Archive for the ‘Word of Mouth’ Category


Understand Conversational Marketing with John Battelle

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Great conversation with this WebEx commissioned podcast with John Battelle the founder and CEO of Federated Media. John’s a thought leader, speaker, and author, and luminary. He discusses how the marketing has shifted from broadcast (disruptive yelling) to conversational (exchanges in communities).

What you’ll learn:

Understand the changes between publishing and advertisers
Boing Boing’s rapid growth without spending a dollar on marketing
How the internet flattens the distribution curve
How are traditional marketers adopting conversational marketing?
Why packaged marketing is no longer viable
AOL as a case study
Who gets conversational marketing in the media business

Although we end up at the same ending point, my belief and practice area is on Community Marketing. Conversations are certainly part of the sphere, but I see conversations being a verb that is an output for a community. Lastly, communities can succeed without verbal or text conversations, gestures can indicate interest. In the end, we end up at the same point, just different ways of looking at the same solution.

YouTube: Producer of the one hit wonder or platform for talent discovery?

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Adam “Tay Zonday” Bahner, a PhD candidate in American studies at the University of Minnesota, produced Chocloate Rain. Since it first appeared on YouTube in July it has spread as a ‘meme’ around the web resulting in countless remixes (try seeing related videos on any of the YouTube videos).

If you’ve not seen the Chocolate Rain music video, it’s a simplistic, repetitive theme that has deep focus on society, racism, and inequality. It was highlighted on YouTube’s Featured section:

“Of course, it doesn’t hurt to get a little help from YouTube. The site’s editors have featured several of Zonday’s recent videos on their homepage, where a video can get tens of thousands of hits in an hour. On July 26, “Chocolate Rain” was even featured by YouTube alongside several of its pretenders.”

Hollywood is adopting to the online age, as there are more talent agencies scouring YouTube to find talent. This ties back to corporate life too, I know that many companies are using the web to find passionate users and customers to hire as employees.

Who owns Customer References and Support in the World Wide Web?

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As a child, I was often labeled as disruptive in the classroom, always to my parents dismay. I’m now very disruptive to corporate strategists, but I’m bringing a message that needs to be heard.

A few months ago I spoke at the Customer Reference Forum in the city of Berkeley. My presentation was loosely based around this post: The impacts of social media to customer references.

I opened my presentation with a the recollection of a conversation I had with two of the attendees over lunch. They were talking about which wing to stay at in the hotel that was hosting the conference. One cleverly learned that one side was more desirable, and she learned this from a hotel review website –not the official hotel website!

What’s a customer reference program? It’s a group within a company (often B2B tech companies have this group) that harvest the positive customer mentions and turn them into marketing or sales tool materials. The end goal? To convert prospects by using these filtered and biased customer opinions.

I suggest these great folks that run these programs need to evolve, as prospects can now find customer opinions online. Tools like Yelp, (restaurant rating) blogs (like this one you’re reading now) and the emerging Get Satisfaction (universal product support) product that could be very disruptive to the corporate website.

At the conference, I gave the suggestion that the customer reference teams were to evolve and start being more active in social media. I received push-back from the already startled crowd. (One attendee even called my message scary, but in a positive way). So who’s to manage these ‘unbiased’ and ‘organic’ customer references? Robin Hamilton of reference geeks cares a lot about customers, and would be a great start to learn more.

[Previously, there were dedicated groups that were responsible to harvest the testimonials of customers. Now with the world wide web, these voices appear organically and are easy to find. Now questions of ownership and management rumble from within the enterprise]

So who owns the customer testimonials? Well we all know that they do, but within the organization? We all agree that there’s likely folks who we don’t want talking to customers (and they probably don’t want to either) however I must suggest that everyone who’s a touch point to a customer is actually responsible for customer references. And with many, many employees being on the world wide web, this can include many folks, even those not in sales, marketing, or support.

Additional Resources

The impacts of social media on customer references programs
The support site is no longer on your extranet
Web Strategy: The Air Traffic Tower
Marketing is not on two domains alone
The many Forms of Web Marketing

Shout back: Who should “manage” or “own” the customer references in the modern corporation?

Getting Viral

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Sniff, Ha Chooo, cough cough…

Back in Febuary, I was curious to see how people consume content, so I shared my media consumption habits, on this post, and encouraged others to share. I tagged five people, but only a few of them actually did it, and it started to spread. I’m not a black hat SEO and I certainly wasn’t trying to do anything mischievous but the meme spread.

