features LinkedIn should be adding. Previously if LinkedIn had tried to talk to me, I could have cared less. Then they hired a top marketing blogger that's an expert at building communities, and suddenly my mouse perks up. I've spent more time with LinkedIn in the last month, than I did the previous year.

James closes with this: "Find a Community Evangelist now to take your company into the future of customer dialogue using Web 2.0. Your customers will love you and you will see a measurable and significant ROI on this investment."

What he said.

Pic via Jeremiah

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The Dark Knight Goes Viral

With Batman Begins (and the addition of Chris Nolan), Warner Brothers restored my faith in the Batman movie franchise. Now the studio is attempting to soup up its marketing efforts for the movie's sequel.

The Dark Knight won't reach movie theaters until next summer, but WB has already launched an interesting online promotion for the film, with a built-in viral component.

When you go to the movie's website, you are greeted with the familiar bat logo, and nothing more. But if you click on the logo, you are taken to the site, which has the picture shown above.

Now according to Muhammad at ProNet Advertising, the site eventually comes up, with the 'vandalized' logo at the left. It appears that Batman's old nemesis The Joker has been at work. But Muhammad explains that with this site (which apparently can only be accessed from the above site first), you can enter in your email address, and you'll be sent the x,y coordinates of one pixel, and a new link where you can enter in the email's coordinates, and remove one pixel on the image to the left, revealing a bit of the image underneath.

However, you can only get one pixel per email address, so you're probably going to need help from your friends to see what image is underneath. This is where the viral component comes in, as everyone works together sharing coordinates, until the image underneath finally confirms our suspicions that The Joker has been up to no good. Muhammad adds that Warner Bros. seeded these sites on several 'socially driven communities', and according to Google Blog Search, the IBelieveInHarveyDent site has been already been linked to over 200 times since last Thursday.

Given that The Dark Knight doesn't hit theaters for another 14 months, I have to assume that this is just the start of a larger campaign for the movie. We're seeing more of these type of online efforts, especially considering how much exposure the incredibly elaborate online viral effort for the new Nine Inch Nails album garnered.

If smartly done, I'm a big fan of these type of efforts, because they generate a ton of buzz, while giving fan boys a chance to have some fun. At this point I am a bit confused by the launch of this campaign now, since we are heading into the teeth of the summer movie season, especially with 2 Marvel comic heavyweights in theaters. Perhaps a fall launch would have been better.

Then again, maybe this summer's movie marketing is big enough for a Silver Surfer, a webhead, and an obsessed millionaire/vigilante crimefighter.

UPDATE: Catch Up Lady blogs about the effort as well, and it seems 42 Entertainment is also behind this one, as they were the NIN campaign.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Bad Idea, Indeed Launches Blogger-Interview Series

Philippe at Bad Idea, Indeed is going to be interviewing several A-List bloggers (along with me) this week, featuring a different one every day. My segment is the first one up. I talk about what challenges are facing advertisers, what makes The Viral Garden unique, and some of my favorite marketing blogs. Philippe is also encouraging readers to give their own answers to the same questions, so make sure you chime in as well!

Thanks again to Philippe, and make sure to check Bad Idea, Indeed in the coming days as he'll have interviews up with some of the marketing blogosphere's heavy hitters. Should be very interesting!


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Missing the (Social Media) Boat

My latest post is up at Daily Fix, entitled 'Are Marketers Missing the Social Media Boat?' The post is born out of frustration, because I am seeing more and more mention of how marketers are integrating social media into their marketing plans, but not as they should be.

Social media holds enormous potential for marketers, because blogs, podcasts, Twitter, and other forms give marketers the ability to bring the voice of the customer into a company. These tools allow companies to communicate with customers, and in turn, feedback collected from customers can alter a company's marketing, making it more effective and efficient.

Instead, many marketers seem to be using social media as simply a new selling channel. The WSJ recently wrote about how CBS selected a group of 'mommy' bloggers to come to the set of 'The New Adventures of Old Christine'(Thanks again for the link, Paul). CBS let the bloggers meet the cast and shoot videos with them to be posted on their blogs, and heaped freebies including DVDs on the bloggers.

