Social Media Marketing (SMM) – the latest Buzz

SMM is not just Strategic Marketing Montreal.

When Strategic Marketing Montreal (SMM) came on the scene in 2002, there was very little confusing competition for that acronym, SMM. There was indeed the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM), the international SMM Fair covering shipbuilding, machinery & marine technology, the Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM), the Solar Maximum Mission (SMM), the American Shrine to Music Museum (SMM) and a few others. All that was bearable. However over the last year SMM has taken on another meaning that is fittingly spreading like wildfire. It’s SMM for Social Media Marketing.

Wikipedia has a good definition of Social Media.

Social media describes the online technologies and practices that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other. A few prominent examples of social media applications are Wikipedia (reference), MySpace (social networking), YouTube (video sharing), Second Life (virtual reality), Digg (news sharing), Flickr (photo sharing) and Miniclip (game sharing). These sites typically use technologies such as blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, and vlogs to allow users to interact.

Robert Scoble the pre-eminent blogger also has a useful description of social media. You can get an idea of the importance of this SMM when you remember that Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in October 2006.

Cre8asite adds a Social Media Forum.

The latest news today is that Cre8asite Forums is opening a new Forum on Social Media and Tagging. It will be moderated by two new moderators, Liana Evans and Chris Winfield. Both are well known in the SMM world and given the incredible buzz around this whole area, we should all be in for an exciting journey of discovery.

For Strategic Marketing Montreal or SMM, this increased name competition could be seen as a downer. However if folk come to us assuming that SMM stands for Social Media Marketing, then I’m sure it will be mutually beneficial.

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Does Edelman Really Understand The Blogosphere?

Mitch Joel is concerned that Edelman’s Guide To The Global Blogosphere (PDF 40 pages) seems questionable since it completely omits any mention of Canada. I can relate to that. However I think there may be a more fundamental gap in Edelman’s understanding. No, I’m not referring to the unfortunate Edelman adventure with Flogs for their client, Wal-Mart. What is of more concern is the underlying assumption of their Corporate Guide to the Global Blogosphere. You can get a hint of this in the subtitle: the new model of peer-to-peer communications.

You could get the impression that the Blogosphere is now the only cyber-space that’s involved in peer-to-peer communication. The Blogosphere is certainly very powerful, particularly given the search engine visibility of blog posts and the instant visibility of new blog posts through news feeds. .. and yes it does encourage horizontal communications. However let’s not forget the traditional Web and regular business websites. Somehow the two have got to interconnect and interrelate. Whether you call it slogging or some other name, you won’t get the right answer unless you consider both.

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For Wal-Mart, PR = Public Revelations

Wal-Mart & Edelman learn PR must be candid.

PR is often used as a shorthand for Public Relations. Public Relations attempts to manage how an individual or company will appear in the media. If the company has good news then the PR people work to get the media to showcase it. Conversely if the company has some difficult stories to handle, then the PR people try to ensure that as little damage as possible is done to the corporate image. With the traditional media, that was a reasonable objective for the PR group. However now the Internet has changed the rules of the game. Much more transparency is required in company activities since the Internet radar screens are much more active and effective.

This was clearly illustrated by the furore that developed around a PR activity that Edelman and Wal-Mart did. Wal-Mart’s PR counsellors at Edelman created a blog ostensibly authored by a couple traveling across America in their RV and spending nights parked in Wal-Mart parking lots. Edelman wanted to make consumers think that Wal-Mart is a great place to use as the anchor point for a road trip. When it became clear that this was a fake blog, as it quickly did, everyone jumped on Edelman. Blogging heavyweights, such as Shel Holtz, Scott Karp and Robert Scoble, pointed out the manifest deception of such an approach. This was particularly heinous from a company like Edelman that has made much of the benefits of social media efforts. It took a few days for Richard Edelman to fess up and acknowledge what he called an error in failing to be transparent.

Given that the Internet exists, there is need for absolute transparency and sincerity. Not least because the chances of being caught out are very high. Edelman pointed out his support for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association Code of Ethics.

The Word of Mouth Marketing Code of Ethics.
(The “WOMMA Code”)
Summary
1. Consumer protection and respect are paramount
2. The Honesty ROI: Honesty of Relationship, Opinion, and Identity
3. We respect the rules of the venue
4. We manage relationships with minors responsibly
5. We promote honest downstream communications
6. We protect privacy and permission

Code of Ethics sounds like something worthwhile that you should strive to honour. That really sets the bar too low. To ensure the best corporate image, you’ve really got to regard that Code of Ethics as an absolute minimum of good corporate behaviour. In that way, you can be reasonably sure that your PR (Public Revelations) will not do damage to your corporate image.

