Tag Archives: innovation

4 Innovative Businesses You Should Know About In 2011

I had every intention of finishing this post prior to the Holidays. BUT- like most good intentions sometimes they go awry! With that said, I am finally fulfilling my commitment to speak up about four businesses I am quite fond of and the reasons why. So without further adieu –

Performant is a  traditional agency that offers traditional agency services. But there is a catch!  You hire them and  pay for performance marketing. They align their interest with their clients, creating a long lasting and fruitful relationship. When an agency is paid based on the results of the client, the synergy becomes undeniable. Companies dealing with agencies has historically been a gamble…….not so anymore!

Contact Anders Ekman to learn more: info@performantww.com

@JanetAronica very eloquently wrote this about One Forty. Oneforty is an online community for people who want to review, discover and share social media tools. It’s the internets most complete and categorized listing of Twitter applications, featuring real user reviews for the tools. oneforty has an online forum, Answers where users can participate in any social media-related discussions. One of the most compelling and popular features is Toolkits, which are Twitter app lists made by community members showing collections of Twitter tools that they use.  Toolkits are not only a clever way to bookmark your own apps, but it’s a helpful way to “see how others are doing it.”

Founded by Twitter for Dummies co-author Laura Fitton – @Pistachio – oneforty’s Twitter account is a huge focus of their community-building efforts and a well-known resource for answers to incoming Twitter app questions. If you use social media for your job in any aspect, both the directory and community aspects of what oneforty offers make this exceedingly valuable. Bookmark it.

As of this past October, studies indicate that Video usage on the web had doubled in 5 months. With that knowledge in hand, think about video in relation to your business. Now know about VisibleGains, the company that allows you to embed questions and qualify leads via video. Simply put, it is the perfect unification of video with your marketing efforts to drive leads, sales and pull business intelligence.

Additionally, the solution has its own analytics that can be data scrapped and inserted into your existing analytics dashboard. Not to mention, it functions seamlessly with 95% of marketing systems of today. If it doesn’t, you may want to consider a new system. Contact them today.

social media marketing

I was allowed to get the inside scoop on Yellow RobinWhite hat SEO marketing. SEO has really evolved over the past 3 years; unfortunately most companies are still practicing outdated techniques that won’t be very effective in 2011. Yellow Robin was created to focus exclusively on white hat SEO & leveraging social media content into back links. The goal? To make SEO more affordable, accessible & scalable for small to medium sized businesses. Businesses not leveraging content into back links in 2011 is simply missing out. Keep an eye on these guys and contact them at aj@yellowrobin.com

My next post will involve a case study of Social Media success within the music industry. As a hint, have a gander at this bands website built on Ning.com: http://apalehorsenameddeath.com/ Happy belated New Year everyone!


A Nine Inch Nails Social Media Strategy Plan- Don’t Give Up Yet Trent!

nin_with_teethTrent Reznor’s (from Nine Inch Nails) recent announcement that he is leaving Social Media because of trolls sums up the need for all business to- “have a plan”. Whether you are a musician or a corporate giant – a Social Media marketing strategy with a clear map to real business objective is necessary.

Reznor (@trent_reznor )says:  “The reason no record label knows how to market anything to new media is they don’t live there. They don’t get it because they don’t use it. What up-2ninyou’ve seen happen with the marketing and presentation of NIN over the last years is a direct result of living next to you, listening to you, consuming with you and interacting with you. Directly. There’s no handlers or PR people here, it’s me and my guys – that’s it. There’s no real plan, even – it’s just trying to do the right thing that respects you the fan, the music, and me the artist. That’s the goal – a mutual and shared respect.”

He is right! In a perfect world he could engage his fans transparently and be free and clear of negative sentiment. But the fact remains- transparency will lead to as much negative as positive. But to combat it, businesses need the resources to answer to both the negative and the positive. Reznor’s comments are nothing more than a call for help- not a white flag!

