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…

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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…

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…

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…

Sometimes Breasts Aren’t Enough, Julia Allison

July 28, 2008 at 6:25 am | Posted in Blogging, Business, Communication, Facebook, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 11 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

I have been trying to figure out why WIRED’s cover story on Julia Allison incensed me so much.

You won’t find me bashing Paris Hilton or her ilk on this blog. As someone who barely watches TV, her brand of reality-show insta-celebs barely register on my consciousness. However, I do dwell in the PR world, the internet world, the social media world…and when you screw around in that world, I consider you fair game.

I don’t normally do hit pieces. I am usually positive about how marketing/PR/advertising can make the world a better place (no small task, believe me). But the Julia Allison story deserves some response on this blog because it illustrates:

1. How not to do PR

2. How not to use web 2.0 social media tools

3. How not to run a magazine

Here’s a quick recap of the article: WIRED portrays the piece as a “how-to,” giving advice on the art of online self-promotion. It details how a woman in her mid-20s weaseled into the digital pages of Gawker, Valleywag, and (now) WIRED.

On the splash page before the article, WIRED writes, “She can’t act. She can’t sing. She’s not rich…[S]he’s an internet celebrity.” In case you missed the underlying message, it’s that WIRED just gave a cover story to someone devoid of talent. Here is why Julia Allison is a terrible example of self-promotion, a warning of the missteps of public relations, and why WIRED ought to be ashamed.

Continue Reading Sometimes Breasts Aren’t Enough, Julia Allison…

21 Considerations Before Your Business Starts A Social Network

July 22, 2008 at 7:20 am | Posted in Blogging, Business, Communication, Forrester, Marketing, Online marketing, Research, Social Media, User generated content, Web 2.0 | 9 Comments
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Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Courtesy of jbhill via Flickr

Social networks are all the rage and many of my posts at OnlineMarketerBlog recommend social tools for businesses. However, there are potential pitfalls to consider before you facilitate interaction between customers and your business.

Here are 21 things your business should consider before starting a social network:

Internal (Your Business Capabilities)

1. Can you invest the necessary resources to run a social network properly? Can you afford the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars it takes to properly create and staff this resource?

2. What is the role of marketing, sales, IT, customer service, advertising, HR, etc.? Social networks often delve into all of these departments and more. Make sure all of your teams are engaged, enthused, and prepared.

3. While the potential ROI of a social network is proven, is this the best investment of your time? If you don’t have a unique product or your customers aren’t enthused (or your product isn’t any good), don’t look to a social network to solve your problems.

4. What are your expectations – number of members, amount of content, etc – on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis? Create little benchmarks to ensure you do not go far off course.

5. Will your employees have their own voice on the network? Will they use their full names? This transparency can be daunting, but it can also provide high emotional buy-in from employees.

6. Is the correct employee in charge of the social network? This is often not the highest paid or the most experienced.

7. Which came first: customer need, company strategy, or cool technology? If it’s anything besides customer need, reconsider everything.

Continue Reading 21 Considerations Before Your Business Starts A Social Network…

Make Money Writing A Blog – Guaranteed!

July 14, 2008 at 6:50 am | Posted in Advertising, 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

Please forgive the link-bait title. But I do have a guaranteed way for you to make money from your blog. (Do I sound like a huckster yet? Stay with me.)

Gather ’round, kiddies, because this could change your life. And this secret is free.

The secret to making money through your blog is: Be Amazing.

Surprised? The inconvenient truth of the internet is that it works the same way as the real world. In order to make money, you have to work hard and be good at what you do. The pyramid schemes are bunk and no one gets rich quick.

Believe me? You should. And if you do, I have just freed you from the shackles of mediocrity. Can I hear an AMEN?!

Mitch Joel runs a blog and a weekly podcast, both entitled Six Pixels of Separation. Here’s what he says in SPOS #108:

“Everybody wants to know: How do you make money in this stuff [roughly, the online channel]? …It was really cool to see David [Usher] and Michael McCardy [from EMI] really take a different stance. And they were like, ‘You know what, guys? If you create something really amazing, whether its music…or products or services, people are gonna notice. These channels are gonna enable you to spread these messages far and wide. And because they will, you’re going to get more sales than you could ever imagine possible.'”