But in the article, I saw no mention of any attempt by CBS to actually TALK to the bloggers and get any type of feedback from them. Apparently, CBS simply wanted to fly the bloggers in, let them meet the cast, throw them some DVDs, and let them run to their blogs with stars in their eyes, happily posting about how they loved the entire experience. And you know what, I'm pretty much ok with CBS reaching out to what it feels are the show's online evangelists, as long as CBS also makes a sincere effort to get feedback from the bloggers, and attempts to talk to them and learn how they can better understand the show's audience.

Instead, it appears that CBS did what many marketers have done, they showed the bloggers a good time, and gave them some freebies hoping for positive blog posts about the show. In other words, CBS didn't view blogs as a communication tool with its target audience, but as another selling channel. This is TERRIBLY short-sighted, and means that CBS is 'leaving money on the table'.

But CBS isn't alone, most companies are viewing bloggers as simply another sales channel. I've blogged extensively about my participation in Nikon's 'Picture This' program. And while I am on record as saying that this program is one of the best 'blogger ambassador' programs I've ever seen, I also think that Nikon could be doing more to collect feedback from bloggers that are involved in the program. To be fair, Tom Biro from The MWW Group has emailed me a couple of times asking if I had any questions, but there doesn't seem to be a real effort to give the bloggers that are participating in the program a way to have input in the program's direction. We got the cameras, we got a couple of emails soon after asking if we have any questions, and that's been it. I was hoping for at least a blog specifically for the program that would allow Nikon to highlight the bloggers involved, and also give us the chance to give more feedback on the program. And such a blog could also give tips on using the camera, and show some of the pictures we have taken with the camera, but I guess that won't be happening. Overall, the 'outreach' part for 'Picture This' has been minimal.

Which I obviously think is a shame in this and all cases. Sure I understand that for marketers, the urge can be there to tap into popularity of certain bloggers to 'sell more stuff'. But that's way small potatoes, the best way that companies can utilize blogs and other forms of social media in their marketing efforts is to view these tools as vehicles for communicating and understanding their customers. Social media offers marketers the enormous potential to bring the voice of the customer into its marketing efforts, which leads to more effective and more efficient marketing.

If Nikon has any additional 'outreach' components to the 'Picture This' program that I don't know about, please leave a comment here, rather than email me. I think it would make more sense for Nikon or any company executing a 'blogger ambassador' program to attempt to constantly collect feedback from participants, but maybe Nikon has something planned for later. If so, feel free to drop a comment here explaining those efforts.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Viral Community News

Buncha shoutouts and congrats I wanted to send to bloggers such as....

1 - Drew McLellan, David Reich, and Cam Beck each had their debut posts at Daily Fix recently, and all 3 started with a home-run out of the gate. Ann continues to be an incredible community-builder. Also, Drew has created an e-book to help recent college graduates get a job.

2 - Congrats to David Armano, who is joining Critical Mass. It's been incredibly exciting to see David's star rise over the last year, and we all knew he was going to get some spectacular opportunities such as this one.

3 - Two of the blogosphere's leading ladies are celebrating blogging anniversaries. First, CK marked her one-year anniversary on Friday, then yesterday, Toby Bloomberg announced that The Diva Marketing Blog had hit it's 3-year anniversary! Congrats to both of you!

Congrats to everyone, so good to see all my blogging buddies doing good!


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Friday, May 18, 2007

Who benefits the most from your idea?

Seth raised this point recently on his blog:
Which brings us to Guy Kawasaki and his new project. I disliked this project from the very first moment I saw the beta. It's unlikely that it will fail. It will almost certainly generate a lot of traffic and a huge ROI for Guy. For the rest of us, it demonstrates just how easy it is to start a web company today, and just how important it is to create one that makes the world better, not just noisier.

