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Goal setting for a successful new year

iStock_000004934443XSmall.jpgJust a quick note to all of you, my friends, to have a very happy, successful and healthy new year. 2007 was a very rewarding year for me (started the blog and met lots of interesting people). 2008 has some pretty big changes in store for me, but I'll tell you more about that next week. Trust me, it's all good!

Now, every year I sit down in this last week and set goals for the next year. This process takes a mental and emotional investment to make sure the goals are reachable and that I'll be able to successfully achieve them. A couple of days ago, I found a great post by Keith Ferrazzi, author of the outstanding book "Never Eat Alone". Keith's company has put together a simple little Facebook application to help you make and set goals.

The part of the post that I like the most is his mention of the S.M.A.R.T. method of goal planning. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Using this method for your goal setting, either for your personal goals or goals for your professional life or even your digital marketing efforts, is extraordinarily helpful.

I mentioned Keith's Facebook app (called Goal Post) and I think it's a good example of how to create an tool that users get value from and use the power of the community. If you add the app to your profile it allows you to go in, create goals, set time deadlines and then (this where the community comes into play) you set your accountability buddies. These are friends of yours who you tell your goals and they help to hold you accountable. I think it's quite brilliant and extremely valuable.

Another great post I came across the other day was Chris Brogan's "Hitting your target for 2008". He suggests a couple great books and some even better advice. Chris recommends setting 3-5 targets and are attainable. Make these targets into simple maps and post them where you can see them.

I hope those two items give you some great thought starters for your goal setting in 2008. I hope you make it your best year yet.


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Five ways to stop doing stupid things in digital marketing

clown_small.jpgIn this fast-paced, wild west world of Web2.0 and social networking, too many marketers are making dumb moves online. These decisions are being rushed into the community without thinking about what the social ramifications are. You know who they are so I won't call them out again. It does make you wonder though, who is the voice of reason/community in these companies? I think it's vital to have a community advocate(s) inside the agencies and company marketing group to ask some pretty simple, but very crucial questions.

Here are five ways companies and agencies can stop doing stupid things in digital marketing. Some of these may seem very obvious, but ask yourself if you're actually doing them all.

  1. Engage internal, non-marketing folks in the process. This is a good idea and pretty cost-effective as well. Invite Jim from accounting or Julie from operations and see what they think of new initiatives. Address concerns directly and get their two cents on what you're trying to accomplish. Their personal interactions online will give you a window into how your customers may engage and react.
  2. Get young professionals involved in all aspects of your marketing planning. This is huge. Undoubtedly, you have young people working in your company. Get these people involved in all stages of your planning. Not only will this give them great experience, but they're much more intimately connected to the pulse of social networks. They can tell you if your thinking is lame and will create backlash or if it has a chance to be embraced. Check out the posts on Valeria's blog by young bloggers for some great insights.
  3. Remember, "your brand is not my friend". This is Tangerine Toad's battle cry and it is something every marketer needs to keep in mind. Despite how much we think people love us, friendships are person-to-person. Toad's anthem will will keep you at the right distance and in the right mindset.
  4. Ask your customers. This one seems obvious, but even the most pro-community sites are skipping this one and creating a lot of trouble for themselves. Had Facebook asked a user panel what they thought about Beacon or social ads, they may have been able to avoid some pretty major PR trouble. CK and Doug have already cancelled their accounts on Facebook and I'm sure others have as well. With the switching cost so low, nobody can afford to take advantage of or take for granted the community of current users.
  5. Learn from the past. You'd think more and more companies would at least look at the mistakes that have taken place. From flogs to Wikipedia editing, companies have pushed the envelope and experienced the backlash. Sadly, other companies either don't look or don't care and line up to do the same things. In this digital age, it's nearly impossible to get away with something like this. The trail is there and there are people who love for nothing more than to expose companies trying to pull a fast one on their customers.

This is a start, but there are definitely other ways to avoid looking like a bozo and run successful marketing programs. What do you do when planning your ideas? What would you add to this list?


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Top 10s in '07 using different metrics

Picture 4.pngIt's always interesting to go through the analytics and dig out data. I wanted to do this recap post to share with you where people are coming from and what posts were popular according to different metrics. Measurement is going to become more and more important in 2008 and it's a topic I'll be covering in-depth. Here are some interesting metrics that I extracted for 2007.

Top 10 visitor countries


  • U.S.
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • India
  • Netherlands
  • France
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • Israel

I always love looking at where people are coming from. I love people bring different perspectives from around the globe to the conversation here. Now here is what you all found most interesting using two metrics.

