Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Can you believe there are hundreds of people arguing (including Seth Godin) about whether or not Pepsi should have redesigned their can? Even worse, people are lambasting the company for reaching out to influential bloggers … GASP!

If you aren’t familiar with the idea, they sent influential bloggers all of their cans dating back to the stone age. How they actually delivered the cans is brilliant. Read Peter Shankman’s post on it … (Yes, they did ask for addresses. Otherwise, that would be creepy.)

So why, when you go to Chris Brogan’s post, is there outrage in the comments over how much this endeavor must have cost?

Are you serious? This endeavor, in total, probably cost less than one ad buy on television talking about the new logo. Moreover, they didn’t even have to talk about it … this strategy enabled us, or You, to talk about it. This is the way brands should communicate. The problem is, when you do talk about it … you completely miss the point.

Darryl Parker compiled a list of people who received the ‘gift basket.’

One of things that I think PR people and agencies should really think about moving forward wit h a program like this is: What kind of pickup did it get?

Sure, this got posted in many of the most influential blogs online. But it seems mostly only in the PR, Marketing and Communications field. This is the one issue I have with outreach programs like this, the Nikon D80 Campaign, Virtual Thirst, and, less so, the Acer Ferrari program. All of these programs got a lot of views and had a lot of conversation around it online. However, with the exception of the latter, they were in sites surrounding the PR, Ad, and Marketing communities. The programs that do the best, or will do best in the future, are the ones that reach out to the community at large … the ‘regular folks’ that aren’t in the biz.

Regardless, I love the new design and am very proud of Bonin and his team over at Pepsi for what is a new approach to blogger outreach … one that ethically guaranteed pickup, unlike so many of the precedents.

If you like, go to FriendFeed and participate in the conversation at the Pepsi Cooler.

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To Stumble Or To Digg … Is It Even A Question?

One of the things that puts me in a tricky position as a consultant for PR Newswire is counseling (is that ironic or what?). As an Editor (I was an Editor and Senior Editor from 2002 – 2005), we were not able to counsel clients on what was or was not material to a news announcement. This had to be determined by the client and their legal team. More recently, as the Manager of Emerging Media and a Senior Account Supervisor, I am responsible for counseling clients on rules in Social Media. I’m not exactly sure yet, but this may be a lot trickier.

Much of my presentations focus on social media, social bookmarking and social networking (YES, there is a VERY big distinction between the three (or four)). I contend that the former consists of sites like Wikipedia, Citizendium, Digg, SocialMedian, Newsvine, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Marketwatch and even Reuters Buzz and TD Ameritrade. Social Bookmarking consists of sites like Delicious, Magnolia and Furl. Social Networking consists of sites like Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Bebo and newcomers like Corkd, Ning, and SocialGo. Maybe even there’s room for a distinction between social media sites and social aggregators like FriendFeed, SocialThing, and others.

There is a very big difference between these four. Social Media relies on the wisdom of crowds and policing of its constituents. The users and community determine the story, definition, accuracy, popularity and trend of the data and/or information. Social Bookmarking sites allows users to store, organize, search, and manage information with other users. Social Networking consists of sites that allow its users to congregate, conversate and organize friends, events and information. Social Aggregators, which is still somewhat of a new term, allow users to stream their online lives and peer into the lives of others.

As far as PR, Marketing and Advertising is concerned, using many of these sites is off-limits. I don’t necessarily mean abusing . Digg, StumbleUpon, Reuters Buzz, Yahoo Message Boards, Wikipedia, and many other of these kinds of sites should NOT be used to promote your product, company or blog post. As I say in all of my presentations, doing this is the same thing as patting yourself on the back on video. I don’t even think that proactively requesting Diggs is appropriate. Most of these functions are supposed to be reactions by the community at large. The results are supposed to be organic… not contrived. While everyone agrees that the A-List consists of, and requires, shameless self-promotion, it should be done with the utmost integrity.

