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Tag: conversation

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At Issue } essential reading

Three Secrets to Having a Two-Way Conversation with Your Brand's Customers Online

Paul Dunay
Sep 12, 2013

It’s a constant struggle for brands to make themselves be seen and heard above all the noise that’s out there, especially when their “prime” consumers have minimal attention spans and are far less forgiving of faulty, uninspired experiences with brands.

How To Talk Like A Most Creative Person

Drake Baer
May 23, 2013

Combing through our Most Creative People of the year list, you can see that technologists, performers, and interviewers all have a masterful command of conversation--here are three examples of how they do it, and what it means for work, innovation, and, of course, creativity.

Brands With A Voice

Jim Joseph
May 1, 2013

This means that brands are suddenly jumping into intense conversations with a real point of view, on issues that could be seen as quite controversial. All this for what feels like the first time ever!

Joining The Conversation: Lessons In Real-Time Marketing

Meg Carter
Apr 26, 2013

The authors of a new book on real-time marketing outline how brands can be part of cultural conversations without looking like idiots.

Nest, Jawbone Founders On Why Creating Something Simple Is Really Hard

Vivek Kemp
Apr 17, 2013

“You have to have that really tight narrative around the problem that you’re solving,” says Rahman, whose company created Jawboone headsets.

Hertz Learns Value of Sharing in Purchase Cycle

Noreen O'Leary
May 31, 2012

Travel is an experience people like to discuss with their friends as they share the details of where they’re going and how they’ll get there. Hertz knew customers’ social activity and conversations were impacting purchase decisions but the company didn’t know how much until now.

Why Marketers Shouldn't Give Up On Twitter

Oct 12, 2010

There has been much debate recently about whether or not Twitter is a meaningful tool for brands. But there's no doubt that consumers and marketers are having real, two-way conversations through Twitter that are producing measurable results for brands like Dell and Best Buy. Consumers want to communicate with brands -- and with the recent proliferation of participatory digital platforms, access to them and other consumers is easier than ever before.

Guillotine Owners Stay Ahead

Oct 5, 2010

I had an inane exchange with a social media consultant on his blog last week that reminded me of a truism: just as the rule for understanding politics is to follow the money, an important quality of social media experience is revealed when you consider the role of the megaphone owner...or, in this case, the guy who operates the guillotine. Our topic wasn't important and the guy is probably an otherwise fine human being; I'm much more interested in what our "conversation" told me about the role of social tools like blogging, especially when they seem to be considered by many people to be viable alternatives to traditional media outlets, or often an outright replacement for them. I'm troubled by that prospect, even as I'm thrilled and encouraged for the future potential applications of social media technology

Are Digital Agencies The New Dinosaurs ?

Steven Henry
Sep 23, 2010

It seems to me that the problem with dinosaurs was that they had such short arms. Looking at the small rubber T.Rex I have in front of me, it's obvious that they were incapable of feeding themselves in a civilised fashion, they weren't going to be able to punch anyone, and they'd never be able to knit the warm clothes they needed for the ice age. But advertising is kind of like paleontology, in that we're always looking to locate the dinosaurs; it's like finding the fat kid at school, so at least you don't come last in the 100 metres. And various people have recently suggested to me that digital agencies are the threatened species - not the big bad indistinguishable behemoths of traditional adland, the agencies named after people whom even John Tylee has never met.

Why Consumers Don't Want to Talk to You

David Grzelak
Sep 7, 2010

Meet Jack. He has an abiding interest in soy protein isolate. Or carob-seed gum. Or high-oleic sunflower oil. And can't stop talking about any of it. Jack just met Jill. Yet Jill is edging away from Jack at the gallery opening. Or "unfriending" him on Facebook. And we don't blame Jill. Yet, this is precisely the opening gambit used by many marketers trying to engage with people. This self-absorbed approach is incompatible with basic human nature. And this should come as no surprise, as it is also incompatible with common sense. Yet, it's a trap brands fall into too often, obsessing over the minutiae of what separates them from other brands within a particular category.

A Two-Way Dialogue Can Lead to New Insights

Sep 7, 2010

With the insane amount of data out there, it's tempting to skip the human element altogether and rely solely on statistics. But performance metrics alone can't tell you what motivates your audience to start a blog, share a video or post about their breakfast on Facebook. And it can't tell you the exact point when first-time moms realize their new little bundle of joy means a 54% increase in laundry, leaving them running to the appliance store. These are the types of insights that result from a consistent two-way dialogue with an audience over a long period of time.

Why “The Conversation” Isn’t Necessarily a Conversation.

