Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 80

Here's the standings for Week 80:

1 - Seth's Blog - 9,014 (+110)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,281 (-17)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,355 (+123)(LW - 3)
4 - Logic + Emotion - 1,095 (+2)(LW - 4)
5 - Daily Fix - 1,086 (+36)(LW - 5)
6 - Diva Marketing - 974 (+7)(LW - 6)
7 - What's Next - 959 (+3)(LW - 7)
8 - The Engaging Brand - 757 (+312)(LW - 21)
9 - Brand Autopsy - 717 (+21)(LW - 9)
10 - Influential Marketing - 716 (+16)(LW - 8)
11 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 712 (+16)(LW - 9)
12 - Converstations - 679(-8)(LW - 11)
13 - Church of the Customer - 649 (+14)(LW - 12)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 581 (+9)(LW - 13)
15 - Conversation Agent - 563 (+11)(LW - 15)
16 - The Viral Garden - 551 (-10)(LW - 14)
17 - Marketing Roadmaps - 531 (+3)(LW - 16)
18 - Branding and Marketing - 529 (+23)(LW - 18)
19 - Marketing Headhunter - 521 (No Change)(LW - 17)
20 - Customers Rock! - 459 (+7)(LW - 20)
21 - Servant of Chaos - 455 (-1)(LW - 19)
22 - CK's Blog - 437 (+10)(LW - 22)
23 - Experience Curve - 396 (-5)(LW - 23)
24 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 383 (+5)(LW - 24)
25 - Chaos Scenario - 347 (LW - UR)

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

Best week for the Top 25 in months as 18 blogs were up, with only 5 blogs down (including this one). Search Engine Guide had a big move and I assume a 'Technorati-correction' was at least partially responsible for The Engaging Brand pole-vaulting up to #8 by adding 312 links to its total. It will be interesting to see if the Top 25's improvement is the start of a trend, or a one-week blip.

A lone new entry as Chaos Scenario debuts at #25

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Improve your marketing by giving it away

My latest premium article for Marketing Profs is up, and it covers how some companies are turning over the 4Ps of marketing to their community of customers. Great examples from Radiohead, Threadless, Flickr, and Maker's Mark of how you can cede some of your marketing to your customers, as well as advice on how to make the same moves in your own organization.

Thanks to everyone that's already contacted me about the article, glad you enjoyed it!


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Monday, October 29, 2007

Dell: A Social Media Rags-to-Riches Story

Dell provides possibly the best case study of how a company has successfully integrated social media into its marketing communications, and culture. What makes the 'Dell story' so compelling isn't how the company is utilizing social media now, but rather how Dell's workers are such good online citizens now, after having such a horrible start.

We all know about 'Dell Hell', and Dell's infamous 'we don't respond to bloggers' reply to the blogging firestorm that Jeff Jarvis unleashed on his blog in response to what he felt was crappy customer service from Dell. Since that time back in 2005, Dell has gone from cautiously entering the blogosphere, to completely embracing bloggers in our space.

The transformation hasn't been lost on Jarvis, who just penned an excellent piece for Business Week on how Dell has mended its image with bloggers. At his own blog, Jarvis adds:
After giving Dell hell two years ago, I may well be accused of throwing them a wet kiss now. It’s a positive piece. But it’s hard not to praise them when they ended up doing everything I was pushing in my open letter to Michael Dell. I’m not saying that I caused that, just that we ended up agreeing and they ended up seeing the value in listening to and ceding control to customers. They reached out to bloggers; they blogged; they found ways to listen to and follow the advice of their customers. They joined the conversation. That’s all we asked.

It IS all we asked. We ask the same of many companies, and many companies have yet to hear us as Dell has. This is the real reason why we bloggers come down so hard on companies like Spirit that commit such social media blunders. Because we hope that this will serve as the wake-up call that will prompt these companies to re-examine how these tools, which they have obviously ignored, can help them better understand their customers and in turn improve their business processes.

BTW an interesting side-note to this post. I received an email recently from Paul van Veenendaal at The Viral Blog. I hadn't heard of the blog yet, but it only started a few weeks ago and looks to be growing fairly rapidly. What I noticed in checking the blog was that Paul had written this post about how Dell is reaching out to customers via IdeaStorm and StudioDell. But notice who left the first comment, Dell's John Pope. That might be the biggest sign that Dell truly 'gets' social media.

BTW in true bloggy disclaimer fashion, I feel I should mention that I have talked to John and the gang at Dell a few times about their blog and social media strategy. Then again, that doesn't really put me in very exclusive company, as John and Richard Binhammer are constantly reaching out to bloggers and engaging us, both online and offline. Which is another sign of how the company has gone from rags to riches in the blogosphere.