Popular posts by pageviews

Popular posts by time spent on page

You can see that using these two metrics you get very disparate results. One of the lists looks more accurate to me, but what do you think?

This is the challenge to marketers. How should you choose a metric to value your traffic? Are we even looking at the right metric? Think about new formats to better reflect the value your users receive. Isn't that the most important metric? If your customer value metric is low, you aren't going to be in business for very long.

What measurements have you put in place? Are you still using traditional metrics and if so, why?


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links for 2007-12-27

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Valeria Maltoni: Coca Cola The Tale of Two Christmas Stories

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to hit the 1,000 comment mark on this blog. Valeria Maltoni was that lucky soul and as a bonus to her, I asked her if she would like to do a guest post on this blog. She accepted and it fits in great with the Christmas holiday and marketing in general.

Without further ado, here it is, enjoy and have a happy holiday!


Italian flag.gifYou might think that Christmas was invented by Italians -- green, white, and red (the colors of Italy's national flag) are the traditional Christmas colors as well. One widely held theory is that the holiday was an intentional christianization of Saturnalia, a winter solstice celebration.

In the third and fourth centuries, the church in Rome found itself in fierce competition with popular pagan religions and mystery cults, most of them involving sun worship. From the middle of December through the first of January, Romans would engage in feasts and drunken revelry, paying homage to their gods and marking the winter solstice, when days began to lengthen.

It was the Emperor Aurelian that decreed December 25, then the solstice on the Julian calendar -- as birth of the invincible sun god Mithras in A.D. 273. In designating December 25 as the date for their Nativity feast Rome's Christians challenged paganism directly.

As Tim Manners summarized last December with Coca-Claus in Reveries, Coke's ties with Santa can be traced back to American Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast, who drew him for Harper's Weekly in 1862. That Santa was small and his suit was tan. The suit color was later changed to red, and Coke finally debuted its new cheerful Christmas Santa in 1931.

Of all the Coca Cola Christmas ads I have seen so far this year, two stand out for different reasons. Let's take a look at the fist one, which is a version for Northern Ireland:

What's the story about? A little girl's life through the years. Bonus big emotional kick at the end.

Now let's take a look at the second Coca Cola ad:

What do you notice? Brand worship. Clearly this ad also cost to produce. Which one would make you open your wallet more readily? Most importantly, which builds a relationship with the product? The story is not about how great Coca Cola is. The story is how savoring a nice bottle of Coca Cola -- its consistent taste and visual presence throughout your life -- brings back those memories. The customer is the story.

Which is your favorite? Vote in the comments.


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links for 2007-12-22

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Keeping tabs on the pulse of the Net

One of the reasons that I include different types of media in my Buzz Friday posts (which I'll post soon) is that it allows you, my readers, to see trends emerge. It also lets you see what kinds of content and what topics take off to the level of superstardom.

Take this example. A photographer named Noah Kalina took a picture of himself every day for six years and stitched them together into a video. The writers at the Simpsons were paying attention when the clip took off and created a parody in their show.

Here is the original by Noah:

And the remake on the Simpsons:

At the root of the original clips is a very personal, voyeur-esque connection seeing him through six years of his life. Trends like this emerge quickly and you have to be on top of things to spot them. How easy do you make it to parody your brand?

So, are you looking around at what's popular? Do you dismiss it or think of ways to weave it into your fabric?


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Are you social media fading? Dealing with dead apps and inactive users (part 1)

iStock_000003290791XSmall.jpgTime and attention are both finite and extremely valuable. I think we all can agree on that. In this world of BSOS (bright shiny object syndrome) there is a constant desire to check out the next new thing. However, there is a limit to the number of social networks and applications we can use before we start seeing overlap or clutter. At that point we have a decision to make. Cut and run, or stick it out.

If you're anythings like me, you have probably signed up for your fair share of social networks and new media apps with best intentions of using them to their potential. Service to remind me to wake up you say? Great. A social network for dead poet aficionados? I'll take two!

Sadly, it's just not possible to give every community the time it needs due to a lack of relevance or time. So when you let one of these apps sit for a while, do you think about it again? The popular term for this is fading. Simply add the network-du-jour in front the the word 'fade' and you've got it nailed. Twitter-fade, Face-fade, Space-fade, etc.

This is a natural occurrence in the web world and it's been happening since birth. 10 years ago people signed up for chat rooms and message boards only to abandon them or move on to the next best thing. Today it's social networks and micro-media apps which are being orphaned.

In the first part of this 2 part series, I want to look at what site owners can do when people fade and I want your input too.

Identify and classify your faders
Every social network or community site needs to have a plan in place for their members to identify the overall health of the community. There is no right or wrong way to do this either. Simply identify the actions that a user takes which add value and track how your members stack up in a given time period.