Ben McAllister
Sep 2, 2010

Most weekday mornings are fairly predictable: I make a pot of coffee; I walk the dogs with my wife, Eliza; I have a second cup of coffee while Eliza gets ready. This probably sounds familiar, as we all have our routines. But this is not where the predictability in my day ends. I check email on my phone to find a daily handful of mass mail from various research firms and business publications. Many of the articles within these emails (especially those targeted toward marketers) will be on the topic of social media. Perhaps this, too, is a normal part of your morning. If that’s the case, perhaps you have noticed the content of these emails is also a bit predictable.

Business isn’t a Popularity Contest

Aug 17, 2010

Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s publication of its “The Popularity Issue: America’s most popular products and how they got that way” makes some fascinating statements about today’s business culture — but not because of the items it named (although those do make for an interesting read.) The fact that a business publication would devote an issue to things which are “popular” and that it plans to do this every year (as this issue was named its “1st Annual”) suggests that popularity is a concept businesspeople care about – which is an interesting, and not necessarily good, development. Further, the methods by which BusinessWeek measures so-called popularity reveal the vagary in any undertaking to understand popularity – which leads to some important implications about business success.

5 Trends Affecting How We Connect Through Social Media

Aug 17, 2010

No matter how much we open up on the web, creating new connections online can be intimidating. Just as not everyone can start a conversation with a stranger at the bar, not everyone can comfortably start conversations in social media. Luckily, there are hundreds of online services and apps popping up, trying to solve our social awkwardness and help us discover new connections in new ways. These tools allow even the introverts among us to communicate, find friends, business partners and, yes, dates.

Media Isn't Social

David Armano
Aug 4, 2010

You see, businesses, brands and organizations are truly struggling with the disruptive nature of social technologies. In fact, the term "social technologies" is part of the problem—we are all fixated on the technologies and meanwhile the real action lies in harnessing the change brought about by human behavior enabled by technology. I used the simple story of how a colleague shared a book with me. The book itself (media) is not social—the interactions, communications, stories and conversations that involve the book are.

Are Your Ears Burning? In Social Networks, One-Third of Consumers Talk Brands Every Week

Brian Solis
Jul 6, 2010

Social media didn’t invent conversations, it provided us with tools to surface and organize them. Conversations about brands predates the mediums used to connect messages and aspirations with consumers. The motivation for brands to engage in social networks varies based on the culture and agility of each company, but what is constant is the aspiration to connect with customers and prospects to earn awareness, attention and connections.

Give The Brand A Personality

Len Stein
May 27, 2010

With the meaning of a brand wide open to public interpretation and prone to hyperbole and misconception, corporate managers must thread a thicket of sticky challenges to successfully communicate brand mission, values and philosophy. Moreover, as brands become the publishers of their own unfolding stories, they need intelligent editors who can provide stakeholders with a stream of high-value content that is packed with utility, seeded with inspiration, and that is honestly empathetic. Anything less will not suffice in a world where consumers can simply click away or spin around and mount a web-wide counter-attack on brands that refuse to walk their talk.

Top Customer Tip From Dell Global Chief Marketing Officer: Talk to Your Customers

May 12, 2010

“I listen to a customer call every day. Every single day.” Dell Global Chief Marketing Officer- Paul-Henri Ferrand. I am impressed: I have met hundreds of heads of marketing and never has any of them told me they devote this much time to actual customer contact. Most marketing directors I meet speak of their customers as an abstract quantity, or perhaps an undiscovered exotic species. This probably explains why most heads of marketing are have a disproportionate reckoning of the importance of their brand in their customer’s life. Not Paul-Henri from Dell. He seems different. He is French and charismatic (which helps) but more than that- he talks with conviction and ambition about the the transition towards a ‘new Dell.’

Brands: Authenticity and Pattern Recognition

Roger Ehrenberg
Apr 14, 2010

When it comes to conversations, and specifically those conversations that are deemed valuable, I believe the overriding issue is authenticity. People tend to be pretty good at discerning who is real and who is merely a self-promoter, and power and influence tends to flow to those who are authentic. Do people want to converse with brands? I think that is the wrong question. The right question is "Do people want to converse with people who are authentic in their support of brands?" Starbucks the brand can't talk to you, but a passionate Starbucks employee can.

The Problem With Conversational Marketing

Apr 6, 2010

Social media marketing essentially evolved from The Cluetrain Manifesto assertion that markets are conversations. The world of social media then exploded and conversational platforms, tools and networks evolved. Markets are conversations … whatever that means. When you translate it into the practical, not the etherial, you have to try and figure out conversational marketing. How do you have conversations with people with the intent of promoting a product or service?

