Monthly Archives: July 2008

Crowdsourcing or Crowdsouring

There’s no doubt that Crowdsourcing (aka getting your customers to work for you) is big business. According to IHL Consulting Group self-checkout alone is projected to be worth $1.2 trillion by 2009. Customers helping themselves or each other works because most people are served quicker, more accurately and leave with a stronger relationship to the company or product then they arrived with. For some of us this is hard to believe. I much prefer being served. But I am being retrained. I pump my own gas, research and buy my own travel tickets, check myself out of Home Depot and seek purchasing advice from bloggers. The grease that makes these wheels turn is best described by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “The Tipping Point”. Mavens, “one who accumulates knowledge” are wonderfully obsessed with details and love to help others. To a large degree building successful online communities relies on recruiting Mavens. But of course you can’t recruit Mavens – you can only entice them to participate. Fortunately they’re easy to spot. They participate and they don’t pull punches. We tell our clients that if a Maven has wondered into your community respond directly, openly and honestly. Without their participation in your social media plan, Crowdsourcing will become Crowdsouring.

Putting the Social Media Pieces Together

Penolope Trunk from the Boston Globe posted a very incisive piece on the proliferation and fragmentation of social media tools, and the implications for developing a consistent brand–especially a personal brand.

It’s clear to me that blogging is best for expressing big ideas. If you can’t convey new ideas on your blog, then you probably won’t get a lot of traffic. And most blogs that do well have a single theme and the audience can depend on the theme dictating the content of the blog. But Twitter is not good for fleshed-out ideas. I see people using Twitter for a lot of stuff, but not for fleshed-out ideas. And Flickr is good for expressing passion. Way better than, say, Twitter.

So it strikes me as really lame that we have such a wide range of media at our disposal yet people are using that range to convey the same aspect of themselves: the personal brand they are creating for social media.

What I love about her post–other than the fact that she’s not a “social media guru” but a working journalist who’s sharing her experience working with Web 2.0 tools–is that she highlights an aspect of social media marketing that I haven’t thought deeply about, despite coming from a branding background. Like many marketers, I’ve been so focused on figuring out the tactical aspects of knitting together all these disparate tools, I haven’t thought too much about the modulation of voice or message to match the medium, even though it’s obvious.

yellow knowsOver the past few months, I’ve been working on the interplay of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and my own blog and business sites. In a nutshell I’m working to create original content in places like YouTube and my business sites, write commentary about the content on my blog, and drive traffic to the content through Twitter, FriendFeed, and SEO traffic. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter help me build networks of people who have a general and hopefully growing interest in the content I’m creating.

It’s a lot like the integrated marketing programs my agency used to produce where we’d use direct mail to drive web traffic to move a product. Except today, the tools are proliferating and evolving so rapidly, it takes some time to figure out what tool works best for what purpose.

But Penelope sheds another light on this complex fabric. Who you connect with, and the inherent mode of communication facilitated by, say, the 140 character haiku of Twitter, has not only a practical impact on what you say, but a strategic one as well. Instead of having a monolithic “social media” voice that you shove into each new medium however well it fits, explore different aspects of your voice that fit different mediums.

So I am playing with Twitter right now, seeing what part of me feels most natural to be in Twitter. This is the same thing we do as we make a new friend. We figure out what combination of the things that make up our personality will be best with this person. That’s why we’re a little different with each person we know.

Maybe this is a little too down in the weeds for many marketers, but i think it’s bringing us full circle with much of the depth of understanding marketers have gained about communication over the past 30 years, and applying it rather succinctly to the tools we’re building in social media. Discussions like this are proof to me that social media is not a passing phenomena. Again, this isn’t a marketer or social media guru pushing a new methodology, it’s a journalist speaking about her own exploration with the modern tools of communication and how she understands the evolution of her craft. That’s powerful stuff.

Success in Social Media Survey Results

A year ago MotiveLab syndicated a marketing whitepaper with Netline, entitled “12 Essential Tips for Success in Social Media”. Over 3,000 people downloaded the report and 1,800 filled out a short survey asking about their attitudes and approach to social media marketing. The results of that survey are available here for free.