UPDATE: Lionel announces more connections between Dell's company blog and its IdeaStorm community.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Viral Community News

The 'community brings the news' edition.

1 - Tim has posted some stunning pictures and commentary on the wildfires that are raging in Southern California. Thankfully, MasiGuy and his family seem to be out of harm's way, but obviously not everyone is so lucky. I think this is a great example of how social media can be used to report breaking news, and to make us aware of the issues and struggles that other people can be facing. Hang in there Tim, we're keeping you and everyone else that's being affected by the fires in our thoughts.

2 - I love discovering new blogs, and I recently discovered Ivana's Strategy Stew after she picked up on my Spirit post. She's got some great stuff there, such as this post on creating an emotional response and great customer experience. Check it out!

3 - Eat, Sleep, Blog is back for Episode 5. Which means more hard-hitting talk about marketing bullshit, with healthy doses of intended and unintended humor. Sean said that he, Gavin and Paul agreed to post a new episode after receiving requests for one, to which Gavin replied "Really? People ask for this? They get what they deserve then ;)"

4 - Check out Ann's latest HuffPo post on Harry Potter and the Curse of TMI.

Now, I'm going to cut this edition of VCN a bit short as I want to turn the post over to you guys. If you have any posts you've written lately that you want to bring attention to, feel free to post a link in the comments. It can be 1, 5, or even 10. If you've written something that you think the community would be interested in, please let us know! My only request is that if do post links to your own work, please also post at least one link to another blogger's post that you have enjoyed lately. This is a great way that we can work together to bring attention to stuff that not only we have created, but great posts that we've come across in our blogging travels.

So the floor is yours, and thanks!


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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 79

Here's the standings for Week 79:

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,904 (-29)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,298 (-32)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,232 (-1)(LW - 3)
4 - Logic + Emotion - 1,093 (-13)(LW - 4)
5 - Daily Fix - 1,050 (+11)(LW - 5)
6 - Diva Marketing - 967 (No Change)(LW - 6)
7 - What's Next - 956 (-9)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Marketing - 700 (-8)(LW - 10)
9 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 696 (-18)(LW - 8)
9 - Brand Autopsy - 696 (+5)(LW - 11)
11 - Converstations - 687(-27)(LW - 8)
12 - Church of the Customer - 635 (-24)(LW - 12)
13 - Jaffe Juice - 572 (+18)(LW - 14)
14 - The Viral Garden - 561 (-4)(LW - 13)
15 - Conversation Agent - 552 (+3)(LW - 15)
16 - Marketing Roadmaps - 528 (-12)(LW - 16)
17 - Marketing Headhunter - 521 (No Change)(LW - 17)
18 - Branding and Marketing - 506 (-11)(LW - 18)
19 - Servant of Chaos - 456 (-4)(LW - 20)
20 - Customers Rock! - 452 (-12)(LW - 19)
21 - The Engaging Brand - 445 (LW - UR)
22 - CK's Blog - 427 (-3)(LW - 21)
23 - Experience Curve - 401 (+7)(LW - 22)
24 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 378 (+7)(LW - 24)
25 - The Origin of Brands - 350 (-17)(LW - 24)

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

Only 6 blogs were up again this week, with one new entry. Daily Fix had perhaps the most significant move as it could be inching toward taking the #4 spot from L+E. Jaffe Juice had a nice bounce, probably due to the launch of his new book Join the Conversation. Conversation Agent continues to march upward.

A lone new entry as Anna Farmery's The Engaging Brand debuts at #21

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Another 'ignore bloggers, this is what you get' cautionary tale for companies

Alex recently blogged about the all-too-frequent tale of inadequate customer service, this time coming from Spirit Airlines. I'm not going to get into the details, you can check them out here. Where the story gets interesting is in how Spirit Airlines replied to complaints and concerns raised by its customers.

James and Christy flew Spirit for the first time to attend a concert in Atlanta. But due to numerous delays by Spirit, James and Christy didn't arrive in Atlanta in time to attend the concert, which was the only reason for their trip to Atlanta. They documented the problems they encountered with the airline in an email to Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza and a few other workers for the airline. The email is reprinted here.

Here's where the fun starts. Apparently, Baldanza meant to send an internal email to the other members of the airline that James and Christy CCed, but instead hit 'Reply to All' and send the following email to everyone, including James and Christy:

"Please respond, Pasquale, but we owe him nothing as far as I'm concerned. Let him tell the world how bad we are. He's never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny."

