Archive for August, 2008



Twitter bands of influence

When will Twitter reach the outer bands of where it could possibly have the greatest impact on brands and people? Currently the Twitter circles of influence are skewed towards the Twitterati-light blue. These were the early adopters and thusly have 5 figure amounts of followers. The next band-green or the elitists, are folks that in some cases, have as well, thousands of followers and mutually follow thousands of others.

This is not as large a group as you might think but their influence can be felt amongst the next layer of  heavy Twitter power users-red. These folks also have a lot of followers but generally its on a more 1:1 ratio i.e a thousand followers and following a thousand. Your next group-the blue band, are mostly listeners or followers and may tweet from time to time, but it’s not as heavy a group of active tweeters as the people above them. After this group is the yellow band- these are the people who know they have to be doing something on Twitter so they may get an account, but either barely use it or never activate it. This group also consists of brand squatters and hijackers

Your last 2 groups have the biggest potential for marketers and yet have little if any Twitter presence. The outside band is the largest and has the largest potential since this is essentially all of your brands. these brands are waiting for someone to show them how they can use Twitter to market and sell their products. What they don’t know is that there are only 6 degrees of separation that separate them from listening and participating in conversations with some of the top minds in marketing, PR and social media, on the many ways that Twitter can improve, enhance and market their brands.

My only questions are these? Who is at fault? The brands and their owners for not listening, or taking the time to listen or learning how to listen via Twitter? Or, now thnk about this carefully. Are we, as marketers and communicators, not taking the time to venture outside our industry specific cocoons of Twitter followers, to talk with people who may be listening but not talking? Look at the people you follow and the people that follow you (if you’re on Twitter) How many are clients or potential clients? Jeremiah Owyang from Forrester adds his 2 cents to why brands fail on Twitter which may lend some insight as to why we all are coming up short right now.

Maybe we all need to read up on how to listen. There are lots of lessons on the art of listening. the bottom line is there is a lot of black and white out there.

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How does the user measure ROI in social networks?

I’ve been wrestling with this lately and maybe you can help. If I’m the social networking user and I frequent my favorite social network everyday, how should I measure my ROI? My investment of time to the site should be rewarded with what? The quality of my experience? What exactly is that? The number of people I meet? The real people I meet? the number of people I actually communicate with? The amount of conversations? Is it the stuff I create? The amount of personal interactions? the amount of micro interactions? The number of photos or songs I share?  Is it the quality of my everyday engagement?  Yes, yes, yes, and yes…..It’s all of those things. To each person, it is one of those, or all of the above.

So perhaps it looks something like this:

Do you see the dilemma though? I had previously written about user experience versus user interface, but what it really comes down to beyond the user experience is, the return on the user expereince or  the ROUE.  As a potential user of your social site, I need YOU the marketer, builder, architect or whomever- to show me quickly what my ROUE will be.  Because lets face it, I don’t want to work too hard to engage others or create content. Perhaps it’s the WIIFM paradigm? “What’s in it for me”.

Is it the tools that are available for the user to create UGC? Is that a big feature? It is for Myspace. Is it the ability to add hundreds of “friends”? It is to Facebook. Is it the ability to network with notable people in business? It is to LinkedIn. You see each site has a different ROUE to offer the user. What keeps the user coming back in each scenario is, when we boil it down- the response, the return, the pay-off, the money shot.  We are “geeked” by the response that we receive from whomever. The user investment for the user, is their time and efforts, and the reward for the user is a response from others. Write a blog and no one reads it, how much and how long will you write? It’s predicated on a response. Take nny user generated content created in a vacuum and the creator won’t be doing it for very long.

So perhaps the measurement should be Return on user effort as much as it is Return on user experience?  Think about why YouTube is so popular. Well, it’s a few things. It’s the ability to create content for free, the ability to share it, the possibility of getting noticed, a return on the user generated content, communicating with others, a response. Notoriety. 15 minutes of fame.

So next time you’re evaluating the NBT of social networks, Look at the ROUE.  Is the return on user experience and return on user effort very high? You should be able to determine that fairly quickly. In my follow up piece, I’m going to look at ROI and engagement and how we measure those as a barometer of social media success.