We separated the data gathered in the first six months from the data gathered in the second six months. Interesting trends are discernable even in this short of a time period suggesting that the pace of adoption and the level of social media integration among corporations are increasing. We also discovered a lack of confidence in PR and Advertising agency’s ability to deliver social media strategies despite a considerable effort by these traditional media players to add social media to their service offering.

New Social Media Marketing Adoption Report

Last year my agency, MotiveLab, syndicated a marketing whitepaper with Netline, entitled “12 Essential Tips for Success in Social Media”. We were overwhelmed with the results. Over the course of the past year, almost 3000 people downloaded the whitepaper, with more than 1800 registering and answering a short survey about their attitudes and approach to social media marketing.

Recently we analyzed the results as two separate data sets divided into six month periods, and compared the first six months to the second six months to see any changes in attitudes and opinions. The report is available for free at the MotiveLab Web site, and the results are fascinating.

I won’t rehash all the data in the report, but it shows a clear acceleration in adoption of social media as a marketing practice, and fairly balanced opinions about its value and application, despite all the frothy hype and counter-hype in business reporting. (The whole debate last week about the “failure of online communities” reminds of when we were all debating about whether or not the Internet was a smart marketing investment. I thought Francois Gossieaux answered it nicely.)

One note about the data that I thought was pretty fascinating. Less than 5% of marketers cited PR or Advertising agencies as resources for developing social media marketing programs, despite the fact these companies are making a tremendous effort to add social media to their service offerings. Looks like they need to do a little more week eating their own dog food and connecting with the marketing community to refine their approach.

Marketonomy Migration

Okay, this took way too long. But it’s done. Marketonomy–and my reliance on TypePad–is dead. If you’re reading this by RSS, come and check out the new WordPress site. I’m excited and relieved, but don’t get me started on the rant about the migration. Let’s just say I got far too familiar with .htaccess modrewrites and redirects.

After three years writing under the Marketonomy banner, I’m retiring the name and using my own. It was just too confusing when I’m also associated with SocialRep and MotiveLab–and I’m tired of spelling the URL out all the time. (It sounded like such a great idea at the start…) So now it’s just, but I’ll continue to write about marketing and technology and my perceptions on how they interact and impact society.

The image in the header was photographed by French photographer Philippe Dollo a few years ago. He was playing around at the time with some kind of mechanical panoramic camera–the lens actually panned from side to side and exposed a long sheet of film. I was drawing a blank over what to build the design of the blog around when I remembered these photos, and the whole process suddenly changed direction and became a blast.

Let me know what you think of the new design.

Pickens Charge

Most of the work we do here at MotiveLab focuses on understanding the attitudes, interest and motivations of the people using a product or service. Understanding an audience enables us to design programs for engagement that create trusting relationships.

Occasionally we are asked to design social media programs that alter behavior so that a new service or product becomes desirable. Creating new product categories is not new but it is very difficult because you have to get analysts and the media to agree that we need a new category.

In social media the analysts and traditional media are less important. Changing behavior is about getting a large community of people to agree that a change is necessary or desirable. If you want to see this process unfolding, check out the PickensPlan. It’s a five minute idea for moving away from our dependence on foreign oil and toward natural gas and wind. Energy solution aside, this is one of the most well-integrated and thought through social media sites I’ve seen lately. There are no Hollywood-style movies, t-shirts to make or games to play just solid community building. Click around the web site and you’ll notice two things straight away. The content is just under five minutes – that’s it. I hope more substance will follow but at this point participation is much more important than pushing content. The second thing you’ll see is a host of opportunities to participate. From Twitter to forums they make it easy to link T. Boon into your community.

Granted, T. Boon is not creating a new product category but at the end of the day there is not much difference between convincing people they need to drive natural gas cars and convincing them they need a walkman.

Who Would Jesus Shoot?