Oh man! Predictably, this story was already gaining steam as comments were flowing into Alex's blog from fellow Spirit customers that had also received less than stellar service. But this colossal email blunder simply lit the fuse. The Consumerist picked up on it. Then the Chicago Tribune referenced the episode in an article about customer complaints about the airline industry. And if you thought Baldanza's email blunder was bad, check out what Spirit spokeswoman Alison Russell told the paper when asked about James and Christy's complaint:

"We wouldn't respond to a blog post. This goes back to the larger question of the veracity of everything you read on Internet blogs. Our customer service is great."

No Allison, it goes back to the larger issue of when companies ignore their customers, especially their blogging customers, it always comes back to bite them. Baldanza flippantly quipped "Let him tell the world how bad we are". Well you got your wish buddy.

And as Dell found out with 'Dell Hell' refusing to respond to bloggers IS your response. And it's about the worst one you can make. No, scratch that, refusing to comment, and THEN implying that you can't trust what bloggers write is probably the worst reply possible.

And sure enough, Alex's original Do Not Fly Spirit Airlines is now the #2 Google search result for 'Spirit Airlines', behind only the company's website, and ahead of its Wikipedia entry.

Think about that for a moment. Anyone that searches for Spirit Airlines is going to have a post entitled 'Do Not Fly Spirit Airlines' staring them in the face. Now do some guessing at how much money Spirit is going to lose as a result of how they handled this episode.

So what would you tell Spirit that their next move should be to come back from this? Remember that as bad a blunder as Dell Hell was for Dell, 3 years later the company now has an excellent reputation for properly utilizing social media and sites. So if Dell can do it, so can Spirit.

But if you could sit Ben and Allison and the rest of the company's management down, what would you tell them about how they could salvage this situation and correct their actions here?

Hint for Spirit: Notice what I just did, instead of giving you a list of what *I* think you should do, I asked for my community's help. Because the community is ALWAYS smarter than you are. Understanding that is step one.

PS: Thanks to Josh for mentioning this story.

Bonus Link: For the other side of the coin, look what happened when Zappos went out of its way to give excellent customer service to a blogger. Hat tip to Kristen!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 78

Here's the standings for Week 78:

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,933 (-112)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,330 (-37)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,233 (+27)(LW - 3)
4 - Logic + Emotion - 1,106 (-13)(LW - 4)
5 - Daily Fix - 1,039 (+46)(LW - 5)
6 - Diva Marketing - 967 (+6)(LW - 7)
7 - What's Next - 965 (-22)(LW - 6)
8 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 714 (-11)(LW - 9)
8 - Converstations - 714(-10)(LW - 10)
10 - Influential Marketing - 708 (-8)(LW - 11)
11 - Brand Autopsy - 691 (-102)(LW - 8)
12 - Church of the Customer - 659 (-6)(LW - 12)
13 - The Viral Garden - 565 (-11)(LW - 13)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 554 (-19)(LW - 14)
15 - Conversation Agent - 549 (+14)(LW - 16)
16 - Marketing Roadmaps - 540 (No Change)(LW - 15)
17 - Marketing Headhunter - 521 (No Change)(LW - 18)
18 - Branding and Marketing - 517 (-4)(LW - 17)
19 - Customers Rock! - 464 (-15)(LW - 20)
20 - Servant of Chaos - 460 (-7)(LW - 21)
21 - CK's Blog - 430 (+2)(LW - 22)
22 - Experience Curve - 394 (-9)(LW - 23)
23 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 371 (+2)(LW - 24)
24 - The Origin of Brands - 367 (LW - UR)
25 - Strategic Public Relations - 366 (LW - UR)

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

The Top 25 was slightly stronger again this week, with 6 blogs up, and 2 new entries. Three of the Top 6 blogs were up, and Search Engine Guide continues to be about the hottest blog in the Top 25. Conversation Agent is also on a tear, as it moves up again this week to crack the Top 15, and has the second largest move upward overall.

A pair of new entries this week as Kevin Dugan's Strategic Public Relations makes its first appearance in the Top 25, and charter Top 25 member The Origin of Brands returns at #24.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Reaching your customers by joining them

The first posts I ever left here over 18 months ago were part of a series entitled Marketing With Your Community. The idea was simple; Your marketing is more effective and you better serve your community of customers if you join them. This was also the theme of my chapter in The Age of Conversation, I talked about how Willie Davidson conducts market research every weekend, by hitting the open road and joining the community of Harley riders.

Businesses that want to use social media and sites successfully cannot ignore the rules set in place by the community. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, podcasts, these sites and tools are here for us to communicate with each other. They aren't here for your company to sell more stuff.

Now that's not to say that you can't use these sites and tools to sell stuff, because you can. But your efforts will be far more fruitful if you use social media as your customers do.

The best way to reach customers on social sites such as Facebook, is to join them.