In other words, don’t blame the microphone if you have nothing to say. Mitch goes on to explain his reaction:

Continue Reading Make Money Writing A Blog – Guaranteed!…

Are You Outsourcing Your Best Asset?

July 2, 2008 at 6:39 am | Posted in Communication, Companies, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments
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Are you outsourcing the most valuable aspect of your business? Or worse yet, not paying attention to it at all?

Technology has been replacing humans at work for many years. And recently the remaining humans in American and elsewhere have been replaced by other humans in areas that pay lower wages. The result has been a significant deemphasis in the value of human capital in business in America.

Here’s The Equation

Web 2.0 amplifies the voices of dissatisfied consumers. And yet, most companies have been subtracting the number of humans period (technology) or humans housed at the corporate office (out-sourcing). Finally, another increasing trend is the face-to-face contact consumers expect from companies (ComcastCares, anyone?).

Increase in personal interaction – humans equipped to handle that interaction + web 2.0 vehicles to spread word of dissatisfaction = potential major headache for companies.

The Good News

Some companies, however, understand the increasing importance of the customer experience. H&R Block set up a Second Life avatar to answer tax questions during scheduled meeting times, in addition to their efforts on Twitter and Facebook. They understood that they were required to go to where their customers were, instead of expecting customers to come to them.

This outreach isn’t easy though. The Social Media podcast spoke with Paula Drum, VP of Marketing for H&R Block about this outreach:

“The other big surprise is how much time you have to put in from a human capital standpoint. And we knew that going in, that the trade-off between buying media is going to be the human capital side, but really understanding that human capital side of it and thinking about it from [the perspective that] ‘if this is successful, how do you scale it to make sure you can still deliver the same experience.'”

Continue Reading Are You Outsourcing Your Best Asset?…

The Seven Deadly Sins Of Social Media

July 1, 2008 at 5:52 am | Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Communication, Companies, Facebook, Marketing, Online marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 18 Comments
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Social media like Facebook, Flickr, and Delicious has been around for a couple of years now and companies are starting to dip a tentative toe into the water. While such courage should be applauded, serious missteps have occurred that embarrass the offending company.

And it is not the courageous steps that have been embarrassing, but the sheer level of assholery with which companies have partaken their social media experiments. Because social media is all about sharing, collaboration, and communication, it is little surprise that folks expressed outrage at the heavy-handed or downright immoral dealings of the companies outlined below.

In this post, I will list five of the deadly sins as outlined by Joseph Jaffe’s speech at the ANA’s Integrated Media Conference and then offer two additional sins of my own.

From Joseph Jaffe:

  • Faking (Sprint): The phone company released ads in which the CEO offered an email address, giving the opportunity for communication. Instead, a corporate shill auto-responder emails back.
  • Manipulating (Sony): The maker of the PSP created a fake blog and attempted to manipulate the conversation. They ended up garnering a deserved “golden poop” award.
  • Controlling (T-Mobile): The phone company sent cease and desist letters to a popular blog for using a color they claim to have trademarked. The blogosphere revolted and T-mobile missed a chance to meaningfully engage with its customers.
  • Dominating (Target): A blogger was ignored by the retail giant because they felt she didn’t have the clout of traditional media outlets. After the blogger gained more and more attention, Target claimed that their continued silence was based on a lack of adequate staff.
  • Avoiding (Starbucks): The coffee giant already felt a squeeze from its consumer base, but avoided a fan’s desire to visit every store was passed on. The only response to the fan was one of suspicion.

In these cases, the sin is not that the company was just stupid (though there’s no shortage of that). The sin is that they failed to engage at a pivotal moment with an active community that supported them with their checkbooks. They refused to join the conversation and felt the ramifications.

Here are my two nominations to round out the deadly sins of social media:

Continue Reading The Seven Deadly Sins Of Social Media…

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