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59 posts categorized "5 Rules of ..."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The 5 NEW Rules Of Social Media Optimization (SMO)

About a week ago I started seeing a curious number of tweets, links and Google Alerts to a popular blog post I wrote 4 years ago. The reason was that today happens to be the four year anniversary of that post which first introduced the idea of Social Media Optimization or SMO as it is now popularly known into the world of digital marketing and on Wikipedia. For many of the readers who consistently read my posts today, this SMO post may have been the reason they first stumbled onto my blog. It became an unintentionally big idea that captured the attention of a growing niche of digital marketers who saw themselves at the intersection of working in search engine optimization (SEO) and wanting to branch out into new world of social media. 

In the four years since that post I have tried to focus this blog on my real passion of sharing insights that could inspire people to create better marketing to sell their ideas to the world. SMO was a point on that journey and given the interest that this one idea has sparked among digital marketers around the world, it is one that is worth revisiting today. As I thought about this post today, I realized that the ideal way to revisit SMO would be to try and answer the one question I have been asked most frequently by marketers around the world about SMO: Would you change these "5 rules" today given that the original post was written before Twitter or Foursquare or many other big trends or sites that are now becoming a big part of the social web?

The short answer is yes. The core change I would make is to add and focus on a word that I think truly describes the social web today in a way that few people really grasped four years ago: sharing. So, based on this, here are my thoughts on the 5 NEW Rules Of Social Media Optimization:
  1. Increase your linkability Create shareable content - Four years ago I focused on linkability because the main currency that could drive up your traffic was how many people were linking to your content. Today content can be liked or tweeted and it is about more than links - it is about creating content that is shareable. The better your content is, the more people will want to share it with their entire social networks whether they link it, like it, dig it or share it.
  2. Make tagging and bookmarking easy Make sharing easy - Following from the previous point, tagging and bookmarking only scratch the surface of the many ways that people can share content with others. They can post a short link to their profile, embed a video, send out a tweet or create a hashtag for a conversation. Limiting the ways of sharing to just tagging or bookmarking doesn't make sense anymore. The core of this rule, however, was the point about making it easy and that is still at the heart of this new rule. Once you have shareable content, it has to be one-button-easy so people will do it with minimal effort or thinking.
  3. Reward inbound links Reward engagement - In 2006, the main thing most marketers were concerned about were inbound links. It was a time when Technorati was the standard by which we all measured the performance of our content and many bloggers focused more on their number of inbound links than their readership or traffic numbers. Today the real currency is around conversation or engagement. While there are a million definitions for "engagement" ranging from comments and discussion to posting or sharing content - this is the behaviour that matters most in the social web and the one that we should all focus on rewarding when it happens.
  4. Help your content travel Proactively share content - This was the weakest of the original 5 rules, as the original rule simply talked about publishing your content in other formats such as PDFs or videos and submitting them to other sites. Instead, the essence of the new version of this rule is all about proactively sharing content in a different way. This encompasses everything from creating slides to post on Slideshare or documents to share on Scribd - as well as tweeting about your content or offering embeddable versions of it, or using RSS feeds to syndicate it. Proactively sharing even includes posting your content to social networking profiles or creating profiles on video sharing sites.
  5. Encourage the mashup Encourage the mashup - The last original rule of SMO is the one that I would leave intact. The concept of the "mashup" where people take and remix your content by adding their own input and voice has only grown over the past four years. The mashup will be around to stay, whether the term continues to be used or not. Allowing people to take an ownership over the social content you publish will continue to be a key way that you can optimize your content for the social web.
On the original 5 rules, several other smart folks jumped in to add 12 more rules to the list ... it only makes sense for me to try and invite the same input this time around. What do you think of these updated rules? Are there others you would add to the list?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

5 Things Customer Care Teams Wish Marketers Did Differently

IMB_SOCAP_Logo Earlier this week I had the chance to present at one of the largest annual meetings of customer care professionals in the world, the SOCAP International Symposium. SOCAP stands for the Society of Customer Care Professionals, and among other things, its members include the folks in charge of running call centers, managing customer response teams and sometimes branching into running loyalty programs as well. If marketing is all about the outward appearance of a brand and perception, then customer care (more than any other group) is focused on the reality of what your brand actually is.


