Stay True

Seth, on three conversations he’s had this week with organizations that have been successful with viral marketing, and now want to turn it up a notch:

“…all three are very close to spending big bucks on ads and salesforces to force the growth to happen faster.

As soon as they start using the tactics of the other guys, playing the game they play, they become them. As soon as they decide that they can buy (not earn) attention, it all changes.”

Well said, and agreed (mostly).

Expanding on that thought…I think the exception would be a case where the additional investment of time/resources would be invested in trying to connect better with customers or additional key members of the community, continuing and accelerating the things that had made the organization successful in the first place.

Gratuitous Metablogging

I usually try to avoid the whole “blogging about blogging” path, but there are a couple of good items that have popped through in the last couple of days that may be worth a look, if you’re into that sort of thing:

Mike Sansone: “Some web (under)developers think blogging is a fad. Frankly, I think they’re worried about their jobs.”

Jeremiah Owyang, #49 & #50: “Don’t hire any firms to help you with a blog strategy that are not blogging themselves” and “Don’t hire any firms to help you that suggest the reason to blog is ‘because blogging is hot right now’.”

Hugh Macleod: “If you think this is just a game of bubbles, bandwagons, favoritism and knowing the right people, as opposed to having good ideas and plain old hard work- Fine, go ahead and believe it. Nobody cares.”

Robert Scoble: “I’ve been blogging for more than five years now and the “blogging is a fad” meme is one that consistently is reborn every five months.”

Customer Trust In The Big West

02190621906114In many parts of the States, the kids are off school this week (originally as part of the Presidents Day holiday, now simply referred to as “ski week.”) After many years of frustration with being part of the cattle herd in places like Colorado and Utah, have been spending an increasing amount of time in Montana, where the skiing is just as good, the lift lines are short and, most importantly, the idea of “service” still seems to have solid root in the community.

Example: Went down to the rental shop to get skis for the little guy yesterday. Rented the skis and boots for the day, and we were in-and-out of the rental shop in about 15 minutes. Piece of cake. Then, as we were leaving, I mentioned that, although we had only rented the equipment for the day, we were probably going to be needing the equipment for the rest of the week as well (but hadn’t filled out any paperwork, nor even paid for it yet).

Was I greeted with a sneer? No.
Was I greeted with a long list of other forms to fill out? No.
Was I forced to change our reservation, or go through any red tape? No.

What I was told: “Cool…no problem. Whenever you’re done with them at the end of the week, just bring us the little coupons from the ski school for whatever days you used them.”

Yes, that’s right. They just gave us the skis with a handshake and a request to just bring them back whenever we’re done with them. Sweet. Big props to the folks at Big Mountain for a great start of the week.

(pic credit: Big Mountain)

Paul McNamara interviews…Paul McNamara

Escherhands Network World’s Paul McNamara interviews Versai’s Paul McNamara.

Link to the recursive interview here. In the article Paul (NetworkWorld) refers to Paul (Versai) as “The Other One.”

Most importantly…the Other One also gives a hint of what he’s up to…

“Regarding the new company, here’s what I can tell you: We are a software-as-a-service company with a twist. We empower businesspeople to easily create and use custom-tailored SaaS applications…”

(Apparently, this has happened before…and the attribution of quotes in the article led to much hi-larity…)

Finding Community On The Radio Dial

Paul Adams (via Seth) wonders “why radio stations can’t ping you by sms or even phone when they play a song you request. When was the last time a radio station cared about you? Or contacted you in a way you wanted to be contacted?”

This is happening, all y’all. Check out Whole Wheat Radio, one of the strongest communities online of any type IMHO, and almost certainly the strongest radio community online.

They’ve taken the idea above, built their entire station around it, and taken it a step further. It’s not just a relationship between the listener and the station, it’s a community that includes the listener, the station, and all the other listeners as well. Most importantly, a passive “listener” can become a producer by a simple phone call…call up, leave a “WheatGram,” and you’re on the air, too.

Much more on why this matters here.

Update: Below, Jim Kloss (from Whole Wheat Radio) leaves the best comment ever, and gets to the heart of what online community means to him, and what it means to radio. Be sure to read the whole thing.

