Thursday, November 29, 2007

The MySpacing of Facebook

Puffy knew...Mo Money Means Mo Problems.

As Facebook's membership seems to be reaching 'critical advertising mass', the site has been exploring its options for monetizing its users. Notice I didn't say 'exploring options for improving the community's experience while also making money'.

First came 'sponsored listings', a small ad inserted in a member's news feed that really does nothing but get in the way. But Facebook's latest effort, Beacon, is drawing serious fire over privacy concerns. Charlene blogs about buying a table at Overstock and then seeing that activity appear on Facebook where all her friends can see. What if the table had been a Christmas gift for a Facebook friend?

I've already talked about Facebook's new idea to let members become 'fans' of companies, products, even people. There's one common thread running through all of these ideas:

These are efforts to directly monetize Facebook's members.

Which means that Facebook has followed the same path that MySpace did: give users a unique experience that brings them in, then once the membership reaches critical mass, you monetize it. Look at the traffic for MySpace over the last three months. Notice that it's finally leveled off and that page views have been falling since the end of June? Facebook's traffic is still rising, but their page views are already falling.

Paul offers another view on Beacon:
There aren't real problems with the bulk of the program. For both advertisers and the consumers they're marketing to, it makes a ton of sense to use shared data to increase relevant advertising messages in a non-obtrusive way. Everybody wins there. But this shit where companies can add online purchases to your facebook feed without giving you the ability to opt out completely beforehand, and only 20 seconds to opt out after the purchase, is ridiculous. And Facebook knows it. Zuckerberg is his customer base, trust me he gets it.

Just like he got it when they rolled out the feed in the first place. With obvious opt out and privacy issues. And not surprisingly, facebook eventually got what it wanted with the feeds, while the marketplace was quieted because they complained and felt as though they were still heard. The compromise was established. Users can opt out but facebook got the platform it needed to advance its own advertising interests.
Then Paul adds this: "You may have also noted that MySpace rolled out its own feed this week, also."

Actually I didn't, cause I finally closed my MySpace account a few weeks ago. You can only piss in the community pool so many times before everyone gets out.

This isn't rocket science, put the community first, and have any monetization of your community, also benefit the community. Threadless has been thriving for longer than either MySpace or Facebook with this model, and will probably be around after both are social-networking cautionary tales.

More thoughts:
Geoff Livingston - Facebook's lost way(great discussion in comments section)
Karl Long - Facebook jumps the shark

BONUS: Brennan more or less says I am full of it. ;) Again, I agree with Paul's point about Beacon, but that wasn't mine. My point is that if these sites want to think of themselves as being 'Web 2.0', then they need to apply Web 2.0 thinking to their business models. I have no problem with Zuckerberg trying to monetize Facebook. But the error (a very Web 1.0 error, BTW) that I think he is making is to look at this from point of view of what's best for Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder. Not Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook community member.

That's not a business model that's conducive to long-term online growth, IMO.


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Thanks Seth!

Christy from Penguin Books emailed me the other day to let me know that I was 'thanked' by Seth in his new book, Meatball Sundae. Christy was kind enough to send me a copy, and being mentioned in the book is really cool, especially considering that Seth for some reason put me in the same company with some of my favorite marketing and business bloggers. People like Jaffe, Ben and Jackie, Hugh, John Moore, Steve Hall, Kathy Sierra and Guy Kawasaki.

Wow. Heady stuff for a guy on dial-up. I've just skimmed the book so far, but it looks pretty interesting and I'm sure I'll be referencing its lessons here in the future. The book doesn't go on sale till the end of December, but you can pre-order it from Amazon here, and they currently have a discount if you get Meatball Sundae and Jaffe's Join the Conversation together.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A good example of advertising enhancing a blog

I've discussed blog monetization and advertising here before, and I think it's difficult to find a good balance between providing income for the blogger, and also giving value to the reader. But I think Chris at Movie Marketing Madness has found a way to put advertising on his blog that isn't really obtrusive, and would probably provide value to his intended audience.

I took the screenshot above this morning, but notice that the two ads you immediately see are the banner across the top, and the one at the top of the sidebar. Both are movie-related and offer readers the chance to get showtimes and order tickets. One thing I do wish is that the ad for Hitman would allow you to play the trailer right on MMM if you want to, without being taken to the movie's website.

But if you're a regular reader of MMM, ads featuring information about new releases is closer to relevant content than it is intrusive advertising. Which is pretty tough to do on a blog, and this is a great example of a setup that seems to be working for both the blogger and their audience.