For the corporate bloggers and shareholders out there … be aware that you are not an A-List blogger. They can get away with this … you can’t. The problem is their immunity, not their community.

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While everyone is talking about the lines, activation issues, lack of new features, GPS, the genius of certain applications, the impact of certain applications (rightfully so), etc., a much bigger story is taking shape. Millions of people have purchased the new iPhone 3G. In fact, over the weekend alone 1 million were sold. This would leave me to believe (especially considering that our local AT&T shop is out for 7 – 21 days) that many millions more have been sold. While there is no doubt they (Nasdaq: AAPL) will exceed sales expectations and engender millions of new loyal Mac users, they are also doing a huge favor for their partners… both advertising and application. Apple has just created one of the largest advertisement delivery networks ever.

Each user of the new device, as well as the old device, will be consuming content in the most modern way … via RSS feeds and efficient open-sourced applications. I am not quite sure why it has not gotten much coverage yet, but Apple is monetizing their phone better than many websites are. This should be viewed as a very big sea change in advertising (are you watching, Google?). Monetizing Web sites is a somewhat recent invention … not only is Apple selling applications to their users, but they are selling advertising space to their partners … that is, if they are getting this revenue!?!

Having downloaded the 2.0 firmware July 10th, I’ve accessed the NYTimes application several times and only seen this Westin ad. I’m sure I’m not alone … How many people have seen this add? One million? How many iPhone 1.0 and 2.0 users are there? How many times has this application been downloaded? Luckily, I’m sure Apple will be able to tell, in this case, Westin, exactly how many people have seen their advertisement.

To many this doesn’t sound very major. It is. The one thing that advertising and marketing firms have been terrible at, as long as they’ve existed, is precision. PR has always had the expectation of precision: exactly how many papers covered the story; exactly how many people viewed the press release; exactly.

I doubt Apple is going to be providing “Opportunities to View” as the measure to their clients. They will tell Westin exactly how many people saw their ad … they could probably tell them, to a certain degree, who. Regarding precise demographics, which I’m sure AT&T and Apple have, they may be able to tell everything … one via contracts and social security numbers, the other via iTunes and other web habits.

We will see if Apple will squander this opportunity by failing the measurement test or by failing our privacy expectations … I doubt it.

What advertisements have you seen? Which applications are being advertised on/in?

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Thomas Hawk wrote a great piece on the future of stock photography and how FlickR, Getty Images, Yahoo and iStockphoto will fare.

He raised an incredibly interesting point today on FriendFeed about the low price photographers are being paid via iStockphoto.

This brings up, in my mind, a much larger issue. Moving forward, will the price and cost of content be inverse to the price of eyeballs?

In this age of time-shifting, place-shifting, RSS, microblogs and their aggregators, marketers are having a very difficult time reaching consumers directly. They have been placing dollar amounts for years on Television commercials, billboards, radio ads, print ads, even press releases. With the audiences of MSM dwindling (in TV’s case, the number of people that have to watch commercials is decreasing), the value of audiences in these other places should increase dramatically. This is one of the reasons why we will see a tremendous increase in the cost and value of banner ads … yes, banner ads again.

In the same vein, since everyone is a potential content producer, how much is it worth anymore? With web shows like RocketBoom, Wall-Strip and The Burbs (not counting all of the YouTube/Revver/MetaCafe ‘Celebrities’), anyone can be a content creator. All you need is a cell phone, camcorder, or webcam. Since some of this content is more interesting and compelling, why pay for cable anymore (especially when Fox kills shows like Arrested Development in favor of Prison Break and assorted karaoke shows).

I think this is the beginning of the opposite of an attention crash. What would we call this?