I agree with Seth on Truemors, I don't like the idea, but it will likely be a success, and draw attention to Guy Kawasaki. But to Seth I would ask, isn't that exactly why you created a Squidoo lens for the Z-List, and added a voting feature? Wasn't your goal to draw traffic and attention to Squidoo?


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The "Breakup" Video

You may have already seen the "Breakup' video created by Geert Desager, as everyone is talking about it.

Pretty funny and painfully accurate video, and I'm glad to see Geert getting his due. Geert might have been the first blogger I ever talked to, waaaay back in his Brandopia/blogspot days, before Microsoft was smart enough to snap him up. I talked to his colleague Kris Hoet, and asked him if Microsoft knew about the video:
He started the idea with the agency, defended it internally to get the budget (which he didn’t have locally) and to be able to do it the way he wanted (together with Openhere) starting with the blog where he wanted to share everything starting from the agency brief etc. It took some time to get it all done, get the needed approvals and stuff but eventually they let him finish it like he wanted and what you see is just like he wanted it to be. So short, yes they knew - but he did a great job driving & defending it. Kudos

As expected, CK has taken it to the next level. She offered a conference call to Geert and Kris to discuss the video, and Sean Howard will be chiming in. Canada, Belgium, and the United States all on the same concall! Check out CK's post and especially the comments from Geert and others.

Congrats again Geert!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 56

Here's the standings for Week 56:

1 - Seth's Blog - 6,724 (-308)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 13,586 (-419)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 24,883 (-976)(LW - 3)
4 - Gaping Void - 27,723 (-351)(LW - 4)
5 - Marketing Shift - 60,270 (-1,843)(LW - 5)
6 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 63,592 (+323)(LW - 6)
7 - Daily Fix - 64,990 (-110)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Interactive Marketing - 71,096 (+165) (LW - 8)
9 - Converstations - 84,317 (-1,915)(LW - 9)
10 - New School of Network Marketing - 84,660 (-1,264)(LW - 10)
11 - The Viral Garden - 87,773 (-1,917)(LW - 11)
12 - Logic + Emotion - 88,747 (-502)(LW - 12)
13 - Marketing Hipster - 94,170 (+2,426) (LW - 13)
14 - Coolzor - 97,710 (+1,688)(LW - 14)
15 - Brand Autopsy - 131,434 (+487)(LW - 15)
16 - What's Next - 143,580 (-1,498)(LW - 16)
17 - Jaffe Juice - 154,928 (-3,914)(LW - 17)
18 - Marketing Headhunter - 169,003 (-2,225)(LW - 18)
19 - CK's Blog - 191,840 (+3,767)(LW - 21)
20 - Diva Marketing - 193,756 (-1,596)(LW - 20)
21 - Marketing Nirvana - 198,282 (-6,564)(LW - 19)
22 - Church of the Customer - 203,533 (-5,655)(LW - 22)
23 - Conversation Agent - 208,147 (LW - UR)
24 - Servant of Chaos - 209,237 (-2,526)(LW - 23)
25 - Experience Curve - 212,794 (-2,192)(LW - 24)

In what's becoming a trend, most blogs in the Top 25 were down, and we had at least one new entry. 18 of the Top 25 were down, including 8 of the Top 10.

Valeria Maltoni's Conversation Agent is the week's new entry. Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog, Emergence Marketing, and Beyond Madison Avenue just missed the cut.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

(My) Thought of the Day

"A great marketer speaks with the voice of the customer."

Inspired by Jim's question at Daily Fix and the excellent discussion that resulted.


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Marketing Profs' Book Club is getting sticky...

Bookworms rejoice! Marketing Profs' Book Club is back for Round 3, and the hits just keep on coming. This time the spotlight is on the Heath brothers, Chip and Dan that is, and their scorcher Made to Stick. This book, which has received rave reviews since publication, examines what causes some ideas to become memorable or sticky, and what causes other ideas to die. Thanks to Cam Beck, I recently got my grubby hands on a copy of the book, and am loving it.