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The Age of Conversation is moving to Amazon

The Age of Conversation (If you are new to this project, click here for the background), a groundbreaking collaboration between over 100 bloggers from around the world, is going big time. Starting this Friday, The Age of Conversation will move from being sold on Lulu, to being available at Amazon.

To date, the book has already exceeded its initial goal of raising $10,000 for Variety, the Children's Charity. But Drew and Gavin want to move the book to Amazon in an effort to reach a much larger customer base, and raise even more money for Variety.

The move will mean some big changes for the price structure. First, the hardback edition will be canceled. The paperback edition will have its price increased from $16.95 to $30.00 to cover Amazon's fees. The e-book edition will still be available at for the same price (Drew?).

Now if you want to grab your copy before the move, you can still go to either today or tomorrow at this link and buy the hardcover or paperback at the regular prices. Contact Drew if you are interested in buying either the hardback or paperback versions in BULK after the switch to Amazon.

Here's the list of AoC contributors:

Gavin Heaton
Drew McLellan
Valeria Maltoni
Emily Reed
Katie Chatfield
Greg Verdino
Mack Collier
Lewis Green
Ann Handley
Mike Sansone
Paul McEnany
Roger von Oech
Anna Farmery
David Armano
Bob Glaza
Mark Goren
Matt Dickman
Scott Monty
Richard Huntington
Cam Beck
David Reich
Luc Debaisieux
Sean Howard
Tim Jackson
Patrick Schaber
Roberta Rosenberg
Uwe Hook
Tony D. Clark
Todd Andrlik
Toby Bloomberg
Steve Woodruff
Steve Bannister
Steve Roesler
Stanley Johnson
Spike Jones
Nathan Snell
Simon Payn
Ryan Rasmussen
Ron Shevlin
Roger Anderson
Robert Hruzek
Rishi Desai
Phil Gerbyshak
Peter Corbett
Pete Deutschman
Nick Rice
Nick Wright
Michael Morton
Mark Earls
Mark Blair
Mario Vellandi
Lori Magno
Kristin Gorski
Kris Hoet
G. Kofi Annan
Kimberly Dawn Wells
Karl Long
Julie Fleischer
Jordan Behan
John La Grou
Joe Raasch
Jim Kukral
Jessica Hagy
Janet Green
Jamey Shiels
Dr. Graham Hill
Gia Facchini
Geert Desager
Gaurav Mishra
Gary Schoeniger
Gareth Kay
Faris Yakob
Emily Clasper
Ed Cotton
Dustin Jacobsen
Tom Clifford
David Polinchock
David Koopmans
David Brazeal
David Berkowitz
Carolyn Manning
C.B. Whittemore
Craig Wilson
Cord Silverstein
Connie Reece
Colin McKay
Chris Newlan
Chris Corrigan
Cedric Giorgi
Brian Reich
Becky Carroll
Arun Rajagopal
Andy Nulman
Amy Jussel
AJ James
Kim Klaver
Sandy Renshaw
Susan Bird
Ryan Barrett
Troy Worman
S. Neil Vineberg

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The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 84

Here's the standings for Week 84:

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,890 (-6)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,258 (No Change)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,622 (+31)(LW - 3)
4 - Daily Fix - 1,076 (-13)(LW - 4)
5 - Logic + Emotion - 1,027 (-12)(LW - 5)
6 - Diva Marketing - 982 (-4)(LW - 6)
7 - What's Next - 918 (-30)(LW - 7)
8 - The Engaging Brand - 726 (+1)(LW - 8)
9 - Brand Autopsy - 721 (-2)(LW - 9)
10 - Influential Marketing - 723 (+5)(LW - 10)
11 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 675 (-5)(LW - 11)
12 - Church of the Customer - 659 (+4)(LW - 12)
13 - Converstations - 617(-32)(LW - 13)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 599 (+14)(LW - 14)
15 - Conversation Agent - 580 (+4)(LW - 15)
16 - Marketing Roadmaps - 533 (-1)(LW - 16)
17 - Marketing Headhunter - 521 (No Change)(LW - 17)
18 - The Viral Garden - 515 (-4)(LW - 18)
19 - Branding and Marketing - 463 (-14)(LW - 19)
20 - Customers Rock! - 428 (-5)(LW - 20)
21 - CK's Blog - 423 (-7)(LW - 21)
22 - Servant of Chaos - 416 (-11)(LW - 22)
23 - Experience Curve - 409 (+7)(LW - 23)
24 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 390 (+5)(LW - 24)
25 - Chaos Scenario - 357 (+3)(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.