And as luck would have it, that's the exact topic of my latest premium article for Marketing Profs entitled 'How to Reach Facebook's Millions of Users in Nine Easy Steps'(The article is premium, but you can sign up for a 2-day trial and read it for free!). I wanted to write this as a roadmap for companies that want to develop a presence on Facebook, but that aren't sure how to get started. The best way to approach Facebook is that it's a community, and what you get back from a community depends greatly on the value you contribute. The heart of this article walks companies through the steps necessary to become good community members, members that create and share value with the community.

Which is how businesses can get value from social media and sites, by creating value for their customers using the same tools they are, in the ways that they are.

UPDATE: My latest DF post, How to Make BIG Money on Facebook!

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Monday, October 15, 2007

So what's the deal with this blogging and social media stuff anyway?

Curious about blogging and social media, but not sure how to get started? Or have you started blogging and aren't getting the results you were hoping for? Do you just want someone to cut through all the hype and buzzwords and clearly explain how these amazing tools can help you better communicate with and understand your customers?

This is where I can help you. Social media holds enormous potential for companies to grow their businesses, but only if these amazing tools are used with the customers' best interests in mind. My writings, presentations, and consulting projects always focus on how your social media efforts can help you better listen to, communicate with, and understand your customers. Because when this happens, your marketing becomes much more effective and efficient (Read: cheaper). So everyone wins.

Here's the services I offer that can help you improve your blogging and social media efforts:

1 - Blog consulting. Whether you need help launching a new blog, or improving an existing one, I can help. I offer complete coaching in this area, showing you how to monitor the existing conversations happening about your business in the blogosphere. I will then work with you to tailor every aspect of your content so that it provides your readers with the information and value they are looking for. I will also show you how to grow your readership by engaging readers on OTHER blogs, including their own, and even on other sites, such as Twitter. You can find more information about my services along with prices here. Feel free to email me if you need more information.

2 - Social Media consulting. Here I'll help you determine what (if any) social media sites/tools will work best for helping you achieve your larger business goals. I can help your company develop a presence on social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, or show you how to use microblogging sites such as Twitter and Plurk to better communicate with and engage your customers. If you are already active on these sites and looking for advice on improving your existing efforts, I'll help you get your efforts on the right track. Or if you aren't using social media currently but are curious about the possibilities, I can create a comprehensive social media strategy that will help your business achieve its goals. It could be that you can best reach your customers by participating on Facebook and blogs. Or maybe they prefer to use Twitter and MySpace? We'll assess your business and create a social media plan of action to help you better connect with and communicate with your customers.

3 - Blogging/Social Media Training. With this service, I offer extensive hands-on coaching with your company on social media tools. I can teach on individual tools such as blogs, social networks and microblogs, or several tools. Half and full-day workshops are available, as well as multiple-day seminars. Whether you want to launch a company blog, or discover how to create a presence on Twitter, in these sessions, I'll arm you with the knowledge and understanding necessary to 'hit the ground running' and begin using these tools immediately to help you grow your business. Please email me for a custom price quote on this service, and click here for more information on this service.

4 - Presentations. I offer a wide variety of custom presentations for your business on how to improve your social media and blogging efforts. Here are some of my most popular topics:

  • Blogging for Business
  • What is Social Media and How Can it Impact Your Business
  • Monitoring the Blogosphere and Social Media
  • Micro-Blogging 101

Please contact me at least one month in advance of your desired date for a custom quote. ATTENTION: Conference organizers, if you need a speaker for your social-media/marketing conference, email me for details and availability. You can find more information on my speaking services and where I will be presenting at in the coming months here.

5 - Custom articles/guides/tutorials. If your website or business needs a blogging or social media guide/tutorial, I can create one for you. Want to post a guide to monitoring the blogosphere on your company intranet for your employees? Need an article for your website that explains how to write a successful blog? I can help. I can also create custom articles on a variety of marketing and social media topics. You can preview and read several of the articles I have written over the last few years here. Email me for a custom price, I can provide documents from one page to a hundred, it depends on your needs.

Also, if you are an agency or firm that needs to provide social media training/consulting for your clients, my services are available on retainer, email me for prices.

So who exactly am I? Here's my bio:

Mack Collier is a social media consultant, and author of The Viral Garden, a blog focusing on marketing and social media. He also is a frequent contributor to the marketing blog Daily Fix, as well as the small-business marketing blog Search Engine Guide.

Known for his ‘community-first’ approach to blogging and social media, Mack focuses on teaching companies how they can use social media to excite and engage their customers, as well as better understand and market to them.

Mack is a requested speaker and has advised companies of all sizes on their social media strategies, from small businesses and startups, to companies as large as Dell and Microsoft. His writings have been referenced in several mainstream publications and websites, including The Washington Post,, Ad Age, CNET, and The Boston Globe.