Now, in July, there are over 113 links to that post says Technorati. Marketers and PR folks are fascinated by this and would love to replicate something like this.

What’s my secret? People want to share, people want to talk about what’s important to them, so I just figured out what I wanted to share about and let it spread. Always remember it’s got to be opt-in, so what’s in it for them? What’s going to let them want to blog about it? You’ve got to put yourself in their shoes, that’s how to be viral.

Can someone pass me a tissue?

Hate Advertising? Get over it.

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I was a speaker at Ad:Tech in SF earlier this year and I’m sick of hearing my Social Media colleagues (who I still respect greatly) complain about why they hate advertising: “It’s intrusive, it’s nasty, it looks horrible, it doesn’t work”

Get over it, it’s not going away
See Social Media folks are marketers at heart, they are conversationalists, communicators, and community advocates. We believe that we can be a better society by getting rid of the blasting of messages from the ivory towers. The funny thing is, on many of these folks websites, I see them have banner advertisements or ad units promoting the next conference they go to –ironic.

Much of the internet’s revenue is from Ads

As I understand it, 85% of Google’s revenue in the past has been from online advertising. Contextual Ad sense is Advertising, sure it’s not the annoying “punch a monkey” type of advertising, but it’s still advertising. I predict Google will start to do this with video in the near future, it’s certainly not going away. Read my predictions about Google and Online Video.

We hate shotguns

Advertising is a shotgun approach, and sadly that means that innocents are subjected to the chaff. Advertising messages are often (or should be) targeted at a specific group or demographic, when we’re subjected to advertising that’s not aimed at us, we often don’t like it or try to screen it out.

We love lasers

When Advertising is focused and hits the right target, not unlike a laser, it hits home and resonates. Advertising becomes part of our culture, and people start to talk about (that’s a conversation) from Budd-wise-er, to Got Milk. We hate advertising when its not for us, but in the rare times that it’s on the mark, it resonates with us, and becomes part of us. This can apply for text ads, mobile, ads, and most importantly, contextual ads.

Even though we don’t like it, advertising works

Advertising works. In business school, we were taught that 11-13 impressions of a brand (often advertising) will cause the prospect to be highly likely to try or purchase the product. This is a deep rooted human, psychological, and sociological instinct that’s difficult to ignore.

The Future
Is it possible for products to be adopted by people without word-of-mouth networks? Absolutely. Is it possible for both to co-exist? Advertising online will become more targated, the advanced media buyers will shift to sponosorships, and technology will allow us to triangulate data online, and using mobile devices like never seen before. If done right, there will be more lasers than shotguns.

Online Advertising will evolve, as will word of mouth, conversations, and communities too. Let’s evolve with it.

Who are the new Influencers? And how in-person Word of Mouth impacts decision making

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Two interesting pieces out there today, Takahashi from the San Jose Mercury (link via Jennifer Jones) has a article on the “New Influencers”. He highlights what some early bloggers have done, and how being first helped them to become powerful.

He discusses how “Conversation Marketing” is key in the new marketplace:

“To influence the influencers, companies need to have two-way conversations with bloggers, whom Gillin terms “enthusiasts.” Disney courts John Frost, author of the DisneyBlog, for instance, because it knows that his posts can inspire stories on mainstream TV shows and in news publications.

Such “conversation marketing” requires a completely different set of skills than those that marketers typically use. When New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman criticized General Motors for fuel inefficient cars, GM punched back just as hard with a post on its corporate blog, Fastlane. Friedman fired back, and in the ensuing spotlight, GM got its points across to a big online audience.”

In the article, he futher suggest that being early is the only way to become powerful and infuelntial, which is not true. Guy Kawasaki was a late comer to blogging and quickly rose to the top 100.

While I’m not an A-lister, this blog is in the 2000 Technorati rank, which I started less than a year ago. Of course, I did have a previous URL domain, so reputations matter, and that’s really what’s important, not numbers.

To further the influence of word-of-mouth, eMarketer indicates that decision makers rely on first had, or in-person word of mouth above all other forms. It puts technology bloggers at a influence rate of 19%.

In the past, a few former colleagues and friends have teased me about attending so many tech events on weeknights. Well, if it’s not obvious to you, face to face meetings build so much more than any blog could.

Lastly, eMarketer reports that word of mouth only works when a company has solid offerings, without it, word will not travel effectively; “Without satisfied customers, there was nothing for WOM marketers to talk about.