Interactions

June 7, 2007

I apologize for not posting any sooner than this, but I’ve been bombarded with work, had the “Lizard Flu,” and could not get into my WordPress account for about the last two weeks, because it wouldn’t recognize my information. The “Lizard Flu” is where you feel so bad you just want to hide under a rock. I’m feeling much better now, thank you, and I hope to be adding to this blog on a more regular basis.

So I’m back with something to share. I’m reading a great book by Seth Godin, entitled “Small is the New Big,” and I came across this passage that I would like to share.

Under the heading of Functionality, Godin says “On Amazon, you can now search the contents of books, not just the titles. This innovation cost the company millions of dollars and years of effort. Why bother? Because functionality is the new marketing.

How did Amazon get so big and so profitable, and so important? Not by interrupting people who didn’t want to be interrupted. By interacting with people. Interactions are a million times more powerful than interruptions.”

Giving people what they need to make decisions, rather than hype, or marketing slogans is empowering and builds value, which leads to sales. We need to learn to interact with potential customers or clients, just like we would in any important relationship, not just spout what is handy at the moment. Empty slogans mean nothing to consumers, valuable content means an informed consumer, with a building confidence in your product or service.

Social Media provides a part of the answer to providing functionality and interaction to a companies marketing effort, but as Seth Godin points out it should go much deeper and broader in the enterprise than that.

That’s all for now. Thanks for the read this week!

Power to the people…Social Media

Is The World Flat?

April 25, 2007

Over the past couple of days I’ve been reading an interesting book, titled “The World is Flat”, written by Thomas L Friedman. The book as the title suggests is about the “flattening” of the world, or how it has gotten smaller and faster, in a considerable shorter time span than it has to this point. Friedman feels that his research shows a “flattening” or leveling of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing, creating new players, in the global economy.

Friedman writes that the convergence of technology has allowed India and China to become part of the global supply chain, creating an explosion of wealth in the middle classes of two of the world largest nations, and should alert the United States to some potential economic threats, and the likely continued increase in foreign outsourcing. Posing the question “What does this mean to countries, communities, and individuals”

I don’t know the answer yet, as I’m only a chapter or two into the book, but so far it’s been an enlightening look into how the world’s other countries are responding to technology leveling the playing field, and what that means to us.

Did you know that China is becoming the country that develops the largest number of university graduates? I didn’t. They aren’t screwing around. They are trying to become THE economic powerhouse of the world. Who can blame them? They have the resources and the man power, now they are developing their technology and intellectual resources at an incredible pace.

I’ll keep reading and let you know how it turns out, at least in the book. Time will tell how it will turn out in real life.

Social Media is hopping, we’ve been busy with our clients, and are excited to be apart of this incredible wave of marketing change.

Thanks for your read this week!

Power to the People…Social Media

Social Media Report

April 10, 2007

Social Media reports are starting to show significant awarness and adoption rates by Corporate America. Forresters lastest report on Social Media, and this one by University of Massachusetts, researchers Eric Mattson and Nora Ganim Barnes show very positive Social Media growth, in all Social Media areas.

The following summary of this report is copied from the website of The Content Wrangler, a good blog for Social Media information and news. Thank you to The Content Wrangler for this report run-down.

The Hype is Real: Social Media Invades the Inc. 500

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research conducted a nationwide telephone survey of those companies named by Inc. Magazine to the Inc. 500 list for 2006 under the direction of blog researchers Eric Mattson and Nora Ganim Barnes. Nearly one quarter (121) of the Inc. 500 participated. The Inc. 500 is a list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies announced in the September issue of Inc. Magazine.

Given that previous research shows only 8% of the Fortune 500 currently having a public blog, this research was undertaken to see if there was a difference in the knowledge and usage of social media in companies selected by growth rate rather than revenue. This research proves conclusively that social media is coming to the business world at a faster rate than many anticipated. It also indicates that corporate familiarity and usage of social media is racing far ahead of what many have predicted.