This week is almost a re-run from last week. Nine blogs were up this week as last, and again Search Engine Guide was the big mover. But for the most part, the blogs that were down only lost a handful of links.

No new blogs, with The Lonely Marketer and The Origin of Brands again just missing the countdown.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What he said...

"Yes, losing control of your brand means taking risks—but I'm not advocating risk for the sake of a quick hit. I am advocating that we furnish the consuming public with brand experiences that are interesting to them—ones that permit them to get involved with the brand instead of just watching a pitch; ones that invite and trust them to deliver the branding message to others. When it's done correctly, losing control is really only a transfer of control, right into the hands of those whose trust you're trying to get in the first place." - Sam Ewen writing for BrandWeek.

Have to turn my nose up at the term 'consuming public', but still...


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Interview with Rich and Forts is up

Maria recently interviewed me via Facebook for Rich and Fort's blog. We talked about social media and how it's changing the 'marketing realities'. The blog also has interviews up with Paul Chaney and Geoff Livingston.

You can read the interview here. BTW Maria is based in Bulgaria, and without Facebook we would have never 'met'. The 'real' world may still be round, but the online world is definitely flat.


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Dunlop offers evangelists free tires, and a free tattoo

The automotive 'specialty' industry has been booming in recent years, and its Super Bowl is the yearly SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) trade show that was held earlier this month in Las Vegas. Dunlop Tires came up with a pretty interesting marketing idea to create buzz with industry members at the event, by offering anyone a free set of Dunlop tires, if they would agree to get a free tattoo promoting Dunlop.

Dunlop also had celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D on hand, and those that agreed could either get a tattoo of the Dunlop logo, or Dunlop's tire tread. Winding Road adds that one guy was willing to get the tattoo just because it was free, and was amazed that he was also getting a set of tires to boot! The promotion was said to be the talk of the show, with Dunlop filling all its available slots with its tattoo artists within minutes.

Debra at Search Engine Guide calls this 'brilliantly smart', and I agree. First, it's a natural conversation starter. Anyone that sees someone wearing a tattoo with a Dunlop logo is going to want to ask them WHY they have a logo on their arm? Then they explain that they got a free set of tires in the deal, which of course leads to a discussion of how the tires themselves are performing.

But even more so than that, doing this promotion at SEMA, and having it be wildly popular, really makes an impression on suppliers and other industry members at the event. Everyone got to see first hand how many people are excited about the Dunlop brand.

And it's easy to say that anyone that gets a tattoo of a logo for a set of tires is crazy, but you have to remember that a customer evangelist IS crazy about their favorite brands! And Dunlop also knows their customers, and know that the people that want to buy high-performance tires, are also the people that are more likely to want tattoos. So Dunlop did what a company should do in reaching out to their evangelists, they made it easier for them to engage in actions that they were already performing.

Now if I can just find a way to let someone at Ferrari know that my left arm is more than ready for a Testarossa tat, if they are ready to give me the keys!


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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Viral Community News

The 'It's Thanksgiving and even this freakin list is stuffed' edition.

1 - Congrats to Lewis on the publication of his newest book, 'Lead With Your Heart'.

2 - Greg shows us his presentation from a PR News Online webinar on social media public relations, entitled "Social Media to the Power of 7 Squared".

3 - Chris Wilson suggests we BumRush for the Age of Conversation next month. Drew adds in details here.

4 - Speaking of the Age of Conversation, David Brazeal has been putting together a kickass series of podcasts with some of the AoC authors, and here's the latest one with Bob Glaza. Excellent!

5 - While we are seeing sub-60 degree temps for the first time in months here in the South, the French Man is showing us that snow snow is everywhere up north! Lisa's found some too!

6 - Gavin has an interesting story about an Australian website passing off old news as if it were new.

7 - Rohit was kind enough to hand several of us the keys to his blog while he's busy becoming a daddy for the second time. So far there's posts from Kevin, Armano, Ann, Geeta/Jinal, Peter, and even Me.

8 - Drew points out that when it comes to social media, many marketers are all talk.

9 - Geoff gives us the lowdown on the top marketing and social media blogs in the DC area!

10 - Kami blogs about the latest disaster of an attempt to 'create authenticity'. And she's kind enough to link to Todd's post about the quickest ways for marketers to screw up with social media.

