Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"It's Social Marketing B#tch"

For those that choose not to listen to the uttercast, I'd like to provide a little more color commentary around the title of this post. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to do a podcast with Dennis and Aronado of Lucky Startups. During the show, Dennis and Aronado were looking at the site (the company I work for) and saw that the messaging on our site talked about "Social Commerce."

The short version behind the term is that as Powered was evolving from an eLearning company to a social marketing company, they were looking for a term that captured the essense of "social" but also differentiated them from being a "tools" play. "Social commerce" seemed to make sense but obviously wasn't exactly the right term. As a result, our current site still reflects the old messaging but we are in the process of updating the site so that it reads "social marketing" vs. "social commerce."

Following the podcast I did with the Lucky Startup boys, their mention of "social commerce," spurred my good friend, Adam Cohen, to throw out the question, What's the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the term "social commerce? A few people chimed in and their answers were pretty harsh (Ed Illig and David Schuette's in particular). At first, I was a little put off by the responses but then immediately realized, I would have had the exact same reaction if I were in their shoes. So rather than stew, I decided to take a humerous approach and record my thoughts this AM on my walk down to Starbucks.

That brings us to the title of this post which is a humerous play on comedian, Dave Chappelle's "I'm Rick James, b#tch." During his show, Chappelle loved to play the aging, disrespected Rick James who needed to let everyone know that he was "Rick James, b#tch" and how dare anyone disrespect him. I thought it was apropos given the fact that I didn't want to come across as defensive as I was explaining that Powered doesn't do "social commerce" but in fact builds successful social marketing programs for well-known companies like Sony, HP, iVillage and Motorola, to leverage that same approach.

To that end, next week there will be no more mention of "social commerce" on - I promise! Thanks for the inspiration Mr. Cohen! ;)

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Thoughts on Un-Follows/Qwitter

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I had someone stop following me this weekend (no big deal, it happens all the time). As I was going in to in-follow them back -- a standard practice unless the person is someone I've chosen to follow -- I noticed that this person's most recent tweet was a little snarky regarding all the reciprocal in-follows that ensued. I sent a message to this person asking what they expected when they decided to "leave the conversation." The rest of the story and my thoughts on un-following are in the attached Uttercast.

What do you think?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Three Reasons I Love Being a Dad

Sorry folks, no social media advice or pontifications in this uttercast. Just me up close and personal. For anyone interested, pictures of aforementioned kids and wife can be found here:…os/astrout.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

It's Time for Big Brands to Engage!

Up until this point, it's understandable why many brands have chosen to avoid social media. Quite frankly, there haven't been many meausurable success stories beyond those of the usual suspects like eBay, Best Buy's internal Blue Shirt Nation community and Procter & Gamble. For the most part, it's because many companies social initiatives have lacked a strategy, key performance indicators and overall community management. However, it's hard to ignore some of the consumer driven data coming out of Cone Research's latest 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study (requires free signup to download).

For starters, Cone's report tells us that almost 60% of Americans interact with companies on a social media Web site, and one in four interact more than once per week. More importantly, the study shows that 93% of Americans believe a company should have a presence in social media, while 85% believe a company should not only be present, but should also interact with its consumers via social media.

If that's not enough to whet big brand's appetites:

  • 56% of American consumers feel both a stronger connection with, and better served by, companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment.

  • 43% say that companies should use social networks to solve my problems

  • 41% want companies to solicit feedback on their products and services

  • 37% feel that companies should develop new ways for consumers to interact with their brand

  • 33% of men and 17% of women interact frequently (one or more times per week) with companies via social media

I don't know about you but if I'm the CMO of a big brand, I'm looking at these numbers and shaking my head. What? You mean my customers actually want to talk to me using social media? Yup, they do. And they are already doing it with some of the other big brands they know and love like Starbucks, HP, Saturn and Sony.

So guess what Ms. or Mr. CMO, you have two choices at this point. You can continue to ignore social media and hope that smart people like Cone Research are wrong (hint: if Cone is wrong, so are the same smart folks at Forrester Research, Gartner, Sirius Decisions and Deloitte) OR they can embrace the "Groundswell" and start to think about a social media strategy and implementation plan in 2009.

Thanks to the folks at Cone for continuing to provide great research in this space. For more information on the Cone Research study, please visit their site.

This post was cross-posted on


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Interesting Posts on Social Marketing

I don't plan to do this too often but given the fact that I just subscribed to a Google alert for "Social Marketing" (shame on me for not doing this sooner), I couldn't help but share some of the posts that came up in the results:

A 22-step plan to improve your social marketing
By Steve Lewis 

Social marketing may be relatively new, but a number of organizations have already established themselves as leaders — and there is much you can learn from them, says Peter Kim, a senior partner at Dachis Corporation. ...

