Tag Archives: Technology

Five Nuggets from the Internet Summit

The Internet Summit was last week in Raleigh, NC and I want to share with you five nuggets I took away from the panel sessions I attended.

1) Blogging is Not Dead
Didn’t really think blogging was dead, but I guess with a few bloggers ditching blogging for micro-blogging some were wondering where the blog fits in.  The take-away is that blogs should be a hub for your online marketing initiatives.  For B2B folks, they’re great for thought-leadership positioning too.

2) Search Marketers Start with Google
Google AdWords is easy to use and on the platform where more than 60% of search traffic resides.  Unless you know your audience is on Yahoo/Bing, or your budget is significantly lacking, Google is where you want to start. One other theme around search marketing is that it can also be used effectively for branding purposes.

3) Analytics are Increasingly Important
Think measurement first. Tie your business goals with analytics (read: reverse engineer the goal to the measurement).  Include KPIs as part of budget discussion.

4) Email Marketers use Best Practices
Be relevant (know your audience)
Think holistically (where does email fit into your overall marketing campaign)
Segment and personalize emails (this ties back into relevance)

5) Twitter is Versatile
Great for monitoring brand (customer service) and as a content distribution medium. Expectations are that niche providers like Yammer and the like will start gaining popularity in 2010.

What do you think?  Did the Internet Summit 09 get it right?

Twitterfeed Rocks

twitterfeed_faviconThere are a slew of Twitter applications out there, but I must proclaim that Twitterfeed is my favorite one so far. I’ve been using it for some marketing engagements recently and have found it to be a very useful tool – one of the few Twitter applications I’ve found with the right mix of simplicity and richness in its feature set.

Twitterfeed is primarily intended for bloggers who want to automate tweets with links to their new blog posts, but I’ve been using it to post relevant links from feeds across the web to interested twitterlings.  As a huge advocate of content marketing, using a tool that can automatically share useful content with prospects is extremely powerful.

From their usability perspective, Twitterfeed has done one of the most important things a successful Twitter application-maker needs to do; they’ve made it incredibly simple to use.  From allowing you to get started by signing into the app with OpenID, which allows you to sign in with your account credentials sites like Yahoo! and Google, to the automatic connection with your Twitter account when setting up your RSS feeds makes Twitterfeed very easy to use.

If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend giving it a whirl.  TwitterFeed Rocks!

Social Media Tool from StumbleUpon is Su.pr

Tim Ferris of 4-Hour-Work-Week fame has been collaborating with StumbleUpon (a favorite time suck pastime of mine) to create a new social media management tool, Su.pr.

StumbleUpon Toolbar
Image via Wikipedia

From the looks of it, we are in for a real treat.  Su.pr promises to save you lots of time in your social media management routine and help improve your traffic too!

Tim Ferriss points out how in this StumbleUpon juiced blog post.  Here’s why he thinks Su.pr could become the hub of your social media empire.

Prior to SU.PR (pronounced “super”), I had to use ping.fm for updating Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn at the same time, bit.ly for basic analytics like click-through, scattered tools for viewing retweets, and nothing allowed me to schedule tweets well.

It was all a serious pain in the ass.

Enter Su.pr, which allows him to:

– Get suggestions for optimal posting times: get more traffic per post
– Schedule as many tweets or posts as I want, for any time
– See my click-throughs in real-time
– Post to Twitter and Facebook at the same time, with more platforms in the pipeline
– Use my own short URL (i.e. http://www.fourhourblog.com/ab123) instead of someone else’s branding

This is all really great stuff that will save a ton of time for social media content developers and publishers.  It remains to be seen whether the traffic for content improves, but the analytics that are included in Su.pr are what really get me geeked about trying it out.

The built-in analytics make this tool especially sweet for marketers not already using bit.ly.  Deploying measurable social media content should help improve your case for including more social media investments in your organization.

Now it’s just a matter of when this service will be available to everyone.  In the meantime, follow the StumbleUpon Twitter profile and keep your eye out for a claim code tweet for your own Su.pr account.
UPDATE:
After trying it out, Su.pr while potentially great for the reasons listed above, has framing issues that some might remember from the Digg toolbar.  This framing issue wreaks havoc on getting accurate analytics and can be a real pain to use when comparing traffic from non-Su.pr visits.  Another issue I’ve had is with the scheduled Twitter posting being significantly delayed. 

What do you think?  Is Su.pr going to change the way you manage your social media content?

Technology Marketers Should Follow Digg’s Lead

Digg announced it’s plans for a new advertising platform today.

Digg Ads will provide it’s advertisers a pricing structure that is dependent on how well their ads are received by their audience.

digg-logoThe more an ad is Dugg, the less the advertiser will have to pay. Conversely the more an ad is buried, the more the advertiser is charged, pricing it out of the system.

In other words, place relevant ads that link to content Digg users are likely to Digg and pay less. This will be great for improving ad quality on Digg, but what I really like is how Digg is using it’s own technology to make this platform go.

Too many times I’ve come across online businesses that don’t use the products they develop or sell. At the very least share examples or case studies of your tool being used by your customers. If you aren’t doing this, alarms go off in my head and I quickly click the ‘Back’ button in my browser to find a more suitable solution.

Marketers of software and technology products and services should take note. Use what you sell in your own business. Show your tool in action.

This should build trust in your product and help prove that it can accomplish what it claims. There may even be an opportunity to use your tool in unique way. The use of Digg’s technology with Digg Ads is something that can be duplicated with many other tools on the web. At a minimum, use demos or webinars to prove your tool can solve your customers’ problems.

Consultants should apply this rule too. If you are a social media expert, then you should obviously be using social media tools in your own web strategy whenever possible. Seeing is believing. Show clients that you not only talk the talk, but you also walk the walk.