Framework: Rings of Infuence

Jeremiah Owyang
Apr 5, 2010

Recently, I spoke to a crowded room of senior marketers at a CPG retailer, one of the executives asked “What’s an indicator a company is advanced in the social space?”. I gave three answers, and one of them was “Developing a thriving advocacy program to fight your battles”. The executives, which were used to traditional advertising and direct marketing had a lightbulb go off as I showed them this framework.

YouTube Redesign Focuses On Search And Conversation

Apr 1, 2010

YouTube began pushing out the site's redesign Wednesday after testing the format since January. The cleaner, stripped-down version, which comes after a year of planning, more closely resembles the style and design of pages from parent company Google. The changes might seem subtle at first, but that's only because the site sports a cleaner look. Metrics from preliminary tests that YouTube ran earlier this year suggest that overall video playbacks with the redesign rose 6%. People stay on the site 7% longer to view and comment longer. The cleaner design also helps pages load faster.

Week 12: 10 Principles of UX

Mar 26, 2010

Experience is subjective, and therefore cannot be designed in quite the same way that a physical product can. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t design the framework within which people experience our product/service. If we succeed, then great experiences will be a common occurrence.

The Brand Dashboard: A Window to Relevance

Brian Solis
Mar 12, 2010

Perhaps the most difficult aspects of Social Media to embrace are the changes in our behavior and overall philosophy it necessitates in order to earn relevance and ultimately prominence in consumer hearts, minds, and markets. Simply put, Social Media makes us vulnerable and officially ends an era of perceived control threaded by the illusion of invincibility. Everything we thought we knew and valued is now in dire need of reassessment. We are entering into a time when we are affected by voiced sentiment in the public spotlight and backchannels of the social Web. What we hear, see and observe can and should touch us.

Is This A Content Moment?

Feb 10, 2010

Have you noticed how much content drives conversation in Social Media today? Take a quick scan of your Twitter stream or Facebook wall and you'll likely notice that the vast majority of tweets and post contain a link to content -- be that video, photo or even written (in the form of an article or post).

Pepsi Push Harnesses Facebook Potential

Feb 1, 2010

For the first time in 23 years, there will not be an advertisement for Pepsi during Super Bowl next weekend. Instead, PepsiCo, the soft drinks maker, which in previous years has wowed audiences with dazzling spots featuring Cindy Crawford and Britney Spears, is going online. With a $20m digital campaign that features its own website and a heavy presence on Facebook, PepsiCo is betting that a more interactive approach will resonate with consumers in the always-on age of social networking sites. "We're living in a new age with consumers," says Ralph Santana, vice-president of marketing for PepsiCo North America. "They are looking for more of a two-way dialogue, story-telling and word of mouth. Mediums like the digital space are much more conducive towards that."

The Myth of Control in New Media

Brian Solis
Jan 25, 2010

One of the most common fears I focus on defeating among executives and brand managers is that in new media brands lose control by publishing content and engaging in social networks. The general sentiment is that by sharing information and creating presences within public communities that they, by the nature of democratized participation, invite negative responses in addition to potentially positive and neutral interaction. By not fully embracing the social Web, many believe that they retain a semblance of control. The idea is that if brands abstain from providing a forum for hosting potentially disparaging commentary, it will prevent it from earning an audience – in this case, an audience that can impact the business and the reputation of the brand.

2010: Marketers Get Serious About Social Media

Jeremiah Owyang
Jan 22, 2010

We looked back at 2009 to see that, in many cases, companies struggled to keep up with customers using social technologies. With technologies changing every few months, senior marketers must have a plan for social marketing. But first, to understand what to do, they should consider what's going to happen in this space in 2010.

American Consumers Want A Dialog With Business

Jack Loechner
Jan 22, 2010

According to the 2009 Cone Consumer New Media Study, an online survey by Opinion Research Corporation among a representative U.S. sample of 1,048 adults, comprising "new media users," 44% of American new media users are searching for, sharing or discussing information about corporate responsibility (CR) efforts and programs and are highly confident they can have an effect on business.

5 Marketing Principles Brands Should Embrace in 2010

Frank Striefler
Jan 13, 2010

Most of the marketing rules we lived by just five years ago are practically obsolete. The industry has faced more changes in the last five years than in the previous 50. Let's face it, there's no point in improving broken legacy models. Since necessity is the mother of invention, let's not waste this recession and instead use it to rethink how we go about branding in this new decade.