This battle between perception and reality, interestingly, is where the divide between customer care and marketing usually arises. The larger the company, the more divorced these two disciplines seem to be - often only meeting at the last stages of planning a marketing campaign to finally discuss coordinating. Not surprisingly, a key theme I quickly saw during the SOCAP event was that the communication between marketing and customer care needs to get stronger across the board. In particular, there were 5 themes that emerged for me (as a marketer) that define what customer care people would love to see from us more frequently:

  1. Involve customer care in strategic planning. This request could just as easily come from any other area of a business, but knowing the direction earlier that marketing and branding teams will be taking can dramatically help customer care professionals to manage current customers and even contribute to amplifying a marketing effort once it does hit the market.
  2. Proactively escalate and share issues. The thing many marketing teams fear most is negativity of any sort. If you are in the pharma space, this means adverse events. In a consumer space, it might be a negative experience that potentially could lead to a recall. Most customer care teams, however, have very specific processes for dealing with these issues and quite frankly are a lot better at it than any marketing team could ever be. Contrary to what many marketing teams think, the customer care team wants to know about negative experiences as early as possible. Hiding or ignoring them simply makes the customer care team's job that much harder once they actually do need to deal with it.
  3. Encourage marketing staff to take customer care training. This is already happening in some organizations, but it was cited more than once as an important part of helping marketing teams to understand how to deal with consumers in a positive or negative situation. Some companies already have this process in place, but for others who are considering it, it can be a great way to make sure that the marketing plans and efforts are informed by some real level of understanding of how consumers actually behave and what they really think.
  4. Expand customer care lessons to third party agencies. As a marketer who works for an agency, I appreciated this point most of all ... and it is about making sure that any brand extends their learning and policies when it comes to dealing with consumers to the third party marketing agencies and vendors who might be acting on their behalf. This is particularly important because increasingly people are just assuming that anyone who they might interact with during a marketing effort works for a brand - agency or not, so everyone needs to be following the same guidelines and ideals.
  5. Ask for (and listen to) customer care insights & trends. For all the money that marketers spend on consumer research, surveys and focus groups designed to help them understand their consumers, there is no better place to start than by understanding what your current customers who are already contacting you think. And the people they currently speak to are the customer care team. Before your head off with your newly approved marketing research budget in hand, make sure you are leveraging and paying attention to what your customer care team already knows (and would love to share with you).
NOTE: This post was originally published on the 360 Digital Influence team blog.

Friday, January 01, 2010

5 Non-Obvious Marketing Trends To Watch In 2010

In these last few weeks of 2009, one of the things that nearly everyone is doing is getting ready for what is to come in 2010. Like many bloggers, I have already started reading some "predictions" for 2010 - which often take lessons learned for 2009 and project them into the next year. For my own part, I have done these sorts of blog posts before and the tough thing is to highlight things which will be relevant not just on the first of the year, but throughout. It's not about observations of things that are hot right now - but about what people can and should be thinking about throughout the year.