Some of the companies I have advised on their social media strategies include:

Feel free to email me about a custom service or project that you don't see listed here.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Another reason why I love the blogosphere...

Our ability to do good works is greatly amplified.

I blogged a few days ago about an interesting experiment that Shel Israel was conducting involving using Facebook Flyers to auction off 2 hours of his time. In return, Shel agreed to donate half of the winning bid to the charity Room to Read.

Shel found that while Facebook Flyers failed him, his community of readers rallied to the cause. He also has changed the terms to give all the money to Room to Read:
So here's what I'm going to do. Rob, you are locked in at $500. Send me the check and I will match it and send it on to RoomtoRead. Wayne, you are high bidder right now at $450. If you win, I will not match you, but will forward you donation to RoomtoRead. That will give them nearly $1500, enough to build about half a library in Sri Lanka or to educate a few Cambodian girls for more than an entire year. Each year of learning increases family income by over 10%.
Room to Read founder John Wood found Shel's post, and added this in the comments:
Hello from San Francisco. Through the miracle of Google Media Alerts, I saw this exchange and wanted to thank everyone for their generous support of Room to Read. We are trying to help millions of kids across the developing world to break the cycle of poverty through the power of education, and your support will get us closer to our long-term goal. All the best!

John Wood
Founder and CEO
Room to Read

If you would like to place a bid, leave a comment to this post. The deadline is 12 a.m. PST the 15th. So you have about 3 and a half more hours from the time this post goes live. The current high bid for 2 hours of consulting time with a true social media expert is $450. That's a bargain folks.

BTW Rob adds this in the comments:
"@Shel - Thanks. I'll personally donate $200 dollars to Roomtoread outside of this auction. I'll also go through my book collection and promise to donate (and ship) a minimum of 50 paperback books to Roomtoread.

Thanks for doing this Shel - it was very cool, and the benefits to the kids can't even start to be measured.


So unless my Alabama math is failing me, Room to Read is set to get at least $1,650 plus 50 paperback books. All because one blogger left one post about helping a worthy charity, and the community ran with it.

Another example of The Power of Being Second.


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Friday, October 12, 2007

Marketing Profs Book Club is back!

It's time once again for the bookworms to have their moment in the sun as Marketing Profs Book Club (Hosted by CK) is back for another round! The gem this time is Robin Hood Marketing, a book that shows cause marketers how to boost their efforts by 'stealing' from big biz!

According to CK:
Robin Hood Marketing shows you how to sell your mission as successfully as the great marketing minds of corporate America sell their products. Quite cleverly, Andresen created "The Robin Hood Rules" which "steal" from the winning formulas—that sell everything from socks, cigarettes, even mattresses—to show nonprofit marketers how to appeal to their audiences’ values, not their own, and, in turn, how to get people to take notice.

And as usual with CK and the fine folks at MP, there's a ton of bonuses. First, CK has also posted a great Q&A with Robin Hood Marketing's author, Katya Andresen. Next, there is a link to Social Marketing expert Nedra Kline Weinreich's 20-page paper on her "Quick Guide to Changing the World".

And if ALL that isn't enough, if you sign-up for the Book Club today, you are in the running to receive one of 50 FREE copies of Robin Hood Marketing AUTOGRAPHED by Katya! If you've signed up during the previous Book Club rounds you are good to go for the drawing, but if you haven't, you can sign up here.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Radiohead's 'free' experiment works; major indies ready to follow suit

Site traffic up 1,100%.

Google searches up 1,000%.

Sales of the box-set surpassing 'set your own price' downloads, according to a band spokesperson.

It appears that Radiohead's experiment to increase sales by letting their fans set the price for their new album has been a rousing success.

And that success hasn't been lost on the rest of the industry. Major indie bands Oasis and Jamiroquai are said to be considering one-upping Radiohead by giving away their next albums.

"They’ll all be thinking about it now," said Stuart Clarke at Music Week. "Any big name that is out of contract such as Jamiroquai and Oasis will now see it as an option."

Hmmmmm....can anyone think of any other major indies that this might appeal to? I can immediately think of two bands that have already experimented with free downloads that something like this would be perfect for.

I still want to see bands expand this to get the fans online more involved. What about a widget that I can put here that lets you hear the music and if you like it, you can buy it with me getting a cut of the sale? Same thing could work for concert tickets, and have the widget offer the visitor customized local info, for example if they live in Seattle and I have a widget for The Donnas, let them know that tickets go on sale next Saturday for The Donnas' concert in their city. And this could be extended to Facebook, hells bells I've got a freakin' MASH quotes app on my profile now, so I'm sure that something artist-specific could be created (case in point, I found out about this story by reading a note that Tamera had posted to her Facebook profile).