Here are 5 action items that Trent can do to remedy his troll problem and create a solid foundation fora  true Social Media Strategy Plan:

  1. Hire a Social Media Director – I am sure there are a great deal of recent college grads that would kill to put Nine Inch Nails Social Media Director on their resume. I am also sure this person would work on the cheap! They would be in charge of monitoring, responding, engaging, and consistently push/pulling relevant content to Nine Inch Nails. Essentially being the overseer of the NIN brand in Social Media channels. Instead of Trent doing it, this person will carry out  tedious tasks and put the most important content in front of Trent daily to respond to. Everything between the good ideas to negative sentiment!  This essentially removes the trolls and lets Trent focus on making great music. Lastly, this person will work under NIN’s PR folks.
  2. Purchase a Social Analytics tool– these tools help track, reply, document and recognize real ROI. For $500-$750 per month a business can have a birds-eye view of their social media presence. I recommend Techrigy – although the marketplace is becoming flush solutions. I would suggest demoing several and deciding what would work best for a music artist.
  3. Migrate to Modlife: Because Modlife is fee service for fans to join, it eliminates trolls and allows musicians to create almost their own safe market research community. They can share, test, and interact with passionate fans. My suggestion is to utilize Modlife as a musicians center location, and use Myspace, Twitter, Facebook and Social Bookmarking sites to push information, take information- but most importantly to draw in the “real fans”. The innovators if you will- NIN’s very own market research community. Look no further then what Angels & Airwaves have done here: http://modlife.com/angelsandairwaves Perfect for NIN!
  4. Create a Recognition Rewards Program– Use meet and greets as a way to build a group of online body guards. Dangling a “meet Trent Reznor opportunity” is a stellar reward for being a pro-NIN presence that pushes the band in the social channels. This is enabling and empowering and can be done with nothing more than a bit of organizing and a brief shining of the spotlight on these do-gooders electronically. It is amazing what a simple tweet from rock star can do from an ego perspective.
  5. Build a Content Schedule & Engage– Start doing chats on TinyChat. Conduct monthly webinars and podcasts where fans get to hear new material or offer feedback on what artists NIN should tour with. The content schedule should be focused on the business goals of  fan feedback and innovation to their voice. When you give your customers what they want, you will win their business repeatedly. Once again, the content schedule is geared towards enabling, empowering and organizing NIN’s own market research community. It is no different then what Barack Obama did to get elected.

My life as a social media consultant consists of creating plans such as these-although much more in-depth than this blog. But every business is different in their needs, desires, and objectives. In fact, how each business measures ROI is vastly different.  In Trent Reznor’s case, his ROI is to be able to engage Social Media effectively so he can listen to his customers (the fans) and innovate his music based on their feedback. His desire is no different than a billion dollar corporate empire- to be able to go direct to consumer with new products-thus lowering marketing churn, while having a product that is created based on the voice of the customer. Trent just needed a strategy plan….

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How TinyChat Is A Business Tool

PhotobucketThere are a host of blog posts that speak to the “how” of TinyChat. What I have not seen is a blog post that speaks about the “why” of  TinyChat. It is a huge business tool if used right. Here are a few ideas:

  • Business Communities: Use the correct keywords for your community to create an embeddable chat page. Set a chat schedule of at least one chat per week. This helps make business communities sticky. Plus, chat is considered safe for newbies to Social Media. Not to mention the ability to chat with your webcam helps put a face to the voice-a very valuable feature for business communities as they evolve. The business benefit is more reasons to utilize the community and yet another channel to communicate.
  • eStores: Many eStores already have a chat tool. But think about the ability to chat with peers about the products on the eStore. Having a list of buyers to chat with in order to make an educated purchase will drive sales like never before. It is one thing to talk to a store associate that is paid to speak to the customer, it is quite another to have a face to face conversation with willing peers. This will take planning and a Recognition Rewards program for the eStore staff. But the long term ramifications are huge is executed correctly. The business benefit is quicker decisions to the buy!
  • More Effective Webinars & Podcasts: The premium fee is worth it with its screen share functionality. Simple and effective! This tool could shirt many users from WebEx and Skype to this one universal tool. Note: Only hardcore Skype users would actually pay for the differences.
  • Peer Supported Customer Service: Simply create a page on your branded website where peers can help each other out, real time. Again, at the outset this will take planning on the part of the business and a recognition rewards program to empower members to help each other out. But the technology is easy enough to use it on a per need basis. The business benefit is reduced customer service costs.
  • Authors: Having writers block? Invite your readers to help you brainstorm your way out of the writer’s block. Or, let it be an innovation opportunity for future writings.
  • Product Innovation: Is your company at the key phase of a new product and you wanting real time beta feedback? Bingo!