The respondents are diverse in industry, size and location. They include 4 of the top 10, 7 of the top 25, and 22 of the top 100 companies from the Inc. 500 list. The 121 companies who responded were asked detailed questions concerning their usage and measurement of social media. Questions probed familiarity of respondents with prominent social media (blogging, podcasting, online video, social networking, wikis). Given the frequently uncertain definitions of these media, common understanding of each form was achieved by providing definitions from Wikipedia at the time of the survey.

The social media that is most familiar to the Inc. 500 is social networking with 42% of respondents claiming to be “very familiar with it.” Familiarity is related to usage. It is interesting to note, however, that even those forms of social media less familiar to the participants are still used by at least 11% of them. Over one quarter of the Inc. 500 studied report social media is very important to their business/marketing strategy.

Executive Summary

The hype is real.

The social media revolution is coming to the business world. Already there have been signs; from Google’s acquisition of video juggernaut YouTube for $1.65 Billion to MySpace‘s 120 million users to the 63 million blogs that Technorati tracks. But, the question has been, when, and even if, business will start to embrace the powerful technologies of social media?

The 121 companies who responded were asked detailed questions concerning their usage and measurement of social media. Their responses are surprising and will likely shock even the most fervent believer in social media. They indicate that corporate familiarity and usage of social media is racing far ahead of what many have predicted. The research results presented here are statistically valid at +/- 3%.

Respondents were asked to rank their familiarity with each technology from “very familiar” to “very unfamiliar.” The social media that was most familiar to the Inc. 500 is social networking with 42% of respondents claiming to be “very familiar with it.” However, as the graph below shows, across the board a significant percentage of the companies are “very familiar” with each of these technologies. The bottom line is that the Inc. 500 knows far more about social media than one might predict.

From familiarity, the survey moved into the companies’ actual usage of social media. The companies were asked if they were using the six social media discussed above and, if yes, for how long they had been using them. Again, the results are surprising. While familiarity is related to adoption, even the least familiar media of wikis has 17% adoption. All six forms of social media are far more widespread than anticipated.

Not only is this widespread adoption being driven by strong familiarity but also from the recognized critical role of social media to a company’s future success in today’s online world. When queried on the importance of social media, 26% of respondents felt that social media is “very important” to their business and marketing strategy.

From familiarity to usage to importance, social media is far more prevalent in the Inc. 500 than previous research would predict. And where these fast-growing, innovative companies lead certainly the corporate world will follow.

The social media revolution is here. The hype is real.

Keeping track of social media research
A more thorough analysis of the research into social media adoption by the Inc. 500 will be published in several journals throughout 2007. To be added to an email distribution list so that you can stay abreast of the most recent research and writings on this subject, email Eric Mattson or Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D..

Thanks for your read this week,

Power to the People…Social Media

Developing a Corporate Podcast

April 5, 2007

With Social Media as our blog topic, and Social Media as my main business, I thought it would be interesting to describe where we are in the process of developing a video podcast for one of our clients.

Britton New Media is currently working on the developmental stages of a video podcast for the Sebring Clinic, a natural health, medical practice and nutrition center, located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Dr Lane Sebring is an amazing man and Doctor, with a successful practice and clinic in Wimberley, TX, his natural health message will revolutionize peoples health, and be one of the most exciting life changing health oriented productions of any kind. You can tell we’re excited to be involved.

We’ve gone through the stages of Social Media education, where the client has developed an understanding of the uses and benefits of New Media, and have moved into the areas of content creation, expressing my vision for the client’s podcast, deciding on foundational topics, developing those into segments, creating a production style that suits the content and the client, and even shooting the B-roll for the opening and closing segments.

While Britton Audio works on the music, voice-over, and sound production, our video production department, headed by Christian Carpenter, is in the early stages of editing the newly acquired video footage. After the video is completed, I’ll add the music and my voice-over, and when it comes out the other side, it will be a creative video piece to open and close the show.