And speaking of Cam, he has created a tee-totally kick-ass review of the book that also includes an interview with Chip and Dan! Excellent stuff, and Cam gives you the lowdown and lets you download it here.

And of course, this round of the Book Club is again hosted by the dynamic CK. CK posts all the info you'll need on Round 3 today at Daily Fix. Make sure you sign-up by Friday to be eligible to receive one of the 50 free copies signed by Chip and Dan! Sweet! If you've signed up for the previous rounds of Book Club, you're already in the running! Surf over to Daily Fix and see what the buzz is!

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Delta catches other airlines napping, joins Twitter?

I haven't used Twitter much, but one thing I've noticed is that there's a lot of talk about airlines on the service. It seems that while many are stuck in airports, they want to jump on Twitter.

And frequently, they want to bitch about the crappy service that the airlines are giving them. Take this episode from Ariel's recent experience with United and US Airways:
Perhaps one of the most commonly mentioned categories of brands on Twitter are airlines. Often times you find yourself stuck in an airport with nothing but a phone as your connection to the world. Luckily, Twitter is always available to listen to you vent. This was the case with me about a month ago, when I experienced the most horrid treatment by United/US Airways and "live-twittered" my absolute disgust with them:

-I cant remember the last time i was on a flight that wasnt delayed. Not cool.
-Twitter is my only friend to vent to when im stuck in annoying airport lines.
-Brands should monitor twitter for real time feedback. Us airways would know how much i hate them now.
-I am seriously on the verge of crying. My flight was bumped again due to them accidentally not booking it correctly.

Along comes Delta, who has decided to enter the Twitter-world(at least we think it's them)! Absolutely brilliant, and gives them a massive first-mover advantage over their competitors, many of which likely have no idea what Twitter is anyway. And Jaffe details how the company isn't just sending pitches with Twitter, they are actively conversing with Twitter users and addressing their concerns about Delta, and the airline industry as a whole!

We still need to point out that no one has confirmed that Delta is actually behind this, but if so, kudos indeed! This is another perfect example of the importance of using the tools your customers are, in their space.

PS: You can Twitter me here.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

People Will Talk...

I love it when this happens:
So I've started adding photographs to my blog, as you may or may not have noticed. The impetus was Mack Collier's post entitled "Your Company Blog Sucks, Now What?" in which he suggests adding images to make one's post more distinctive.

Lookin' good, Matt!

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Blogging's Little Secret

The power of Google-juice has hit the mainstream.

The WSJ's Kevin Delaney earlier this week wrote an article for the paper on the importance of having a viable Google presence. He explains how parents today are even naming their children based on how well their potential name shows up in Google rankings. If it doesn't, that means they've found a winner, since their child's name should have little competition for Google's affection.

Here's my advice for parents that are wanting to ensure their child has Google-power; Pick the name you want for your kiddo, and have them blog. Google absolutely loves blogs. This was a completely unexpected, and delightful result from my blogging. I checked the Google search results for my name the day I started my blogging adventure, back in September of 2005. At that time, there were 450 search results for my name, and very few were me, and they were buried on the 3rd or 4th page. In other words, to Google, and anyone that wanted to test my Google-power, I was invisible.

Today? Over 47,000 Google search results for 'Mack Collier'. And yes, almost all of that extra number has come from my blogging. Kevin's article is getting a ton of link-love right now, but when the mainstream figures out how Google feels about blogs, that's when you'll really see some fireworks.

Extra: Check out the Google Logos page.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 55

Here's the standings for Week 55:

