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September 2008

G1 : building a platform vs providing a solution

Solution opportunity When you build a platform you invite innovation. 

When you provide a solution you support the product itself.

Consider: The one glaring hole in iPhone functionality life is turn-by-turn directions.  There is not (to date) any consensus as to why turn by turn directions have yet been offered, but one would assume that a third party developer would have built this solution for the iPhone platform had this been possible.

(Product) - (Capability) + (SDK) Solution

Yesterday we saw the buzz around the G1, the world's first Android powered phone.  While the phone is not as sleek or sexy as the iPhone, the functionality looks fantastic.  However, this phone has a glaring hole in it's offering - the lack of a digital media centrality.  This device has no preloaded video player.  Nearly every mid-to-high-end device with a large screen plays video. This is par for the course.  I expect my portable device to have video playback. 

As a direct result: the G1 is not the phone that has it all.  It's the phone that can have it all.

Key Takeaway

You can't outsource your core market offering to an open development platform.  I don't buy a car so that I will have something on which to place bumper stickers.  SDKs and open platforms open up opportunities for add-ons, but it is the core offering that will define the marketability of a product. 

social branding: gauging and defining relationships

Brand friendship A best friend is there for you no matter what you did or where you are.  You probably would do the same for them - though the relationship does not demand this level of reciprocity.  Best friends are there to help you because of your existing/historical relationship.  Best friend's try to help you in your time of need, even when you don't want or even recognize the need for their help.

I don't know that brands can ever be best friends. 

A good friend is there for you when you need them.  They care about you.  They would come out to Vegas to get you out of trouble, and be there to share in your moments of celebration.  They in turn, would probably expect you to do the same.

Most brands are not capable of playing that role (excluding insurance companies).

A casual friend is there to help you out when you need to paint a room or move your furniture.

Most brands can play that role.

An acquaintance may be someone you recognize but have little relationship with.

Many brand currently play that role.

A familiar face is someone you recognize at a party, but can't quite place.

This is where many brands currently play in social "media".  You may recall bumping into their facebook application or group via a friend's participation, but you can't quite recall what it was all about.

A stranger is completely unfamiliar. 

Few brands can afford to live in this space.

Relationship marketing/social branding isn't just a question of if or when, it's a matter of how and why.

photo credit here

living in the shadow of fear - live social reporting On 9/11 America learned what is means to be afraid.  I was in Israel at the time, studying in a college program abroad.  While we were safe on-campus, many of us witnessed more than one terrorist attack first-hand while in town for a drink or a slice of pizza.

The experience is both jarring and terrifying, shocking you to the core.  Perhaps the scariest feeling in the world is the waiting, the listening to sirens, to helicopters, to the world around your seeking to confront and control the chaos all around you. 

Until recently, these experiences lived in the memories of those who lived it, those who were there.

But the remarkable world of web 2.0 has opened up a new window into this shocking reality.

Hugesmile by idangazit My old friend Ahuvah Berger, a startup guru based in Jerusalem, has been tweeting updates as they happen, far before the press were even aware that anything has occurred. 

Reading these raw emotions, getting a play-by-play of these events, I cannot help but question the line between "reporting" and "transmoting".

Reporting transmits facts. 

Social media transmotes - both reporting and emoting. 

Reporting informs. 

Transmoting speaks.

Reporting gives facts and figures coupled with some light perspective. 

Transmoting is real, human and deeply communicative.

2700599_cf47c15158_o Transmoting is different.  I am glad that I have The NY Times for "factual reporting", but I generally prefer "social news" for perspective, opinion and human connection.  I rarely care about the reporter's perspective.  I care about the blogger on a deeply human level.

We care about people, we cherish human life.  These horrible events deserve more than a blurb in print or a talking head on tv.  They deserve transmotion.  They demand our attention, our thoughts, reflections and prayers.  They demand human attention, connectivity and passion.  Thank you Ahuvah, for sharing this experience.  Our hearts and prayers are with the victims of today's attack.

photo credit here and here

bidding farewell to a powerful brand

Yankee stadium

The NY Yankees are one of the sporting world's most iconic brands.

Yesterday, we bid farewell to their home, the legendary Yankee Stadium.