The bands have the right idea by making it easier for fans to hear the music, banking on that leading to increased demand to buy merchandise and attend live shows. But they are still missing the boat a bit when it comes to empowering fans to help them build and spread interest for their music.

What do you think? If your favorite artist gave you the chance to put a widget on your blog or Facebook profile that would let visitors hear and buy their music (with you getting a small portion of the sale), and would also promote the band, would you add it? I definitely would for certain artists, and I'm guessing that most fans would love to help promote their favorite artists for free, they just need the tools to do so.


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Does Technorati suck, or is our 'online media diet' changing?

Karl wrote a post yesterday about how his falling 'authority' with Technorati is actually making him less motivated to blog regularly. Karl is far from alone in seeing his authority drop according to Technorati, as I believe every member of the Top 25 has seen significant hits to their links counts according to Technorati. The Viral Garden is down to 575 links currently after inching above 800 earlier this year. Even worse, Seth's Blog has lost about 1,000 links since July.

But what doesn't make sense is that many of the blogs I read regularly, have seen their blog readerships increase for months. This blog's traffic has been pretty flat for the entire year, but the feed readership has increased by about 1,200% this year. Greg mentions in the comments to yesterday's Top 25 post how his traffic AND readership is growing despite his links going down. I would bet many other bloggers have noticed the same thing.

I also have to wonder if our increased use of Twitter and Facebook isn't factoring in as well? Twitter is a great way for all of us to quickly link to a blog post and let our friends know about it. But Technorati doesn't count these links from Twitter. Also, any links we post in Facebook, or that are collected via Blog Friends or other apps, Technorati misses those as well.

So which is it? I tend to think it is all of the above. It doesn't appear that the number of incoming links I am getting has significantly dropped from earlier this year, if at all. But at the same time, I am spending less time physically reading blogs, and more time with sites such as Facebook and Twitter. And actually I am probably reading more blog posts via Facebook profiles with the Blog Friends app than I did via Bloglines (which I haven't looked at in days). But at the same time, Technorati is missing all those links that I am reading via Facebook.

If your Technorati link counts have been falling, why do you think it's happening?

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 77

Here's the standings for Week 77:

1 - Seth's Blog - 9,045 (-177)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,367 (-26)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,206 (+10)(LW - 3)
4 - Logic + Emotion - 1,119 (-39)(LW - 4)
5 - Daily Fix - 993 (-21)(LW - 5)
6 - What's Next - 987 (-20)(LW - 6)
7 - Diva Marketing - 961 (-36)(LW - 7)
8 - Brand Autopsy - 793 (No Change)(LW - 8)
9 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 725 (-15)(LW - 10)
10 - Converstations - 724(-8)(LW - 11)
11 - Influential Marketing - 716 (-25)(LW - 9)
12 - Church of the Customer - 665 (+6)(LW - 12)
13 - The Viral Garden - 576 (-11)(LW - 14)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 573 (-29)(LW - 13)
15 - Marketing Roadmaps - 540 (-1)(LW - 16)
16 - Conversation Agent - 535 (+6)(LW - 17)
17 - Branding and Marketing - 521 (-21)(LW - 15)
17 - Marketing Headhunter - 521 (No Change)(LW - 18)
19 - Coolzor - 495 (No Change)(LW - 19)
20 - Customers Rock! - 479 (No Change)(LW - 20)
21 - Servant of Chaos - 467 (-11)(LW - 21)
22 - CK's Blog - 428 (+1)(LW - 22)
23 - Experience Curve - 403 (-20)(LW - 23)
24 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 369 (-15)(LW - 24)
25 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 360 (-10)(LW - 25)

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

While the overall health of the Top 25 appears to be pretty weak, there were 4 blogs that added links this week, and several others that lost 15 or less. My guess is we'll see this continue now as we get into the summer months of Technorati's 6-month window for counting links. It remains to be seen what the contributing factor has been in all the links being shed; movement toward social sites such as Facebook and Twitter, or simply the summer slowdown. My guess is it's a mix of both.

There were some moves this week, as Drew's Marketing Minute, Converstations, The Viral Garden, Marketing Roadmaps, Conversation Agent and Marketing Headhunter all moved up a notch. Also, Search Engine Guide continues to move upward, and now looks to have a decent hold on the #3 spot.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A weeklong cram session with Facebook

As I wrote about last week, I've been spending a lot more time with Facebook this month. I've found that the site is a wonderful way to keep up with and grow your online community. I have met some amazing people such as Kim, Maggie and Cathryn, and have reconnected with some old blogging friends such as Jinal, Sam, Tish and Jack. And I've even connected with some Age of Conversation co-authors for the first time, such as Kofi and Kristin. And of course, I have had several of The Viral Garden's readers connect with me on Facebook, including Brett, Kristen, Anthony, Chris, Sally, Olivier, Cindy, Lisa, Garret (Is this not the best profile pic ever?), and Brenda.

