What do you think of brands faking it?

Following on from recent episodes in the social media and marketing world, it would be interesting to have your direct feedback. What do you think about companies creating imaginary events and characters, and then feeding them through social media technologies, as part of a viral campaign?

The poll below is completely anonymous and you can check the results yourself by clicking ‘results’ at the bottom-left-hand corner of the blue box.

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Ross Dawson launches Influence Landscape Framework

This week Ross Dawson launched the beta version of his latest thinking for 2009, The Influence Landscape, at a lunch seminar organised by The Insight Exchange. Ross has a summary of the lunch / launch here.

Ross comments that:

We are also preparing our landmark Future of Influence Summit (evolving out of the Future of Media Summit), due 1 September – details very soon!

Gavin Heaton (aka the Servant of Chaos) also has a report on the launch at My Venture Pad.

Jeremiah Owyang’s recommended web strategy reading

I get a great deal of value out of reading Jeremiah Owyang’s blog and tweets. Here is an extract from a recent post where he has summarised some of his best and finest for everyone’s benefit. Shel Israel’s theory of “Lethal Generosity” (link from Jeremiah) is also worth a read.

Here is an extract from Jeremiah’s recent post:

In the spirit of sharing, over the past few weeks in client calls, I’ve referenced these posts several times, one of the challenges of my blog layout is that it’s difficult to find the most visited or commented posts, here’s some I think you’d enjoy.

The Many forms of Web Marketing for 2008 (translated into 5 languages): A large index, be aware of the toolset before you begin crafting a strategy. I’ll be updating this for 09, so please leave a comment, I’ll credit you.

The Irrelevant Corporate Website (translated into 10 languages): “Blasphemy!” A marcom manager told me yesterday.

The Many Forms of Web Monetization: an important post for startups in today’s economic times.

A Chronology of Brands that Got Punk’d by Social Media: This is the list you want to stay off of.

List of Social Media Strategists and Community Managers in enterprise corporations: Unlike a wiki, I vett each submission and check their profiles to the best of my ability.

Impacts of Social Media on Customer Reference Programs: If your company harvests positive brand mentions and make case studies and toss the negative ones, they need to read this.

Social Media by Industry: Auto, Finance, and Insurance. Need to find examples for your boss or client? These lists can help.

List of Communities, Virtual Worlds, and Social Networks for Youth, Boomers, Retired, and Beyond: Need to reach a specific demographic, this list is a start.

Applying Social Computing to the Entire Product Life Cycle: If you’re thinking about social media for marketing only, you’ll need to expand further.

How to Successfully Moderate a Conference Panel, A Comprehensive Guide: I’ve been moderating quite a few panels, and have found some patterns that work for me. I still need to self-check to make sure I live up to my benchmark.

How I use Twitter: I often tell people I don’t mind if they unfollow from on Twitter as I’m very high volume, but there is a method to how and why I use the tool.

For the rest of the post click through to Recommended Web Strategy Reading


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Social media star killed the banking experiment

I wanted to put this post up quickly to record the progress / collapse of this finance industry social media project from NAB and to continue my commentary on this important SMM watershed. Charis Palmer at The Better Banking Blog has tried to explain the challenges of the NAB UBank MyFutureBank experiment from a bankers’ perspective. The commentary and discussion from social media experts Gavin Heaton and Stephen Collins that follows the post are interesting reading. Here is the first paragraph, click for the rest of the post.

Why bankers are wary of social media – By Charis Palmer, The Better Banking Blog

Here’s a scenario for you. You’re a consultant, blogger and social media “guru” (there seems to be more and more of them popping up these days). Your business involves advising banks and the otherwise less informed on how to cut it in the big bad world of the Interweb. You have plenty of good arguments to convince your corporate clients why they should be embracing all things Web 2.0, so you’re a little bit irked that they don’t immediately ‘get it’. Still, they pay well, so you persist. After all, for as long as they don’t get it, you have a business.

Click here to read Why bankers are wary of social media

(Update: Here are two posts on this topic by Crikey Blogger Trevor Cook. One with his opinion about the fallout and another with several other post-mortems.)


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The FREE business model, as Chris Anderson explains

Chris Anderson’s discussion of FREE online business models raise many of the same questions that my posts about advertising-driven and subscription-driven media models did after the Future of Media Summit 2008. Read people’s comments on his original post.

This is a key debate taking place worldwide as traditional/print/atom/physical (call it what you like) businesses look to translate their revenue generation model online, as they acknowledge the growing impact of the digital space.

I had a meeting today with a travel agent who has a website. Their site, however, is nothing more than manually controlled brochure ware for events and prices. They didn’t recognise the significance of search engine traffic, the potential for ongoing interaction with clients, or the ability to offer FREE advice and information to new visitors. I could go on. You don’t think about a travel agent being involved in the FREE economy, however, they have built up so much specialised information which they happily pass on to people over the phone, or across the desk on a regular basis that they ARE giving away valuable ‘intellectual property’ without having it clearly packaged-up and branded. This content can easily be ‘wrapped and branded’ as important, FREE product that will assist travelers, particularly in highly-targeted markets. Will this sell travel services? If the information is valuable and engaging, it’s a reflection of the type of service you will provide. And people want to buy valuable and engaging services and products.