1 - Seth's Blog - 6,416 (-96)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 13,167 (-376)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 23,907 (-251)(LW - 3)
4 - Gaping Void - 27,372 (-463)(LW - 4)
5 - Marketing Shift - 58,427 (-3,063)(LW - 5)
6 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 63,915 (-589)(LW - 6)
7 - Daily Fix - 64,880 (-1,070)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Interactive Marketing - 71,261 (+1,300) (LW - 8)
9 - Converstations - 82,402 (-6,005)(LW - 9)
10 - New School of Network Marketing - 83,396 (-1,991)(LW - 10)
11 - The Viral Garden - 85,856 (-486)(LW - 11)
12 - Logic + Emotion - 88,245 (-971)(LW - 12)
13 - Marketing Hipster - 96,596 (+1,460) (LW - 13)
14 - Coolzor - 99,398 (+1,293)(LW - 14)
15 - Brand Autopsy - 131,921 (+2,327)(LW - 15)
16 - What's Next - 142,082 (+1,763)(LW - 16)
17 - Jaffe Juice - 151,014 (+1,104)(LW - 17)
18 - Marketing Headhunter - 166,778 (-6,641)(LW - 18)
19 - Marketing Nirvana - 191,718 (-12,828)(LW - 19)
20 - Diva Marketing - 192,160 (-7,271)(LW - 21)
21 - CK's Blog - 195,607 (-7,422)(LW - 22)
22 - Church of the Customer - 197,878 (-14,854)(LW - 20)
23 - Servant of Chaos - 206,711 (-3,455)(LW - 23)
24 - Experience Curve - 210,602 (-3,678)(LW - 24)
25 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 241,556 (LW - UR)

Another weak week for the Top 25. Influential Interactive Marketing was again the lone bright spot for the Top 10. But it wasn't all bad news as blogs #13-17 were all up.

Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog is the week's new entry at #25, and joins his Digitas running mate David Armano. While the countdown has been in reverse lately, it's good to see new blogs getting into the mix such as Verdino's, CK's, and Servant of Chaos.

BTW if Greg or anyone else wants to add the Top 25 Badge to their blog, here it is:

Next update is next Wednesday.

PS: Jim Kukral did an interesting study of the Top 25 Marketing Blogs.

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The Long Tail is About People

Last night I was blog-surfing and ran across a point I made on BMA last year:

“As you move down the long-tail, your marketing becomes less about the product, and more about the people.”

This is why social media fits The Long Tail so well, because it allows for more personalized communication. The megaphone blast of big media advertising doesn't reach The Long Tail very well, in fact it almost always turns them off. Because you are sending a broad-based message to a specific niche. It's totally irrelevant.

Social Media helps correct this problem, by letting specific people communicate with specific markets. It lets companies and customers find each other, and have a conversation. Remember, The Long Tail isn't about products, it's about people.

UPDATE: Jaffe adds his take on reaching The Long Tail. Tara posted last year that The Long Tail is Chunky.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Prince launches 'All-London' tour with cheap tix, free CDs

Prince announced today that his European tour this summer will never leave England. In fact, it will never leave London. The pop singer has committed to a 21-date all-London tour, starting in August.

That was the first curve-ball, but the singer also announced that tickets will be set at 31.21 pounds (approx. $69). The cheapo tickets also come with a free gift, a copy of his latest CD, 3121.

The cheap tix and free CD just encourage positive word-of-mouth from concert-goers for both the concert itself, and Prince's music. Prince is simply making it easier for his fans to engage in an activity that they were going to perform anyway. Which in turn gives his fans further incentive to promote his music to others. Enthusiasm is contagious.

But this isn't Prince's first creative promotion. When 3121 was released last March, Prince included a free ticket in 7 random copies of the CD. Not just any tickets, these 7 tickets gave the lucky winner free airfare to Minneapolis, Minnesota (Prince's hometown), where the pop singer entertained the group with a private concert.

Which begs the question; Why do companies seem to focus on getting more customers, while music artists seem to focus on getting more fans?

Thanks to the lovely CK for giving me a heads-up on this.

G makes a great point in the comments: "music artists want fans, labels want customers: again this is where the music industry get its current problem with the decrease of cd sales and the legal issues and etc.etc. "

UPDATE: Lewis blogs about the state of the music industry.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Communication is infectious

Tony Dungy, the head coach of the Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts, will be blogging this upcoming season.

