A few weeks ago I started to use YouTube, however they’re been some limitations on file sizes and durations –so I decided to try out Google Video. Later I’ll take a look at blip.tv, revver, and a few others.
Here’s a few videos I’ve uploaded on Google Video, the quality of video seems a little higher
There are corresponding photos in my Portland Flickr Set.
Enjoyed this article by David Baker “The Future of E-Mail” is vice president of e-mail marketing and analytical solutions at Agency.com. He eleveates the conversation above the specific tools to see the real benefits. I was saying the same thing about blogs a few months ago, as I explain “Why blogs are not important”
Here’s a few key snippets from David: this is a great example of the integration of consumer and mass opinion integrating (and in some cases overtaking) enterprise created content. Companies and publishers that integrate will thrive.
“We hear a lot about blogs, but blogs aren’t important. What’s important is personal publishing, or the ability to communicate a message to a global audience almost instantaneously. Personal publishing will permeate electronic media, providing counterpoint to mainstream sources and adding depth and color to the conversation.”
Let’s not forget that it’s not only podcasts and TV but other relevent information from the web will also travel. Mobile devices will integrate, tie with cars and other transports and we’ll recieve trangulation of information across all these devices. (not to mention contextual information that ‘s related to location)
“We hear a lot about podcasts, but podcasts aren’t important. What’s important is time-shifted media. The phenomenon that started with TiVo has spread to digital audio and will soon capture portable video. Information consumers will no longer be beholden to program schedules or even their living rooms. Our TV shows will travel with us.”
RSS can be more than just a subscription type service, it can also be used as protocol to link archaic systems together and synthesize new ones. We’re already starting to see this happen in Enterprise Intranets where systems don’t talk to each other. As it evolves to Microformats we’ll start to see very detailed data types using RSS –this is just the start.
“We hear a lot about RSS, but RSS isn’t important. What’s important is the ability to subscribe to information that really interests us. RSS is mainly used to subscribe to blog posts and podcasts. But in the future, they will use it to subscribe to ideas.”
Email is not dying (but I do see a lot of overuses and excess) so we’ll have to see how it morphs. David says the following:
“I conclude that we hear a lot about e-mail, but e-mail isn’t important. What’s important is our ability to communicate in a synchronous and asynchronous fashion in a mixed media world.”
There are other types of communication tools we’ll also need to watch such as Instant Messenger, Second Life and whatever comes next.
Why don’t CEOs write a blog?
NYtimes wrote an article that much of the world is using the web, (as we know web is the first medium at work and second at home) so why Don’t CEOs blog? Johnathan Schwartz of Sun is the most well known CEO blog, he consideres himself primarily a communicator.
Debbie Weil (who moderated a panel I was on at NewComm) a C-level blogging coach has given some points to the article, and I know in the past it’s been debated if CEOs even make good bloggers? Every single world will be held on to, (which is good and bad) and how close are they to products and customers? Are they part of the product creation process or installation? I’d boil it down to something more important –they don’t have time.
If CEOs want to harness the internet to get their message, I reccomend they use Videoblogs –here’s a few reasons why:
- It takes less time than writing: A CEO is already a natural speaker and a company spokesperson, they’re already speaking to the world, putting this on video can be a natural and easy progression.
- An Archive: The videoblog can be individual interviews of the CEO, or can be records of speaches they’ve given. Build up an archive of their thoughts and look for patterns (I quote my colleague Brenda P. for this)
- It’s still two way with comments and blogs: Individuals can still leave comments and write back, it will still be two-way.
- Authentic: A live video of anyone speaking (assuming it’s not heavily edited) can still provide authenticity. Corporate Communications folks will need to back off from script writing and cue cards for this to be real and meaningful.
- It can be engaging: Adding a new dimension to evolution of text to audio then video can be captiviating and engaging, although research shows that users can consume more content via text rather than audio or video. Of course it can only be engaging if it’s interesting.
Saw this on YouTube, clever, funny: Video: Day of the LongTail Loved the bit about customers blogging back –they just had to throw in that ROI part huh? Yes, Customers continue to take charge.