Here is an example:

User tracking for month ending 12/31/07:






Action Desired step % completed
Login Log in in to site 15 times 10% Engagers
Log in 6 times 15% Underachievers
Log in 2 times 35% Nomads
Log in 0 times 40% Slackers

Create a re-engagement plan for each segment
You'll find that each segment has its own set of challenges and opportunities and each will respond to different tactics and messaging. Fortunately the web affords us an easy way to test messages and deliver the right one to the right group. For example:

  • Engagers: People who are engaged in a community are often your strongest allies. These are your evangelists in the making and are usually receptive to you reaching out to them to see what their interests are and to thank them for participating. Virtual rewards (status on the site, moderation of message boards, etc.) could be a powerful, cost-effective way to reach this group.
  • Underachievers: This group is active, but something is keeping them from coming back more often. There is a possibility that you could make an impact here and have them move up to the engager group (which is the goal for all of these groups).
  • Nomads: This group is coming to the site at a sporadic pace. Make note of visiting trends to see what content brings them in. It could be promotions, stories in a specific category or simply be the day of the month they remember. The goal in this group is to increase awareness, show the value you add, make it easy to get them the content (RSS/email newsletter/etc.). These nomads wander the web without a home. Your job is to make them feel at home and not want to leave.
  • Slackers: This is the group with the largest number and least activity. All things equal, this group represents the largest opportunity to move members up a level. Email notices with offers or valuable content could be ways to reach this group and get them in the mix. They've most likely forgotten about you entirely so make sure that when you communicate you put your best foot forward, make them see the value and make it easy for them to get out completely. There is no sense in emailing a person who doesn't care about you or your offer.

Create a way to purge your list
This goes along with what I just said. If people are inactive and you can't seem to get them back, set them free. Not only will this make your list look better, but it will make your community stronger. Set up a rule along the lines of 2 stikes via email and you're out. It's fair, calculated and will benefit everyone.

So, you community managers out there, how do you deal with users that have slacked off or camp out every now and then? How do you re-engage people and create better relationships? Please do share!

Part 2 of this series will focus on the user-side. What should you do if things go inactive, what rules should you set and how can you keep track of everything you sign up for. That'll be tomorrow.


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links for 2007-12-19

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Comment #1,000

DSCN0193.JPGOver the weekend I reached a milestone that, in the beginning of writing my blog, seemed impossible. I saw the comment count here pass the 1,000 mark on 412 total posts. (A 2.4 comment/post ratio.) My friend, and super-blogger extraordinaire, Valeria Maltoni had the lucky 1,000th comment and I'll be featuring her in a guest post on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. I can't wait to see it up there.

I also want to take a second to thank all of the people who have taken the time to stop here and comment over the past year. I value each and every one of your opinions and the fact that you spend your precious time here means the world to me.

Thank you!


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Buzz Friday for December 14, 2007

more-buzz.jpgHere is a look at what is happening across social media and new marketing this week. If there is anything that you would like to see in this post or if you have something you think is Buzz-worthy please drop me an email or leave a comment on this post. I want to make this as beneficial for you as I can.

iTunes.jpgBuzz Friday is also available as part of the Techno//Marketer Podcast on iTunes. Click here to subscribe and take the Buzz to go.


[Feed readers please click through to the post if you cannot see the video.]

Inside the video:

And in other news:

Top Five Web2.0 Movers of the Week (using Alexa data)


  1. Zippy video
  2. Flixster
  3. Oodle
  4. Woot!
  5. Upcoming

More

Top Ten Marketing Blogs from Viral Garden


  1. Seth's blog
  2. Duct Tape Marketing
  3. Search Engine Guide
  4. Daily Fix
  5. Logic + Emotion
  6. Brand Autopsy
  7. The Engaging Brand
  8. Influential Marketing
  9. Drew's Marketing Minute
  10. Diva Marketing

View the top full top 25

Top 5 "Viral" Videos This Week


  1. Here comes another bubble
  2. Sex and the City Trailer
  3. Straight No Chaser - 12 days
  4. Lost Season four trailer
  5. Led Zepplin O2 Arena

Honrable mention: Tay Zonday (the "Chocolate Rain" guy, has this new Dr. Pepper commercial. Added to YouTube on November 28, 2007 and has nearly 1.3 million views. His original video is nearing 12 million views. Here is the commercial.

More


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Facebook Beacon, one month later

facebook_logo.jpgWhen I posted my original Inside//Out video on Beacon, I couldn't have known how vehemently anti-Beacon people in this social media space would react. Well, Facebook took notice of the opposition and Zuckerburg himself apologized to users on the matter asking for patience and thanking users for their support.