To that end, here are five trends that I haven't yet seen discussed elsewhere, but which I believe will be top of mind for marketers in 2010 if they aren't already. As with any "predictions" like these - I would love to hear your thoughts about the five I have chosen, or any others I might have missed. I'll add the best to this post as additions ...
  1. The Importance Of When. The popularity of Twitter has helped marketers to focus on one element of social media communications that might have been easy to otherwise forget - the importance of when. In a flood of communications and messages, sometimes what you say matters less than when you say it. Consider the significance of this for a moment. So much of our focus as marketers tends to be on the messaging, but how much attention do you pay to things like time of day that your messages run, or concepts like dayparting for any paid media spends? As real time communications begin to happen on many more platforms than just Twitter through tools like status updates on Facebook and LinkedIn and mobile messaging - the question of when is one that marketers will finally start devoting more time and energy towards. This will help marketers to be more relevant to the moment, create new opportunities for publishers to sell media space at premiums based on time, and adversely affect media which has no understanding of time.
  2. Rebirth Of Usability. There was a time in web development near the end of the nineties and early 2000s when usability was hot. Jakob Nielsen was on every marketer's must read list and usability testing was something marketers paid a lot of attention to. Then somehow usability started taking a backseat to many other hot trends online, from interactivity online, to widgets, to social media. Usability became "old school." The real business benefits of usability, however, are undeniable and in 2010 I believe many brands will start to rediscover this fact and add usability back onto their list of priorities for online efforts. More broadly, I think this will signal resurgence in the attention marketers are paying to their entire interface and mean that in addition to adding the latest social features to a site (which will continue to be popular), they will also focus on how the interface is actually used.  
  3. Marketing With Customer Service. Some of the biggest social media success stories for brands in 2009 are those where social media has been completely linked with customer service (Dell, Comcast and Zappos are all examples of this). So much so, in fact, that the transformative power of social media within an enterpise may not even be a marketing function at all. That's a big admission for a marketer to make, but sometimes the best marketing you can have is great customer service that delights your customers and gets them sharing their experience with everyone they know. That's critical to word of mouth marketing, and requires coordination from within an organization beyond just the marketing people. In 2010, I expect to see the walls between these two continue to break down, as marketers realize that the moment when their messages either come to life or fall flat hinges directly on the quality of the customer experience.
  4. The Rise Of Voluntary Ambassadors. Marketers today are throwing around terms like "brand ambassadors" all the time, with many marketing budgets for 2010 including a line item to foster these ambassadors. The problem is, in 2009 this term was often another way of referring to the practice of getting bloggers to write about your product or service. Amazon Top Reviewers and Power Twitter users are just two examples of big influencers who are not bloggers. A true ambassador program is about unlocking the passion of people who actually have some affinity for your product or service. These ambassadors may not be bloggers - but they do have a passion for your product or service and more importantly, they want to share their opinions. These voluntary hand-raisers are your real ambassadors, and the brands that can find and unlock these voices are going to be the ones who are truly successful with their ambassador programs.
  5. More Businesses Find Their Personality. Clearly this is a passion point for me - talking about how companies need to have a personality. After all, I wrote an entire book on it. But as self serving as this fifth trend may seem, the reason why I include it here (and have in previous years as well) is that each month that passes I see new companies uncovering this importance for themselves. In 2009, I saw three large brand RFPs all asking for counsel on (among other things) how to have a stronger personality. Brands like Ally Bank in the financial sector and Intel* in the technology sector demonstrate the real power of personality in terms of making your brand more human and believable ... and at industry events the topic of personality (or authenticity or humanity or some related concept) is still a frequently discussed topic. The longevity of this trend is the reason I wrote my book, and also the reason why I keep it on my list of trends to watch for 2010 even though many of you have heard it from me before.

* Disclosure - Intel is a client of Ogilvy PR and a current client I work with.

Monday, October 12, 2009

9 Fatal Flaws of Doing PR With Social Media: Exclusive Webinar!

IMB_BullDogReporter When it comes to social media, it sometimes seems the only thing more plentiful than free advice is bad advice. Anyone with a newly minted blog and a Twitter account with a couple thousand followers seems ready to self-describe themselves as "social media guru" (which I feel like I should find offensive both as a social media pro AND an Indian). But the point is, there is no shortage of people that are willing to charge you for half baked advice.

Several weeks ago I spoke with the team at Bulldog Reporter about putting together a webinar that would stand out. One that would share real insightful tips that people haven't heard before. I'm happy to share that I will be conducting that webinar THIS FRIDAY AT 1PM EST focused on the 9 "fatal flaws" of doing PR with social media and real advice on how to really put together a social media plan that will stand out, get results, and make you look GREAT to your boss and rest of your company in the process.

In this session, you'll learn why giving up control is a bad idea, why only amateurs allow comments on YouTube videos and a new idea for using Twitter as part of your pitch process without resorting to fitting every pitch into 140 characters or less. More importantly, unlike many of my other sessions - I have agreed with the organizers to not post the lessons and content from this one online, so the only place you'll be able to get this is through signing up for this webinar. Here's how to get a much more detailed description:


Finally, as a special offer - the first 50 groups to register for this webinar will receive a FREE signed copy of Personality Not Included. Visit Bulldog Reporter online to register ...


