Searching for social media experts

I just read an article in Adweek about Ford hiring Scott Monty in its quest to grapple with and implement the monolith that is… trumpets please… social media. While reading the piece I couldn’t help but wonder outloud just how social media experts became social media experts in  a space so relatively fresh in our collective marketing, media and PR consciousness. Not that Scott is not one, but this thought came to me after reading that Ford ran 50 candidates through the gauntlet before choosing Scott. 

Which begs my first of many questions: Though they chose a good person, who made the final decision, and what was it based upon? Who were the other 50 and why were they not chosen? I know that there is always a bit of subjectiveness to this process but I think, given the “newness” of the space, that it had to be absolutely fascinating to see how the whole thing went down. I do have to give some credit to Ford for stepping up, now more than ever, and especially given the state of the economy and the auto industry in particular. Somebody, somewhere, within that organization had the foresight to get to a decision maker and say, “we need to grab onto the beanstalk that is social media.

Some other questions I had and I’m sure other likeminded organizations are probabaly grappling with are:

Do we, they become expert like from writing it so much that we begin to understand how it works? Do experts, or are experts people who have implemented  a or some social media campaigns of any scale, successfully or unsuccessfully? What is the criteria? Are they IT people? marketing experts?  PR experts? What determines the experts title as the “expert”. Who determines it? Their peers? The  nascent industry itself?

I do think that longevity in the space that is and has been marketing, PR and even IT/internet/marketing, certainly is a determining factor. Why? Well think about it, when we all got into the business of what we do, what we did then is certainly not what we do now. Our jobs, titles and positions have all evolved. They have morphed into what the public and our bosses have demanded, expected and required us to learn, on the fly. And currently for some of us, that is all things social media related.

With that being said, when I write about the top 30 social media evangelists, I write from a position of referring to these people time and time again about social media topics that are hot. I mention them because they have their fingers on the collective pulse of their clients, their usage of bleeding edge technology to leverage brands, and their willingness to share their experiences. I call them experts, because their names and their blogs come up in conversations, they are constantly pushing out valuable information, and they are essentially practicing what they are preaching. And I find myself going back to “them” because clients and what I do and we do on a day to day basis, requires that I learn fast and implement faster.

Funny thing though, even the experts are wondering who the real experts are!

And if you really want to know the truth. Social media has to be a “practice what you preach model”. Why? You can’t be successfull in the space by being quiet and stealthy. it’s all about the sharing and exchanging of information without pretense. That’s right, the conversation. 

But to be successfull in the space, it is eventually going to boil down to those who do and those who did and not those who have heard and those who say.

All I do know is that the expert does not or should not call himself the expert. I can’t place the quote but:

Anyone who has to tell you that they are “the man”, ain’t “the man…”

Emerson Direct Marketing Observations cracks Adage top 500 blogs

The Emerson Direct marketing observations blog has cracked the Adage Power 150. The Power 150 is a ranking of the top English-language media and marketing blogs in the world, It currently ranks more than 500 blogs written about all types of media and pretty much every imaginable marketing discipline.  Thank you to everyone who has contributed, and thank you to everyone who has read and reads it….Now lets get to it!

Emerson Direct and Smoke Away and the art of Typosquatting

Recently I was doing some searches on one of the products that Emerson Direct owns and markets,  Smoke Away. I was intrigued to find that I could do a search on some variations of the term “smoke away” i.e. “smok away” “smokesaway” and was able to come up with a) quite a few companies/competitors that use mispellings of that search term in the hopes that they can lure folks in to a completely different site via ppc and organci rankings and b) people who bought variations of the url in the hopes of luring folks into a site that sells a completely different type of smoking cessation product. One of the worst examples of this is a company that ranks #2 and #1 organically in some of the SE’s for the term “Smoke Away” but doesn’t even have a product remotely similar with Smoke Away and…the term isn’t even in their URL! An underhanded but great job of SEO. But that’s a topic for another day. 

The above mentioned examples of URL hijacking are called Typosquatting. I’m sure you have read recently about some companies that were forced to give up the URL’s that they purchased because of rights violations in regard to the usage of these bad URL’s for profit. 

Typosquatting  is a form of cybersquatting which relies on mistakes such as typographical errors made by users when typing in the address into the browser. We have all done it. You think you have typed in an address properly, and something completely different pops up. What appears is generally a page full of  Google ad sense ads or some faux directory that looks like a directory but in reality are again, ad links and bogus content.

Generally, the victim site of typosquatting will be a frequently visited website.  An example of this would be typing in instead of Google. Try it right now and see for yourself.  The variations of this range from a common mispelling to adding a different extension onto the domain. i.e. adding .org when it should have been .com

Once on the typosquatter’s site, the user may also be tricked into thinking that they are in fact on the real site; through the use of copied or similar logos, website layouts or content. Sometimes competitors of the victim site will do this. I would be even more concerned about a site that resorts to this because this is a border line example of phishing.

Sometimes, the typosquatters will use the domains to distribute viruses, adware, spyware or other malware.  But generally these bottom feeders are either selling advertising to firms based on keywords similar to the misspelled word in the domain or are using it to run Google adsense.

The line between typosquatting and registering a brandable variant of a generic domain name blurs dependent on the circumstance of each situation but as I tell children, if you think it is wrong, then chances are, it is. A brandable variant of a branded term would seem to me like starting a company called Fored Cars or Fordcars when it so closely resemble the Ford Motor Company.

I suppose that’s what lawyers are there for, to sort through all of this. What  you really need to be made aware of though is, who is using your name and for what purpose, and are they making money off of it? As a marketer and a brand owner, you need to protect your brand all the time.