But I wanted to especially thank Connie, who has gone out of her way to help me get the most out of Facebook. She also has written a great series on getting the most out of Facebook, and how to use Twitter as a networking tool. Connie kicks ass, that's all there is to it.

So yes, as my sis Ann says, I have drank 'the FB kool-aid'. I have to apologize to Scoble for wondering why he was constantly yammering on about 'The Book' a few months ago, now I get it. The thing that I love about Facebook is that the value you get from the site is directly proportional to what you give. IOW, you need to be a good friend and community member in order to make Facebook worth your while. On a personal level, it's a great way to keep up with your existing friends, and to make new ones. But if you want to use it for networking, you can participate in the thousands upon thousands of groups that are organized around every subject under the sun. Ironically, I 'met' Connie after I answered a questions she had asked in a group, and she read my answer and friended me. I contributed something to the community, and got a new friend. That's the way it should be.

BTW Charlene Li has an interesting post on her experiment using Facebook Flyers. Shel follows up with his own version.

And if we haven't connected already, please click here to add me as a friend on Facebook.


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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Company Blog Checkup: Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines' evangelists are the stuff of legend. In their landmark book Creating Customer Evangelists, McConnell and Huba use as their first example a Southwest customer that wrote the airline shortly after 9-11 informing them that she was encouraging all her friends and clients to fly Southwest Airlines. She included a check for $500, explaining that Southwest needed the money 'more than I do'. Now THAT is evangelism!

So it makes sense in this case that Southwest's blog would break with the norm, and focus on the company and the people that make the airline so beloved by its customers. When arriving at the blog, appropriately titled Nuts About Southwest, you immediately notice that Southwest lets several different employees, from all levels of the company, write for the blog. Mechanics, analysts, customer communication managers and flight attendants are all blogging for the company. I think this is a good move because Southwest's workers are such a big part of why the company is so beloved by its evangelists, and it helps Southwest to keep all areas of its company involved in the blogging process. I even noticed that the airline is letting one customer leave a series of posts. Great stuff.

On the content front, NAS does a great job of not only pulling back the curtain on the company, but the entire airline industry. The blog goes from discussing how Southwest is working with Ronald McDonald House Charities and how it is honoring the Tuskegee Airmen, to how it handles parts that malfunction, and its stance toward overbooking flights. Content-wise, the blog does an excellent job of covering topics that will be of interest to fans of Southwest, as well as industry-based posts that address topics that all travelers are interested in. A recent post on the company's debate over keeping its open-seating policy or moving to assigned seating generated over 400 comments.

Given that Southwest has a stable of writers, you would expect a brisk posting schedule, and that's exactly what you get with NAS. The blog has an almost daily posting schedule, with an occasional dip over the weekend, balanced out with the occasional 2 posts on the same day. Ideally, you would want a company blog to have a new post every weekday, and NAS usually meets this goal.

Now lets move to comments. Almost every post on NAS has comments, and most have more than 10. Not surprisingly, the NAS writers do an excellent job of not only replying to comments left to their own posts, but they also are good about commenting on posts that their fellow writers leave. This is Blogging 101, but the simple act of replying to comments shows your readers that you are grateful for their input. It also encourages more readers to leave comments, once they see that the points that they raise in the comments will be addressed. And as always, more comments is a telltale sign of a blog that has a strong community.

Finally, let's move to the sidebar. All the basics are covered here, archives, search, categories, RSS options, etc. One good and bad point, there are plenty of non-Southwest links, many of which are sites that offer help and advice for travellers, which is a great move. But there's no 'About Us' section, or a link to the writers' bios. This isn't a huge issue, and I mainly raise it because this is about the closest I can find to a 'problem' with the blog.

Overall, Nuts About Southwest is an excellent effort. It brings its fans closer to the airline, the people that make Southwest so beloved, and it even does a great job of addressing common complaints and questions about the airline industry in general. The only area I could suggest for change would be to let more Southwest evangelists post to the blog. I'm sure if the airline offered its customers the change to pen a post, that they would get an avalanche of submissions, and such posts would give even more color to what is already a very bright and attractive company blog.

And now the scoring:

Content: 28 (Out of a possible 35) - Blog does a good job of covering not only Southwest and the airline industry, but the people that work for Southwest.

Comments: 27 (Out of a possible 35) - Most posts get comments, and the bloggers do a decent job of replying to comments left by readers.