These are just a few of the ideas I have, I could chirp all day about the different uses for this very innovative tool. I am happy to talk to your organization about how this and other Social Media tools can be utilized to recognized real benefits and ROI. For now, think about how Tinychat can be used to help your organization recognize its current business objectives. Expect to see me start using it regularly…please excuse me while I finally bend and get a webcam.


Shout-Outs From My Social Media Walkabout…

walkaboutI forget who-but somebody told me to have fun while looking for a job! After being on a Social Media walkabout for three weeks, I have come to the conclusion that there are some interesting folks that I have had the opportunity to chat with. Not only are they solid business people, but they are even better human beings. Maybe it is Social Media? Maybe it is a poor economy? Whatever the case is-people are inclined to share their business and talk shop openly. Because of that, I decided to share with you some of those fine folks and introduce their companies if you are not yet familiar:

Nattergalen– Have a gander at what they do. All I will say is they provide white label community management solutions for companies you would never suspect. The fact you don’t have a clue who Nattergalen is says to me they are better than good at what they do. Drop Scott a line and tell him I sent you: scott.hammond@nattergalen.com Please follow: @scotty_nola

Awareness– I have enjoyed interactions with their team. Not only that, the transparency around the relationship between them and Sony has been refreshing. You get the sense this is a true business partnership-with an eye on success. Please follow: @dkrcarter, @khoy, @rhopper and watch this:

Techrigy– Monitor your brands reputation-real time! You can even get a free account to try it out. Having hands on experience with the product in the past, I can say the product tells a great story. I have little doubt that solutions like this will become standard practice to recognize ROI with all Social Media projects. Please follow: @cbensen, @jimmyrey, @aaronnewman

Radian6-Radian6 is another analytics monitor for Social Media. My colleague and friend, Colin Browning was beating the war drum about these guys when we worked together. After researching them they have all the bells and whistles. Again- another company with a bright future once companies realize they need to show ROI around their Social Media projects. Please follow: @davidalston, @ambercadabra

Crowdvine– My blog around Best Practices and Conferences led to some interesting behind the scenes conversations. One of those conversations was with CEO-Tony Stubblebine. If you or your company conduct live events the demo Tony puts forth is compelling. The solution is perfect for mid-level to small business, in that it won’t annihilate the budget. If you request ace time with Tony, tell him I sent you. Please follow: @tonystubblebine

Eventvue– The company is another Social Media solution for the dilapidated Conference industry. I haven’t been able to do a demo yet, but they are professional, passionate and provide a solution you would expect. I am not clear on pricing, and find the website to be rather vague. But the 3 minute screencast showed me enough to feel as though it could be a viable solution. More research forthcoming! Please follow: @joshfraz

Ripple6– The company is another player in the Enterprise SaaS Social Media space. The two things that stood out to me was the solid recommendation that Jeremiah Owyang tweeted to me. The second is Gannet purchased them with an eye on growing out their business. This is a SaaS company that bears keeping an eye on in 2009. For more information, please email George Moser at george@ripple6.com Also, please watch:

I would also like to acknowledge the following people on Twitter for being engaging, interactive and social in every sense of the word: @cselland, @alexa, @scott_carter, & @shannonpaul.

