Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Trust and blogs

I have previously mentioned that consumers 'trust others like themselves' and the recent report from Forrester researchers Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff backs this up:

However, what both this research from Forrester and the Edelman Trust Barometer also shows, is that people don't really trust bloggers.

Jeremiah has commented on this research, but I'm also going to give my view on this.

1. These terms are not mutually exclusive

I don't know enough about how these figures are put together, but I do know that it is possible for a person to be in two categories at once. E.g.
  • An expert and a participant on a consumer information site
  • An aquantance who blogs about using the product

I think these categories would be better as weighting for different amounts of influence and by combining them you could get a better measure of the impact of an opinion about a product or brand.

2. There are missing assessment criteria
Whist the categorisation of the research conveys a lot, there are some information gaps, such as:

  • Transparency:
    Is there anything in the blog that would cause the consumer to believe it was from anyone other than who it was supposed to be? (see my previous posting on Fake blogs)
  • Sentiment:
    Are people more likely to trust a blog that has a generally positive outlook towards the brand or company rather than one that is slating it?
  • Demographic information:
    Are the Google generation more likely to trust a review by a blogger than the MTV generation?

I'd also be curious to know if there is any blog information on which of our friends opinion we trust the most and which particular market sector and products attract a greater trust. On top of this, I'd be interested to know if a multi-contributor blog was trusted more or less.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Podcasting to improve the Influence

I've been planning on writing a blog post on podcasting for a while. This has grown in its consideration far more after my company Ideal Interface has starting working recently with a start-up who is using both audio and video as their main product and therefore their delivery mechanism.

Podcasting is just one of the many channels that companies have available for distributing content, and is the primany way of delivering audio (and increasingly video) to time-shifted listeners. Whilst a lot of podcasts are 'homegrown' operations done with a mic and some free software, quite a few companies are using this medium to get their message across.

This has been particularly adopted by media companies that already produce high-quality content. Obvious examples are:

The BBC:

The Guardian Newpaper:

There have been stories recently that raise the question of whether Podcasting is failing? However, these reports are a little premature and do not really understand how the 'Long Tail' can be leveraged successfully by podcasting. The "Power to the People: Social Media Tracker" study in April 2008 estimated that just over 14% of US Internet users downloaded podcasts in 2007. eMarketer also predicts in a recent article that US podcast ad spending will grow to $435 million by 2012 from $165 million in 2007

It should also be noted that Podcasting has additonal benefits such as Search Engine Optimisation, if done correctly:

Monday, April 28, 2008

I'm officially defined as a creator

I've just taken the 'Groundswell Social Technographics Profile'.

Here are my results:

I must say, I agree with this assessment. Here's my take on the results:

I'm always networking and looking for ways to communicate with people

I'm not a harsh critic, preferring to comment (and hopefully mostly positively)

I use photo storing sites and have a set of bookmarks, but its not my life

Its nice to watch, but its usually better to participate

Yes, that figures.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Fake blogs

Blogs written pretenting to be someone working for a company in order to satirise them are both funny to the reader and potentially damaging to the brand.

The secret diary of Steve Jobs
This quite clearly is not the blog of the Apple CEO and is very tongue-in-cheek

However, some blogs tread that fine line between being either an absolutely awful company blog or a great parody.
For example, I'll leave you to decide if this really is the official American Airlines blog or not:

For more funny fake blogs, visit Newsgroper:
This site has lots of postings from 'supposedly' real bloggers (including Al Gore & Briney Spears)

Also take a look at my previous posting about other fake UGC content.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Social Networks ARE the news

I've recently been asked by a potential client where the newly-created 'Social Media Manager' role should sit. Like this role and other emerging jobs like it, it will depend somewhat upon the company's existing structure and process (and significantly upon the individuals that work within them).


1. advertising has news
(banners now have feeds with product updates, branding sites that want to create repeat visits provide regularly-updated content and don't get me started on 'Advertorial')

2. news has adverts
Although news sites on the web find it quite hard to monetise their content (and the newspapers find their business models dying off), many are still supported by paid-for-advertising. On some sites the news and adverts are becoming hard to tell the difference between and even some news feeds come with integrated adverts now.