With aggregators like iGoogle, Netvibes and, yes, FriendFeed, I’m able to keep track of and pay attention to far more information than ever. While some of what I retain is nominal (I remember a ton of headlines), I don’t read a lot of content in its entirety. I am retaining all of this information where I used to store things like … oh, phone numbers! While I have four personal phone numbers myself (I don’t even know my home phone number), I don’t know how many others I recall. I remember my phone numbers from the houses I grew up in. Even some of my best friends numbers from those days … but certainly new numbers don’t get stored in my brain… just headlines, failed social networks, and poor showings by the New York Rangers.

Back to topic: How much is content going to be worth? When are ad values going to increase dramatically? Your thoughts?

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Many of the presentations I have given over the last three years have revolved around educating clients on RSS and why it’s important; why it made blogs as influential as they currently are; how it has crippled the newspaper and how the Eyeball Economy has destroyed the classified model; why blogs are important and where to view and track them; what SEO is and why you should understand it; why you should have a FaceBook profile (though I still sourly refuse). Whether the audience is awake or not at that point, I proffer the Trojan Horse: The Multimedia News Release (a.k.a. Social Media Release; New Media Release; StoryCrafter; Social Media Press Release).

This wonderful distraction is forcing our clients and the industry as a whole to consider the kinds of multimedia they can include with their announcements. This should be a proclamation, not a question: “Multimedia Can Enhance This Announcement!” This should have been a statement being made for years, not weeks and months. If Multimedia can’t enhance your announcement, should it be an announcement at all? Even dividend announcements can be enhanced with Multimedia (though maybe not emailed to bloggers, right Chris?).

For years, but prior to Mr. Foremski’s compelling coup de grâce of the press release (was this really a coup de grâce or a cold shower?), we were all content arguing about the quality of the writing in press releases. This was the original sin. Why are we deconstructing a release that’s DOA (according to many) anyway? Why separate quotes from facts?

The content that is included in the information a company is disseminating is vital to so many different people. The content can range from stock repurchasing to inventing the most authentic Social Media Press Release in the industry. Wouldn’t improving writing ability solve the submerged quandary? Some journalists like a narrative. They want to be told a story. They already knew where to copy and paste (and isn’t that what an SMPR compels them to do anyway?). Let’s give these journalists a little more credit (and assistance) than our interns.

As an Editor and as a Consultant, I have been told numerous times that a press release without media outreach can result in little pickup. The exception to this rule is with market-moving information, breaking news and compelling information on new products, new features. There is a ton of news that will get picked up in trades as well, regardless of bells and whistles: personnel announcements, licensing agreements, etc. Emerging companies and start-ups have a much harder time garnering pickup … and sometimes for them, a TechCrunch post is all they want. However, not every client is focused on blogs first. In fact, the large majority are focused on mainstream media and major online publications first (though it could be argued that TechCrunch, GigaOm, Engadget, Gizmodo, etc. aren’t looked at as ‘blogs’ anymore.).

Our consultations have to address the following quandaries from our clients:

  • How do I start a blog?
  • Which blogs do I respond to?
  • Should our CEO blog?
  • If so, will it will be worth their time? How much time?
  • What’s the value of a Social Media Release?
  • How do I prove it’s worth it before we do one?
  • What’s the value of a blog post?
  • What’s the value of a friend?
  • What’s the value of a friend’s friend?
  • How much is a web hit worth?
  • How do I leverage Twitter?
  • How do I leverage FriendFeed?

These questions all lead to one place: your team. The team is your PR team. We need to have individuals, loyal and savvy BlEdgers, that believe in what the organization is doing … beyond that, they need to have a stake and a say in what you are doing. This team is the one speaking to your analysts, your investors, your beat reporters, your clients, your prospects, your competitors.

Oh, and another thing. Forget you ever heard the phrase “Social Media Distribution.”

“What is Social Media Distribution?” I’ve heard so many clients ask this question.

The Truth is there is no such thing as “Social Media Distribution.” There is just no such thing. “Social Media Distribution” happens by itself. This is why true geeks have issues with the definitions of Social Media, let alone Social Media Distribution. SMD, if there were such a thing, is an organic result of compelling content … nothing more. As a few of us have said for years, your content must be compelling. If it is, there will be conversations. We will enable both … nothing more.