Twebinar 3, a Mashup of Heavy Hitters

So yesterday was the final Twebinar in the series of 3. I’ve written about how successful the other 2 were and this one did not disappoint. What makes these twebinars better than good, are the components, that in their own right are singularly successful.  Combined into a mashup of staccato like proportions though, they then take on a life of their own.. It is in short a live show, a webinar, live video, taped video, live Q & A, and twitter. Will it blend? Ohhhh yea it did and yes it does.

Each of the Twebinars is and was hosted by Chris Brogan  from Crosstech Media, who currently is the pied piper of all things social media related and rightly so. Chris knows everyone and everyone knows Chris, so it works. Along with David Alston from Radian 6, Chris and David have melded multiple technologies and people into a workable format for robust discussions. In the course of the hour plus twebinar Chris trots out all of the hitter heavy hitters in marketing, PR and social media like Todd Defren, Maggie Fox, Sally Falkow, and Paul Gillin, to name a few, and in rapid fashion they give you their take on all things, in this case, the art of listening in the space that we all are swimming in right now. How to listen, as I tweeted yesterday is not a novel concept, but you would be surprised how often it is ignored and overlooked as a tool of measurement. All of yesterdays guests and fellow twitterers essentially said nothing to the contrary either.

I’ll tell you why I like twebinars. It’s an opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas and opinions on what I think works, with my peers, with my colleages, and with people that are looking for answers. All in an insanely fun and interactive format. In fact, all of the participants have that exact opportunity because we are as much a part of the twebinar as are the people that Chris had on. It’s why it works.

Glitches? A few but all temporary and expected. The upside? 95% of those who participated woudl do it again. And the downside?  I’m sure there was a downside if someone chose to find one, but on the surface, I’d say Chris and David, and all those who were a part of the Twebinars, would say in baseball parlance, went three for three. To check out the tweets from yesterdays Twebinar, Try #tweb3 on Summize. I would keep your 2 ears open for the next one.

John Challis has passed away

Normally I write about all things tech and social media and marketing related. But every once in awhile I like to include the human element in what I do and what I write about.  With that being said, It is with great sadness that I have to write another post that pains me. I thought that writing about Randy Pausch would be tough and here I go again. 

Awhile back, because of the fact I lived in Pittsburgh for quite some time, I am still connected with friends and the community there, I wrote about a young man in Pittsburgh who was inspiring others with his optimism, his courage and his indelible spirit. His name is and was John Challis. A remarkable story on so many levels not the least being that he was dying of cancer and was still able to muster the strength to not only get up out of bed every day, but to also play in his high school’s baseball game and get a hit. The story is a must read.

He was embraced on so many levels. Mike White of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette profiled him, Scott Van Pelt of ESPN radio profiled him and every notable sports person in the Pittsburgh area, as well as nationally, wanted to meet a truly amazing individual. John challis died today and he was only 18.  Here is Mike White’s latest on the passing of John Challis.

We’ll miss you John.

In social media, What’s more important? The technology or the user experience?

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Kim Kobza, the CEO of Neigborhood America. If you are not familiar with NA, they are one of the top players in the social media platform space. To say that it was interesting  is putting it mildly. We kept taking the dry erase pen from each other constantly in the course of an hour to drive our points home on a white board about our thoughts on all things community and social media related.

My take away points were many but I kept thinking about one thing even 3 days later. That being-What drives the community? What is more important in the social media communities that we swim in? Is it the user experience or the user interface? Kim and I discussed what makes the community thrive and there are some interesting variables that determine this. Not the least being if we look at the 6 degrees of seperation theory, the sixth person is as important as the primary or focal person in the chain. Kim’s point that if you has a brand champion, this person is important yes, but the others on the peripheral are as well. In my head the best way I can wrap my arms around this is to perhaps think of worker bees being as important to the community as the queen is. They are integral to the survival of the colony.

My point to Kim, was that I could have this new and shiny social community ready to launch, and in my mind I totally got it, it made sense to me perfectly, and my thinking would be it would totally rock the social media space. My thinking and hope being that the buzz would bring in some fantastic members and thrive, quickly. But what if the technology was too slick? Could it have too many bells and whistles. Absolutely!