Related: Is The Wal-Mart Blog Coming Soon?
Follow-up: Wal-mart Adopts An Internet Mindset

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Word of Blog Marketing

Word of Mouth Marketing or Buzz Marketing or Viral Marketing: you’ll hear them all. Well perhaps it’s time to use a more precise term for what most often is going on. If you can have Search Engine Marketing then you can certainly have Blog Marketing. There’s a recent story that shows the power of this approach. The headline: ‘Blogger relations experts join PR, ad teams’.

It describes how Nokia Corp. released its camera smart phone last fall. The marketing campaign cut back on news releases and flashy ads. Instead, the company sent sample products to 50 tech-savvy amateur bloggers with a passion for mobile phones. Word spread online about the N-series phone, driving up sales and contributing to a 43 percent profit boost for Nokia last quarter.

“So many blogs picked it up that it blew out our server twice,” said Andy Abramson of Comunicano Inc., who developed the blogging program for Nokia. “We were getting thousands of hits per second.”

Marketing firms are suggesting communicating with bloggers rather than simply pitching a product and giving away free samples. By following the blogs carefully and joining in the dialogue when it’s appropriate, a great quantity of text content and links can be generated about the new products. That’s the way to substantially increase a company’s keyword search ranking. Guerilla Marketing move over, here come’s Blog Marketing.

Tags: Blog Marketing

The Long Tail In Open Space

The Long Tail, Open Space: those who understand the concepts might wonder if there can possibly be a connection between the two. For them and for others let’s explain the linkage.

The Long Tail is the easier concept to understand. It’s a term developed by Chris Anderson and his book explaining it all will be on sale within 10 days. His theme is that many markets are not mass markets with everyone having somewhat similar needs and wants. Instead a good part of a given market may be made up of people with very dissimilar tastes. What seems like a single market may be made up of a multitude of micro niches with very different people seeking very different things. The beauty of the Internet is that a person in such a micro niche can still possibly find a supplier given the way search engines such as Google work. Very different searches can still wind up at the same place, where the supplier is. So the Internet can be seen as a space where connections can be made.

Open Space would seem to be very different. It was an approach invented by Harrison Owen in 1985. A large group of people meet at a physical location and with the minimum of structure try to explore complex issues and see what develops. Others are now providing help for this process. For example OpenSpaceWorld.org offers the following:

Open Space Technology is a simple way to run productive meetings, for five to 2000+ people, and is a powerful way to lead any kind of organization, in everyday practice and ongoing change.

You can even meet up with other practitioners in particular fields and use the Open Space approach. For example Identity Open Space will take place on July 20/21 in Vancouver to explore the notion of Internet Identity. If you all prefer not to travel to the same physical location, then Change Facilitator Gabriela Ender and her team from Germany has developed an Internet real-time methodology OpenSpace-OnlineĀ®, which they say promotes autonomous, responsible, respectful, and results-oriented collaboration, while overcoming the limitations of time and space, and at the same time saving on travel costs. That seems to be the way the concept is going with software to provide technological support. One powerful technique here is the use of a Wiki, which can allow a group to develop and refine a body of knowledge.

That would seem to be moving away from the simplicity of the original Open Space approach. It was really very low-tech and relied on the natural tendency of people to get together with others with similar interests and see what emerges. In an Open Space process, a subgroup may wander together that wants to handle a particular aspect of the problem and away the discussion goes. Others see the subgroup and wander over to see what it’s all about. Perhaps it’s not for them so they wander on to another subgroup until they find something that strikes their fancy.

A new kind of very simple support for that ‘getting together’ process is now available. It allows different people in the long tail to come together and see where it goes. For example microbreweries or craft beers are often quoted as very typical examples of long tail products. Zimbio is a network of public portals that have been created by whoever wishes to do so. So one has sprung up on craft beer for example. A similar framework for creating and sharing platforms for social groups is grou.ps. These platforms are very appropriate in applying the original Open Space concept. If you’re dealing with long tail products, you may well want to consider how these new-style Open Space online groups may help in the diffusion of ideas process.