11 - Linda has a great recap on how Circuit City is gettin' social.

12 - Becky tells us that word-of-mouth travels in the most unexpected places, like a jacuzzi. Hmmmmm......

13 - John shares some great answers from a LinkedIn question he left that touches on what authenticity is, and how marketers can build on it.

14 - Chris talks about the internet possibly being the 'third place' besides work and home, and then talks topless ads on Facebook. The latter could be the start of the 'MySpacing' of Facebook.

15 - Lois has an appropriate Thanksgiving-themed list of 10 Reasons to be Thankful About Social Networking. Giving people a voice is my fav.

16 - As only she can, Jen pulls together the recent 'measuring social media' meme, and adds her own brilliance.

17 - Check out Lisa's new blog, MeshEast.

18 - And finally, this video proves why we need to pool together and raise enough money to cover Ann's salary so she can become a full-time vlogger. Her exchange with Armano is priceless!


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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 83

Here's the standings for Week 83:

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,896 (-52)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,258 (No Change)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,591 (+98)(LW - 3)
4 - Daily Fix - 1,089 (+17)(LW - 4)
5 - Logic + Emotion - 1,039 (-7)(LW - 5)
6 - Diva Marketing - 986 (-6)(LW - 6)
7 - What's Next - 948 (-7)(LW - 7)
8 - The Engaging Brand - 725 (-14)(LW - 8)
9 - Brand Autopsy - 723 (-7)(LW - 9)
10 - Influential Marketing - 718 (-1)(LW - 10)
11 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 680 (-12)(LW - 11)
12 - Church of the Customer - 655 (+4)(LW - 12)
13 - Converstations - 649(+2)(LW - 13)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 585 (-7)(LW - 14)
15 - Conversation Agent - 576 (+1)(LW - 15)
16 - Marketing Roadmaps - 534 (+1)(LW - 16)
17 - Marketing Headhunter - 521 (No Change)(LW - 18)
18 - The Viral Garden - 519 (-12)(LW - 17)
19 - Branding and Marketing - 477 (-16)(LW - 19)
20 - Customers Rock! - 433 (-9)(LW - 20)
21 - CK's Blog - 430 (-6)(LW - 21)
22 - Servant of Chaos - 427 (+1)(LW - 22)
23 - Experience Curve - 402 (-2)(LW - 23)
24 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 385 (+5)(LW - 24)
25 - Chaos Scenario - 354 (+2)(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.

Yet another blah week for the Top 25 as only 9 blogs were up. But Search Engine Guide is absolutely on fire, gaining another 98 links this week. John you better start looking over your shoulder! BTW this blog dropped a link in the time it took me to do the list. Yikes!

No new blogs, with The Lonely Marketer and The Origin of Brands again just missing the countdown.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Want to have a successful blog? Then create value for your readers.

My recent post on measuring social media effectiveness led to some amazing comments, including this one from Chris Brogan:

Instead, I have one thing that gives me a sense of value or lack of value: comments.

When I met Liz Strauss, she introduced herself, and told me next that her blog had over 39,000 comments (it's coming up on 60K now). What a STAT! I thought, "engagement measured by comments." Now that's a neat measurement.

But just to throw this into a full-on "blog post in your comments," what if we look at this:

Who cares how many people come? The real stat is "who takes the action you want them to take?"

That, dear friend, is my measurement holy grail.

Ya see, this is the thing that troubles me a bit about the discussions of how we can help businesses 'measure the effectiveness' of blogging and other forms of social media. When we do so, we tend to look at say blogging as a tool to grow business. We look at how we can measure if blogging is contributing to a business' bottom line. We look at how blogging can directly benefit a company.

But look at what Chris focuses on, comments. Why? My guess is because Chris knows that if his readers comment, it's a sign that he's creating content that they find value in. So why can't businesses and marketers have the same goal? Why shouldn't the top measure of the effectiveness of a company's blogging effort be the amount of value created for the blog's readers?

Because the great thing about blogging is that blogging makes things happen indirectly. I think Hugh MacLeod said that first, but it's the truth.

If you are a company, think of what you might want to accomplish from your blogging. Maybe you want to boost your website's Google PageRank? Maybe you want to boost online awareness in order to boost sales? Maybe you want to boost your company's reputation in your industry?

These are all direct benefits that a company might want to gain from blogging. But these benefits only arise if you FIRST create value for your readers. So if the key to getting what YOU want is to first give your readers what THEY want, why not focus on giving your readers value first?

