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December 2008

marketing in a down-market : Oprah should be blogging

Ogily recession Sure, at face value this market is depressing.  Friends are out of a job, people are stressed out, and even agencies are marketing themselves as recession ready.

There are two ways to view this market:

  1. Either you see opportunity to prove ROI, to demonstrate the value of solid creative or social execution, or -
  2. you can fret over the deminishing ROI of the low hanging fruits of media. 

This is your opportunity to display your performance oriented marketing, your understanding of a business beyond a spot, a dot or a message.  This should be the golden age of the consultant, the upstart or the trully progressive agency. 

You can do it.  Calm your nerves and get on with it.  Smile with a colleague and be that positive force. 

And never stop listening, learning, rethinking, educating, networking and sharing.  There is no short term bailout for your business.  So it's up to you to get it going.

So get going, utilizing proven channels to fuel strong ROI/results-oriented interactions. 

This will drive the growth of deeply integrated cross platform marketing.

For example, traditional social influencers will bring their act to the web.  And while I doubt that Oprah will jump on Twitter over the coming year, I don't doubt that a frank, honest and very personal blog would garner tremendous influence.  And that influence is something brands would love to buy into.  The relationships are already in place.  This simple progressive step will open up worlds of opportunity.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg.  Sigma Group pulled together a fantastic presentation on marketing in the downturn, included below.  Kudos to the wonderful Adam Broitman for sharing thia presentation and inspiring this post.

bloggers and IZEA - the long term relationship?

Kmart sears izea So IZEA is hot.  And Kmart and Sears are reaping the benefits of being early movers.

Ted Murphy and IZEA look like visionaries.  And to be frank, Ted deserves it.  He's successfully marketed what was, at first, a controversial product, winning not only big name clients, but inviting serious thought leaders to the table.

And while some will plead the purist (that social media does not invite sponsored endorsements), I personally believe that the social elite will ultimately maintain their right to advocate products or services they choose to endorse.  And one way or the other, the world will go on.

For more on this debate, check out Allen Stern's fantastic wrap-up of the controversy, Jeremiah Owyang's expert analysis and linkity love of perspectives.

However, what is the true value of IZEA to a brand, to a blogger?

  • To Brands: IZEA generates interactions/engagements. IZEA generates word of mouth/buzz.  IZEA is making people rethink brands, increasing consideration.
  • To Bloggers: IZEA is giving bloggers the gift of giving, sponsoring contests, driving traffic and increasing engagement.

What is IZEA not doing?

  • Building an ongoing constituency of brand advocates.
  • Building a set of relationships between brands and bloggers that can be accessed moving forward.
  • Generating long term social equity.

IZEA is a currently great solution for short term marketing.  They will drive successful social promotional engagement with your brand. And this is a great offering.  But it is up to you as a marketer to make it work for you in the long term, to translate these short interactions into meaningful stories, to turn impressions into lifelong relationships.

However, one can't help but wonder, what's next?  Consider:

  • Promotions have a limited lifespan: At a certain point, the market will tire of giveaway promotions and engagement will wane.  This will require increasingly creatively compelling contests that are far more costly to ideate, generate and execute.
  • Twitter is already over-saturated with noise, RTs add to the noise: While bloggers will most likely limit the frequency of their engagements in the interest of maintaining their on-topic engagement (ex - subscriber numbers), the twitter community will quickly grow tired of the RT (retweet) contest entrance method, as this quickly generates interruptive noise.  
Sure, the first 10 times I saw this contest on twitter I was intrigued.  But by the 20th time I had clicked through and learned about it, entered the contest and satisfied my curiosity.  By the 80th tweet this grew annoying.  While this is not a flaw in IZEA's model, I wouldn't be surprised if Twitterers who frequently RTed as a means of contest entry lost a few followers. 

There has to be a happy medium, and I'm sure Ted has a few more tricks up his sleeve.

Key Takeaway

If you're looking for a quick social win, IZEA looks to be heading in the right direction.  If you're looking for an ongoing, strategic relationship-oriented community or extra-community (external) of advocates, I would consider IZEA as a staging ground for something bigger, something greater.  The sky is the limit.  But it's up to YOU as a marketer to make it happen.

So Who is On Board?

On that note, kudos to Joe Jaffe, Jim Kurkal, Steve Spalding, Tamar Weinberg, Aaron Brazell, Liz Strauss, Chris Heuer, and IZEA's own Ted Murphy for making each of their posts, charities and packages stand out.  This was anything but your average blog ad.

photo adapted from original: credit here

the twitter secret: conditioning

Twitter conditioning Marcel LeBrun rocked my world.


  • On twitter, the counter tells us how many characters we have left for all remaining "public messages"
  • Most of us start off on twitter by sending public messages or @replies.  The counter conditions us that we cannot send messages longer than the traditionally short 140 character limits.
  • So you cannot send a longer message on twitter, right?
  • Which in theory, kind of defines the platform as short form communications, right?

Now let's think about this:

  • When sending direct messages (DMs) on twitter, there is a similar counter, counting down your remaining characters.
  • So based on our previous interactions, one would think that you cannot send direct messages longer than 140 charachters as DMs - after all, you can't send a message longer than the counter in the public message space, right?