And while I am a dedicated Mets fan, I couldn't help but feel a twinge of nostalgia in saying goodbye to this monumental brand home, that is to many, a brand all it's own.

And with that, I would like to point to a few brilliant marketing tactics the Yankee's have employed over the years to transform their stadium into a monument.

  • The House That Ruth Built - While this title is compelling, Babe Ruth didn't play for the Yankees in their first decade, nor did he play for them in the 70s when they remodeled the stadium.  But the alignment of an iconic figure with a landmark brings authenticity and a sense of legend to the structure.

  • Yankee Stadium - George Steinbrenner is as much a nut as he is a fan.  While nearly every stadium is named for a corporate sponsor, Yankee fans have long had a home to call their very own.  And the new stadium will likewise, be a brand home rather than a branded home.

  • Monument Park - What better way is there to celebrate your own celebrity than by creating a monument to yourself?  While other stadiums retire numbers, the Yankees have actual monuments to their greats.  Brilliant

  • Not Making the Playoffs - there is no better way to say farewell, to orchestrate a day of media hype and overwhelming buzz, than by orchestrating a seemingly never ending farewell ceremony.  This could not have been possible had the Yankees' a glimmer of hope at a post-season presence.

  • Focusing On the Past - By all accounts, the Yankees should have a presence in this years' post season.  Their roster looks solid enough on paper, with enough big names and solid players to deliver at least a wild card position.  But yesterday, rather than focussing on the future of a new stadium (and an aging team), they highlighted their strengths - their past, the history, and the many moments fans relate to.

  • Embracing the Fans - Sure, they didn't make a Flickr reel of stadium memories, or a photosynth 3D rendering via Live - both of which would have been very cool from a fans perspective.  But rather than going digital, they went real and tangible.  They allowed fans to walk the field, to live the dream of standing on the grass in one of the most iconic sports stadiums of all time.  They gave fans SEVEN HOURS to bid their beloved stadium farewell.  They gave the fans what they wanted; a chance to live a dream, to walk the grass that countless legends called homefield, to cherish their own memories, to gather on long lines and share memories with one another, to say goodbye to the building that embodied many of their hopes and dreams, their passions and some of their happiest memories.

The Yankees may not be the most digital marketing savvy brand, but they know how to throw a hell of a goodbye party.

Some of us in the blogging world like to ask - would you miss brand X if they went out of business?

Yesterday, the baseball world gave a resoundingly unified answer.  Yes.

project smile feature: Visible Tech VP Mike Spataro


Project smileiThe world's largest focus group sits at your fingertips.

Millions of people are speaking openly and publicly online, while millions more are reading and consuming.

But how do you listen, how do you learn, how do you measure, derive meaning, interact and report? 

Project Smile is committed to bringing the answers to you.  We've already heard from TNS Cymfony and MotiveQuest, and we will be hearing from others in the days and weeks ahead.  With that in mind, I would like to introduce Visible Technologies.

Profile - Visible Technologies

Spataro Who is Visible Tech?  What makes them special, unique, and where do they fit in this incredibly diverse landscape? 

Mike Spataro, VP of Strategic Relationships is on the hot seat.

Please feel free to submit your questions and comments via the comments section below.

Elevator Pitch


We help companies build stronger relationships with existing customers and acquire new customers. We accomplish this with TruCast, the only social media business intelligence solution in the industry that brings together the ability for brands to monitor and measure consumer perceptions online and participate or take action in one integrated application. 


Jon: What led you to launch your company?  Give us a brief history of who you are.

Mike: We started in 2003 as a search engine marketing company, offering SEO, pay-per-click, and our still very popular TruView, search online reputation management service. That experience led us to the development of our social media platform TruCast, which is an outgrowth of the success we had in helping brands manage, protect and grow their businesses.

Doing That Thing They Do

Jon: How would you describe your core capability?

Mike: Our core competency is in delivering actionable business intelligence to our clients that impact their bottom line. We do this through comprehensive data collection and analysis and how those insights support different functional areas of a company. Our core competences go beyond just providing innovative technology and tools. We combine great people, technology and client support and service to help brands wherever they need it in this new field.

