Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

UPDATE:  Zappos.com is one of the savviest marketers and social media users in business today, but according to a story running in AdAge.com, the company’s recent advertising agency review process has once again highlighted the problems organizations create for themselves when they aren’t prepared to handle the demand they generate.  Read the full article here.

UPDATE RE: FACEBOOK USERNAMES:  Facebook was ready.  At one minute past 9pm Pacific Time/midnight Eastern Time June 13, I went online and grabbed my Facebook vanity URL (facebook.com/marklolson) with absolutely no technical or account issues.  Congratulations to Facebook on being prepared for the demand they created.

Just past midnight Eastern Time on Saturday, June 13, Facebook is going to launch Facebook Usernames and give virtually every one of its 250 million users the opportunity to grab the vanity URL of their choosing on a first-come, first-served basis.  Residents of the Bay Area will feel it first at 9 p.m. when the lights dim noticeably and the ground trembles slightly from an epicenter at street level in Palo Alto.

The big question is this:  “Are they ready?”  Is the Facebook server farm ramped up to make this a pleasant user experience with minimal wait times and clear system messages?  Or will this become just another in a long list of business/Internet case studies for how not to match supply to demand?

We’ll know very quickly even if we don’t try to make the change at that moment.  Within minutes after midnight Eastern Time, the blogosphere/Twittersphere will explode with evidence of users’ experiences and on the West Coast there will be plenty of time for TV stations to cobble together stories of success or failure.

What too many businesses forget is this:  It’s not the “pitch” that matters, it’s the “catch.”  The “pitch” makes headlines…the “catch” makes money.  Let’s look at a few examples of pitch-and-catch to illustrate:

Oprah and KFC – On May 4 this year, KFC used an offer delivered via the Oprah show for free food using a downloadable coupon good only for a two-day period.  Advertising Age reported, “…should have been a promotional coup.  Instead, it turned into an unmitigated disaster when the company was unable to execute and actually had to rescind the offer.”  KFC “maintained that the chain prepared thoroughly, given the time constraints,” AdAge reported.  Uh, KFC, no you didn’t.

The Catch – To any San Francisco 49er football fan, Dwight Clark’s Jan 10, 1982 end zone fingertip snag for a touchdown and victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game is legend.  If he doesn’t bring it down, it’s just another toss from Joe Montana.  That’s why it’s called “The Catch” and not “The Throw.”  [See also: Willie Mays’ 1954 World Series Game 1 over-the-shoulder catch of a deep shot off the bat of Cleveland’s Vic Wertz.]

Harry Potter – When Harry Potter Book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released on July 21, 2007 thousands of Potter fan-atics including a substantial percentage of children lined up outside bookstores to get the first copies available at midnight.  Unlike some video game releases (think Grand Theft Auto), bookstores used the opportunity to host “Potter Parties.”  Kids dressed as their favorite characters, read passages from prior editions, and picked up their new books without a fuss.

Perfect storm at McCarran Airport – The City of Las Vegas worked hard to get the NBA All-Star game played there in February 20, 2007, but what many travelers remember about that weekend was not the score, but the three-hour wait at McCarran Airport security check-in to get on their flights home.  A perfect storm of tourism demand overwhelmed one of America’s largest airports as people heading home from the game weekend met up with tourists there for the Chinese New Year, President’s Day three-day weekend, and holdovers from the MAGIC convention.  The lines wrapped more almost a mile outside the airport in the rain.

 

The takeaway from these and hundreds of other pitch-and-catch disasters is this: Plan first for what you want to have happen, prepare for the worst-possible case you can imagine, then worry about creating the demand.  People/buyers/customers/fans remember the last thing that happened to them first.

For Facebook, that means putting all your IT and customer service people on high alert and on station till the wave passes over.  There will be time for sleep later.  Handle the first 24 hours like you knew this was coming and were ready for it, and you’ll be basking in the afterglow next week, not dealing with aftershocks.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

As a marketing and communications professional, I stress simple, straightforward language in my work, andI’m always watching for the evolving lexicon of the market.  Two words that have been showing up all over the blogosphere, Web and in print like they’re on sale are authenticity and authority.   After reading scores of bogs and articles featuring one or both words, it struck me there were two schools of thought among web experts, bloggers and marketers about which was more important, or which begat the other.

Time Magazine recently named Synthetic Authenticity as one of its “Ten Ideas That Are Changing the World”.  Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want is the latest book by authors and societal change observers Jim Gilmore and Joe Pine documenting what they see as a shift by businesses and consumers to an Experience Economy.  Carter McNamara of Authentic Consulting, LLC took a more philosophical view of the idea in his article Authenticity, “…it’s important for people in management to live and work as authentically as possible…”

Authority shows up a lot as search engine authority, link authority or web authority.  But I wanted to explore the larger idea of authority on the Web as a function of influence, credibility, knowledge and/or reputation…who has it, how do you get it, how do you know when you have it.  Social media strategist and prolific blogger Chris Brogan had a take on it last year in his post, “How Does the Web Define Authority.” 