3. social media has news
News about what your friends: are doing (status), find interesting (notes), are buying (Beacon) or any number of other things they find interesting enough to tell you about.

4. adverts have social media
Even the Doritos advert in the middle of this year's Superbowl was a UGC-sourced production

..... With the lines between news, adverts & social media are so blurred, its become difficult to tell them apart any more. This blended mix of journalism, marketing and networking changes the relationships between companies and consumers/individuals.

It therefore changes the inner working of companies who are getting their heads around this. It consequently makes the question about where the Social Media Manager sits in the organisation that much more difficult!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Its a CEO video advert website introduction

In what is the first one of its kind I've ever seen, have delivered a rich media application that puts video of their CEO Dr. Dhavid Cooper on their homepage.

But in a clever twist, he walks on from the right side of the web page, introduces himself and gives a brief description of the site and the many products (The visitor has the option of replaying the video at any time). Apparently more videos are due to be put up, this time done by an actress who plays a 'virtual guide' role to introduce you to key brands they are promoting.

According to Dr Cooper
"In late December we decided it was time to figure out how to do it. It took
endless hours of research and trial and development by our brilliant creative
and technology team to come up with a process that would work on the web."

I like this and think that it shows an openness & approachability of their CEO. It also provides useful help and helps to develop trust in their prodcut. It is just one more way in which video is becoming the main media on the web.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The path to acceptance

I watched Shar VanBoskirk from Forrester present today at the Omniture Analytics Summit in London. Aside from giving a well-polished and highly involving presentation, she covered the subject of ‘the complex life of the online marketer’.

What was most interesting to me was the path that an online / interactive marketer needs to take in order to gain acceptance of the changing role and how it can create lasting business benefit.

Her path gave these 4 steps:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Integration
  3. Optimisation
  4. Strategic

Foremost in her presentation was the need to use a ‘central hub’ of data, for example provided by a product from a company such as Omniture (no surprise there), to provide consolidated analytics to understand what customers are doing.

Her steps were a simple but effective roadmap and covered the key tools & drivers an online marketer should use :

1. Acceptance
Companies should understand that the World is now different and customer conversation has changed from only a few years ago. Customers now talk to other customers about products without necessarily involving the companies concerned. Companies must at least engage in this dialogue. This is driven by a proper interactive programme, an understanding of the data a company already has and an understanding of Social Media

2. Integration
Having got buy-in, a marketer needs to realise the benefits from integrated programmes. Identification of the 'low hanging fruit' is key (note: at 6"6' tall, a lot of fruit for me is 'low hanging') and they need to start linking data together.
E.g. finding out who your most valuable customers are, or conducting behavioural/demographic targetting

3. Optimisation
Create customer-centric cross-channel programmes that generate financial results. You should make your work smarter and more relevant, in an effort to collaborate & streamline your efforts.

4. Strategic
This is where interactive marketing drives business success and in-turn informs the business about future direction. This is where planning & modelling comes to the fore.
Most importantly this is the Exec-level buy-in where you are affecting the company value.

She makes it all seem so easy......

How not to do a video press release

I saw this today and initially thought "good, another video clip in a press release"

But then I watched it and thought the following:

  1. Should you really use a cafe environment? (Background noise, especially china cups are a distraction from the content)
  2. Have they actually listened to this clip and the differences in volume throughout ? (It hurt my ears at one point when I was using headphones)
  3. Have you tried to read the text on these screen shot exampless? (They are unreadable)

I've previously commented that it is very difficult to produce good quality video and this exemplifies the point I think.