Wal-Mart Doesn't Get Social Marketing

Now for all the talk recently of Wal-Mart getting on the Web 2.0, social media band wagon, how far they've come, and how well they understand this new brand of marketing, Wal-Mart has just proven they don't get it, at all. ...

Social Media Impacts Ad Agency New Business
By Michael Gass

Social Marketing gives marketers the ability to measure the bottom-line impact of every marketingactivity, to quantify the impact of changes to marketing budgets, and to demonstrate marketing’s impact on revenue. ...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Should Brands Take Part in 3rd Party Communities?

If you've ever read my post, Build vs. Join - you'd know that my answer to that question is HELL YEAH! However, my colleague, Doug Wick, brought the question up again today on Yammer. He and I went back and forth a bit on the pros and cons.

Rather than bog down the rest of my colleagues with lots of text, I thought about getting my thoughts down in an Utter-cast. What do you think? Should companies participate in third party communities instead of building their own? Should they only build their own and eschew third party efforts? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts...

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Social Marketing ROI: Ignore At Your Own Peril

Last Friday morning, I had an informative conversation with new friends Paul May and Jeremy Bencken of BuzzStream. The topic was return on investment (ROI) in the world of social media/social marketing and whether companies will continue to spend money on social endeavors without a demonstrable return on their investment. What spurred the conversation was Paul's recent blog post inspired by friend and fellow blogger, Jason Falls, similarly focused post.

What I liked about our discussion was the fact that Paul, Jeremy and I were all completely aligned. While we appreciate the "Clue Train" mantra that many folks cite these days about social media/social marketing being able to put a "human face" on a company, at the end of the day a company needs to be able to be capable of demonstrating real results from their social efforts. What this doesn't mean is that the two goals need to be mutually exclusive and in fact, when done correctly, a company can enjoy greater results by being human AND tapping into the power of social

This is reinforced by what we're seeing in terms of results from some of the companies that our company, Powered, helps our customers enjoy (yes, I know I promised I wouldn't talk too much about Powered but the results we're seeing from our customers social marketing/elearning programs reinforce my point). As we wrap up our annual ROI report, here are just a few of the preliminary results our customers experienced in 2008.

Of our customers' web site visitors who participated in one of our "Powered" learning centers/managed communities:

  • 92% would recommend our customers' site to a friend

  • 95% would visit our customers' site again

  • 85% would recommend our customers' brand to a friend

  • 66% would be more likely to purchase from our customers' brand

  • 63% have a more positive view of our customers' brand

Yeah, I was impressed when I first saw these numbers too, but what I really liked was the fact that our account services and content teams here make a point of regularly encouraging our customers to be open, honest and transparent with their customers. One might think this is a no brainer given the fact that our customers are investing time and money into these programs but that's not always the case (as evidenced by Gartner's recent report). Even better, most of our clients actually listen to us.

So is your company measuring ROI around its community efforts? Does your community tie to specific business goals like engagement, loyalty, purchase intent or other traditional marketing metrics? If not, you may want to start thinking that way. While it's important to put a human face on your brand (and that can likely be the BIGGEST area of impact for your company), having measurable programs will be critical in helping protect your social marketing/social media programs in tough times while the world sorts through its current credit/financial mess.

If you have examples of companies that are doing a great job of growing and measuring their "social" efforts, please include in the comments below.

Cross-posted on

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why My Move from Boston to Austin is No Big Deal

Thank goodness for social networking is all I can say! Having built in "networks" thanks to the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook is making my transition from Boston to Austin a breeze! Listen in to find out more.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Need Your Advice on Upcoming Webinars

One of my responsbilities as the CMO of Powered is to work with the marketing and sales team to come up with a list of informative and engaging webinars for 2009. Given the fact that I like participating (and sometimes attending) webinars, I'm particularly interested in getting our roster right.

This is where you come in. Can you let me which five most resonate with you? Or if you think they all suck? Or if there are glaring holes? Either way, please add your thoughts in the comments section below. Your help is invaluable to me/us in this process. And if you're willing to help me out, I'm always happy to return the favor (maybe by inviting you to be a guest on one of our webinars)!