While I think that's interesting, I think the story of how that agreement came to be is even more so. A few months ago, I discovered Pat Coyle's Sports Marketing 2.0. Pat is the Director of Database Marketing & E-Commerce for the Indianapolis Colts. At Sports Marketing 2.0, he blogs about his efforts to incorporate social media and networking initiatives into the marketing mix for the Colts. In doing so, he gives us an inside glimpse into a major organization that we are rarely afforded from the outside looking in.

But that's the whole point of social media, isn't it? To facilitate communication. His most recent post about how Dungy will be blogging this upcoming season shows that he's working inside the Colts organization to try to bring the franchise and its fans closer together.

"The highlight of my week last week was a meeting with Tony Dungy. It’s always nice to spend time with him, but this meeting was particularly sweet because he agreed to write a blog this season inside our social network.

I have had several meetings with Tony over the past several months, hoping to persuade him to jump in and join us. I’ve been showing him what we’re building and offering him reasons why he might like to blog (i.e. our fans will love it AND it will be a great platform for him to use to communicate with the world). He finally agreed. It’s gonna be great."

He's right, the Colt's fans WILL love it. I'd be willing to bet that Tony will grow to love it as well.

After all, if social media teaches us anything, it's that communication is infectious. Encouraging to see that Pat's efforts to make the Colts more accessible to their fans through social media are having the desired result. Maybe if social media can work for the Super Bowl Champions, it could for your company as well?

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Is Twitter Twittering Out?

Here's a snapshot of Twitter's traffic over the last 6 months, via Alexa:

The spike in mid-March occurred when Twitter blew up at SXSW.

But look at the site's traffic over the last 3 months:

Appears that traffic to the site is leveling off. I think by now, most people that are going to pick up on the site have started using it. I'm seeing almost no Twitter talk on the blogs I frequent, after being inundated with talk about the service a couple of months ago.

I think it will be interesting to see what this graph looks like in a couple of months. Personally, I just never have gotten into Twitter, but I know that many enjoy the service. I think the problem for marketers is finding a way to filter all the messages left via Twitter, based on relevance. I haven't used Twitter much, but I haven't read about any way to search the messages left via Twitter. If Twitter adds this functionality, or if someone creates a widget that does this, that could boost usage significantly.

As I said, I think the next few months will tell the tale for Twitter.

UPDATE: Scoble takes credit for Twitter's growth.

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 54

Here's the standings for Week 54:

1 - Seth's Blog - 6,320 (-164)(LW - 1)
2 - Creating Passionate Users - 12,791 (-80)(LW - 2)
3 - Duct Tape Marketing - 23,656 (-131)(LW - 3)
4 - Gaping Void - 26,909 (-652)(LW - 4)
5 - Marketing Shift - 55,364 (-7,214)(LW - 5)
6 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 63,326 (-460)(LW - 6)
7 - Daily Fix - 63,810 (-867)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Interactive Marketing - 72,561 (+1,566) (LW - 9)
9 - Converstations - 76,397 (-4,645)(LW - 8)
10 - New School of Network Marketing - 81,405 (-4,517)(LW - 10)
11 - The Viral Garden - 85,370 (-2,924)(LW - 11)
12 - Logic + Emotion - 87,274 (-412)(LW - 12)
13 - Marketing Hipster - 98,056 (+3,529) (LW - 14)
14 - Coolzor - 100,691 (-1,970)(LW - 13)
15 - Brand Autopsy - 134,248 (-1,445)(LW - 15)
16 - What's Next - 143,845 (-1,018)(LW - 16)
17 - Jaffe Juice - 152,118 (-4,802)(LW - 17)
18 - Marketing Headhunter - 160,137 (-2,198)(LW - 18)
19 - Marketing Nirvana - 178,980 (-2,713)(LW - 21)
20 - Church of the Customer - 183,024 (-10,943)(LW - 19)
21 - Diva Marketing - 184,889 (-11,775)(LW - 20)
22 - CK's Blog - 188,185 (-3,545)(LW - 22)
23 - Servant of Chaos - 203,256 (+5,277)(LW - 24)
24 - Experience Curve - 206,924 (-2,305)(LW - 23)
25 - Beyond Madison Avenue - 242,631 (LW - UR)

Another rough week for the Top 25 as a whole, as only 3 blogs were up. A good example of how weak the Top 25 has been lately is to see how Marketing Shift has added about 30K to its Alexa ranking, but is still the #5 blog. Influentual Interactive Marketing continues to be one of the few bright spots, up another notch to #8 this week. Close behind, Marketing Hipster cracks 100K, and is up to #13.