Monday, April 21, 2008

This time the revolution WILL be televised

My belief is that video will become the main media of the internet eventually, just like it has now dominated consumer media. This is because:

  • It gives instant gratification
  • It combines audio & video to give a proper 'multimedia' experience
  • It requires as much interaction or engagement as the viewer wants (from nothing upwards)
Professional media organizations will therefore have an enormous role in the future of the Internet. Although the technologies that make getting video on the Web are easy and inexpensive, having the skills to use them correctly need to be learnt over time and require effort. Creating good quality video is generally hard and generally expensive.

So.... what should a company do about this?
  1. Produce different quality video based upon the expectations of your audience
    E.g. if it is a 'grass roots' video for a YouTube clip, then there's proabably no real reason why it can't be shot in-house
  2. Learn what you can do in-house and cannot
    The cost-effectiveness of building your own in-house video capability depends on the use you're going to put it to. Most companies cannot and should not do this as it requires a huge commitment. Use smaller dedicated agencies can provide this.
  3. Understand how video fits in across you media landscape and how you can share in its production & usage
    e.g. Use and reuse clips, capture what you can and store it in the best possible format for possible future use (it will quicklt become a valued reference)
  4. Measure it
    Understand how your users and audience are consuming it, then work out what works best

Friday, April 18, 2008

Consider micro-content

The corporate website is a defacto presence for any company and the company blog is continue to grown in its adoption, even on sites you wouldn't have considered to be adopters. Blogs have a way of bringing users back to your site. Users subscribe to your feed, they come back to get an update on your perspective and they click-through when you link to relevant content.

However you may often not have time to write a full blog posting or you may only want to convey a point or highlight an issue for subsequate discussion. It may therefore be worth considering publishing only a sentence or two to your website to stimulate or encourage.

The web equivalent of an SMS text message, these small comments can create stickiness for users to return to, they are easy to produce and truly bring to fruition the phrase 'less is more' (some may say that this potentially provides only a small rope from which to hang yourself).

One micro-publishing method that is gaining in usage is This site, a hybrid of instant messaging and mini-blogging is fast becomming a way for a lot of peope to communicate and get instant clips of interest, emotion and knowledge. What's more, its becoming a medium that business bloggers are adopting quickly and many are using it to boost their profile.

Now I do not expect this method of communication to superceed blogging, but to act as an accompanyment to it. Its take-up rate will be something to watch.

You can follow me on Twitter here:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

When working with UGC...

... make sure its actually real people creating the content, and not some video production company.

The recent video from Expedia, apparently created as part of a UGC campaign, looks decidely professional..... and people have noticed..

Just like the term "flog" has come into usage for a fake blog, I wonder what the term for a fake UGC campaign is... a FUGC?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What does Press2.0 really mean?

I've been asked by some readers of this blog to explain a little more why I have called this collection of articles Press2.0 ....

Recently I have tended to focus on the subject of corporate & influencer dialogue and I continue to think that there is a big issue concerning the way companies communicate with their consumers, shareholders, etc. But it is also obvious that there has been a shift in how companies communicate with individuals in recent times. They are engaging in a more collaborative conversation and facilitating 2-way dialogue to create positive influence.

However the media has probably shifted the most...

In the past company communications were usually done via 'The Press', which in general meant the media who would cover this sort of information (evolving through: print, radio, tv, internet news sites, etc.)

I thinkthat the media is now so broad (encompassing social media) that 'The Press' (although originally referring to those that had a printing press for making newspapers) now really means anyone with access to publishing technology... in other words, anyone with connectivity to the Internet.

I'll make my case with the following points:

1. The old journalist model is dying
If you don't believe me, take a look aroud the web.
e.g. Your Report enables the user to become the journalist.

Bill Thompson at the BBC, put its nicley:

"They [newspapers] also seem to have realised that anyone who wants to break into professional journalism needs to have some sort of online presence beyond a Facebook profile
Indeed for several years now newspapers and TV now look to bloggers as the source for news stories: and there are almost daily articles about how newspapers are dying:

According to Bill Keller of The Times:

Newspaper companies are losing advertisers, readers, market value, and, in some
cases, their sense of mission at a pace that would have been barely imaginable
just four years ago.
Perhaps this is not just because the internet is now so many people's primary news source, but that people just don't trust media companies anymore?