Taking The Road Less Traveled

Jon: What key differentiators does your company offer?

Mike: Our competitors specialize in just one or two areas while we have a complete suite of TruCast products and services that help companies with all of their different needs. We understand that brands are approaching this area from many different points of view, so we have developed different products and services to help the business. That can take more forms, ranging from active listening, to best practices to participate, to comprehensive issue analysis, to emergency monitoring. Our enterprise TruCast platform, for instance, allows multi-disciplinary groups across a global company to analyze and interact with the data and insights in different ways that fit within their individual groups. 

Success Stories

Visible_Logo_180x49 Jon: What would you say has been your most successful engagement to date?  What made it successful?

Mike: With a 95 percent client retention rate I’d like to think most of our engagements have been successful, but we are certainly proud of the work we are doing with Microsoft, GM, Hormel, Campbell’s, AT&T, and Panasonic to name just a few. What’s particularly gratifying is not just the valuable business intelligence we provide our clients every day but seeing more of our clients move from listening to activation and the changes in consumer perceptions experienced around a particular product or issue because they turned insights into action.

Looking Forward

Jon: What are the greatest challenges facing the social intelligence industry?

Mike: The greatest challenge is how to make this intelligence part of the DNA of a company. The data is here and its importance is growing every day. Vendors and brands have more work to do on the ROI model, especially as conversational marketing evolves from text to multi-media and crosses different applications and technologies. An important conversation can start on a blog, continue on Friendfeed and finish on YouTube. Brands need to deal with that information flow reality and how to measure it. 


Jon: How do you see social media/marketing evolving over the next 3 years?

Mike: Thankfully, the term ‘social media’ will disappear from our vocabulary. However, the underlying trends driving consumer collaboration on a global scale will continue to increase. The global aspects of social media are here now and present a new set of challenges for everyone. When you consider that only one-sixth of the world’s population is online yet, you get a sense of the magnitude and growing importance of this industry.

Choosing The Right Solution For You

Jon: What role should experience play in choosing a social media intelligence solutions provider?

Mike: While experience and technology are important, selecting a partner revolves around matching the needs of your organization to the right provider. There are many companies in this industry, but none who do what we do and how we do it. You have to identify exactly what your needs are and where you fall on the spectrum between passive listening and dynamic activation. It then becomes much easier to figure out which provider is right for you.

Additional Info



Company Presences Across Social Media:




Additional Info / Fun Stuff:


  • Unlocking Social Media’s ROI through Engagement & Participation link

  • Interacting with Social Media to Strengthen Communication Strategies link

Flickr :YouTube : : Pownce : Slideshare

Author Ecosystem

TruCast Author Ecosystem

Marketing Dashboard

Marketing Dashboard

Brand Cloud

Brand Cloud

if you socialize, will they share?

- If you build it, they may or may not come.

- If you market, they may or may not learn.

- If you give it away, will they share?

Johnny bunko Andy Sernovitz is running an interesting book promotion over at his blog.  Daniel Pink, the author of a new book is marketing his book by giving Andy 10 copies to give away. 

Seth Godin did something similar when he gave away 5 copies of his book The Dip to all those attending his promotional speaking tour.

Rohit Bhargava shared copies of his fantastic new book with select key voices in the social-media sphere.

This trend if both powerful and remarkable, but how does it speaking to marketing as a discipline?

  • Is this distributed equity the new social marketing dynamic? 
  • Is this a sustainable strategy? 
  • Is this a key strategic consideration in all future social media marketing planning? 
  • Does it work?

truly human branding

 We relate to people. 

We use brands.

We invest in desired relationships.

We ignore Facebook requests from "friends" we don't care about.

7UpTransforming brands into human entities may not be possible, but generating human relationships has always been well within our reach. 

For Example

If you're a retailer you already have a human face - that minimum wage cashier, that grumpy old sales associate walking the floor, that miserable angry woman at the "customer service" desk who is spending more time talking to her co-workers than servicing your customers.  These probably aren't the faces you want your brand to have.