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The 5 Big Myths Of Social Media

As a consultant working with many brands on social media strategy and efforts, I hear a lot of perceptions about social media. Extended out to the conferences that I attend and sometimes speak at, it is surprising how often I hear the same myths about social media. These are not things that brands are just using as reasons to not engage ... they often come from brands and marketing teams that are actively using social media as well. The following is a selection of some of the myths that I hear most often, as well as some thoughts on why they are simply myths and what your brand can do to get past them:
  1. You need to give up control. By far the most common myth, giving up control is a defeatist way of looking at social media. It means that anyone can say anything about your brand and there is nothing you can do and no input you can have. The truth is actually that control in the best of cases is shared. You have a point of view and your customers do as well. To effectively create a dialogue, you need to be willing to share some of the control with those people conversing online ... but keep some for yourself as well.
  2. It is all about going viral. Starting out with social media with the intention of creating a viral success or getting "X" number of subscribers, followers, friends or fans is a sure recipe to focus on the wrong things. The point of most social media programs is not that they may reach millions of people blindly, but a smaller subset strategically. To that end, focusing on creating something engaging is far more important that just trying to get volume or go viral for its own sake.
  3. Someone needs to be managing it full time. Resourcing can often be a huge roadblock - in part because of the perception that if you don't have someone ready to make social media their full time job, then you are not prepared. The truth is that you can manage social media effectively by making it a core part of someone's job. You do need to identify someone who will take the lead, but this doesn't have to be a 24/7 job.
  4. Everything has to be open, transparent and public. There is a lot of talk about openness and transparency, which often forgets one of the most powerful things about social media: that it has huge potential to foster internal dialogue, enable better collaboration and allow more efficiency. In these cases, you might want to use social media more for something that doesn't (and shouldn't) belong in the public. This is not about hiding information (and you do still need to assume that some or all of it could end up online) - but sometimes the easiest place to start using social media is internally ... and in private.
  5. Measurement just involves "soft" metrics. Every day marketers are learning that social media doesn't just have to be about awareness or influencing perception. Depending on the strategy, you can use social media for everything from direct sales to generating real relationships online which lead to revenue generation. Our own team at Ogilvy has created a metric model called Conversation Impact that goes far beyond the soft metrics to prove the real value of social media to the brands we work with.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Marketer's Guide To Being Anti-Social Online

IMB_guywithphone Everyone wants you to be social. If you're a marketer, you have heard about a million times in recent weeks, months and years about the power and necessity of social media. Get a blog, get on Twitter, create a fan page ... every piece of advice seems to point towards being more social, more open and more transparent. Let's take a deep breath together. This post is not the kind of advice you'd expect to get from a "social media guy" like me. In fact, it's downright antisocial. To put it more accurately, it is about the right times to be anti-social.

This is a strange post when many brands are struggling right now to even find the right ways to be social online. Engaging with social media is an imperative for most brands (though the way you do it can and should vary greatly depending on your business and goals). There is plenty of good advice online for how to do this well, though. I like to think I have shared a decent amount of this type of advice here on this blog. But as marketers we also want to avoid the landmines. The situations or instances in social media that may be likely to blow up in our faces. Those are often the situations where being anti-social is the best strategy.