Last week's lone new entry, Servant of Chaos, has a nice second week, and is up to #23. BMA re-enters the Top 25 at #25.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Marketing Magic in a Big Red Barn

Over a year ago at BMA I blogged about the creation of JewelStock, but I love the story from a marketing/fan empowerment angle so much that I wanted to post about it here as well.

For over 10 years, Jewel has had a very devoted group of fans called 'Everyday Angels' (EDAs). These EDAs have had their own mailing list on the internet since the mid 1990s. In 1996, the EDAs began posting about how it would be great if Jewel could perform a special concert just for members of their list.

Now normally, such 'wouldn't if be great if' type wishing dies out as quickly as it starts. But what the EDAs had going for them was that a member of Jewel's management team regularly read and posted to the list. In 1996, Jewel's music career was just starting to take off, and she was smart enough to realize that her biggest fans were her EDAs. So she not only made a point to have her management stay in contact with the list, she even occasionally posted to the list! Again, this is happening in 1996.

So as the list began whipping themselves up over the possibility of Jewel giving them a concert, they reached out to Jewel's management contact on the list to ask her to get in touch with Jewel to see if this was at all feasible. In June, Jewel posted to the list that she would agree to give the list members a FREE concert. There was a BIG catch. She added that the EDAs had to handle almost all of the organization and logistics for the concert. They had to secure the location, work out all the details so that all Jewel had to do was show up and perform.

Kids in a candystore! First you take an artist's biggest fans, and you agree to give them a FREE concert. Then you give them the responsibility of organizing the event? Are you kidding me? The list members went apeshit, a core 'planning' group (including Jewel's mom/manager) was assembled that would secure the location, etc. The group settled on a theater close to the site of the original WoodStock in New York, and gave the concert the completely obvious title of JewelStock.

But that was half the battle. Now the group had to find a way to get all the EDAs TO the event. And there were plenty of people that needed rides. EDAs from as far away as Oregon, California, and Canada were committed to getting to JewelStock. So the group created a separate website that contained local lodging information, along with lists of EDAs that were available for carpooling to the concert, and their contact information. The EDAs dubbed the project of getting everyone to JewelStock 'Angel Needs a Ride' after one of Jewel's songs. One more time, this is all being organized online, in 1996.

The group created tee-shirts and buttons for the event. A list member snagged Patti Griffin to be the 'opening act'. Jewel had agreed to give one free concert to EDA members only, but the concert had created such a buzz that many non-EDAs wanted to attend, so Jewel agreed to add a second concert the following night that was open to the public on July 19th, 1996. An admission fee of $15 was charged for the second concert, with all proceeds benefiting the Bearsville Theatre, where the concerts were held, in 'big red barn' in the pic above.

What I love about this story is how Jewel was smart enough to give the ownership of this project over to her diehard fans, and then to see how they ran with it. They organized the event, they organized the travel arrangements to make sure that everyone across the country and even from Canada could make it! They designed and created t-shirts and buttons (note the 'JewelStock' flyer in the pic on the right), and created websites to get information to each other. One last time, this happened in 1996. Years before terms like 'blogs', 'customer evangelists', 'social media', and 'viral marketing' were ever uttered.

But what about the concerts? Hundreds of fans from ages 15-50 heard a staggering 7+ hours of music over two nights. 64 songs total with FIVE encores. Jewel stayed after the concert both nights to meet with her fans. Check out the reviews from the EDAs that attended.

All of this happened because one artist reached out to her biggest fans, and gave them a sense of ownership in something larger than themselves. When that happens, magic is sure to follow.

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