The 10 Stages of Social Media Business Integration

Brian Solis
Jan 12, 2010

An overnight success ten years in the making, social media is as transformative as it is evolutionary. At last, 2010 is expected to be the year that social media goes mainstream for business. In speaking with many executives and entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed that the path towards new media enlightenment often hinges on corporate culture and specific marketplace conditions. Full social media integration often happens in stages — it’s an evolutionary process for companies and consumers alike. Here are the ten most common stages that businesses experience as they travel the road to full social media integration.

Drinking the Cider

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Jan 8, 2010

The buzz is palpable about Apple's plans to announce a tablet computer later this month. I think it's instructive as to the function and uses of conversation. Apple is a company that has utterly shunned the social media campaigns that have displaced more old-fashioned ways to waste consumers' time. It has no Twitter feed, provides no payola to twentysomethings so that they’ll blog about its products, and I bet it would happily ignore a request for comment from the President if asked. It doesn't talk. Apple does.

4 Ways to Use Social Media Cues to Engage People

Dec 23, 2009

As much as we (rightly) praise Google for having transformed our lives for the better, sometimes we all want answers that go beyond the right search query. Sometimes we want to reach out to someONE rather than someTHING. But engaging in a conversation requires trust. And just as no newsletter sign-up form or invitation should be without trust-building assurances and privacy statements, no social media invitation or landing page should be without its own persuasive and trust-building cues.

The Mobile Internet Report

Dec 15, 2009

Morgan Stanley's global technology and telecom analysts set out to do a deep dive into the rapidly changing mobile Internet market. We wanted to create a data-rich, theme-based framework for thinking about how the market may develop. We intend to expand and edit the framework as the market evolves. A lot has changed since we published “The Internet Report” in 1995 on the web. We decided to create The Mobile Internet Report largely in PowerPoint and publish it on the web, expecting that bits and pieces of it will be cut / pasted / redistributed and debated / dismissed / lauded. Our goal is to get our thoughts and data into the conversation about what may be the biggest technology trend ever, one that may help make us all more informed in ways that are unique to the web circa 2009, and beyond.

How To Lose An Argument Online

Nov 23, 2009

Have an argument. Once you start an argument, not a discussion, you've already lost. Think about it: have you ever changed your mind because someone online started yelling at you? They might get you to shut up, but it's unlikely they've actually changed your opinion.

Is Starting A Corporate Blog True To Your Company Culture?

Nov 17, 2009

Social media has appeared because the web is here and people are talking to one another online, consumers create content without needing media intermediaries and as a result are free to talk about products, brands, ideas and society. Consumers now expect companies will conduct a dialogue with them online. Companies like Dell, Comcast and Zappos have changed customer expectations about what it means to reach out to a company for the simplest of requests or the most complex of complaints. Instead of calling a call center on their time, the consumer simply writes a blog post, Facebook update, or tweet anticipating a company will respond. To write well in social media is not about being the most polished writer, or a creative copywriter, rather the skills that are needed to succeed are an ability to listen, be empathic, admit mistakes where necessary, and take a stand knowing the customer is not always right. Online, the good writer is outpaced by the good conversationalist.

Is Your Company Trusted or Do You Have a Digital Comb Over?

Nov 13, 2009

Many companies are entering the social/green/community space, with hopes of impressing customers, yet despite their best intentions, they could come across as unauthentic, and be damaging their own brand. Companies should first take a self-assessment of their brand to see if they’re ready before they decide to enter the social space. Companies should first assess their culture and ask: * Is the company ready to talk about the good –and bad– with the market? * Is the internal culture ready to embrace customers on their own terms? * Is the culture ready to make changes based on the request of customers? Launching a corporate blog is easy, a Twitter account even easier, yet if companies culture doesn’t match the values they’re telling the market, they risk brand damage through reduced credibility.

Are We Addicted To Giving Our Own Opinions

Chris Brogan
Nov 13, 2009

The tools we use for social media have empowered us to be steady-flow commentators. Watch Twitter or Facebook during any event, and you’ll see our added commentary rolling along in time with the experience. At times, such as the US Presidential election, it was exciting to feel that experience, of everyone participating all across the world in an event. There are many more times where it feels like that. In blog comments, on Twitter, all over Facebook, Yelp, YouTube, and several other sites, we’ve been groomed to give our opinion. We spit it out everywhere. We share, rate, criticize, deride, praise, and everything in between. Forrester’s Ladder graphic suggests that critics are second on the content ladder, just below creators.