Here’s what Chris Anderson has to say about FREE:-

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FREE: the cocktail party version

When you’re writing a book you need to have your elevator pitch down or “What’s the book about?” will become the most dreaded four words you can hear (followed closely by “how’s it going?”).

Obviously the one-sentence version of the answer should be something close to the book’s subtitle. But I haven’t nailed that one down yet, so these days I just say “The economics of zero dollars and zero cents” and hope for the best. Some people glaze over and move on at that point, but for those who stop, intrigued, and ask me to explain, here’s what I say:

We all know free–it’s a trick that marketers use. But free is changing. When you think about it, there are two economies, one of atoms and one of bits. In the atoms economy, which is to say most of the stuff around us, things tend to get more expensive over time. But in the bits economy, which is the online world, things get cheaper. The atoms economy is inflationary, while the bits economy is deflationary.

The 20th Century was primarily an atoms economy. The 21st Century will be equally a bits economy. This book is about the differences between 20th Century free and 21st Century free–free moving from a marketing trick to a new economic model.

Anything free in the atoms economy must be paid for by something else, which is why so much traditional free feels like bait and switch–it’s you paying, one way or another. But free in the bits economy can be really free, with money often taken out of the equation altogether. People are rightly suspicious of free in the atoms economy, and rightly trusting of free in the bits economy. Intuitively, they understand the difference between the two, and why free works so well online.

– For more see: The Long Tail – Wired Blogs.


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The economics of moving from print to online

This is a must read article below, published on Monday Note, September 29, 2008 and edited by Frédéric Filloux. It addresses the structures and costs involved in a print and online newspaper business.

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Let’s kill a myth. The dream of a compact newsroom, able to output a high-intensity general news website doesn’t fly. Numbers simply don’t add up. And here is why.

First, the cost structure of a daily. In a typical operation, the biggest costs are industrial ones: around 25%-35% for paper and printing; another 30%-40% for distribution; around 18-25% for editorial; the remaining 10-15% are for administrative and marketing expenditures. It varies from country to country but we can safely assert most of the costs — at least 60% — are industrial in nature. Evidently, that part disappears when going online.

Now let’s compare three numbers:

a) the cost of an online newspaper,

b) the audience needed to absorb costs

c) the audience of the biggest website

Journalists make up most of the costs of a pure digital newsroom. As an example, assume the “loaded” (salary, benefits, expenses, overhead) cost of one journalist is about 60,000 € per year. If the objective is to provide a general news site, the starting point for a comparison is the print press. As an high end instance, a newsroom such as the New York Times’ still counts 1400 journalists, paper and digital operations included (they tend to merge). The Los Angeles Times now has 720 after the deep cuts demanded by its new owner (10 years ago, the headcount was 1300). The Washington Post has a staff of 600.

For the rest of the article see:

The economics of moving from print to online: lose one hundred, get back eight | Monday Note.


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“Slammin” Sam takes Photon to a new level

If you haven’t seen “Slammin” Sam Kekovich announcing the Photon Group Annual Report 2008, then you’re probably missing a breakthrough moment in corporate engagement.

The design, delivery and humour of Sam and Photon’s execution has created a successful viral video of an Annual Report – what? Yes! Imagine sending good financial results around in a humorous viral video to maximise the confidence in your organization in these dark days. Not to mention the whole delivery encapsulating your brand values, positioning and philosophy.

Yesterday, I watched Mark Pesce discuss how, as a community of users, we have spent many years working out how to maximise the functionality of the internet. Many tools have been available for over a decade (for example, wikis) but have not had their inherent value understood until recently. As Pesce points out, the big move to web 2.0 came when we made the shift from thinking about the web as a publishing environment to a communications environment.

Pesce also talks about hyperconnectivity. With the grey matter of our human brains we can only handle around 150 contacts – Dunbar’s Number (maybe a few more according to other anthropologists such as Bernard and Killworth), however, with the aid of electronic equipment and social networking tools many humans have hundreds and, often, thousands of “friends” in their networks. Forget targeting those A-type influencers, nearly everyone feeds into a massive network of hyperconnectivity. I watched another presentation, also by Mark Pesce, yesterday (it was one of those catch up on Mark’s blog days) and saw 1200 twitter avatars race through at superspeed – it’s amazing how many faces, including my own, I recognised. I purposely keep my network tight so I can follow the stream of tweets coming through (another issue Pesce talks about), but I realised, regardless of my pathetic number, that if I sent out an important message on twitter, it would very quickly spread into the hyperconnected internet at lightening speed. It’s this velocity that internet tools such as twitter (and many others) allow; this speed  feeds this hyperconnectivity and creates a new paradigm of information transferal. People are happy to buy into connection because they know that it leads to timely knowledge.

Viral marketing is all about capturing this community of hypeconnectivity and velocity of information spread. So, how can we use the internet more effectively in managing financial reporting? Here is Photon and Sam for a laugh and your thoughts.

Sam Kekovich on Photon's site

Sam Kekovich on Photon


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