Rather than sort out it out myself, I decided to pit the two words/ideas against each other in a kind of mashup and ask some of the leading voices (nee “authorities”?) that I follow for their opinions on which of the ideas and actions embodied by each word is of greater importance, if forced to prioritize. 

Seth Godin, author of ten international bestsellers including Tribes, and the most popular business blogger in the world.
“If it’s a word game, then authority wins, because authority is about the perception of the consumer.  If they believe you an authority, you are.  In the long run, of course, authenticity will trump it, because your authority fades without it. The converse is not true.  And yes, it’s a word game.”

David Meerman Scott, bestselling author of the New Rules of Marketing & PR
I remember in college there was a professor who had tons of authority. He was tenured, had written books, and was the head of the department. Although he had authority, he was not a popular teacher and his classes were empty. I recall other teachers who were young and dynamic and had no authority. Barely older than the students, they had an authentic love of their subject and of teaching. Their classes were packed. In the always on, one-click-away world of the Web, authenticity wins every time because unlike a college class, people can immediately leave the sites that don’t capture their interest. That’s why a lone blogger can be more popular than a stuffy old trade journal both on the same subject.

Brian Solis, PR 2.0, author of the recently-released book, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations.
“How are you doing?”
“I’m fine. How are you?”
“I’m fine. Thank you for asking.”

What started out as an authentic gesture to understand how someone was feeling eventually dissipated into an almost meaningless exchange to ease into a conversation or simply acknowledge someone’s presence. Authenticity is the minimum requirement in any exchange, online and in the real world. Authority however, is earned with every exchange where those involved are enlightened as a result of their participation.

Relevant information, consistency, and insight are the attributes of those who build credibility among their peers. The transparency that facilitates genuine and sincere interaction helps us build meaningful relationships with those who value each other’s contribution. It’s how we earn trust, loyalty and establish significance.  Perhaps what we learn is that it’s not a case of authenticity vs. authority, but authenticity + wisdom + engagement = authority.

Chris Brogan, President of New Marketing Labs, a social media agency that helps businesses understand business strategy around online communication tools.
Authenticity and Authority in the Age of Trust
From around 1950 until maybe as late as 2006, organizations have been able to get away with mass communication and one-sided blurting. No longer. We are ALL the media. We all have networks. We all have cameras and video and newspapers at our disposal. We have the memory of Google on our side. How do companies succeed in this environment? They do what probably should have always been done: be human. It’s not a vast reworking. It’s not throwing out all that’s come before. It’s doing what we know in our guts to be right. How do you build authority? By being human. Be fallible. Be apologetic. And communicate in both directions. Listen, and build trust by responding and interacting. You’re still the leader, but you’re now a responsible leader who cares about your constituency. Try it. You’ll like it.

Mike Volpe, VP of Inbound Marketing at HubSpot which sells inbound marketing software for small and medium sized businesses to generate more leads.
I think authority and authenticity are related but different. Authority is a measure of importance, impact or influence.  You can measure authority by your ranking in Google and tools like Twitter Grader or Facebook Grader.  Marketers should work to improve their authority in their market – today’s marketing goal is to turn your own web presence (website, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) to the leading authoritative source for your market. The overall numbers don’t matter as much as the relative authority of your company vs. your competitors’ authority.   

Authenticity is a measure of openness and lack of “marketing speak”.  One way to measure authenticity is to run some of your content through Gobbledygook Grader and see how much corporate-speak you use.  As the web has moved our society to more of a two way communication and given everyone more control over content, outbound marketing and advertising has become less effective. Marketers are embracing inbound marketing, which is more interactive and authentic by nature. I think most people will find that it is hard to achive a high level of authority without being authentic. However, being really authentic does not get you much without authority.

Marketers need to be authentic, but the primary focus for marketing should be on building authority. Authority is a marketing asset – you can use it to drive more people to your events, content, thought leadership, and products.  Authority is far more important to driving leads and sales, which is what we marketers should care about most.  Building an authoritative presence on the web is part of inbound marketing. You can use your blog, website and social media presence to attract more customers to you, and this effect is stronger as your authority grows.

What are your thoughts about Authenticity vs. Authority?  What are your reactions to the positions by Godin, Scott, Solis, Brogan and Volpe?  Your comments are invited.