Tags: The Long Tail, Open space

Entertainment And Viral Marketing

If the Internet really is a Long Tail space, how do you get visitors to your website. The Long Tail view, you may remember, suggests that a given slice of the Internet is really made up of a very large number of micro-niches. Each micro-niche includes people who have similar interests but differ significantly from the people in the other micro-niches. The Internet is well-suited to cater to large numbers of micro-niches since creating variety is much easier than if you’re making pots and pans.

How then do you get folk in these micro-niches to be aware that you have the product just for them? Well, search engines such as Google and Yahoo! do a pretty good job of finding very specific items if you’re careful in how you phrase your searches. Google has even been described as one of the prime examples of a Long Tail company.

Unfortunately waiting for the Long Tail to find you may mean your company goes bankrupt in the interim. More proactive marketing is required. That’s where Word of Mouth Marketing comes in and it even has its own Association now. Other names that are used are buzz marketing or viral marketing. Spreading the word whichever way you can. If you have something really gossip-worthy then this can be easy. So try trading up from a paper clip to a house, or try selling a million small images on a web page and you’ll be appearing in all the media.

The rest of us have got to work a little harder. However it’s not a bad idea to try to work the other media. It’s a very powerful way of creating or reinforcing the buzz, of spreading the viral message. As the Internet becomes main stream, then the other media become parallel ways of creating the links. So for example, here in Montreal last week a film opened on Craigslist. Craigslist, a type of online community bulletin board / classified ads system is now appearing in a number of cities around the world.

Radio can be another medium where you can try to spread the word and magnify the buzz. Again in Montreal tomorrow, Radio Station 940 Montreal will be featuring a Round Table Discussion on the Internet. It’s hosted by the Women’s Entrepreneurial Networking System and Barry Welford of SMM will be one of the participants.

A third example is almost a counter-example since here the Internet will be the way the viral message is spread about a traditional pre-Internet product. It’s a magazine about (and here’s the surprise .. ) Search Engine Marketing. That’s right, Search Engine Marketing on the Internet. The magazine is called The Search Marketing Standard. It will be a quality magazine with glossy ads and will appear four times a year. It’s free to subscribers for the first year in the US and $20 per year for those outside the US, largely to cover shipping and handling costs.

It’s already attracting a good deal of interest, which is not surprising. In some ways it seems counter-intuitive to need to use a non-Internet vehicle to give advice on how to perform best on the Internet. However that’s entertainment and it’s just the way to get the buzz going, isn’t it. Pass it on.

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SEO Associations

SEO Associations – what does that bring to mind? Well that’s exactly what me and a group of the lads were discussing down at the pub last night. We’re the quiet group in the corner that tackles world problems. Someone got talking about Sir Bob Geldof, promoter of the Live 8 concerts to help eliminate world poverty, and his challenge to our Prime Minister, Paul Martin, to come with some real financial support when he attends the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland. We didn’t get too far with that and there was then a lull in the conversation.

Someone else piped up, “What about SEO?” A number of us are into websites and all that stuff and some even offer to do SEO (Search Engine Optimization). However it’s a word that’s come to have some very bad publicity. The conversation went on as follows.

“Could we do something to improve its reputation?”
“Perhaps that world poverty issue is easier.”
“No, seriously, I know people are talking SEM instead but that’s not having any easier time.”
(SEM is Search Engine Marketing for those not familiar with these terms.)
“Well most website owners have heard of SEO and I think we could try some PR to improve the reputation.”
… that produced one of those embarrassing silences again.

“What about some brainstorming?”
” well OK but we don’t have to wear those silly coloured hats, do we?”
“Let’s try to think about positive things related to SEO.”
… that produced one of those embarrassing silences again.

“OK what about just throwing out word associations and see whether that triggers any ideas.”
“SEO – Mamma Mia”
“SEW – a needle pulling thread”
“.. I think that one’s been done”
“SEO and SEX”
“We might pull in the wrong crowd.”
… that produced one of those embarrassing silences again.

“What about SEO and SEA? The Sea is associated with the open air, freshness. How could that possibly go wrong?:
A few thought there might be something in that idea. Well one or two of the lads had to leave so we decided to take up the conversation again tonight when we’re all together again.

Then I spotted that someone else has already pinched the idea. Bill Slawski and Loren Baker are running an event called SEO By The Sea. It’s coming up in August and looks to be a great idea. So we can forget that. The lads will be disappointed. I guess we’ll have to go back to tackling world poverty.

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