When I asked people outside of this microcosm if they knew about Beacon, I couldn't find one who did. They all had Facebook profiles and most thought it was an interesting idea to share activities in one network. We're all in the echo chamber and have to remember that a) we're the first line of defense/adoption and b) we're *way* ahead of the normal John and Jane consumer out there. We're all working in unchartered territory, Facebook needs to beta these things better in the future with some community participation instead of unleashing them. Facebook messed up, acknowledged it, made changes to respond and have a pretty good solution in place on their end (minus a few caveats).

On the marketer side, however, we need to make sure we ALWAYS allow people to opt-in to services like this from now on. If we use an opt-in, confirm it with people and let them opt-out, we're giving people full control of what's transmitted to third-parties. These are basic email marketing practices and can be adopted for situations like this.

So what's changed? Check out this video which gives a look at what changes are in place as well as their progression to get where we are today.

[Feed readers, please click through to the post if you cannot see the video.]

Here is a re-post of my diagram explaining how Beacon works:

facebook_beacon2.png
Click to Enlarge
  1. Marketers apply for and install the beacon code on their site
  2. Marketers then set up actions on their site to send information with Beacon
  3. Beacon looks on the user's local machine to see if they have a valid Facebook cookie, if it finds one, it sends the data to Facebook
  4. When users log in to Facebook, they are presented with a message asking to allow the data to be pulled in
  5. Users can automatically allow all, request to authorize each or deny all on a site-by-site basis
  6. Update: Facebook now allows you to opt-out of all beacon messages (data is still transferred to Facebook if the marketer sends it)
  7. If approved, the message is added to the users timeline (mini-feed) and is presented to their friends on the main landing page

Guidelines for marketers:


  1. Make sure that you are allowing people to opt-in to use Beacon to push information to their profile. This is permission marketing 101.
  2. Allow them to opt in to each action you hook Beacon up to (if there are three places you are using it, that's three opt ins).
  3. Add some explanatory information every time information is sent, as you saw in the video the notification Facebook uses is seen only briefly. Give people a short reminder and allow them to opt out quickly.
  4. Only use beacon for things that will add value to the user on Facebook. Hold off on the mundane things and focus on items that add value, reduce the time spent re-typing it on Facebook or hook into an application the user already has installed.

All of that said, would you recommend a client use it? If you are a marketer, would you implement this right now? Are you waiting for something more from Facebook before you step in? What is your most important takeaway from this experience?


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First//Look: Hulu (beta)

Picture 1.pngWell, it was a long time coming, but NBC finally has Hulu (their YouTube/iTunes competitor) up and running. I will tell you that I came into this First//Look with a skeptical eye. Hulu, on the contrary, really stood out as a great online video experience. The primary downside to this site is that you cannot take the clips with you on an iPod nor can you see them on a mobile device (for the meantime) as it requires the newest Flash plugin.

Here is the video tour of Hulu:

[Feed readers, please click through to the post if you cannot see the video.]

Key takeaways:


  • The model for displaying and interacting with video online is in its infancy.
  • Big brands are looking at what's working and coming up with new models to leverage technology to provide advertiser and user value.
  • Hulu tries to balance content with advertising (30 second spots with banner ad combos).
  • Hulu allows users to engage with the content in very minimal, controlled ways. Commenting and rating clips is permitted.
  • Video still is not portable. You cannot take it with you on an iPod nor when you're offline.

Now that you have a bit more knowledge about Hulu, what advice would you give to NBC before they roll this out? Is it social enough? Are there features you think they're missing? Let me know what you think in the comments.


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You can watch this and future Techno//Marketer videos on your video channel of choice:

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links for 2007-12-11

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Presenting with two of my heros in Second Life

sl_medill.jpgWhen you're invited to present on new media in Second Life next to two thought leaders (and all around great guys) you just hold on and try not to sound stupid. Last Friday I had the pleasure of taking the stage next to CC Chapman and Greg Verdino (neither of whom I've met in person) in a presentation in Second Life to a class at the Northwestern Medill School of Journalism. Hopefully I held my own and added some value to the discussion.

Some takeaways from the presentation:


  • SL is a great way to add texture to what would typically be a voice-only conversation. The avatars resemble (Greg and CC look MUCH more similar to their RL selfs than I do) the people and are more engaging than staring at the back of a Polycom.
  • A lot of the questions centered around a) how to learn about new media and things like SL and b) how to measure it.
  • We presented through SL's voice chat and it was just like being on a phone call. Very stable.
  • There was a mix of in-world and out-of-world people attending. Questions and answers went very fluidly.
  • There is a generation gap with virtual worlds that is important to acknowledge here. If you're not 25+ and in this space or under the age of 10 you may not know a lot about it. Thanks to Webkinz (and similar kid-oriented networks) the next generation of consumers will be 100% fluent with virtual worlds. They'll know how to move around, interact and transact.

