Sunday, July 27, 2008

The World Is Fat

Social Intra-Networking- Don’t Just Whip it Up with Rachel Ray.

Tomato, Tomato, Fat, Flat – Let’s call the whole thing off.  From 50 million blogs in 2006 to 112 million according to Technorati last month- there are more than 175,000 new blogs created each day.  Bloggers update their blogs regularly to the tune of over 1.6 million posts per day, or over 18 updates a second.

As my regular readers may notice, I update my blog once a week and frankly, it takes me about 2 hours of time just to find something new and notable to write about. Thank goodness for my convo with Richard last week, who inspired me to write about Social Intra-Networking. After all, aren’t we sick of reading about the Baby Boomers retiring and how to resolve generational differences in the workplace?

Today, in the HR world, the buzz is all about building Online Communities- social intranets where employes can collaborate and knowledge-share.  But if you’re thinking about implementing one, learn before you leap.

Consider the recent study from Deloitte about Why Most Online Communities Fail.

After studying more than 100 businesses with online communities that attempt to connect customers with brand, the study found that  these sites failed to gain traction with customers. Thirty-five percent of the online communities studied have less than 100 members; less than 25% have more than 1,000 members – despite the fact that close to 6% of these businesses have spent over $1 million on their community projects.

Most corporate-sponsored online communities are virtual ghost towns because businesses are focusing on the value an online community can provide to themselves, not the community.

Businesses launching online communities repeat a series of blunders. First, they have a tendency to get seduced by bells and whistles and blow their online-community budget on technology. Moran suggests that businesses spend resources identifying and reaching out to potential community members instead of investing in software that makes predictions, or even social-networking technology.

Moran also recommends that businesses put someone who has experience running an online community in charge of the project. This doesn’t sound particularly earth-shattering, but consider that about 30% of the businesses Deloitte studied have only one part-time worker in charge of their communities. Most other businesses put a single marketing pro in charge of their sites.

The third problem with online communities is how businesses go about measuring the success of their communities. Businesses say that their primary objectives are generating word-of-mouth marketing and increasing customer loyalty. Yet the metric that businesses use most often to measure success is the number of visits to the site. Moran points out that there isn’t much of a connection between what businesses want and what they’re measuring.

So how does this apply to your pet project?

  1. Survey your employees- Find out what there needs are, what there vision is and frankly, whether or not they perceive this a good idea.
  2. Don’t do it as a part-time hobby- Hire an expert — or experts. People (I know a few) who make communications their profession. Who can implement strategies to make the site as sticky as you’d want it be.
  3. Connect with your Brand. Use every opportunity to build the culture, values and business strategy into your site. Keep people connected but make sure that they’re all marching to the same drumbeat.

After all, we’re all fat enough. Internal or otherwise, no one needs another site to swap Toll House Cookie recipes.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bang Bang- So You Wanna Be a Rock Star?

Don't look now, the agency handling the recruitment for the National Guard is targeting you Mr. Fisherman.

Does anyone else find the concept of Branding the National Guard as Rock Stars a bit of a disconnect?

In August, the US Army National Guard will launch a mobile marketing campaign, supported by outreach to local media, to sign up recruits at various music festivals and other outdoor events.

Developed and executed by RedPeg Marketing on behalf of prime contractor Docupak, the "Rock Star Hero Challenge," as the campaign is called, features a tour bus with 52-inch touch screen displays that allow potential recruits to see and participate in virtual missions.

Interactive kiosks where visitors can pose with images of rock bands will sit outside the buses, tying into the musical nature of the events and emphasizing the figurative "rock star" quality of Army National Guard members. The National Guard is currently on track to meet its recruiting goal for 2008.

Since 2005, it has increased its "end strength" total from 330,000 to 380,000.

"Recruiters will know about the events [in advance] and pre-market them," said RedPeg president and CEO Brad Nierenberg. "The events will be a way to engage with consumers who haven't considered the National Guard before now." Day said that recruiting is typically done on a local, grassroots level, with recruiters attending any large event where its "target demographic" might be found.

"The interactive nature makes the 'Rock Star Hero' different and will appeal to our demographic's thirst for technology," Day said.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Guaranteed or your money back

Better ROI or Your Money Back, Says Buzz Agency
BzzAgent Wants to Prove Word of Mouth Performs Better Than Any Other Medium

By Michael Bush

Published: July 14, 2008
NEW YORK ( -- BzzAgent, a network of regular-Joe brand advocates, is making a big bet that word-of-mouth marketing will outperform any other discipline when it comes to ringing registers and driving advocacy for brands.
Dave Balter, founder-CEO of BzzAgent
Dave Balter, founder-CEO of BzzAgent

With its "WOM Impact Guarantee" program, which launched today and will run throughout the rest of 2008, BzzAgent is inviting any brand marketer and its agency partners to take part in a challenge in which BzzAgent and the agency partner will run competing campaigns. If BzzAgent does not top the competing agency by 20% across four metrics -- brand awareness, consumer opinion, purchase intent and actual sales -- the agency will refund the marketer the cost of its word-of-mouth campaign and measurement costs.

Word-of-mouth marketing firms of all shapes and sizes have popped up in recent years, offering alternatives to traditional advertising. The common thread among them is a belief that what customers say about a brand is more important than what the brand says about itself. Though it's a powerful argument, many marketers have been shy about diving in.

Dave Balter, founder-CEO of BzzAgent, said word-of-mouth performs better than any other medium. He's hoping this program will convert some nonbelievers.

"We know the medium has significant impact, and one way to help [hesitant] marketers dive into the pool is to guarantee it," he said. "Are we 100% sure we can outperform all other mediums by 20%? No, but we're pretty confident we can do something special here. It's time to put our money where our mouth is."