Honda Finds Permanent Perch On Facebook

Nov 10, 2009

Until August, Honda had been reticent about using social media platforms in a big way. The company had a MySpace page for the Element, and started dabbling in Facebook with the Fit compact car and, more recently, the Insight hybrid. Then, this year, Honda told its agency, Santa Monica, Calif.-based RPA, that it needed a plan to talk about Honda's core values but on a tight budget. Thus began the Facebook-centric "Everybody Knows Somebody Who Loves a Honda" effort launched in August without ad support. Last month, the Torrance, Calif., automaker added traditional media directing consumers to Facebook. Ads show real Honda owners talking about themselves and their cars in sliding pane-like frames that go from one owner to the next. Each owner is somehow connected to the previous one.

Our Journey Defines Our Future in Social Media

Nov 9, 2009

As we look ahead to 2010 in the world of social media, we should first stop to appreciate how far we’ve come in this journey to new found relevance and presence. Social media served as a great equalizer. The technology and the corresponding networks that freely connected us, democratized the ability to publish and share content, weave more meaningful relationships, as well reset the ecosystem for establishing and wielding influence. Perhaps most notably, Social networks made the world a much smaller place. As such, it also set the stage for the emergence of a new caliber and genre of influencers and communities that support their mission and purpose. On any given subject, these authoritative networks can incite change and galvanize action to govern, change, and direct market behavior.

Twitter, Customer Service, and Good Brand Management

Nov 2, 2009

If monitoring conversations and knowing what you're listening for is the first ingredient in good online best practices, knowing when and how to respond is much more than good etiquette. It's become an integral aspect of brand management and can mean the difference between a flop - or worse, a crisis - and a deposit in your company's reputation bank. It's easy to dismiss Twitter's usefulness as a tool. That is until you figure out that on Twitter you can find mentions of your brand and you can actually connect with customers directly and provide a first line of response. Chances are, that in 140 characters, you won't be able to do much more. But don't underestimate the importance of that public gesture.

Time to Take off the Web 2.0 / Social Media Gloves

Oct 20, 2009

And actually get to the heart of things. The touch of a human hand is always welcome. Yet it is what scares people the most. All kinds of push back and walls have been built to rationalize, compartmentalize and control the most basic of needs - that to connect with another human being. Yes, I'm also taking about social media environments. It's time to start mingling with the rest of the world - and do/create something. Doing business is a way of connecting, that of the current economic model and context. While it would be nice to think about intrinsic value, we use money to buy groceries and pay rent - business today equals earning money.

HOW TO: Use Social Media in Your PR Pitch Plan

Oct 12, 2009

It’s clear that the public relations landscape is changing. No longer does emailing a journalist a press release always result in coverage on major news channels (there are exceptions, naturally, but the average business doesn’t get on Oprah). These days, journalists (and yes, bloggers too) are inundated with press releases. It’s easy to hit delete and move on. How do you get your pitch heard above the din? Conversation. Engagement. Interaction.

How Social Media is Upending the Enterprise

Oct 1, 2009

For decades, companies have defined the channels their customers must use to contact them. But phrases like, "We are available by phone weekdays from 9am until 4pm Eastern Standard Time,” and “We will attempt to answer the emails we receive within 48 hours, but times vary based on incoming volume” are quickly becoming a thing of the past. The long-held notion that companies control the conversation is being challenged by social media.

Bank Of The Present

Sep 29, 2009

As Citigroup mulls over closing some of its 1,000 or so branches in the U.S. and Canada, it has been exploring technology solutions in a project it calls "Bank of the Future." It hired someone from Travelocity.com to lead the project. "Citi after all invented the ATM and was once a leader in consumer banking technology," explained CEO Vikram Pandit earlier this month. "It is our aim to make sure we regain that edge." He also said that the key to growth was "much, much better execution." Supposedly the company is looking at possible future Internet and cell phone tools. I think it should focus more on the present.

Sidewiki: What Google Should Do

Jeff Jarvis
Sep 25, 2009

I spent yesterday marking the dangers around Sidewiki. Today, I’ll say what I think Google should do with it: close the toolbar app, open it up to the entire conversation, and turn it purely into an API. And probably buy Technorati. I read a great deal of the discussion about Sidewiki yesterday: much of it in the comments on my blog post, much found through search in Technorati and Google News, much through trackbacks, much on Twitter, much through links on sites I read, and a tiny bit on Sidewiki itself (sorry, can’t find a URL to link to that). Some of the comments said the conversation is already fractured and my trail would seem to prove the point. That was the common word – fractured. But I’d quibble with the choice and argue that the conversation isn’t broken; that it is occurring just where it should be: in the cloud, where it is controlled by no one.

