Engagement Design and IDEA 2008

August 22, 2008 at 7:03 am | Posted in Business, Communication, Forrester, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Usability, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments
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Information architecture isn’t enough. Sure, it’s important – I gave some tips just two weeks ago – but it’s not the only organizing structure we need to consider.

That said, it may be confusing when I wholeheartedly recommend you attend the upcoming IDEA 2008 conference held by the Information Architecture Institute on October 7-8 in Chicago. The reason I suggest it is because they don’t just stop at information architecture – the conference examines the interaction and engagement that is possible in a web 2.0 world. (Note – This post is in no way sponsored by this or any other organization. It’s just me talking here.)

By the end of this post, I aim to convince you of the importance of the emerging engagement design, how companies can use it to grow business, how agencies will change in response, and finally persuade you to study engagement design at IDEA 2008 or elsewhere.

There’s No Marketing Funnel In Web 2.0

This blog is based on the idea that marketing is changing – rapidly and fundamentally. Forrester Research describes a key component:

“The marketing funnel is a broken metaphor that overlooks the complexity social media introduces into the buying process. As consumers’ trust in traditional media diminishes, marketers need a new approach. We propose a new metric, engagement, that includes four components: involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence.”

We need to look at information architecture and engagement design in exactly this way. Imagine that information architecture is the skeleton – very web 1.0 – organizing and presenting information in a way the webmaster believes is most beneficial.

Now, imagine engagement interaction as the body and soul in web 2.0. Instead of guessing what will most benefit her readers, webmasters can (must!) interact with her readers to determine how they use her website.

Businesses Engaging To Sell

Business is changing as well. In the report Use Personas To Design For Engagement, Forrester outlines three business who, with the help of their agencies, harnessed engagement interaction through the use of personas. These businesses found the key to interaction design through:

Continue Reading Engagement Design and IDEA 2008…

Nothing Funny About A Good Online Video Business Model

August 20, 2008 at 6:51 am | Posted in Advertising, Business, Marketing, Online marketing, Research, User generated content | 1 Comment
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Courtesy of gapingvoid

Courtesy of gapingvoid

In their new September issue, Fast Company magazine features a fascinating story about the comedy web video business and how it’s almost impossible to make these websites profitable.

They lay out many of the current business models, but I think an addendum is useful. In this post, I will outline a mindset that hurts that industry, what the current business model is and why it doesn’t work, a suggestion to ensure profitability, and the business model that can make an online video site profitable.

First, The Mindset

We tend to think about web videos as a “thing.” It is a product. It is content.

Forget this mindset. If you’re a video producer, web video might be a tangible thing that comes from tangible people sitting around your tangible office. But it’s not.

For your audience, web video is an experience. There’s no actual product for the viewer – the video elevates the spirits or gives us hope or connects us to others. It has more in common with a trip to Disneyland than it does with buying razor blades.

So stop thinking of a video as a commodity and start thinking of it as an experience you provide for your viewer.

Second, The Model

As the Fast Company article points out, the prevailing business model is advertiser-based. This has been the case for most things in the U.S. for more than half a century.

However, the advertiser business model cannot support web video. Consider it: the marketplace is fragmented, niche sites have the most loyal visitors, online is still new to many advertisers, audience has a decreased appetite for ads, and the content (at least on the comedy sites) is oftentimes…edgy, to put it diplomatically.

Even off-shoots of the advertiser model don’t work, such as product placement and sponsored shows. The huge conglomerates that have the money to invest in these small comedy sites only know these sorts of models – give the product away in exchange for some advertiser time.

No matter how many times you throw money at the problem, this business model still doesn’t work.

But that doesn’t mean web videos will never be profitable. (Misters Murdoch and Branson, please have your assistants print out the following explanation.)

Continue Reading Nothing Funny About A Good Online Video Business Model…

Journalism At The Crossroads – To Evolve Or Not

August 18, 2008 at 6:56 am | Posted in Blogging, Business, Communication, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 9 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Journalism is at a crossroads, with two distinct groups voicing their opinions.

On one side, many journalists don’t buy the trend toward social media and have their heads firmly entrenched in the sand. They believe in their readership’s loyalty and claim that social media is a passing fad.

One the other side, other journalists have fully embraced the social media tools at their disposal and go so far as to trumpet the death of journalism. They expect newspapers to close up shop; the death knell of print news is a symphony of tweets.

Aren’t the two views mutually exclusive? Which one is correct?

Personally, I believe they are both wrong. Some newspapers will outlast social media and some have already been taken down by it. The basic truth is that some people love getting their news from social media like Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed, while others will never replace their tangible newspaper-with-coffee routine.

This post will explain, however, that newspapers and journalists who use social media – in effect integrate these two seemingly opposing ideas – will likely be the long-term winners. There is no doubt that the old ways are changing. Journalists who refuse to accept that should begin cleaning up their resumes.

But major news networks need not shutter the windows quite yet. Embracing this change could be the key to stopping the newspaper industry’s slow (and recently not so slow) slide into irrelevance.