Where is the Social part of this media production? Well, up to this point the description I’ve given could describe a common traditional media production, however there is a big difference. It’s all in the presentation and content. The Social Media components that seemed to apply in this business context are:

(1) Interaction. People having a chance to ask questions, and interact. Let viewers be a part of the show. It’s their health after all.
(2) Direct, un-hyped health information
(3) Access to natural health experts, beyond Dr Sebring and his Health Team
(4) Practical applications. How to affect your health now. What you can do

We believe strongly that a corporate podcast needs to be a blend of traditional media disciplines, with a strong Social Media understanding and presentation. We also feel that there are two types of corporate podcasts, as far as content, direct and indirect. The indirect approach is a great way for a corporation to associate its brand with a podcast that agrees with its values, interests, and relates to its market segment, but has nothing directly to do with pushing its products.

The podcast we are producing has needed information; content that can change the way we look at health. We won’t beat around the bush, so to speak, to get this great content out to the public. It will be a direct external podcast.

Still a ways to go before we will have our first episodes, distributed and promoted, but we are getting there, day by day. We’ll talk about the journey along the way. Please respond if you have any disagreements, questions or other comments. We appreciate your read this week.

Power to the People…Social Media

Social Media: Active Listening

March 29, 2007

Social Media marketers use the term Active Listening to express how every Social Media Campaign should begin, and to describe an important element in how every Social Media campaign should continue. Active Listening is an important part of the beginning of any relationship, especially when it’s a developing corporate relationship, with the Social Media community.

An organization needs to know what is being said in the conversation going on in the blogosphere, about their company, before they begin a strategy involving Social Media marketing, but they also need to absorb all they can as to how Social Media works. An understanding of the new Social ways of communicating, how to create interaction, and how to build community, are the foundation on which to build a corporate Social Media marketing plan.

Here are 10 things you should be monitoring from Cameron Olthuis:

http://www.pronetadvertising.com/”Pronet.

1 Company name
2 Company URL
3 Public facing figures
4 Product names
5 Product URLs
6 The industry “hang outs”
7 Employee activity/blogs
8 Conversations
9 Brand image
10 Competitors

Thank you Cameron for your “Active Listening List”.

Until next time, thanks for the read. I’m off to play with our new Border Collie puppy. Her name is Sophie, and she is cute! Time to hide our good shoes.

Power to the People…Social Media

Social Media’s Sucker-Punch

March 22, 2007

Social Media’s Sucker-Punch from Ketchum Report

Recently Ketchum, an 84-year-old PR firm, commissioned a report on media usage, from USC Annenberg, School for communication. Ray Kotcher, Senior Partner and Chief Executive Officer, Ketchum, states “The report is a survey that examines what gaps might exist between what communicators are doing to share information, and what consumers really pay attention to in their search for information.”

Thanks to Gurgle, one of our blog readers, we now have the URL for this report http://ketchumperspectives.com/archives/2006_i7/index.php. Thank you Gurgle for your contribution.

It was very interesting to see what traditional media firms have to say about Social Media. All in all it’s a thorough report with great information, about all segments of media usage. But I did have a bone to pick with the overall tone as it relates to Social Media.

The report starts out by exploring Media Myths: Six Media Fictions. Myth number one…Traditional Media is dead.

First, in all my study and general reading on Social Media, I’ve never heard anybody say that Traditional Media is dead. The statistics they so professionally show are exactly what one would expect at this early stage in this emerging market, and for 10 to 15 years into the future. I haven’t read or heard ANYONE say that Traditional Media is dead.

I’m astonished…how can anybody even ask a question like that at this stage of Social Media’s development? We’re only, at the most, two years into its growth, for heaven sakes.