Let's simplify things and say your goal for your blog is to have it raise your online awareness among customers. The path to arrive at that destination might look something like this:

Create valuable content on blog--->Visitors comment on and link to posts--->More visitors discover blog, readership grows and community is created--->Online reputation grows as blog readers blog about company and value its blog is creating

Your company reaching its blogging goals are dependent on you first creating value for your blog's readers.

If your company wants to be successful in its blogging efforts, approach the process as successful bloggers like Chris do. They strive to DIRECTLY create value for their readers, knowing that they will benefit INDIRECTLY. That's the power of being second.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Are you going to Blogger-Social 08?

I am definitely going to make an effort to go to several conferences next year, but I already know one special gathering that I'll be in New York City for next April, Blogger-Social 08! This isn't a conference, but a chance for everyone to spend a weekend gettin' social! No presentations or pontificatin' allowed! Well not so sure about the last part. Here's the current list of attendees:

Susan Bird
Tim Brunelle
Katie Chatfield
Terry Dagrosa
Matt Dickman
Luc Debaisieux
Gianandrea Facchini
Mark Goren
Gavin Heaton
Sean Howard
Valeria Maltoni
Drew McLellan
Doug Meacham
Marilyn Pratt
Steve Roesler
Greg Verdino
CB Whittemore
Steve Woodruff
Paul McEnany
Ann Handley
David Reich
Tangerine Toad
Kristin Gorski
Mack Collier
David Armano
Ryan Barrett
Lori Magno
Tim McHale
Gene DeWitt
Mario Vellandi
Arun Rajagopal
Darryl Ohrt
Joseph Jaffe
Rohit Bhargava
Anna Farmery
Thomas Clifford (Director Tom)
Geoff Livingston
Lewis Green
Kris Hoet

Here's a Google Map to show where everyone is coming from. Three continents (no wait, it's four!), not bad!

So if you're saying to yourself that all those people kick ass and I wanna kick ass too, you can sign-up to attend the festivities, which are April 6-8, 2008. You can register for it here.

See you there!


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Thursday, November 15, 2007

AdAge hoodwinks bloggers with Power 150?

When it was announced last summer that Ad Age was taking over Todd Andrik's Power 150 ranking of top Ad/PR/Marketing blogs, many in the blogosphere were thrilled with the possibilities. I wrote about it at Daily Fix and thought it was a great idea because:

Ad Age would now have a vested interest in promoting Ad/PR/Marketing bloggers. The publication could now use these bloggers as sources for articles, or even interview some of them. For example, if Ad Age quoted Armano, they could say 'Critical Mass' David Armano, whose Logic+Emotion blog is currently #20 in the Ad Age Power 150, says...' A win-win for everyone, as Ad Age can create better content, and the bloggers have an incentive in promoting the content that Ad Age does create. Sourcing the bloggers also gives more weight to the Power 150 itself.

But now 4 months later, the only thing that I can see that Ad Age has done to leverage the Power 150, is to create a nifty 'badge' that any member of the Power 150 can add to their blog. And yes, this badge links back to Ad Age's site.

The top article on the site right now is one on how Word of Mouth Marketing is booming. Where are the supporting quotes from bloggers? What about getting insight from Andy Sernovitz, who blogs and literally wrote the book on word of mouth marketing? How about a quote or two from Jackie Huba or Ben McConnell, who coined the term 'Customer Evangelism'?

So for all the talk about how Ad Age was embracing 'new media and its potential', it seems that in this case, it is little more than linkbait. I hope I'm wrong, because the Power 150 could create so much more value for both Ad Age, and the bloggers they claim to be embracing.


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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 82

Here's the standings for Week 82:

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,948 (-39)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,258 (-6)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,493 (+66)(LW - 3)
4 - Daily Fix - 1,072 (-16)(LW - 4)
5 - Logic + Emotion - 1,046 (-35)(LW - 5)
6 - Diva Marketing - 992 (+1)(LW - 6)
7 - What's Next - 955 (-10)(LW - 7)
8 - The Engaging Brand - 739 (-20)(LW - 8)
9 - Brand Autopsy - 730 (+21)(LW - 10)
10 - Influential Marketing - 719 (-3)(LW - 9)
11 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 692 (-12)(LW - 11)
12 - Church of the Customer - 651 (No Change)(LW - 13)
13 - Converstations - 647(-22)(LW - 12)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 592 (+8)(LW - 14)
15 - Conversation Agent - 575 (+8)(LW - 15)
16 - Marketing Roadmaps - 533 (No Change)(LW - 17)
17 - The Viral Garden - 531 (-7)(LW - 16)
18 - Marketing Headhunter - 521 (No Change)(LW - 19)
19 - Branding and Marketing - 493 (-33)(LW - 18)
20 - Customers Rock! - 442 (-9)(LW - 20)
21 - CK's Blog - 436 (No Change)(LW - 22)
22 - Servant of Chaos - 426 (-13)(LW - 21)
23 - Experience Curve - 404 (+2)(LW - 23)
24 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 380 (No Change)(LW - 24)
25 - Chaos Scenario - 352 (+4)(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.