2. The power of publishing is no longer in the hands of the few
With free blogging tools and the ability to reach anyone out on the web, you no longer need to own a newspaper or synicated TV programme to reach across the globe and gain an audience.
Perhaps the naming of one of the most popualr blogging tools is the most obvious giveaway....

3. The commodity of the mainstream press is no longer content, its attention for eyeballs.. yours
Your attention is a commodity every major media want, as this brings with it the advertising revenue. Media owners will apparently publish anything they like if they think they can sell potential customer attention as inventory to a product owner.

Blogs and other social media don't necessarily crave that attention or revenue. They are created out of passion and need, or often just as a way of diarising or commenting on what happens...

.... as I have just done

Monday, April 14, 2008

Customers can be brand evangelists

I'm constantly surprised by how evangelical some customers are about products they like. Just like those people who provide a stream of negative reviews/comments, there are those who provide the counter-balance and take every opportunity to say great things about companies & brands.
During a recent Forrester Marketing presentation I heard about Jen Segrest from Ohio. She runs a website dedicated to all things IKEA in Ohio. She even invented the idea of Saint Tokig, the patron saint of IKEA.

This would be a fascinating case study on evangelistic company blogs in itself, were it not for these more interesting facts:

  • IKEA contacted her to ask that she remove all mention of IKEA from her website and URL (Apparently because she was getting a higher search place than a lot of their activity)
  • IKEA declined her application for a job in one of their stores.

A lot of companies would have to pay a lot of money for this sort of marketing/PR activity. Its more than a little daft to try and stop this positive activity.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Collective endorsement

Alastair Duncan has recently used the term 'Collective Endosement' in his blog posting 'Communities are the future' and I think it is a very well chosen phrase. It sums up how specific groups bonded by a shared sentiment (and not necessarily geography) flock around a particular idea.

Alastair also poses the question:
"Will communities be the dictators of content in the future?"
and he asks if these communities could gatekeeper the outcome by this collective endorsement.

I'd like to take this idea a little further and state that I don't believe it will be entire communities that will control this sentiment all the time and that key influencers within these communities will often lead the collective embrace (or attack).

However, unlike the concept of The Tipping Point, where these are super-influencial social magnets.... these people could be normal, everyday people. The downside is that it therefore makes it far harder to understand the dynamics involved and plan your influencing strategy accordingly.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I've previously mentioned about several companies that have blogged when things have gone badly. This can earn them credibility at the same time as courting controversy. The recent McKinsey's article explains further about this and mentions:

Companies or brand that have at one time or another been associated with
controversial business practices should develop a deep understanding of what
influential online voices are saying about them

So... how should a company decide what to do?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bring back the old terminology!

Back over 10 years ago there were a number of terms used in the IT community and beyond. These terms, due to a variety of situations, have stopped being commonly used.

Now I want to bring them back, but for our new Web2.0 world:

1. Multimedia (sometimes used with either a hyphen: 'multi-media' or a dreaded mid-capital letter: 'MultiMedia'):
However, this would not be used to describe a PC that could play audio files or tiny clips of CD-Rom quality movies, but a way of stating what types of company assets are used by PR or Marketing departments to communicate.
Example: "Oh, we're now very multimedia, we've uploaded video from and a podcast alongside our text press release"

2. Incubator
This wonderful term was used to describe a larger unbrella organisation that has a number of smaller companies working within it. It fell completely out of popular speak after the dot-bomb crash of the early 2000's. The smaller companies were given support in the guise of:

  • A slightly older and more experienced management team who thought they knew what they were doing
  • A building to work within that they could not usually afford until they got funding
  • An environment where they could be safe to share ideas with others, safe that their idea wouldn't be stolen, etc.