When I see Ray Kotcher in his opening remarks, and the study use words such as “myths”, “new choices complicate”, and “media fictions”, along with the general tone of each myths summary, it makes me feel manipulated. Just using those words colors the perception of the reader, and brings into question the integrity and validity of the message.

A relevance of Social Media study SHOULD be looking at two elements of Social Media for a fair evaluation of its growth, and its importance as communication medium:

ÿ Growth compared with any other media over a specified time frame, and
ÿ How effective Social Media is as a communication medium compared to Traditional Media.

If one looks at the statistics of growth for a specific communications medium, including newspapers, radio, television (traditional media), and the internet, email, business web sites, blogs, podcasts, and search engines (new media), traditional media hasn’t come close to equaling the growth rate of the internet, email and business web sites. But wait a minute; Social Media’s adoption rate is 3 times that of ANY of these mediums, new or traditional.

So in a fair comparison, New Media shows an incredible growth rate, a rate of growth that no other media can claim.

Why is this? The medium itself is a far more effective medium for communication of any kind, and as people become aware of this new way to interact and communicate with a responsive, socially conscious company, they will demand a socially responsible new experience, that may or may not include traditional media.

Social Media is communication with integrity!

I have no problem with PR’s traditional tools and methods for putting the facts out to the public, in press releases and the like, making sure that the company’s side of the issues are heard, and the good news gets out. This seems ethical, and without the hype and manipulation of broadcast media.

At this point in time there is room and need for everyone at the table. I have no quarrel with Social Media’s ranking at this early stage; I just have a problem with any attempt to marginalize Social Media’s importance, and to distort the future of Social Media.

Power to the People…Social Media

Relationship Marketing the New Old

March 14, 2007

I just recently reread “Relationship Marketing” written by Regis McKenna, published back in 1990, and found it to be very in touch with today, for such an old book. In these fast-changing times, it’s absolutely ancient. However it still speaks with a strong voice that resonates within the Social Media context. Social Media is an extension of the early concepts of Relationship Marketing.

If Relationship Marketing is the starting point for a dynamic change in the way marketing is done, then Social Media is the vehicle or medium to transport us to Relationship Marketing’s potential.

Back in 1990 Regis McKenna said, “We are witnessing the obsolescence of advertising. In the old model of marketing, it made sense as part of the whole formula: you sell mass produced goods to a mass market through mass media. Marketing’s job was to use advertising to deliver a message to the consumer in a one-way communication.”

He goes on to say “In a time of exploding choice and unpredictable change, marketing-the “new” marketing-is the answer. And that means marketing that finds a way to integrate the customer into the company, to create and sustain a relationship between the company and the customer.”

Relationship Marketing has been searching for the tools to integrate the customer into the company, and to create the lasting relationship to which Regis refers. Social Media offers the two-way communication needed to begin this shift away from a restrictive, cold impersonal, one-sided message, to a mutual conversation, that benefits both the company and the consumer.

Regis McKenna has a new book out titled “Total Access”, published by Harvard Business School Press, or check him out at regis.com.

I just started reading Seth Godin’s book, “Small Is The New Big”, so I’ll comment on that book as I read it. So far it’s great. Interesting ideas and information mixed with humor and insight.

I also wanted to mention a very good PR and New Media blog that I just recently came across, written by Kami Huyse
http://overtonecomm.blogspot.com/

Until next time…thanks for the read.

Power to the People…Social Media

Social Media, Turning a Negative into a Positive

March 7, 2007

At its core Social Media is about participation, involvement, and listening. As I have said before, Social Media is communication with integrity. It’s a two-way conversation, void of hype and manipulation.

Corporations in general are reluctant to embrace a new medium that is so open and transparent, a medium that encourages an exchange of ideas and attitudes. The two questions that always seem to come-up are, what if we have negative feedback, from this new Social openness and transparency, and how would we handle it?

Until recently, I have always answered, that the conversation about your company is going on right now in the blogosphere. You have the opportunity to engage in the conversation and possibly influence the perception of the Social Media community, or ignore the whole thing, and pretend that negative comments and attitudes will have no effect on the communities overall perception of your company.