The kicker:

  • your DMs on twitter can be as long as you like.
  • and after hundreds of DMs with dozens of thought leaders, noobs, industry professionals and personal persons, I've never received a DM longer than 140 charachters, until tonight.
  • Then Marcel DMed a 249 character message.

Why this matters:

  • Firstly, we've all been conditioned to obey a rule, much like the button on the TV show "Lost".
  • Secondly, Twitter is no longer a short message platform.  Twitter is a publically short form platform, but a far more viable communications platform for relationship building in private.
  • Longer communications will enable deeper conversations in private.
  • This changes the dynamic. No longer is Twitter a largely public platform with a small private component.  Twitter is truly a conversational hub.

#twittersecret - the twitter secret

No, I can't tell you what it is, I promised the person who discovered it that I wouldn't.

And no, this isn't a marketing ploy, there really is a secret about twitter that really is real.  There's no other way to say it.

And if you want to know it, I can share it with you via Direct Message on twitter, just send me a message at @jonburg.

Yeah it's real.  It's not crazy, but it's quite funny.  And I'll explain why on Sunday.  In the meantime, feel free to ask, or just sit back and enjoy.

I can tell you three things:

  1. People love to know things that others don't.
  2. This is not the reason why the secret it being shared via DM.
  3. I think this will make some of us have a very Homer Simpson-esque doh moment.

Have a great weekend.

the ROI of passion

Intense When you are communicatively passionate, you will drive passion in others.  Passion drives social success. 

This is why and how social objects take off, becoming "viral" (not that viral is a positive marketing trend).

This is why Loren Feldman and Gary Vee have followings.  Once you see their content, you do not forget them.

Passions are statements to the world.  If your brand isn't making a passionate statement, you are not remarkable.  If you are not remarkably passionate, you will not be shared.

Video is but one format of a remarkable social object. 

  • Sprint's Now widget site was remarkable.  It was shared. 
  • American Express' (a client) Member's Project exuded passion, showcasing passionate people and casues as a social object.  It was shared. 
  • And yes, YouTube videos often ignite passions - laughter, fear, responsibility, awe... and they are shared.

This perspective, that passion ignites a movement, is equally true for major brands, individual people and offline interactivity.  This is true in life.  This is true in your office. And this is true for your career.

So ask yourself, are you passionate?  Are you igniting passion in your colleagues?  In your clients? 

If you aren't rationally and sincerely passionate, how can you expect others to share, to advocate to socialize, to invest their time and effort in YOU or YOUR EFFORTS?

photo credit here

Tyson Foods: Getting by Giving

TysonHungerRelief So the folks over at SHIFT Communications and Tyson are on to something here...

The gist of the campaign is this: leave a comment on their blog, and Tyson will donate food to the Greater Boston Food Bank... and this was launched in partnership with Boston's Social Media Breakfast.

Remarkable campaign.  Launched at a social influencer event, with a strong local geo component and an incredibly simple and interactive call-to-action.

Smart, simple and effective.

Now where will they go from here? They are generating hundreds of interactions and dozens of conversations on twitter and across the web.  How will they translate this into a lower funnel play?  Will this go any deeper than upper funnel branding?

Tyson buzz

Sure, this will generate good will, but how will they translate this goodwill into action?

How would you?

And with a small spike in buzz, is there ROI here?  Is this a trend brands will embrace in today's tough economic times?

What would you do? 
How would you sell this into a client?

John Lennon - the timeless social object

When I say John Lennon, what do you think?

Do you think of his music, his personality, his movement, his philosophy?

Do you think of his death, of his image, of his contribution?

It's been 28 years.  Yet the video below has over 17 million views, nearly 1500 blog embeds, and over 50 thousand comments.

Virality is phenomena not one that is limited by time.  To quote one of my college professors, beauty knows no hourglass.

ten rules for effective corporate blogging

Corporate So Forrester issued a report about corporate blogging, asking the question, do we trust them, do we care?

As a practitioner, I would like to believe that we do.  However...

My answer is... it depends.  We don't just take your corporate word for what it is, but we trust people we feel we know, right? So with that in mind, please find yet another top 10 list -

- 10 Rules -
Effective Corporate Blogging

  1. Set your goals, expectation, deliverables and measurement.  Do not focus on traditional metrics, give social metrics a try.  Rethink ROI.
  2. Your blog is not your press release.  Speak like a person.
  3. Your blog is your dinner table, not your podium.  You're the host, not the speaker.
  4. Blogging is not about a blog alone.  Get on twitter and facebook and talk to people.
  5. Blog with the community, not at them.  Link, comment, participate.
  6. A blog is not a newsletter on a website.  It can be, but it will be about as successful as your newsletter...  And we all know how much we love e-mail newsletters.
  7. Your brand logo is not a face. Unless you're marketing Sponge Bob, put a likable relevant face and name behind your efforts.
  8. Ignite your fan base. Get them involved.  If you don't have a fan base ignite your employees.  If your employees aren't interested, you've got bigger issues.
  9. Exude personality.  Be the person at the party that everyone wants to keep in touch with.
  10. Check your ego at the door.  This is an investment in people.  Not in you.  Own up to mistakes, answer questions and use your head.

Disclaimer: All of the above assumes that the goal of your blog is to drive social relevancy.  If your goal is to put your statement out there for Google to find, you can ignore most of the above.

Anything I'm missing?

photo credit here