Top 5 Business Blogging Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Sep 21, 2009

Business blogging can be exceptionally rewarding. When done correctly, a successful blog can bring attention to your business, can attract new customers, and can turn your current customer base into the type of fans that companies like Apple, Netflix, and Ben and Jerry’s have: people who will not only buy your product or service, but evangelize it to their peers. Of course, like anything, there is a right way to go about starting a business blog and a wrong way. Creating a blog for your small business isn’t easy; it requires hard work and the ability to think creatively about your work. But if you avoid the five big mistakes laid out in this post, your chances of building a successful business blog will be much better.

Report: How Twitter Buzz Is Built

Sep 8, 2009

It's not how you think. A Boston research group called the Web Ecology Project has analyzed 12 of the service's most popular users over the course of a 10-day period, in order to understand how influence works on Twitter. The result of the 18-page report (PDF)? It doesn't matter how often you tweet. It matters why you tweet, and the role you play in followers' feeds.

Slow and Fast in Digital Media

Sep 7, 2009

In the last couple of days I've had reasons to reflect on this dichotomy. Although things can happen really fast online, the process by which they tip is usually quite slow. And for good reason. Trust is something you build over time. Also, many confuse grabbing what is easy to grab for building a relationship, thinking that a fait accompli would let them get away with less than transparent business practices. With technology as an accelerator, it is easier to put the cart before the horse - to try and get what you want before you established a relationship of trust. When in doubt, ask first. It's easy to get excited with the possibilities and lose sight of the fact that there are humans on the receiving end. Wasn't that the promise of the social Web? Or has that already been forgotten in the need for a fast buck?

Surchur: Beyond Real-Time Search To Real-Time Discovery

Sep 1, 2009

Surchur has been around for more than a year, but its recent facelift aims to take real-time search toward a new idea: real-time discovery. It may sound like splitting hairs to some, but the point is valid: Real-time search isn’t of much value if you don’t know what to type into the search box. This is why Twitter’s new home page has links to a couple dozen trending topics. It’s why the new delicious.com home page has a tab showing the hottest bookmarks. It’s why Collecta shows what’s “hot now” on its home page, and why OneRiot does, too. But Surchur is going a lot further with its new home page. Founder Todd Hogan calls it a merger of real-time search with real-time discovery.

Tweet, Tweet, Retweet: Conversational Aspects of Retweeting on Twitter

Danah Boyd
Aug 27, 2009

Social media has enabled conversations to occur asynchronously and beyond geographic constraints, but they are still typically bounded by a reasonably well-defined group of participants in some sort of shared social context. Network-driven genres (e.g., social network sites, microblogging) complicate this because people follow the conversations in the context of individuals, not topical threads. Yet, conversations still emerge between dyads and among groups.

How To Become A Social Brand

Aug 20, 2009

Giving your brand a social life on the web takes more than a username and an avatar. It takes a lot of time, and a surprising amount of planning and attention. Here are 5 key steps and 3 key continuous activities that brands need to go through in order to successfully participate in online conversations and forge meaningful connections with people who care about their product.

Unsung Heros in The Corporation (More Essential Than We Think)

Aug 19, 2009

David Weinberger tells the story of Jake McKee, the man who taught Lego how to have a conversation with its consumer. It turns out McKee supplied a crucial piece of Lego's cultural intelligence.

The Scientific Method

Aug 11, 2009

In most interactions, we take a defensive posture. We try to defend the brand, or our turf or our job. The problem with defense is that it's static. The best way to get smarter, to embrace and to cause change and to triumph in times of market turmoil is to adopt the scientific method. Ask yourself, "what do I believe that's wrong? How can I change the way I do things? What works? What doesn't?"

Toward a Participatory Model for Marketing

Aug 6, 2009

Southern Comfort just moved its entire $8m media budget online. Whole Foods was the first brand with 1m followers on Twitter. Coca-Cola pioneered brand generosity on Facebook. Underlying all of this is the fact that social media is the great equalizer. Not just between brands and the consumers of these brands, but between dominant brands and their challengers.

To Live in Interesting Times

Paul Worthington
Aug 4, 2009

Consider for a moment that the humble Amazon product review can nullify millions of dollars of ad spend, that a search for "best razor" on Google can route around all of Gillette's best efforts to communicate the "best a man can get," and that a "hate Comcast" group on Facebook has the power to drive a consumer straight into the arms of DirectTV.

Twitter Hasn't Jumped the Shark (And Probably Never Will)

Jul 31, 2009

Internet fads have proven to be short-lived, "jumping the shark" and falling from grace as swiftly as they rose. Twitter will prove to be the exception because of its one permanently-redeeming quality: simplicity.