Another blah week for the Top 25 as only 7 blogs were up. And the hamster might have fallen back off the wheel at Technorati, as 4 blogs had no change. Poor Marketing Headhunter still hasn't had its link count updated since 1962. Search Engine Guide stood out again posting the biggest move of the week, up 66 links.

No new blogs, with The Lonely Marketer and The Origin of Brands again just missing the countdown.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Measuring the Effectiveness of Social Media

The dynamic Connie Bensen tagged me in a 'discussion meme' around the topic of how we can measure the effectiveness of social media campaigns. The meme has generated some fantastic conversations from several social media experts.

I want to stick to blogging, because that's probably where most companies go first. My view toward blogging is that you have to create value in order to get value. If you are wanting to utilize blogging to improve your company's bottom line, then 'me first' does NOT apply.

And a great way to create value is to view your blog as a community-building tool. Some ways that you can judge if your blog is creating value for your readers is:

1 - Is your web/subscriber traffic increasing?

2 - Are the number of comments per post increasing?

3- Are you tracking more links to the posts you write on the blog?

If traffic, comments, emails and links are increasing, these are signs that you are creating content that's engaging your readers. Which means you are creating value for them. And they are promoting the content you produce to others, especially by linking to your content on their blogs.

But please remember that so much of the growth of your blog is dependent on the amount of time you spend OFF your blog! Your ability to create a vibrant community is dependent on you being a good community member yourself. If visitors become regular readers and commenters at your blog, then you should return the favor by spending time on THEIR blog reading and leaving comments! I advise the companies I discuss blogging with to invest at least half of their 'blogging time' to reading and commenting on other blogs.

Doing so further encourages readers to contribute at your blog. This is how your readers create value for you!

Now, as far as Return on Investment, how does the time you spend blogging benefit you?

1 - Blogging increases your Google Page Rank. This results in more web traffic, and helps establish your authority. And more than likely, your competition only has a static website, which puts them at a severe disadvantage when competing against an active blog in Google's eyes.

2 - Regular readers and contributors to your blog are more likely to become evangelists for you. This of course lowers your marketing costs and makes your marketing more effective.

3 - Your blog can increase customer satisfaction. You will hear this early and often, but blogging 'puts a human face on an organization'. It's the truth, we relate better to people that are like us, and blogging puts a company on a 'human level' with their customers. This leads to more communication, with leads to understanding, and customer satisfaction.

4 - Blogging can improve your image with other bloggers. Perhaps the best example of a company using blogging to improve its reputation online is Dell. At the height of Dell-Hell, almost half of all blog posts about Dell were negative. This was a wake-up call for the Austin-based company, and Dell decided to become active community members in the blogosphere. Since that time, Dell has become proactive about engaging bloggers and providing us with value. The result? The amount of negative blog posts about Dell has gone from a high of 49% to the current level of only 22%. Its Direct2Dell blog is now one of the most respected corporate blogs on the internet, and the company's efforts are now used as a case study for how a company can successfully utilize social media as a marketing tool.

Another interesting facet of this 'discussion meme' is that we are asked to share metrics from our blog's performance that back-up our points. Here's some of the key stats from this blog:

Traffic - Total daily blog traffic (Combining traffic straight to the blog, feed readers, and email subscribers) is currently around 2,100-2,300. In February that figure was at around 400 a day. The above is a graph showing the growth of feed subscribers over the life of The Viral Garden.

Links - Currently The Viral Garden has 534 links, with the blog ranked as 7,622 out of over 112 million blogs that Technorati tracks.

Google PageRank - 6

Comments - This is the 524th post at The Viral Garden, and a couple of weeks ago I manually counted over 2,500 comments left here (unfortunately Blogger won't total the comments for me). So there's roughly 5 comments per post.