Continue Reading Journalism At The Crossroads – To Evolve Or Not…

5 Ways To Succeed On StumbleUpon

August 12, 2008 at 6:31 am | Posted in Blogging, Business, Communication, Marketing, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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Let’s talk blog promotion.

I was really glad when Chris Brogan posted this post last week regarding StumbleUpon because I’ve been meaning to write something similar. If you check out the image at the top of this post, you will see a list of top referring sites that have led back to my blog since I began. StumbleUpon is not only at the top of the list, but mentioned several times throughout the list.

(Background: StumbleUpon is a social voting/referral tool. After joining for free, you download the SU toolbar. As you go about your daily business, you have the option of giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down to any page. Likewise, you can connect with friends and “stumble” across sites they have liked.)

Like Chris, I have had lots of traffic thanks to StumbleUpon and highly recommend it. In this blog post, I will give you some helpful advice about using StumbleUpon and then list some other similar sites and why they didn’t work as well for me.

Best Practices For StumbleUpon

You can find some great online resources with SU advice, but here are my personal recommendations:

  • Don’t just vote for your stuff. When I started, I was thumbing up my own work only. This must be a big no-no because I received almost no traffic with this method.
  • Get involved in the community. Duh, I should have known this one. The more friends I made, the better recommended pages were for me and the more eyeballs who would see my posts.
  • At high tide, all ships rise. Like all good web 2.0 tools, this is an “and” economy. Your posts don’t suffer because you thumb up someone else’s. Give thumbs up to authors you trust and SU seems to give you more props for knowing good content.
  • Don’t be a pimp. I don’t stumble all of my posts. I wait until someone else does (which seems to give more stumble-juice) or I only thumb up my best material. This seems to give more “weight” to the ones I do choose.
  • The more you give, you more you get. SU has given me another opportunity to connect with some of the brightest folks I’ve ever met. Don’t try to game the system – you will receive as much or more than you invest into it.

Notice what’s not on that list of referrals at the top? Most of the other social voting/referral sites. Here is my run-down on some of the more prominent ones in this space. (This is just what I have personally observed. If you’ve had success with these, more power to ya.)

Continue Reading 5 Ways To Succeed On StumbleUpon…

What Is Twitter? A Beginners Guide

August 11, 2008 at 7:04 am | Posted in Blogging, Business, Communication, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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Courtesy of aaardvaark via Flickr

Courtesy of aaardvaark via Flickr

You may have heard of Twitter and be a little confused. Early adopters have been playing around with it for a couple of years, but Twitter finally seems to be making it into the mainstream.

This is a brief users guide for those curious about how it works, wondering about its value, and wanting to get the most from the experience.

What Is Twitter?

Twitter is commonly referred to as “micro-blogging.” While this is an accurate description, I’ve found that it confuses some people (non-bloggers especially).

Imagine it is a post-it note. You don’t have a lot of space (140 characters) so brevity is required. When you jot something down on your post-it note, it gets stuck to your refrigerator door, much like you might do at home. However, in this scenario, anyone can see the notes posted on your frig. And you can see anyone else’s.

How Does It Work?

Like most web 2.0 applications, the best advice is to just try it out. (You can’t do it wrong and you won’t break it – just give it a whirl.)

You sign up with a name of your choice. After that, find people you know or are interested in following. Twitter can pull from your email contacts to see if your friends and family already have Twitter accounts.

Twitter accounts are identified with an “at” symbol in front. So when discussing your Twitter account, you would say @YourName. Events use a hash mark. For instance, you can search for all Olympic tweets using #080808.

You can view anyone’s notes (or “tweets”) and anyone can sign up to view yours. Don’t worry – you will get an email letting you know every time someone follows you.

And of course, all of this is free.

Continue Reading What Is Twitter? A Beginners Guide…

Wordle – Something Fun For The Weekend

August 9, 2008 at 7:43 am | Posted in Online marketing | 1 Comment

This is what OnlineMarketerBlog looks like through Wordle (click the image for a larger version).

No One Cares, You Are Doing It Wrong, And That Is Awesome

August 7, 2008 at 6:27 am | Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Boomers, Business, Communication, Generation X, Generations, Leadership, Marketing, Net gens, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 5 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Marketers are confused these days. The things that have worked for decades aren’t working anymore. Can you imagine if you worked for 30 years in your given vocation and then, almost over night, all the rules changed?

In truth, marketing is only now becoming what it truly should have been – a conversation. Less lies, less spin. Marketers have been shoveling marshmallow fluff down the mouths of Americans and telling them it’s broccoli. And suddenly, as quick as you can confuse metaphors, we find that the emperor has no clothes.

I admit I’ve been frustrated with the old-school marketers. “What is with these guys, and why can’t they get it together?” But that’s not fair. Their whole world has shifted beneath them. I came to a better understanding watching a recent Robert Scoble interview with IBM engineer Mike Moran. (I highly encourage you to check it out: Robert Scoble’s interview with Mike Moran. It’s only 12 minutes long and well worth your time.)

Moran gives a cogent explanation of why marketers are having such a difficult time in the new web 2.0 environment. Here is a small sample:

“The change that’s really happening is you have to learn how to attract people to your message rather than pushing it at them. You have to figure out how you’re going to listen when they talk back. And you also have to watch what they do. Those three things are really critical because once you do them, you have to figure out how to respond.