Risky bet
Mr. Balter, who expects to get 10 or 12 takers, said setting the bar at 20% also made people at the agency a little queasy, "but that's why it's worth doing."

The program requires a minimum investment of $300,000 in both word-of-mouth media and traditional media to be challenged. A third party, digital-marketing research firm Insight Express, is handling all measurement aspects. Mr. Balter said there will be two measures for success: Can BzzAgent prove word-of-mouth outperforms other disciplines, and does the program increase the number of marketers running word-of-mouth campaigns?

"Measurement is the No. 1 hurdle for the word-of-mouth industry," he said. "We're happy to have any new business that may come from this, but what we are really trying to accomplish is to get word-of-mouth to be valued on a measurement basis for marketers."

According to BzzAgent, this challenge isn't coming from a position of weakness. Joe Chernov, VP-communications, said the agency, which has nearly 280 clients, is not suffering in terms of growth. It has seen six straight quarters of growth, and 2007 was its strongest year to date, Mr. Chernov said. He added that revenue for the first quarter of 2008 was "conservatively double-digit stronger" than in the first quarter of 2007. good for all

Good for all
Paul Rand, CEO of Omnicom's Zocalo Group and a Word of Mouth Marketing Association board member, said the program is a great publicity stunt for the agency, and it would be good for all word-of-mouth practitioners if it managed to generate interest in the medium.

"In terms of a quick promotion, this is great," Mr. Rand said. "And if it raises industry awareness, that's also great. Anything that drives positive attention to the industry is good."

Jim Nail, CMO of TNS Media Intelligence and a WOMMA board member, said the program is a logical extension of how BzzAgent has been going to market: with research and white papers on the comparison of word-of-mouth campaigns to campaigns in other disciplines.

Mr. Balter knows his agency may not win every challenge, but he has no doubt the program will have a lasting impact on every marketer that takes part.

"Our success may come with a little hair on it," he said. "Our batting average may not be perfect on this, and we may miss one or two. But even if that happens, we are going to show marketers that [word-of-mouth] works."

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Not Really About Zappos

OK- Believe it or not- even though I’m still in love with everything Zappos, this is about finding the love for Twitter. Never heard of it? No worries, that’s what I’m here for- (and Wikipedia).
From Wikipedia:

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send updates (otherwise known as tweets) which are text-based posts, ranging up to 140 characters long. Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.

From another blog:

The key to Twitter is the level of listening you do as well as talking. It is definitely supposed to be an interactive program. And, in fact, this is where you build the majority of your Whuffie (aka social capital). The more you interact on Twitter, the more people will interact with you, which attracts others to you as well.

From Tony Hsieh at Zappos:

You send an SMS text message to Twitter with your note, and your message will be automatically broadcast (like CB radio) to whoever is choosing to follow you (your friends). If people don’t care what you’re doing, they won’t follow you, so don’t worry about sending out trivial messages.

At first, it will seem really weird and unnatural for you to do this, but just trust me on this one. You will find that it’s actually a really good way to stay in touch with all your friends and know what’s going on in their lives.

…I was flying in to the Vegas airport, and I twittered “Just landed in Vegas airport.” I would have never texted anyone that message, but in the Twitter culture, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. It just so happened that someone on my Twitter network was about to fly out of Vegas, so we met up at the airport bar and had a drink. I would have never known otherwise that this person was at the airport, nor would I have ever sent him a text message or called him that I had just landed.

Stuff to Tweet About

There are no rules about what you should tweet out, here are a few suggestions for you. It is important that you balance the ‘outbound’ with the ‘inbound’. In otherwords, the announcements with the conversations:

1. Personal thoughts and reflections that suit your brand - this helps people feel more trust towards you and your brand and strikes up conversations
2. Events (both your own and other events your audience may find interesting) - this makes things interesting and, perhaps, gives you a way to meet your followers
3. Contests (”The first three people who answer this trivia question get….”) - they drive more followers and interest in what you tweet
4. Replies (@twittername) - this comes from listening to your followers (you have to follow back to see their tweets). The more personal the reply, the higher the impact.
5. Direct replies (d twittername) - this isn’t in the public timeline, but it helps build deeper bonds to talk directly to someone like this. This is helpful to answer people when it is a private matter or when you want to show concern (i.e. someone reports an accident, etc.)
6. New blog posts - you should keep these to one per day at the very most and you should also promote other people’s blog posts that are of interest
7. Announcements - if it is interesting, tweet it
8. OH’s (overheard) - someone say something in the office or when you are out and about that cracks you up? Type OH: “well, if you don’t mind, im trying to work on my love life” or something else funny (sometimes used to offset potentially racy comments…if you didn’t say it, but are just REPEATING IT, then it’s okay)
9. Rickrolls or other fun internet games - this shows you are a bunch of fun and has people trying to do the same for you. Spreading as many internet memes as possible is good.
10. Lyrics and quotes - especially fun are the lyrics: ♪Never give the game away | Try to keep me entertained, baby | Don’t make it too easy | Leave something for me and my imagination♪ as the musical notes make for lots of questions
11. Links to media you create - video is fun, podcasts, perhaps interviews that are posted online about you, etc.
12. Shout outs - @twittername rocks! Thanks for the great link: These make people feel great, too.

Tweets that make people laugh are awesome, but tweets that make people think are even better.

I'm not going to lie- I don't totally get Tweeter but I've heard enough people talking about it to know that it's resonating in certain circles.

So, I'm going to give it a whirl. Connect with me if you want to and we can all be bored together.

But, if you really want to know what I'm addicted to--- its ChaCha.