Web App Product Management Thoughts

As a recovering product manager, Jeremy’s post (drawn from this one by Tom Coates) on the “Future of Web Apps” rang true in many ways. The key point:

Build for normal users, developers, and machines : Make whatever you build easy to use, easy to hack, and make it emit useful data in a structured form.”

If you’re involved in the technical design of any application that you hope to be successful over the next couple of years, it’s a good checklist of things to think about.

The Forrester “Social Computing” Paradox

Charlene Li gives an overview of Forrester’s new “Social Computing” report. Key “tenets of social computing” outlined by Charlene:

  • innovation will shfit from top-down to bottom-up
  • value will shift from ownership to experience
  • power will shift from institutions to communities

The third point is the one that caught my eye in particular, as it seems to be another point of validation on the idea that we are moving down this path:

Transactions => Conversations => Relationships => Communities (much more behind the link)

And then we get to the heart of the matter. Charlene:

“As I often stress, it’s not about the technologies but about the new relationships that users will form. Technologies will come and go, but the power built on the relationships created by social computing will endure.

To fully appreciate the value of social computing, companies have to let go of control. That means letting customers control the brand if you’re a marketer, and it means enabling new enterprise tools that IT can’t easily control to attract and support employees with high social computing needs. In many ways, this is the source of the great distress that I routinely hear from corporate managers.” (emphasis added)

Now the paradox…the report is only available to Forrester clients. If anyone has a copy, I’d love to see it.

Affinity Matters: Most Credible Reference is “A Person Like Me”

The most credible source of information about a company is now “a person like me,” which has risen dramatically to surpass doctors and academic experts for the first time, according to the seventh annual Edelman Trust Barometer.

Two other bits of note from the survey:

  • In the U.S., trust in “a person like me” increased from 20% in 2003 to 68% today.
  • The interviewees also consider rank-and-file employees more credible spokespersons than corporate CEOs (42% vs. 28% in the U.S.).

What this means: Although far from conclusive, this is another credible data point to support the belief that relationships and connections in a human voice are the things that matter in the current market. The same-ol’, same-ol’ of corporatespeak is increasingly irrelevant.

Bonus factoid: A 2004 survey by Jupiter Research showed that 71% of teens (age 13-17) regularly use instant messaging, and 30% regularly use blogs (remember, this was a survey done in 2004; the numbers may be higher now). Think about the implications of affinity and social networking when the MySpace generation gets into the workforce in a couple of years…

(hat tip: ben and jackie)

The Social Customer Manifesto Podcast 15FEB2006

click here to subscribe

Summary: Christopher Carfi and Leif Chastaine review the American Marketing Association Hot Topic series, give an update on the state of the blogosphere via Jupiter Research, Pew, and Technorati, and shine a light on “Charter Street,” the new blog from Paul McNamara and Greg Olsen. (37:42)

Show notes for February 15, 2006

The audio file is available here (MP3, 34MB), or subscribe to our RSS feed to automatically have future shows downloaded to your MP3 player.

00:00 – Intro

01:00American Marketing Association Hot Topic overview : podcasting, video blogging, word of mouth marketing, RSS, interactive social networking, Bill Flitter (Pheedo), Dave Evans (Digital Voodoo), Willow Baum Lundgren (Umbria), Randy Moss (ACS), Napoleon Dynamite, Vote for Pedro

06:00Jupiter Research, online demographic study, teen influencers, patterns of online/offline usage

11:15Pew Internet and American Life, online usage (men and women), difference in online usage by boomers (note: PDF doc)

18:00 – State of the Blogosphere (Dave Sifry, Technorati, Part 1, Part 2), 27.2 million blogs online. 75,000 new blogs per day, Comparison of blogs and mainstream media reach (e.g. NYTimes), Huffington Post, Instapundit

31:30 Importance of tagging as a component of search

32:00 Charter Street blog launched, Versai Technology; SGI; Red Hat; El Dorado Ventures; Paul McNamara & Greg Olsen, startups, virtual companies, and “going bedouin

37:05 – Wrapup