Posting schedule: 15 (Out of a possible 15) - Almost a post a day, and very few gaps. Hard to ask for more than that.

Sidebars: 11 (Out of a possible 15) - Extensive blogroll and tags sections, but no pics/bios for writers on sidebar, although each post does link to the writer's bio, which is good.

Total Score: 81 (Out of a possible 100)

If anyone from Southwest wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me, or both. 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 blogging and social media consulting services. And if anyone can think of a company blog that they want me to do a checkup on, feel free to email me!

UPDATE: Bob Hurst, Southwest's Video Blogger, emailed to let me know that if you click on each author's name under the title of the post, that it will take you to their bio. Thanks Bob!

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 76

Here's the standings for Week 76:

1 - Seth's Blog - 9,222 (-454)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,393 (-114)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,196 (+21)(LW - 4)
4 - Logic + Emotion - 1,158 (-47)(LW - 3)
5 - Daily Fix - 1,014 (-13)(LW - 6)
6 - What's Next - 1,007 (-6)(LW - 7)
7 - Diva Marketing - 997 (-51)(LW - 5)
8 - Brand Autopsy - 793 (No Change)(LW - 8)
9 - Influential Marketing - 741 (-18)(LW - 10)
10 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 740 (-28)(LW - 9)
11 - Converstations - 732(+2)(LW - 11)
12 - Church of the Customer - 659 (-66)(LW - 12)
13 - Jaffe Juice - 602 (-19)(LW - 13)
14 - The Viral Garden - 587 (-14)(LW - 14)
15 - Branding and Marketing - 542 (-4)(LW - 16)
16 - Marketing Roadmaps - 541 (-23)(LW - 15)
17 - Conversation Agent - 529 (-4)(LW - 17)
18 - Marketing Headhunter - 521 (No Change)(LW - 18)
19 - Coolzor - 495 (No Change)(LW - 19)
20 - Customers Rock! - 479 (-4)(LW - 21)
21 - Servant of Chaos - 478 (-15)(LW - 20)
22 - CK's Blog - 427 (-25)(LW - 22)
23 - Experience Curve - 423 (-4)(LW - 23)
24 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 384 (-11)(LW - 25)
25 - Hee-Haw Marketing - 370 (-50)(LW - 24)

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

Technorati actually got around to updating most of the blogs on the list this week. But the bad news is, almost all the blogs in the Top 25 are down. One of the 2 that wasn't, Search Engine Guide, sneaks up to #3. Daily Fix loses a bit, but also enters the Top 5 for the first time.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Facebook is now relevant to me

The other day I got a 'friend' request from someone for Facebook, and I quickly realized that I had no earthly idea who this person was. I assumed she was probably either a reader of The Viral Garden, or maybe she had read my posts at Daily Fix. I added her, and then clicked on her profile to find some tell-tale signs of how we might be connected.

As I was reading my new friend's profile, I quickly realized how all her interests and passions were here. One of the things that I absolutely hate about blogging (probably the only thing) is that I never have the chance to get to know many of my readers. Unless you guys leave a comment or an email, you remain an anonymous IP address or a number in my FeedBurner reader count. And I hate that.

But with Facebook, I now have a way to keep up with everyone, and perhaps more importantly to me, I can reach out to people that read my blog and get to know them a bit better. I've already reconnected with some bloggers that I haven't talked to since 2005 or 2006.

So if you're on Facebook, please add me as your friend. If you want, when it asks how we know each other, you can say that we met through blogging. Because now we have!

How are you using Facebook?

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Radiohead says to hell with it, lets listeners set price for new album

How much would you pay for Radiohead's new album?

$5? $15? $20? Not a damned penny?

Then that's the price.

The English band has ditched their big label, and the big-label mentality of raising prices for new music, and will instead let their fans decide what their new album is worth to them. The band's seventh album, In Rainbows, can only be ordered online via Radiohead's website. When you add the digital download to your shopping cart on the site and view the contents, a place to input a price, and a question mark, appears next to the album where the price should be. When you click on the ?, you are informed that 'It's Up to You'. If you click on it again, you are informed that 'No Really, It's Up to You.'

Big labels, shockingly, are stunned by the move. "If the best band in the world doesn't want a part of us, I'm not sure what's left for this business."

While it remains to be seen if the move will ultimately benefit Radiohead, there are a few things that we know will probably happen. The move will expose many more people to the band's music, and that will lead to plenty of new Radiohead fans. And it will also likely mean that tickets to the band's concerts, which are already a tough find, will be in even greater demand.

As Chris Anderson once said, give away the music, sell the show.

BTW I found out about this story by reading about it via Jennifer Laycock's Facebook profile, where she had linked to GrokDotCom's post on the story. Gotta love it!

Pic via CommandZed

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