To any students reading this post, the advice from the three of us was pretty unanimous and along these lines:

Never before has it been easier to get involved in marketing, engage thought leaders, learn from experience and hit the ground running when you get your first job. The best advice is "do stuff". Start a blog, create an avatar in Second Life and wander around, upload your photos to Flickr, comments on blogs that you enjoy reading, listen to podcasts and call in with a voice comment, create a Twitter account and actively listen to what's going on. Those things I just mentioned are all free, they just take a committed time investment.

I've often said that social media has been more valuable and more educational than any class ever was. People want to teach and learn at the same time. We're collectively in this to help each other advance and that's a great thing.

What advice would you offer students in school right now?


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Ann.oy.ing or del.icio.us?

delicious_logo.gifThere is a discussion going on around the blogosphere about the practice of posting links from del.icio.us. I use this practice (see the post right before this one) to share what I am looking at and what has my attention.

Mark Goren tagged me in a very thoughtful post on his blog and there are some great comments that ensue. Mitch Joel sparked the conversation with his post and Scott Monty ran with a post on his blog.

The issue at hand is, does it add value to you, my readers? I try to add commentary to each item to keep it in context. So, is that enough or does it just clutter up your reader? Is there anything else I could add that would add more value? Let me know in the comments.


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links for 2007-12-06

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Are more ads on social networks inevitable?

iStock_000004415349XSmall.jpgOne of the biggest questions on my mind with all of the hype surrounding Facebook (and the ramp up by marketers) is how they plan on making money. There are some ads on the site now (the lack of ads is one of its redeeming points) and Beacon seems to have loads of potential even though it was poorly launched.

Facebook seems to be leading the way among competitors in opening up the platform for developers and that's a key to growth and future revenue. But they're still not making any money outside of investments. Most of the other networks, however, are still more closed and are heavily advertising dependent. Just take a look at these examples of Facebook vs. MySpace. I've removed the portion of the page that I control and left in the ads and other default pieces.

Facebook without my contentMySpace without my content
facebook_blanked.pngmyspace_blanked.png

Given that example and the obvious focus that MySpace places on ad space, take a look at this chart from eMarketer showing the share of traffic and ad impressions for MySpace and Facebook. Note that MySpace has twice the traffic and 6.5 times the ad revenue of Facebook.

089958.gif

Now, let's look at how eMarketer expects ad spending on social networks to progress. Though the anticipated growth is leveling out, it is gaining attention from marketers as a viable outlet.

083610.gif

Taking all of that into account, is throwing more ads on a page the answer? It seems to get more revenue in the door, but it's far from adding value to the users. Click through rates are also notoriously low, so the value isn't really there for the advertisers either. So what's the solution? Here are some options that we're already seeing, but are sure to see more of:

  • Creating rich, branded applications
  • Helping users centralize data into one place
  • Connecting people from multiple networks around a passion
  • Localization and hyper-targeting

What have you seen that gets you engaged with a brand?


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Targeting based on mindset helps ads break through

Picture 22.pngI was poking around LinkedIn today adding some new friends and reconnecting with some old ones. Generally on LinkedIn I don't notice any of the advertising. Most of the ads are very general and the messages don't reach me in the moment and mindset that I have when I am on the site.

Today, however, I noticed a new set of ads in LinkedIn's rotation and they grabbed my attention. As you may know, Starbucks has recently started advertising online and in mainstream media for the first time. Their online ads are in the same style as the TV spots. It's all very harmonious.

These ads on LinkedIn expand on that campaign, but use a very relevant, timely message, geared right at the target audience. The holidays are on everyones mind and gift giving is a big part of that. You can tell these are from Starbucks, it's in the theme of their new campaign, but the message is completely unique.

Picture 23.png

This is something that is very easy to do, but few companies do it. How many times have you seen the same ad on a sports news site and on a hobby site or a crafting site? It happens all too often. This is such an easy thing to do if planned correctly. Sites can be grouped to create the messages more efficiently, but sending out one ad for all sites is not going to get you the results you could achieve.

Your audience may or may not change from one site to another, but the context changes as does their mindset. Do you look at how that thinking shifts from site to site? Just having a simple spreadsheet showing the ad's creative, audience and customer mindset will help you plan it out. Think like the customer and you'll see more returns come your way.

Have you seen other examples of relevant messages in display ads that made you take notice?


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