Google results - There are currently 136,000 Google results for the exact term "The Viral Garden" Additionally, there were 476 Google results for my name the day I started blogging back in September of 2005. Today there are over 51,000.

But the value I have received from the blogging community cannot be measured. It's allowed me to meet so many amazing people that I otherwise would have likely never known. I have been able to meet and become friends with authors and marketers that I had literally idolized prior to joining the blogosphere. And the community I have joined and the connections I have made have indirectly led to consulting projects, speaking opportunities, writing assignments and even the chance to co-author an amazing book.

As with so much in life, 'your mileage may vary'. But in general, if you approach social media and especially blogging, with the mindset that if you FIRST CREATE value that you will receive value, your efforts will be well worth your time! Best of all, you can get started blogging for free, so you can kick the tires and see if it's for you. Here's a couple of articles that can help you get started.

Here's who I'd like to see chime in with their thoughts:

Chris Brogan
Jennifer Laycock
Josh Hallett
Chris Thilk
Tish Grier
Jake McKee
Katie Chatfield

UPDATE: Geoff left this comment: "I really like how you get into using the statistics to determine how your efforts going, to not just monitor, but to perhaps change course direction. Well done!"

A bit of a clarification about my traffic. I noticed around January or February of this year that my feed readers had caught my daily traffic. So I started paying attention to Feedburner to track my subscriber stats. I moved my 'subscriber buttons' to the top of my sidebar, and added button for Google Reader, Netvibes, and NewsGator, since these seemed to be growing for me. I also added a form to subscribe by email.

I think the feed reader growth is mainly a sign of people's changing habits in how they read blog posts, but I'm sure my moving the subscriber buttons and adding an email form has helped. I think it also speaks to Geoff's point about monitoring your stats and making changes as you think they are necessary.


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Marketing Profs Book Club is live and open for business!

The latest round of Marketing Profs' Book Club (Hosted by CK) is underway, and we're all yammerin' about some Robin Hood Marketing by Katya Andresen!

So if you want to chat it up with fellow bookworms, and Katya herself, just swing over to the Book Club and join in the fun!

BONUS LINK: My latest post at Daily Fix 'So You Want to Launch a Social Media Campaign?'

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Monday, November 12, 2007

So how do you give your marketing away?

I've had some good email responses to my latest premium article for Marketing Profs on how you can improve your marketing by giving it away. I've heard from more than one company that wants to know how they can get to the point where their customers are handling their online promotion. Here's some quick tips:

1 - Assume that most people have likely never heard of you. And if they have, they probably have no interest whatsoever in promoting you. IOW, they don't give a damned about you or telling anyone else about you. Once you accept this, then you can get to work.

2 - You have to give people something to talk about. Yes it sounds trite, but it's the truth. And it has to be something more meaningful than your Columbus Day Sale.

3 - Find a way to give customers value. This is the key, you have to FIRST give your customers something that they value, and then they will be grateful, and possibly promote you to others. A great way to do this is to participate in online communities, or to create your own. Let's say you are the brand manager for a lawn-care company that is producing a new line of weed killers. A good idea would be to participate in online groups/message boards where customers are discussing ways to rid their lawns of weeds. Don't focus on promoting your weed killer, but instead focus on helping members solve their lawn-care problems. If you can demonstrate and provide value to the community, then these members will want to learn more about your products and will assume that since you know what you are talking about, that your products just might work! But the key is to focus first on providing value to current and potential customers.

4 - Identify your evangelists, and empower them. Find and identify the people that are already promoting you, and make it easier for them to do so. This sounds a lot harder than it is. Josh has a perfect example of this on his blog concerning the Georgia Aquarium tapping into the power of their visitors via Flickr. The Georgia Aquarium noticed that visitors had taken a ton of stunning photos of the displays at the aquarium and had posted them on Flickr. So the Georgia Aquarium created a Flickr group, and invited members to join the group and post their pictures of the aquarium's exhibits! Josh adds that the GA is asking Flickr members to please add a description with each photo. They then will use the photos and stories on their relaunched website. The website also features a world map that shows each member's location, with their photos being displayed when you mouse over each location. Again, all the GA did was find Flickr members that were already promoting them, and then pulled the content they were producing all into one spot and put the focus on the visitors and the content they are creating.