Are *You* Truly Engaged?

Jun 30, 2009

It was a comment from Zoë and a title of a blog post from Chris Brogan that made me ask the question. Twitter can be tiring and pointless noise, and social media can be a bunch of chores, if the intent does not match the intention. If your involvement is not engagement, then what happens to the outcomes?

Are We Serving Conversation?

Jonathan Salem Baskin
Jun 26, 2009

Consider this: conversation is to selling what cooking is to eating. Process. Not ingredients, nor consumption. How, not what. You wouldn't know it from the hype and confusion that surrounds the social media space, though. Conversation is an absolute good, an ideal that, once achieved, spins off numerous lesser benefits. It's a synonym for selling. If only our businesses talked to consumers more often, the brands would be strengthened, and the bottom-lines improved.

Page 2

Jun 25, 2009

Google started it. Social media, especially with tools like FriendFeed, magnified it - page one is the place to be. The top of page one is especially the place to be. Those few days when Conversation Agent was at number five on AdAge Power150 many checked out this blog from that list. From number 16? Not so much.

The Key To Developing A Social Media Strategy

Jun 15, 2009

Social media is starting to take hold with brands, companies and organizations everywhere. While there are still stragglers, and it is probably incorrect to say most companies are getting with the program, a good number of them are. What we’re seeing in these organizations is a maturation process. Brands are done testing the waters, playing with the tools and saying, “We Gotta Facebook Page!” like it’s the corporate equivalent of an iPhone or Kindle. Companies are now approaching social media with communications strategies in mind — How can we effectively use these social tools to reach our audiences?

Is Twitter a Conversation or Broadcast Platform?

Brian Solis
Jun 8, 2009

In January 2009 I pondered whether or not Twitter was a viable conversation platform. After all, Twitter is one of the darlings of Social Media and it is conversations and the democratization of content that fuel the rapid expansion and adoption of social tools and services.

Are You Building Concepts or Conversations?

Tom Martin
May 29, 2009

When I first got into the ad biz and during my college studies the big thing that was repeatedly hammered into my young, impressionable mind was the need for every ad and ad campaign to have a "concept." A concept was that big idea, that creative aha that would simultaneously capture the consumer's attention and drive home a key benefit of the brand being advertised. And in the world of interruption based marketing, that makes sense. And to a lesser degree, today, it still does. But here is the rub. Here is the big thing that I think many of my fellow advertising folk haven't quite figured out. In the world of social media and web based marketing, you don't need a concept. Why? Because social and by and large digital isn't an interruption based communication platform. It's invitation based.

Tweets Meet Tees in Viral Marketing Push

May 19, 2009

It might not be the answer to Twitter's quest for a business model, but T-shirt company Threadless is betting Twitter's burgeoning user base and built-in viral marketing capabilities mean there's money to be made.

Pepsi Sees a Chance to Fill Newspapers' Void

May 12, 2009

From Gatorade's "Replay" of two high school football rival teams to Pepsi's "Dear Mr. President" viral video campaign, PepsiCo is making a big splash in social and digital media. Pepsi's point man on these efforts has been Bonin Bough, who oversees all things tweet, blog and YouTube-related at the company. Since joining Pepsi last fall, Bough has pushed for brand initiatives that drive and create meaningful conversations with consumers.

Ignore Twitter? Major Brands Learn They'd Better Respond -- And Quick

Apr 28, 2009

Separate incidents involving CNN, Amazon and Domino's Pizza reveal that fluency in the evolving language of digital public relations comes easier to some companies than others.

The Elements of Digital Conversation

Mike Arauz
Apr 28, 2009

Although we often use the word in new contexts, the basic definition of conversation hasn't really changed. A conversation is an informal exchange of thoughts or ideas. Most importantly, though, engaging in a conversation means that you don't say everything that there is to say. You expect the other person to make a contribution, and you intentionally leave things unsaid so that the other person has an opportunity to add their part.

Kodak Develops as Modern Brand With Digital Shift

Apr 27, 2009

Kodak CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett has more than 2,500 friends on Facebook and more than 3,200 followers on Twitter. He recently presided over the first-annual Streamy Awards for web TV, sponsored by Kodak, and both blogs and tweets about Kodak's coming involvement in the May 10 episode of "Celebrity Apprentice." A new style of CMO has arrived.

Twitter Hashtags Seen in The Wild

Apr 15, 2009

Twitter hashtags are used to sort and combine tweets around a particular topic. Putting a hashtag after a tweet (like #brandflakes) would allow Twitter search engines to pull together all tweets regarding that particular topic. The practice is popular among tweeters who are chatting within any meme.