If you’re not sure what the LongTail is, it’s a marketing/economic theory that applies to the Internet, individual consumer choices and niches, and more choices on top of choices, and more of less is going to be sold –democratization of content and goods
Respected blogger and friend David Berkowitz has written the following for Mediapost in regards to the recent book that was launched:
“To put the concept into context, consider a graph with a steep slope downward from the head of the curve on the left, descending into a seemingly endless tail pointing right that scrapes along the bottom but stubbornly refuses to hit zero. That’s the long tail, with a few blockbusters on the left and less popular offerings toward the right. Thanks in part to online marketplaces, from e-tailers stocking vast warehouses of physical merchandise (such as Amazon and eBay) to those with digital content (such as iTunes and Audible), retailers can offer almost anything without worrying about the cost of in-store shelf space, and consumers have more access to finding exactly what speaks to them.“
Marketer’s need to start strategizing to provide all of these specific choices to consumers, and realize that large audiences are not always best. The future will hold that the smaller audience that really do care are the ones that may matter the most –individual relationships.
Visit Chris Anserson’s websites: The Long Tail to learn more, or a quick summary via Wikipedia.
Michael at Techcrunch, released a pretty kickin comparison of the online TV guide replacements, there’s quite a few sites that can extend the TV experience past the box. The paper version of TV guides are going dodo. (as with the slow demise of newspapers).
I remember a few weeks ago reading articles about Google’s upcoming ambient contextual audio feature that would enable any internal microphone on a computer or laptop to ‘listen’ to what’s being played on TV and then display contextual information on the screen. Imagining watching the Giants game and Advertisements for Giants merchandise started to appear on websites you visited.
At Webvisions I video recorded a few minutes of the future of IPTV, see the video here. A convergence of iPod, Cell phone, Video, TV, Internet, and humans is starting to come.
I know this stuff scares some people, but in order to get better content (personalized) this means you need to give up some control and information.
It also means that I will be exploring video and IPTV more in the future. I already met my goal to start uploading video on a regular basis –more news on that to come. What will be interesting is when my homegrown videos start appearing on my TV and those of my friends and family.
Self growth in this fast fast changing landscape requires commitment –I’ll do it before I have kids now! I’m also going to make a new category on my blog called IPTV.
I’ve found it interesting, misleading, motivating, embarrassing, and sometimes frustrating trying to explain what I do (or the perceptions around it). My focus area(s) are simply too nacent for the hump of the crowd to get it. I realize that I’m doing something that’s new (but yet so old), let me share with you the challenges:
My wife Shirley went to dinner with an old female classmate last week –they dined in high fashion at a swanky SF restaurant for nearly 4 hours. Of course her friend asked what her husband did for a living, ultimatly something about ‘blogs’ came out. Shirley’s friend asked “What’s a blog?” so I don’t think the conversation could go to strategic at that point –heh.
I also remember about this time last year, I had several of my closest buddies at a bar with me (it was actually a pre-bachelor party) and I told them about blogging. Some were interested (maybe becuase I had them pinned to the back of the booth) and some got it. It’s intersting, nearly a year later, several of them have been blogging, and one of them called me last week to get some advice on starting a business blog. (at a major software company in silicon valley)
One of my cousins in college was speaking with Kevin (close friend and Cousin) they were having an interesting conversation around the future of her career –as she has an interest in web, design, and of course spends a lot of time on MySpace. I was amused when I heard him explaining to her that my career is much like building MySpace for large companies. In many ways that’s true. Her eyes lit up when I told her about what I did.
Another family member of mine was really perplexed to hear that I was working on blogs, that’s silly “Isn’t that what kids do?” heh. There was no issue of awareness, however it wasn’t clear.
High Level Conversations with Grandma
There are some good things however, some of my business friends and family totally get it. I saw my Grandma last week, I’m not sure how well she can use the computer but she apparently is reading my blog with the aid of my mom and auntie. “Web Strategist” made sense to her, and she even was able to converse at a high level with me –she’s an impressive Woman to say the least –but of course she’s going to love whatever I do.
Help me explain it
So What do I do? Am I a Web Strategist? Count Blogula? Snoop Bloggy Blog? A Web Prophet? Social Media Expert? I often want to pull folks that don’t know too much about blogging into a 15 minute discussion (rarely do I have the time, a laptop, or do they have the interest) to explain it. I want to show them how customers and citizens are taking charge, why this is the first time the common man has ever been able to publish his voice, and how companies that don’t wake up may suffer damage, and companies that harness this can really benefit.
I do want to share my passion, and I know it’s important to people and companies so. Help me boil it down to a one breath phrase for the uninitiated, how would you describe what I do?
Shel Holtz discusses the infamous example of a customer calling AOL support line and being hassled if not dangled in order to keep him as a customer –poor customer service.
This bad experience was further mangled as it spread on the blogosphere, and even on digg. The recording of the actual event was heard –I was even frustrated when listening.