UPDATE:  Check the links below for further commentary on this post by Scott, Solis and Volpe on their blogs and HupSpotTV:

         ———————————————————————————————–

For growing vocabulary, I recommend these sites: FreeRice.com, UrbanDictionary.com, InvestorWords.com, BusinessDictionary.com, Merriam-Webster Online]

Final point.  For more information about me, please check out the tabs “About me and this blog” and “4 Reasons to Hire Me” at the top of the page.  I am looking for a Chief Marketing Officer or Vice President of Marketing position with a startup or early-stage company, or a higher education institution.

Read Full Post »

Every week I’ll highlight a word that catches my attention. As a marketing and communications professional, I stress simple, straightforward language in my work, however I’m always watching for the evolving lexicon of the market. For growing vocabulary, I recommend these sites: FreeRice.com, UrbanDictionary.com, InvestorWords.com, BusinessDictionary.com, Merriam-Webster Online]

 

The word for this week is — Gravitas. This is a great word made popular recently because it was it was uttered by Amy Poehler on the season finale of Saturday Night Live during the Weekend Update segment when Poehler and Seth Meyers were lambasting Arizona State University for declining to grant President Obama an honorary degree in conjunction with his commencement address there: “…honorary degrees carry all the gravitas of a ‘#1 Dad’ coffee mug.”

 

Listed in Wikipedia as one of several virtues that Roman men were expected to possess, gravitas means “sense of the importance of the matter at hand, responsibility and earnestness.”   Or in Houston its a restaurant known for its American Bistro Style cuisine.  Or a real estate marketing firm in South Florida focused on urban residential developments.  Or a professional competition video gaming team in California.

 

The authentic use of the English language, especially words still close to their etymological roots, is increasingly being lost as schools dumb down their curricula to accommodate the Twitter/text messaging attention spans of students at all levels.  Even the unrelated use of the word to label businesses and affinity groups undermines the lifetime value of the word.  I’m sure similar statements have been uttered by writers in every generation for hundreds of years.

 

Two of the most valuable classess I ever took in high school were Latin I and II from Mr. Kimball.  He also taught German.  Actually, it’s a miracle I got that option considering my grades 9-12 took place at Morton High School in a small farm town of 12,000 outside Peoria, IL.  I took the classes because I wanted to improve my fundamental knowledge of English in order to be a better writer and speller.

 

Considering what passes for communication and language these days, if it takes a late-night comedy skit to send new generationals to their online dictionaries, I’m good with that.

Read Full Post »

“Buzz doesn’t have a measurable ROI”

This is a great quote by Jeffery Eisenberg, co-founder and CEO of FutureNow, Inc., in David Meerman Scott’s book The New Rules of Marketing & PR.  Eisenberg goes on to say, “The cumulative effect of doing a lot of right things is what works…”

It got me thinking…is it possible for a person or business to have “buzz” or “street cred” and not know it?  Is it possible to have it and not be able to measure the benefits that purportedly come from having “it”.  Whether it’s a book launch or re-branding a business or achieving your own personal positioning.  Is “buzz” a measure of success?  How do we define “success”?

A few years back I was managing a 501(c)(3) non-profit dance company I co-founded with my now ex-wife.  This particular day our warehouse open space was being considered by a small indie theater company as a location for a series of performances.  Out of the blue, the artist commented to us that in certain corners of the Southern Nevada artistic community our little company had “swerve”…by which he meant favorable buzz on the street.  It was a pleasant surprise to hear, and while we had decent foot traffic from media articles and paid advertising, I can’t say I could quantify the ROI our “swerve” might have been generating.

Even further back in my career as a marketing and communications agency executive, PR firms were constantly challenged by clients to “measure our results” so they could calculate a mysterious ROI on the money they were paying us and therefore be able to defend our efforts (and their decision to use us) to their bosses. I’m sure the situation is not much changed today.

Behind closed doors when we were trying to articulate such metrics…and perhaps to relieve some tension…I used to show a viewgraph of an old Sidney Harris cartoon, in which a professor is being critiqued about a complicated mathematical formula he’s written on the blackboard.  Just before the equal sign is the notation “Then a miracle occurs.”

Famous Sidney Harris cartoon

Famous Sidney Harris cartoon

We all want to achieve success in what we do, whether it’s work related, raising a child or a few, making a relationship work, or making a difference for others.  We all do a lot of right things, sometimes without really thinking about them, to move closer to our goal.

Maybe it really comes down to how each of us measures or quanitifies success.  And what is the miracle, the tipping point that takes us from going to bed one night thinking “this just isn’t working” to waking up the next day and proclaiming “Huzzah! Success!”

I consult with organizations about their strategic marketing and communications challenges and one of the first questions I ask is: “What criteria for success have you established and what methods do you employ for measuring performance against those criteria?”

“None.”  “We don’t have any.”  “That’s a good question.”  This is what I get 100% of the time.  Or the one I really like: “That’s why you’re here.”

The big point here is to understand that success is a measure of the “whole,” not of the parts.  You measure success by putting your starting point in a qualifiable frame of reference and your goal in that frame of reference plus X. 

It’s important to measure the effect of the tactics you employ to move the needle.  There are lots of tools to help you do that such as Google Alerts, Radian6, Google Analytics, Google Blogsearch, Technorati, and Twitter hashtags.  Even old school techniques like clip books (if you need something to send your Mom) and Nielsen ratings. But with tweets, re-tweets, blog posts, reblogs, etc. it’s impossible to accurately quantify many tactics.

Eisenberg adds, “[Success] is the measure of how many little things you do right.  Lots of small things [add] up to make the difference.”

Maybe “buzz” is today’s version of “a miracle occurs here.”

Read Full Post »

Every week I’ll highlight a word that catches my attention. As a marketing and communications professional, I stress simple, straightforward language in my work, however I’m always watching for the evolving lexicon of the market. For growing vocabulary, I recommend these sites: FreeRice.com, UrbanDictionary.com, InvestorWords.com, BusinessDictionary.com, Merriam-Webster Online]

 

The word for this week is — FAIL.  Maybe it’s me, but when did it become acceptable, even humorous, to denounce a person, comment, organization, government, etc. with a single word verdict?

 

FAIL as a “thumbs down” from a websphere heckler falls into the same bucket of dismissive, lazy interjections as “whatever” and “sucks”.

 

Urbandictionary.com has 41 entries for the term FAIL.  A quick Google Blogsearch for the exact phrase FAIL yields more than 7 million entries, but that includes the appropriate use of the verb, so it’s hard to sort out how pervasive its use is as a pejorative. 

 

There is even a Failblog.org site which I have to confess has some pretty funny content.

 

The bigger picture is this: I’d like to believe we’re more evolved than reducing our subjective interpersonal vocabulary to single-word backhands.  Let’s bring back intelligent, constructive conversation.  Or: “If you can’t think of anything nice to say…”

Read Full Post »

I’ve been paying a lot of attention lately to license plates.  And thinking about personal branding.  Stay with me for a minute and I’ll explain.

What got me started was all the chatter in the blogosphere and Twittersphere about the possibilities and limitations of 140 characters.  Add in the debate over whether your Twitter profile name should be branded or creatively eccentric.  Mix in whacky Myspace profile display names which can look like someone fell asleep on a keyboard.  I ended up back at license plates.

Specifically, personalized license plates.  For many years we’ve had seven characters to use to semi-permanently tattoo our cars (and by being in the left-front seats…ourselves).  By my recent observation, many owner-operators have been pretty creative.  In most states, you also have to pay extra for the privilege. 

So personal branding is on four wheels all around us.  I decided to do a little data-gathering as I drove around town for a couple of weeks, pad and pen at the ready.  I live in the southern end of the Las Vegas metro area and my sample set was unscientifically small, but it didn’t take long for a pattern to develop.

Most plates fall into one of five buckets: Attitude, Profession, Affinity, Affirmation…and Dogs.  Yea, I know, people just love their dogs.  And they love New York, or at least having once lived there.

Here are the actual personalized license plates I observed.  Remember, in Nevada you have seven characters available:

Attitude:  RISS K, NSTG8TR, UNLMTD, BRAVERY, JUICY, BALLHOG, EVIL QN, AGRV8D, CRE8TV, ARTSI, PHREEK

Profession:  CAPT747, PHPGUY, MYTMIXR, VMAIL, AFTAHRS, SCADSGN, KNJRLTY, HYGIENE, HAIRS2U

Affinity:  1NY2LV, NY 2 LV, FLAG8TR, IAMQBAN, SRFNSND

Affirmation:  LIV2ROK, LVE2LIV

Dogs:  K9DROOL, MYAKITA

Makes 140 characters seem almost novel-length by comparison.  No follow-up message or further explanation.  Sometimes the vehicle the plate is attached to says a bit more about the occupant, but my observation suggests this is relatively infrequent.

So the challenge for the professional struggling to articulate his or her personal brand is this: What single statement can you make about yourself in seven letters?  Or in a 30-second elevator encounter?  Or in a cover letter?  Can you reduce yourself to a soundbite and still make an impact true enough to last?

The example I love to cite for people is this:  John 3:16.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

If the essence of Christianity can be summed up in just 25 words, anyone should be able to tell their story in 140 characters.  Or seven.

Read Full Post »