Those three things are really critical because once you do them, you have to figure out how to respond. When I say ‘Do it wrong quickly,’ it’s not you trying to do it wrong, it’s that you kind of admit that what you’re doing is probably wrong because it usually is. And then you have to look back at the feedback from your target market to see how far off it is so that you know what to do next. And that’s really a tough change for a lot of marketers.

That seems really simple, but think of it: a whole industry has changed in a matter of what, less than a decade? That is pretty outstanding. It’s going from monologue to dialogue, from lecture to conversation, from directing to caring, from crossed fingers to metrics.

Continue Reading No One Cares, You Are Doing It Wrong, And That Is Awesome…

Handy Hints For Fixing Your Confusing Information Architecture

August 5, 2008 at 6:39 am | Posted in Barlow, Janelle and Claus Moller - A Complaint Is A Gif, Books, Business, Communication, Marketing, Online marketing, Usability | 4 Comments
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Courtesy of recursion_see_recursion via Flickr

Courtesy of recursion_see_recursion via Flickr

Information architecture isn’t sexy. In fact, good information architecture (or “IA”) shouldn’t be something your website visitors even notice.

Information architecture is basically how your site is designed. We’ve all seen site maps – those are basically outlines of your IA. It’s the organization of your website, how things are arranged, and it needs to make sense to your visitors.

Unfortunately, not enough businesses focus on their IA or they assume their customers use their site in the same way they would. This blog post explains why you must pay attention to your IA and includes some handy hints to figure out if it’s working.

I Can See Clearly Now

The non-profit Institute for Dynamic Educational Advancement (IDEA) recently released a study called Finding Information: Factors that improve online experiences. One of the main findings was that visitors are looking for “simple, accurate, fast, and easily navigable web sites.” Visitors to websites reported feeling lost on websites or not knowing where their desired information was in much higher percentages than the designers of the websites.

Your designers may have the best of intentions and be highly creative, but it’s up to you to ensure your customers can find the information they need and know where they are on your site at all times.

Website navigation starts with your IA. Here are some handy hints to help you determine whether your website is easily navigable and, if not, how to start fixing it.

Continue Reading Handy Hints For Fixing Your Confusing Information Architecture…

Thank Yous And New Pages

August 3, 2008 at 9:18 am | Posted in Blogging, Books, Communication, Marketing, Meta, Online marketing, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment
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This isn’t a regular blog post. I wanted to take a moment on this beautiful Sunday morning just to thank you. Yes, you.

Readers of OnlineMarketerBlog sent a lot of traffic here in July. In fact, we more than doubled the pageviews of our previous best month.

And thanks goes to you. The blog only got this much traffic because you guys told your friends to subscribe, shared articles on Twitter and FriendFeed, linked to it from your own blogs, stumbled it, mixxed it, sphunn it, and just otherwise kicked @ss.

I will return to regular postings tomorrow, but today, I wanted to carve out a space to give you a very sincere thank you.

New Pages

You will notice two new tabs in the navigation.

  • The “Best Of…” page is a collection of posts that this blog’s readers have most enjoyed. It is a great place to send newbies who want to know what this blog is all about, and a place for long-time readers to learn what the community has liked.
  • The “Books You Need” page is a list of books mentioned on the blog. You may know that I read a lot and mention the best books here on the blog. I wanted to give you all a space to peruse and buy those books on Amazon.com. (This list will remain only books I recommend; negatively reviewed or mentioned books will not make the cut, so you can trust the list to be the best books in marketing and social media.)

I hope these pages are useful to you. And again, please accept my thanks for your faithful readership. I don’t take it for granted.

DJ

Marketing Is Dead; Long Live Anthropology

August 1, 2008 at 6:15 am | Posted in Business, Communication, Forrester, Li, Charlene and Josh Bernoff - Groundswell: Winning in, Marketing, Online marketing, Research, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 6 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

I’ve had a little case of writer’s block this week, so I started with the basics: I read the definition of “marketing” in Wikipedia.

The impetus of this was a comment I wrote on a recent Brazen Careerist article in which I boiled down marketing to selling stuff. Really? That’s the business I’m in? I get up at 5am to write because I love making crap fly off the shelves?

Listen to Wikipedia’s definition: “Essentially, marketing is the process of creating or directing an organization to be successful in selling a product or service that people not only desire, but are willing to buy.”

Bleh! Sure, there’s creation and desire (positive), but there is also directing and willingness to consume (negative). It’s almost like it’s not enough for them to buy it; you gotta make them want to buy it. Make ’em beg.

Frankly, this doesn’t sound like the business I’m in at all. I find marketing these days to be customer based – where are they and what do they want? – and less, well, skeezy. Ideally, marketing these days isn’t invasive or worthless or annoying. In fact, marketing these days sounds a lot more like anthropology than marketing.

What do you think? Are web 2.0 marketers really anthropologists of the present time? Don’t we study why certain people behave a certain way (and how to influence that behavior)?

Continue Reading Marketing Is Dead; Long Live Anthropology…

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