Companies can no longer afford to treat customers poorly, the examples of AOL, Dell, and others are suffering at the hands of customers. Customers are clearly in charge. Shel Holtz observes:
“There are no secrets anymore, just information the audience doesn’t yet have.”
As a Community Manager, I must embrace this law –by being a customer resource, and advocate, and even address areas to improve. Companies must immediately admit when they are wrong and correct it. Companies also have to admit when their competitors are better –the customers already know it anyways.The Clutrain Manifesto states:
“Networked markets are beginning to self-organize faster than the companies that have traditionally served them. Thanks to the web, markets are becoming better informed, smarter, and more demanding of qualities missing from most business organizations.”
“12: There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.”
It’s just a matter of time before the information is spread to the customer. Companies that hide, deceive or trick customers will suffer the wrath of a riot.
Many companies today are getting into corporate blogging, although for most corporate cultures allowing just anyone or everyone to blog is not a reality. (Although I guarantee in a few years blogs will be issued like email accounts to each and every employee).
Selecting the right corporate blogger is a daunting task, as it will make (or break) your blogging program. By selecting the wrong blogger, it could end up in disaster, or worse yet, boring and ineffective.
Also, I strongly recommend providing individual blogs rather than faceless teamblogs –yes there’s more risk, however the benefits can be greater to building a real relationship.
Here’s some criteria that I’ve found that makes a good corporate blogger, some of these are from my own experience as well as sipping wine with business blog expert and author Shel Israel in his backyard. Here are some characteristics to seek in a corporate blogger:
1) A Domain Expert
Your blogger needs to be a subject matter expert at the company, product, or customer need. Shel observes that some of the best bloggers are often Product Managers –I’m suprised by seeing a great CEO blogger at a larger corporation.
2) Conversational and an Effective Writer
Blogs are really conversations, as they are two-way dialogues (even if you don’t enable comments) so understanding that the content is not a monologue/speach is key. An effective blogger will be able to compose their own content, spell check and write sensibly and effectively. They analyze what is being said and respond to other bloggers and readers. They synthesize their personal experience and compose onto a blog.
The blogger must be very interested in their subject matter, product, or even passionate about customers –if they are not, it’ll show in the quality, frequency, and folks simply won’t read it. I hope my passion for web comes across.
4) Chatty and Vocal
Great bloggers are chatty –it’s true, I’ve met many of the greats, they love to chat, converse, learn, explore and grow. This doesn’t just mean by voice, but they may often respond quickly and frequently to email. It’s possible this person may already be a public face to the company but if they can’t be ‘transparent’ then seek other places.
5) A Web User
A great blogger is already using the web a lot, not just because they’ll be using a webtool to publish, but because they’ll need to be reading what others are saying. You’ll need to teach them how to listen –and they’ll be proactive at doing it themselves.
6) Transparent, Real, and Open
A good blogger will say when he’s right, a great blogger will admit when he’s wrong, and when the company and it’s products need help. This is the age of un-marketing –so they’ll need to be real, be transparent and naked.
I recommend that anyone who wants to blog start a personal blog on the side (an unrelated topic is fine) and experiment. Also, it makes sense (if you’re the one finding the corporate blogger) to request potential bloggers to submit draft posts once a week via email for a month. This will give time to analyze time, commitment, and writing style. Since this individual will become a corporate asset, you need to select an individual(s) that is committed to the company. I strongly discourage ghost writing, when customers find out, and credibility will be lost –it’s not worth the risk.
8) Thick Skinned
The blogosphere is real, and customers will voice their honest opinions. It’s not all good, and that’s part of the game. Embracing the criticism and harnessing them to build better products takes fortitude and will. Your blogger should also know when not to engage detractors –as some bloggers and commenters will be ‘baiting’
Feel free to add some points in the comments –what should you look in for a great corporate blogger?
Here’s Why and How to listen to your customer voice:
The Voice of the Customer gets louder
With blogs, podcasts, videoblogs, wikis, and forums, the voice of the customer is getting louder and louder. It’s not a fad, the MySpace generation tells us that. We also know people talk about companies when they care, they are passionate either one way or another. We know that customers trust other customer opinion above all others (or at least people ‘like me’) and we know the web is the top medium at work and second most popular medium at home. Customers are starting to voice their opinion (Both good and bad) about products they use, and they are connecting to each other.