Which brings me to my point-Isn’t the user experience as important if not more than the platform? I don’t like to say dumb it down, but as technology people, we are exposed to cool tech stuff everyday and we get it. But put yourself in the shoes of the stay at home mom or the somewhat savvy electrician who has a familiarity with Myspace or Facebook for example. Will they get it? Maybe , maybe not? Do you want to take the chance that they “might” get it?

The user experience and the user interface are each predicated and determined by the other in my mind. If you have the technology but it’s broken and doesn’t perform, then you can forget it. If you have a community ready to go but they can’t understand how to use the technology, then they are gone. If you have a community that can grasp the technology quickly, and the technology is solid. Guess what? The user experience is elevated. With that being said, as managers and developers of communities, we need to walk that fine line between what works for the user and what the user can work with

Serve me what I want, not what you think I need.

The word community is derived from the Latin communitas (meaning the same), which is in turn derived from communis, which means “common, public, shared by all or many. Makes perfect sense to me what makes a community thrive. Give the people what they want. What they want, is people that they have something in common with and then beyond that, an experience to share and talk and engage. If they can’t do those things because of things out of their control. They’ll go elsewhere.

Ironically, how many times have you seen companies stray from what they do best, in the hopes of making more money doing something that they might be marginal at? And then failing? They lose their customers in droves.

The examples are plentiful and graphic and yet it still happens over and over and over again. If we take online social networks and communities, the drive for market share and penetration is on the minds of the people that launch these things. It dominates their thoughts. But what sometimes occurrs, is they see what is being offered and feel they too must deliver what social network A is doing, and provide what platform B promises, etc etc..Losing sight perhaps, of the technology or offer or idealistic goals, that initially prompted them to get in the game in the first place!

The one problem is, rather than trying to do one thing very very well, they do a lot of things that are somewhat average.

Case in point. McDonalds, we have all eaten there but why? A) because they brand the hell out of the product better than anyone and B) you always know what to expect-consistency. Keep the comments about consistently bad to yourself- but the point being they have strived to do those 2 things well while concentrating on their core business- Hamburgers. Yes they test and launch different products to cater to the whims and desires of a more health conscious public, but at the end of the day they are still dancing with the partner that got them there. Hamburgers. The McDonalds community revolves around-Hamburgers. Billions and Billions Served.

A word to all of the designers, entrepreneurs and architects of these new shiny online social networks and communities: Do one thing right and make it repeatable. First and foremost, being the community, with the communities best interests at heart. Yes we like bells and whistles, and yes they are sexy, but when all is said and done, if it doesn’t work or fails to deliver, our ever decreasing attention span will lead us back to the things, the sites and the tools that we know will deliver day in and day out. Make it consistent, make it repeatable and make sure it delivers without fail.

 

If you give me what I came here for and it’s exactly what I expected, I will come back. And if it is exactly the way it was the first time, not only will I come back, but I will tell my friends. But if you fail me, not only will I tell my friends, I will tell people that I don’t even know about the bad experience.

The Junta 42 Top Blogs

A nice surprise occurred over the weekend as the Emerson Direct Blog cracked the top 25 of the top 42 blogs according to Junta 42. Any time we can be recognized for anything we do on behalf of the industy that we work in, it’s a nice feather in the cap.

The Top 42 Content Marketing Blogs list was designed to organize and feature the best blogs on the internet that discuss some aspect of content marketing. Content marketing is all about the creation of great, story-form content (delivered through any channel) that ultimately influences someone to buy your product, take an action, or believe in a cause Here is more detail on the Junta 42 selection process. Thanks Joe Pulizzi

You don’t know who your customer might be!

I was with a group of people today. We played golf. No big deal. I found out what one of the people did for a living. I did work for one of his competitors. He was a nice guy and I was thinking of maybe seeing if he might need help with his business.  He seemed nice enough that maybe I could help him too!