Let us all get back to the basics of being consultants to our clients … creative stakeholders that believe in what they’re doing because they do … and we believe them.

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A lot of Tweeters and bloggers have been pointing people towards alternatives like FriendFeed and Identi.ca. I am a user of both sites but I think there are significant differences between all three, and certainly the difference between identi.ca and FriendFeed as a replacement to Twitter.

Twitter does a decent job of keeping track of conversations and allowing groups of people to connect. identi.ca does a good job of allowing users to communicate with each other, but connecting and doing other sorts of control-settings are absent. The things both lack is the inclusion of the rest of your online life… kind of a big deal.

FriendFeed solves this problem and allows rich multimedia to improve the interface and experience. It does not include a terrific tool that lets you block parts of users lives you wish not to keep track of. It also doesn’t allow you to block friends of friends that act, and name themselves, like Trolls. It has done a great job of making a social network a microblog and lifestream at the same time.

I have a good sense that the creators of FriendFeed will be more reactive than those of Friendster and Twitter. If they act instantly, listen and see the needs before a quick competitor does, they may well lead Twitter by the end of the year.

I want to pay close attention to all of these statistics over the next few months. I expect that this month will bring in a great migration and unless Twitter responds with major upgrades, they’re toast.

If you haven’t taken a look at FriendFeed … do it. Take a look, get active, listen, and see how it can help our brands, our organizations and our continuing education.

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The true dichotomy is the gap between wire services capabilities and copy acceptability.

We spoke a while back about “downstream blues” … the fact is the large majority of websites still display wire feeds in ASCII text or something very close to it. And, as all you fervent email pitchers know, many of the mainstream media publications can’t accept attachments or stream video, let alone render html on their workstations.

Not trying to coin a term or anything, but we got to get the term ‘social media’ out of everyones head as if the whole world’s media revolves around whether a blogger reads a press release. It is, and will be for a very long time, the opposite. The OmniMedia Distribution would cover all the bases and not piss ‘purists’ like Jeremy Pepper off.

When a company has something to announce, they don’t have the time, effort, budget or know-how to kill all the birds with one stone. They need to reach as many influencers as possible with the same content. This is where a splash page/mnr/smpr, blog post/microblog activity, purpose-built delicious page, clever mediaroom, visible wire, and good story come in.

Each big announcement needs to pull these realms together to ensure your outlets are covered. You could have everything set … but if it doesn’t get run re-run on the AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, NYT, etc., is your client going to be happy? Are they quantity focused or quality focused? Paper or screen?

In the techworld, TechCrunch, GizModo, Engadget, and Slashdot aren’t blogs any more. They are web publications with incredible influence and authority. This is progress. Strategy for each announcement has to be well-thought out … five moves ahead. Who gets the exclusive? Anyone? What tier blog should we not consider responding to? How do I define my tiers for this particular client?

  1. Press release blasted over the wire in a narrative form via a credible wire.
  2. Social Media Press Release with video, photo, documents, files, tags, links, comments, etc available at a splash page which is prominently featured in the blast press release (the higher the traffic to the site the better).
  3. Blog post from the company (preferably written by the product or group manager, if not the C-Suite) discussing the project, product, service, etc. in an informal way.
  4. Microblog campaign on Twitter/Friendfeed/etc. to discuss pitches, coverage, issues
  5. SMPR linked to the company’s mediaroom (as a pop-out, to preserve traffic).
  6. Del.icio.us page with all the company’s background info, white papers, positive coverage, press release, SMPR, etc.
  7. Interviews with key product managers/C-Suite/Celebrities on the launch and the product on every video site with the same headline as the OMR

There are probably a lot more things that are out now that can be included and there will certainly be more things in the future that can be plugged in … did I miss something? Thoughts?

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