Not too long ago, I read a blog that referred to a panel of Social Media experts at the Frost and Sullivan’s Sales and Marketing Conference in Phoenix last January 23rd. That blog mentioned a comment that Angela Vargo, Southwest Airlines, Sr. Specialist Business Development (Blog Program Manager) made regarding this very subject of negative comments on a corporate blog or podcast. She said that “Negative is the new Positive”

Angela gave a case study of how public grievances against Southwest are aired on the blog. Southwest listens, acknowledges and attempts to take care of the problem in public, demonstrating to the world that they value their customers, their ideas, and even their problems.

Angela and Southwest Airlines have given us a great example of Social Media at its best, not sticking their heads in the sand, when it comes to negative attitudes and comments, but instead taking the high-road, giving voice to the consumer, acknowledging their concerns, and showing they actually care. Turning a negative into a positive!

This Social Media strategy builds confidence and trust in a company, building brand through the consumer experience of a responsive company that cares about them, instead of the all too common and ineffective strategy of the hype and manipulation of traditional media, that hold the consumer at arms length.

Can Social Media actually take a negative and turn it into a positive? What do you think? Is it still too big a risk for a corporation to take, being so open and transparent?

Until next week…thanks for the read!

Power to the People…Social Media

Social Media Measurement

February 28, 2007

Metrics and Social Media are big topics, with big questions being voiced around the conference tables of most corporate marketing departments, and PR firms. The questions tend to be centered around, what can be measured, and who can measure it. Because of the major adoption of Social Media by corporations, measurement companies have made a great deal of progress over the past few months on what can be measured, and who is measuring it.

Some companies such as Nielsen BuzzMetrics, Brand Demensions, and Cymfony have led the way for many other companies who now offer Social Media measurment services. These companies are in an on going process of developing ways to bring metrics to the table, for Social Media. One component of Nielsen BuzzMetrics measurement is CGM, or consumer generated media. In other words, what is the word around the blogosphere. Who is saying what, and what are they saying? Of course that is a simplified explanation of what is a very scientific approach to collecting and compiling measurement data.

On the more meat and potatoes side of measurement are podcast hosts that have the ability to offer a form of measurement and host companies like One Up Web, that have developed an integrated company to offer measurement with their hosting services. PodTractor’s measurement includes:

 Which domains are subscribing to and downloading your podcasts
 When and what your audience is downloading
 What percentage of your subscribers are loyal
 Easily identify iTunes subscribers and their unique behavior versus other subscribers
 Measure 100% of your audience, not a small sampling like Arbitron or Nielsen
 What podcast episodes and series are most popular
 How many subscribers you have for the series and each episode

One benefit of Social Media measurement is it can often be more accurate, and of more use, than traditional mass market broadcast media metrics. The very nature of Social Media’s subscription and downloading protocols insure a sound starting point for measurement. Social Media also has intangible effects on the social, cultural, and branding side of marketing, areas that are hard, if at all possible to measure, but in this New Media market place, carry ever increasing weight.

I’ll close this blog entry with an up to date list of companies that measure Social Media, which I got from Jeremiah Owyang’s blog
http://www.web-strategist.com/blog

Ongoing list of Companies that Measure Social Media: (Leave a comment if you know of others)
▪ Factiva
▪ Umbria
▪ Buzzlogic
▪ Cymfony Acquired by Taylor Nelson Sofres, in Feb 07
▪ Biz360
▪ Nielsen BuzzMetrics
▪ BrandIntel owned by Brandimensions
▪ MotiveQuest
▪ Market Sentinel
▪ Onalytica
▪ Attentio
▪ Technorati & Edelman
▪ Politizbuzz, French opf Scanblog
▪ CIC Data, Chinese
▪ Integrasco, Norway
▪ Wavemetrix (uk)
▪ Kavaa (US)
▪ Relevant Noise (US, Digital Grit spinoff)
▪ Unica (US)
▪ Millward Brown Precis (UK)
▪ Gala (Japan)
▪ IBM Webfountain (everywhere, but US-based)
▪ VMS (via a BuzzMetrics partnership)
▪ Lotame: Matches Social Networks with ads
▪ Respected PR ‘Librarian’ Constantin has added more to the PR Wiki
▪ Many Search Engine Marketing (SEM) firms are now offering blogosphere benchmarking. It’s easy to ‘flip the engines’ to listen and report around.