We also know folks use Google search (quite a bit) and the higher the result ranking the more likely they will click. We also know that these social media tools (like blogs) can rank very, very high, in fact in some cases, like the Dell Support query which links to Jeremy’s post which was at one point 2 and 3 rank. We’ve seen it rank higher than the actual company support site –this is a disruption and it’s not going away.
Although this has been used over and over (and there is still some debate on the actual events), Kryptonite is a company that was not listening to it’s customers.
Here’s a web strategy I see as an emerging practice for managing your corporate reputation, this is still new to many companies, but in the history of business, the companies that listen to customers survive.
1) Consider hiring a company that will monitor
Companies appear to be hiring firms to listen to the blogosphere, I’m seeing mixed results as either they don’t track CGM well or they don’t report well.
Often these companies are ‘traditional’ media tracking companies that are now extending to “consumer generated media” (the voice of the customer). I’ve seen that most of them have excellent reporting tools, although they may not know how to hunt ‘off the wire’ in the blogosphere or lack ability to dive down deeper.
Sometimes they Search Engine Marketing (SEM) firms that you would traditionally hire to craft a strategy to buy keywords for a web campaign (I’ve got some notes about that here from the Web Marketing Strategy symposium here). These companies may also be good to search the blogosphere as they flip the engines around to seek instances of keywords or phrases. Some, but not all have decent reporting engines –this is obviously a new line of business for many.
2) Active Listening
Don’t just rely on another company –you take an active role as well, you can’t just turn on the radar dish without looking out the window or opening the door.
Every single company should be watching the blogosphere and use the free tools that are available to them. Technorati, Google Blog Search, Sphere, Talkdigger, Google Search, and Opinmind for consumer products.
Seek keywords and regular bloggers of your industry into your feedreader (which aggregates blog feeds –the most common one is MyYahoo, however bloglines is more popular now)
Setup alerts using Google Alerts and other tools to be notified instantly of instances that occur –sort of the last resort however as it may only be aiming more so at EGM not CGM. No worries, as you should be regularly following customer voices, after doing this after a few months there shouldn’t be too many surprises.
3) Train product teams to listen deeper
Train your product, engineering, support teams to listen to these voice, set them up with feedreaders and alerts and also provide them with regular and real time updates as you find them. An awareness session may need to occur first. If you don’t win them over, don’t panic, and don’t get frustrated, simply send them the content and believe me, if they care about customers (as the best product folks do) they’ll quickly get it. With all of this stuff, patience is a virtue for evangelists.
4) Track, Discuss be a better Company
Product teams and employees should discuss the voice of the customer, they’re giving you direct feedback on your product, how you respond to them both in marketing and in support. This is healthy and this is good, how much money do you spend on research on focus groups for support and service? I’ll bet not much, now the customer is doing it for free.
5) Learn more about Social Media and Community Marketing
Get books, read blogs by experts, and maybe hire a consultant. I own Cluetrain Manifesto, Naked Conversations, Seth Godin’s series, Weblog handbook, Blog Marketing and am anticipating Debbie’s book. Also, I’ve contributed to this upcoming book too by Ted D. Each of these authors has a blog, and each links to other folks like it.
I purposely did not talk about responding yet, maybe we can talk about that another time (although there’s a raw list of tips I’ve learned on my former blog)
From the desk of the Web Strategist, I sincerely hope that your aware of a party or riot happening right out your front door, listen to the voice of your customer!
Mike and Zach are two web geeks touring cross country in an old beat up VW promoting their new company MyKin, a social networking and media site for familes!
Julio told me last week that Scoble linked to them, and they had a copy of the Hitachi Data Systems Silicon Valley map. I see those maps around the building here and there. I left them a comment on their blog to invite them to lunch, and I was pleased to have Mike and Zach over to my work at Hitachi Data Systems yesterday!
They’ve visited companies like Intel, Facebook (one of our customers) and I even connected them with Will Pate at Flock! (Will was next to me at webvisions when the emails connected)
They showed me their VW van, and they had an iPod (Which use Hitachi hardrives) and a homemade stereo system, and even a bowl taped to some HD magnets –pretty clever.
We cruised around HQ, and we showed them the Customer center, we let them drink beer (ok root beer) and Kevin was able to talk to them about Storage. I chatted with them about online storage too, which is interesting to me as I’m a web manager at a storage company. We both agreed that storage is important, and fear the day if either of websites would go down because of storage loss. We let them when at foosball –see how gracious we are?
Read their take on things from the visit!
Today, they are giving a demo in SF for their product and may have some other interesting things to discuss –watch their blog to learn more.
Here are some of the pics: