Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Don't rip your blog of its soul

As blogging becomes more and more commonplace in the corporate world and on business web sites, we are seeing numerous different approaches to this popular communication strategy. Ultimtely, however, blogs fall into two major categories: Those with a soul and those without. Blogs can't just be information waterfalls. That's what features and articles are for. You have to communicate the information in an interesting and consistent way. The original blog model - a solitary author offering editoral comments on the world/industry/whatever - is still the best. Check out this real estate blog - too many authors. There's too much going on. Don't invite a host of authors to muddle the message. Don't keep it anonymous and thus denying the audience of a connection. Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Keep it interesting.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

MSNBC and MySpace connect to build vacant election coverage

MSNBC has teamed up with MySpace to offer comprehensive election coverage that is meant to be interactive. It's a mess - Decision 2008. How foolish do you think we are that the myspace pages of the presidential candidates are anything other than the Web version of a political stump speech maintained by a college intern? It's disingenious and the exact kind of use of Web 2.0 that brings a corporate-spin to social networking.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Continuing the Social Networking argument

As more and more organizations attempt to enter the "social networking" market via developing their own at-home apps or jumping onto one of the already-established channels, we're learning that it's a difficult genre to market. One of the reasons that makes it so difficult to manage is that you're asking your audience to dedicate a large amount of time to the effort. This post from ReadWriteWeb chronicles just how much time people spend social networking and how much of an obstacle it is to the "normal person."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ratemyprofessors.com gets it

Most students are familiar with ratemyprofessors.com as it is a resource for deciding which section of a class you should take based on student reviews of professors. If you can get past the gimmicky and somewhat unprofessional chili peppers and angry student reviews, there is real value there. The site has made an intelligent manuever by creating a facebook app for its rankings. This is a good example of working with the existing Web 2.0 framework to advance your value proposition.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Social Networking pitfall

It didn't take long for marketers to jump on the social networking phenomenon. MySpace, in particular, was inundated with glib marketing pages once it emerged from the depths of obscurity. This includes Fox's page for Chris Daughtry, Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Aquafina. These marketers were following an age-old principle of marketing - put your face in front of where the people are. But this type of marketing technique doesn't translate to social networking sites. Why? Because like much of the emerging Web 2.0 technologies, it requires honesty and interaction. Fox can't put up a page for an American Idol contestant because that's disingenious and insulting to the social networking community. No, the American Idol contestant has to put the page up themselves, and be willing to interact with fans.

Furthermore, any company that attempts to put up a brand, such as the Aquafina example, on a social networking site is completely missing the point. In order for this type of marketing to be effective, it has to be personal. Pepperidge Farms has recently attempted to connect on a personal level with its www.artofthecookie.com website that chronicles the travels of Sally Horchow. The idea is that Ms. Horchow is connecting with people in person and online, giving advice (she's a "lifestyle expert") and cookie recipes. Sure, the personal touch is nice, but who is Sally Horchow? Why would we add another site to visit for a cookie recipe?

Social networking marketing works best in two ways. If a brand can identify a willing spokesperson, or create one via a media blitz, and have that person interact on behalf of the brand without pushing the product, then they have the structure for a successful, interactive and potentially fruitful social marketing campaign. A second strategy is to create an associative app or website that social networking visitors can download and use. This can be as simple as a branded countdown to the Super Bowl or an addictive online game. Social networking is about interaction and for many, it's becoming a staple of everyday life. It's essential that marketers understand that it's best to mesh with the everyday habits and work within the exisiting framework than to build your own or just slap your brand in front of an existing audience. The failed and overtly aggressive efforts of marketers has helped lead a significant audience away from MySpace to other social networks. And social networkers will continue to move away from technologies that marketers sully with spam.

Friday, April 11, 2008

We know you can, but should you...

Ah, there's nothing like the virgin post of a new blog. No matter the subject and no matter the author, it's destined to be something that you look back on in time and chuckle to yourself at the naivety.

It doesn't take much effort to follow the flames of the latest hot Internet marketing topic. Whether it's something discussed at the countless Web 2.0 conferences popping up around the country or something you read on ReadWriteWeb, it lights that bulb above your head. The problem is that the Internet, and more specifically the Web, is growing at such an alarming rate that it is impossible for any Internet marketing department to implement every strategy. If you attempt to blog, and build videos for You Tube, and maintain a My Space presence, and create a group on Facebook, and Tweet about how useful your product is, and track your SEO campaigns, and do whatever else you read about, you'll soon find yourself more spread out than Bush's army. And you won't be any good at any of it. No, you need to select your targets and implement them fully. Web users are savvy, and detect a half-baked fraud when it's there. Internet marketing can be tremendously effective (and cheap!) but it can't be without time dedication and expertise.

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