Monthly Archives: January 2009

How not to be an online influencer

This one is doing the rounds, the story of how James Andews, a PR account executive issued a Twitter post about a major client’s hometown. If you are influential and you post on Twitter, then people are going to see.

David Henderson’s blog posting, How Not to be an Online Influencer provides the detail. What intrigued me was the sheer number of comments this posting received. It’s also doing the Twitter rounds.

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It’s all over for Michael Bayard

The world wide web really is a very small world. Just Google “Michael Bayard” and (as of January 19th) he is top of the list, a placement that most SEO practioners would kill for. However, number 1 placement and all but I still wouldn’t want to be in his shoes right now.

Tip 9 of my Top 10 Tips for Customer Listening states:  “If you are participating in Social Media, then do so genuinely and add tangible value, anything else will be noticed and punished…

Social Media happens to also include “review sites”, but Michael sadly did not heed the advice, instead, creating a Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing application to pay people 65 cents to write positive comments about Belkin products on Amazon and NewEgg.

So heinous was this Social Media faux-pas, the nice folks at Crunchgear even posted Michael’s Linked In page in their article “Belkin paying 65 cents for good reviews on New Egg and Amazon“. And so did the Daily Background. It’s enough to make me remove my Linked In profile too!

Funny. Made me chuckle anyway. Remember kids, it sounds tempting, but just don’t do it!

The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World

The article in WSJ – Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World (by
SALVATORE PARISE ,  PATRICIA J. GUINAN and BRUCE D. WEINBERG) discusses how the secret to leveraging Web2.0 is participation. Even though mainstream brands are embracing blogs and forums they are not genuinely participating and they do not go far enough to ENGAGE their customers.

Consumers need a reason or incentive to participate, the article discusses how this can be done without overt sales pitches. It also discusses how to allow the dialog to flow freely – something that may be counter-intuitive to marketers raised manipulating consumer conversations.

It’s worth a read, if you are skeptical about the benefits afforded by Web2.0, it may open your eyes. I plan to post more on this topic soon.

Selecting a Community Platform – 10 tips from Jeremiah

Forrester analyst, Jeremiah Owyang’s freshly published report, The Leaders In Community Platforms for Marketers provides valuable insight into 9 vendors. Here is a summary in 10 bullets:

1.       Social network and online community adoption is on the rise and are being seen as cost effective channels for product and brand marketing and a  growing tech segment is for community platforms providing community infrastructure and features, reporting and integration with business applications – these 10 bullets are dedicated to helping evaluate a vendor.

2.       This Forrester Study assessed 9 vendors: Awareness, Jive, KickApps, Leverage, Lithium, LiveWorld, Mzinga, Pluck, and Telligent – selected from a field over over 90, these focused on large organizations, interactive marketers  and have a strong services component.

3.       Applicability and reputation: vendors specialize in markets and vertical and therefore their feature set is tuned to certain segments (e.g. KickApps for media) – make sure your vendor has experience with your market needs.

4.       Speed and ease of deployment: How quickly you can launch a community and then extend and expand will be determined by the amount of configuration and the ease of use of the tools, componentized or widget based platforms make this easy

5.       Features to look for: Basics will include threaded discussions, comment, live chat, document and image upload, blogging forums and more advanced features are Wikis, Multimedia (audio, video) support, polling and surveys, social networking features, premium content support and of course system security to prevent hacking, web analytics to report basic usage .

6.       Advanced features you will need: Widget creation and customization, full service reporting and analytics and performance dashboards, ability to add custom code, the ability to setup automated import of content, analytics to identify influencers and understand community conversations and to make recommendations on action.

7.       Completeness of offering: Full functionality is complemented by the ability to integrate with other applications (e.g. CRM or BI) will be required as will the ability to exchange (I/O) data via APIs, how much control do you need over the layout, navigation and graphics and a strong and easy to use administration layer.

8.       Services to keep you on track: Implementation consulting to ensure that you are trying to achieve the right goals, installation services to ensure correct deployment, essential support and maintenance to make sure data is backed up, recoverable, the service can be restored with minimal downtime and no data loss,

9.       Of the 9 vendors (who all seem to claim market leadership), Jive Software and Telligent came out on top across all categories – of particular mention, Jive’s intuitive UI , Telligent’s strong analytics, Lithium’s forum and blogging solution, Awareness’ quality of site design (pixel perfect graphics),  KickApps widget technology and Pluck’s content management.

10.       The Elephantear’s take on this is that there is a broad enough range of vendors out there to suggest that this is a maturing market, as with any technology vendor selection, viability and reputation are always a concern, but make sure that you rank importance of what you need to achieve with your community and the application features and support you will need to do this – this will help you select a vendor that will provide the right solution for your needs.

top 10 tips for customer listening

1.    Whatever your business, your customers are voicing their opinions, find out where and harvest it from each and every place, use this to augment surveys and focus groups

2.    Make sure it’s obvious and easy for them to leave feedback in their own words, especially in each place that they deal with you (customer touchpoint), encourage them with hard and soft incentives

3.    Social Media is big and growing, get on the bandwagon (not just communities and blogs), participate and actively listen – you will need technology to maintain coverage and to monitor this dynamic environment focusing your attention on where the conversation is most relevant

4.    Capture both structured and unstructured feedback then organize it into categories that are meaningful to your business – how you want customers to perceive and ones that you can take action on

5.    The action starts as soon as you take the feedback – immediate acknowledgement, timely and intelligent responses and then deliver the insights to the right people inside your organization who can act upon them, then ensure those actions are taken

6.    Make sure the cycle time to capture, categorize, analyze and  act matches the purchase cycle for your product –  in many cases this is real time, so accuracy and precision are also key – if your feedback volume is large, then this will have to be automated – text analytics is the obvious technology

7.    The departments who take their cues from the feedback need to have a quantifiable structure to evaluate the feedback and give them the mandate to act – use BI tools to deliver those insights

8.    There are strategic actions, tactical actions and just plain listening that will improve your customer perceptions and experiences – some of these actions can be automated with the right technology in place

9.    If you are participating in Social Media, then do so genuinely and add tangible value, anything else will be noticed and punished – identify, listen to and use the influencers to carry your messages

10.    Your customer listening program can be a useful barometer as to the performance of your organization, it will allow you to quickly spot underperforming business processes and areas of market opportunity – investment in the program, the technology and your organization’s commitment can yield a positive ROI.

The New Rules of Viral Marketing

A new e-book (available free!) from author David Meerman Scott, provides some thought leadership in the new world of Social Media. If you’re a marketer and your customers are online, then you should be reading this.

You can read about and then download the book – The New Rules of Viral Marketing: How word-of-mouse spreads your ideas for free, here

I’m going to… 🙂

PS See David on You-Tube