5 - Stay in CONSTANT communication with your customers. Perhaps the biggest fear that companies have in letting their customers have more of a say in their marketing, is that they are fearful of what their customers WILL say! This is a natural fear that companies have to overcome because customers always have a say in your marketing, whether you realize it or not. But by keeping in constant communication with your customers, you can create your marketing message together. It also makes it easier for you to understand your customers, and speak in THEIR voice, which results in a more authentic message.

Bonus Link: How to Launch a Successful Blogger-Outreach Program in One Day.


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Facebook's new ad plan and what about the members?

Last week Facebook announced its new ad-plan that would allow members to become 'fans' of companies and brands. If I understand the system correctly, when your friends become 'fans' of a brand, that will show up in your news feed. If they then post a comment or join the brand's page, that would show up in the news feed as well. Advertisers would then have the ability to attach an ad alongside that user notification.

"We are putting advertising back in the hands of people," said Chamath Palihapitiya, VP-product marketing and operations, Facebook. He said it would create a system for user recommendations "so ads are less like ads and more like information and content."

Advertisers are obviously hoping that this model will give them exposure to member's existing networks. They believe that if I become a fan of their company and Facebook broadcasts this via the news feed, that my friends will become fans as well!

Is this likely to happen? The Ad Age piece goes on to add:
Rob Norman, CEO of Group M Interaction, blogged about the announcement and said it was encouraging concept but also posed a "massive challenge in reputation management and just one more destination to deal with in terms of driving the traffic with messaging that shapes opinion." He cautioned that clutter could become impenetrable, that people who share information about brands with friends might not actually like that being co-opted by advertisers; an easy slip up could, of course, broadcast something like a porn purchase to an entire social network.

There needs to be, he wrote, some "smart thinking about how to harvest the eggs without killing the golden goose."

On the surface, it might seem like a silver bullet for advertisers. An easy way to convert Facebook's millions of members into a cyber-endorsement for their brand.

But is that really what's going to happen?

I think not. I think that what's likely to happen is that there is suddenly going to be a lot more marketing-related content/clutter on Facebook. Already I have seen several mentions in my news feed of some of my friends becoming 'fans' of a particular brand. The news feed is a great way to quickly keep up with what my friends are doing. I am interested in which friends are having a birthday this week. Or in the conferences/events they are attending. Or if their martial status changes, or if they change jobs.

But I don't really care if 3 of my friends are now 'fans' of Google. And I definitely don't want to see an ad attached to content that I didn't care about to begin with.

The question I come back to is, 'Where is the clear benefit to Facebook's members?' Where is our silver bullet in this? I don't see it, in fact I think this will dilute the overall Facebook experience.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing Blogs - Week 81

Here's the standings for Week 81:

1 - Seth's Blog - 8,987 (-27)(LW - 1)
2 - Duct Tape Marketing - 2,264 (-17)(LW - 2)
3 - Search Engine Guide - 1,427 (+72)(LW - 3)
4 - Daily Fix - 1,088 (+2)(LW - 5)
5 - Logic + Emotion - 1,081 (-14)(LW - 4)
6 - Diva Marketing - 991 (+17)(LW - 6)
7 - What's Next - 965 (+6)(LW - 7)
8 - The Engaging Brand - 759 (+2)(LW - 8)
9 - Influential Marketing - 722 (+6)(LW - 10)
10 - Brand Autopsy - 709 (-8)(LW - 9)
11 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 704 (-8)(LW - 11)
12 - Converstations - 669(-10)(LW - 12)
13 - Church of the Customer - 651 (+2)(LW - 13)
14 - Jaffe Juice - 584 (+3)(LW - 14)
15 - Conversation Agent - 567 (+4)(LW - 15)
16 - The Viral Garden - 538 (-13)(LW - 16)
17 - Marketing Roadmaps - 533 (+2)(LW - 17)
18 - Branding and Marketing - 526 (-3)(LW - 18)
19 - Marketing Headhunter - 521 (No Change)(LW - 19)
20 - Customers Rock! - 451 (-8)(LW - 20)
21 - Servant of Chaos - 439 (-16)(LW - 21)
22 - CK's Blog - 436 (-1)(LW - 22)
23 - Experience Curve - 402 (+6)(LW - 23)
24 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 380 (-3)(LW - 24)
25 - Chaos Scenario - 348 (+1)(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.

Fairly flat week for the Top 25, with 12 blogs up and 12 down. Search Engine Guide has another big week, and Daily Fix moves up to #4, its highest ranking. For the most part the moves were small in either direction.

No new blogs, with The Lonely Marketer and The Origin of Brands both just missing the countdown.

Next update is next Wednesday.

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