Here are a few situations and pieces of advice I have gathered on how to be anti-social online and help your brand succeed at the same time:
  1. NEVER allow YouTube comments. I have had the opinion for some time now that allowing people to comment on your YouTube videos without moderating is an idiotic thing for a brand to do. Why? Because the vast majority of YouTube comments lack substance, include uninformed or somehow offensive remarks, and offer little context or real discussion. Instead, if you want to foster dialogue on your videos, create a video blog and embed the video into the blog. Then allow people to comment on the video in the blog. This will generally result in far higher quality comments, and less infantile useless banter.
  2. DON'T friend/follow everyone. As a brand, the temptation is to friend and follow everyone who contacts you or requests to be your friend. Resist that temptation, and instead make it the job of someone on your team to actively monitor these requests and approve them based on criteria that you set. This criteria can be lax (not a robot account) to more specific to your industry or area of concentration. The effort will pay off, though, when it comes to using a particular social network as a marketing platform and tool for collaboration because you will only be talking to people who really matter.
  3. MODERATE your profiles actively. What is written online is not written in stone, and as a brand you have the right to set the ground rules for your own profiles and sites online. What this requires is clearly posting your policy about what is ok and what is not ok for people to post and share in your environments. This doesn't mean to try and delete anything negative or critical ... but off topic or offensive comments or posts can and should be moderated. And in cases where people are posting incorrect or flawed information, you have a right and obligation to correct them (but allow their comment to be posted if it meets your criteria).
  4. SEPARATE private content. There are legitimate reasons why you might want to share brand content among a small subset of users or internal users online. Just because content is online doesn't mean that everything needs to be open and public. If you feel you have a legitimate reason for sharing password protected private content, you should do it. And if it is extremely sensitive, make sure you take the right steps to protect it and prevent it from getting in the wrong hands.
  5. PROMOTE yourself and your brand. Part of the benefit of using social media is that it does allow you an authentic place to share branded offers or promote your products and services. Unfortunately, some brands are advised that just because they are on social media they should never consider using it for marketing reasons. The fact is, if you are using social media in an authentic and not overly promotional way on a daily basis, you can earn the right to share marketing information at various points and not lose your audience. The real trick is to strike the right balance.

Monday, May 04, 2009

How To Live Blog (Or Twitter) An Event Effectively

Photo Credit: Josh Hallett (hyku)

There are two types of content creators at any event. The ones who are creating content because they want to, and those who are creating content because they have to (often because they have been sent to "cover" the event for a team or organization). For both, the toughest question to answer is how to do this in a way that results in quality content, but also doesn't detract from your experience of actually being at an event and participating in it. This post is about a few tips and ideas that should help you deal with that challenge based on what I've learned from attending dozens of events and watching how hundreds of people create content:

  1. Have a purpose. Creating content in a live context can be a great traffic driver to your site, or a brilliant way to connect with those who are sharing ideas and will be reading your efforts soon. Before you get into it, however, make sure you know what you want to get out of it. Are you trying to educate colleagues? Drive more visitors to your site? Have a goal before you start.
  2. Focus on the 1st take. In a real time environment, you don't have time to touch up a photo in photoshop or edit a video. A blog post must be 95% right the first time you write it. Speed is the toughest part of covering an event live - and the best way to manage it is to practice getting things right on the first take so you don't have to go back and fix them.
  3. Create realistic targets. Do NOT ever think that you can live blog every session you attend and pack your day. That's the surest way to give yourself a major headache and feelings of inadequacy. Even pro bloggers who are covering events professionally take breaks - and your goal should be to share great content, not a high volume of crappy content.
  4. Publish nuggets, not manifestos. Think about this - real time means you need to get content up and out quickly. Using shorter content sharing quick thoughts is much better for this. So save the big ideas for a recap post or something that comes later and focus on speed in the short term. Twitter is great for this as well - but don't just tweet everything a speaker says. Instead, focus on finding the best soundbites. And always tag your content with the hashtag (keyword) being used by people at the event (or create one if one does not exist).
  5. Have a point of view. Speed doesn't mean lack of substance, however. The worst kind of content to come out of events is where people share what is happening on stage in a word for word "book report style" format. Most social media events already have someone assigned to do that. And trust me, you don't want to be "that guy (or girl)." Always have a point of view on what is happening on stage.
  6. Share the real pulse of the event. Often the most interesting thing about an event isn't just what people say, but the intangibles about the event. Did everyone head back to their hotel rooms during the breaks or were they networking? What sessions were the most popular? Keep your eye out for broader trends that help you to understand the vibe and pulse of the event on a greater level.
  7. Offer an insider perspective. Being an attendee or speaker at an event gives you a unique insider view of what is happening. If you can, try to share as much of that experience online as you can. Remember, the people following live are most likely those who were interested in the event but could not make it themselves, so give them a good look inside the event.
  8. Get help on content promotion. Creating content from an event in real time is complicated enough, but you will probably find yourself simply running out to time when it comes to effectively promoting all the content you're creating. So get some help to submit your posts to Digg and other sites, or to point people to some of your content. Promotion is great real time, but it's most effective if you can split the duties.
  9. Represent the virtual attendees. When you find yourself with an audience following your content in a live fashion, you have the option to be their representative at an event. This means you could poll your audience and ask a question in a session on their behalf - or ask others to follow up directly with those individuals as well. Be their voice and they will thank you for it.
  10. Do a recap. No matter how many posts or tweets you get out during an event, always do a recap of the event and what you learned as part of your effort. Often, you'll find this post lets you talk about things you just didn't have time to during the event. And it will most probably be your most visited effort from the entire event.

