The Age Of Conversation Bum Rush (For A Very Good Cause)

This is a very interesting concept. If you haven’t heard about it yet, 100 bloggers each volunteered to write 1 page. Today they are asking everyone buy, vote or review the book on Amazon to push the book up the Amazon charts for the day. Plus all proceeds go to charity.

“We are launching The Age of Conversation up the Amazon charts. The book “brings together over 100 of the world’s leading marketers, writers, thinkers and creative innovators in a ground-breaking and unusual publication.” All of the proceeds generated from book sales and referrals will be donated to Variety, The Children’s Charity.”

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“I don’t read blogs.” Bet you do.

I see a lot of research out there saying that not very many people read blogs. At HP we also conduct a lot of focus group research where we ask people if they read many blogs. Overwhelmingly most people say they don’t read blogs.

So are blogs still relevant? (I bet you can guess my answer) Yes of course they are. And for two reasons:

  1. While the number of readers of blogs may be relatively small, it’s the influencers that are reading them.
  2. More people read blogs than they realize.

When we ask people in the focus groups what online sources they use to get information, in most cases it turns out that they are reading blogs and didn’t even know it.

The problem comes from the misperceptions of blogs. Your average consumer (or CTO, CIO, etc) believes that blogs are personal journals where people rant about unimportant stuff. While that’s partially true it’s obviously a far cry from the whole story.

The truth is that most media companies and newspapers now host some sort of a “blog,” even if they don’t call it that. Does that news story your reading have commenting enabled and a little orange button somewhere that says “RSS” or “XML”? Then guess what? It’s a blog.

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H&R does it with Twitter but do their accountants do it?

Social Media Case Study: Blatantly Advertising … And Getting Away With It | Social Media Explorer

As it turns out, H&R Block not only gets the outreach portion of it, but has figured out a way to be 100-percent, totally marketing/advertising to people using social media tools and somehow pull it off. No, I wasn’t sure if it was possible, but I’ll be damned if I don’t like this campaign.

This seemed a stark contrast to my previous accounting post. While I applaud the effort here, I have to agree with Shel Israel on this topic that these types of campaigns should be lead by a real person not a corporation or fake profile. It seems that they are adding a personal touch and not being too canned but this isn’t enough to get me to switch from my email deficient, fax dependent, retired farmer accountant.

Now if a local H&R representative contacted and connected with me through Twitter I’d probably switch immediately. Probably not this year since he’s almost done (I’m assuming he’s not done since I haven’t received a fax from him yet). It wouldn’t have to be the actual accountant, an office admin would be fine.

Of course that makes me wonder if there goal was really to convert Web early adopters or to just drum up some buzz.

Sorry, I couldn’t help grabbing this immage off their website :)

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TechCrunch “We Don’t Do Reprints”

Qorvis Communications (with the winning tag line”Break on Through”) asks TechCrunch for a reprint of one of their articles. Seriously? In this day and age, that’s just pathetic.

First off TechCrunch has a ‘Print Posts’ next to each article, so they could have printed it themselves and how can you ask for a reprint of something that was never printed in the first place.

Personally I think Mike should have quoted them some outrageous fee to print it off for them.

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100 Best Kept Marketing Secrets ebook

100 Marketing Secrets - Download Your Copy » Small Business Trends

Anita Campbell has released the results of her Best Kept Marketing Secrets in a 33 page downloadable ebook. With the sponsorship of HP she started by contacting many of the Marketing ‘A’ listers and asking for their best kept marketing secret. She then opened it up in her comments for readers to share their best marketing secrets. The results were overwhelming.

In this ebook, you’ll find secrets from Seth Godin and Jackie Hubba alongside Anita’s regular readers. I think this is a great example of Social media done right. Plus there’s a ton of great advice in there.

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A Failure to Communicate

I have a confession. I have a really irrational fear and it has to do with a piece of technology. I hate fax.

I hate faxing. There, I said it. I feel much better. I can never tell when it goes through. Did I place the paper the right way? Did my fax get picked up by the person I sent it to? Did it get confused with all the fax spam?

This caused some real problems this year with my accountant. He’s a great guy but almost the complete opposite of me. He’s very old. A retired farmer. And has no email address. Seriously no email. When he asked that I fax some updates to him I almost couldn’t handle it.

If he wasn’t so good (and really inexpensive) I would switch accountants on that premise alone.