Lastly, if you are in NY or Chicago and love sales – Communispace is hiring! Email Steven at: skosakow@communispace.com. Once again-be sure to tell him Derek sent you. 😉 Now, please excuse me while I grab my backpack and get back to exploring! Happy trails….


Does Social Media Have Any Real Value? Yep! Sure Does!

The naysayer article “Does Social Media Have Any Real Value” stimulated some thoughts. The author, John Brandon says:

“There’s a lesson here, I think. For those trying to use social networks to actually influence thinking, you have to remember that most people are only paying attention to them in a sideways glance. They see the status of friends breeze by — it’s just a notch more important to them than spam.

None of these systems are game changers. Say you’re a PR firm trying to get your product noticed. Social media helps. What actually gets the product noticed, though, is old fashioned advertising, word of mouth, and favorable reviews. It also has to be a good product.”

Inaccurate is how I would refer to the statement above. I have seen Social Media fill the following business objectives successfully:

  • Market research and business intelligence
  • Customer/partner education
  • Evolution of user groups
  • Product innovation
  • Competitive analysis
  • Peer-based support
  • Company-wide collaboration/learning solution
  • Thought leadership/leads

I can discuss these successes offline if you are interested. But I can say with absolute certainty that John Brandon has it backwards. Social Media should be the central point for building a brand in 2009- with “old fashioned advertising” in support. Then the “word of mouth, and favorable reviews” will follow.  Just look at how our President kicked off building the “US Recovery” brand today. http://www.recovery.gov


Making Conferences More Social- Part 1

 Apple’s recent announcement that it is leaving MacWorld (after this year’s event) sent shock-waves through the conference industry. Having worked in the conference world from 1999 to 2006 and having associates still residing in the industry, it got me thinking about how conference companies can choose to either evolve & innovate or become irrelevant.

There will always be a place for face to face interactions. After all, we are social beings! But as the economy goes in the tank and alternative forms of communication become the norm, conference companies are on the verge of joining the endangered species list. What about the popularity of Tweetups? Everyday my administrative assistant, Digsby– lets me know about Tweetups all over the country. With that realization and my past successes setting up social communities around conferences, I decided to post a series of blogs on the topic.

The following is part 1 outlining how conference creators can utilize social networking to not only stay relevant, but be the leaders of much needed change.

Pre-Event Best Practices

  • Create a destination community attached to the conference website-same branding. This requires an investment in a vendor provider. The free services just cannot offer the security your constituents demand and should expect.
  • Select a vendor that has an idea share tool.
    1. Empower the attendee and speaker base to create session ideas for the upcoming event.
    2. Be flexible with the tracking to accommodate popular session ideas.
  • Create a Community Manager position that is exclusive to being the leader of the online event experience-not the face to face experience. I cannot stress enough, this does not come as an add-on from the existing resource pool.
  • Seed message board threads with questions attached to event threads. Meaning each session should have its own message board thread.
  • Encourage the speakers to be proactive within the community by asking questions. Make it clear what the benefit is for them; deeper conversations onsite with the introductions already out of the way.
  • Use the member profile as a way to ask (optional) business intelligent questions to enhance the user experience.
  • Open channels of communication. Create groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, MeetUp and yes…Tweetups.
  • Engage the vendors to open their marketing channels in return for additional exposure on the community.
    1. Conference companies can sell sponsorship for Ideashare for example, or trade out the real estate for exposure.
  • Create a Content schedule
  • Create a Recognition Rewards program for 3 groups:
    1. Attendees
    2. Speakers
    3. Vendors

These are the first steps of transforming the conference experience from a three day event (on average) to a 365 day experience. It will also help in acquiring brand loyalty, market intelligence, innovation and alignment with recent social networking trends.

In Part 2, I will talk about transforming the face to face experience to not only include your social networking community-but make it the centerpiece of the conference value proposition. I always welcome comments with additional ideas to include in a summary at a later date.


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