Monday, January 26, 2009

6 Non-Salesy Ways To Ask Your Customers To Promote You

Want to know the #1 reason your customers don't recommend you to their friends? It isn't because they don't like your product, or because they don't care or are too busy. The real reason is either because you don't ask them to, or you don't make it easy for them to do it. If you ask them in the right way, however, the word of mouth referrals and additional business you can get from the experience will easily be more powerful that just about any other advertising or marketing you could do. Here are a few ideas for getting your customers to promote you to their family, friends and social networks in a way that won't make it appear as if you're paying them to like you:

  1. Share the credit. When you create a new video using the software offered with the new Flip digital video cameras, there is an option at the end of the movie editing process to "share the credit" with Flip. Checking the box means that there will be a small screen that appears at the end of your movie saying that you created your masterpiece with Flip. It's a great and simple way to let their users "share the credit" with them (see image at the end of this post).
  2. Let them be a fan. For those of you who are active Facebook users, this phrase likely has the meaning of creating a "fan page" but beyond Facebook, people often want to their circle of friends (and sometimes to the world) to know the brands they love. So on Facebook and even offline, give your customers and employees some visual way to declare that they support your brand. Give them t-shirts or bumper stickers. Let them put a badge on their blog or join your group on LinkedIn. However you do it, find as many ways as possible for them to identify themselves with you.
  3. Encourage online reviews. It is no secret that online reviews can have big impact on whether someone decides to purchase something or not. Instead of getting customers to blindly fill out surveys or registration cards, try asking them to go online to a prominent site, or social network, or even their own blog and ask them to talk about their experience. Having these opinions searchable and public online will do far more for you than a great survey response.
  4. Refer a friend. At one point it was common to see a "tell a friend" button on just about every website. Though that practice may not be as common as it once was, you should consider bringing it back for your site. Offline you can achieve the same thing through giving people extra business cards or other materials to pass along to their friends. Sometimes all you really need to do is make sure you are giving your supporters enough material to share with others.
  5. Pass along an offer. Along similar lines is the idea of having a specific promotional offer that your customers can share with their contacts. Among the best types of offers are those which offer something for them AND something for your customer. One example is the friends and family discount that Clear Card offers. If you sign someone else up, you'll get a free month, and the person you sign up does as well.
  6. Offer useful content. Nothing can promote your brand quite like offering content that solves a need. If you answer a customer's question or help them share something useful, you'll be one your way to getting them to promote your point of view just by passing the content along.

Example of "Sharing the Credit":


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ariana Huffington Shares 4 Secrets Of Creating A Successful Blog

Huffington_2 Yesterday at the MarketingProfs event, Ariana Huffington took the stage for a keynote presentation sharing some lessons she has learned about building a successful blog network with the Huffington Post. Though she definitely ignored my advice to speakers about spending some time at an event to get to know the attendees (she was barely off the stage before heading out the door), she did share some interesting points in her talk that should be useful to most marketers:

  1. Make it easy for contributors to contribute. One of the hallmarks of growth for the Huffington Post has been the site's ability to become the defacto location for any big celebrity to share their thoughts via a blog post. Not a purist about blogging, Ariana's point of view on blog posts was simple - if someone shares their thoughts transparently and honestly, the site can publish it as a blog post. To make it easy for Hollywood celebs like George Clooney and Jamie Lee Curtis, she has a team ready 24/7 to capture blog posts via dictation, email, or any other method someone might submit it. Benefit: You don't have to try and teach Rene Zellweger how to use Wordpress (potentially a full time job on its own).
  2. Have a point of view. In one particularly revealing moment, Ariana talked about how journalism should not be an exercise in covering all sides of a story, but an investigative search for the truth - which is usually on one side or another. Of course, anyone who reads the Huffington Post knows which side she thinks the truth is on ... but there is a certain logic in media seeking the truth instead of working hard to keep everyone happy with a mention of their points of view. The only trouble, of course, is who gets to decide the truth. Benefit: Visitors to your site have a clear idea of what you stand for and what your voice will be.
  3. Provide a safe environment. As Ariana explained it, getting new contributors would be tough if they felt that they could be attacked on a personal basis on everything they wrote. For that reason, she also has a team of real time comment "pre-moderators" who approve or reject comments in real time. Benefit: Arnold Schwarzenegger can blog about California issues without getting an influx of comments asking what the hell he was thinking starring in that dumb male pregnancy movie.
  4. Build on your big hits. One point when it was clear the Huffington Post arrived was when linked to the site. Interestingly, this big hit also offered a chance for the site to understand how big spikes like this relate to capturing consistent readers. Ariana shared that 72% of the visitors to Huffington Post from that hit never returned. Of the remaining 28%, they came and went, and over time, they found that 7% stuck around and became regular readers. Multiple that effect over three years of traffic and big hits, and the result is their current traffic of more than 20 million unique visitors per month. Benefit: Getting noticed consistently by the big sites can lead to a measurable subscriber gain if you focus on measuring it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

7 Ways To Publish A Book For Marketing


I love books. Not just for the power of conveying an idea through a printed form, but also for the emotional significance of actually holding a book in your hands. More and more recently I have been books become a brilliant marketing tool for everyone, from political candidates to technology companies. Along the way, there are several ideas that I have collected for how using a book could be an effective part of a marketing strategy. Here are a few:

  1. Explain a complex idea - Some businesses or product lines are based on something complex that is not easily understood. One example of using a book to explain a concept like this was a book Microsoft was handing out earlier this year at CES about their Windows Home Server product. It was called "Mommy, Why Is There a Server in the House?" and took a kids book approach to explaining why anyone would want a server in their home.
  2. Commission an existing author or writer - This can be a great way to build on an existing author's profile and audience by working with him or her to commission a new piece. Hilton Hotels used this strategy as part of their Olympic marketing effort when they commissioned an award-winning kids author named Todd Parr to create a new book for them around their marketing tagline "Be Hospitable." Johnson & Johnson used a similar strategy back in 2002 with Understanding Children, a book they supported the creation of from Richard Saul Wurman (well known author and creator of the TED conference).
  3. Partner with a "co-author" - There are two types of situations to use a co-author - the first is if you are actually a team and share similar ideas that you want to publish together. The second is to get someone who will do the actual writing while you help to provide direction and content. This second method is the one usually preferred by politician or famous person when they get a writer to help them create a "tell-all" biography of their lives.
  4. Offer a book template - Though in a very different category, the Disease Control Priorities Project has an interesting way of distributing their content in a book form. You can go online, select various chapters from a group of publications and create your own book. The model of offering a template and letting people assemble their own books with your branding/message integrated is one that could work in many other industries.
  5. Commemorate an experience - Art galleries use this technique often, creating limited edition books that commemorate their exhibits and the artwork contained in them. They work well because the art is so visual and many of these exhibits can be gatherings of work that will be dispersed after the exhibit and never again brought together - so the book seems very archival and worthwhile.
  6. Organize a collaboration - There are some great examples of this technique - from Seth Godin's The Big Moo collaborative book a few years ago, to the Age of Conversation parts 1 and 2 (Disclaimer - I am a contributing author to Part II) which gathered together lots of contributors and invited them to write on a related theme to bring all these pieces together into a book. The resulting publication is often something that has built in marketing support as all the contributors will promote it to their networks.
  7. Sponsor a branded printing - This may be the simplest way to use a book for marketing as you are basically using a book that has already been published which aligns to your product or brand in some way and reprinting a branded edition. Pretty much any book ever published can be reprinted in a branded version, usually with a new custom foreword or different cover depending on the number of units purchased.