Unilever's CMO Throws Down the Social-Media Gauntlet

Jack Neff
Apr 13, 2009

Brands aren't simply brands anymore. They are the center of a maelstrom of social and political dialogue made possible by digital media, said Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Simon Clift, who warned that marketers who do not recognize that -- and adapt their marketing -- are in grave peril.

Is Twitter Overhyped? A Debate. (Please Join It!)

Apr 10, 2009

Introducing a new Technologizer feature--T-Debates! In this inaugural one, Dave Worthington and I have at it about the value of Twitter--he's doubtful it has much at all, while I'm a Twitter optimist. But we're mainly doing this in hopes that you'll continue the conversation in comments, whatever your stance.

Marketers Need To Understand Discussion Before Joining It

Apr 9, 2009

Online social networks are here to stay. They've existed, in various forms, even before they were called social networks -- Friendster, GeoCities, and even Yahoo Groups come to mind. People will always want to connect and engage with other people in powerful environments where this happens easily. However, one of the biggest challenges facing brands today is how to effectively monetize these social properties.

Google Uses Twitter to Sell Ads

Apr 3, 2009

Twitter may still be tweaking its own business model, but Google has found a way to use the popular microblogging service to sell ads.

Obama and Crowdsourcing: A Failed Relationship?

Apr 1, 2009

The blowback from President Obama's interactive town hall has been intense and widespread. It's all terribly interesting, though not for any of the reasons people think. The incident signifies the end of one, increasingly troubled stage in the courtship between the President and social media, and — we can only hope — the beginning of another, more realistic and mature stage. At this critical juncture I'd like to offer some relationship counseling.

Own your Choices: Visualizing a Choice-Making Community

Mar 27, 2009

Own Your Choices is claimed to be the "first-ever choice making community". At first, the website was part of the Own your C campaign, and meant to encourage teens not to smoke. Currently, it aims to reveal how personal choices affect others and characterize one's self. In particular, the website focuses on starting the conversation around topics such as tobacco, health, self-image, culture, alcohol, relationships and school. Users are invited to connect with peers on these issues, to share their opinion and influence the conversation. And by accident, the interface seems driven by simple dynamic graphs of the statistics resulting from the data-gathering surveys.

A Control Freak’s Guide to Social Media Influence

Paul Worthington
Mar 24, 2009

Losing control is a primary reason stated by brands who are unwilling to open themselves up to the conversation - and a major reason why most continue to use social media as little more than a brochure on the web. And yet the illusion of control is just that – an illusion. By not involving yourself you actually do more to remove control than if you did.

Skittles' New Site Is the Social Web

Mar 1, 2009

The new Skittles website, just out from Agency.com, looks awfully familiar. In fact, it's virtually the same concept as Modernista's website, introduced a year ago. The site is not really a site at all but an overlay that lives on top of Web 2.0 content, such as Wikipedia, Facebook and Flickr.

Reinventing the Kindle (part II)

Feb 25, 2009

Okay, so Amazon's Kindle is cool and it's gaining in traction and people who have one buy a lot of books. 10% of Amazon's book sales are now on the Kindle. But it could be so much better.

Twitter and The Imperfect Conversation

Feb 24, 2009

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Twitter. But in the past few months, I have been seeing some less than perfect communication happening between myself and others on Twitter.

IPG: Digital Will Impact 5 Key Areas Next Year

Dec 22, 2008

The digital interactive marketplace will continue to take shape and even make strides in 2009. IPG Emerging Media Labs identifies five trend areas to watch next year, related to browsers, conversation, transmission, retail and consumer tech.

The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World

Salvatore Parise, Patricia Guinan and Bruce Weinberg
Dec 15, 2008

For marketers, Web 2.0 offers a remarkable new opportunity to engage consumers. We interviewed more than 30 executives and managers in both large and small organizations that are at the forefront of experimenting with Web 2.0 tools. From those conversations and further research, we identified a set of emerging principles for marketing.

No One Cares, You Are Doing It Wrong, And That Is Awesome

DJ Francis
Nov 14, 2008

Marketers are confused these days. The things that have worked for decades aren’t working anymore. Can you imagine if you worked for 30 years in your given vocation and then, almost over night, all the rules changed? In truth, marketing is only now becoming what it truly should have been - a conversation.

How Obama Tapped Into Social Networks’ Power

David Carr
Nov 10, 2008

When he arrives at 1600 Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama will have not just a political base, but a database, millions of names of supporters who can be engaged almost instantly. And there’s every reason to believe that he will use the network not just to campaign, but to govern.

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