Then he said something funny, but I was the butt of the joke. He did not take the time to think about what I might think. Guess what? He had the potential to earn the business of someone that could have helped him out but he did not take the time to learn more about the person he was with. In the end, a client, or a customer, take your pick mis-read the situation and blew it. How well do you know the potential relationship?

Sorry Bob, you just Effed up!

Social Media Visualization Part III:10 Wordles of your peers, do they fit?

In deference to Hermann Rorschach, I give you 10 Wordles from some of the more popular or notable people in the social media, marketing, and internet space that we swim in.  Interestingly enough, what makes them unique, is what makes them different, yet similar. Lets check them out and come up with a few words that might describe each of their blogs.

For the uninitiated, Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.

Our first Wordle belongs to Jeremiah Owyang, the notable Forrester analyst:

What sticks out? Content, brands, social, personal, chanel, community and Youtube. All of which, in one way or the other, speak to what he writes about on a day to day basis. The one that is the real head scratcher is Ronald. Jeremiah?

 

Next up is Toby Bloomberg’s wonderful blog, Diva marketing Blog

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Toby is all about blogging, blogger relations, business strategy, marketing and social media. Your thoughts?  How did I do?

Next up is Todd Defren’s  Why is the McCain reference so prominent?  Todd’s wordle appears to look like it’s been tagged by some of Boston’s best graffiti artists. But PR does jump out of the mix, thank goodness.

Well, lets bring in Chris Brogan, the very prolific, as of late, Chris Brogan

Actually Chris’s wordle is very much like him as of late, all over the place. Lots of words. I mean lots. but Speech and Post certainly reveal what Chris is all about-in a good way of course. But so does email?

With that being said, Lets look at the wordle of Brian Solis

As you can see, the word information was cut off, but was essentially alone at the bottom. I find that odd for someone  with this type of blogsite. As if there is some sort of disconnect between PR and the conversation and information? The wordle does reveal the things that Brian blogs about, are dead on with his passion. PR and social media.

Did someone mention Hugh Macleod?

Given the nature and style of Hugh’s blog, its interesting and appropriate to see the word prominence falling on…of all things, people!  But companies and organizations fall in behind the term along with thought and know.

The next few people are certainly people we all know about, so lets see how their wordles compare. The first being David Armano’s Check out how prominent Twitter is, and like people, as well as media, talking, social and brand.

 

Next is Shel Israel’s  Whic speaks to everything that Shel is about. Very representative.

Speaking of representative, check out Scoble’s.

And lastly here is mine: Social, media, conversation, value and people all figure prominently.

Are we all too predictable? Or do we all just stick to what we know?

13 websites that you might want to bookmark

Sometimes I come across websites that seem to make sense for one reason or another. At least they did when I bookmarked them. Then I go back and wonder why. Some ring a bell at the time and others are downright headscratchers. Has that ever happened to you?  They must have had some sort of real world relavance. Nevertheless, while trying to streamline the hundreds of blogs and sites that I have accumulated, I came across these.

CrunchBase is the free directory of technology companies, people, and investors that anyone can edit.

The tagline for Liferemix is “Great writing about great lives…”

Perhaps I should read more of what Steve Pavlina is pushing given these interesting times in our lives?

How can you not learn something from the Harvard Business Blogs?

I like the premise of Tech Cocktail ” to help amplify the technology signal in under served markets and have fun doing it.”

At The Consumerist, where the shopper bites back, you get your fair share of horror stories from the customers perspective.

Here’s a podcast audio player widget from personal life media

Here’s a a social microblogging service similar to Twitter when I was pissed at them, built on open source tools and open standards. Allows users to send text-based posts up to 140 characters called Identi.ca

But then I found the love again with Twitter and was curious as to just how popular I was and Twittercounter does just that…

Roomatic is similar to Summize

PostSecret is so cool, the books are awsome and so is this site. We all have a post-secret, and if you think you don’t, you’re full of it.

Finding signal in the noise with the most popular stories over the last 8 hours on RSSmeme

and who doesn’t want to Get Slightly Famous?

OK, so there, this should get you through to the weekend. Who knows? If you had to share one bookmark or site of your own what would it be? Tell me, as my Indian programming counterparts used to say on a regular basis.


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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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