The good news is that I rarely need to fax, so I don’t need to get over my fear, at least until next year. And he’s about ready to retire so he won’t need to join the 20th century.

What do you think, am I being irrational? Is there any technology you irrationally refuse to adopt?

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Death by Success

One possible outcome of new media campaigns that I hadn’t anticipate before is what I’m calling Death by Success.

The outcome is nothing new. Many project managers in many companies recognize instantly what it is that I’m talking about. You try a “pilot” campaign and things go better than expected. From here one of two things happen to create Death by Success:

Everyone wants a piece of it.

Web 2.0 is a hot topic right now. If something goes well everyone wants to be able to say that they were a part of it. Every manager wants to have a say in how the program evolves.

Before you know it your original idea has morphed into something that every interested manager and the lawyers all feel comfortable with. Almost always ending up in something boring and sure to fail it’s next round.

How will this scale?

At most large corporations, if a new business isn’t bringing in millions of dollars a year it isn’t *viable*. It’s just not worth the time and resources when other businesses can bring in a greater ROI.

Unfortunately this mind set carries over to marketing campaigns. If a new media campaign is able to show some sort of an ROI, especially one that can be tied to sales then congratulations; do it again and bigger.

The most successful campaigns I’ve seen so far are successful because they are small. They build personal relationships. They create trust.

I think two big changes are going to happen over the next 1-2 years:

  • Large corporations are going to learn how to market in a long tail world.
  • Social media is going to learn how to scale.

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Random Thoughts 03/14/2008

Groundswell (Incorporating Charlene Li’s Blog): Where are you on the Purist-Corporatist scale?

tags: forrester, ncb, purist, socialmedia

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Random Thoughts 03/13/2008

The Online Entrepreneur - Products They Need and Who Provides Them » Small Business Trends

tags: blog, entrepreneur, ncb, smb

  • This is one of my main beliefs as to why no one is an ‘employee’ any more.  Everyone is (or soon will be) a business owner.  And even if you’re not technically a company, you should think of yourself as one.  It’s the only real job security.  And besides you get much better tax breaks.
     - post by tacanderson

Battelle to SMBs: You’re In The Media Business Now at ChasNote

tags: content, marketing, media, ncb, smb

  • Is there any company that’s not in the media business?  The internet has turned all public and even non public content (Gmail) into media.  If you’re producing any kind of content you need to be thinking of yourself as a media entity.
     - post by tacanderson

WordCount/by Michelle Vranizan Rafter

tags: blogger, freelance, ncb, writing

  • I first met Michelle when she interviewed me for an article she was writing.  We talked on a few other occasions and she eventually mentioned that she needed to start a blog.  I was thrilled when she did and I have to say that she’s one of the best writers out there.  She gives all of us un-gramatical and spelling challanged bloggers something to strive for.
     - post by tacanderson

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HP Wins Social Media award at SXSWi (but not in a good way)

One of the great things about HP is that we have a very decentralized style of management. For the most part that leads to us being able to act (relatively) quickly and without too many stamps of approval to do something.

The bad part of that is that at times a well intentioned employee who may not “get it” tries something new without much oversight.

Back in December of 2006 HP apparently used the PayPerPost service, that pays bloggers to blog about their clients. In one such instance a mother had her children destroy a non HP camera. The mother even states that this has been brought to you by HP, it’s pretty obviously a shill.

A year and a half is a long time in this space a lot of lessons have been learned by HP and others. When I asked around about this I was told that the employee responsible for the campaign was no longer at HP, I don’t know if that had anything to do with this event or not (a lot changes in a year and a half).

The sad thing is that the coverage of the award will generate more buzz than the actual video did. The video had about 900 views (that’s a drop in the bucket by YouTube standards and was probably mostly viewed by HP employees), only one comment and two one star ratings. Not exactly a big success.

(As a side note I think our nomination should be withdrawn because technically it happened in 2006 - no? ok)

But the amount of buzz around the award and the reputation to HP’s brand will be much longer lasting.

The take-a-way from this is two fold:
1: Don’t be stupid.
2: If you do something stupid, don’t do it again.

Is HP backing away from Social Media because of this, absolutely not. We admit our mistake and move on. It’s not like every company that produces an incredibly lame commercial quits advertising (as much as we wish they would). You learn your lesson and jump back on the horse. Giddy-up.

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