Why Negative Online Reviews are Good

When it comes to Web 2.0 and social media, many organizations hate the idea of losing control over what is said about their brand or products.  For many years, companies avoided engaging in newer online technologies that facilitate customer feedback in public mediums for this very reason.  How could they these mediums, monitor them all, and get any value out from them?  It was scary and social media scares many companies today.

Even negative review can be good.

Even negative reviews can be good.

Take the Dive

More recently, companies have plunged into social media, but there are still concerns about negative reviews.  I believe this to be counter-intuitive thinking.  If your product is great and your customer service is fantastic, social media is your friend.  If your social media strategy listens to, interacts with, and gives your customers a means to voice their opinions you are on the right track.

When I think about businesses, particularly B-to-C companies, that avoid entering social media out of fear, I pause and question whether their products are good enough to take the plunge.  The truth is social media isn’t for every company, but if your products are good and your customer service is great, negative reviews can actually improve your brand.

Company Case Studies

Companies listening to and engaging with their customers are finding that negative reviews capture nuggets of information that allow marketers to better understand their customer.  From the design, delivery, and return of a product, negative reviews can actually help companies improve their brand image.  Still don’t believe me?  Perhaps these companies case studies will show you how negative reviews can be beneficial.

Rubbermaid  – Rubbermaid has had success listening and responding with better product design.  As this post shows, sometimes it’s not your product that needs help, its communicating how to use it properly.

Dell –  Distinguished itself for bad customer service and as a consequence has structured itself to address it very well online. At last check, Dell employs 35 “community ambassadors” who troll the web listening and conversing with customers on popular social networking sites, blogs, all over the world.

Merck – Merck was very resistant to using blogs and allowing comments on it because of regulatory fear (having to monitor and report posted adverse effects).  At first, the launch of one of Merck’s blogs saw a negative drug review and they wanted to take the comment off the site.  Soon, however, supporters of their life-saving drug flocked to the site criticizing the negative review and singing the drug’s praises and the preponderance of positive comments put the drug in a favorable light.

Negative Reviews Really can be Good

Ultimately, negative reviews are good for:

1. Better understanding your customer’s needs and experience  –  This knowledge will allow you to better communicate usage; features and benefits; and shed light on potential opportunities to make a better product that meets customer needs.

2. Righting what’s wrong  –  Turn an annoyed customer into a delighted one by acting swiftly and unexpectedly.  If you had an issue with a product and posted something online and all of a sudden a someone addressed your issue by going above an beyond your expectations, you’d be impressed. Imagine how one of your customers would feel if you responded in an unexpected way.

3. Generating positive attention – The adage any publicity is good publicity may make you cringe, but the positive publicity your company can garner by addressing the negative review (righting what’s wrong) can turn a frustrated customers into customer advocate.  Think of all the referrals a customer advocate that already has proven they will talk about your brand could generate because of the goodwill you’ve created by addressing their issue.

Web 2.0 is Friendlier than Web 1.0

I enjoy Web 2.0 sites like Facebook and Twitter because they foster accountability and positive interactions.

Sometime ago, people with cryptic usernames like webspider hid behind anonymity when interacting online.  In the Web 2.0 world, people are claiming their identities (which is a great for other reasons given this trend) and using social media sites in a way that more closely mimics real life interactions.

Fraudulent activity in the Web 1.0 world of shadows has given way to a more trustworthy world in Web 2.0.  This trustworthiness is a double-edged sword, but at the end of the day I find the authentic nature of Web 2.0 to be a much friendlier place to visit. The accountability of real identities ensures friendliness is the norm and mitigates the unsavory activity that Web 1.0 anonymity bred.

SmilePositive interactions are commonplace in Web 2.0.  Visits to Facebook and Twitter are full of affirmation and empathetic sentiments.  Following my friend feed of birthday wishes and affirmative comments help keep me up with all the great things going on in my friends’ lives and puts a smile on my face.  Hooray for Web 2.0!

Opportunity Abounds in Depressed Economy

When looking at problems, I try to ask myself how a problem I’m facing could be an opportunity in disguise.

The economic woes are certainly problematic – the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  But for those who are brave enough to seize opportunities presented by the crisis may find see these woes the driver behind great things to come.

Opportunity Street

Opportunity Street

If you’ve lost your job, you probably have a lot more free time. So aside from trying to land that next job, what can you do?
Why not start a blog, start a project you’ve been putting off, or start a business?

By seizing the opportunity of starting a business during these depressed times, you will find talented people willing to work for less, government programs geared to facilitate your company’s success, and should eventually find pent-up demand for your services and products right around the time you and your company should be hitting their stride.

But how do you get started?  I’d suggest getting a group of recently laid-off talented people together and seeing if you and your colleagues can find an idea that succeed during the revitalization of America. Infrastructure, green technology, and other types of businesses well suited for these times and are waiting to be started.

You may psuh back saying that you don’t have the resources to start a business and I would say that may be true, but there are ways to run your startup with less money than you think you’ll need.  A group of entrepreneurs in New York recently met to discuss their Ultra Light Startups, start-ups that cost less by utilizing technology and support sustainable revenue models.

Also,take the time to beef up your web presence on social networking and social media sites and start building your social equity on Twitter and LinkedIn or any other appropriate site.  There are countless stories of people landing jobs through those they met through these platforms by sharing their knowledge and building up trust.

Think smartly.  Albert Einstein was a smart guy, and even he thinks there’s an opportunity for you when you face difficulty.  His quote “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” is right on target.

Heed Einstein’s advice and discover opportunity in the midst of difficulty and ride it to a successful outcome. The timing couldn’t be better.