1998 - Walmart's Human Brand

Walmart "got" Human Branding a decade ago.  The smiley face logo said it all.  Their sales people were happy.  They had a "greeter" at the front door.  They made big box shopping into a compelling experience.  Their stores were so much fun, that people used to go there as a social event.  I cannot tell you how many teenage summer Saturday nights were spent "hanging out at Walmart" when there was nothing else to do (and we really were in the middle of nowhere with NOTHING else to do).  It got to the point where we knew the sales people and they knew us.  To us, Walmart was a human brand with a human face. 

Digital Social Media is no different. 

Many struggle when it comes to "getting" social media because it has the wrong title.  Social media is far more than media as we know it - aka -  paid media.  Social "media" is an age old dynamic.  The human species is by nature socially driven.  The social dynamic has long been one of the strongest driving forces behind the evolution or mankind.  Harnessing and utilizing the power and momentum of the social  dynamic is the dream of every marketer. 

The power of marketing in the social dynamic is easily accessible, if we can only get over the stodgy corporate culture that we have created over the past 150 years.

Kids playing games We need to teach marketers that social success requires going back to Kindergarten.  With some help from my twitter friends, we pulled together some great tips for social marketing that we all learned as children.  Please find our suggestions below:

Social Media Marketing Lessons In Kindergarten

  • sharing earns you brownie points--even when you really want to sit in the corner and say MINE!
  • sharing is caring
  • no biting
  • don't pull hair
  • if you are the cool kid, everyone will want to be your friend
  • nobody likes a liar
  • no stealing
  • imagination is more important than knowledge (my personal favorite)
  • no yelling
  • Bring the teacher an apple every so often (that is, give -- like information, access, etc.). Not nec a lesson, but good to do.

Special thanks to Paull Young, the girl Riot, Shannon Paul, Ezra Butler, and Mike Driehorst for participating!

For some great discussion on human branding in a social communal context, check out PR Squared's great discussion here.

photo credit here and here

twitter for business - I Know A Guy Marketing

Helping hands Social Equity is powerful. 

Pass-Along Social Equity is the holy grail.

Defining the Landscape

Marketer Social Equity - the transferal of an object or status that gives the user social value

Example - early iPhone adopters used their iPhones in social settings as personal statements (blogs, social media, real life public usage, name dropping etc.)

Marketer Pass-Along Social Equity - the transferal of the ability to give away social equity.

Example - allowing early Joost adopters to not only feature their status as an early beta participant on their blogs, but allowing them to invite a few friends as well.

What does this have to do with Twitter?

Twitter allows deep brand relationships.  Twitter allows me to access brands on my own terms when and where I need them. 

But the true value of Twitter (at present) to marketers is about more than the conversation itself. 

The true value of Twitter to a marketer is in the enabling of Twitter users to "know a guy". 

When I had an issue with AT&T, their customer support representative stalled and apologized, but said it was "out of her hands".  But I knew guy.  After contacting their PR firm via Twitter, my issue was promptly resolved.  I now knew a guy.

"Knowing a guy" is something personal.  He or she is someone in my network.  He/she is someone that I feel I know.  He/she empowers my bravado, my ego.

When my father-in-law asked me for help with his Verizon DSL connection (following a deplorable customer support experience), I "knew" a guy.  I was his problem solver.  I was connected.  Verizon gave me sociable social equity, and THAT is powerful.

Breaking Down the Social Brand Value

  1. When a company writes a blog, they open a door.  But that doesn't mean that I know that it's there, or that I consider us to be "connected".
  2. When a company comments on my blog, I know that they care. But unless we speak regularly, I don't know that I would view them as a go to resource.
  3. Twitter allows us to speak regularly, to be friends, to "know" each other.  Twitter empowers me to "know a guy". 

This is not to say that Twitter is the future of customer service.  But it begs the question - why isn't customer service generally available via AIM? or SMS? What is it about Twitter that makes it work?

I believe that Twitter works because it is a truly flexible connected community

Because Twitter is more than chat, different than email and certainly not a forum. 

Because Twitter is Twitter.

photo credit here

For more on business uses of twitter check out The NY Times' recent writeup, Chris Brogan's wonerful roundup of brand uses of twitter, J Owyang's tips for twitter here and here, Barry Hurds roundup of business for twitter posts or CIO's 4 Business Uses for Twitter.  On don't forget Business Week's recent writeup either.