Note: I've actually refrained from saying anything particularly critial or cynical about an incubator. This is mainly because I think that it is a great idea (perhaps just not implemented as well as it could be several years ago). It can help start-ups and provide a premesis for less. It could also properly foster a more collaborative working environment that the typical Regus managed office.
I believe that one or two incubators in London and potentially other major towns across the globe, could now nurture a few select start-ups. They could provide a stable foundation for them to grow and maybe that older managment team might now have learnt enough to be able to actually help... perhaps.

Has anyone got any more suggestions?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Famous for 15 minutes

(Well, more like 15 seconds)

A great thing happened toward the end of my working day yesterday. I was on and an announcement came from Jeremiah Owyang, that the Forrester Marketing Conference was being streamed from the Hyatt Regency hotel in LA. It turned out that he was in the front row of the conference with a hand-held video camera, with an accompanying chat forum running via

I tuned in and watched & listened, first to Forrester Researcher Harvey Manning and then, following the presentation from Brian Haven on Engagement, Jeremiah asked the forum if anyone wanted to ask a question.

A few minutes later, my question was asked by Josh Bernoff at the live event and answered by Brian Haven.

Take a look at the recorded footage:

A big "thank you" to Jeremiah for allowing me to participate in the Q&A session

More on the Edelman Trust Barometer 2008

A copy of Edelman's Trust Barometer 2008 presentation has been posted online:

I agree with him that the findings are slightly confusing as to whether online sources are truly trusted or not, but that key online influencers are definately creating a growing trust.

Of particular interest are his key points:
  • Use top-down and peer-to-peer tactics in your communications strategies

  • Engage via word of mouth with influencers

  • Companies can become leaders by building their reputations and encouraging conversation.

I would also encourage companies to plan your approach beforehand, start measuring the influence of social media and then try to categorise them so that you can hopefully have a better dialogue with them.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Social Media, Shopping and Trust

So who do customers actually trust these days?

Well according the “Trust Barometer”* for 2008 from Edelman, the world's largest independent PR firm, consumers feel the most credible source for information about a company is a....

.... “person like themselves.”

*Is this a box with two doors, out of which comes either a little man with a stick or a lady holding a carrot?

Theoretically we should then also should assume that the trust for a company carries over into product/brand trust and hopefully sales.

Of particular interest over the last 2 years is:

In 2007 businesses were more trusted than Governments, with the UK population having the lowest trust in Government (and in media companies).

In 2008 young opinion elites have higher general levels of trust than their older counterparts. They also apparently rely on multiple sources of information to form opinions of companies.

According to Jeff Grau, Senior Analyst at eMarketer:
“While blogs and customer ratings and reviews have long been a familiar
part of the Internet commercial landscape, over the past two years social
shopping sites have emerged as another way for customers to share product
experiences and opinions.”
“The sites typically provide tools for users to download photos of
interesting products found on retail Web sites to their profile page or blog.
Users then share and discuss their findings with the community,”

His article also goes into more detail about the social aspects of shopping, particularly the users need to feel part of a community and their recognition from peers.

Monday, April 7, 2008

"We gotta have our own Social Network"..

... don't we?

The Economist has recently produced a great article on the current state (and potential future) of social networks:

It initially comments on the revenue and partnerships these new environments (e.g. Facebook) have:
So it is entirely conceivable that social networking, like web-mail, will never
make oodles of money
However it brings us back to reality (removes some of the hype) and argues that with email still the ubiquitous communication medium and with open standards for portability of your social graph:
Social networking may end up being everywhere, and yet nowhere
I personally think that in the future there will be a tangible social space but that these areas will be focused far less around building freinds/contacts in each environment and more around the features & functionality that each environement provides (made possible by Open Social?).

The big issue (and one I have not full got my head around yet) is potentially having to decide which of my friends/business contacts/associates fits into each particular environment (and having to tell some that "well I like you, I just don't want to know you in that online space").