Thank you Jeremiah Owyang for that great list of Social Media measuring companies.

Thanks for the read.

Power to The People…Social Media

PR’s Amazing Opportunity

February 20, 2007

I haven’t heard much discussion in the blogosphere about PR’s amazing Social Media opportunity. I’m not sure why. Maybe the smokey vail of traditional marketing that clouds our view of the future, has not cleared enough, to allow us an unobstructed view of what lies ahead.

Me look, but me can’t see, Kemo sabe.
Tonto, 1956

Social Media will change many things in the professional lives of all kinds of marketers, but none more than advertising agencies and PR firms. I believe that Pr firms have a chance to be THE major player, during the Social Media shift in the marketing world, and usurp advertising agencies position as king of the mountain.

Thanks to the revolutionary change that Social Media will bring to marketing, PR firms have the chance to be the lead dog, or marketing’s 800 pound gorilla…you choose the animal and I’ll give you a metaphor…or, for you younger readers…as Paris Hilton says “That’s Hot!” The things you have to do when you try to appeal to a broad demographic.

In spite of the integral role PR firms play in a corporations overall marketing effort, they have always been considered a poor stepchild to the venerated advertising agency. All that is about to change. Not over night, but just as Record Companies are feeling the effect of their outdated business model in an Internet charged world, advertising agencies are so wound up in their world of traditional advertising they’ll never embrace Social Media in time, if at all. Advertising agencies make their money through traditional media, and a change for them, to Social Media, would upset their applecart in a big way.

However the opposite is true for PR firms. Social Media fits perfectly with the way PR companies do business. Social Media extends their tools set, but more importantly it creates a leadership role for PR in the biggest marketing shift since the beginning of marketing! Social Media doesn’t alter or displace PR’s business model as it does an advertising agencies, and it easily integrates into their traditional methods for getting information out, and creating positive buzz about a company and its products.

Its just that Social media offers a far more effective strategy and practical method for achieving a companies PR goals, than traditional methods. It transcends traditional media, because it embodies the true representation of representative democracy. Everyone has a voice, everyone listens, everyone goes home a winner! Communication with Integrity!

An observation I’ve made in my consulting and podcast production work for PR firms and corportate PR departments, is that they are getting it (Social Media) in general, and it’s mostly a question of educating the companies they work with, on what Social Media is, and how it will help them.

Social Media creates an amazing opportunity for the informed and prepared PR firm! First its PR as the new market leader, then it’s on to world dominance!!

Sorry, I got carried away. The huge possibility of a shift like I suggest is exciting though, and something for PR firms to consider.

So what do you think? Will Ad agencies have the trouble in the future that I suggest? Does Pr have the opportunity that I mention? Will the Lone Ranger and Tonto ride again? Will water turn to wine…man, I hope so, I could use a drink. Time will tell, but I’ve given you my two cents, which because of inflation is now actually sixty three cents.

I didn’t realize that weighing in on something was so darn expensive, I better start saving my pennies for next weeks edition. Have a good one in the mean time. I’m not sure what we will talk about next week, so anything is possible. I’ve got to hurry and finish this, I need to get back to the TV, so I can catch the next up date on Brittney’s bald head, and the ongoing Anna Nichole Smith saga. People want to know…don’t they?

We have found the enemy, and he is us!

Power to the People…Social Media!