Here goes:
  • Content & Conversations: Engaging Your Customers Online - this is an almost real webinar that will involve Forrester Analyst, Jeremiah Owyang and Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs, Ann Handley. The tentative date is December 16th at 2:00 PM ET. Details/registration link to follow.
  • Building a Business Case for Social Marketing
  • Content your Customers Care About
  • Crossing the Chasm of Consumer Consideration (like the aliteration?)
  • Tapping the Power of Social in a Regulated Environement (hello financial services & pharma)
  • Social Marketing: This ROI Sounds Too Good to Be True!
  • Moving Beyond Pageviews: Measuring Real Customer Engagement
  • Social Marketing: 5 Pitfalls to Avoid
  • 2008 Social Marketing ROI Report (this one's happening whether you like it or not so get over it!)
  • Social Marketing: What's in it for Me? What's in it for my Customers?
  • Integrating Social Into your Traditional Marketing Mix
  • Got Content? If You Do, Is it Driving the Results?
  • 10 Ways to Insure Your Social Marketing Plan Succeeds
  • Top 5 Reasons Your Company Can't Ignore Social Marketing
  • Increasing Customer Retention During a Down Market
  • Social Marketing Explained: The Bottom Line on Your Bottom Line
  • A Brand's "Place" in the World of Social
  • Benefits of "Managed" vs. "Un-managed" Online Community Solutions
There you have it. Let's hear which ones resonate with you and which don't!

Monday, November 10, 2008

How web 2.0 technology changes everything!

Making my roadtrip from Boston to Austin more fun and much more interesting!

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Killing time on my 2K mile #BostontoAustin trip

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why CMOs Don't Engage in Social Media

I did my first Utterli in a week or so this morning. My topic was "Why CMOs Don't Engage in Social Media."

The actual podcast version was pretty short but I just expanded my point in text format (cross-posted on Utterli). Here are the three main reasons:

  1. With a team reporting into you, you spend A LOT of time making sure everyone is coordinated and getting the support they need. Fortunately, my new team rocks!
  2. Lots more meetings. There's CEO Staff, marketing staff, one on ones, weekly status meetings, etc.
  3. Overseeing a function within an organization requires a lot of planning, strategy, measurement and execution. I've spent many hours this week just reviewing PPTs.

With that said, there is NO excuse for CMOs not to participate in social media. In fact, it's more important now than ever. At the end of the day, it's about discipline and MAKING the time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

LinkedIn Goes Facebook

Got this e-mail from LinkedIn today (see below). I've know this was coming for a while but it was nice to see that LinkedIn is realizing that social networking and is ultimately about engagement. While LinkedIn was good for a while at serving as place to connect online and create an online resume, it was not a good place to really engage with one another. Now they are taking a page out of Facebook's playbook and adding some "social" features.

Today we're announcing many more ways to interact with your network on LinkedIn. Whether it's a new way to create projects and collaborate, share information, customize your profile, or gain key insights, the new LinkedIn Applications deliver.

Click here and you'll be able to add applications that enable you to:
Work collaboratively with your network.
  • Box on LinkedIn: Share files and collaborate with your network.
  • Huddle on LinkedIn: Private workspaces to collaborate with your network on projects.

Share information and keep up to date with your network.
  • Amazon on LinkedIn: Discover what your network is reading.
  • TripIt on LinkedIn: See where your network is traveling.
  • SixApart on LinkedIn: Stay up to date with your network's latest blog posts.

Present yourself and your work in new ways.
  • Google Docs on LinkedIn: Embed a presentation on your profile.
  • SlideShare on LinkedIn: Share, view and comment on presentations from your network.
  • WordPress on LinkedIn: Promote your blog and latest posts.

Gain key insights that will make you more effective.
  • Company Buzz by LinkedIn: See what people are saying about your company.

If you want to check out these features, here's the link.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How Yammer Helps New Employees

Yesterday I started at my new company, Powered. My first day was mostly spent filling out paperwork, getting set up on my computer and meeting my new colleagues. However, one simple little tool is already helping me get up to speed 10x faster than normal - that tool is Yammer.

If you haven't heard of it, it's like Twitter but for the enterprise. If you haven't heard of Twitter, watch Common Craft's video so that you'll have a better understanding of why it's so powerful.

Along those lines, the reason Yammer is (and will continue to be) so helpful to me as a new employee is that:
  1. Almost everyone at Powered is already on
  2. Out of the 72 (out of 75) people that are on, almost all have a profile pic and a job title
  3. Once you sign up, you can go back in history to see what people have talked about
  4. I can immediately get a sense of who the internal subject matter experts are
  5. My boss (our CEO), our head of sales and our CFO are all on Yammer and they use it
In reference to point number 4 in the list above, I was able to look through my colleagues streams yesterday and find some valuable statistics that will help make my job as the CMO here immeasurably easier. I can also get a better sense of the culture, what people talk about, how they converse with one another and what they're reading.

This post is apropos given a guest post I recently co-authored with my friend, Joe Cascio, on Mashable. The title of the piece was Is the Enterprise Ready for Microblogging Tools Like Twitter and the focus was on the value of Twitter to business. Jumping in and being able to experience some of that value first hand is priceless.

Is your company using a microblogging tool? If so, let me know what your experience has been.