What is potentially going to be even harder... is finding the path amongst the blurred lines between individual and the company communication. An organisation, potentially made up of many individuals, will have its own social graph. However, if it decides to have two different conversations in two different functional area/places..... how will it maintain the consistency of approach and still retain the human and transaparent qualities required in modern extended corporate communications?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Web Effectiveness Index 2008

For those who didn't catch the Financial Times this Wednesday, Bowen Craggs has produced their second annual FT Index of corporate website effectiveness. This time they have added an additional 15 companies, taking it up to 75. Take a look at the article on and further detail (plus insight) is also available from the BC/FT website. Unsuprising is the second place positon for BP (previously complimented for being open about its previous issues), more shocking is the significant drops for Total and Samsung.

The accolade for Siemens is, in my opinion, a little over the top in places:

..Multimedia home page adds lustre to very carefully thought out web estate

Although they should be commended for their use of video further into the site....But I'll leave it to you to make your mind up...

Influencer - a definition

Nielson Buzzmetrics has defined an Influencer in its recent consumer-generated media vocabulary guide as:

An entity—consumer or otherwise—with disproportionate impact on key audience

I couldn't agree more!

However, I'm also interested in other defintions and quantifiable ways of measuring this influence. Has anyone got any?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A new model of journalism

A recent online presentation by Kevin Anderson at The Guardian newspaper in London has stimulated some thoughts on the new model of journalism. (Perhaps this is because the newspaper industry has had its most significant drop in ad revenue since records on these things were started in 195o? Sources here and here)

His thoughts are that the blogosphere has caused huge changes over the last few years and to make this point even more obvious a recent story has come to fruition....

Back in 2002 Dave Winer (a blogger) bet Martin Nisenholtz (CEO of New York Times Digital) that:
“In a Google search of five keywords or phrases representing the top five news
stories of 2007, weblogs will rank higher than the New York Times' Web site.”

That bet was won by Mr Winer recently and more important than the $2000 stake .... a significant point was made (by 4 to 1 actually).

Critics of blogging have for years been saying that the medium will die off or (to add insult to injury) just evolve into 'normal' jouralism. Harsher critics say it just shows "Google’s arcane and deeply bizarre search engines that favor blogs over real news sources".

However, what you cannot deny, is that blogging is here to stay and is continuing to significantly influence how and what we find out there.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Company Environment - spread the influence

How much does your company environment help to influence you staff (and then in-turn your customers, users, etc.)?

A BBC article and video on the new Google Europe offices in Zurich shows a relaxed approach to the workplace (especially in the slightly more conservative country of Switzerland).

If you believe, like I do, that your company staff are all potential influencers and have a role to play in the extended company communications network... then providing them with a place where they are welcome, nurtured and allowed to investigate issues (as well as being fed 3 meals a day at Google!) can only encourage them further.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Portable content - more considerations

Although I've previously covered making your company content and assets portable, based on recent feedback, I thought I'd provide some additional information about how to do this.

1. Put your corporate videos up on YouTube
This allows you to still embed the video clips you want into your own site, saves you expensive bandwidth and instantly makes your company video available to a new selection of people. Caveat: All YouTube users will be able to comment on your video, so be prepared to engage in any accompanying dialogue your video creates

2. Put your company photos up on Flickr (Note: Other photo sharing sites are available)
Aside from the potential bandwidth-saving achieved from delivering high quality images to your users from an alternative host, there are other benefits to placing any company photos on one the popular image sharing websites:

  • These sites provide easy integration with other Web2.0 sites (e.g. Blogging tools, etc.)
  • By using proper descriptions and tagging your photos, you make your official photos easier to be searched for and used
  • Links from your photos and profile back to your company website could improve your Search Engine Optimisation efforts

Caveat: Users to these sites, like video sites, will be able to comment on your content. Expect the level of conversation you need to participate in to increase.

3. Extend your audio coverage
Assuming you already provide downloadable audio files such as interviews on your site (hopefully in the ubiquitous MP3 format) then you can easily raise your content's profile further.

  • Add an RSS feed and allow subscription via podcasting software
  • Syndicate your podcasts via a large/popular podcasting syndication network

Caveat: This whole subject can by quite complex, so it is probably best that I cover this topic in more detail subsequently.