I’ve been working with companies on building effective consumer and B2B brands for many years. It’s always interesting to view organizations through the “brand lens”. The church is a particularly interesting subject since it’s so easy to point out inconsistencies in behavior – actions that sit in complete or more often apparent contradiction to the organization’s purpose. Last week Oklahoma Channel 5 News ran a story about Windsor Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City who had decided to give away an assault rifle to a lucky youth participating in a week-long revival. I know, Christians have as much right to protect themselves as pagans but I grew up in church. I went to church camp and confirmation. I just can’t imagine Pastor Wally at my church passing out automatic weapons during youth night.

Transportation and communication technology has been “shrinking” the world for hundreds of years. Social media dramatically accelerates this process through the intimacy of the information, the size of the audience reached and judgment that inevitably follows. It’s impossible to say what the long-term effects of the assault rifle give-away will be for the Windsor Hills Baptist Church. But I guarantee the Windsor Hills board will be asking that question from now until the end of the internet — that alone will change their brand.
Who Would Jesus Shoot

How to Fail Miserably at Integrating Social Media

This is one of those stories that just make you shake your head. A new prospective Sprint/Nextel customer tries to sign up for a  two-year mobile contract. She’s told she can’t sign-up until she resolves a previous contract balance, even though she’s never had an account with Sprint before. The balance? Four cents. That’s right. Four. Cents.

It gets better.

Sprint tells her that she can’t pay the balance right then and there by phone, and she can’t add it to the balance of her new account, she has to drive to a Sprint store and pay it in person. The customer flips Sprint the bird and hangs up.

And then she blogs it.

Now, Sprint has a story burning a wildfire through the blogosphere highlighting bureaucratic incompetence. The company spends hundreds of millions on advertising, and now their bureaucratic bungling results in a free windfall of earned media for their competitors. I’d love to see an economist calculate the ultimate cost of that $.04 decision.

Update: I was contacted by a Sprint representative within 24 hours of writing this post, and given information that has been posted by the same representative in the comments below. He sought to inform me about Sprint’s side of the story, but did not ask me to remove the post. Later, in the comments below, after more information about the story came to light, he suggested I might want to change the title of the post. But honestly, I don’t think that’s the best course of action to take. I think Sprint has demonstrated that, at least on the social media side, they’ve done a very good job of tackling this issue head on, and I think it’s the whole story, in context, that marketers should get, and not just the outcome. We can argue about what Sprint might have done differently to avoid this problem in the first place, but once the ball was in play, I think Sprint’s marketing executed well, and I think the post should remain as a case study.

Social Inner-Working

Interesting article today from the Sydney Morning Herald about sharing ultrasound images on sites like MySpace. Social networking with a foetal attraction.

“Many mums-to-be say posting ultrasound photos is an easy way to announce an exciting piece of information to lots of people all at once. But some warn that sharing foetal pictures could be oversharing”

I think this discussion is done. Sharing fetal images on the web is widespread and ironically considered less personal than images of children at play. Even my own 20-something daughters agree they’d share ultrasound images of their children but not photos of their first birthday. A good company to look at for this service is MyPhotoBaby.


What interests me though is where this is going. For an insight I spoke with Steve Corey, an IT executive working with a group of physicians and ultrasound technicians to deliver 3D and 4D images from the Doctor’s office right to your personal web site — without necessitating a non-medical ultrasound procedure.

Steve sees this as just the beginning; “Right now we are giving families the ability to create keepsakes and get to know their child in utero. But in the near future we see people sharing all sorts of medical imaging”

Where does this lead? You guessed it – MyInnerSpace. It won’t be long before people with serious medical conditions are sharing their MRI’s , X-ray’s and other scans with a non-medical network who have experienced similar ailments.

If doctor’s aren’t already jumping off of rooftops out of frustration with patients who know as much (or more) than they do about their diagnosis – they will now. I predict that patients will be showing up to their appointment with problem areas notated on images they provide. Many doctors have been trained in ultrasound diagnoses by the equipment sales reps – who have no medical degree. It won’t be hard for the determined novice (motivated by a life threatening illness) to become an expert.

Some bad behavior is bound to follow but for the most part, the more we know about our own health the healthier we’ll be.